Smartphones

HTC's Newest Phone is See-Through, Squeezable and Has Some of the Most Futuristic Features of Any High-End Smartphone

HTC's Newest Phone is See-Through, Squeezable and Has Some of the Most Futuristic Features of Any High-End Smartphone
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
4 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

By Avery Hartmans

HTC's newest flagship phone is here. 

This week, HTC unveiled the the U12+, a high-end Android smartphone aimed at the Samsungs and LGs of the world. 

The HTC U12+ is the only flagship phone HTC plans to release this year — there's no standard HTC U12. The "+" was likely added to denote the phone's place among other premiere smartphones like the iPhone 8 Plus and the Google Pixel XL. 

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And the HTC U12+ does have many of the features we've now come to expect on a high-end smartphone: a stellar dual camera (on the front and back), a nearly edge-to-edge display, water resistance, fast charging, and no headphone jack. The new device is available for preorder starting Wednesday, and starts at $800. 

Here's what it's like in person:

The HTC U12+ comes in three colors: ceramic black...

The HTC U12+ comes in three colors: ceramic black...
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

...flame red...

...flame red...
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

...and translucent blue.

...and translucent blue.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

The translucent blue version is — you guessed it — translucent! You can see some of the components through the back of the phone.

The translucent blue version is — you guessed it — translucent! You can see some of the components through the back of the phone.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Like last year's model, the HTC U11, the HTC U12+ doesn't have a headphone jack.

Like last year's model, the HTC U11, the HTC U12+ doesn't have a headphone jack.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
And like last year's phone, the HTC U12+ is also water resistant.

But just like the HTC U11 — and HTC's budget model, the U11 Life — the HTC U12+ will come with a pair of noise-canceling USB-C earbuds.

But just like the HTC U11 — and HTC's budget model, the U11 Life — the HTC U12+ will come with a pair of noise-canceling USB-C earbuds.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
I tried the earbuds when testing out the HTC U11 Life and was impressed by how well they worked for a free pair of regular-looking earbuds.

The HTC U12+ has dual rear cameras for portrait-mode photos.

The HTC U12+ has dual rear cameras for portrait-mode photos.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Here are the rear camera specs:

- 12-megapixel wide-angle camera 

- 16-megapixel telephoto camera 

- Optical image stabilization 

- Bokeh mode in real-time, along with the option to adjust it after the fact 

- Dual LED flash 

- AR stickers 

- Self-timer 

- Face detection 

- Pro mode with manual controls, including 32-second long exposures and RAW format support 

- Panorama mode

The HTC U12+ also has two front-facing cameras, which means it can take portrait-mode selfies.

The HTC U12+ also has two front-facing cameras, which means it can take portrait-mode selfies.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Here are the front camera specs: 

- Dual 8-megapixel camera 

- Wide angle with an 84-degree field of view 

- Bokeh mode in real-time 

- AR stickers 

- HDR boost 

- Face unlock 

- Screen flash 

- Live make-up 

- Auto selfies and voice selfies 

- Self-timer 

- Selfie panorama

HTC moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone in order to make the phone's "chin" slimmer and its screen larger...

HTC moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone in order to make the phone's "chin" slimmer and its screen larger...
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

...which means the screen on the HTC U12+ is a bit larger than the HTC U11 — it has a 6-inch LCD display, versus last year's 5.5-inch screen.

...which means the screen on the HTC U12+ is a bit larger than the HTC U11 — it has a 6-inch LCD display, versus last year's 5.5-inch screen.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
The HTC U12+ is also narrower and slightly longer than the HTC U11.

But unlike a lot of other flagship Android phones in 2018, HTC did not include a notch on the screen.

But unlike a lot of other flagship Android phones in 2018, HTC did not include a notch on the screen.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

The HTC U12+ will run Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, but will be upgradeable to Android P when it arrives later this year.

The HTC U12+ will run Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, but will be upgradeable to Android P when it arrives later this year.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
The phone comes in two storage options — 64 GB and 128 GB — but there's also the option to add your own microSD card for up to 2 TB of additional storage.

Like the HTC U11, the HTC U12+ has squeezable edges, which HTC calls Edge Sense.

Like the HTC U11, the HTC U12+ has squeezable edges, which HTC calls Edge Sense.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Edge Sense lets you squeeze the phone to bring up apps or controls. The feature is customizable, so you can set it to bring up your camera, or activate Alexa or Google Assistant, which are built in. 

The HTC U12+'s side buttons use the same technology as Edge Sense. Rather than physical, click-able buttons, the volume and power buttons are pressure-sensitive. This is challenging to get used to at first — the buttons don't actually press inward — but the feature seems to work pretty well.

HTC says the phone will get about 23 hours of battery life, and is capable of quick charging.

HTC says the phone will get about 23 hours of battery life, and is capable of quick charging.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
HTC includes a Quick Charge charger in the box, too.

And when it comes to some of the extra features, HTC got creative.

And when it comes to some of the extra features, HTC got creative.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Here are three of the coolest things the HTC U12+ can do: 

- HTC added a new feature called Sonic Zoom. When you zoom in while recording video, the microphones will shift directionally in order to better capture the sound. 

- When you double tap on the side of the phone — either the left or right side — the display will shift to an adjustable mini screen that makes it easier to use the phone one-handed. 

- When you hold onto both sides of the screen, it activates Smart Rotate: the phone will automatically detect which way you're holding the phone and will lock the screen in that position.

The HTC U12+ is available for T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon customers, but HTC is only selling the phone on its website and on Amazon to start.

The HTC U12+ is available for T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon customers, but HTC is only selling the phone on its website and on Amazon to start.
Image credit: Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

The translucent blue and ceramic black will be available to US customers starting Wednesday, but HTC said the flame-red model likely won't be available until the fall. 

The translucent blue version will start at $800 for the 64 GB model and $850 for the 128 GB model. Customers in the US can only buy the ceramic black version with 64 GB, and it also starts at $800.

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