The HTC U 11 is the latest flagship device from HTC. The U series arrived on the scene around the beginning of the year with the U Play and U Ultra making an appearance then. Up until now the U Ultra has been my main smartphone, but now that the U 11 has arrived. It’s time to switch things up.
HTC has moved its flagship branding from the M-series to the U now because they believe their devices should reflect you and be all about you. They did keep the continuous numbers running though as the 11 comes after the HTC 10 last year.
The HTC 10 was a solidly built aluminum unibody that performed well but didn’t do much to turn heads. HTC has moved on to a glass front and back with aluminum band in this flagship device. The glass bends on both front and back sliding seamlessly into the metal band that wraps around the device. The back has a stunning liquid like finish that shines and shimmers emitting different shades depending on the angle. My review device is the Amazing Silver finish, but white, black, sapphire blue, and solar red are also available depending on region. The silver ranges from a true silver to a light blue to shades of lavendar and brown. It is quite the chameleon.
The front looks familiar as it retains very much the shape and style of the U Play and HTC 10. HTC did not go with the trend of smaller bezels and stretched screen ratios. Instead they held true to the 16:9 standard that most movies and games are designed for. The screen did increase in size from the 10 though from 5.2 to 5.5 inches measured diagonally. It is slightly bigger than the 10, but far more manageable than the U Ultra in one handed use. The device remains quite pocketable as well. The same can’t be said of the Ultra. The display is QHD and is really shines inside and outside in bright sunlight.
The U 11 does not have a headphone jack, because they believe the future of smartphone audio is via the USB-C port. As a result the phone ships with U Sonic earbuds that provide active noise cancellation as well as a customized tuning experience. The sound is impressive as it creates a wide soundstage allowing music to sound as if you are hearing live in a small venue. It’s rather nice with a rich low end. The Boomsound technology remains and is louder and clearer than ever before. I was shocked at how loud the phone was when I placed it on the counter and got ready in the morning. HTC took advantage of the bezels by using them as resonant chambers that amplify the sound being delivered. The phone also ships with a 3.5mm adapter for those of you that aren’t ready to ditch their favorite headphones or earbuds. The adapter contains a high quality DAC to provide a solid listening experience with your old reliables.
Speaking of sound, the U 11 possesses four microphones scattered around the device for 3-D like audio recording when shooting video. In fact HTC claims that you can zoom in on sound sources very much like you can zoom into an image with a camera. I recorded my daughter playing paino at home and was very pleased with the sound quality of the video. Those microphones also do a tremendous job of purely recording audio from an interview or your favorite band’s performance.
On to the camera, the HTC U 11 is the highest rated camera ever according to DXO mark with a score of 90. That puts it above any other flagship released this year and last year’s champion the Google Pixel. I have to say I have been very impressed with the focus speeds and photo results in great lighting as well as low light situations.
Video is incredibly smooth as well. I tested out the quality by climbing a set of steps while shooting video. The results were a very smooth transition from one level to the next. It doesn’t replace a $300 gimbal but it might keep you from wanting to spend that money on one. I plan on shooting a lot more video with this device.
This is an excellent device for anyone looking for a great camera and audio listening experience. The squeeze feature should also make this pretty handy for people with kids. The HTC U 11 will be available starting mid to early June with pre-orders already taking place. Let me know what you think. I’ll try to post a more in depth review of certain aspects that you have interest in. Below are some samples from the camera and a short unboxing I did.