Hands-on: HTC U11+ review

As expected, HTC is back with some new smartphones including a bigger and better version of the U11 flagship. It's onwards and upwards for the company following its deal with Google and here's our HTC U11+ hands-on review.

There was some debate over whether HTC's November launch event was for the U11+ or the mid-range U11 Life. It turns out it was for both so now the U11 is available in more premium and cheaper options. Read about both new HTC phones here.

HTC U11+ price

Considering the HTC U11 launched at £649, a price tag of £699 for the new U11+ is very reasonable.

The 'Plus' versions of rival phones are considerably more expensive so respect to HTC for keeping it down here. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and iPhone 8 Plus are £779 and £799 respectively so you're saving a decent chunk here.

You can pre-order the HTC U11+ on 20 November – an exact release date is yet to be announced.

Unusually, the phone will only be available directly from HTC's official store rather than any other retailers or networks.

HTC U11+ design and build

As you'd expect from a 'Plus' version of any phone, the U11+ is a bigger version of the U11. It's got a bigger screen, of course but there are a few other design bits and pieces that are new.

The device still has the same design language with HTC's 'Liquid Surface' curved glass at the back. This time round there are two colours to choose from starting with Ceramic Black which to our eyes in real life looks more like chrome/silver.

HTC U11 Plus colours

A Translucent Black option, as teased ahead of the launch, is a little more interesting. It's a smokey grey sort of colour and means you can see some components underneath the glass – namely a coil of metal which is used for NFC (not wireless charging sadly). 

It's a bit like having a window on the side of your gaming PC rig, but without all the neon lights.

We prefer the translucent option but the sad news is that it's not coming to Europe, at least to begin with so fingers crossed for it to come later.

The U11+ looks stylish but not everyone will enjoy the larger and heavier size (188g is pretty hefty), or the way the back of the phone gets covered in smudges and fingerprints very easily once again. It's also a bit slippery.

You might have noticed that the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back of the phone. This is to make way for a different screen which we'll talk about below.

HTC U11 Plus design

HTC has upgraded the waterproof rating so the U11+ gets IP68 which is the highest you'll find on a phone. This means you can dunk it in more than one meter of water.

Edge Sense is still a feature, so there are pressure sensors in the sides of the device in the lower half. So squeezing is another way of interacting with the device. We'll talk more about this, including a new feature exclusive to the U11+, in the software section.

HTC U11+ specs and hardware

Screen

As mentioned, the fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back of the phone to allow for a screen similar to some rivals. The U11+ has a 6in screen, with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a Quad HD+ resolution (2880x1440).

One of our complaints with the U11 was the more standard display which wasn't as exciting as rivals, so an 82 percent screen-to-body ratio is much more competitive. The U11+ will support HDR10 but via a firmware update before the end of the year.

Overall the screen looks pretty good, although LCD isn't everyone's choice over AMOLED. It's crisp and bright so you really need to decide if 6in is the right size for you.

HTC U11 Plus screen

Processor, memory and storage

The U11+ still has a Snapdragon 835 processor and although there's a version with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, we'll get the 6/128GB model as standard in the UK which is great news. It makes the price tag look even better and there's still a microSD card slot should you need to add more.

Audio

HTC is once again pitching its phone at audiophiles with a range of different features including USonic noise cancelling headphones in the box. There's no headphone jack but the USonic have USB-C and there's also an adapter included for traditionalists.

The U11+ also supports 24-bit playback, has an LDAC and offers Qualcomm's aptX HD codec for Bluetooth.

The phone also has BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition which the firm claims is 30 percent louder than its smaller brother thanks to the additional space. We've yet to test all the audio features so come back soon.

HTC U11 Plus camera

Cameras

HTC has opted for the same 12Mp UltraPixel 3 camera as the U11 which we were very impressed with. However, there's a change at the front from 16- down to 8Mp – the U11+' front camera has an 85 degree field of view and the HDR Boost feature found on the back.

After some hands-on time with the phone, the cameras appear to be very good but we'll test them properly when we have a review sample as per usual.

HTC U11 Plus USB-C

Battery life

Another advantage of a larger handset is space for a bigger battery. The U11+ has a pretty huge 3930mAh battery inside, around a third larger than most regular flagships. HTC is claiming up to 25 hours of talktime and more than a day of usage.

As alluded to, the coil you can see on the translucent model isn’t wireless charging. It's NFC so you'll charge via USB-C and there's Quick Charge 3.0 support.

HTC U11+ software

As you'd expect, the U11+ comes with Android 8.0 Oreo which is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system.

HTC Sense is the firm's custom user interface over the top, but like many these days it's not as far removed from stock compared to how things used to be. The interface has things like HTC's news feed instead of Google and supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

HTC U11 Plus app wheel

With such a large screen, HTC has considered the user and has made it so you don't have to reach the top to pull the notification bar down. You can swipe anywhere which is a relief and really should be on all large phones.

Another feature on the U11+ is a shortcut wheel which you can summon with Edge Sense. Apps and quick settings can be added to this and it can be moved around for convenience. It's pretty cool and also shows a calendar at the top.

Specification HTC U11 Life HTC U11 HTC U11+
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo (Android One) Android 7.1 Nougat Android 8.0 Oreo
Available colours Brilliant Black, Sapphire Blue Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, Solar Red Ceramic Black, Translucent Black
Display 5.2in Full HD (1080x1920, 424ppi) Super LCD 5.5in Quad HD (1440x2560, 534ppi) LCD 5 6in Quad HD+ (1440x2880, 538ppi) LCD 6, 18:9
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Memory 3/4GB 4GB 4/6GB
Storage 32/64GB 64GB 64GB/128GB
Primary camera 16Mp, f/2.0, PDAF 12Mp, f/1.7, OIS UltraPixel 3 12Mp, f/1.7, OIS UltraPixel 3
Front camera 16Mp, f/2.0 16Mp, f/2.0 8Mp, f/2.0, 85 degree FOV
Video recording 4K 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps, HDR 4K, 1080p at 120fps
Fingerprint scanner Yes, front Yes, front Yes, rear
Wireless charging No No No
Waterproof IP67 IP67 IP68
Dimensions 149x73x8.1mm 154x76x7.9mm 159x75x8.5mm
Weight 142g 169g 188g

HTC U11+: Specs

  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 6in Quad HD+ LCD 6 display, 18:9
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4/6GB RAM
  • 64/128GB storage with micro SD up to 256GB
  • 12Mp UltraPixel 3 main camera, f/1.7 with OIS
  • 8Mp front facing camera, f/2.0
  • Edge Sense
  • 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 4G LTE Cat15
  • Nano-SIM
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • USB-C 3.1
  • 3930mAh non-removable battery
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • 159x75x8.5mm
  • 188g
  • IP68
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 6in Quad HD+ LCD 6 display, 18:9
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4/6GB RAM
  • 64/128GB storage with micro SD up to 256GB
  • 12Mp UltraPixel 3 main camera, f/1.7 with OIS
  • 8Mp front facing camera, f/2.0
  • Edge Sense
  • 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 4G LTE Cat15
  • Nano-SIM
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • USB-C 3.1
  • 3930mAh non-removable battery
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • 159x75x8.5mm
  • 188g
  • IP68

OUR VERDICT

If it's not too big and heavy for your taste, the HTC U11+ seems like a pretty great smartphone. It's cheaper than rivals and has some top-notch specs including 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage as standard. We like the one-handed feature, too, it's just a shame we're not getting the unusual translucent model here.

Best prices today

Retailer Price Delivery

Price comparison sponsored by Dell