Wednesday, 16 August 2017

HTC U11 ★★★★☆

HTC has launched the U11, its flagship for 2017 just 4 months after launching a very similar looking U Ultra famed for its Edge/Dual Screen. The U Ultra now already looks outdated and feels more like a “hey, don’t forget us!” device from HTC. The U11 changes everything with it’s “best camera on a phone ever” statement. Let’s find out if HTC manages to get back in the game…

Right out of the box, the HTC U11 looks very similar to the ultra glossy, highly reflective U Ultra but with a more ergonomic design.The back is basically bonded glass in a twisted form to look metallic and throw different colors in different viewing angles. So you really don’t know what colour your phone is! HTC calls the 2 variants Brilliant Black and Amazing Silver, though and both of them are fingerprint magnets. Thankfully, on the front it’s a lot more “normal” with a 2.5D curved edge glass on the 5.5” SUPER LCD 5 with a great 1440 x 2560 resolution. The capacitive home button cum fingerprint scanner is at the bottom flanked by the Back and Overview buttons which light up on touch.

Nothing on the left edge, while power and volume buttons on the right. No 3.5mm jack here, so your old earphones are of no use since HTC wants to move forward to Type C charging and earphones. The Noise cancelling Usound earphones thankfully come bundled with the U11.The earpiece doubles up as a woofer in addition to the speaker grill at the bottom. It’s got IP67 certification i.e. water and dust resistant. The U11 supports Hybrid Dual SIM, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and VoLTE.

Under the hood , you’ll find the latests Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB/6GB RAM and 64GB/128GB memory respectively. It’s the latest hardware available on all flagships now and you don’t need to worry for at least a couple of years. 

HTC Sense runs atop the Android 7.1 OS and similar to the U Ultra. They did announce the Sense Companion UI but it’s nowhere near the Google Assistant or Siri yet, not even close to what Bixby can do at this moment. Overall the UI is smooth and lag free with a few customisations but HTC can do better. The Edge Sense is the most innovative feature to come out of HTC’s stable yet that allows you to trigger apps or shortcuts by squeezing the sides of the phone .You can launch the camera or voice recorder or text to speech etc and even click photos once in the camera app. The advanced mode allows for multiple triggers based on pressure sensitivities. I’m not sure though, if you will ever be able to use a hard case/cover on the U11 ;).

Coming to the most talked about camera ever on a phone, the U11 scores a 90 in the DXO Mark camera test, which was being ruled by Google Pixel with a score of 89 until now .Samsung S8 & iPhone 7 Plus are just below 89. And true to the numbers, the U11 does not disappoint.It’s a cracker of a camera at just 12MP F/1.7, showing people that neither an additional camera nor the MegaPixel count matters, what really does are the pixels, ability to capture light and sensors on it .I’d definitely rate it slightly over the Pixel and the best shooter in low light / night mode. Even the front 16MP camera takes realistic and crisp selfies.Video can be recorded with up-to 4K resolution. The only thing missing is Optical Zoom on an otherwise impressive setup.

Performance and multimedia wise, there won’t be any troubles if you have multiple apps and games open simultaneously or running in the background. There was no lag on Asphalt 8 & Fifa 17 when abruptly switching between them and 2K videos look great on YouTube. Sound from the speakers is loud and clear while listening to music or gaming . With the battery at 3000 mAh you feel hard done by, considering the potential heavy usage you’d have regularly. I got just over 10 hours on a single charge but on moderate usage you can stretch it up to 15 hours which isn’t bad. If price isn’t a concern and you don’t want the Samsung S8, go for this one . Otherwise you have the Pixel XL at a lower price now and the One Plus 5 or even LG G6 to consider. 


Pritesh Khilnani
HTC U11 at CeX

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