HTC, with much less noise than other brands that have devices in the premium premium range, updated a few months ago its franchise with the new HTC U11 Plus, a version very similar to last year’s model but adding more battery and a design still with Fewer frames to reinforce the highlight of the phone: the camera. We have already been able to test it thoroughly to tell you about its possibilities, strengths and weaknesses.
HTC U11 Plus, Data Sheet
With the “disappointment” of having been on the verge of being chosen by Google to represent the Pixel 2 last year, HTC presented a few months ago an evolution of its franchise model, the HTC U11, baptizing it with the surname Plus that is almost all brands have. This addition Plus gives last year’s model “more” in some key sections such as the screen or battery, all while maintaining the good work, and in some cases peculiar, in points such as camera or design.
|HTC U11 PLUS, TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS|
|PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS||158.5 x 74.9 x 8.5 mm (188 grams)|
|FINISH AND RESISTANCE||Rear and front glass, metal frames // IP68|
|SCREEN||SuperLCD 6 inches|
|RESOLUTION||Quad HD + (537 ppp)|
|RAM||4/6 GB LPDDR4|
|MEMORY||64/128 GB (expandable up to 2 TB more via microSD)|
|SOFTWARE VERSION||Android 8.0 Oreo with HTC Sense’s customization layer|
|CONNECTIVITY||Bluetooth 5, USB-C (USB 3.1), NFC, WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac with MU-MIMO|
|CAMERAS||Main 12 Megapixels (f1.7 and OIS) with 4K video recording and slow motion 120 fps at 1080p.8 Megapixel front camera (f / 2.0) // 1080p video|
|OTHERS||Pressure sensor on the sides // Sound HTC BoomSound // Audio Hi-Res|
|BATTERY||3930 mAh with Quick Charge Quick Charge 3.0|
From the technical sheet of the HTC U11 Plus draws attention to the step that, inevitably, the company gives towards the elongated format of the screen, but that in this model, with 6 inches, is still more pronounced, so we are facing a terminal of generous dimensions although with a considerable reduction of frames.
It is not thin, it is not light, it slides … but it gives very well to the camera
When I analyzed the HTC U11 last year , I was very sorry that the metallic design that HTC had left us as one of the best of always in the high range, will pass to a better life. The glass, without getting to feel bad, I thought a step back in the case of that HTC model. More like the others, less authentic than those original models in metal that, while it is true that thick and heavy, was different. But the market sends.
The design of the HTC U11 Plus repeats the same schemes, advantages and also drawbacks that we saw in the HTC U11. The most negative is concentrated in the loss of the robustness of the metal and the ease with which the traces remain in the mirror finish of the glass back. In addition, these nuances are aggravated by some physical dimensions left behind.
Especially worrying I have found its thickness (8.5 mm), not so much for how it is in hand as the impression that we took at first sight. And the models with which, whether or not, competes.
On the positive side I have to say that the appearance of the HTC U11 Plus is anything but common. Its multiple layers on the back of the glass undoubtedly attract everyone’s looks , you have not tired of its design, but as we have said it is a “mirror” finish that suffers with fingerprints and dirt , although clean with equal ease. The color we have tried has been classic black. We are left with the desire to put our hands on the model with some transparency that leaves some components subtly in view.
In hand, the HTC U11 + is robust (it is also water resistant with IP68 profile), with little heavy feeling despite the almost 190 grams (the weight is well distributed) and soft to the touch thanks to the curved back and the delicate every detail of the design. Of course, it is quite slippery on flat surfaces and somewhat less in hand, where its height, although the frames are not very pronounced, does not help. Perhaps for this reason, in the neat box in which the HTC U11 Plus comes, we found a rigid and transparent case that is true that adds even more thickness to the terminal, but it is advisable to use it to avoid scares with the HTC phone.
Fingerprint reader on the back
As we are counting, practically all the front of this HTC is occupied by the screen, protected with Gorilla Glass 5. There are frames both up and down, but they do not occupy important elements. This is a novelty for HTC.
The on-off button, with a pattern to identify it, remains on the right edge, just below the volume. Both have a metallic finish, just like the frame. It is the fingerprint reader that definitely goes to the back of the design.
SuperLCD no longer withstands OLED technology
The impressive front panel of the HTC U11 Plus has almost a single protagonist: a 6-inch screen that, today, is almost a stranger in the high range by not opting for OLED technology and stay with LCD. But not any one. The technology that HTC baptizes as SuperLCD repeats, and it’s been many years, although not in the satisfactory way of previous years. It is not that HTC’s work has worsened, but rather that it is no longer enough to compete with OLED panels in almost all areas.
The panel with SuperLCD technology is still an outstanding feature for good lamination and the spectacular response to touch, the best of a panel that we have tested and that allows to write with solvency at high speed and without failures. The HTC U11 Plus also shows an interesting contrast but fails spectacularly in brightness level, which barely reaches 350 nits or when we put it in manual at the highest level. Bad business to incorporate HDR technology. This causes that while indoors the experience is sufficient, outdoors loses much visibility and is not comfortable to use.
The appearance of the screen can be customized in the options by changing the default profile, DCI-P3, to sRGB, more natural but off. In both cases, there is only the option to vary the color temperature. Also at this point the SuperLCD panel is well behind OLEDs, even those that are not the best of the year. In case you were wondering, there is no lack of night mode that puts a very warm color temperature on the screen.
Sound that remains a reference
HTC has always been for the lovers of the sound a mark that in smartphones has taken care of the sound. Its speakers and BoomSound technology have never gone unnoticed and in this HTC U11 + repeats strategy except in a section that we have not finished tasting.
Like other high-end models, the HTC U11 + dispenses with the 3.5mm headphone port, something that, given its thickness and size, does not seem justifiable. With this decision and as it happens with the rest of terminals that have eliminated it, HTC limits the use of our own headphones and forces us to resort to wireless models or those that the company includes as standard, which in this case is highly recommended. The headphones included as standard are a USonic of very good level both in power and fidelity. They are headphones with an effective cancellation of noise and connection via USB-C.
We also find in the serial box an adapter for any headset that we want to use. But you know how little fans we are here of that added that is never when you need it and you are likely to lose sight of it if you are not very disciplined. And that in case of using it, we will not be able to load the terminal at the same time.
The outstanding sound experience is not limited to serial headphones. The speakers with Boomsound technology are powerful, stereo (we can configure two listening modes), with correct bass and quite clear despite not having exclusive space as before. The best, again, globally in a phone of any range, which complements the multimedia experience very well with the screen with fewer frames than previous generations.
Making some difference in the battery
At the power level, the high range of 2018, except for punctual differences in the internal memory, is tremendously matched. Finding different steps of global performance is extremely complicated, so nothing to object in this regard to the HTC U11 Plus, which comes with a very appropriate specification photo: Snapdragon 835 (does not come with the 845 because it was announced long ago and is having a distribution somewhat irregular according to markets), 6 GB of RAM and an internal capacity of 128 GBthat we can also expand with microSD cards.
Those good results in the tests with benchmarks are faithfully transferred to the day to day with the team. No problem this week of use at the level of slowdowns or unexpected crashes, so Android 8.0 with the Sense layer is welcome to the list of high-end smarpthones of 2018 that already have it.
The interesting thing about the HTC U11 Plus at the level of entrails is the battery. On paper. The weight and extra size that it proposes to us is compensated with a capacity of battery superior to the average of the high range even in these diagonals. They are almost 4000 mAh with fast charge.
The figure impresses, although in the end it is not so much. It is true that it is enough to overcome almost all franchise terminals this year that have remained on the day of use, but perhaps by numbers we expected more. Anyway, with this HTC U11 Plus, with the usual and intensive use that we submit to our terminals in each test, the HTC U11 Plus has always held us up well until almost half of the second day, although with a Low hours screen level. On average they were about 6 hours, which gives us more fuel to think that HTC has not had anything easy with this screen, which is not at the level of a current high-end.
That high battery capacity is well supported with the QC 3.0 fast charge, which allows us to reach 50% of battery in just over 40 minutes (starting from 5% and being turned on and with Wifi and 4G connectivity activated), while To reach 100% of the load, our tests with the serial charger, which is fast loading QC 3.0, we have employed something less than two hours.
Finally it should be noted that in this HTC U11 Plus there is no wireless charge, something that, being the crystal design, we just do not understand in a high-end smarpthone in this 2018.
Sense on Android 8.0
HTC again offers us in this U11 Plus one of the best resolved optimizations of the current non-native Android landscape. The appearance and services that HTC places on Android 8.0 may be more or less to your liking, but what we can not take away is that the few that are placed are well topped and above all, very well optimized. There is no slowdown or failure, and everything flows as if a native Android of the fastest on the market it was.
Of the “tricks” proposed by Sense of HTC we are left with the shortcuts from the side, which although I’m not excited, work as promised. Here HTC does not have to put curved edges like Samsung does. His bet is for the right pressure in a certain area of the sides (Edge Sense), as we saw in the HTC U11 that we tested a few months ago.
This option can be configured to associate it with both a drawer of applications and shortcuts as well as terminal services, but in my case it has seemed very useful to activate the camera quickly, both when you are taking it vertically and in landscape. Without thinking about unlocking and opening the camera, we grabbed the terminal, pressed and inside the camera! As with the HTC U11, making this gesture when you have the phone in your pocket means that when you are out of it, the camera is ready to shoot.
The secret of the HTC U11 Plus is in the camera
Although the rest of sections of the HTC U11 Plus, without reaching an excellent note, are not bad, the camera is the clear differentiating element. It happened to us with the Pixel 2 XL, interestingly, and the sensation is repeated again with this HTC. It does not matter if the screen is behind the competition when your camera offers great results that will surely compensate for many.
We started talking about the specifications. Here it surprises that HTC continues to renounce the double rear camera. What it does maintain is a large sensor with a resolution of 12 MP that allows us large photoreceptors that will allow us to collect more light without generating excessive noise.
From the results, some details that you have to know. Although the general scenes, even the day scenes, look great on the screen of the smartphone itself, with ** good color reproduction, dynamic range and detail **, surprisingly sometimes there is noise that is introduced into the shot and which is appreciable when we expand the scene.
Another aspect where HTC has room for improvement is in the images with high dynamic range. There is something more suffering from the terminal than other models of the competition, and for example the HDR mode, which can be activated, canceled or left in automatic mode, shows little difference between using it or not. Unless you need the maximum speed of shot, it is convenient to leave it activated or in automatic mode.
Keeping it in automatic mode is key in the night scenes, where, along with the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S9 +, it is at the top for performance, detail and sharpness, as well as good noise management thanks to the increased uptake of light. We should play with their night shooting modes, including self-exposure, because the scene, depending on whether we leave that control to the camera or do it ourselves, varies a lot.
Here the pity is that we do not have the possibility of taking pictures with a portrait mode. To get background blur we have to resort exclusively to approach the person or the object and trust in the little depth of field that your f1.7 allows us to achieve.
For the rest, the front camera, with fixed focus, gets good selfies but without highlighting. The same happens with the video modes, capable of recording at 4K and emphasizing on the sound, as it could not be less.
As far as the interface is concerned, the one on the HTC U11 Plus is one of the most peculiar due to the system of options available on the screen. There are different shooting modes, including the Pro with manual controls (shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and focus, as well as RAW), as well as those referring to selfies and panoramas.
Here there is no AI for now that supports us in the election and everything we must do by hand and according to our intuition / knowledge. In global there are not many options in the interface.