HTC U11 Plus review: HTC is back, but is this slight upgrade worth the wait?

HTC U11 Plus review, HTC U11 Plus hands-on, HTC U11 Plus spesification – You might be as surprised as me to learn that HTC still has a couple of new smartphones under its belt. You’d think, following the Google acquisition, that the firm would be absorbed into the big search giant once and for all, especially after the HTC-made Pixel 2 made its debut just a few weeks ago. You’d be wrong.

Among these new handsets is the HTC U11 Plus, a slight upgrade to HTC’s not so outdated U11 flagship released earlier in the year. It has a larger bezel-less display and a slightly bigger battery, so it’s essentially more of a slight refresh than a total rejig. Huzzah.

HTC U11 Plus review: What you need to know

The HTC U11 Plus is the Taiwanese firm’s latest flagship. Created in an effort to boost its predecessor into the tail end of 2017, this slightly improved version is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor and includes 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage expandable via microSD.

That’s much the same, but this time around there’s a 6in QHD+ display on the front and a slightly bigger battery, complete with a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, with a wide f/1.7 aperture.

HTC U11 Plus vs HTC U11: What’s the difference?

The HTC U11 Plus has a slightly larger 6in Super LCD display and this has a long-tall 18:9 aspect ratio, just like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8. As a result, the resolution is slightly different to the original’s: it’s 2,880 x 1,440.

Other than that, the HTC U11 Plus sees slightly improved IP-68 dust- and water-resistance, and has a bigger 3,930mAh battery. Android Oreo is also available straight out of the box. In all other respects, other than the higher price, it’s almost identical to the older HTC U11.

HTC U11 Plus review: UK price, release date and competition

The HTC U11 Plus is available to preorder from 20 November 2017 for £699. That’s the same price as Razer’s recently announced Razer Phone (£699) and is £70 more than the HTC-made Google Pixel 2 (£629). The fresh-faced Mate 10 also makes an appearance, at £699.

HTC U11 Plus review: Design, key features and first impressions

Aside from the bezel-less display (more on that later) the HTC U11 Plus is hauntingly familiar. Unlike the model it one-ups, the phone is available in only one colour this time: Ceramic Black, with a Translucent Black coating launching later next year.

As before, the rear is coated in a mirror-finish rear panel topped with glass that veers between a subtle reflective grey and a darker black, depending on where you catch the light. It’s still a marvellous sight, although I can’t say I’m not disappointed at the lack of more vibrant colour choices.

Elsewhere, both the volume rocker and power button are sensibly placed on the right edge, with the solitary USB-C port on the bottom. Don’t hold your breath for HTC including the 3.5mm headphone jack, as there isn’t one.

As for the display, the HTC U11 Plus follows the same long, tall and bezel-free fad as its cutthroat competition. Its entire front is dominated by an arresting 6in QHD+ display, with very little bezel on show, bar a sliver at both the top and bottom.

As for software, other than the appearance of Android Oreo, Edge Sense has been updated. Yes, that squeezy gimmick from earlier in the year (and with the Pixel 2’s) has a new feature: press the sides hard and it’ll bring up a rotary wheel of your favourite apps. Handy.

HTC U11 Plus review: Early verdict

The HTC U11 Plus may bring a bezel-less display, a bigger battery and Android Oreo to the table, but it doesn’t offer much else than its older alternative hasn’t already. The biggest issue is that this small list of improvements have somehow necessitated a sizeable price hike.

You see, this plus variant is £50 more than what the HTC U11 originally launched at. Blame Brexit all you want, but I can’t see the U11 Plus being a popular choice anytime soon, especially considering the firm did such a bang-up job with the Pixel 2.

As always, I’m open to being proven wrong – and await our review unit – but I suspect my conclusion will be something like the following. “Do yourself a favour and grab the older but significantly cheaper U11 or better still, save yourself some pennies and pick up the excellent Pixel 2 instead.”

Processor Octa-core 2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Screen size 6in
Screen resolution 2,880 x 1,440
Screen type Super LCD
Front camera 8-megapixel
Rear camera 12-megapixel
Flash dual-LED
Compass Yes
Storage (free) 128GB
Memory card slot (supplied) microSD
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
Wireless data 4G
Dimensions 58.5 x 74.9 x 8.5 mm
Weight 188g
Operating system Android 8.0
Battery size 3,930mAh

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