HTC announces U12 Plus with pressure-sensitive buttons and sides

Even with the standard sift-like standards of most smartphone launches, the HTC U12 Plus has suffered a particularly leaking build-up to its announcement today. You already know, for example, that this phone has a Super LCD 6 Quad HD + (2880 x 1440) 6-inch screen. You know it has an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, has dual cameras on both the front and back and has the beloved HTC BoomSound speakers. You have seen the images showing the absence of a screen notch and a headphone jack. And I could have guessed that HTC would bring a new version of Edge Sense, its system to tighten the phone to perform various actions. However, the most exclusive feature of this phone is that it is also based on HTC's pressure sensitive technology for the side buttons, which are now fixed in place and provide haptic feedback instead of being mechanical.

And yet, there is much more than one story to tell about this device. I have already seen the U12 Plus in person and played with it, and I have to confess a little emotion. Ergonomically, this phone moves away from the bulk of the U11 Plus and is much better for him. Also, the U12 camera has already moved me. Oh, and if you wonder why there is no HTC U12: the company says it did not want to fool people into thinking that there would be a "Plus" edition of this phone within six months. This is the flagship U12.

The HTC U11 and U11 Plus have one of my favorite mobile cameras, slowly approaching the extraordinary Google Pixel devices, and the U12 Plus immediately impressed me with the first photos I shot with that. One was from a croissant, where I could see every minute the line and crack in the scaly crust, and the other was from a bowl of fruit and berries, where each of the small, hair-like stems in the raspberries was sharp and distinct . The Huawei P20 Pro can be the reference in image and champion of night photography, but I trust that the HTC U12 Plus will give it a great competition in the coming weeks.

In addition to a good camera, a phone must also have a good screen, battery and ergonomics. The commitment of HTC to improve the handling of the U12 Plus compared to the U11 Plus is to have a smaller battery, measuring at 3,500mAh this time. I think that is the right decision. The screen of the U12 also looks good, although I can not say it is as nice as the OLED screens in the Huawei P20 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Apple's iPhone X.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor is predictably at the heart of the HTC U12 Plus, along with 6GB of RAM and at least 64GB of expandable storage. Canada, China and the USA UU They will get an option of 128 GB, which I would have liked to see available also in Europe, but unfortunately HTC has decided to offer only 64 GB throughout the continent. HTC says this is not a big deal because you have the microSD slot available, which supports cards up to 2TB in size.

HTC is redoubling its efforts to offer a variety of digital assistants, with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa pre-installed on the U12 Plus. In China, they are replaced by Baidu's assistant. The software, based on Android 8.0, has not been modified.

The Edge Sense 2 system (which gives birth to HTC's motto live for this phone) allows you to program your own shortcuts within the applications for taps, holds, and squeezes the sides of the phone. When I tried it in beta version in U11 last year, I found it very uneven and, in the end, it was not particularly useful, but I hope HTC has solved the problems that appeared then. I like the idea of ​​being able to touch the side of my phone twice to start an application, perform an action or activate my digital assistant. It feels like a faster and more predictable trigger than last year's squeeze.

HTC also does something really smart with the pressure sensitive sides of the U12 Plus: it interprets how you're holding the phone and stops the screen from turning to horizontal mode when you do not want to. This is a small but incredible feature for anyone doing a nighttime reading in bed.

I still have not decided on the fake HTC buttons. There are bumps on the side of the phone, just where HTC usually locate their power and volume keys, but this time they give nothing. You get a little buzz, just like with the still touch keyboard of Apple's MacBook Pro or with the simulated iPhone start button. It will take time to get used to this configuration in the U12 Plus, although I think it is generally a movement in the right direction. In addition to accidental drops that produce cracked screens, mechanical parts such as side buttons are usually the first thing that breaks in a phone. We are likely to see more companies testing this as we move through the year. HTC is the first.

HTC was one of the leaders in the adoption of a fully glass design at the beginning of last year, and the latest version of its so-called Liquid Surface design includes something that the company says is another first: cold polishing 3D Glass No I'm sure what the details of this process are (technically, I did a bit of cold polishing when trying to photograph HTC's fingerprint-loving phone), and I can not say that I've felt or seen anything different about the glass of the U12.

HTC launches this new phone in three color options: there is a so-called Black Ceramic, which is not ceramic and tends to look silvery when it catches light. My favorite is the Flame Red (sadly it does not come to the United States), which is a pinker version of the Solar Red that I loved in the U11. And the most widely available variant will be a translucent blue, which, true to its name, offers a transparent crystal so you can expose the technology inside your phone to the world.

The HTC U12 Plus is activated to preorder today for $ 799 with 64 GB or $ 849 with 128 GB of storage in the United States. Prices in Europe are set at € 799 / £ 699 for the 64GB variant (there is no larger storage option available), while in Canada, the U12 Plus will cost C $ 1,099 with 64GB or C $ 1,169 with 128GB.

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