HTC U11, eye-catching, powerful and with one of the cameras of the moment

Without offering anything different, brands that are not at the top of high-end sales have it complicated. The HTC U11 is the answer of an eternal candidate for phone of the year that finally in this 2017 has obtained a smartphone of outstanding.

An HTC high-end “unrecognizable”

We do not stop repeating that in the current market of high-end smartphones must be noted. It can be done with the double camera, with the removal of frames or as is the case of the HTC U11, with a design at least very striking. But above all breaker for the company, from the most sober up to this model.

If you do not think so much, you have to look back and observe the design of the HTC franchise of these last years. With the U11, HTC makes a sudden change of pace and idea behind the design of its high-end smartphones. Rudder blow to try a new assault on the usual.

In the design of the HTC U11 we appreciate a daring evolution that gains in spectacularity, weight and handling in hand, but that overthrows all the work of own personality and excellent to do in the design of its high range for years.

After years perfecting a glorious metal body, HTC is passed to the glass for the back of its U11, slightly curved to facilitate the grip and offer a soft touch when grasping it. That glass finish is protected with Gorilla Glass 5, but these days with the HTC U11 as the head end, there is no hint of the robustness and feel of hardness and toughness of the high-end HTC from previous years.

Image Source: Google Image

The only trace of the metal in the design of the HTC U11 is in the frame. Yes we have water resistance, with IP67 profile.

The passage of the metal to the glass has only one reason: to give color, vividness and a finish with reflections and different tonalities as it affects the ambient light. And it succeeds. The HTC U11 is eye-catching as few, and everyone will notice it. But for a lot of anti-fingerprint or dirt treatment that incorporates the brand, it is a model that only remains clean and without marks when you do not take it or use it. But it is cleaned with equal ease.

For anyone who wants, HTC has included in the box a flexible cover for the back . It is transparent, so it does not seem like a bad idea to keep away the dirt but continue to boast a striking terminal for its color and finish.

PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm (169 grams)
FINISHING AND RESISTANCE Rear and front glass, metal frames // IP67
SCREEN SuperLCD 5.5 inches
PROCESSOR Snapdragon 835
GPU Adreno 540
MEMORY 64 GB (expandable up to 2 TB more via MicroSD)
SOFTWARE VERSION Android 7.1 with HTC Sense Customization Layer
CONNECTIVITY Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C (USB 3.1), NFC, WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / a
WRISTWATCH Main 12 Megapixel (f1.7 and OIS) with 4K video recording. 16 Megapixel Front Camera (f / 2.0)
OTHERS Pressure sensor on the sides // HTC Boom Sound
BATTERY Quick Charge 3.0 3000 mAh with Quick Charge
PRICE 743 dollars

Of the rest of the section of design of the HTC U11 there are no new developments. The frames are contained but not as small as in other terminals, the screen format is 16:9, there are LEDs for notifications, fingerprint sensor and power button with a different touch pattern to identify it more easily.

The HTC U11 does not come alone

From the physical appearance of the HTC U11 I want to stop in two details. The first is quite relevant, because the manufacturer that has done more with Sony to care for the sound on a smartphone, either through headphones or external speakers, has been on the side of manufacturers who do not want us to have a classic port for our headphones.

That decision means that to listen to music with a headset already purchased and not USB-C, you have to resort to the annoyance of an adapter. It comes included in the package, but it is not an aesthetic or comfortable solution, much less practical. Surely when you need the adapter you will not know where you left off.

The lesser evil is that HTC has included some good headphones as standard with your phone. It is a practice that we are increasingly seeing more high-end and I find an interesting addition. In the case of this HTC without a 3.5mm headphone port, it is almost imperative to compensate for such elimination.

The included earphones, USB-C type, offer quality far superior to the usual sound, and adds noise canceling acceptable. If we add that the speakers of the HTC U11, without becoming the ones of yesteryear in the HTC, give us a powerful sound and quality, this HTC again, despite the new developments in this section, a recommended model for those who enjoy the video and music on their smartphone.

From the serial content on the HTC U11 box I would also like to highlight the QuickCharge 3.0 charger, which not all high end include it.

Image Source: Google Image

Footprint and pressure sensor, but not on the screen

Not having reduced just the frames, the HTC U11 has not had to give up leaving the fingerprint sensor on the front. It is placed on the start button, is capacitive and works correctly. It is fast, just push your finger (without pressing) and in a few tenths of a second we are with the terminal unlocked.

But at the design level, the biggest novelty of the HTC U11 is the double pressure sensor they have included on the sides of the terminal. The operation is simple: we adjust the pressure we want, the function we will give to that gesture (for example open the camera or launch the Google assistant) and just squeeze the terminal on the sides when you take it to work.

It costs a little to associate this gesture and hit with the right pressure, but then it is quite intuitive. It works from the lock screen and I really liked using it to launch the camera while I take the pocket terminal : I take it and while I take it I’m already tightening the sides to have the camera available.

You may also like to read: Why are you doing this to us, HTC?

5.5 inches with SuperLCD panel = guarantee of success

One thing that is indissociable from a high end HTC for several generations is the quality of its screen. The one of this HTC U11 is no exception. Here we are before the high end HTC with larger screen, 5.5 inches, and 1440p resolution. The density is therefore perfect to see all the content with clarity.

The rest of the screen features are not completely out of the question. We are facing a new iteration of the Super LCD panel to which HTC is always faithful. The result returns to give you the reason for both brightness and color, fidelity and contrast, is one of the best screen you can get on the market. Maybe we could ask for something more of brightness and efficiency in exteriors, but the more than 500 nits leave us quite satisfied.

The HTC U11 includes a way to customize the color of the screen, perhaps cold as standard. In case you have any specific preference in terms of warmth or otherwise.

With this base, we only miss the compatibility with HDR content to compete from you to you with the most outstanding screens of this 2017.

Another beast with the Snapdragon 835

We are delaying in receiving devices with the Snapdragon 835 in the market , but the results are on the side of Qualcomm. The HTC U11 is another one that brings a fantastic match to this processor, and has left us with the best feeling of performance of what we have of 2017. It does with the combination of the mentioned chip and only 4 GB of RAM, which is the amount of memory chosen for the version with 64 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with microSD cards up to 2 TB.

The HTC U11 flies at all times, both when it comes to moving through the interface and opening applications, there is nothing lag of any kind and without a doubt that is thanks to the optimization of HTC Sense over Android 7.1 . The combination of the last of Qualcomm with enough RAM we will see it very repeated, but beyond the data of the benchmarks, it is the experience in the day to day that in the end remains in the head of the user. And here the HTC U11 has been the best of the year without a doubt.

HTC does not just touch anything of native Android that we like, it does not duplicate unnecessarily and what it adds makes sense and does not penalize anything the experience. We continue to have NewsRepublic for filtering information that we tell you about in our social and news accounts, as well as a couple of tools that work well, such as Boost + for terminal management. And in case the Google assistant was not enough, HTC includes your HTC Sense Companion just in case.

You will have to see how it ages with those 4 GB of RAM compared to terminals with more RAM, and if HTC meets the updates of the layer, but right now, it is the terminal that has given us the most performance in our tests.

That positive experience unfortunately has an unexpected setback on the battery. They are 3000 mAh that fail to offer us more than one day of intensive use, with about five hours of active screen.

Even very demanding users may have trouble reaching the night without having to connect it to an external battery. In our tests, where we had less efficiency when the terminal did not have the active screen, interestingly.

What saves the HTC is the fast charge, which in little more than 20 minutes leads us to have the terminal with more than 50% battery again.

Image Source: Google Image

A single sensor that will not let you down

The rectification that HTC already made last year with the camera of its high end is confirmed in this HTC U11. You may not be able to reach the top three phones globally but it’s very close. If you choose it as the camera of your next phone, you will not be disappointed at all.

This is not a double sensor system. HTC has decided to be conservative and only puts a 12 megapixel sensor but with good arguments : large size of the photodiode, aperture of f1.7 and optical stabilization. There is also dual-pixel and very good 4K video recording with 3D sound and a high level stabilization . Arguments very solid no doubt.

If we look at our experience and the results of the tests, which we usually perform in scenarios similar to other reviews to be able to more reliably evaluate the tests, the HTC U11 more than meets expectations.

The approach is among the fastest of the moment, and it is accurate. Allows us to get close enough to the object to be photographed if the light is sufficient. However the shot with the HTC U11 slows down more than we expected, which somewhat tarnish the experience with the camera. It’s strange because neither the processor nor the number of megapixels in the sensor makes sense.

If we talk about results, the HTC U11 is a very capable terminal for point-and-shoot photography . The photos are really striking in different situations, with just detail but a colorful and natural to emphasize. Care must be taken because automatic exposure is disabled by default and fully recommended.

In good light conditions the photos are excellent, perhaps improving in dynamic range in certain scenarios where you have to fine tune by hand with automatic exposure and where the high level HDR causes us to lose detail in areas that are not central to the image.

But at night we are facing a winning camera where both the large aperture and OIS system allows you to collect lots of light, make a correct white balance and avoid losing detail by reducing noise.

Although with a f1.7 and the approach rather close we can get close-ups with very good background blur , here the camera of the HTC U11 is at a disadvantage compared to the models that thanks to a second sensor, perform a very flashy 2X mode. It is almost the only glue facing the home user that we can put, beyond technical aspects have a very high score.

Of the secondary camera it is necessary to emphasize its resolution, 16 MP, with aperture f2.0, the indispensable beauty mode and the recording of video 1080p. From our test we have only encountered problems with the focus in situations of complex light (high contrast or low light, for example indoors), which is when it does not finish focusing on the face and we lose sharpness in the self.

Also in our in-depth test of the camera of the HTC U11 the interface seems to me that has room for improvement over the competition. The change between modes is not as direct as we would like and the options are somewhat hidden. Of course, there are manual controls and RAW mode to enjoy and take advantage of mobile photography in conditions.

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