comscore HTC U11+ Review: Small improvements make a large phone
Review

HTC U11+ Review: Small improvements make a large phone

We loved the HTC U11, so we’re hoping its ‘plus’ version can live up to the expectations. Here’s our review of the HTC U11+.

htc u11+ main

3.5 5
BGR Rating :
3.5/5

Highlights

  • The HTC U11+ is priced at Rs 56,990.

  • It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, and comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

  • The 12-megapixel single-camera setup is devoid of tricks, but gets the basics right.

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has been through all kinds of ups and downs. The company started out in 1997 as an original equipment manufacturer, eventually moving on to the business of making its own smartphones under its own brand name. Few people will remember that the world s first Android smartphone was the HTC Dream; the Taiwanese company had bet on the world s most popular mobile operating system way before anyone else. Also Read - HTC Desire 20+ launched with 48-megapixel quad rear camera setup

Also Read - OnePlus 5, 5T updates delayed due to Oxygen OS snag

HTC had some great years and revolutionary products, including the brilliant HTC One (M8), a phone I used for over two years. Unfortunately, the HTC of 2018 is a shadow of its former self. It s products aren t as well received as they once were, and the premium smartphone space that HTC now occupies is dominated by Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus. However, last year s HTC U11 showed that HTC still has something left to offer. Also Read - HTC Wildfire E Lite smartphone design leaks online

A part of HTC s smartphone division has since been acquired by Google, and this leads to uncertainty about how HTC smartphone will be going forward. For now though, we do have the latest offering from the company the HTC U11+. Priced at Rs 56,990, the HTC U11+ is undoubtedly priced very high, taking on the absolute premium segment dominated by Apple, Samsung, and Google s Pixel series. Does it offer enough to justify the price, or will you be better served by devices for any of the premium brands? Find out in our review.

Bigger screen

The screen is the biggest and most important change in the HTC U11+. The phone has a 6-inch quad HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio screen, which is bigger than the screen on the HTC U11, and features the taller aspect ratio as well. As I ve said before, smartphones that don t adhere to the new taller aspect ratio look and feel dated, and are almost definitely not worth investing in, considering its 2018. Fortunately, HTC does have this covered, and the sheer resolution of this makes it sharp as well.

What is disappointing about the screen though, is the technology behind it. The HTC U11+ features a Super LCD6 screen, which simply isn t as capable as the AMOLED or P-OLED screens we re used to seeing on premium devices. Most flagship smartphone makers have accepted and adopted the use of OLED screens on their devices, and the difference in colors, black levels, contrast and vibrance are all fairly straightforward. HTC s use of an LCD screen is questionable, as such.

That said, it is a bright screen, achieving a peak brightness that is visibly higher than on competing AMOLED screen devices. The quad HD resolution also shows its sharpness on the larger screen to some extent, although it may have been better if HTC had gone with a full HD+ AMOLED screen over the quad HD+ Super LCD screen it has opted for. The colors are fairly accurate, but aren t quite as exciting as I d have hoped for.

Design you either love or hate

Despite fitting a larger screen into the form factor of a classic 5.5-inch phone, the HTC U11+ isn t even compact as you d expect it to be. It s large, slightly bigger than the similarly sized and specified OnePlus 5T, and feels a bit blocky thanks to its combination of metal and glass. While the frame is metal, the back is a glass plate. The glass at the back is a polarizing choice; a lot of people might prefer the clean appearance of brushed metal, but many like the reflective styling of glass. Nonetheless, it s a grime magnet that you ll find yourself often cleaning to keep the phone looking neat. A useful feature is that the phone is IP68-certified against dust and water, so you can safely dunk your phone in water or under a running tap (we don t recommend you do it for no reason, though).

The overall blocky and bulky nature of the phone don t exactly help its aesthetic appeal, but that s just me. My colleague Sambit thinks the HTC U11+ looks particularly good thanks to its design language. The rest of the phone s layout is standard, with the USB Type-C port at the bottom, hybrid SIM slot at the top, and power and volume buttons on the right. Although the non-screen space at the front is considerably less than on the HTC U11, it still feels a bit too much, and the phone doesn t quite offer the appeal that most 18:9 screen devices do.

Top spec, great software

If there s one thing HTC does not spare cost on, it s making sure that its flagship devices are top-spec and future-ready. The HTC U11+ is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. You also get Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, VoLTE on 4G supporting all major bands in India, and a 3,930mAh battery with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and a compatible charger included in the box. Charging is relatively quick, taking about 90 minutes to fully charge the large battery of the phone. The phone runs Android 8.0 Oreo with HTC s popular Sense 9.0 UI on top. There s no 3.5mm jack, but you do get USB Type-C active noise cancelling headphones in the box.

In terms of performance, the HTC U11+ is flagship level through and through. You re unlikely to face any performance issues with the device, thanks to its top-end hardware and software. HTC Sense UI is also tuned for boosting performance, and doesn t have any issues with stability. Additionally, the 6GB of RAM on the phone will keep things running smoothly in all situations, especially multi-tasking and quick resumption of apps from the background. The hardware and software work together to give you a level of performance that is on-par with both the Google Pixel 2 XL and the OnePlus 5T, which are currently the best performing Android devices available.

The phone doesn t have anything fancy for biometric security either. While competing devices feature iris scanning and face unlock, the HTC U11+ relies only on its rear-positioned fingerprint scanner. It is quick and accurate though, although the large size of the phone and the smooth glass back make it a bit tricky to find the sensor even after muscle-memory kicks in. Coming to battery life, the HTC U11+ will give you a full day of battery with moderate use, but there s no visible advantage to the large battery beyond keeping up with the power needs of the phone and its 6-inch QHD+ LCD screen.

HTC Sense UI has always been among the better interfaces on top of Android, but in recent years, some of the closer-to-stock options such as Oxygen OS and Motorola, Lenovo and Nokia s near-stock UIs have been preferred by performance-driven users. The heavy customization and user-friendly features on MIUI and Samsung Experience also appeal to a lot of users and aren t quite as bloated as they used to be. While Sense is still excellent, it isn t quite the best anymore.

Its focus on performance is appreciated, but Sense 9.0 doesn t look quite as attractive as easy to use as it used to. A lot of manufacturers are now going with Google s standard apps as default, so it s a bit surprising that HTC still relies on its own apps for contacts, email and messages. Those apart, there isn t much bloatware on the device. You also get support for Boomsound, HTC s Blinkfeed for news aggregation, and an on-device personal assistant called HTC Sense Companion.

The assistant app is barebones at best, and indeed sent me more notifications relating to its machine learning than things that actually mattered to me. It would occasionally do things in the background such as optimizing certain apps based on my usage, but it usually only gave me pointless reminders or asked me to set 5:30AM alarms on public holidays because it thought they were events that I needed to go to. I found it more of a disruption than anything else, and Google Assistant is indeed a much more capable option if you want an AI assistant on your phone.

Similar to the feature on the HTC U11 and Google Pixel 2 duo, the HTC U11+ also features the squeeze gesture. Pressing down on the sides of the phone in a squeeze-like grip will activate a personalized function on the phone, which functions even from the lock screen. You can adjust the pressure sensitivity and even set different responses for a long squeeze and short squeeze, such as trigger Google Assistant, starting the camera, taking a picture, or setting in-app functions for a handful of popular apps. It s an interesting function to have, but not one I used too much beyond the occasional quick start of the camera. Speaking of which

Fantastic camera

With the exception of performance which is top-notch, nothing else on the HTC U11+ has stood out thus far. Fortunately, in true HTC fashion, the company has got one of the most important aspects of the phone right the camera. However, to be clear, it hasn t got it completely right either. Let me elaborate.

(Camera samples shot on the HTC U11+)

The HTC U11+ has a single-camera setup. That s right, this is a smartphone that costs Rs 56,990 that has a single-camera setup. If that single-camera setup could do what a dual-camera setup does like the Google Pixel 2 duo, I wouldn t have had a reason to complain. Unfortunately, it doesn t do any of that. There s no depth-effect to the pictures, wide-angle photography, lossless zoom or true-monochrome effect here; the camera of the HTC U11+ takes plain vanilla pictures and video.

However, it does both of those things very well. The phone has a 12-megapixel f/1.7 aperture camera with large 1.4-micron pixels at the rear, and an 8-megapixel front camera. Videos can be recorded at up to 4K resolution, as well as up to 120fps slow-motion video and 60fps smooth recording at full HD resolution. There is dual-tone LED flash at the rear, and 5-axis OIS as well.

(Camera samples shot on the HTC U11+)

Just like on the Google Pixel 2 duo, photography on the HTC U11+ is excellent. Pictures are sharp, detailed, well-composed and good in all conditions. Low-light photography in particular is excellent on the HTC U11+, and on the whole, pictures are easy to capture thanks to OIS and excellent tuning. A lot of this capability can likely be credited to HTC s partnership with Google for manufacturing Pixel devices, and the similarities to the quality and processing of the images on the Pixel 2 duo are evident.

In low-light conditions, you ll find an incredible lack of grain in the images, with the HTC U11+ capturing all the right information without any issues even in poor light. And while there isn t a dedicated depth-effect mode, proper focus has replicate the effect normally with the regular camera mode as well. And whether indoors, outdoors, in good light or in poor light, the colors, composure and detail is astounding. The same level of quality can be seen on videos and selfies. I would go as far as to say it s hard to take a bad picture on the HTC U11+.

Verdict

The HTC U11+ isn t quite as complete a smartphone as many competing devices, and indeed there are some options that cost significantly less and offer more. The phone falls short in a handful of ways, including design, some shortcomings of the screen, software that has some mild flaws, and a camera that is devoid of tricks, and only sticks to the basics. All of this might have been forgivable if only the phone didn t cost Rs 56,990; it s an expensive phone that is unfortunately not perfect.

However, HTC fans will still have enough to love about the HTC U11+. With top-level performance, a decent user interface and a camera that gets the basics right and takes excellent pictures and video, the HTC U11+ holds enough appeal to justify its price to some extent. And while a lot of buyers might prefer the more rounded experience that the Google Pixel 2 XL or OnePlus 5T offer, the HTC is definitely a device I enjoyed using during my time with. So if you re an HTC fan, want great performance and an excellent camera, the HTC U11+ is definitely worth checking out.

For the latest tech news across the world, latest PC and Mobile games, tips & tricks, top-notch gadget reviews of most exciting releases follow BGR India’s Facebook, Twitter, subscribe our YouTube Channel.
  • Published Date: March 5, 2018 9:21 AM IST


You Might be Interested

HTC U11

45999

Buy Now
Android 7.1 Nougat with HTC Sense
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core 2.45GHz 64-bit Processor
12 MP with f/1.7 Aperture
HTC U11+

56990

Android 8.0 Oreo with HTC Sense
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core 2.45GHz 64-bit Processor
12 MP with ƒ/1.7 aperture
OnePlus 5T

32999

Android 7.1.1 Nougat with OxygenOS 4.7.0
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core 2.45GHz Processor
16 MP + 20 MP with f/1.7 Aperture, Dual LED Flash
Google Pixel 2 XL

57000

Android 8.0.0, Oreo
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core 2.35GHz + 1.9GHz, 64-Bit Processor
12.2 MP with f/1.8 aperture

new arrivals in india

Samsung Galaxy F02s
Samsung Galaxy F02s

8,999

Samsung Galaxy F12
Samsung Galaxy F12

10,999

POCO X3 Pro
POCO X3 Pro

18,999

Realme 8 Pro
Realme 8 Pro

17,999

Realme 8
Realme 8

14,999

Vivo X60 Pro Plus
Vivo X60 Pro Plus

69,990

Vivo X60 Pro
Vivo X60 Pro

49,990

Vivo X60
Vivo X60

37,990

OnePlus 9 Pro 5G
OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

64,999

OnePlus 9R 5G
OnePlus 9R 5G

39,999

OnePlus 9 5G
OnePlus 9 5G

49,999

Samsung Galaxy A72
Samsung Galaxy A72

34,999

Samsung Galaxy A52
Samsung Galaxy A52

26,499

Micromax In 1
Micromax In 1

10,499

Asus ROG Phone 5
Asus ROG Phone 5

49,999

Samsung Galaxy M12
Samsung Galaxy M12

10,999

Motorola Moto G30
Motorola Moto G30

10,999

Motorola Moto G10 Power
Motorola Moto G10 Power

9,999

Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G
Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G

25,990

Oppo F19 Pro
Oppo F19 Pro

21,490

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

18,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

15,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10

11,999

Realme Narzo 30A
Realme Narzo 30A

8,999

Realme Narzo 30 Pro
Realme Narzo 30 Pro

16,999

Infinix Smart 5
Infinix Smart 5

7,199

Samsung Galaxy F62
Samsung Galaxy F62

23,999

Samsung Galaxy A12
Samsung Galaxy A12

12,999

Nokia 5.4
Nokia 5.4

13,999

Nokia 3.4
Nokia 3.4

11,999

Realme X7 Pro 5G
Realme X7 Pro 5G

29,999

Realme X7
Realme X7

19,999

Vivo Y31
Vivo Y31

16,490

Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G
Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G

35,990

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

1,05,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G

81,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

69,999

Vivo Y12s
Vivo Y12s

9,990

Vivo Y51A
Vivo Y51A

17,990

Samsung Galaxy M02s
Samsung Galaxy M02s

8,999

Xiaomi Mi 10i
Xiaomi Mi 10i

21,999

Oppo A15s
Oppo A15s

11,490

Tecno Spark 6 Go
Tecno Spark 6 Go

8,499

Vivo V20 2021
Vivo V20 2021

24,990

Vivo Y20A
Vivo Y20A

11,490

Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power
Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G9 Power
Motorola Moto G9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G 5G
Motorola Moto G 5G

20,999

Vivo V20 Pro
Vivo V20 Pro

29,990

Xiaomi Mi 10T
Xiaomi Mi 10T

35,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9i
Xiaomi Redmi 9i

8,299

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

39,999

Infinix Hot 10
Infinix Hot 10

9,999

Vivo V20 SE
Vivo V20 SE

20,990

Vivo V20
Vivo V20

24,990

Micromax In 1b
Micromax In 1b

6,999

Micromax In Note 1
Micromax In Note 1

10,999

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T

42,999

Samsung Galaxy F41
Samsung Galaxy F41

15,499

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

1,29,900

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro

1,19,900

Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Apple iPhone 12 Mini

69,900

Apple iPhone 12
Apple iPhone 12

79,900

Poco X3
Poco X3

16,999

Realme Narzo 20A
Realme Narzo 20A

8,499

Realme Narzo 20
Realme Narzo 20

10,499

Realme Narzo 20 Pro
Realme Narzo 20 Pro

13,999

Oppo F17
Oppo F17

16,990

Samsung Galaxy M51
Samsung Galaxy M51

22,999

Poco M2
Poco M2

10,999

Oppo F17 Pro
Oppo F17 Pro

22,990

Realme 7 Pro
Realme 7 Pro

19,999

Realme 7
Realme 7

14,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9A
Xiaomi Redmi 9A

6,799

Vivo Y20
Vivo Y20

12,990

Xiaomi Redmi 9
Xiaomi Redmi 9

8,999

Nokia 5.3
Nokia 5.3

13,999

Motorola Moto G9
Motorola Moto G9

11,499

Realme C15
Realme C15

9,999

Realme C12
Realme C12

8,999

Samsung Galaxy Note 20
Samsung Galaxy Note 20

77,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9 Prime
Xiaomi Redmi 9 Prime

9,999

Oppo Reno4 Pro
Oppo Reno4 Pro

34,990

Samsung Galaxy M01 Core
Samsung Galaxy M01 Core

5,499

Realme 6i
Realme 6i

12,999

Asus Rog Phone 3
Asus Rog Phone 3

46,999

OnePlus Nord
OnePlus Nord

24,999

Infinix Smart 4 Plus
Infinix Smart 4 Plus

7,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9

10,999

Samsung Galaxy M01s
Samsung Galaxy M01s

9,999

Vivo X50 Pro 5G
Vivo X50 Pro 5G

49,990

Vivo X50 5G
Vivo X50 5G

34,990

Realme C11
Realme C11

7,499

Poco M2 Pro
Poco M2 Pro

13,999

Realme X3
Realme X3

24,999

Realme X3 SuperZoom
Realme X3 SuperZoom

27,999

Tecno Spark Power 2
Tecno Spark Power 2

9,999

Oppo A12
Oppo A12

9,990

Oppo A52
Oppo A52

16,990

Samsung Galaxy A21s
Samsung Galaxy A21s

15,999

Best Sellers