Bigger is better, they must have thought better at HTC, so they released a larger version of their previous top model, the U11. However, we wonder out loud what the U11+ adds to the already existing range and whether it is worth considering.
This device listens to the name U11+ and the Plus of this device compared to the regular U11 is in the larger screen. It is a 6.0 inch version with an aspect ratio of 18:9. Furthermore, the camera has the same Snapdragon 835 processor and 12 megapixel camera as its smaller brother.
Content of the box
Quick Charge 3.0 quick charger
HTC USonic In-ear Earplugs
USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack converter
Transparent back cover
SIM eject tool
Quick start guide & warranty card
If we look at devices with a screen of 6 inches or larger, you can find quite a few manufacturers and for the most part they are certainly not hunters. There is the Samsung Galaxy S8+, LG V30 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Given its price tag, you could also count the Apple iPhone 8 Plus as a competitor. Like many other recent HTC's a regular headphone jack is missing. Instead, HTC supplies its own USonic caps that can also be personalized. How that works, just like all other aspects of the device are covered in this review.
The U11+ is the first device where HTC tries to apply a front screen in the design. For the placement of the 6 inch screen still relatively much space is needed compared to the competition. A screen-to-body ratio of 78% is not bad, but the models of Huawei, LG and Samsung do even better. Especially above and below the screen, there is still a lot of space, which makes the device quite elongated. This makes covering the entire screen with one thumb quite a task. Above the screen, there is of course a speaker and a self-image camera. In between there is also a notification light. The earpiece above the screen also functions as a stereo speaker. The glass at the front is a little bit on top of the camera, but at the sides it hardly bulges.
All around the U11 Plus has a metal frame. At the front, the metal is slightly beveled off while at the back it is straight and almost seamlessly blends into the glass covering the back. For some time now, HTC devices have been characterized by a high gloss back. Also with the U11+ you can admire your mirror image when you turn the unit around. Our Ceramic Black test model was therefore more silver gray than black. The fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back and is a very small amount sunk into the device. It's on the high side but it's still quite easy to find by touch. The camera above it has a very small edge around it to protect it. The flash, two microphones and the HTC-logo complete the look of the back.
The hardware buttons are on the right side with a coarse ribbed profile on the power button. At the bottom we find a large microphone opening and a rather small speaker slot with a USB-C port in between. A SIM card and microSD card or two SIM cards can be placed on top of the device. You may notice that we have not mentioned the headset connection yet. This is missing on the U11+. A daring step from HTC as far as we are concerned. Especially since their devices are not that popular with the general public these days anyway. To make up for it, HTC does supply a USonic noise-canceling headset, about which more will be discussed later.
Despite all the openings around the unit, the U11+ is dust- and waterproof with IP68 certification. Besides its size, the U11+ also has a considerable weight. In combination with the mirror-smooth glass back, this makes the U11+ quite vulnerable to falls. The included case is therefore no superfluous luxury.
The U11+ is equipped with a battery with a capacity of 3930 mAh. That's big and that gives it an advantage over most of its competitors. With a screen on time of seven hours, we ended up with more than a day of use. This was a day in which we were quite busy figuring out what the device has to offer and we were setting things up.
So it's a pretty strong performance for a 6-inch screen. However, it was noticeable that the battery continued to run down steadily even at night, so the device does not switch to a sleep mode properly. In addition to the normal energy saving of Android, there is also an extreme mode available. In this mode only phone, messages, mail, calendar, calculator and clock can still be used. Charging can be done quickly via the included charger that supports Quick Charge 3.0. Despite the glass back, the U11+ does not support wireless charging.
The U11+ is equipped with the same processor as most other top models released in 2017. This makes navigating through the interface nice and fast. However, sometimes it feels a bit syrupy or jerky. This seems to be mainly due to the way HTC adjusted the animations. Switching between the apps is helped by the 6 GB working memory.
Due to our geographical circumstances, we do not often test the possibility of using a device to surf the internet abroad, but this time it happened. With the still relatively recent EU regulations allowing you to use your Dutch bundle throughout the EU, it is not unimportant either. Unfortunately the U11+ fell through immediately. We were unable to connect to a data network and roam abroad. Whatever we tried, it didn't succeed while the SIM card in another device worked flawlessly.
The U11+ is the first device from HTC that comes with a screen ratio of 18:9. It is an LCD screen with a resolution of 2880 × 1440 pixels. It is an LCD screen with a resolution of 2880 × 1440 pixels, which ensures a nice and sharp image. Colors are also displayed quite vividly. The downside is the brightness, which is not very high. This makes reading outdoors sometimes a difficult task. For the color profile of the screen, you can choose between DCI-P3 and sRGB. The color temperature can then be further adjusted. There is a night mode that can be switched on automatically. Every time this happens, the device will inform you by means of an annoying notification and it cannot be turned off.
Motion Launch activates the unit by tapping or swiping the screen. Depending on which motion you use, a different part of the interface will open.
The U11+ runs standard on Android 8.0 and is therefore one step ahead of many of the competition. However, the security update is two months behind, which is a concern. With the U11+, HTC returns to the virtual control buttons at the bottom of the screen and immediately adds some extra features. They can be swiped to the left after which an extra panel of keys is displayed for, among other things, taking a screenshot or opening the notification/rapid settings window. The first time you do this by accident, you do look a bit weird. We think it's actually a smart way to add extra functionality in a subtle way.
HTC has always been known for its user-friendly interface. Over the years it has become tighter and tighter, but still a lot of changes are being made to pure Android. What's more, the whole thing now looks somewhat outdated. The application menu is vertically scrollable but divided into separate panels. That takes some getting used to if you're used to an uninterrupted list. By default, all icons are crammed into the same shapes. This sometimes produced spiteful results and we couldn't find a way to turn it off. In the settings for the theme it is also not visible that this icon pack has been applied because the example for the default theme looks different. Actually, we didn't like HTC to impose such an "Asian look" either. In the end we decided to sign up for Sense Home and download the HTC Classical package anyway. This improved most of the icons considerably.
In addition to Google's apps and a whole battery of its own apps, HTC also supplies Under Armour Record and News Republic. The latter appears to be on by default and soon starts bombarding you with notifications about news items. Then it turns out that there is no easy way to disable the synchronisation of the app and the app can't be removed completely. Instagram, Facebook and Facebook Messenger are also included by default. These apps cannot be deleted.
What is more striking about many of HTC's apps is that they are only too happy to have access to as much of your data as possible. This particularly applies to HTC Sense Companion and Sense Home. Then there's BlinkFeed. This is HTC's additional start screen to the left of the regular start screens. The feed can be filled with updates of your calendar, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and recommendations for the hospitality industry. It doesn't look very clear and advertisements pop up in between. You have to dive into the settings to turn them off. Strangely enough, you didn't manage to add extra news feeds. Luckily you can turn Blinkfeed off completely.
HTC TouchPal. In principle this works very reasonable but it's also an extra app with, oddly enough, a news overview. Moreover you have to pay to get rid of all advertisements in the app. This all seems like small beer when you're not using it but such an app can take a lot of data away from updating these features and you don't have a good view on what happens to the information you enter via the keyboard.
Just like the ordinary U11, the U11+ of course also has Edge Sense at its disposal. These are pressure sensors in the sides of the device with which you can quickly open a special launcher with shortcuts and a calendar overview. It is also possible to activate a specific app or application. For example, the default setting to open the camera is very fast while you take the device out of your pocket. Furthermore, the sensor can also activate a specific function in certain apps, such as snooze your alarm. When the force required to activate the edge sensor is set too low, it happens rather quickly that it accidentally wakes the device. If it is set too high, you need to hold the device a little differently in order to be able to press both sides properly.
As said, the U11+ has a kind of stereo setup for the speakers. The speaker at the bottom is clearly louder than the speaker at the front. The speakers can be switched between music and theatre mode. For the best sound, we still recommend plugging in the USonic caps. This is a USB C headphone and it also has the possibility to tune the sound completely personal with active noise suppression. By the way, we haven't been able to detect anything of the latter. The fact that we are talking about in-ear caps that already block out ambient noise adds a lot more.
Personalization is fully automatic by playing some noise for a second. According to HTC, this scans your ear canal and attunes sound to it, most likely via an equalizer. We asked Bart Breij to assess the quality of the USonic caps. This former iCulture editor for his blog often discusses headphones. According to Bart, the USonic are certainly not wrong and they really do add something. He only asks himself if the HTC has the same target group in mind that the U11+ should appeal to; the audiophile. That often has its own headphones which is undoubtedly better than the USonic. Thus, the € 15 costing KZ ZSR already produces a better sound quality than the USonic. Too bad, moreover, that after scanning your ear canal by the USonic to get a personalized profile the results can not be manually adjusted. Suppose you find the bass exaggerated then you will have to make do with it, the only alternative is to disable the personal profile. This completely negates the advantage of the USonic's. It's all or nothing. Our verdict is therefore; the USonic's are fun and will appeal positively to 90% of the audience, but not the audiophiles. And that's exactly what the U11+ was meant for.
Unlike many competitors, the U11+ simply has a single camera. It is a 12 megapixel one with optical image stabilization and UltraPixels. Here no extra addition to the software for special effects.
The interface of the camera is simple and clear. With two buttons in the corners flash and HDR can be set and there are shortcuts to the gallery, video mode and self-image camera. In addition, you can drag and drop in a sort of drop-down menu for all available recording functions. For photos these are normal, panorama and pro. In pro mode, your settings are saved when you exit the camera. For video, you can also shoot in hyperlapse or slow motion. For video, the audio is recorded in 3D with acoustic focus. This is done using the four microphones all around the camera and when zooming in the image, the sound is also amplified.
When taking a picture, an exposure slider appears next to the point of focus. This can be adjusted by swiping across the screen. The camera has an automatic HDR Boost function. It already takes pictures before you actually press the shutter button. The images are then combined to take a picture that is well exposed and has as little noise as possible. Especially in the evening and at night this works very well for better capturing colors and details. Furthermore, the U11+ also takes excellent photos and in good light conditions there is little to be said for it. At most, there may be a little noise at the edges from time to time as a result of the aggressive HDR function.
In the past, HTC sets were extremely popular and many people ran away with them. Nowadays, choosing the U11+ will make you a lot more unique. The same goes for the appearance of the device because HTC manages to maintain its own identity. Glad to continue with that, because it is certainly unique and recognizable. The appearance is on the big and heavy side. The own identity is also reflected in the software but is a lot less successful because of the now outdated layout.
The screen should have been, literally and figuratively, the great strength of the U11+ but still causes mixed feelings. The design is not really full and the maximum brightness is actually too low. The camera makes a lot of good and Edge Sense can be a very handy way to control parts of the camera. Let those two things be reflected in the U11. Compared to a lot of the competition, the U11+ is also quite expensive and its shortcomings can play up. You can save yourself 150 euros by choosing the regular U11.