HTC U11 review

Body

Though the HTC has had a tough time in the extremely competitive flagship space, its latest high-end offering has put the company on a very different route from what was obtainable with the 2016 flgship, the HTC 10.

But is the HTC U11 really competitive enough to the worth customers have to pay? This can only be discovered in the complete HTC U11 review.

Design:
HTC has opted for metal and glass with the U11, instead of a metal construction like it normally employs on its high-end offerings. The device features rounded corners, curved edges on the front and back, and an aluminium frame sandwiched between two glass panels. This all makes for a seamless, comfortable in-hand feel.
What makes the U11 outstanding is the liquid glass surface on the back. This design is bound to turn heads, and the way the color shifts and changes depending on the angle results in a stunning effect.
it’s also quite slippery. HTC also includes a clear plastic case in the box to satisfy their customers who like to protect their devices. The case also protects against fingerprints. One also need to know that the U11 is an absolute fingerprint magnet.

Display
HTC choosed a more traditional, familiar display on the U11. The device comes with a 5.5-inch Quad HD Super LCD 5 display, with a “normal” 16:9 aspect ratio.
The bezels around the display are pretty thick. The screen quality is very lovely. It’s sharp, crisp, has excellent viewing angles, and vibrant colors. The screen is bright when using it at night or in the dark. It possesses a great display experience.

Performance
The U11 has everything right in terms of specifications and hardware. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor backed by 4 GB of RAM resides under the hood, and overall performance is just as fast and fluid as you would expect.
Touch response and scrolling is excellent and it runs apps and high-end games with no issues at all. Multi-tasking is also nice and quick, RAM management is quite aggressive with the device sometimes as it closes apps after opening only five or six of them.

Hardware
The U11 in the United States comes with 64 GB of on-board storage, which you can expand up to an additional 256 GB via microSD. There’s also a global variant of the device that comes with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. That’s great news for customers outside the U.S., though we wish the higher-end model was available for everyone.

The U11 features the same woofer and tweeter combo that we first saw with the HTC 10, but it has been improved significantly this time around. It is much louder and with better clarity, and HTC is leveraging the entire phone as an acoustic chamber to make this happen. You can literally feel the audio resonate through the device when holding it in your hand, and there is a huge difference in audio quality and volume when listening to the U11 and HTC 10 side by side.

The U11 doesn’t come with a headphone jack, but I think it’s completely forgivable because of how good the audio sounds through the USB Type-C port. The USonic earbuds that are included in the box are some of the best sounding pair of earphones. They’re able to analyze and tune the audio specifically for your ear structure and also feature active noise cancellation.

If you don’t want to give up your current pair of headphones, HTC also includes a 3.5 mm to USB Type-C adapter in the box. Using the adapter will give you a much better audio experience, as it actually sport a built-in DAC. This allows you to drive higher impedance headphones.
HTC has finally caught up to the rest of the pack on the water resistance front. The U11 sports an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it can survive after being submerged in water. This is a huge step up from the IP53 rating of its predecessor. With most current generation flagships featuring similar protection from the elements, this was definitely a smart move on HTC’s part.

On the front below the display, you’ll find the standard array of capacitive keys HTC usually includes on its smartphones. The back button and recent apps keys flank the home button, which also doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor, as is the case with most other HTC phones, is speedy and reliable.

Battery life
The U11 does a lot of things well, but none of that matters if the phone can’t last all day. Thankfully, battery life with the device is extremely good despite featuring a 3,000 mAh battery, which is a fairly average capacity by current standards. The phone never struggled to make it through a full day of use even with heavy usage, and I never had to reach for the charger in the middle of the day.
When you do have to charge the phone, it gets back to a full charge pretty quickly thanks to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. It’s pretty impressive that HTC was able to extend the U11’s battery life without the need to include a larger battery this time around.
Camera
When HTC announced the U11, one of the biggest topics of discussion was the device’s camera. The company was eager to tell us that the U11 has the highest DxOMark score of all time, outranking the Pixel and Galaxy S8 by one and two points, respectively.

The U11’s main camera comes with a 12 MP “UltraPixel 3” sensor, with an f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilization. Overall, the U11’s camera lives up to the hype and is capable of taking some impressive photos. There’s plenty of detail in each shot, and color reproduction is natural and not overly vibrant.
Photos taken in low-light conditions are incredibly sharp and well detailed, too. Noise levels are kept under control, and the noise you do see is very fine and compact. Low light photos aren’t splotchy at all, which is something we don’t see too often in smartphone cameras.

Although this is a new sensor, it does suffer from one issue in low-light situations that we also saw with the U Ultra. Highlights are very heavily overblown and snapping photos that have light sources causes a lot of streaking, lens flares, and floating light particles. This was also a pretty big problem with the U Ultra, which is why I believe this might be caused by the phone’s reflective back. If that is the case, there isn’t really a permanent fix for it, other than using a case. Still, it’s not an issue many people will find to be bothersome.

The front-facing camera no longer comes with OIS like the HTC 10 did, but you are getting a much higher resolution 16 MP unit for capturing better and sharper looking selfies. Both the rear and front cameras are also leveraging a new feature dubbed HDR Boost, which auto-processes as HDR to give you the clearest and most well-balanced photo possible, similar to what Google has done with the Pixel.

Software
Not a lot has changed on the software front compared to the U Ultra or even the HTC 10 before it. The U11 is running Android 7.1.1 Nougat with HTC’s Sense on top, and with that comes all the familiar features HTC normally includes in its phones: BlinkFeed, a vertical scrolling app drawer, and a theme store.
Sense is still one of the cleanest takes on Android, but it is starting to feel a little dated and in need of a refresh. The U11 was a perfect opportunity for HTC to do that, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I do appreciate that the U11 doesn’t come with a lot of pre-installed bloatware, though. Even on the Sprint version there are only a couple pre-installed Sprint apps. If you do want the least amount of bloat, you should probably check out the unlocked version.

The biggest standout feature on the U11 is the new Edge Sense technology, which is HTC’s new shortcut for accessing different apps or functions on your phone. You can make it do anything from opening up the camera, to launching Google Assistant, to turning on the phone’s flashlight. While some companies like to add an extra to button to the side of their phones for added functionality, HTC has decided to make the U11 squeezable. It does sound like a weird thing to do, but it is surprisingly intuitive and works extremely well.

We’ve talked a lot about the Edge Sense feature in the past, and what you need to know about it is this: it’s weird, fantastic, and is certainly one of the most interesting ways we’ve been able to interact with phones in a long time.

Also read: MetroPCS Best Phones

AI assistants are a big part of smartphones right now. The iPhone has Siri, Samsung phones have will have Bixby, and Google and Amazon have been bringing the Google Assistant and Alexa to many different Android phones. Not only does the U11 come with Google’s Assistant on board, it also sports HTC’s new Sense Companion that first launched on the U Ultra. The Sense Companion will give you suggestions based on your location and the time of day, and will learn your usage habits over time and provide information that it thinks you may want to know.

For example, it can randomly update you with the weather information for the day, provide restaurant recommendations when it is time for lunch or dinner, remind you to charge your phone, or give you traffic updates based on your commute. All of this is shown in a card style layout, which may sound familiar since Google already does this. However, it does work fairly well if you choose to use it, but the big difference is that there is no voice component to the Sense Companion. This means you’ll have to use the Google Assistant for voice dictation.

If two AI assistants weren’t enough, the U11 will also support Amazon Alexa, with the update to activate this feature expected to roll out in July. When that update comes, you will certainly not be lacking in choice when it comes to which AI assistant you want to use.

Specifications

HTC U11 review


Display:    5.5-inch Super LCD 5, 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534 ppi, Gorilla Glass 5
Processor:    2.45 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
GPU:    Adreno 540
RAM:    4/6 GB (depending on market)
Storage:    64/128 GB (depending on market)
MicroSD:    Yes, up to 256 GB
Cameras:    Rear: 12 MP (HTC UltraPixel 3 with 1.4μm pixel) with ƒ/1.7 aperture
OIS, dual LED flash, Pro mode with manual control, slow motion video (1080p@120 fps), 4K video recording with 3D Audio, Acoustic Focus

Front: 16 MP with ƒ/2.0 aperture, 1080p video recording
Battery Storage    64/128 GB (depending on market)
MicroSD    Yes, up to 256 GB
Cameras    Rear: 12 MP (HTC UltraPixel 3 with 1.4μm pixel) with ƒ/1.7 aperture
OIS, dual LED flash, Pro mode with manual control, slow motion video (1080p@120 fps), 4K video recording with 3D Audio, Acoustic Focus

Front: 16 MP with ƒ/2.0 aperture, 1080p video recording
Battery    3,000 mAh, Non-removable, Quick Charge 3.0    3,000 mAh, Non-removable, Quick Charge 3.0
Water resistance:    IP67
Connectivity:    Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi: 2.4/5 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, USB Type-C, NFC
Sensors:    Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Motion G-sensor, Compass sensor, Gyro sensor, Magnetic sensor, Fingerprint sensor, Sensor Hub, Edge Sensor