The latest 2017 flagships all have one or two unique features that help them stand out from the crowd. Whether we’re talking about an 18:9 aspect ratio display, a dual camera setup, or a secondary screen, it’s really great to see smartphone manufacturers experiment with new features in an attempt to be more compelling to consumers.

In the case of the recently announced HTC U11, that distinctive feature comes in the form of Edge Sense, which lets you squeeze the phone to enable specific activities. If that sounds weird to you, that’s because it is. No other manufacturers are doing anything like this at the moment. It does take some getting used to, but we’ve found that it can be quite intuitive and useful after some use. To help you better understand and navigate this feature, we’re taking a closer look at Edge Sense on the HTC U11.

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Getting started

In order to start using the pressure sensitive sides of the U11, you’ll first need to set it up in the Settings menu. Alternatively, you can choose to go through the setup process when you’re setting up the phone for the first time. To start, you will have to set the intensity of the squeeze, or as HTC calls it, the “squeeze force level”. This is basically how hard or soft you’ll have to squeeze the phone for the functions to trigger. You set this by squeezing the phone as hard as you want, and that will be the force you will need each time.

You can hit the plus or minus button on the setup screen to fine tune the level of the squeeze. From here, you can test the squeeze force level by sending virtual balloons into the air to make sure that it is exactly what you want. Something to keep in mind is that you don’t want to set the squeeze to be too soft, as this may result in accidental squeezes. At the same time, you don’t want to set the squeeze force level too high either, which could make it difficult to trigger.

You can also enable visual or haptic feedback when you squeeze the phone, which might make it easier to tell if you’ve successfully triggered the feature or not.

What it can do

Edge Sense is set to launch the camera by default. A single squeeze launches the camera app, while another squeeze will let you snap a photo. You can keep it this way if you’d like, or you can change it to open a specific app. Edge Sense can be programmed to launch Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps, or basically any other application, and it can also perform actions like taking a screenshot, turning on the flashlight, starting a voice recording, or launching the HTC Sense companion.

To get more out of Edge Sense, there’s also an advanced mode that will let you perform two different functions based on short and long squeezes. For example, you can set the short squeeze to launch the camera, and a squeeze and hold can be used to open Google Assistant. That is just an example of course, and you have the ability to set the short and long squeeze to launch any app or perform any function of your choice.

If you do use the advanced mode to control the camera and the Google Assistant, you will also gain some additional functionality within those apps. Once the camera app is launched, a short squeeze will let you take a photo as before, but a long squeeze can be used to switch between the front and rear cameras. With Google Assistant, if you are typing a message in an email, text message, or any input field that would require the keyboard, you can finish the text using your voice by activating voice-to-text with a short or long squeeze.

One of the biggest benefits of Edge Sense is that it allows you interact with the phone when it’s wet or submerged in water, when touch input on the display isn’t the most reliable. If you want to take a photo, open an application, or turn on the camera flash, you can do so easily by squeezing the phone. All of this is possible thanks to the HTC U11’s IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.

Final thoughts

Edge Sense is certainly one of the most interesting ways we’ve been able to interact with phones in a long time. Squeezing your phone may sound like a weird thing to do at first, but I’ll admit that it feels quite intuitive. I thoroughly enjoy using it as a shortcut to Google Assistant.

What do you think about Edge Sense? Is it a game changing smartphone feature or just another gimmick? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Sumpil

    I would really like HTC to enable us to use a short squeeze to scroll Web pages.

    • Iuli S. George

      To do that with the fingerprint sensor would be a better idea IMO.

      • Aaron S.

        Sounds good in theory…but not actually practical when you think about it. Why would I want to squeeze the phone instead of using my finger to scroll? Same goes for the fingerprint scanner.

        And before you tell me about using gloves….how would you get to the webpage in the first place?

        • Rajat Negi

          1. Long Squeeze opens Google assistant
          2. You say whatever you it to open for you
          3. Use short squeeze to scroll through content!

          • Aaron S.

            1) +1 (for ingenuity)

            2) I guess….but the GAssist only searches for you….this screws over anyone with an accent.

            3) This is assuming that the content that you want is actually on the first screen that you see…doesn’t help if you need to go to the second page of the article, for example.

          • Rajat Negi

            That might have a simpler solution mate, just choose a different assistant. But I get what you mean though however that’s just one possibility off the top of my head so I believe there might be more once i get used to the phone.

            I understand a dedicated button might have provided a similar functionality, however you do need to acknowledge it is only the beginning of a new feature in a smartphone so it might need more time to be actually useful. Now, imagine the top half of the phone and the bottom half of the phone could recognize pressure independently which would make it 4 different shortcuts and that is way more better than having 4 extra dedicated keys right?

          • Aaron S.

            I agree…I just wish that I could scroll by swiping the upper half, like the Ocean Promo video. But….hoping for the best for the future.

  • illregal

    HTC killin it with da hot fiyah!

  • Dan Arbuckle

    I can see were this would be great for camera activation. I have taken a lot of great travel pics with my HTC M9. To be able to so with just a squeez and with gloves on, makes this a excelent phone in my book.

  • daftrok

    I feel this very useful for accessibility for people with disabilities be it for an amputee or someone with Parkinson’s Disease that cannot use their digits accurately. For general users this isn’t really all that helpful. If you can grab your phone with one hand you can double tap a button to launch a camera which is honestly the only thing its good for. Squeezing while taking a selfie I guess but you can also just say “cheese” or click the volume down button.

  • Ethan

    Darn, so it can’t be set as an alternate button for Home, Overview/Task Switcher, or do Reachability? That’s what I want it for more than anything else. Screens are too big to reach everywhere without shifting the phone. I don’t want to shift the phone or bend my thumb so far. Apple has Reachability to temporarily pull down the top of the screen. I want to temporarily shrink the screen towards my thumb. I also want to switch apps without bending my thumb to hit a distant bottom corner.

    • Sumpil

      I think someone will create an app for that

      • Shadowstare

        A short squeeze to pull down the notification shade will be SUPER clutch.

      • Ethan

        Hopefully, but maybe it requires deeper integration with Android than apps are allowed.

  • Matt

    HTC introduces a pretty nice new input method, queue Samsung fanboys calling it a gimmick…. GO

    • Phantasmax

      Wow, you sound just like those teenage YouTube trolls

      • Matt

        Profiled me perfectly *slow claps*

  • gary walker

    HTC has done it again! It is no doubt that the edge sense is a feature that soon enough other mobile phone makers will incorporate into their phones. The edge sense provides the user to quickly access whatever needs to be done. This is especially true with a number of professions where people have to make quick important decisions by opening an app that may make their decision the difference between success or failure.
    Besides the edge sense feature makes perfect sense because holding the phone would be the idea position to ergonomiclly operate your mobile device and open up apps.
    The edge sense is undoubtedly just the beginning.

    • Tom St Pierre

      I haven’t tried it yet but this doesn’t seem to add any more functionality compared to a dedicated camera button like many Sony phones have. The only difference is the activation method.

    • sachouba

      It will probably end up like Air Gestures, or 3D Touch : no one uses them anymore.

  • paxmos

    All these years and HTC is finally squeezing out a weird idea !!!

    • cybertec69

      Why are you lying.

      • paxmos

        Wouldn’t you prefer boobs over this?

        • cybertec69

          You did not get it.

          • paxmos

            I guess I didn’t…

  • mit

    this might be the break that HTC needs

  • avnow

    Not sure how practical feature it would be, so kudos HTC for the onnovation. but too much of hand gymnastic fot me is not good.

    • cybertec69

      It will strengthen your palm and hand, for a better choke the chicken experience :) . I think it’s great actually, you can just pull your phone out with one hand and take a picture without having to use any of your fingers or other hand.

      • avnow

        yeah but why not a dedicated button, which can be programmed for anything you like..

  • Merglet

    It would be a pretty awesome thing to be able to take underwater photos thanks to this feature. It’s a brilliant idea in my mind and something I could see becoming a feature on a lot of phones. TBH, even though I just got a new phone a few months ago, I’m kind of coveting the U11. I’m normally happy for a couple of years with a phone but this might get my wallet out. (Assuming I don’t win the giveaway!)

  • V for Vivere Pericolosamente

    Squeeze?… really?… what a stupid mechanic… companies will do anything these days just to pretend they do something differently…

    • Doesn’t sound stupid. And first impressions are it is very user friendly. I for one prefer to wait and see for myself, it’s only fair :)

    • It’s actually a very nice feature. Better than anything out right now on any of the new flagship. Sorry you missed it…

    • cybertec69

      It is different and very useful, let me guess you own a Samsung.

      • V for Vivere Pericolosamente

        Why does it matter which brand i own?… i guess next big hit will be pinching or licking your smartphone…

  • spec

    how can I get the remote on my Samsung head set or my siennhiser android headset to work with triple click and google voice hold down button. I have had 4s7 edges cause I kept breaking them yet each one doesn’t work with the headset properly out of the box. never had a issue on iphones and windows phones, this is the first phone I had to install a app just to have triple click and press hold to work. Is iot me of has Samsung omitted these basic features from their phone