Update: We now have a better idea of the possible design of the HTC U12, plus, a full specs list for the HTC U12 has leaked, complete with a rumored release month.
The HTC U11 is an enormously impressive phone, but one with a headline feature that doesn’t quite convince, especially in the face of the flashy Samsung Galaxy S8 and now the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9.
So there’s room for improvement, and we’ve got a whole list of ways the HTC U12 (or whatever it ends up being called) could be the improvement we want to see. If HTC implements all of our suggestions it could well have a five-star phone on its hands.
But before we get to that there’s the important matter of when the HTC U12 is likely to launch, what it’s likely to cost, and what specs and features it might include. We don’t have definitive answers to any of those questions just yet, but we have some ideas.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? HTC's next flagship phone
- When is it out? Probably early-mid 2018
- What will it cost? A lot, expect upwards of $649/£649/AU$999
HTC U12 release date and price
The latest release date rumor points to a launch sometime in April, with no more specific date given.
That tallies with an "inside source", who has said to expect the phone at an event in March or April.
Failing that, we might see the HTC U12 in May, as it was only in May 2017 that the HTC U11 was announced and June that it hit stores, and the HTC 10 also launched in the month of May.
Whenever it launches it’s sure to cost a lot. The HTC U11 launched for $649/£649/AU$999, so you’ll probably have to pay at least around that much for the HTC U12.
HTC U12 news and rumors
One of the latest HTC U12 leaks includes a comprehensive list of specs, and comes from LlabTooFeR, who's a fairly reliable leaker in matters of HTC, so it could be accurate.
They claim that the phone will have a 5.99-inch QHD+ screen, a dual-lens camera with 12MP and 16MP lenses, a Snapdragon 845 chipset and up to 6GB of RAM.
The U12 also apparently has an 8MP front-facing camera, a 3,420mAh battery, up to 256GB of storage, a microSD card slot and IP68 certification, meaning it can be submerged up to 1.5 meters deep in water for up to 30 minutes. Apparently though it won't have a 3.5mm headphone port.
They also shed some light on software and other features, saying the phone runs Android Oreo with HTC's Sense 10 interface, sports 'HTC Face Unlock' and has Edge Sense 2.0 - which is a new version of the squeezable sides found on previous HTC handsets.
We've also seen photos seemingly showing the phone in the flesh, albeit partially obscured by stickers.
Taken at a 5G Industry Alliance event, the photos show an unannounced HTC handset with a likely 18:9 screen and no fingerprint scanner visible on the front.
The shots match up with an earlier leaked image supposedly showing the front of the phone.
The image (below) is very plain and it's hard to make out many details, but it looks as though the U12 may have smaller bezels than most HTC handset and with no visible fingerprint scanner it may be on the back, built into the screen or ditched altogether in favor of facial recognition.
The images somewhat line up with a recent leak, with a source claiming that the HTC U12 will have a metal frame and a curved glass back, with a fingerprint scanner on the rear and a design that's similar to the HTC U11 Plus.
However, they add that the U12 will have a dual-lens camera and come in a new matt white finish, which could change the look and feel of the handset.
Additionally, HTC has revealed that it will start making dual-lens phones again in 2018, so the HTC U12 may well be one of them - especially as other rumors talk of a dual-lens camera and the company is supposedly only launching two phones this year.
We can also take some educated guesses about the upcoming phone. The design of the HTC U11 and HTC U11 Plus is new and generally impressive, so we’d think a similar, though probably refined, design will be used for the HTC U12. That means a rounded glass shell with a two-tone color that changes depending on the angle you look at it.
We’d also expect HTC will keep the water resistance from the HTC U11, while the company’s impressive BoomSound audio is likely to make a return in some form.
What we want to see
The HTC U11 is a four and a half star phone, but for the HTC U12 to get five stars the following changes would help.
1. Improvements to Edge Sense
HTC largely sold the U11 on the strength of Edge Sense, yet while being able to do a short or long squeeze of the phone to launch apps, turn on the torch and take photos is a nice idea, it feels a bit half-baked.
It’s not sensitive enough for one and while you can choose what you want it to open or activate it doesn’t go deep enough right now.
It’s set to get better, with more customization coming, but we hope it’s a truly essential feature by the time the HTC U12 launches.
2. Better battery
We don’t want to be too hard on the HTC U11’s battery, it’s actually quite decent. But it’s one of the many phones that requires a daily charge, rather than one of the very few that can last two days or more. It also didn’t do brilliantly in our video test, where we play a looped video for 90 minutes and record the battery drop.
So hopefully the HTC U12 will last longer, either through a bigger battery (topping the U11’s 3,000mAh must surely be doable) or via clever tweaks and optimizations.
3. A snappier snapper
The HTC U11 has a generally great camera, but there’s noticeable shutter lag. This is surprising from such a powerful phone, but it’s a problem that’s long plagued HTC’s handsets and can be frustrating, even leading to missing the perfect shot.
Overall, the HTC U11 is one of HTC’s best camera phones ever, but we’d like to see a higher shutter speed for the HTC U12. In fact, we don’t want to see any noticeable pause at all when we take a photo, it should be instant.
4. Smarter Sense Companion
Although not hyped as much as Edge Sense, HTC’s Sense Companion is just as useful – and shows just as much room for improvement.
This AI app monitors the weather, your location, your calendar, your battery level and how much you’re using your phone and gives you alerts accordingly. That could mean reminding you to charge your phone before you head off to a meeting, or telling you when you’re using your phone too much.
It also gives you suggestions of places you might want to go for lunch nearby, but these never feel as useful as turning to Google, while telling you you’re using your phone a lot isn’t that helpful either if the app isn’t going to motivate you to use it less. So developing these features more for Sense Companion’s inevitable HTC U12 outing would make it a far more useful app.
5. Fewer fingerprints
As great as the design of the HTC U11 is, it picks up more fingerprints than almost any other phone we’ve come across.
So while we’d be fine with seeing the same shiny glass finish on the HTC U12, hopefully the company will have found a way to repel prints, as well as making other small refinements to what’s generally a stunning look.
6. Front-facing speakers
HTC’s phones are known for great audio, whether listening through headphones or the built-in speakers, and the HTC U11 is no exception, but we miss the front-facing BoomSound speakers of old.
In the HTC U11 one fires from the earpiece and the other from the bottom edge, which both makes them easy to cover and means audio is less impressive when the phone is facing you – as it will be when watching videos or playing games.
We doubt HTC will move back to front-facing speakers for the U12, but we wouldn’t complain if it did.
7. A brighter screen
The HTC U11 has a flagship-class screen. It’s big, sharp and generally looks great, but it’s not quite as bright as the screens on some phones, and that, coupled with it being quite reflective, can mean it’s tricky to use comfortably in bright sunlight.
Its auto-brightness needs some tuning too, so that it’s less likely to either blind you or need manually turning up. They’re small complaints, but ones that we hope are addressed by the HTC U12.
- 2018 will also bring the Samsung Galaxy S9