The HTC U11 is a smartphone full of contradictions. A stunning back plate made into a forgettable face, quick software blunted by extraneous gimmicks, slick multimedia features without a big battery to back ’em up. Even the name is fighting with itself.
Awkward compromise of last year’s simplicity (HTC 10) and this year’s peculiar clap trap. But despite all the flip flopping, this is a good smartphone with some unique features. Let’s see whether they’re enough to make it matter in the review of the HTC U11.
If I were HTC, I would try to find a way to show the HTC U11 in stores with the backside facing out, because visually that’s the only chance it has of standing out. There is zero exciting about the front side of HTC U11. With its big bezels and capacitive keys ported right over from last year’s model HTC 10.
It’s fine. The display is HTC’s usual Super LCD 5 with a limited range of brightness and the traditional 16 by nine aspect ratio. So, if you don’t like the modern trend toward stretched screens like in Samsung S8 or S8+ or LG G6, that’ll probably make you happy.
Flip the phone over to the back side of the phone and you see where all of HTC’s design effort went. The back plate has been coated using a process called optical spectrum hybrid deposition, which mixes refractive material into the paint job.
It seems to change colour depending on the angle you observe it from. That’s less evident in the blue and silver review devices I’ve handled, but the solar red version is almost otherworldly.
Yes, it’s a smudge fest, just as you’d expect, which is probably why HTC dropped a protective shell in the box. Also in the box, a set of earbuds, but wait, don’t skip ahead, because these are actually worth your time for once.
In exchange for the sin of killing off the standard headphone jack, HTC has given the earbuds acoustic noise cancelling powered by the USB type C port. It’s not gonna do as good a job at blocking background noise as a good set of over the ear headphones, but for earbuds that come in the box, these are pretty damn good.
It’s the same earpiece and bottom edge arrangement as last year’s HTC 10, but HTC claims a 100% boost in volume and 150% boost in dynamic range over the HTC 10. HTC also brought some of that acoustic excellence over to the camera.
When you’re shooting video, you not only have the outstanding high resolution audio recording of generations past, but a new feature called acoustic focus that amplifies a subject’s volume as you zoom in on it. When I first heard about acoustic focus, I kind of rolled my eyes, but after a week with the thing, I’m convinced, it’s something people will come to love.
As for the rest of the camera, While it may not be able to go toe to toe with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S8 or Google Pixel in every single scenario, I never found myself longing for another phone when a photo op came along. The software is fast, the camera adaptable, with a builtin slow motion mode that’s perfect for showing off.
And since the phone is IP67 water and dust resistant, you can sneak in the occasional underwater video, if you are careful about it. Bottom line, I think the photo and video output of HTC U11 is gonna be great for 95% of people.
The remaining 5% will be able to see the dip in saturation characteristic of HTC’s HDR mode, or argue over DxOMark scores, but that’s not really my bag. In fact, the only area I came away truly disappointed was in the front-facing camera.
Now, it does a solid job at selfies. It’s not that, it’s just that it lacks the optical stabilization of the HTC 10, which was a really rare value add that HTC can no longer claim an exclusive on. So if you’re the type that does a lot of walking and talking on his phone, well, it’s just not gonna be as good as the HTC 10, at least not in terms of stabilization.
Maybe it was desire for replacement features that propelled HTC to load this phone up with fluff, like Edge Sense. Yes, this is the phone you can squeeze, but unlike the truly useful audio features I just talked about, squeezing my phone never came to feel natural or convenient to me.
Maybe if it also incorporated a jog dial gesture for scrolling, or it let me do something handy like drop the notification shade, I’d feel differently. A software update is rumoured to bring more functionality this summer.
For now, it just kind of seems like a publicity stunt. Same deal with HTC Sense Companion, which is yet another so called smart assistant that wastes your time with obvious suggestions, usually at inconvenient times. Yes, it takes time to learn and I’m sure it’ll get better over time. It really didn’t in the week I was using it, and look, it’s all beside the point.
The sooner manufacturers admit that Google does a better job at this stuff because of the enormous pool of data it’s sitting on that the manufacturers just don’t have, well, the sooner those manufacturers can redirect their efforts into something other than cruft.
Fortunately, there’s nothing stopping you from just using Google Assistant on the U11, or if you’re more of an Amazon fan, HTC U11 does have a little feather in its cap here. Alexa is baked in, as well, and it has wake word support, so you don’t even need to push a button. I kept that disabled, though, in an effort to lengthen the phone’s battery life.
While the HTC U11 usually lasted me all day, they were short days, with the phone dipping below 15% shortly after dinnertime, and less screen on time than I’d generally like to see, just under four hours.
Now, in exchange for putting up with that, you do get the most responsive Android experience you can find without buying a Pixel. When I was really loading up the HTC U11, I was using Google Maps, Messengers, Whatsapp and a high resolution Game and the phone’s just so fast, it almost felt like it was one step ahead of me the whole time.
Predictably, phone calls are very good with excellent noise cancellation, probably thanks to that four microphone array.
Visit My Older Blog over HTC U11 Link Here > HTC U11 Specifications
If you want to buy HTC U11, Sprint Store is a only retail carrier where you can get it, You can pre Order it from HTC’s official website.
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In sum, HTC has finally filled most of the gaps and delivered a phone with almost everything we’ve ever asked for. But like the phone itself, I’m conflicted. There’s so many great features here.
The zippy software, the alluring spec sheet, solid camera, the innovative audio features, and all that’s especially great given the phone’s price undercuts its high end competition.
But the squeeze and AI gimmicks, the bizarre marketing approach, it all feels unworthy of the company that’s brought us so many quietly brilliant smartphones over the past two decades. To put it more pragmatically, the HTC U11 is a very good phone priced reasonably well.
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