HTC launches U12+ flagship smartphone

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We were big fans of last year's HTC U11 - not the most headline-grabbing 'phone in the business, but its stunning screen, video and audio smarts made it a solid performer in our eyes.

HTC's new flagship for the year - the U12+ (there's no non-plus version) - aims to continue that performance, but is less bothered on chasing specs and more focused on enhancing the smartphone experience. It offers a better camera (especially for low-light snaps) and gives users the ability to use a large-screened phone with one hand.

Instead of all the action happening on the touchscreen (which HTC thinks is limiting), HTC once again wants you to squeeze or tap the sides of the phone to trigger shortcuts and functions one step quicker than tapping the screen or a button.

That's the theory of its returning "Edge Sense" feature. A tap to the touch-sensitive panels of the handset brings up the Edge Launcher - a roulette wheel of apps that you can select with one hand, too.

With rival smartphones upping their camera game in recent models, HTC has followed suit by improving the camera on the U12+: there are dual cameras on the front (8MP) and back (16MP and 12MP sensors).

The twin cameras offer added depth of field to its special 'Bokeh' mode. You can film in 4K, record in hi-res audio, and there's even a nifty 'sonic zoom' feature that amplifies the audio of whatever you're zooming into.

Elsewhere, the HTC U12+ has a 6in LCD screen with Quad HD (2560 x 1440) resolution - the very same as last year's U11+. It also supports HDR via YouTube, hi-res audio playback up to 24-bit/192kHz, and Bluetooth 5 streaming.

AI smarts include Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, along with HTC's own Sense Companion.

The U12+ sees the return of the BoomSound speaker technology featured in the U11, but HTC claims the successor can go 60 per cent louder. Naturally, HTC’s noise-cancelling USB-C headphones are supplied in the box.

The U12+ runs on Android O (with a 'P' update to follow later) and is powered by a Snapdragon 845 chip. The 3500mAh battery can be charged via the phones USB-C port, which also doubles up as the headphone jack. There is a pair of HTC's USB-C in-ears with active noise-cancellation bundled with the phone, too.

Its glass body comes in three chrome finishes, too: ceramic black, flame red and translucent blue - the last of which has a subtle transparent finish that lets you peek into the innards of the phone.

The HTC U12+ starts from £699 for the 64GB version (there's also a 128GB variant) and is available to pre-order now.

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