HTC's squeezable smartphone aims for one-handed ease

Dive Brief:

  • HTC, the smartphone pioneer whose market share has collapsed to less than 1% of the worldwide total, introduced a device that’s easier to use with one hand, according to the company's website . The HTC U11 can perform nine different functions by squeezing either side of the 5.5-inch phone.
  • It has a 16-megapixel front camera, a headset that cancels out background noise and a set of micro-sensors along each side that respond to short or long squeezes, Forbes said. HTC removed the headphone jack to fit more components inside the phone.
  • The U11 is listed at $649 and comes with three intelligent assistants. HTC’s Sense Companion and the Google Assistant that comes with Android are pre-loaded on phone. Amazon’s Alexa will be available on the Google Play store in July.

Dive Insight:

HTC needs to generate some excitement for its next generation of smartphones after seeing its share of the global market fall from about 11% in 2011 to an estimated 0.6% this year, according to research by TrendForce. Industry observers said the company had trouble standing out amid a more crowded market and had a particular weakness in software and services that made Apple and Xiaomi more distinct, a Reuters report said.

The squeezable controls are getting mixed reviews from tech columnists. Aatif Sulleyman, a gadget columnist for the Independent, said operating the camera is much easier with the squeeze functions instead of trying to press a shutter button on the touchscreen. Brian Heater at TechCrunch said the Edge Sense technology is gimmicky and won’t help to differentiate HTC from other mobile brands.

Meanwhile, the smartphone market has shown signs of weakening this year, with Apple reporting a third-quarter slide in iPhone sales to 50.8 million units from 51.2 million a year earlier. Apple CEO Tim Cook partly blamed the slowdown on press leaks about upcoming iPhone models that compelled customers to delay their purchases.  Samsung, LG and Huawei began to ship their latest flagship devices but are also seeing soft demand ahead of the expected September release of the 10th anniversary iPhone, TrendForce said.

Filed Under: Mobile marketing trends Tech and platform developments
Top image credit: HTC