HTC U11 Review

Software & Edge Sense

One of the headlining features of the U11 is something called Edge Sense. HTC basically put pressure sensors on the sides of the phone so that you can trigger specific actions for a short or long squeeze. You can also specify how hard you’ll have to squeeze for it to trigger. You can use it to launch any app you want, or do things like take a screenshot, launch Google Assistant, etc.

Under no circumstance does squeezing a phone feel natural. It feels weird, and I’ve never had the need to use it.

It works, but such simple “shortcut” functions could have been easily implemented via pre-existing buttons or through gestures. For instance, on OnePlus phones you can map a double tap or long press of the back, home and recents buttons to a variety of actions, including opening the notification centre, launching the camera, or performing a voice search.

Furthermore, you likely have to shift your grip before squeezing the U11, and under no circumstance does squeezing a phone feel natural. It feels weird, and I’ve never had the need to use it.

What about the rest of the software experience? HTC’s default UX, Sense, has been rather stale for many years now. On the left of your home screen you still have Blinkfeed, which I’ve found to literally be nothing more than real estate for ads.

I installed Nova Launcher and Elun Icon Pack right away

I was planning to give the default launcher a shot, at least for the first 10 minutes of setting up the phone until I realised that I couldn’t apply icon packs on the default launcher, or download a new theme from HTC’s theme store unless I created an HTC account. In defiance, I proceeded to download Nova Launcher and applied Elun icon pack and was happy. Such is the beauty of Android.

HTC put an emphasis on minimising bloat with the U11: they made sure not to include any stock HTC apps if Google had its own implementation of the same app. There’s no HTC browser, or gallery; instead, Chrome and Google Photos come pre-installed.

There’s this app called News Republic that has absolutely no business being installed on my phone, and I can’t understand why I’m not allowed to uninstall it

There is however, still bloat on the device, some of which you can’t get rid of. Things like HTC help and HTC Sense Companion are going to be residing in your app drawer. I have a grudging acceptance towards those apps; after all, this is a HTC phone. But there’s this app called News Republic that has absolutely no business being installed on my phone, and I can’t understand why I’m not allowed to uninstall it. The saving grace is that this is Android, and so you can hide the apps if you have a launcher that supports this (interestingly, HTC’s default launcher does). Alternatively, some of the apps can be disabled.

The good news is that other than the launcher, the rest of the experience (notifications, settings menu, etc.) are pretty much stock. So if you don’t like what you see, you can just do what I did and make a clean UX for yourself.

Leave a Reply