HTC U11 review: Nice and squeezy does it

Will it change the way we use our smartphones forever?

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£541
  • Unique features; Beautiful design; Great camera; Good battery life; Upgradeable storage via MicroSD
  • Screen could be better; Edge sense isn't all that useful

HTC claims the U11 it's latest flagship is a phone that will change the way we use our smartphones forever; a development on the same level as the capacitive touchscreen. In a bid to rival Samsung's almighty Galaxy S8, HTC has loaded the U11 with an arsenal of unique features.

Take for instance, its "Edge Sense" squeezable frame, which allows you to launch apps and perform actions within those apps by simply squeezing your phone. Other highlights include Amazon Alexa support, great Hi-Res Audio speakers and a bunch of innovative components, such as a camera that's on par with that of the Google Pixel and a superb battery life. In short, the HTC U11 earns a deserved place at the top of the smartphone tree, making it a great choice for any smartphone buyer looking for something a little different but also reliable.

Display

The only bugbear we have with the HTC U11 is that its screen is a little dated compared to those new super-wide aspect displays seen on rivals such as Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6. Instead, it's a somewat regular 5.5in screen surrounded by comparitively broad bezels around the sides. Slightly disappointing, but at least there's a handful of benefits with this, including more room below the screen for a fingerprint reader, and recent apps button. Much better if you prefer these on the front as opposed to the back. 

The HTC U11's screen boasts a 5.5in 1,440 x 2,560 display, which is not quite as impressive as its rivals but it certainly does the job, offering brilliant, vibrant colours. It's also bright enough to be clearly readable in most conditions, reaching 520cd/m2 at maximum brightness; it's based on HTC's own version of IPS, called Super LCD. Contrast ratio is worth noting, too. At 1,599:1, it's brilliant, and great news for those sun worshippers: the glass has a polarising layer so glare isn't as noticeable as on other Android phones.

The most important thing when it comes to the display - watching streamed movies and TV shows - is a fantastic experience thanks to the wide-gamut tuning. The downside here is that a lot of website photos and graphics take on a slightly over-saturated look, especially in the primary colours.

Design 

In terms of design, The HTC U11 hits shelves in the same range of colours as the previously launched HTC U Ultra and Play. But the best of the lot has to be the brand new Amazing Silver option, which our review unit came in. It has a light, anodised blue frame surrounding a mirror-finish rear panel and is topped with glass that veers between a subtle violet tone and steely blue. A beautiful sight.

While the HTC U11 is probably one of the most ostentatious smartphones you'll have ever got your mitts on, beware that doing so could be problematic if you're a bit OCD when it comes to finger prints; it picks them up like no-one's business.

Nothing is out of the ordinary in terms of placement. The U11's volume rocker and power button are both placed on the right-hand edge, while the two "BoomSound" speakers are placed on the bottom edge and within the phone's earpiece. Akin to the iPhone 7, HTC has got rid of the headphone port, and instead supplied a pair of active noise-cancelling USonic USB Type-C headphones in the box.

It's also worth noting that the HTC U11 is both dust- and water-resistant; rated to IP67, which means it should survive a brief plunge in the sink, toilet or deep puddle.

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