2017 was a down year for HTC. First, the U11 and U Ultra were met by near-universal criticism. Later, Google purchased a large chunk of HTC's manufacturing division, leaving the Taiwanese company running with a skeleton crew after losing 2,000 key employees. But that's not stopping HTC — their flagship U12 is still on pace to make a debut in 2018.
On the bright side, HTC received a huge influx of money from the Google deal — about $1.1 billion, to be precise. With this extra capital and the relative success of late 2017's U11+, the U12 could start the processes of turning the tide for the once highly regarded smartphone company. Leaks are just starting to pour in, so we'll cover all the latest HTC U12 news below.
- OS Version: Android 8.0 Oreo
- Skin: Sense 10
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- GPU: Adreno 630
- RAM:6 GB
- Storage: 64 or 128 GB (expandable via microSD)
- Display: 6" 2960 x 1440 LCD
- Rear Camera: 16 MP and 12 MP
- Front Camera: 8 MP + 8 MP
- Battery: 3,420 mAh
- Water and Dust Resistance: IP68
- Other: HTC Face Unlock, Edge Sense 2.0, Dual SIM
One of the biggest issues with the U11 and U Ultra was that they employed a 2016 screen design. While other OEMs moved to edge-to-edge displays, HTC opted for huge bezels and, in the case of the U Ultra, 2016's chipset. These decisions resulted in poor sales and limited carrier support. However, the success of the iterative U11+ and its edge-to-edge screen should be carried on into the new year with the U12.
Rumors indicate that HTC will be employing an all-screen design in the U12, competing for one of the highest screen-to-body ratios. These rumors are fueled by two sources. The first is a render by SuggestPhone which shows the front of the device. While the screen is dark, we can see that screen occupies the entire front with only a small bezel housing the camera.
The second source is a tweet by #iamaniff (a Senior Member at XDA). In the tweet are pictures of an unreleased HTC device shown off at Taiwan's 5G Industry Alliance event. While these could just be phones for 5G testing, the all-screen design does bear some resemblance to the SuggestPhone render.
One noticeable aspect here is the tape along the top the phone, indicating HTC was hiding something about its design. They definitely weren't hiding the fact that the phones were manufactured by them, so it's not their logo behind the tape. Additionally, HTC doesn't brand their phone with the model number along the top of the display, so that's not it.
Therefore, our best guess is either an improved front-facing camera or some alternate take on Face ID. The latter was recently backed up by LlabTooFeR , who mention the inclusion of a technology known as HTC Face Unlock.
Evan Blass also leaked an image of the device which mirrors the #iamaniff tweet of a 6" edge-to-edge display with a small bezel on the top. According to Evan Blass, it seems the tape was covering dual front-facing cameras, which will probably be used in the Face Unlock.
Finally, there is a weak rumor that HTC might opt to use a 4K display to separate their phones from other OEMs. The issue with this rumor is that only Sony has done it so far and achieved little success doing so. Additionally, LlabTooFeR countered this rumor by indicating the U12 would opt for a 2880 x 1440 display instead. While there is a chance HTC might not pull any punches, I won't hold my breath on this rumor being true.
Apparently, HTC's main flagship will get another name change. If recent leaks are to be believed, the HTC U12 will actually be called the HTC U12+. According to Evan Blass, the device codenamed Imagine is actually the U12+. So if this is the HTC U12+, where is the U12? Well apparently, there won't be one. While we trust the rumors from Evan Blass, it makes little sense to change the name, so well continue to refer to it as the U12 until things clear up more.
Since the HTC U12 will be a 2018 flagship, we're all but certain which processor it will use. With the exception of the U Ultra, HTC has always used the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset on their flagships. Therefore, it's a pretty safe bet that the powerful new Snapdragon 845 will be powering the U12.
A leak by a Weibo user revealed the 2018 roadmap for all devices to be powered by the new Qualcomm SoC. On that list, along with their release date (more on that later), was the HTC U12 and HTC U12+. While this is an unconfirmed leak, most of the devices on the list are expected to share this chipset, adding to its validity.
Furthermore, we know now with the recent specs leak by LlabTooFeR that HTC will opt for the latest and greatest chipset from Qualcomm.
While I wasn't able to fully translate the Weibo leak, it looks like the HTC U12 will either be announced or released in May. If it's announced, expect a release at most a month later. However, it is released then, then we could officially learn of the new HTC flagship by as early as late March. More than likely, this is the release date, as announcements can change and last year's model was released in May. According to Evan Blass, development hit a minor snag and will pushed slightly to late April, early May.
One of the unique aspects of the HTC U11 was it Liquid Glass Surface design. According to HTC, the U11's back was created by "randomly layering highly-refractive precious minerals across the phone's back cover." The result was a back cover with colors altered depending on the viewing angle.
According to HTCSource, HTC will be continuing this design with the upcoming flagship, but with a few modifications. While little is known about the exact design, HTCSource did reveal that new matte white color was coming. This would offer a very different look as the U11 (and U Ultra) used very reflective colors and surfaces which matte based colors aren't.
While we'd hope this device would have opted for the Android 8.1 Oreo (the latest version of Android), rumors indicate this won't be the case. Expect Sense 10 running on top of Android 8.0 Oreo.
However, unlike last year's model, the U12 will launch with Android Oreo. This requires support for Project Treble, which should translate to faster update and better custom ROM development.
HTC will continue their implementation of Edge Sense on their device. Not only does it differentiate their phones, but they were able to convince Google to include the feature on their Pixel devices, furthering demand for the feature. They made big strides with Edge Sense for the U11+ adding what is known as Edge Launcher, a mini launcher that provides quick access to multiple apps and a calendar.
Also, unlike the Pixel 2 lineup, Edge Sense allows the tool to be customized to launch or toggle different apps and sensors. For example, Edge Sense can be used to take a photo or launch the default music app. Because HTC Sense UI has scaled down significantly to a much more stock experience, HTC needs features such as Edge Sense to separate their phones from the sea of competition.
Thanks to a comment made by HTC's President, Chialin Chang, we know that HTC will focus on bringing a dual camera setup back to the U lineup.
"We'll definitely be releasing a dual-camera phone next year, but we'll need to figure out how to make this feature stand out."
How they achieve a standout feature isn't known at this time, but we do know that HTC will opt for Sony IMX 300 series lenses. Currently, we know it will have dual cameras, a 12 MP and a16 MP. However, what we don't know is which is the main shooter thanks to conflicting report. LlabTooFeR tweeted the 12 MP camera first indicating that it was the main shooter while Evan Blass wrote it in reverse so as far as we know, it is anyone guess. As far as differentiating features, it's starting to look like HTC will use a telephoto and wide-angle combo.
However, one feature we didn't expect was dual front facing cameras but apparently, that exactly what HTC is giving us. According to Evan Blass, the HTC U12 (or U12+) will have dual 8 MP front-facing cameras house on the top bezels. Thanks to LlabTooFeR rumor of HTC including Face Unlock (see below), the assumption is that these cameras be used to achieve this.
According to LlabTooFeR, HTC will include face recognition technology in the U12 under the marketing name HTC Face Unlock. While nothing else was leaked, based on other OEMs and the lack of rumors, expect this technology to be more in line with the OnePlus 5 & 5T, which use the front-facing camera to provide quick (but insecure) face-based authentication. Additionally, the rumors of dual front-facing cameras (with no mention of infrared or other sensors) leads us to believe that the selfie cameras will be the only thing used for this feature. While machine learning may (or may not) be applied to improve accuracy, it looks like Face Unlock will provide convenience, not security.
With the HTC U12, fans can be hopeful that HTC won't release another pair of subpar phones. How well it sells will largely depend on increasing customer awareness, but with the direction the company moved with the U11+, we can be sure the phone will better compete against the likes of Samsung and LG.
The rumors and news won't stop here, of course. As more information is revealed, we will continue to update this article to keep you informed. Are you excited about the HTC U12? Do you like the potential name change to U12+? Let us know in the comments below.