Mobile phones have developed exponentially over the last 15 years. From rudimentary games like Snake and no Wi-Fi/Internet capability, to smartphones that contain everything you could ever want, including a camera, mobile banking and 4G Internet connection, it is difficult to see what more a phone could have that it doesn’t have already.
But if you thought mobile phones couldn’t get any more innovative, think again. The mobile phone has been reinvented and the Facilitate4Me Change Practitioner for May 2017 goes to…HTC, for releasing the world’s first ever squeezable smartphone: the HTC U11 phone!
Initially this may sound like a gimmick, but there are features which make this a must-have at least initially, for the 16% of the population (i.e. the ‘Innovators’ and ‘Early Adopters’ according to Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovation Theory) who are visionary, imaginative and always on the lookout to adopt a specific innovation that will give them an advantage in their personal lives or businesses.
The HTC U11 phone can be squeezed for convenience. Well, not literally. The smartphone has pressure sensors, known as Edge Sense, built into both its sides, which enables the consumer to launch different functions depending on how hard they squeeze. Actions include a short squeeze to open the camera and a second one to take the picture. Other functions can also be performed according to the consumer’s preference, such as launching an app or turning on a torch. The phone’s sensitivity can also be adjusted.
HTC says controlling a phone using just grip makes taking photos easier than on rival devices which require a button or screen process. And in a tech-savvy society where convenience is king, having these shortcuts will be an extremely attractive proposition for consumers.
The Edge Sense feature has received largely positive reviews, with some calling it a ‘huge time-saver’ and praising it for allowing people to ‘send texts faster and easier than before’. Furthermore, with the phone’s expanded display dimensions, ‘it’s designed to make it easier to do basic tasks single-handedly’, which is a definite relative advantage.
2. Health and Safety
The HTC U11 has three voice Intelligent assistants – which facilitates health and safety by promoting voice commands and limiting manual inputs. Whilst most smartphones only have one intelligent assistant (iPhones have Siri and Android phones have Google Assistant); the U11 has three: Google Assistant, HTC’s Sense Companion and support for Amazon’s Alexa. This gives customers more choice over the hands-free assistant they prefer. Though the HTC U11 is not the first smartphone to feature Alexa (Amazon’s voice intelligent assistant is also used for home smart speakers like Amazon Echo), it is the first smartphone to have full hands-free support for Alexa. This means you can say a voice command without having to first open an app or even unlock the phone. This provides a big health and safety benefit in certain scenarios. For example, it can be used to help write text messages whilst walking on the street, making it safer for the phone user and better for other pedestrians who don’t have to walk frustratingly slowly behind someone who’s trying (unsuccessfully) to walk and text!
3. Incredible photo and video quality
According to Business Standard, the HTC U11 has achieved the highest ever rating for a smartphone camera for both photo and video. Still photos can be taken with enhanced levels of detail and the phone’s exceptional optical and electronic stabilisation system allows the amateur photographer to take steady photos and videos even when their hand is shaking.
Trying to film a video with noise interruptions? No problem. The phone utilises Temporal Noise Reduction technology, which automatically uses information from the previous and next frames to remove unwanted noise and deliver the clearest videos yet.
There is no doubt that the phone’s features will attract the ‘Innovators’ and ‘Early Adopters’ segment of the consumer population which make up 2.5% and 13.5% respectively. So, what about the rest of the consumer population? Will the phone take off amongst the ‘Early Majorities’ (34%), ‘Late Majorities’ (34%) and the ‘Laggards’ (16%)? These consumer segments are pragmatists who will not jump in until they see tangible benefits and are convinced that the phone has been “endorsed” by the ordinary man or woman in the street.
Time will tell whether the convenience, safety and quality benefits are enough to get them to make the leap to purchase the HTC U11 so that it becomes mainstream. Regardless, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the mobile phone reinvention is a game changer – which is why HTC is Facilitate4Me’s Change Practitioner of the Month for May 2017.