HTC to Announce a New U Device on November 2
The considerable windfall in HTC’s fortunes that came with Google’s acquisition of part of HTC’s smartphone business for $1.1 billion has changed the situation for the company.
HTC had been struggling to keep itself afloat, but the U11 did help things considerably by selling better than the HTC 10. However, HTC’s revenue drastically decreased in August, creating viable rumours that the company would be acquired by a tech giant, with Google’s name consistently mentioned. Then the company confirmed they were considering strategic options, but the end deal wasn’t what the industry had expected.
Instead of the company’s entire smartphone division being acquired by Google, Google opted to acquire only the research and design team, which had been involved in the design of the Pixel. All in all, 2000 out of 4000 employees of this division were acquired by Google.
Nevertheless, it is clear that $1.1 billion is a considerable amount for HTC, Google does benefit from acquiring non-exclusive rights to HTC’s IP, and the deal does allow HTC to continue making its own branded flagships under the U series. If Google had completely acquired the company’s smartphone division, there would have been no successor to the U11. But instead, it has been gearing up to launch a mid-cycle refresh for the U11, with a taller 18:9 aspect ratio display. We have been hearing that press invites for an event in Taiwan on November 2 have been sent, and now HTC has confirmed that it will launch at least one new U device on that day via Twitter.
We can expect the HTC U11 Plus to launch on November 2, considering that it has been sighted on benchmarks such as GFXBench and the escalating rumors surrounding the device.
The GFXBench listing makes most of the specifications clear: a 6-inch 18:9 2880×1440 display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 12MP rear camera, etc. The device is still expected not to have a headphone jack, just like the U11. GFXBench entries have been incorrect in the past, but these do sound just like what we’d from a “plus” variant of the U11.
The U11 Plus is expected to solve the one clear issue that the U11 had: its front design looked dated compared to 2017 full-screen competitors such as the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6. Although it seems the U11 Plus still won’t win any awards for the best screen-to-body ratio, matching the Google Pixel 2 XL would be a great step forward from the U11, which is needlessly large for its 5.5-inch 16:9 display size.
HTC could also launch the mid-range Android One U11 Life smartphone at the event, which may have a 5.2-inch display and a Snapdragon 630 chipset, and 16MP front and rear cameras. It is expected to be powered by stock Android 8.0 Oreo.
Considering the fact that the U11 had an excellent camera and great performance, it’s a shame the phone was forgotten so soon and ignored in favor of other offerings which had better front design and were marketed more heavily. If there is a possibility that redesigning the front of the U11 and giving it more screen area will have a positive effect on the popularity of the U series line, we expect the company to claim the opportunity and give it one more try in an attempt to climb up.