HTC U11 review The U11 is HTC’s answer to Samsung’s seemingly unconquerable Galaxy S8, which is GeekMobo current smartphone of choice.In its bid to outdo the Galaxy, HTC has loaded the U11 with an arsenal of interesting features.
HTC U11 review
- Fast performance
- Above average camera
- Next to no bloatware
- Hi-Res Audio support great for audiophiles and Tidal users
- Ugly design
- Lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a pain
- 5.5-inch quad-HD display
- Snapgradon 835/4GB RAM
- 64GB storage/microSD
- ANC USB-C earbuds included
- No headphone jack
- 12MP camera w/OIS
- 3000mAh battery
- Amazon Alexa
- Edge Sense
- Manufacturer: HTC
- Review Price: £649.99
WHAT IS THE HTC U11?
Highlights include Amazon Alexa support, Hi-Res Audio capabilities and a slightly bizarre set of “Edge Sense” squeeze controls – yes, you read that right. These, plus a wealth of cutting-edge components, make the phone a great choice for any smartphone buyer willing to put up with its atypical, super-shiny looks.
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HTC U11 – DESIGN
The U11 follows the same ‘Liquid Surface’ design as HTC’s previous U Play and U Ultra handsets. This replaces the unibody metal design for which HTC was previously known with a new combination of metal and glass.
Personally, I wish that HTC had stuck with metal, but from a distance I’ll concede that the design looks great. This is largely because HTC has managed to pull a canny trick, where the colour of the glass changes depending on teh angle from which you view it. For example, the silver version I tested switches between hues of silver and blue, while the black takes on a greenish tint at certain angles.
However, upon closer inspection of the device you’ll realise there are a few problems with the U11’s design. Unlike the Galaxy S8, which also features a mixed-material casing, the glass on the U11’s back is bolted onto – rather than housed within – the metal frame. This small difference makes the phone feel far more chunky, measuring in at 7.9mm thick – and, in my mind, slightly less luxurious.
This feeling isn’t helped by the fact that the back is an outright fingerprint magnet. Within 10 seconds of it leaving the box, the rear was a criss-cross of marks and smudges.
The only other slight quibble I have with the design is that, by today’s standards, the bezel is fairly chunky. A few years ago this may have been fine, but in comparison to other 2017 flagships – such as the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 – the giant black edge around the U11’s screen looks a little retro, and not in a good way.
Like past U-series phones, the U11 doesn’t have a headphone jack. I understand the argument that USB-C is the future, and HTC has managed to curtail the issues associated with not having a 3.5mm jack socket by including an adapter and a surprisingly good pair of in-ear USB-C “USonic” headphones. Nevertheless, the socket’s absence is still an annoyance.
Over the two weeks I’ve been using this phone, I’ve repeatedly been forced to forego the listening pleasure of my Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 and use the USonic – or my wireless Jaybird Freedom gym headphones – on my commute because I’ve forgotten to pack the adapter. Case in point: there isn’t a photo of the adapter in this review because I can’t for the life of me remember where I put it.
Outside of this, however, the design ticks most of the right boxes. The fingerprint scanner sits in the U11’s front home button and, while not quite as nippy as the Huawei P10 or P10 Plus’, it’s been consistently reliable when unlocking the phone.
The appearance of a microSD card slot is also welcome, although I can’t see anyone but power users needing it since the U11 already features either 64GB (tested) or 128GB of internal storage.
The fact that the U11 has been designed to meet IP67 certification standards will be a boon for accident-prone users, and means the phone will be able to survive accidental submersions in liquid at depths of 1m and below for 30 minutes.
HTC U11 – SCREEN
Outside of its slightly chunky bezel, the U11’s screen is top-notch. The 5.5-inch panel’s quad-HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution ensures text and icons are uniformly sharp; you’ll struggle to spot any individual pixels.
The Super LCD 5 panel also offers decent colour temperature, with none of the RGB spectrum looking too cool or too warm – although they don’t look quite as vibrant as competing phones with AMOLED panels.
I didn’t notice any serious backlight bleed on the U11 during my first week of use, either. My only slight issue is that the maximum brightness isn’t quite as high as that of the Galaxy S8. This isn’t a huge disaster, as 99% of the time you won’t want the display maxed out. It only becomes an annoyance when using the U11 outdoors in direct sunlight, or very bright indoor areas, where the screen can become fairly reflective. Being fair to HTC, though, this is an issue I experience with the majority of phones I review.