HTC used to be right up there with Apple, Samsung, LG and Sony in terms of how much hype we saw around its flagship launch. Fast-forward to 2018 and we're not even expecting an HTC flagship to be announced at this year's MWC tradeshow - though the HTC U12 is coming, and it's been recently spotted at a 5G conference (see image above, via @iamaniff). 

Also see: What to expect from MWC 2018

When is the HTC U12 release date?

You'll probably have heard that last year HTC made a deal with Google. It was not a buyout or acquisition, but the 'Cooperation Agreement' did include $1.1bn in cash and the transfer of some HTC employees to Google. The search giant also received a non-exclusive licence for HTC intellectual property, though the phone maker has continued to make and sell devices.

A statement from HTC at the time suggested that the company would retain "best-in-class engineering talent", which is "currently working on the next flagship phone". 

HTC's last three flagships have been announced in March, April and May. Our money is on May for the successor to the HTC U11.

One thing's for sure: it won't arrive at MWC 2018 alongside the Galaxy S9, Nokia 8 Sirocco and Sony Xperia XZ2. HTC isn't even holding a MWC press conference.

What are the rumoured new features and specifications of the HTC U12?

There are a couple of interesting concepts out there giving us a look at what HTC's 2018 flagship might look like, as well as leaked images from a 5G conference that reportedly show the HTC U12 in the flesh.

HTC U12

The first concept, below, shows a design similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6. It features tiny bezels at the top and bottom in order to fit in a 5.7in 4K display with curved corners, according to Gizmochina.

HTC U12 leak

Another leak shows a non-descript black slab - that GMSArena claims is the HTC U12. Make of it what you will, but the power and volume positions of the keys are the same as on the U11:

More design changes are in force with HTC going back to a metal casing, rather than the shiny glass of the U11 and there's no visible fingerprint scanner. Gizmochina suggests that Qualcomm's under-display sensor tech will be in use.

Other rumours specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The chip rumour is backed up by a report that claims a leaked document shows phones in 2018 that will get the 845. It looks a tad suspect, mind you. 

There might also be JBL speakers but no headphone jack, a 16Mp front facing camera and dual rear cameras.

The concept of dual-cameras has seemingly been confirmed by HTC itself, which says it will start producing dual-camera phones again next year.

Another HTC U12 concept looks similar at the front, albeit with stereo speakers and no rounded corners on the screen. At the back it's also showing a metal design but a single camera and fingerprint scanner.