HTC U11+

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Android Advisor - - Contents -

As ex­pected, HTC is back with some new smart­phones in­clud­ing a big­ger and better ver­sion of the U11 flag­ship. It’s on­wards and up­wards for the firm fol­low­ing its deal with Google.

De­sign

As you’d ex­pect from a ‘Plus’ ver­sion of any phone, the U11+ is a big­ger ver­sion of the U11. It’s got a big­ger screen, of course, but there are a few other de­sign bits and pieces that are new.

The de­vice still has the same de­sign lan­guage with HTC’s ‘Liq­uid Sur­face’ curved glass at the back. This time round there are two colours to choose from start­ing with Ce­ramic Black, which to our eyes in real life looks more like chrome/sil­ver.

A Translu­cent Black op­tion, as teased ahead of the launch, is a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing. It’s a smokey grey sort of colour and means you can see some com­po­nents un­der­neath the glass – namely a coil of metal that is used for NFC.

It’s a bit like hav­ing a win­dow on the side of your gam­ing PC rig, but with­out all the neon lights.

We pre­fer the translu­cent op­tion but the sad news is that it’s not com­ing to Europe, at least to be­gin with, so fin­gers crossed for it to come later. This is de­spite teas­ing it off on the of­fi­cial site.

The U11+ looks stylish but not every­one will en­joy the larger and heav­ier size (188g is pretty hefty), or the way the back of the phone gets cov­ered in smudges and fin­ger­prints very eas­ily once again – it’s also a bit slip­pery.

You might have no­ticed that the fin­ger­print sen­sor has been moved to the back of the phone. This is to make way for a dif­fer­ent size screen.

HTC has up­graded the wa­ter­proof rat­ing so the U11+ gets IP68 which is the high­est you’ll find on a phone mean­ing you can dunk it in up to 1.5 me­tres of fresh wa­ter for up to 30 min­utes.

Edge Sense is still a fea­ture, so squeez­ing is an­other way of in­ter­act­ing with the de­vice. There are pres­sure sen­sors in the sides of the de­vice in the lower half that trig­ger cer­tain com­mands.

Dis­play

As men­tioned, the fin­ger­print scan­ner has been moved to the rear to al­low for a screen sim­i­lar to some ri­vals. The U11+ has a 6in screen, with an 18:9 as­pect ra­tio and a Quad HD+ res­o­lu­tion (2880x1440).

One of our com­plaints with the U11 was the more stan­dard dis­play which wasn’t as ex­cit­ing as ri­vals, so an 82 per­cent screen-to-body ra­tio is much more com­pet­i­tive. The U11+ will sup­port HDR10 but via a firmware up­date.

Over­all the screen looks good, although LCD isn’t every­one’s choice over AMOLED. It’s crisp and bright so you need to de­cide if 6in is the right size for you.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

The U11+ still has a Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor and although there’s a ver­sion with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of stor­age, we’ll get the 6/128GB model as stan­dard in the UK which is great news.

It makes the price tag and value for money even better and there’s still a mi­croSD card slot should you re­ally need to add more. Most users won’t with on­line backup ser­vices like Google Pho­tos, though.

Like any top-tier smart­phone, we’ve found per­for­mance to be silky smooth. We’ve had no is­sues wait­ing for apps to load, multi-task­ing and the like. As you can see, it bench­marks with the best of them.

Au­dio

HTC is once again pitch­ing its phone at au­dio­philes, with a range of dif­fer­ent fea­tures in­clud­ing USonic noise can­celling head­phones in the box. The U11+ also sup­ports 24-bit play­back, has an LDAC and of­fers Qual­comm’s aptX HD codec for Blue­tooth.

There’s no head­phone jack, which is a shame, but the USonic have USB-C and there’s also an adap­tor in­cluded for tra­di­tion­al­ists. The phone also has BoomSound Hi-Fi Edi­tion which the firm claims is 30 per­cent louder than its smaller brother thanks to the ad­di­tional space. It’s a de­cent op­tion for those into au­dio but it can’t quite beat the LG G6 and V30 phones with their ded­i­cated DACs.

Cam­eras

HTC has opted for the same im­pres­sive 12Mp Ul­traPixel 3 cam­era as the U11. How­ever, there’s a change at the front from 16- down to 8Mp – the U11+ front cam­era has an 85-de­gree field of view and the HDR Boost fea­ture found on the back.

Both cam­eras are of a high stan­dard and you’ll get de­cent self­ies from the front cam­era for starters. Although the main cam­era might not have a sec­ond lens for fancy tricks, it does take no non­sense qual­ity shots in a range of con­di­tions.

We’ve found it easy to use, with quick auto fo­cus and crisp re­sults. You can jump into the Pro mode if you want to fid­dle with set­tings but the U11+ does a great job of pro­vid­ing pleas­ing shots by sim­ply point­ing and shoot­ing. As you can see from the test im­ages op­po­site, de­tail is excellent, even in shad­ows,

colours are nat­u­ral and ex­po­sure is good. The U11+ is great in low light, too, mak­ing it seem like the con­di­tions weren’t bad. This is partly due to the op­ti­cal im­age stabilisation which keeps ev­ery­thing steady.

Bat­tery life

An­other ad­van­tage of a larger hand­set is space for a big­ger bat­tery. The U11+ has a pretty huge 3,930mAh

bat­tery in­side, around a third larger than most reg­u­lar flag­ships. HTC is claim­ing up to 25 hours of talk time and more than a day of us­age.

As al­luded to, the coil you can see on the translu­cent model isn’t wire­less charg­ing. It’s NFC so you’ll charge via USB-C and there’s Quick Charge 3.0 sup­port so you can top the bat­tery up, er, quickly.

We’ve found bat­tery life to be strong with the U11+ com­fort­ably last­ing a day of even heavy us­age.

Soft­ware

As you’d ex­pect, the U11+ comes with An­droid 8.0 Oreo which is the lat­est ver­sion of Google’s mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

HTC Sense is the firm’s cus­tom user in­ter­face over the top, but like many these days it’s not as far re­moved from stock com­pared to how things used to be. The in­ter­face has things like HTC’s news feed in­stead of Google and sup­ports both Ama­zon Alexa and Google As­sis­tant.

There’s also HTC’s Sense Com­pan­ion, which on the whole we find more an­noy­ing than it is use­ful – es­pe­cially on top of ser­vices like Google that are al­ready pretty pol­ished.

The U11+ comes pre­loaded with a few apps, some of HTC’s own like Vive­port as well as the likes of Face­book and In­sta­gram. You can unin­stall the ones you don’t want, though.

With such a large screen, HTC has con­sid­ered the user and has made it so you don’t have to reach the top to pull the no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar down. You can swipe any­where, which is a re­lief.

An­other fea­ture on the U11+ is a short­cut wheel called Edge Launcher, which you can sum­mon with Edge Sense. Apps and quick set­tings can be added to this and it can be moved around for con­ve­nience.

It also shows the cal­en­dar at the top and it’s one of the most use­ful thing we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced with Edge Sense. You’ll just need to set it as the ac­tion in the Edge Sense set­ting as the de­fault is cam­era.

You can do plenty of other things with Edge Sense such as power on/off, take a screen­shot, open and close the no­ti­fi­ca­tion draw and even tog­gle your Wi-Fi hotspot. You can also switch to an ad­vanced mode that al­lows for two func­tions, the sec­ond ac­cessed via a squeeze and hold.

There are also in-app uses for Edge Sense such as snooz­ing alarms, writ­ing a new email or zoom­ing in on a map. Gen­er­ally, though, the reg­u­lar method for

these things is better with Edge Sense try­ing to solve a prob­lem that doesn’t re­ally ex­ist.

Edge Sense is good if you can find some­thing you like to use it for. How­ever, for many it will be some­thing you try for a while then for­get about.

Ver­dict

The U11+ will be too big and heavy for some but it’s a de­cent effort from HTC. It’s cheaper than ri­vals and has some top-notch specs in­clud­ing 128GB stor­age as stan­dard. It also has de­cent cam­eras, IP68 wa­ter­proof­ing and an 18:9 screen. It’s just a shame there’s no head­phone jack, Edge Sense re­mains some­thing of a gim­mick, and we don’t get the al­lur­ing translu­cent model in the UK.

It’s a wor­thy up­grade to the U11, how­ever there are some crack­ing phones to choose from at lower price points in­clud­ing the OnePlus 5T and Google Pixel 2, which has a fea­ture sim­i­lar to Edge Sense. Chris Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6in (2880x1440, 538ppi) Su­per LCD6 ca­pac­i­tive dis­play • An­droid 8.0 Oreo • Qual­comm Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor • Octa-core (4x 2.45GHz Kryo, 4x 1.9GHz Kryo) CPU • Adreno 540 GPU • 4/6GB RAM • 64/128GB stor­age, mi­croSD up to 256GB • Fin­ger­print scan­ner (rear mounted) • 12Mp rear-fac­ing cam­era (f/1.7, 1.4μm, Dual Pixel PDAF), phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, OIS, dual-LED dual-tone flash • 8Mp front-fac­ing cam­eras (f/2.0, 1080p, HDR,

panorama) • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 5.0 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS • USB 3.1 Type-C • Non-re­mov­able lithium-ion 3,930mAh bat­tery • 158.5x74.9x8.5mm • 188g

HTC Sense Com­pan­ion

Low light

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