HTC U11 – Camera
Photo quality is an area in which HTC has struggled to compete. This is because HTC’s custom UltraPixel tech, which supposedly improves processing speeds and low-light performance by capturing light on larger pixels, has in the past had a tendency to overexpose photos.
This was a huge issue on the HTC 10 and its predecessors, and a key reason I had my doubts about the U11’s 12-megapixel camera, which runs the same tech and captures gigantic 1.4μm pixels.
But, to my surprise, the camera on the U11 is actually very good. Not only does it offer a huge improvement on past HTC phones, it actually matches, if not beats, competing handsets such as the BlackBerry KEYone and Huawei P10 and – in some scenarios – the Google Pixel.
Taken in regular light, photos universally look excellent. Colour balance is solid and images don’t look overexposed or oversaturated. Shutter response, while not the fastest, is more than quick enough for impromptu snapping. Zoomed in, photos taken on the U11 in decent daylight conditions actually had more detail than those taken with the Pixel.
Video recording was also suitably smooth and the four mics did an excellent job of recording 3D sound. In short, the U11 is more than good enough as a compact replacement for holiday and family snaps, and social media.
My experience in low light was a little mixed, however. The U11 is capable of taking above-average photos in low light, especially if you take advantage of its pro mode, which offers manual controls for key features such as white balance and ISO. But the camera shutter speed drops to a snail’s pace.
Taking photos during a friend’s birthday celebrations, with the dual-LED flash off in a dim bar, the U11 regularly stuttered and there was a noticeable delay between the instant I pressed the on-screen shutter button and the photo being taken. This resulted in many blurred shots and photos of the backs of friends’ heads.
This is a shame as, on paper, the U11 ticks all the right boxes for low-light photography, featuring a BSI sensor, OIS and impressive ƒ/1.7 aperture that matches that of the Galaxy S8’s.
The U11’s 16-megapixel front camera is pretty par for the course as selfie cameras go, and proved more than good enough for self portraits and video calls – although again, low-light performance isn’t stellar.
You can see sample shots taken on the HTC U11 below.