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HTC U11 review

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  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Fast performance
  • Above average camera
  • Next to no bloatware
  • Hi-Res Audio support great for audiophiles and Tidal users

Cons

  • Ugly design
  • Lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a pain

Key Features

  • 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?

The U11 is HTC’s answer to Samsung’s seemingly unconquerable Galaxy S8, which is TrustedReviews’ current smartphone of choice. In its bid to outdo the Galaxy, HTC has loaded the U11 with an arsenal of interesting features.

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.

Related: Best smartphones

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.

HTC U11

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.

Related: Best HTC U11 deals

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.

HTC U11

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.

Buy Now: HTC U11 on EE (8GB) – £15 upfront, £37.99/month

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.

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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.

Domain Rider

May 16, 2017, 8:00 pm

It's significantly bigger than the HTC 10 - 8mm longer and 4mm wider. Also 8g heavier, 2.5 hrs less talk time, 5 days less on standby.

Ronald

May 17, 2017, 2:24 am

Sorry editor but lots of us want bezels for durability and better speakers.

Steve Sylvester

May 17, 2017, 7:14 pm

This phone is what I've been waiting for. I'm an all weather cyclist in Minnesota. With IP67 I won't have to bag or case the phone to avoid having sweat or rain ruin it. And in the winter I can use the squeeze capability to shoot picks with gloves on. I've been on HTC since the original Hero. I've always liked their build quality, and over the years they've stripped sense down to the point that it's pretty bare bones. People complain about the "big" bezel, but I couldn't care less. Looking forward to getting my hands on this thing.

sabrina

May 17, 2017, 10:05 pm

what a lackluster biased review.
- completely did not mention the record-breaking DxOMark mobile score of 90 (better than Pixel or S8)
- pro of bezels -> less shattering
- edge sense being a "gimmick"? I cannot wait for this innovation (why do you scoff at that word choice?)! The ability to use the phone in frigid weather with mittens, the ability (combined with the IP67 rating) to take photos underwater, the increased ease of using larger phones one-handed.
- re: speakers - "HTC says they’re apparently better than ever." Well, you're the reviewer, what do YOU think? You have the physical product, you should be able to tell they are the best speakers you've heard in any phone.

Ron Lunsford

May 18, 2017, 6:01 pm

I read this and I still can't tell if you like the phone after spending an hour with it or not - which by the way, isn't enough time to do a proper review by any means. Let's chalk this up to bad form and move along.

Now for the review itself, it's pretty well full of contradictions and poor comparisons. Like the U11 is not as eye catching as the S8 and G6 - but the ridiculous red color is stunning? The display doesn't match an AMOLED for saturation, even though many people don't enjoy the oversaturated AMOLED screens look. The squeeze feature is calibrated to your touch - you can make it very soft of very hard - so make sure you get that noted. And yes, the camera is stunning - although you failed to mention that it once again set a DXOMark record with a rating of 90. Basically, it's everything that was amazing about that HTC 10 that you liked, amplified. If that's not progress, then I don't know what is.

LokiusMaximus

May 18, 2017, 6:48 pm

I had the Hero and Aria after AT&T bought out Alltel in my area. I switched to a Moto X afterwards. One thing I loved about HTC phones was that the stock keyboard put symbols behind the letters. Do you know if HTC still goes that route at least up to the HTC10? It made so much sense that I could not figure out why Motorola did not do the same. MotoX's keyboard today looks like garbage.

Master Yates

May 19, 2017, 1:53 pm

Another company making the huge mistake of ditching the headphone jack. I will give HTC some credit in including the alternative in the box. Still doesn't alter the fact that it's a deal breaker.

bkf11

May 19, 2017, 4:21 pm

This "review" is consistent with most reviews of most of the HTC's high end devices... highlights on the personal biases and glossing over the improvements over previous models... Squeezing a phone to activate apps... downplaying something that no other phone does and calling it gimmicky?... "I'm not convinced yet... maybe they will grow on me..." sure after an hour ... you should have waited to write this to give more than cursory information that we have already for the most part seen in the leaks instead of trying to be first....

bkf11

May 19, 2017, 4:23 pm

Do people really go 5 days w/o charging a phone?

Domain Rider

May 19, 2017, 4:59 pm

Not unless it's a spare - I was just comparing the specs HTC give for each phone - comparing standby time gives a clue to battery life.

Darwin Simmons

May 20, 2017, 7:10 am

I don't think I've ever seen a review of any of HTC's phones that was not tainted with bias. Every one is fixated with Samsung or Apple. I've had several HTC phones and have never had any issues with their performance or capabilities. They make a solid phone that does not catch on fire or require you to have an account with them to download music/data/apps.

Darwin Simmons

May 20, 2017, 7:13 am

Perhaps we should go back to BETA video tapes while we are at it.

Goran

May 20, 2017, 9:55 am

Actually, I prefer 16:9 screen ratio, G6 and S8, for me, have fake big screens. S8+ seem more natural, S8 is horrible, when I've seen it I was really dissapointed. That phone looks like a toy, not serious phone. And about edge sense, I have only one comment. How come noone ever included this feature before??? It's insane, thnx htc for bringing this to life.

Goran

May 20, 2017, 9:57 am

True, htc made big tactical mistake for removing 3.5 too soon. But, at the end of the day, all seem to follow, so next year, 3.5 on phones will be rear thing.

Goran

May 20, 2017, 10:03 am

10 comes with touchpal keyboard. Google photos. No htc keyboard and their photo app. But I guess you can download their keyboard from gplay. I use gboard, though, I am not satisfied with any keyboard available:)

Goran

May 20, 2017, 10:11 am

Plus you don't need to worry about burned pixels. Htc always had great LCD displays, and one on 11 is the best ever. Amoled has some advantages, true, easier on battery life and VR ready, but with LCD you don't worrie at all.

Goran

May 20, 2017, 10:17 am

Well, if you believe reviewers too much, you will never find YOUR perfect phone, bcs perfect for all doesn't exist. One should know it's own needs and what he values in the phone. But I agree, ppl forgot, especially some reviewers, how great htc phones are, and strong overall.

illregal

May 22, 2017, 7:54 pm

trustedReviewer can't be trusted. On Samsucks payroll.

Tom Kelsall

May 25, 2017, 7:34 am

Why is it a deal breaker? You need to charge for an hour and a half once every day and a half. You can accomplish this while asleep when you don't need earphones. I genuinely don't understand why this is even a starting consideration.

Jon Pace

May 25, 2017, 8:54 am

Instead of calling the review 'HTC U11 hands-on: A phone you can squeeze, but why?' maybe it should be called 'I don't like bezels, so I'll make a somewhat dismissive review, but why?'

I think Edge sense, despite a somewhat gimmicky name is something we will see more and more on phones, and will become the norm. It's such a practical idea for the quick and easy snapshot of your kids, to as someone below comments it being great when your out on a bike.

Can just see the review of the S10+ in two years time saying it's got Samsung Squeeze, which is a great innovation..........

Tobbe Jonsson

May 25, 2017, 9:35 am

Edge sense I think personally will be the next big thing, as others are saying. This review is like ALL others "nothing" more than personal opinions. As a professional phone test would ONLY have focused on the actual bits in it. But, it's regular HTC: "just a gimmick", and then two years laters it's on ALL phones and THEN the "reviewers" loves it. When it's in a samsung/apple..

Master Yates

May 25, 2017, 3:09 pm

Its a deal breaker as I have multiple pairs of earphones all use the 3.5mm jack. I also have to use these with many other phones which all have the 3.5mm. That means I can carry 1 pair around and use them universally. If any device is low on power, I can also charge that device like when a conference call over runs. I have no issues with moving on as long as long as the next standard is better.

Master Yates

May 25, 2017, 3:12 pm

With something like the Lenovo P2, I guess they do.

Ching-Yuan Ian Lee

May 26, 2017, 4:26 pm

an adapter is included so that any of your 3.5mm earphones can be used on u11

Ching-Yuan Ian Lee

May 26, 2017, 4:51 pm

"Images aren’t Google Pixel or Galaxy S8 quality..." What are you talking about??? Ratings by DoXMark: U11-90, Google Pixel-89, HTC10/iPhone7/S8/S8+-88. In addition, many head-to-head comparisons of camera performance between U11 and S8 came out. U11 indeed beats S8 in most of the aspects in most of the reviews.

The only PROBLEM of Edge Sense was why such a brilliant idea and design came out so late? I personally tried it and liked it so much (and therefore ordered a unit). I just can't wait that more and more apps become "squeezable"!

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