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HTC U11 smartphone review – quality and performance across the board

HTC’s new U11 smartphone does a great job standing out from the crowd thanks to its liquid surface design and an interesting new Edge Sense feature that reacts to how you squeeze the device.

HTC has ticked all the boxes with its latest offering so you’re getting a slick design along with a killer screen, excellent audio quality and a camera that is just been rated the best in the world.

With the flagship U11 smartphone, HTC can truly compete with the top tier brands.

But to make it an even more compelling offer, the U11 has been aggressively priced below $1000 to make it even more worthy for customer consideration.

DESIGN

HTC is no slouch when it comes to design and the new U11 certainly delivers in this department.

It has excellent build quality and beautiful curved edges with a back panel that also has a gentle arc to make it fit nicely in your hand.

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The liquid surface design also catches the eye with its light bending qualities and glossy surface.

The only downside is that it attracts fingerprints and needed a wipe with a cloth throughout the day.

But it does come with a clear plastic case so you can keep it clean.

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HTC has stuck with the home button on the front of the device and this also doubles up as a fingerprint reader.

On the back is a single lens camera and flash while the volume keys and power button are located on the right edge.

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SCREEN

The HTC U11 has a stunning quad HD 5.5-inch display that is bright and sharp.

Rather than going down the same path as LG and Samsung with a longer narrower screen, HTC has stuck with the regular 16:9 aspect ratio but the device isn’t too bulky.

The screen quality is obvious when looking at webpages, apps, photos and videos.

It’s crisp and clear and you’ll never get sick of looking at it.

PERFORMANCE

The HTC U11 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit octa-core processor with 4GB RAM.

It is also running the Android 7.1.1 operating system which works nicely with HTC’s Sense user interface.

The result is a smooth system that is not too cluttered or bloated.

EDGE SENSE

The newest feature of the HTC U11 is Edge Sense which means you can give the phone a short or long squeeze to open apps, activate Google Assistant and take photos.

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It’s a handy feature and placed in the position where our fingers would naturally be resting on the phone.

You can even go into the settings to adjust the pressure required to trigger Edge Sense into action.

The best use of Edge Sense we found was triggering the camera and then the shutter with a squeeze.

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This made taking pictures and selfies at the spur of the moment a whole lot easier because we weren’t trying to reach the shutter key.

All we had to do was frame the image and squeeze.

We are not sure whether developers will take to this new feature and adjust their apps to suit this one device.

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But what HTC can do is allow users to customise their favourite apps with Edge Sense functionality themselves and swap out certain functions with a squeeze.

CAMERA

Just before the HTC U11 went on sale, DxOMark declared the on-board camera was the best in the world.

During our review, we would certainly rate this camera as one of the best we’ve used but in the same ballpark as its well-known competitors.

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The on-board Ultra-Pixel camera has a resolution of 12 megapixels and produces some stunning images with natural colours and warmth that doesn’t look over the top and artificial.

The images also had plenty of detail thanks to that Ultra-Pixel sensor.

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Another strength of the camera was its ability to shoot impressive pictures in low light situations.

The front camera actually has a higher resolution of 16 megapixels so your selfies are going to look better than ever.

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There is a slight lag with the shutter but nothing that is going to make you miss your shot.

Bringing Edge Sense into play to take your images also made things a lot easier but this added a split second to that lag as well.

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Edge Sense adds a lot of convenience to your photography so you can snap off your pictures even faster.

AUDIO

For most of us, our phone is also a music player and HTC users will notice a serious bump in audio quality with the U11.

It can handle Hi-Res audio playback and comes with active noise cancellation.

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The U11 uses the microphone in the included earphones to gauge the ambient sound and the processor on board the device generates a reverse wavelength to eliminate it.

The advantage of this is the device does all the work and the earphones never need to be charged.

The quality of the noise cancellation is a far cry from the level offered by dedicated headphones but it’s still respectable.

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For us, the best feature was USonic which can adapt to the way we hear audio.

It only takes a few seconds for the U11 to play a few seconds of white noise to map our inner ear and optimise playback so it sounds even better.

We were seriously impressed with the improvement.

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The only downside is only being able to use the included wired earphones which connects through the device’s USB-C port. It does not have a headphone jack.

It would have been great to enjoy that quality with a pair of Bluetooth earphones.

BATTERY

The HTC U11 has a 3,000mAh which was more than enough capacity to easily get us through the day.

And even when you do have to charge the phone the onboard Quick Charge 3.0 can get you back to full strength in less than 90 minutes.

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HTC U11

Price: $999

VERDICT

HTC has produced one of its best devices with the U11 smartphone. It offers quality performance and convenience across the board and ticks the boxes with an excellent screen, long battery life, a brilliant camera, excellent audio – and a competitive price.

HTC's new U11 smartphone does a great job standing out from the crowd thanks to its liquid surface design and an interesting new Edge Sense feature that reacts to how you squeeze the device. HTC has ticked all the boxes with its latest offering so you're getting a slick design along with a killer screen, excellent audio quality and a camera that is just been rated the best in the world. With the flagship U11 smartphone, HTC can truly compete with the top tier brands. But to make it an even more compelling offer, the U11 has been aggressively priced…

HTC U11

Rating - 85%

85%

PROS: Slick design, excellent display, water resistant, impressive camera, Edge Sense, brilliant audio quality, good battery life.

CONS: Fingerprint magnet, no headphone jack, slight camera shutter lag.

VERDICT: HTC has produced one of its best devices with the U11 smartphone. It offers quality performance and convenience across the board and ticks the boxes with an excellent screen, long battery life, a brilliant camera, excellent audio – and a competitive price.

User Rating: 4.38 ( 2 votes)

 

About Stephen Fenech

Stephen is the Tech Guide editor and one of Australia's most respected tech journalists. He is a regular on radio and TV talking about the latest tech news, products and trends.

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