HTC recently revealed its super flagship of the year called U11+, a larger and more advanced version of the six-month-old model U11, which is uncompromising in every possible feature on the list of technical specifications. At the same time, the company presented the HTC U11 Life, a smaller, less powerful and what is most important – half the price of the mentioned six-month senior U11. I had the opportunity of getting to know both of these new devices.
The more interesting model, the larger HTC U11+ is trying to match up to the recently revealed palette of rival flagships in every way possible, and in fact, this is a current flagship from HTC which, more or less, has its pulse on all the trends of the most demanding market segment right now. The most obvious trend is display format. Thus, the U11+ is the first HTC device that comes with an 18:9 baseless screen, It is 6 inches big and has a 2.5K resolution, i.e. 1440 x 2880 pixels, while the display to front surface ration is over 8′ percent, meaning that it does not leave any room for the Home key, which is located on the back of the device, under the camera lens – just like the case is with rival models with the similar form factor.
The entire HTC U11+ is made of glass: it has Gorilla Glass 5 on the front surface and Gorilla Glass 3 on the rear, making it one of the most elegant and most striking phones of the season. As HTC always kept a high level of finish and design in mind, it comes in very attractive colors: it will initially be available in so-called Ceramic Black. Then, following geek trends, it will come with a transparent back, so-called Translucent Oil. The phone features the IP68 certificate, stating it is water resistant and dust proof. However, all of this is almost identical to the previously famous model U11 (it +just+ had the IP67 certificate), just like Edge Sense technology support, thanks to which the device’s edges are pressure sensitive. A few millimeters more narrow, but a few millimeters longer, the U11+ has a more luxurious display surface, but it feels just as comfortable when held in hand and has identical functionality.
The display, chipset, battery and software have been advanced to a certain degree, which the most demanding audience will love, particularly geeks and all other technology buffs. The 6-inch Super LCD 6 display comes with DCI-P3 calibration, which, paired with AMOLED, makes it offer the most attractive imaging with outstanding sharpness, contrast sustainability and vivacious color saturation. Indeed, when the device is exposed to direct sunlight, the imaging is very clear and has enough contrast, even when the brightness setting was not maxed out. This, along with a great pixel density of 534 ppi (almost identical to the U11 model), makes it one of the best displays in its range.
The chipset is still, of course, Snapdragon 835, but this time HTC has decided to offer the same hardware configuration on all markets throughout the world (without wheedling the home Asian market with the most advanced specifications). The phone has respectable 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of internal storage and a microSD and dual SIM slot. When it comes to the radio connection, LTE Cat.16 is supported, meaning a data transfer speed which many carriers throughout the globe are planning to upgrade their networks to in the future. In this regard, HTC U11+ does not make any compromises. Speaking of other hardware details, it should be pointed out that the phone is equipped with two speakers which offer, as HTC representatives claim, even more advanced BoomSound Stereo and it is delivered with USonic headphones. There is no 3.5 mm audio jack, just like the case was with the senior model, but the phone will come packaged with a little cable which offers conversion with a USB Type-C connector to a 3.5 mm audio jack.
The battery has been significantly improved, despite the almost identical dimensions compared to U11. Thus, U11+ offers – on paper – a 25 percent greater autonomy capacity, which is 3930 mAh, compared to 3000 mAh featured on HTC U11. The additional capacity is the results of a gimmick: a slightly thicker phone, covered with an ergonomically rounded back, which in fact represents progress in the device’s industrial design in light of its practicality. The fact that the U11+ is thicker will not bother anyone simply because the outstanding elegance is emphasized with this rounded back and the fully glass unibody finish.
The HTC U11+ comes with Android OS 8.0 (Oreo) with HTC Sense UI, which is also an important step forward compared to Android OS 7.1 which is delivered with the U11 model. When it comes to cameras, U11+ comes with the same camera U11 had on the back – a 12-mega pixel UltraPixel 3 sensor, as well as an 8-mega pixel selfie-camera. Interestingly enough, the U11 model has a 16-mega pixel camera in the front. HTC representatives claim that, despite the smaller resolution, the front-facing camera has been ‘perfected’, but have failed to give any details… Given the fantastic results of the U11’s rear-facing camera, the same can be expected on the 12-mega pixel UptraPixel 3 camera on the new, bigger phone. This is the only time HTC has refused to follow trends dictated by the competition and has not included a second camera on the back. The front-facing camera will have to prove itself once the phone hits the market – the company had better not compromised in this area as well…
Overall, it is clear that HTC is aiming at a small, but exceptionally demanding circle of consumers with U11+, similar to the one aimed at by Samsung with Note 8, Huawei with Mate 10 Pro, LG with V30, even Apple with iPhone X. All these phones offer a technological maximum, with the best offer when it comes to design, the finishing touch, the harmony of hardware and software and other details specific for individual manufacturer and each manages to find its audience…
HTC U11 Life
On the other hand, the HTC U11 Life is the smaller and technically less powerful ‘brother’ of HTC’s mainstream flagship U11. It comes with a 5.2-inch Full HD display with a ‘normal’ side ratio and, logically, has a Home key situated under the screen, just like the Back and Tasks capacitive keys on the left and right. The phone comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630, with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, along with a microSD card slot. When summed up, it is at the same level as current and better-positioned mid-range phones.
Both the front and back-facing cameras have 16-mega pixels and the finish is full glass. HTC calls the material which the phone is made of Acrylic Glass and it is equally impressive as the glass on the bigger models when it comes to its appearance (not necessarily its wear and tear). This phone also does not have a 3.5-mm audio jack and unfortunately, HTC has not foreseen a cable with a converter which would enable ‘old’ headphones to be connected to a USB Type-C connector, just like the case is with U11+.
Two details are particularly enticing when it comes to the HTC U11 Life. First, the phone comes with Android One platform, Android OS 8.0 (Oreo) and guarantee that the OS will get all upgrades in the next two years, as well as security upgrades in the next three years. Pure Android in the mid-range segment is a very attractive and rare opportunity (offered by Nokia as well) and this is what makes HTC’s U11 Life more interesting than it seems at first glance. Especially if the second important dealmaker is considered its price. HTC representatives claim the phone will cost half the price of HTC U11. The U11 Life should be available now. The HTC U11+ should hit the markets several weeks after that, but surely before Christmas, with a ‘somewhat bigger price’, as HTC representatives state, than U11.