HTC U11 review: At long last, the world's first squeezable smartphone has arrived

 
Steve Hogarty
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HTC U11
4.0

The HTC U11 is by far the shiniest object I’ve ever touched. It’s slick, like a wet dolphin, and its chrome backplate could be used to dazzle a World War II sniper.

The neatly chamfered curves of the phone are elegant, like a ballerina’s kneecap, lending the entire chassis a kind of fluidity typically reserved for faster-than-light spacecraft. With no sharp edges the HTC U11 seems as though it would be easy to swallow whole; just open your throat and slip it down your gullet, like a hungry duck.

I like HTC phones – the build quality is generally exceptional, the software fast and the price right – and I also like the HTC U11. This one feels strangely hollow when it vibrates, and the default click reminds me of a brittle bone snapping, or the suction cup of a stuffed Garfield being tugged off a windshield. Its back gradually becomes covered in fingerprints, like an iridescent passport collecting greasy visas. But it’s a welcoming device that makes some attempt to stand out from rival black rectangles.

The phone’s unique selling point, that you can gently squeeze its pressure sensitive edges to do things like open the camera or snap a picture, is interesting but almost entirely unnecessary. You’ll likely forget to use it after a day or two.

The lack of a headphone jack is made up for by the included noise-cancelling USB earphones, and in almost every other respect the handset performs well: the screen is sharp, the battery lasts, the camera is decent and it can survive a dunk in the toilet.

The HTC U11 costs £649, which slightly undercuts the flagships of both Google and Samsung. If you can stomach the blinginess, you’ll find a powerful, whip-fast phone.

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