So-called 'selfie smartphones' – handsets with powerful front cameras as a major feature – are all the rage at the moment. Not long after the new Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra were unveiled at CES, another has been revealed to the world; this time, from Taiwanese tech giant HTC.
The company has announced it will be bringing out a new model, known as the HTC U11 Eyes. This innovative smartphone is named for the dual cameras it sports on its front face. This is unlike most handsets, which tend to feature a double-camera setup on the rear, if at all.
The twin front cameras each have a resolution of 5MP, with an aperture of f/2.2 and a wide 80-degree view. At first, this seems like a bit of a downgrade, with the original HTC U11 coming with a 16MP front camera with a better aperture of f/2.0, and the U11+ having a reduced resolution of 8MP but an improved 85-degree view.
However, the twin front cameras on the U11 Eyes have a few tricks up their sleeve. For example, they utilise a HDR Boost function to capture images on a bright background, and feature both live 'bokeh' – referring to the blurring of a photo's background to highlight the subject – and live beautification modes, enabling users to modify how pictures will look before they take them.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of the U11 Eyes is the addition of AR stickers – similar to those made famous by Snapchat – that automatically map themselves to the user's face. Multiple people can use this feature at once, as long as their faces show up large enough in the display to be recognised.
Speaking of facial recognition, the phone comes with an impressive face unlock system, according to HTC. The camera is capable of scanning faces for a total of 128 different vectors, which allows it to tell the difference between a human being and a photograph. It can also allegedly recognise a user even if they are wearing a hat, sunglasses or a face mask.
Of course, the U11 Eyes is more than simply its front cameras. The other specs are also quite impressive for a mid-range smartphone, such as its Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage space. This is not as high-performance as the U11 and U11+, both of which use the more powerful Snapdragon 835, but the price tag is expected to be lower for the Eyes.
Another difference from the standard U11 is the display. The U11 Eyes comes with a six-inch LCD screen, with a resolution of 2,160×1,080 pixels. This is larger than the U11's 5.5-inch screen, but it has a lower resolution compared to the flagship phone's 2,560×1,440 pixels.
However, despite the many minor differences, the U11 Eyes' battery matches that of the U11+ as both utilise a beefy 3,930mAh model. Other similarities include HTC's 'liquid' design, IP67-certified water and dust resistance, and Edge Sense tech, which enables the launching of certain apps and features by squeezing the phone.
Finally, the HTC U11 Eyes has a 12MP UltraPixel 3 camera on the rear of the phone. While not specifically designed for selfies like the front cameras, this is still a solid piece of kit for those who like to snap pictures with their smartphones.
It's not known when the HTC U11 Eyes is coming out around the world, besides a Hong Kong release scheduled for Wednesday (January 17th). It will be available in “Solar Red”, “Amazing Silver” and “Ceramic Black”, with a price tag of HK$3,898 (around £362).
This means that despite the several downgrades compared to the U11 and U11+, the U11 Eyes is still a significant cost saving. The RRP for the U11 is £579, with the U11+ being even more expensive.