HTC U11 review: A big return to form for HTC

 HTC’s U11 is a welcome return to form for HTC, but is it enough to overhaul the Google Pixel XL or the Samsung Galaxy S8?

For the past four iterations, HTC has been touting an all metal unibody design in its flagships. This year, HTC’s arrives with a fresh, new, and more fragile look. Tuned with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU, top-notch audio experience , and a water resistant glass sandwich design, will the new HTC U11 be able to swoon loyal Samsung or Apple customers to HTC?

The “U” in the phone’s name stands for the company’s new design language, while the “11” follows the numbering of the HTC One M9, and then last year’s HTC 10. The reason for the “U” is thanks in part to the super-reflective surface on the back glass which HTC says “is a reflection of you”.

appy puns aside, the U11’s new ‘Liquid surface” design symbolizes (both literally and figuratively) a new image for HTC. Glass is more appealing and stands out better than a metal-clad phone, all without being overly flashy. HTC didn’t take a risk with a taller display as LG and Samsung have done, and that’s okay. After all, we don’t know that non-traditional aspect ratios will stick around for very long.

HTC U11 key features

  • Body: HTC’s design uses Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back. The “Liquid Surface” design on the rear is curved glass and changes hues under light. It’s IP67 water-resistant.
  • Display: 5.5-inch Super LCD 5 panel, 1440x 2560 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, ~534ppi
  • Rear camera: 12MP f/1.7, dual pixel autofocus, OIS, dual-LED flash, 1.4 micron pixel size, HDR Boost, 3D audio recording, Acoustic Focus, 4K @ 30fps
  • Front Camera: 16MP fixed-focus, HDR Boost, 1080p @ 30fps.
  • OS/Software: Android 7.1.1 with HTC Sense – HTC Sense Companion app, Alexa available in UK, US, and Germany
  • Chipsets: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835: Octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo), Adreno 540
  • Memory: 4GB RAM/64GB storage in base model (6GB/128GB in select markets), expandable via microSD slot (or SIM2 slot for dualSIM model).
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • Connectivity: Single or Dual SIM; LTE-A Cat 16: 1024/75 Mbps, USB Type-C 3.1, 3.5mm to USB-C adapter included
  • Audio: Boom Sound speakers, noise-cancelling U Sonic earbuds (via USB-C) included, four on-board mics for 3D audio and always listening for assistant hotword
  • Misc: Squeeze actions via sensors embedded into frame, front fingerprint scanner; stereo speakers

HTC is a little late to the party this year. The Taiwanese company pushed the launch of its 2017 flagship back a couple of months, partly because the U Ultra’s release put HTC behind schedule for its flagship phone of the year.

Although the U11 isn’t the first smartphone with a Snapdragon 835, HTC is the first company to launch a smartphone with Qualcomm’s latest chipset on a global scale. While that won’t win HTC any awards or new fans, it has to rely on the phone itself to deliver a product experience worth writing home about.

While the HTC 10 was a great phone with an overly robust exterior design, its presence wasn’t enough to stand out amongst Samsung or Apple in the mobile space. HTC hopes that the U11 closes the gap that Samsung and Apple have between the other smartphone makers.

HTC heavily emphasized the U11’s squeeze features and noise-cancelling USonic headphones at its launch event in Taipei. Could these new features and its shiny new design be enough to sway customers back? Perhaps, but HTC likely needs a bigger presence to compete with Samsung and Apple’s multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.



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