Have you ever thought it would be cool to be able to squeeze your phone to get stuff done? The HTC U11 is your fantasy come alive: it is a squeezable phone. In this HTC U11 review, Emmanuel takes a deep dive into the features and quirks of this one-of-a-kind phone.
The HTC U11 is a phone that has all the bells and whistles of a 2017 flagship, with more bezels of course. How does it fare on different levels? Keep reading to find out.
HTC U11 Review: Quick Pros and Cons
Before getting into the full review, here are the quick pros and cons of the HTC U11.
|Flagship level performance||Average battery life|
|Amazing camera||Extremely slippery body|
|Good audio both from speakers as well as type c port|
HTC U11 Review: Hardware/Design
The design employed here on the U11 favours something reminiscent of years passed. Curved glass back, monster bezels and antenna lines – check! Personally I like the design of the HTC U11. Yes, 2017 saw the new craze for bezel less phones but I still pretty much prefer this design. Around the phone you can find the standard buttons as well as multiple microphones.
Something I do not like about this design however is that it is very slippery. Due to the curve at the back, you can forget about putting the phone on the table on it’s back. Try to do that and this phone WILL fall.
What you will not find however is a 3.5mm headphone jack. With just a 3000 mAH battery on the U11, there was more than enough space for an audio jack. Now, before going all up in arms however, the U11 has a dedicated DAC onboard. With a dedicated DAC (digital to analogue converter), you’re able to get higher fidelity audio out of the U11. The catch is that you’re going to have to use a USB Type C to 3.5mm converter which is included in the box. A USB Type C earphone is bundled with the U11. I have to admit, the bundled earphones are some of the best I’ve ever used on a phone.
HTC U11 Review: Software
The HTC U11 runs Sense UI atop Android 7 Nougat. Sense is one of the most lightest customizations of Android. While it is light, it still offers a wide array of customizations. Those customizations includes themes, fonts as well as dynamic themes. Bloatware is kept to a minimum here, something that is well appreciated.
Apart from supporting Google assistant, the HTC U11 also supports Amazon Alexa. HTC also has it’s own assistant called HTC assistant. I personally only used Google Assistant but I did appreciate the choices given.
A main feature about the HTC U11 is that you can squeeze the phone to perform actions. While it might sound strange at first, it makes a whole lot of sense. You can adjust the intensity of the squeeze to your preference. You can also select which apps you want to launch with a squeeze. Also present are two distinct squeezes – a short squeeze as well as a long squeeze.
I set my short squeeze to the camera app. It was very addictive I must say. When I picked up other devices, I tried squeezing – oops.
HTC U11 Review: Network, Telephony
Being a flagship device, it is no surprise that the HTC U11 performed excellently when it came to connectivity. Phone calls were excellent with no dropped calls. Data speeds as well as WiFi speeds were top notch as well.
With 4 microphones around the phone, the U11 handled phone calls like a champ with excellent audio quality.
HTC U11 Review: Display and Multimedia
With a 5.5 inch quad HD display, the HTC U11 ticks the box when it comes to media consumption. To be honest, I had very little hope for the display. It is a pleasure to say that the display used here surprised me, in a good way. While it is an LCD panel, the black levels could almost be mistaken for being amoled. With deep blacks, fantastic white balance, as well as decent brightness – the display on the HTC U11 is one of the best I’ve ever used.
Audio wise, the HTC U11 comes with Boomsound speakers. Basically uses the earpiece as well as another tweeter down below to recreate a stereo effect. Boy do they sound good. With nice mids, amazing bass and a nice overall volume – again, the audio here via the speakers is one of the very best.
While there is no traditional 3.5mm audio jack, audio via the USB Type C port is top notch. Via the provided adapter, I was even able to drive my more powerful headsets just fine. With that dedicated DAC, audio via the type C port is among one of the best you can get on a mobile phone right now – hands down!
HTC U11 Review: Photography
The HTC U11 has a 12 megapixel f1.7 camera round back. Going to the front and it has a 16 megapixel f2.0 camera. Like almost every aspect of this phone, the camera up until recently was the very best on the planet.
In different scenarios, the HTC U11 proved to be an excellent camera. All throughout the review period, I rarely encountered any scenario the U11 did not boss. In a rare break from excellence, I found out that selfies can sometimes end up blurry. Unlike it’s predecessor, the HTC 10, the U11 does not have optical image stabilization for the front camera.
For a photography enthusiast like me, RAW photo capture support was very well appreciated. I also loved the simplicity about the camera interface.
HTC U11 Review: Multitasking/Performance
The variant of the HTC U11 I have here is that with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 gigs of RAM, as well as 128 gigs of storage. The U11 rarely, if ever have any lags. Opening and switching between apps was always a quick affair. Gaming performance was also top notch. It played all games I threw at it with minimal effort.
Thanks to having minimal customizations over stock Android, over time performance should still hold up well well into the future.
In terms of benchmarks, the HTC U11 scores are as follows:
- Antutu: 167,271
- Geekbench 4: 1907 Single-Core / 5777 Multi-Core
HTC U11 Review: Battery life
Moving on to battery life and this is where the HTC U11 disappoints. On average I was getting about 3-4 hours of screen on time. My typical usage includes usage of Facebook, Google Play Music, Snapchat, Twitter and Reddit.
A cause for what I consider bad battery life might be the battery capacity. On the U11, it comes equipped with a 3000 mAh battery. While usually this is enough, on the U11 I discovered that I had battery anxieties on most days.
HTC U11 Review: Final Words
A well rounded smartphone, the HTC U11 is definitely my favourite Android smartphone for 2017. It has an awesome camera, amazing sound, and clean software interface, as well as design.
There are so many things I love about the HTC U11 with fewer things in my cons list. Now if you will, I’m going to listen to some dubstep via the USB Type C port on the U11.