Update: We’ve added a list of new Edge Sense gestures coming to the HTC U11 later this year.
If you’re about to get your hands on the HTC U11, you’re going to want to unlock its secrets and take full advantage of its capabilities. There are unusual functions and hidden features galore, alongside a host of useful Android options designed to enhance your smartphone use.
We’re here to help you get to grips with everything, from the squeezable Edge Sense to the performance enhancing Boost+. If you haven’t had a chance, take a look at our full review of the U11 for more information about HTC’s latest flagship.
HTC U11 Tips
We’re mostly focusing on U11 tips that are unique. As it runs the latest flavor of Android, you can also try out our Android 7.1 Nougat tips and tricks with the HTC U11.
How to use Edge Sense
One of the most eye-catching features of the HTC U11 is its squeezability. The sides of the phone can be squeezed to launch apps and trigger functions. This is not a feature you’ll find in any other phone. You’ll have the option to set up Edge Sense the first time you power on the U11, but you can always pull down the notification shade and tap the Edge Sense icon, or head into Settings > Edge Sense to change what it does.
By default, a short squeeze launches the camera and another squeeze will snap a shot. You can change that via Settings > Edge Sense > Customize squeeze action. You can also add a second function, triggered by a squeeze and hold, if you tick the box next to Enable advanced mode. By default, this will add the ability to launch Google Assistant with a squeeze and hold. If you find it difficult to use, then recalibrate the force required to trigger it via Adjust your squeeze force level.
Both the short squeeze and the squeeze and hold actions can be configured to do a variety of other things including launch apps, take screenshots, turn the flashlight on or off, record your voice, launch HTC Sense Companion, or turn your Wi-Fi hotspot on or off.
HTC is adding new Edge Sense features on a rolling basis. In June, it added “squeeze controls” in Google Maps. Exerting pressure on either of the phone’s sides zooms in on streets and buildings. (Zooming in on photos in the gallery app works the same way.) In the HTC 11’s calendar app, a squeeze switches between weekly and monthly calendar views, and in the phone’s alarm app, squeezing silences the ringing alarm.
Finally, squeezing while watching a video pauses it, and squeezing when a call comes in answers it.
How to use HTC Sense Companion
If you look in your app drawer, you’ll see an app called Sense Companion. It’s an unusual smartphone assistant that tries to offer up bits and pieces of useful information, such as weather reports, suggestions for places to eat nearby, and reminders to charge up your phone before you go out. When it has something to suggest, you’ll hear an alert and a small bubble, like a Facebook chat head, will pop up on your home screen, or on top of any app you might have open. Tap on it to see what the suggestion is, or ignore it and it will go away within a couple of seconds.
You can also check suggestions by opening the app. Tell it whether you liked a suggestion, give some reasoning, and it should learn over time and improve recommendations for the future. If you expect it to be useful, then you need to grant it access to your data. This is split into four areas: Location, usage, device, and activity data, which you can set in the app by tapping the three vertical dots at the top right and then Permissions.
How to use gestures
There are a few gestures you can use with the HTC U11 as handy shortcuts. To find them, go to Settings > Display, gestures & buttons and scroll down to the bottom. The Media gesture simply launches HTC Connect when you swipe up the screen with three fingers, so that you can connect to any DLNA devices in the vicinity and share content on a big screen, or stream audio to a music system. You can also choose to Press power button twice for camera, though we much prefer the squeeze shortcut for launching the camera.
At the very bottom of Settings > Display, gestures & buttons you’ll find Motion Launch gestures. There are five to choose from with short animations to explain how they work. We recommend the Double tap to wake up & sleep, but the usefulness of these options is somewhat limited if you have lock screen security in place, as you should.
How to get great audio
The U11 does have BoomSound speakers, though the main speaker is on the bottom edge, so be careful how you hold your U11 to avoid covering it up. When you start playing content, you’ll usually see a pop-up asking if you want Music mode or Theater mode. It’s worth choosing the appropriate mode for the best sound. You can also change this via Settings > HTC BoomSound for built-in speakers.
We also recommend using the HTC USonic earphones that come in the box with your U11. They have excellent active noise cancellation, which drowns out background noises. You’ll be prompted to create a personal audio profile when you first plug them in. If you want to recalibrate for any reason, then go to Settings > HTC USonic with Active Noise Cancellation and plug them in again. It’s a quick process and it does improve audio clarity.
How to use Night Mode
We’re pleased to see that options for filtering out blue light, which can keep you up at night, are becoming standard on smartphones. If you’re reading in bed and plan to get some shuteye soon, then pull down the notification shade and tap the Night mode icon. You can also find it in Settings > Display, gestures & buttons > Night mode, where you have the option to set the color temperature and schedule it to turn on automatically. It turns itself off again automatically at sunrise.