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HTC Ocean/HTC U: leaks, news, and rumors

Why it matters to you

The upcoming HTC Ocean, or HTC U as it’s been rumored to be named, should showcase all the company’s most offbeat and potentially groundbreaking ideas.

Known as the HTC Ocean since rumors began, the HTC U appears to be the final name for the device, which has been given an official announcement date by the company. It’s also teasing a very unusual feature, that may have you squeezing the phone more than usual! Here’s everything we know about the HTC U, or HTC Ocean as it was previously known, so far.

Release date

Rumors about the phone have been swirling for months, but now we have the official announcement date for the HTC U, which is expected to be the final name for the HTC Ocean. HTC has started distributing invitations for a launch event that will take place on May 16, and it’s not being very subtle about the phone it’ll introduce. The invite shows a large, stylized letter U in the center, with the tag line “Squeeze for the brilliant.” Yes, really.

The squeezing part links to rumors the phone will have pressure sensitive pads in its sides, for activating certain features. Additionally, HTC also tweeted a short video showing a glimpse of the phone, and hinting at this squeezable functionality.

HTC’s event will be held at 2 p.m. in Taipei, Taiwan, which means it’ll be an early start for anyone in New York, where that time converts to 2 a.m., and in London, where it’s 7 a.m.


Our first supposed image of HTC’s new flagship comes courtesy of well-known Twitter leaker Evan Blass. The device shown unsurprisingly mimics the recently revealed HTC U Ultra, with a glossy backside, center-mounted camera, and minimal bezels to the left and right of the screen.

It’s also very evocative of the jet black iPhone 7. Those chunky bezels at the top and bottom are a dead ringer for Apple’s device, and are rather dated in light of recent output from companies like LG, Samsung, and Xiaomi, which have all been attempting to cut down on unused surface space as much as possible.

Naming: Is HTC Ocean really the HTC U?

The HTC Ocean is almost certainly going to be called the HTC U when it’s released. It will be the third device in the HTC U series — following the HTC U Play and HTC U Ultra — and the U name has been used in HTC’s teaser material for the phone’s May 16 launch.

Previous rumors, from Taiwanese news outlet ePrice, suggested the Ocean was a series of three phones, called “Master,” “Note,” and “Smart,” which backs a previous leak from Twitter user LlabTooFer. Presumably, the “Note” will have a larger display, the “Master” will offer higher specs, and the “Smart” will be the base model. The Note will offer storage options of 64GB and 128GB, ePrice says, but that’s all we know about the phone’s specs.


HTC appears to be planning a number of additional software features atop Android 7.1 Nougat to enhance the camera and audio experience on the U/Ocean, according to pre-release materials obtained by Android Headlines. First and foremost is an HDR+ mode touting real-time scene detection, which would reportedly show HDR processing through the viewfinder before snapping a picture.

The leak also mentions two audio recording methods that use the phone’s four microphones in different ways. The 3D Audio option attempts to create a surround sound effect, while another Hi-Res setting is geared toward capturing lossless audio. Like other HTC devices, BoomSound should aid in playback from the Ocean’s double front-facing speakers. There’s also USonic, software that will supposedly allow users to develop a custom listening profile when using headphones that is tuned specifically for their ears.

Android Headlines has also reported the phone will release in tandem with HTC’s new SenseLink desktop software, which sports some basic connectivity features like notification viewing and read-it-later functionality, as well as the ability to easily move content between the device and a PC.


So what kind of specs should we expect from the phone? According to an article from VentureBeat, the device will be powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The device will also sport a 2560 x 1440-pixel display, and will have a 16-megapixel Sony IMX351 camera on the back coupled with a 12-megapixel Sony IMX362 camera on the front.

Android Headlines corroborates the processor and display reports, while adding information on the storage, RAM, and battery. It could launch in two variations: One with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, and another with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. According to the preview materials, the phone will ship with a 3,000mAh battery featuring support for Quick Charge 3.0.

New input methods, secondary displays, and other quirks

When we saw the concept design of what was then called the HTC Ocean, many assumed that the touch-sensitive frame would remain just that: a concept. Now, however, it seems as though that frame has become a very important part of the phone, according to known leaker Evan Blass in an article from VentureBeat.

An HTC designer earlier posted a concept video highlighting some of the best features of the phone. In particular, the video shows off what appears to be a touch-sensitive frame, which would make it possible to control the phone’s software in a similar way to how the edge is used on Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge series. A leak from Mobile01 suggests this feature is called “Edge Sense,” based on a series of screenshots of the phone’s settings menu.

Images of another phone, called the Ocean Master, have also previously leaked on Chinese social media network Weibo, showing what appears to be a phone with a glass frame like the Galaxy S7 and a second display similar to the LG V10 and V20.

That second display would be used for things like app shortcuts and notifications, exactly like the LG V20, but it’s possible that HTC would also have something special planned for the phone. In general, the phone looks very sleek, and marks a pretty radical design shift for the company, which has long stuck with an aluminum unibody design for its flagship phones.

The images have a date stamp of January 5, with the location being Las Vegas — so it seems as though HTC may have had them at January’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Article updated on 04-120-2017 by Andy Boxall: Added news of the HTC U’s launch date.

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