Have you ever wished your smartphone could double as a stress ball?
On Tuesday, HTC announced a new sqeezable smartphone to make your tactile electronics dreams come true.
Squeze to operate
The new phone is called the HTC U11, and it matches up well with the predictions made after last year’s HTC 10. The squeezable function has been dubbed Edge Sense, and it comes from a series of micro-sensors on the sides of the phone, and users can use long or short squeezes to activate some core functions, including the camera, the Alexa assistant, and the wireless hotspot.
There are nine total squeezable functions, and the ninth is customizable – squeeze the phone to open whichever app or program strikes your fancy.
“Micro-sensors, always on, super-sensitive and always waiting to respond to your command,” said HTC VP Nigel Newby-House during an announcement made at the company’s office in suburban Taipei. “We tested them thousands of times,” he said, and the performance was found to be “consistent.” He also explained that the sensors respond well to gloved hands and wet hands, but if the phone is in a pocket or handback, the squeezable functions will not respond.
Sink or swim
This new development could go one of two ways: either it’s crappy and people are stuck pointlessly squeezing nonresponsive or laggy phones, or squeezability becomes the it-feature for the phone of the future, and big name brands will play the me-too game until most phones are bursting with microsensors (or something better?).
One major benefit of squeezability is that it can counteract the ‘two-hand’ effect brought on by larger smartphones.
As phones trend bigger and bigger, one hand just can’t handle all that phone, especially if you want to take a selfie without dropping your device, send a text while holding a drink, or look relatively graceful while doing anything but scrolling aimlessly.
However, HTC sees one-handed access as just “one aspect” of the U11. “We’ve got a lot of ideas in house,” says Newby-House.
The U11 features a 5.5 inch body, a 16 megapixel front camera, and a noise-cancelling headset, among other high-end features.
In the U.S., Sprint will be the U11’s exclusive carrier, but the unlocked phone will also be available for $649.