The U11 Plus is premium smartphone with brilliant camera, incredible audio output, consistent performance, top-of-the-line innards, ample storage and RAM, says Khalid Anzar.
Photograph: Courtesy htc.com
Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer HTC launched the flagship HTC U11 smartphone in India soon after its international launch.
The phone had several technology innovations, powerful innards and a compact form factor.
More importantly, it was priced competitively to compete with other premium smartphones.
However, the HTC U11 Plus -- an upgraded version of the U11 -- took some time to reach Indian shores.
The smartphone retains best features of the U11 -- squeeze-based 'pinchable' operations, HTC Edge Sense, USonic audio enhancements and BoomSound speakers.
It addresses the grey areas -- screen and Battery -- to come out as an all-rounder.
On paper, the HTC U11 Plus seems to have the making of a premium smartphone.
However, the question is, is it a flagship smartphone to look out for?
Let's find out:
While the HTC U11 was a disappointment in terms of design language, especially, the huge stature accommodated with thick bezels on the front, the HTC U11 Plus is more refined and a perfect match to competitors in the premium smartphone segment.
Like the HTC U11, the U11 Plus sports a glass build made from Gorilla Glass.
There is a sturdy metal frame sandwiched in between, seamlessly holding the back and front.
The front is dominated by an improved 6-inch 18:9 aspect ratio screen that leaves limited room for bezels.
The fingerprint scanner, on the other hand, is moved to the back under the camera module in the centre.
The new placement for fingerprint scanner makes it easier to operate than the small fingerprint scanner under the home button on the front in the HTC U11.
The HTC U11 Plus retains the ‘liquid surface' -- basically a replication of the water property of reflecting multiple shades of colours in the HTC U11.
But, the glossy back is a fingerprint magnet -- thankfully, the HTC U11 Plus also comes with a cleaning cloth in its box.
Photograph: Courtesy htc.com
The HTC U11 sports a 6-inch Super LCD 6 screen of quad-HD+ (1440 x 2880) resolution in an 18:9 aspect ratio.
The screen is bright and responsive, and delivers consistent performance -- on par with the best screens available in other premium smartphones.
However, the display still misses on technologies such as HDR10.
The ultra-wide display is one of the improvements that the U11 Plus offers over the predecessor.
It looks modern and offers better operability than the 16:9 aspect ratio screen.
The HTC U11 Plus is almost identical to the predecessor when it comes to hardware and software.
It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, coupled with Adreno 540 graphic processing unit (GPU) and Snapdragon X16 LTE modem that offers an LTE speed of up to 1 Gbps.
The device has a massive 128 GB internal storage that supports universal flash storage (UFS) version 2.1, expandable up to 2 TB using microSD, and a whopping 6GB RAM.
The smartphone is butter-smooth throughout.
It is one of the smartphones that offer glitch-free performance with no lag, even while using heavy apps.
The phone comes loaded with HTC Sense user interface that runs on the Android Oreo 8.0 operating system.
Like HTC U11, the U11 Plus features pressure-sensitive sensors on sides of the frame that trigger squeeze-based interactions.
These sensors recognise a 'squeeze' action to deliver app-specific features.
For example, a single squeeze could open the camera and another squeeze could click a picture.
The squeeze feature is no more limited to one app and could be customised further to trigger camera operations, app launch, screen on or off, Google assistant, etc.
The HTC U11 Plus sports a 12-megapixel (MP), bright f/1.7 aperture rear camera, assisted with phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilisation and dual-LED flash -- similar to the one found it U11.
However, the front camera has been reduced from 16MP to 8MP unit with a similar f/2.0 aperture for low-light selfies.
Like the predecessor, the rear camera in this one is astonishing.
It captures every bit of detail a smartphone camera could and it comes bundled with HTC proprietary Acoustic Recording technology, which utilises in-built 4-omnidirectional microphones to record the sound of far-off subjects.
For example, if you need to record a musical gig without the noise around, you could zoom in on the subject and all the microphones would come into play.
The microphones would eliminate the noise around and focus on the sound coming directly from the subject.
However, the camera on the HTC U11 Plus has some downsides when compared with competitors.
Due to the lack of secondary camera, the portrait mode is missing and so are the optical zoom capabilities.
BoomSound speakers and USonic headphones
The U11 Plus sports an improved version of BoomSound speakers found in the HTC U11.
The new set-up is louder than the previous generation and now handles bass and higher frequencies better.
The speaker output in the U11 Plus is louder, cleaner and more realistic than the output delivered by any of the predecessors.
In terms of audio routed through wired handset, the quality is equally good -- courtesy the HTC USonic headphones that come bundled with the handset.
The USonic headphones take the game to another level by adjusting the experience based on your listening habits.
At the first use, the headphone analyses the ear and modifies the sound output based on the information received by the headphones.
The smartphone then optimises the sound output to deliver output specially aligned to your ears.
There is no 3.5mm jack and, therefore, a USB type-C port doubles as the audio output jack.
Powering the HTC U11 Plus is an upgraded 3,930 mAh battery, which is good 930 mAh more than the one found in the U11.
However, the change in battery capacity does not indicate any change in on-battery numbers and the phone fails to stay up even for one full day.
HTC might have been late in rolling out the much-deserved upgrade with a modern screen.
However, the U11 Plus has more than bare essentials to keep premium smartphone users engaged.
Importantly, the phone comes packed with features that improve the user's interaction with the device in day-to-day usage.
Like the HTC U11, the U11 Plus can be a perfect choice if you are looking for a premium smartphone with brilliant camera, incredible audio output, consistent performance, top-of-the-line innards, ample storage and RAM.
But, at ₹ 56,990, the smartphone seems to be on the pricier side.
The LG V30+, which is the only direct competitor, is priced at ₹ 44,990 in India.