There's no question that HTC had a rough year with the HTC 10 in 2016. So, they really needed to have a strong comeback in 2017. Recently, they Have launched the HTC U11 following a completely different route. Let's take a deep look at everything that the HTC U11 features.
If you decided to buy the HTC U11, you have multiple options. You can get it online directly from the HTC website for $649 or through Amazon, at the exact same price. However, if you need a carrier partner, you need to know that Sprint is the only US carrier that is selling it. In case you buy it online, you will get your new HTC U11 unlocked. However, if you decided to go to a Sprint shop, you will get the locked version.
Section 1: HTC U11 Design
1. HTC U11 Body Design
When you first hold the HTC U11 on your hand, it may feel a bit strange and take you some time to get used to. After all, it's incredibly light and it almost seems like you have something plasticky in your hand.
Although HTC has always used a metal construction on all their previous models, the HTC U11 is a mixture of metal and glass. You easily notice the aluminum frame between the two glass panels as well as the curved edges and rounded corners.
One of the things that we really like about the HTC U11 is that the color will change depending on the angle that you're looking at, And this just gives it a premium look and feel.
If there is one thing that we really believe they should have paid attention to is the fact that this smartphone can be very slippery. The fact that it is made with glass on the front and back and that is round, it may easily fall off your hand in case you don't like to use a protective case. Nevertheless, HTC includes one clear plastic case in the package.
While we are talking about the body design, we just can't miss mentioning an amazing standout feature that is included in the HTC U11 - the new Edge Sense technology. This is the newest technology from HTC that allows you to access all the functions and apps on your smartphone. From turning on your phone's flashing light to launch Google Assistant, or to simply open the camera, you can do it all. The HTC U11 includes pressure sensors on the sizes. So, you just need to squeeze them to open an app or take a photo.
2. HTC U11 Screen
Most top brands like LG, Samsung, or Essential, have launched some new smartphones already this year and they are trying to break with the tradition by making narrower and taller smartphones. However, HTC decided to remain more traditional and the HTC U11 includes a 5.5 inches Quad HD Super LCD 5 display (1440 X 2560), with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Although we believe the HTC U11 has a good design overall, the bezels are still too thick. Despite the fact that it doesn't affect the usability, when you compare it with other smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the HTC U11 seems outdated.
In what concerns the quality of the screen, we only have one word to describe it: perfect! The colors are vibrant, the viewing angles are amazing, and it's crisp and sharp. Even when you are in the outdoor, you won't have any visibility problem, unlike other smartphone models.
One of the features that we believe HTC still needs to work on is on the auto-brightness. It works but we were expecting it to work a lot better.
3. HTC U11 Hardware
The HTC U11 that is being sold in the US is different from the one that is being sold in the rest of the world. While in the US, you only have the option to buy the HTC U11 with 64GB of onboard storage, which is expandable up to 256 GB with a microSD card, in the rest of the world you also have the option to buy the HTC U11 with 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM. We sure would like to have the same alternatives but that is not possible, unfortunately.
One of the best things about the new HTC U11, and that is a clear improvement from the HTC 10, is the audio quality. It now has more clarity and is louder which is quite remarkable since both models are using the same tweeter and woofer combo.
If there is something that we miss is the headphone jack. However, in order to cover it, HTC is adding the USonic earphones in the package which are able to deliver one of the best sound qualities you can imagine. In case you already have some earphones and you like them, you can still continue to wear them with the new HTC U11 since they also include a 3.5 mm to USB Type-C adapter in the package.
The HTC U11 continues to have most of the capacitive keys on the front they usually have. The home button also serves as a fingertip sensor which continues to be very reliable and speedy.
4. HTC U11 Resistant Capacity
Just like most top smartphone brands on the market have been doing for some time now. the new HTC U11 is finally water resistant. It features an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance meaning that if you submerge it in water, it will continue to work.
Section 2: HTC U11 Software
In what concerns to the software that is being used in the HTC U11, it seems that almost nothing has changed. The new HTC smartphone runs the Android 7.1.7 Nougat with the HTC's Sense. It also comes with the same apps that previous models have included like a theme store, a vertical scrolling app drawer, and BlinkFeed.
Although HTC could have taken this opportunity to improve the Sense that is starting to feel a bit dated, they are still able to not put a lot of apps that most people don't usually use. And this happens even on their Sprint version, where you only have a couple of pre-installed Sprint apps.
One of the biggest additions in terms of software on the HTC U11 is the addition of another digital assistant (besides the built-in Google Assistant) - the Sense Companion. While Google Assistant tends to dominate in answering questions and search, it seems that the Sense Companion works just like if you had a digital secretary. It will remind you to recharge your phone, that you still didn't meet your normal step count, provide restaurant recommendations when it's time to lunch or dinner, or provide you with traffic information when it's time to go home or to work.
And if you think two assistants were already more than enough, it is expected that in the coming days the third assistant will be incorporated in the HTC U11 - Alexa. The Amazon's voice assistant won't need any third-party app work in the HTC U11.
Section 3: HTC U11 Features and Performance
1. HTC U11 Camera Performance
The HTC U11 camera is absolutely amazing. The main camera included has 12 MP "UltraPixel 3" sensor and includes optical image stabilization. When you take a photo, you'll be able to see all the details and the not too vibrating and natural colors.
One of the best things you can do to test a camera is to use low light. And when you test the HTC U11 camera you'll see the photos are still well detailed and incredibly sharp. They were able to clearly control the noise levels since the few ones you might notice are compact and very fine.
The front-facing camera now has a higher resolution of 16MP, unlike the HTC 10 that came with OIS.
One of the main features of the HTC U11 camera is the HDR auto mode that combines the best part of 3 snaps into just one, every time you chop the shutter.
Just like it already happened with the HTC 10 model, you can take a photo in raw mode and let Google Photos enhance it. Despite this is a good feature, the enhancement may take some time.
If there is one thing that we believe should be improved in the HTC U11 is the slight touch of shutter tag. So, when you want to take a snap, you might notice a pause. Although this has already improved, it's far from being perfect and this is only the only bad thing we can say about the HTC U11 camera.
In what concerns to the videos, they couldn't have a better quality. Plus, combined with the 4K sharpness, you'll get some pretty amazing videos.
2. HTC U11 Audio Performance
There's no question that the audio performance is one of the best things about the HTC U11. Featuring the BoomSound speakers and with the included noise-cancelling headphones, the only thing you may miss is the headphone jack. Their audio quality is so good that the HTC U11 clearly beats the Samsung Galaxy S8 as well as the iPhone 7.
HTC also includes a pair of the USonic headphones, which deliver a great sound. To make sure the earphones will perfectly fit your ears, HTC also includes 3 different tip sizes.
Despite the fact that the smartphone doesn't have a headphone jack, HTC solved the issue by featuring the bundled adaptor. The HTC's bundled adaptor is not only more robust than the one that Apple provides as it also includes a digital amplifier which allows you to get a great sound.
3. HTC U11 Battery Performance
One of the things that most good and great smartphones lack is a good battery. Developers tend to think only about the features users are going to like and usually forget about the effect they can have on the battery consumption. However, and thankfully, this is not the case of the HTC U11.
Although the HTC U11 only uses a 3,000 mAh battery, the truth is that it can easily hold more than 1 day, which is rare among most smartphones. The use of the smartphone included checking social media regularly as well as email feeds, taking and making a few calls, listening to music, and watching a quick TV show.
Although the battery is smaller than we were expecting, the truth is that it is perfectly suited for all people on a daily basis. And this is absolutely remarkable.
So, should you buy the HTC U11 or not? What's the conclusion of this HTC U11 review?
Summing all up, the HTC U11 isn't a smartphone that you should overlook. With an amazing quality built, it includes an amazing camera and some of the best specs you should expect to see on a top smartphone.
However, should you buy it? This truly depends on what you're looking for in a smartphone. If you really enjoy using your smartphone to take pictures or to listen to music, the HTC U11 is one of the best choices you have on the market. However, if you don't like the fact that it doesn't include a headphone jack, just don't buy it. You will never be happy, no matter how good the audio quality is.
Liza Brown is a writer and a lover of all things video.
Follow @Liza Brown
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