We didn't see the HTC 11 at MWC 2017, but it could be announced as soon as next week. Which, we have to say, is odd - we had assumed the MWC no-show was due to the fact HTC couldn't announce a Snapdragon 835 phone before Samsung's Galaxy S8.
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According to its Taiwanese Facebook page, HTC has a surprise for us on 20 March. With the HTC 10 failing to hit the right notes in 2016, all we can say is we hope it's a big one.
What will the HTC 11 be called?
There's a bunch of stories on the web right now suggesting there won't be an HTC 11. So let's clear that up: the phone that was previously been rumoured to launch as the HTC 11 will still launch, but it simply won't be called the HTC 11. HTC is shaking up its naming system.
President of smartphone and connected devices business, Chialin Chang, has confirmed to Engadget that the HTC 11 will be announced but that it will go under a new name.
It's possible that the HTC 11 will be renamed as the HTC U or HTC U Vive. The HTC U family unveiled on 12 January is now the company's premiere smartphone series, according to HTC. It includes an HTC U Ultra, also known as the HTC Ocean Note, while the HTC 11 expected at MWC is known as the HTC Ocean. This suggests the U Ultra is the phablet of that line-up, the U Play the mid-range model and the HTC 11 (HTC U?) could be the flagship. It could even be known as the HTC U Vive, following a recent video leak that showed an unknown phone with Vive branding (see below).
When is the HTC 11 release date?
Everyone is predicting a 12-month cycle for HTC’s new phones, which puts the HTC 11 launch date in April 2017. Traditionally it has launched in March: only the HTC 10 has launched later in the year. That's in line with the 'surprise' HTC has in store for us on 20 March.
However if, as expected, HTC is waiting for Samsung to announce its Galaxy S8 so that it can also announce a Snapdragon 835 phone, we'll be waiting until April - the Galaxy S8 will be unveiled on 29 March and likely go on sale 28 April. It is possible, though, that HTC could do a Sony and announce the phone but with no firm release date.
The so-called 'HTC Ocean' has not been forgotten in light of the 12 January HTC Ocean Note launch, and @evleaks has posted a new video of a young couple purportedly using it.
Interestingly, a second video posted by @evleaks also reveals an HTC Vive-branded phone. Could this be the HTC 11?
HTC 2017? pic.twitter.com/ppONWlT5Mr— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 8, 2017
How much will the HTC 11 cost in the UK?
If it follows HTC's usual game, the HTC 11 will have a high price in line (or slightly below) other flagship phones. Our prediction is that it will cost between £549 and £599.
What are the rumoured specifications?
We had assumed that the HTC 11 would use Qualcomm’s best available mobile chip for its next flagship, the 10nm Snapdragon 835 with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0, except it now appears that no other company is allowed to use this chip until Samsung has announced its Galaxy S8. That won't be until April, meaning the HTC 11 will likely run the Snapdragon 821 with 4GB or 6GB of RAM.
The HTC 11 is said to also get 256GB of storage, although this will more than likely be an option (as it is with the iPhone), with the default amount set at 32GB or perhaps even 64GB if we're lucky.
For the camera, rumours are suggesting HTC will stick with a 12Mp main camera at the back, and put an 8Mp selfie camera at the front (up from 5Mp). One of the main issues with the HTC 10’s camera was its lack of consistency. Some photos were great, some weren’t. Also, it relied too heavily on the presumption that people wanted to use the Pro mode and all its controls (and RAW capture), but the vast majority of users just want to press the shutter and get top-quality pictures and video.
The screen is expected to be a 5.5in 1440x2560 panel, which is larger than the 5.2in screen on the HTC 10. The battery is also expected to be larger, at 3,700mAh up from 3,000mAh, so it's possible we're looking at a slightly larger handset for 2017.
A new Sense Touch feature is rumoured to allow you to control the phone by swiping and tapping its metal frame. This has also been highlighted in the video further up this page.
A screenshot leaked recently on Weibo purports to show the HTC 11 in a benchmarking app with the Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It has a Quad-HD screen and is running Android Nougat with HTC Sense 9.0. (Click to enlarge.)
What will the HTC 11 look like?
HTC needs to come up with a design that betters even the HTC 10. Plenty of manufacturers are trying to differentiate their phones, but there’s a limit to what you can do when you have to build around a 5.2in touchscreen. Hopefully HTC will do as expected and increase the screen size to 5.5in in its next flagship.
In our opinion HTC took a step backwards by putting the speakers on the top and bottom edges of its 2016 HTC 10 flagship. It also made one handle high frequencies and the other low frequencies, and this led to a strange-sounding imbalance when watching videos. We’re hoping that there will be a return to front-facing BoomSound stereo speakers, although if we are to believe the render at the top of this article (which appeared on Weibo and may well be a fake) it doesn't look as though our wish will come true.
Another feature we want to see is waterproofing. The 10 isn’t waterproof (not many phones are) but plenty of the latest gadgets are now IP67 or IP68 rated, and if HTC doesn’t tick this box, it’s just one more reason to buy from Samsung or Apple.
Better battery life is also on our HTC 11 wishlist. Until we see a breakthrough in battery technology, it’s probably too much to ask for two days between charging, but we would like the new phone to get through a day of hard use comfortably. News that it will get a bump up to 3,700mAh (up from 3,000mAh) and support Quick Charge 4.0 is fantastic - you'll charge it less often and it will take less time to do so.
However, the larger battery and larger screen rumours appear to point to a larger HTC flagship in 2017 - plus an even larger version in the HTC Ocean Note.
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