HTC U11+ Review: Wrapping It Up, Test Findings, Competition, Verdict

By 04:04 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


Wrapping it up

Once meant to be a part of Google's lineup, the U11+ has now become HTC's flagship for the holiday season instead. Competing with the Pixel 2 XL won't be easy, but HTC has tried to create the U11+ special, attractive, and competitive. What could go wrong, right?


Well, one thing stands out. The U11+ fails in what many would consider the most vital foundation of a fine smartphone - the screen. Sure, the 6" Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) has a flagship-grade resolution, contrast, and wide-gamut color support. But HTC has used a panel with low max brightness and we noticed color and contrast shifting when looking it at an angle.

Then there is the battery life - unlike what the beefy battery power may recommdiscontinue at first look, the U11+'s battery life is in fact average at best. That was especially accurate for on-classy screen tests, which probably means the classy screen panel is again to blame.

Of course, things do acquire better from here. The U11+'s design is nothing short of stunning although this comes at the expense of slipperiness and smudges all over.

We can't argue with the choice of Central Processing Units (CPU) or the amount of Random-Access Memory (RAM) and storage. This phone scored the highest imprint we've seen an Android phone score on Antutu.

The capturing camera has already earned praise across the internets and we can only join our colleagues with our positive impressions from the 12MP shooter.

HTC even outdid the Pixel 2 XL in a few departments. It improved the video recording with high-res audio capturing, while its proprietary Sense UI offers unmatched customizations for the squeeze gestures. Unlike the Pixel 2 XL, the U11+ can be easily operated with just one hand thanks to the rich squeezable skills implemented within the otherwise clean Sense UI. And finally, the Boom speakers fully live up to their name being the loudest mobile speakers we've tested to date.

So, if we see past the downsides of the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and the subpar battery life, the HTC U11+ is a remarkable smartphone. But the mobile landscape is highly competitive and there is no place for If's in the high-end. HTC has done a remarkable job in all other departments but skimping on those two prevents them from winning enough gadacquire points in our books.

Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't many areas where they've done a commendable job. Here's a recap of what we found in this review.

HTC U11+ key test findings

  • The Liquid Design is nothing short of stunning, as is the Translucent version. While U11+ is slippery and smudgy, it's still one of the best-looking flagships and that's the price to pay. The water-tight body is a nice touch.
  • The 6-inch 18:9 QHD Super Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) 6 display does well in pixel count but isn't the easiest to utilize on a colorful sunny day due to low brightness. Contrast ratio is high and color rendering can be quite accurate.
  • The fingerprint scanner is lighting fast.
  • Battery life scored an uninspiring 73h of endurance. The U11+ did average across all tests.
  • The latest Android Oreo is a remarkable start and HTC has improved on it with its Sense UI.
  • The squeezy Edge sense is very customizable and the U11+ can be fully operated with just one hand thanks to it.
  • elegant Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is an excellent performer in both Central Processing Units (CPU) and GPU tests. Performance is excellent with zero stutters and is in line with other devices with the same chipset.
  • Boom Sound speakers are the loudest we've tested to date and clearer than ever before. Excellent range of sound and no distortion even at the highest volume. Music mode focuses on loudness while Theater mode tunes for immersive sound.
  • Loud and accurate audio output with both external amp and headphones. Included USonic earbuds via USB-C sound as fine as $200+ noise cancelling earbuds.
  • Still images are excellent with remarkable color accuracy, white balance, and exposure. HDR Boost balances all three quite well.
  • The 8MP selfie cam turned out surprisingly fine with very detail photos.
  • The 4K and 1080p videos are sharp, colorful, and clean, OIS helps when necessary. The 3D audio with acoustic zoom and the high-res FLAC audio are some remarkable treats.

Competition

The HTC U11+ is stepping on so many toes that it's hard to haged track of its competitors. For starters, let's kick off with the Pixel 2 XL. Google's extra-large flagship is somewhat more expensive than the U11+ but offers a 6" Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screen, bokeh effects for its main camera, much better battery life, and faster Android updates. You lose all the audio goodness and extra squeeze gesture support, while the jury is still out on the gains in design.



Google Pixel 2 XL

LG V30, where available, is the Pixel 2 XL on steroids. It has the same classy screen and chip, better-looking and more compact body, and comes with upgraded capturing camera department with a dual (wide + super wide) setup, but also enhanced audio recording. LG has equipped the V30 with everything a smartphone "pro" may need.



LG V30

The Galaxy S8+ offers another attractive AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) classy screen within a slippery glass body, but it excels in battery life and classy screen eye-candy. Once again - it lacks the audio features and squeeze gestures, and the TouchWiz might not be the most responsive UI out there. The Galaxy S8+ is cheaper, though, so there is that.



Samsung Galaxy S8+

Of course, you can have some cheaper top dogs with equally impressive all-round packages. The OnePlus 5T has a wide AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) classy screen and metal body, the Mi Mix 2 has the bezel-less thing going on, the Oppo R11s also bets on AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) and a remarkable camera, and Nokia 8 has similarly rich audio recording features like the U11+.






OnePlus 5T • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 • Oppo R11s • Nokia 8

Huawei's Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are offers many will consider this holiday season becautilize of the huge wide screens, quick chips, gigantic batteries, and excellent Leica-powered cameras. Sure, those two already descend in the mainstream class whereas the U11+ aims for the opposite.




Huawei Mate 10 • Huawei Mate 10 Pro

And finally, if money isn't an issue, you may want to give the iPhone X a try. It's unique alright, with notch, horns, all-classy screen and everything. It has one of the best main snappers, too, so it's a worthy consideration.



Apple iPhone X

The verdict

HTC U11+ isn't shaping as the best flagship of the season, that's for sure. While our tests paint a powerful and skillful flagship, the public may not be as interested in numbers. The poor looking Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and the average battery life are a tough bite to swallow.


Then again, the HTC U11+ does offer some unique treats like matched by very few, if any, on the market. One of the best cameras with FLAC audio recording, the loudest Boom speakers to date, unique and recognizable design, squeeze gestures. So, while the U11+ may not be ticking all the boxes for the must-haves, it surely goes above and beyond to create up for them in the other departments. So if you are tired of the usual mainstream crop, give the U11+ a chance and you may find yourself surprised.


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