HTC U release date, news and rumors

The HTC 11 will be called the HTC U

Update: The HTC U launch date has been confirmed with an official invite for the event on May 16.

The HTC 10 was something of a reinvention for the brand, sporting a new design, new features and upgraded specs. But in some ways it was still not enough of a change, and still lacking.

The HTC U Ultra wasn't quite the flagship HTC needed either, but the good news is another high-end phone is thought to be on the way. It won't be called the HTC 11 though, with HTC U all but confirmed for HTC's main 2017 flagship.

There's been one final twist in the tale though: an unofficial leak says HTC is going to go with HTC U 11 as the name of the phone. Confused yet?

We've heard a lot about it too, all of which you can read below, along with a wish list of what we want from it.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? HTC's next flagship, successor to the HTC 10
  • When's it out? Launches May 16
  • What will it cost? It will have a high-end price

HTC U release date

Hottest leaks:

  • Confirmed: HTC U launch date set for May 16
  • Could hit stores late May

The official HTC U launch event invite

HTC has left its flagship launch until later this year, which has allowed LG, Huawei, Sony and Samsung all to get in ahead of the Taiwanese firm.

We now have a confirmed HTC U launch date though, with official invites (like the one above) being sent out to media, for an event on May 16.

HTC has also given us a glimpse of its upcoming flagship, with a five second teaser clip posted on its Twitter account, showing an extremely slender device and a slogan of "squeeze for the brilliant U."

Rumors suggest you'll be able to squeeze the side of the HTC U, and pressure sensitive buttons will provide you with various functions - such as launching an app or taking a photo. 

In terms of a HTC U release date, we're still in the dark, but we'd expect the handset to go on sale a week or two after the launch with pre-orders going live on May 16, or shortly after.

TechRadar's take: We know the HTC U will be announced on May 16, and we'd hope HTC gets the handset on sale before the end of the month.

HTC U design

Hottest leaks:

  • A metal shell or possibly a glass back instead
  • An edge-to-edge screen
  • Some water and dust resistance

And what have we here? Is this the HTC U in all its glory? Considering the source of the image was serial tipster Evan Blass, it's likely that this is indeed our first proper look at HTC's 2017 flagship, with a glass back and a fingerprint sensor on the front, with the home button.

Is this our best look at the HTC U? (credit: Evan Blass)

Previously our best look at a phone that might be the HTC U showed an edge-to-edge screen with sizeable black bezels above and below it, one of which houses an oblong home button. It looks a lot like the HTC U Ultra in fact.

Those are some sizable bezels (credit: Android Headlines)

We can't see the back here, but previously a Chinese source on Weibo shared an image which shows both the front and back. 

The social media account hasn't been clear on the exact source of the leaked design, but it's an interesting concept, taking elements from the HTC Bolt/10 Evo.

This render is likely a fake (credit: Weibo)

As you can see, the back appears to be metal, the edges slope off sharply and the front has an edge-to-edge screen. It's a striking look and a leaked video shows a similar design.

Notably it doesn't have the shiny glass back of the HTC U Ultra, and nor does it have the front-facing home button of that phone and more recent leaks, so it's unclear which - if either - of these are accurate.

And we've also seen leaked shots of a phone believed to be the HTC One X10 - so probably not the HTC U then, but it's possible that the HTC 11 will have a similar design, in which case you can look forward to a metal unibody with a fingerprint scanner on the back.

Whatever the look of the phone, it might have at least some water and dust resistance, with one source saying it will be IP57 certified, meaning it can be submerged up to 1 meter deep in water for up to 30 minutes and is safe from dust damage (but not completely dust tight).

TechRadar's take: HTC's stuck with metal on its main flagship line in recent years and to generally impressive effect, but with the switch to the HTC U name a glass back is possible this time around.

HTC U display

Hottest leaks:

  • It looks like a 5.5-inch QHD display, which may also be curved
  • An unusual resolution

Several rumors suggest the HTC U will feature a 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 display - an upgrade on the 5.2-inch HTC 10 screen - so this is likely going to be a slightly bigger phone.

One Weibo leaker even suggested the phone will come with a curved display. If that sounds familiar it's because the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has exactly the same setup.

However, not all sources agree with that resolution, with a recent leak suggesting it will actually have a 1556 x 2550 screen - that's an odd resolution and would suggest an unusual aspect ratio if it's right, although we've seen odd aspect ratios rolled out on the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, so it's possible.

There's also a chance that the HTC 11 will have a tiny secondary display above the main one, like we've seen on the LG V20, given that the HTC U Ultra has been launched with exactly that feature.

But then again HTC is likely to want to differentiate the two ranges, and for that reason a jump in screen size to 5.5 inches also may not happen, as that would leave it only slightly smaller than the 5.7-inch HTC U Ultra.

TechRadar's take: A flat 5.5-inch QHD screen is currently looking most likely. Don't count on a second screen as that hasn't specifically been attached to the HTC 11, but we wouldn't count it out either.

HTC U OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • Brand new Snapdragon 835 chipset, the latest from Qualcomm
  • A huge 8GB of RAM onboard
  • May see lots of storage with one rumor suggesting 256GB

HTC itself has hinted at the use of the Snapdragon 835 in the HTC 11, while one Chinese source has revealed some additional apparent HTC 11 details. The leak suggests the phone will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset under the hood as well as 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

Those would certainly be flagship specs, as the Snapdragon 835 is likely to be the top-end chip of choice in 2017, and 8GB of RAM is almost unheard of in any current handsets.

We've heard similar but slightly more muted specs from another source, with a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage put forward.

Meanwhile another source claims either 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of storage along with the Snapdragon 835.

As for the operating system, we'd expect the HTC 11 to come with the latest version of Android Nougat and HTC's own overlay on top. Indeed, both Android Nougat 7.1 and HTC Sense 9.0 have been attached to the phone in leaks.

TechRadar's take: A Snapdragon 835 chip is likely, but 8GB of RAM would be a huge upgrade given the HTC 10 and HTC U Ultra only have 4GB. We'd expect either 4 or 6GB of RAM and a maximum of 128GB of storage.

HTC 11 camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • A rear 12MP shooter, 16MP selfie camera
  • HDR+ to show you the effects of HDR in real time
  • 3,700mAh battery, which is larger than the HTC 10

The most recent camera rumors come from Evan Blass - a leaker with a strong track record. He claims that the HTC U will have a 12MP rear camera and a 16MP front-facing one.

But previously a Weibo source stated that the HTC 11 will have a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing one. Either way it doesn't sound like we'll be getting a dual-lens camera.

If the rear camera is 12MP it will be the same basic spec as the HTC 10's, but it's likely to be improved in some ways. For example, one rumor points to an 'HDR+ Scene Detection' feature, which could show you the effects of HDR in real time, before you take a picture.

As for the battery, one source claims a 3,700mAh battery will be powering the handset. That's up from just 3,000mAh in the HTC 10, so the HTC 11 could be a long-lasting phone, though more recently we've heard there will be a return of the 3,000mAh juice pack.

The same source claims it will charge via USB Type-C and support fast charging.

TechRadar's take: HTC often does its own thing with cameras, so it's no surprise that it's apparently not jumping on the dual-lens bandwagon. We're less sure about the battery jump rumors, as even the 5.7-inch HTC U Ultra only has a 3,000mAh unit.

HTC U other features

Hottest leaks:

  • A futuristic 'Sense Touch' feature
  • Serious audio skills
  • No headphone port, like the iPhone 7

The single biggest feature of the HTC U is likely to be a pressure-sensitive frame, which would launch apps and features - for example Google Assistant or the camera - with a short or long squeeze of the phone.

You can see the setup screens for the feature - which might be called Edge Sense or Sense Touch - in the leaked image below.

That image matches a recent explanation of the feature from leaker Evan Blass, who's also shared videos of it in action.

As unlikely as the feature might still seem, evidence of it continues to roll in, including a screenshot tweeted by @evleaks, showing an HTC phone settings screen with an 'Edge Sense' toggle. 

So it looks like it's probably the real deal, though it was first shown off as a concept phone known as the HTC Ocean, seemingly dreamt up by one of HTC's concept artists.

The HTC U might also have some interesting audio abilities, with a leaked image suggesting it will have 4 microphones, allowing you to either record audio in 3D, for a surround sound effect, or in Hi-Res, for lossless quality.

The same source claims the phone will have BoomSound audio through two speakers, and that there will be an HTC USonic feature which will tailor the sound to your hearing and the shape of your ear canal. However, the phone supposedly won't have a 3.5mm headphone port.

Another more recent rumor also suggests the HTC 11 won't have a headphone jack, so that's one feature - or lack thereof - that's looking likely.

It's also rumored that - unsurprisingly - the HTC U will have a fingerprint scanner.

But more surprisingly a leaked video shows an HTC phone with Vive branding. Could this be the HTC 11/HTC U? We're skeptical, but it's possible that HTC is re-branding the phone, and maybe even making a major mobile VR push, much like Samsung has been doing with Gear VR.

Finally, we've heard the the HTC U might come in both single and dual-SIM versions, though if it does we might still only see the single SIM model in the west.

TechRadar's take: Sense Touch/Edge Sense is looking increasingly likely, while BoomSound paired with 4 mics and 2 speakers is believable, as is the absence of a 3.5mm headphone port, given that the HTC U Ultra doesn't have one. A move to Vive branding would seem a little unlikely though - and if it was going to happen we'd expect to have heard more about it by now.

HTC U price

Hottest leaks:

  • We think it may cost around £570 or $699 (about AU$960)
  • No solid rumors for the HTC 11 price so far though

We don't know exact pricing details for the HTC U yet, but expect it to be an expensive phone with a price tag that rivals the other flagship phones out there.

TechRadar's take: Our best guess is to go on the pricing of the HTC 10, which cost £570 or $699 (about AU$960) at launch.