HTC U11 Review
- Fast performance
- Effortless, high-quality camera
- New BoomSound speakers sound nice and satisfying
- Edge Sense
- Dual SIMAll-day battery life
- Impressive two-tone coloring
- Lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack
- Dated look
- Poor brightness
- Very slippery in the hand
- Camera shutter speed slow
HTC U11 Review – Liquid Surface. Reflects U brilliantly.
The liquid glass surface is crafted to impress using Optical Spectrum Hybrid Deposition. By randomly layering highly-refractive precious minerals across the phone’s back cover, we’ve created stunningly vivid new colors that transforms light with every movement you make.
|Disclaimer||If you see any error or incomplete data, please Contact Us.|
|Dimensions||153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm (6.06 x 2.99 x 0.31 in)|
|Weight||169 g (5.96 oz)|
|SIM||Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|IP67 certified - dust and water resistant|
|Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes|
|Display||Super LCD5 capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors|
|5.5 inches (~71.4% screen-to-body ratio)|
|1440 x 2560 pixels (~534 ppi pixel density)|
|Corning Gorilla Glass 5|
|Chipset||Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835|
|CPU||Octa-core (4x2.45 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)|
|Card slot||microSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot) - single-SIM model|
|microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot) - dual-SIM model|
|Internal Memory||64 GB, 4 GB RAM or 128 GB, 6 GB RAM|
|Primary Camera||12 MP, f/1.7, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, check quality|
|Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama|
|Video||[email protected], [email protected]/120fps, HDR, 24-bit/192kHz stereo sound rec., check quality|
|Secondary Camera||16 MP, f/2.0, 1080p|
|Loudspeaker||Yes, with dual speakers|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot|
|Bluetooth||4.2, A2DP, LE|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS|
|USB||3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector|
|Sensors||Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery|
The HTC U11 is somewhat of a phone unstuck in time. It’s got all the processing might of any 2017 flagship, offers a modern, quite useful digital assistant, and dips its toes in high-tech features like active noise cancellations. But it’s also a phone that feels – and maybe more critically, looks – a little dated.
Some of that’s not directly HTC’s fault, as the market’s only recently moved on to super-widescreen phones with screens that utterly dominate the faces of these handsets. Was enough of the U11’s design already set before HTC even got a whiff of such looks from its competition? And while it may seem like we’re harping too much on the style of the GS8 and G6, this is hardly a trend that looks like it’s going away anytime soon; check out the just-announced Essential Phone.
Like it or not, but the U11 looks like a phone that might have stood out in 2016 – not 2017. And all the pretty colors and shiny back panels in the world aren’t going to change that; the design is stale. If HTC were already on the top of the market, maybe that wouldn’t matter so much, but without a sizable contingent of fans who are going to buy this phone simply because it’s the hot new HTC flagship, the U11 has its work cut out for it.
Extras like the free case are nice, as is the analog headphone adapter, but neither is a reason to buy the phone. The noise-canceling USonic earbuds very much could be, but as they stand now, the noise-suppression effect isn’t supremely impressive in practice – it very much works, but you don’t experience a night-and-day change in background noise levels when switching it on.
At least the pricing is right, with the U11 set to sell for just about $650. That’s lower than you’re likely to pay for the Galaxy S8, though the G6 may just have it beat. But for the amount of phone you’re getting $650 is hard to find fault with.
The only problem there, as we’ve said before, is that the U11 just isn’t as flashy, as modern-looking, or even as brag-worthy as its closest competition. When you buy the U11, it’s almost as if you’re saying “I want a phone that performs like a bleeding-edge flagship, but looks and feels like my last phone.” And you know, there totally will be shoppers who resonate with a thought like that. But if HTC wants to remain competitive, it really needs to start thinking about even bolder, even flashier design for its next big smartphone.
Featuring oddly useful squeeze controls, a great camera and Hi-Res Audio support, the HTC U11 is an excellent handset that won’t disappoint any buyer when it comes to functionality. Its design is Marmite, however.
Some people may like the new glass back, but I can’t help but wish HTC had stuck to using metal. Compared to the HTC 10, the U11 looks a little cheap – and is an absolute smudge magnet.
Despite the inclusion of a converter, the lack of headphone jack is a serious annoyance that will put off the audiophile market for which the U11 is otherwise tailor-made. These problems sound small, but combined they add up to make the Samsung Galaxy S8 a more appealing handset overall.
At present, the HTC U11 is the best available alternative to the Galaxy S8; it has better performance, spectacular audio quality and a fantastic camera. In terms of battery performance, it is strong but it doesn’t really stand out from other premium-range smartphones. That said, it’s certainly a smartphone to keep in mind.
The U11 is primarily aimed at those users who are looking for a different design, although fans of the mythical HTC One series might miss the metallic finish. It’s also a good option for anyone not entirely convinced by the design of the Galaxy S8. In terms of software and hardware, the U11 is fully up to date and the inclusion of Edge Sense is an added novelty which is also very practical.
The downsides of HTC U11 are ones which most of us will be able to forgive quite easily. If design features aren’t are major game changer for you, I think you’d struggle to find a smartphone with better features and functionality than the HTC U11.
When I reviewed the U Ultra, I could see the potential in the design and hardware execution — that phone was just unfortunately saddled with multiple issues including its size, a couple bad internal spec choices, a subpar camera and a far-too-high price. HTC has remedied nearly all of those issues just a couple months later with the U11. It has a more manageable size, ditched the second screen, improved battery life, overhauled the camera and lowered the price to $649.
With those issues out of the way you can appreciate what a beautiful phone the U11 is, with a design that’s truly unique to look at and solid to hold. You can also appreciate the ridiculous speed, fluidity and consistency of the software that beats everything but Google’s own phone. And if you’re a fan of the spartan approach to features and apps as I am, you’ll like what HTC is doing here. Even if the interface isn’t demonstrably changed from two years ago, at least the design is solid and you’re not saddled with tons of cruft that’s constantly in your way.
I don’t think anyone was expecting HTC to come out swinging with a flagship smartphone that can steal a large number of sales from the big names out there, particularly in North America and Western Europe. But if the U11 doesn’t sell well in 2017, it will have nothing to do with the outright quality of the phone itself. It’s a really great phone that does so much right with so few missteps along the way. HTC has just lost so much ground in market share and brand awareness that it’s fighting an uphill battle no matter what it puts out.
The U11 has everything it needs to be a challenger to the top crop of phones in the market today — now HTC just needs people to get to the point of giving its phones a chance again.
If you want to buy the HTC U11, you have a few options. HTC is selling it through its website for $649, and you can also buy it on Amazon for that same price. If you need a carrier partner, Sprint is the only U.S. carrier that will carry it in-store and online.
At $649, the U11 is certainly more reasonable than the U Ultra ($749) and the Galaxy S8 ($725). It isn’t an overpriced phone by any means, but it certainly falls outside of impulse buy territory.
HTC has also put itself at a huge disadvantage by not having this phone available through other carriers. The U11 is trying to compete with the Galaxy S8 and G6, after all, and unfortunately consumers aren’t going to see the new HTC phone on display when they walk into their T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T store.
The HTC U11 isn’t a phone that should be overlooked by any means. With its fantastic build quality, top-of-the-line specs, and stellar camera, this device will tick all the right boxes for most users. The overall experience is rounded out with a rich audio experience and unique Edge Sense feature, making HTC’s latest flagship a truly compelling package.
As humans we like shiny things, so if HTC wants to call customers attention in the carrier store, it should be placing these phones on display with the back glass facing the showroom. Its color options are enough to get people saying “What is that? It’s pretty!” Unfortunately, Sprint will be the only carrier to sell it in the US, though you’ll be able to get one unlocked from HTC and will work on Verizon.
The U11 is literally a reflection of you. It’s customizable and its various value-added services can be tailored to anyone. Heck, even its earbuds are tailored to your ears. The HTC U11 isn’t the most expensive flagship out there, but it’s a pricey sum for your wallet to swallow nonetheless, though one that is worth every penny.
The HTC U11 is, firstly, one for fans of the brand. Its Sense UI hasn’t been overhauled for this new handset, and that will please those who like the intelligence the software offers.
HTC’s Sense Companion and Boost+ could be seen as intrusive by some, but anyone who’s accepting of the mission HTC is on will really appreciate this functionality.
The design is alternative, and while it’s a fingerprint magnet, the two-tone curved glass is a badge of honor – this is a phone that we came to love holding and showing off.
But ultimately, the HTC U11 is the phone for anyone who wants a good-looking phone that can take great pictures and offers one of the best sonic experiences around. Annoyingly it’s still a little expensive for what’s on offer, but the price should come down over time.
As I said at the beginning, you can completely ignore the very forgettable Edge Sense feature because you don’t need it to do any of the things you want to use a phone for. You can pick up the U11 and enjoy the display, camera, performance, and build quality without ever thinking about squeezing the sides of it.
The U11 is priced right in the premium sector, where companies do differentiate with useful and innovative ideas. It doesn’t have many of the forward-looking features of its competition, but at its base it is a very good smartphone in a very pretty shell. If that’s what you want, and you’re able to get past the lack of a headphone jack and the U11’s attraction to fingerprints, you won’t be disappointed.
To conclude, there’s a lot to like about the HTC U11. This is gorgeous hardware, matched by up to date specs, and with a set of unique features like U Sonic, and Edge Sense, that help this phone stand apart from the standard set of competitors out there.
I’d even say that my experience using the U11 has been delightful enough for me not to miss devices like the Galaxy S8 or the LG G6. The only reason why I’ve ended up drifting back to these other devices is because I wish HTC and other OEMs would stop copying Apple in the things they shouldn’t. Removing the 3.5mm headphone jack is not innovation, nor courage. If anything it’s lack of ingenuity in solving a problem. The day Bluetooth grows up to support better quality audio, and the day OEMs agree on a solution to avoid proprietary dongles, and also the day smartphones can last more than a day on a charge, then I’d say it’s time to move on. Sadly as it stands, proprietary solutions are always an exercise in frustration in the long run.
Even with its short comings, I have no problem in recommending the HTC U11. This is definitely a great phone in absolutely everything else. The question is if you’d be willing to give HTC another chance? Make sure you share your final thoughts in the comments down below.
iPhone fans will know what it’s like to miss the 3.5mm jack — USB Type-C only here — but it’s hard to fault HTC for chasing Apple (and Motorola) on that front. The good news is the included Bluetooth earbuds come with HTC USonic, an automatic, personalised equaliser that maps your ear and delivers better sound quality and active noise cancelling. I’ve played around with the auto-equalisation before in other devices too, and the difference it makes is noticeable (if you can deal with in-ear headphones). Plus, there’s an adaptor in the box if you’re still attached to your 3.5mm jacks.
In our video looping tests, the 3,000mAh HTC U11 withstood for an average time 13 hours, 12 minutes (about on par with the LG G6, and a few hours shy of the Samsung Galaxy 8’s 16 hours). That’s a solid showing in the labs, but anecdotally I found the HTC to be a very thirsty phone. I’d be dropping 15 to 20 percent after heavy use on an hour-long commute to work, and I’d be white-knuckling it as the battery ticked towards zero at the end of the day if I had to be away from the charging cable at my desk. Power saving mode made some improvements, but the hefty processor and a big, QHD screen are going to drain when in use. At least it’s packing fast charge.
If we had paid the full launch price for an HTC U Ultra less than four months before the HTC U11, we’d be extremely put off with the company right now. The U Ultra is utterly and completely outclassed by the U11. We don’t miss the secondary screen at all, and almost all of our concerns and complaints about it have been addressed with this new model. This is the phone that HTC needed to launch in February or March, and we don’t see the point in alienating customers this way.
That said, even on its own, the U11 is a top-notch smartphone. It doesn’t have dual cameras or other tricks, and it doesn’t have the taller screens that its main competitors are now offering, but it’s gorgeous and powerful, with a camera that can deliver miracles in low light. Edge Sense quickly becomes second nature, and the Snapdragon 835 has plenty of headroom for demanding apps over the next few years. The chief disappointments are the non-starter Sense Companion UI and pedestrian battery life.
This phone is a serious contender, and it’s nice to see HTC at the top of its game again. The U11 goes up against the Samsung Galaxy S8 series and OnePlus 5, all of which have at least one standout USP. Your choice comes down to whether your top priority is taking incredible photos, looking great, or saving some money.
HTC didn’t get everything right with the U11, but it nailed a whole lot more than I ever expected it to. That’s a big deal. After the mess that was the U Ultra, I was honestly unsure whether the company would ever drag itself out of its doldrums. The U11 is proof that, yes, there is still hope for this company. While gimmicks like Edge Sense and the stylishly fragile glass back make the U11 seem too eager to be different, underneath all that is a very good, very fast phone that’s worthy of your attention.