Review: HTC U11

Pros

  • Beautiful glass design
  • Awesome camera
  • Edge Sense
  • Speedy Performance
  • Great Battery Life
  • IP 68 water and dust resistance

Cons

  • Stuck on 16/9 Aspect Ratio
  • Glass body attracts fingerprints
  • Bulk Design
  • No wireless charging

My time with the HTC U11 has been generally good and still quite happy with the phone, as gorgeous as the phone is it’s not HTC’s perfect phone. But I think with HTC’s recent history it’s HTC best phone so far. There are two features that really stood out for me with the U11, the stunning design and the U-Sonic headphones. I will get into more detail with these. Everything thing else I felt was pretty standard which is not a bad thing as the U11 in a way plays it safe. You can’t really complain about anything, there were no features that I felt were really bad.

As I mentioned I was really impressed with the U11’s design. As expected from HTC with their standards in industrial design. The phone is glass front and back with a metal frame but because the of the curved edges the whole phone looks like one continuous material as you turn the U11 over. It’s a bit of an experience unboxing the phone for the first time. The downside to this design though is it’s a massive fingerprint magnet; a case is recommended and also the U11 has double the shatter possibility.

HTC U11 - Rear
All glass back. Finger print magnet.

The other cool feature worth mentioning was the included U-Sonic Headset, probably one of the best sounding phone headsets. They require a quick set-up, it’s a once off process. You get a notification when you first plug the headset in. But once set up… boy do they sound amazing. What’s also great about them is that they have active noise cancelling. It’s not as good as what you would get from a Bose or Sony headset but they still block out a decent amount of noise. Enough to not require listening on high volume.

HTC U-Sonic Buds
Amazing sound. Try to believe.

Another great feature I feel I should include is “Edge Sense”. This is a unique feature on the U11 that brings a new way to interact with your phone by squeezing the sides with either a short or long squeeze. You can change the required pressure and what each squeeze does. To be honest initially I didn’t find this feature useful and ended up turning it off completely. I have a clip mount in my car and each time I mounted the U11 it would sometimes register a squeeze. I had to up the pressure sensitivity but then it made it awkward to use the feature as I had to squeeze harder. Since the Oreo update I found edge sense more useful. HTC included a new Radial Wheel feature. When activated a radial wheel of shortcuts pop up. I set it up to the short squeeze replacing the screenshot command and I had shortcuts like notes, flashlight and wallet. I found myself using Edge Sense more and more as you can access it while the screen is off, it was quicker for me to pay with wallet or turn the flash light on. If you do purchase this phone I suggest giving edge sense a go.

HTC U11 - Shortcut wheel
Useful for shortcuts.

I want to quickly mention the camera; in my opinion along with my comment of the U11 being HTC’s best phone, the camera is also HTC’s best. One of the main things that has kept me away from HTC was camera. The U11 has a greatly improved camera. The images I shot were exposed correctly and balanced correctly and sharp and focused on the right spots. Low light capabilities were impressive too, great balance of brightness and minimal grain. The only issue with the camera was the glare from light sources at night. All images were processed enough to look good and not require editing but still had room for tweaking if you so desired.

Link to my Flickr Album for image samples.

HTC U11 Camera - UI
Clean camera UI

Everything else I had no real complaints about; what you expect from a 2017 flagship. Snapdragon 835, Adreno 540 GPU, Waterproofing, vibrant screen, fingerprint reader and USB-C. If I were to pick a complaint though is that it would have been great to see a 18/9 Aspect screen instead of 16/9. This is not major issue it’s just that I have been spoilt by using the LG G6 with its screen. Also would have been great to also have wireless charging considering the U11 has a glass back. Those two features aren’t a necessity but it would help future proof the U11.

HTC U11 - Bottom
USB-C

The issues with the phone are more to do with me if anything and probably won’t be an issue for you. This is HTC’s best phone yet after years of trying and falling short. If you get this phone you won’t be disappointed as there is plenty to like, the U11 is a great all-rounder.

Video below to my unboxing.

Video below to my review.

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