HTC 11: Everything we know so far

UPDATE 20/03: "Unexpected surprise" not what we've been waiting for - Curvy, light on buttons, and heavy on power? Yes, please!

Last year's HTC 10 was a welcome return to flagship form for the smartphone stalwart after the underwhelming HTC One M9, but can the company go even bigger this year?

Clearly, HTC needs a big win for its smartphone business. As Samsung has established its top-end dominance and OnePlus has delivered flagship-level quality at mid-range prices, HTC's unique hook has diminished of late. The HTC 10 was quite nice, but the HTC 11 – or whatever it's officially called – needs to be absolutely brilliant.

Based on the reported specs and features that have leaked so far, at least it sounds like HTC's next flagship will be ultra-powerful, which can't hurt, although we're still waiting to hear some hard details on what else this phone will have to offer. Curious? Of course you are: here's what we've heard so far.

What we know

>>> It probably won't be called the HTC 11

While it's still the best shorthand we have for the new phone (until anything is official), signs point to HTC adopting a new naming approach for the device. It may be called the "HTC Ocean" instead, and HTC exec Chialing Chang told Engadget point black in January that there would be no phone called the HTC 11.

>>> It might lack physical buttons

Last autumn, notorious leaker Evan Blass shared an internal concept video for the HTC Ocean (above), which shows a phone without physical volume or home buttons; instead, it has "Sense Touch" sensors on the left and right sides of the phone, which can also be used to navigate between apps. There seems to be a small power button on the bottom, but that might be it – assuming this concept actually turns out to be the HTC 11.

>>> It should run the Snapdragon 835

Keeping with HTC's trend of relying on Qualcomm's latest and greatest mobile processors, the HTC 11 is expected to use the Snapdragon 835 system-on-a-chip. The 10nm chip promises faster processing and download speed capabilities, dual camera support, Quick Charge 4 tech, and an Adreno 540 GPU. In other words, it'll fly.

That also means we'll be waiting a while for it - Samsung has vacuumed up the entire initial run of Snapdragon 835s, leaving other companies waiting in line.

>>> It may have 6GB RAM, too

That's kind of an absurd tally for a smartphone, yet once OnePlus made the move to 6GB for both the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, it was only a matter of time before the flagships had to follow. Rumours suggest that the HTC 11 will pack 6GB RAM to support that Snapdragon 835.

>>> Expect another Quad HD display

No, HTC won't be making the leap to a mobile 4K display this year – the rumoured spec reports point to a Quad HD display again, just like last year (shown), which should fall in at 2560x1440 resolution. A purported leak points to a 5.5in display this time around, up from 5.2 on the HTC 10, and it may be curved now on both the left and right like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

>>> Mmm, Nougat

Android 7 Nougat is almost a certainty for a brand new flagship expected in the coming months, and a leaked spec screenshot suggests that Android 7.1.2 – recently offered in beta to Pixel and Nexus users – is running on a prototype device. Expect the latest and greatest on the version that ships, of course.

>>> Solid shooters planned

One leak for the HTC 11 suggests that the phone will have a 12-megapixel back camera and an 8-megapixel selfie shooter up front. Both sound about on par with what we've seen on rival flagships of late, and if that 12MP back camera can hang with the Pixel's camera, then it should be quite fine indeed. No word yet on whether HTC will shoot for something like the iPhone 7 Plus's dual-camera array.

>>> A Vive phone?

Here's an interesting tidbit: a leaked internal HTC video about a seeming brand transformation briefly shows a smartphone with the name of the company's VR headset on the back. Will the HTC 11 also be a Vive-branded phone capable of mobile VR, like the Samsung Gear VR and Google's Daydream initiative?

>>> We should see it soon

The HTC 10 was announced a little later than usual in April 2016, while the HTC One M9 was unveiled in March 2015. The smart money would be on HTC doing something similar for 2017, even with the largely absent set of leaks that usually accompany such a launch leaving us in the dark this year.

HTC's Taiwanese Facebook page gave us the biggest hint yet, suggesting an "unexpected surprise" would be coming on the 20th of March. Turns out it wasn't the phone we've been waiting to see, though: it was merely the sapphire glass version of the HTC U Ultra, which was originally announced as far back as CES in January. You big tease, HTC...

All the latest news

>>> 20 March 2017

That big tease mentioned on HTC's Taiwanese Facebook page last week turned out to be less "unexpected surprise", and more "very expected disappointment". The announcement was merely a sapphire glass version of the HTC U Ultra with 128GB of storage - which had already been revealed previously anyway. Move along, nothing to see here...

>>> 15 March 2017

HTC's Taiwanese Facebook page teased an "unexpected surprise" for the 20th of March - possibly hinting at a reveal date for the HTC 11. Still, with no other regional Facebook pages adding their own teasers, it seems like we could be getting a Taiwan-only announcement next week.

>>> 06 February 2017

A supposed leaked screenshot shows the purported specs of the HTC 11, including a Snapdragon 835 chip and 6GB RAM, showcasing what appears to be a high-powered new flagship device. However, some of the specs seem off (like the display dimensions), so don't put too much stock into everything the image shares - especially as the background matches up exactly with Huawei's EMUI settings screen.

>>> 12 January 2017

So much for the "HTC 11," it seems – company exec Chialin Chang tells Engadget that the company won't release a phone under that moniker this year. However, we're sure to get a flagship that serves as the successor to the HTC 10. Will it be the HTC Ocean instead?

>>> 08 January 2017

Another video leak from Evan Blass, this time with an internal promo video for the Touch Sense functionality. We see how it can be used to scroll through apps in a one-handed mode, which could certainly be helpful.

>>> 07 January 2017

A video leaked by Evan Blass (@evleaks) shows what seems to be a new focus for HTC, on various materials and phone styles to create more of an emotional connection with users… and what's this? A phone with HTC Vive branding on it? Indeed. It would seem that HTC has mobile VR plans on the brain, and perhaps this phone will end up being the HTC 11.

>>> 4 November 2016

According to a noted leaker on Weibo (via Android Pure), the HTC 11 may be equipped with a 5.5in, dual-curved Quad HD display, making it a little larger and a lot curvier than last year's model. Furthermore, the report claims that the phone will have a 12-megapixel back camera with 8 megapixels on the front shooter.

>>> 20 September 2016

Blass gives us what could be our first look at the HTC 11 or HTC Ocean's Touch Sense functionality, with this internal concept video. HTC designer Danelle Vermeulen says it's strictly a concept and isn't a functional device, but Blass has insisted otherwise in the time since.