The HTC U11 marked a return to form for the longtime Android phone maker, which had released a string of underwhelming products in recent years. And we're about to find out if its successor can be even better.
The U11 was a powerful flagship handset with a bright, class-leading LCD display, excellent camera, booming speakers and a gorgeous glass back. But we were disappointed with its middling battery life and dated design traits — including a pair of thick bezels and budget-looking capacitive navigation keys.
With the U11 under its belt, we’re excited to see what the Taiwan-based company is planning next. Recent rumors have suggested HTC's upcoming flagship will be called the U12 or U12+, in continuing with the theme established by last year's U11 mid-cycle refresh, named the U11+. Here’s everything we know about one of the most anticipated phones of the year.
Updated May 22
- U12+ Specs Revealed: HTC's May 23 press event is less than 24 hours away, but the company let details about its new phone slip out when its HTC U12+ website when live prematurely. That leak follows an earlier revelation about specs for the HTC U12+.
The Date is Set
Mark your calendars for May 23. That's the date HTC tweeted out with a teaser image of a device — or, rather, the parts that make it up. The image shows a bunch of components strewn around an empty rectangle in the center that resembles the shape of a phone. If we look closely at the components, we can see a quarter of cameras — two bigger ones, presumably for the back, and two smaller ones — keeping in theme with rumors to date that the U12 will feature dual lenses on the front as well as the rear.
HTC hasn't explicitly said it will be announcing the U12 at this event, nor do we know if that will be the final name of the phone. However, every bit of news leading up to this point suggests the company's next flagship will debut on that date.
A week before that press event, Evan Blass tweeted out leaked press renders along with a spec sheet for the HTC U12+. It's possible HTC could be planning to release multiple phones on May 23, with the U12+ the more advanced version of the company's new phone.
Here's a closer look at the specs mentioned in Blass's leak.
|Display||6 inches (2880 x 1440)|
|Rear Camera||12-MP (f/1.7) wide angle; 16-MP (f/2.6) telephoto|
|Front Camera||Dual 8-MP (f/2.0)|
|OS||Android 8 Oreo|
|Size||6.2 x 2.9 x 0.34-0.38 inches|
HTC also inadvertently revealed the specs for the U12+ when it prematurely posted a website promoting the new phone. The details match closely to Blass's specs leak, and we also learned that the phone won't have a notch like so many other iPhone X imitators these days.
Expect HTC’s next offering to sport the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset we’ll see in so many high-end Android phones later in the year. That processor was exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S9, but the same chip now appears int Sony Xperia XZ2, LG G7 ThinQ and, soon, the OnePlus 6.
Initially, a VentureBeat report stated HTC would pair that powerful silicon with 6GB of RAM. The Galaxy S9+ runs a similar configuration, so the larger of Samsung’s flagships may provide a good reference for what to expect from the U12 in terms of performance. But then a follow-up leak, based on a spec sheet obtained by Android Headlines out of China, suggested we could actually see as much as 8GB of RAM in the next-gen HTC flagship. That could make it one of the most powerful smartphones of the year, though it remains to be see if this is merely one of multiple configurations the device will be available in. (Blass's most recent leak suggests we're getting 6GB.)
HTC will reportedly offer 64GB or 128GB storage options, with a MicroSD slot for expandability. Don’t expect a headphone jack, as the company scrubbed it from the U11 and has fully adopted USB-C for its BoomSound audio enhancements. Edge Sense, the company's technology that allows you to squeeze the frame of the device to access various shortcuts, should make a return. The Android Headlines report lists a technology called "Edge Sense 2," though it's unclear at this time how it improves upon the previous iteration.
A quartet of cameras?
HTC finally looks to jump back on the dual-lens bandwagon with the U12. Blass’ report mentions two pairs of cameras on both sides of the handset. Focus Taiwan corroborates that claim, stating the U12 will combine 12- and 16-megapixel sensors at the back while doubling up on 8-megapixel units at the front. The two-camera selfie setup is reminiscent of the recently-released HTC U11 EYEs, which also didn't make it to North America.
Although most sources point to HTC embracing a plurality of lenses at the rear, at least one does not. The spec sheet from Android Headlines mentions only one 12-MP sensor, with an f/1.5 aperture. The latter is on par with the Galaxy S9 and S9+, though in the case of those devices, the aperture can mechanically narrow to f/2.4 when necessary. Still, the report corroborates the earlier claim regarding double 8-MP sensors for selfies.
A modern design
The HTC U12 reportedly carries many of the design hallmarks of the U11+, HTC’s mid-cycle refresh of the U11 released last fall. While the U11+ never reached the U.S., the U12 appears to build upon that phone’s most noteworthy asset: its 6-inch 18:9 display and slimmed-down bezels. Thankfully, leaked images of the phone suggest that HTC won't follow the lead of other phone makers and add a notch to the display to squeeze in more screen real estate. Instead, HTC will go with black bezels on the top and bottom of the phone.
One look at this pre-production picture of the U12, and it’s clear that HTC’s next flagship will look much more with the times — at least if the renders are true to the final result. The image comes courtesy of Evan Blass, who has a consistently positive track record when it comes to dealing accurate leaks.
The U12 will reportedly repeat the liquid glass enclosure we loved so much on HTC’s previous-generation range-topper, while adding a critical distinction on the back photographers are sure to appreciate — dual lenses. Those aren’t the only pair on the device either, as there may be two more cameras above the display on the phone's front to spice up your selfies.
LCD instead of OLED?
According to Blass’ report in VentureBeat, the U12's display will tout 2560 x 1440 resolution, but only employ LCD technology. This could put HTC’s next flagship at a disadvantage compared to the growing number of smartphones making use of OLED panels, sporting richer colors and perfect blacks. Then again, LCD screens are typically brighter than their OLED counterparts, and much cheaper to produce — which could help the U12 hit a lower price.
How much will it cost?
Not many leaks have disclosed the price of the HTC U12+. But HTC may have let the cat out of the bag with its prematurely published website. That site listed a price of 5,888 yuan, which is about $920. Currency adjustments are never exact, but that suggests the HTC U12+'s price tag will be at the higher end of the smartphone market.