It seems like every year, HTC tries it’s hardest to clinch the top Android smartphone spot from Samsung but never seems to do so. It’s not that HTC’s phones are bad, they’re well made with near stock Android and great cameras.

So then what is stopping people from picking up an HTC? Partly because Samsung has already situated themselves as the number 1 Android smartphone with other OEMs like HTC to come as runner ups.

But after using the HTC U11 for a few weeks, I would have to say it’s one of my favourite Android phones that released in 2017 so far.

Design & Hardware

HTC decided to try something a little bit different with their 2017 flagship, the HTC U11. The body is now made from metal and glass with a super shiny and fingerprint magnet back.

I thought because of HTC’s change to this new design that it would make the phone more slippery like the HTC 10 last year but it hasn’t and HTC does include a clear case in the box.

Just like other flagship smartphones these days, the HTC U11 is also IP67 water & dust resistant. The U11 has a 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 support.

The HTC U11 does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack but it does have a USB Type-C port which you can use the included USB Type-C earbuds or your own with the adapter or use Bluetooth headphones.

The HTC U11 also comes with Edge Sensors on the left and right sides of the device. This allows you to use a new feature called Edge Sense, which lets you squeeze the side of the device to launch different apps or features of the phone or even your favourite voice assistant like Alexa or Google.

Edge Sense did seem to work well and you can easily change how hard you need to squeeze the device or if a longer squeeze will launch one thing while a short squeeze launches another. I applaud HTC trying something different and not just some gimmick but I don’t think Edge Sense is enough to win over consumers.

The screen is a 5.5-inch QHD Super LCD Display with Gorilla Glass 5. The display is beautiful to look at, no matter which angle. There is also a fingerprint sensor on the front which also doubles as the home button.

But because HTC opted to use an LCD display, it means that the HTC U11 isn’t Google Daydream compatible (since Google requires phone displays to be AMOLED).

Just like the HTC 10 last year, the HTC U11 has BoomSound speakers which consist of one front-facing speaker with a down-firing speaker. Audio coming from the HTC U11’s speakers does sound good but not as good as traditional dual front-facing speaker setups.

Inside the HTC U11, you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM. Everything did run smoothly and had no slow down issues. The phone comes with either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage along with a microSD card slot.

The HTC U11 is available from HTC’s website for $899 CAD ($649 USD) for the 64GB model which comes in Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Amazing Silver and Solar Red. If you want the 128GB model, it only comes in Amazing Silver for $999 CAD ($729 USD).

The unlocked version of the U11 (which is the only version available in Canada) will support Rogers, Bell, Telus, Videotron, Eastlink, Sasktel, BellMTS, Freedom Mobile. The U11 also has support for Freedom Moblie’s Band 66 LTE network and supports VoLTE (voice-over LTE) and Wi-Fi calling.

Software

The HTC U11 is running Android 7.1, which brings features like the Google Assistant but the device also comes with Amazon Alexa, which you can use hands-free.

Like past HTC phones, the HTC U11 is running HTC’s Sense on top of Android. HTC Sense is probably the closest skin to stock Android.

With Android 7.1, you’ll get things like better app permissions, app and memory management and improved microSD card support. There is also better and custom quick-setting toggles in the notification shade.

HTC opted to get rid of some duplicate apps and replace them with Google’s apps instead, like for example, Google Photos is the gallery app for the camera on the HTC U11.

There’s also plenty of ways to customize your HTC U11 using the HTC Themes store. There are ones created by other users and ones designed by HTC.

Camera

The camera on the HTC U11 is a 12-megapixel UltraPixel 3 camera which DxoMark rated at 90, which beats out the Google Pixel’s camera which HTC made for Google.

Photos look great with a lot of detail, and colours really pop. The camera does work well in all situations especially in low-light. When taking video, the phone can record 3D audio so it can feel like you’re actually there when watching your video later.

The HTC U11 can record video up to 4K at 30fps and 1080p video and slow-motion video. The front-facing camera is 16-megapixels which should be great for selfies.

Final Thoughts

HTC’s did an excellent job with the HTC U11. However, I wish that HTC has kept the headphone jack, it seemed kind of pointless, especially since the phone isn’t super thin.

The HTC U11 is a great phone and it’s easily up there with the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel. ]

Pros

  • Beautiful display
  • Solid performance
  • Nice design
  • Awesome camera
  • IP67 water and dust resistant
  • Expandable storage
  • Edge Sense useful and not gimmicky

Cons

  • Back is a fingerprint magnet
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

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