HTC U11 Review: A ‘Squeezable’ Smartphone Designed to Flaunt

 

Quick Question: What’s common between an orange, a forearm exerciser and HTC’s new primo product called U11?

Answer: You can squeeze all of them!

Yes, that’s what HTC claims to be the U11’s UPS, “the squeezable smartphone”.

PS: Sorry for the lame forearm exerciser joke!

https://giphy.com/embed/3o7TKPdUkkbCAVqWk0via GIPHY

Yes, the HTC U11 looks something out of HTC’s top drawer, but the company seems to be trying too hard to make up for the shortcoming of the HTC U Ultra and U Play.

Does the HTC U11 really make you squeeze that extra buck out of your pocket? Let’s take a look.

Snapshot

Click here to collapse

Pros:

  • Great display
  • Battery life is good
  • Camera clicks excellent pictures
  • Clean UI
  • Beautiful mirror finish
  • Edge Sense
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Attracts smudges & fingerprints
  • Slippery in the hand
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

What’s Good?

The fact that I could squeeze and play with the phone instantly made me like the HTC U11. The ‘squeeze’ feature acts like a shortcut gesture, something like what we have seen with Moto’s flick gesture or OnePlus’ Alert Slider. Although, I feel HTC’s gesture squeeze is the most intuitive.

The HTC U11’s Edge Sense feature allows you to squeeze the phone where the pressure sensors on the phone’s sides helps you interact with different applications of the phone.

You have options like “short squeeze” or “squeeze and hold”. The company has said that they will add more gestures in the future. The liquid glass surface design looks beautiful and I loved the way it reflects different colours in different lights.

(Photo: The Quint)

The 5.5-inch quad-HD display is fantastic! HTC didn’t stretch this one, unlike the S8 or the G6 display and stuck to the traditional thick bezel design. It offers great viewing angles and performs well even under direct sunlight.

The phone is running on the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 6GB of RAM. A standard in today’s flagships. Performance is great and really didn’t have any problems with the phone. HTC has kept the phone devoid of bloatware which gives some extra points to the U11 and also makes the Android Nougat experience much better.

HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat
HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat (Photo: The Quint)

The HTC U11 comes with IP67 water-resistance, which means that the phone can be completely submerged underwater.

Apart from the 64GB of on-board storage it comes with an option to expand and we always like that. The same woofer and tweeter combo gets carried forward from the HTC 10 but this time the audio via the speakers sounds much more refined and louder.

Also, despite the fact that the 3.5mm jack has been removed from the setup, audio via the USB type-C headphones was remarkable. The headphones also offer noise cancellation so that makes the deal more sweeter.

The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there.
The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there. (Photo: The Quint)

Camera quality is excellent. It’s rated to be the best camera according to the DxOMark ratings. Snaps in daylight look excellent via the 12-megapixel rear camera. The 16-megapixel front camera is also ‘wow’. Just to round it up, you won’t have any complaints with the camera on the U11.

3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day
3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day (Photo: The Quint)

Despite the fact that 3000mAh on paper might look underwhelming that HTC U11’s battery performed really well. After a complete days use there was still enough charge at the end of the day for your evening Youtube matinee.

What’s Bad?

This list is going to be very short because it was really tough finding anything wrong with the U11. To start with, the liquid surface design might look beautiful but it attracts a lot of smudges and fingerprints so always carry a cleaning cloth if you want to flaunt this phone.

Although the HTC Sense squeeze feature is pretty innovative, it is prone to a lot of accidental activation. Sometimes you might accidentally trigger the application inadvertently by gripping the phone too hard (happened with me). Though not a deal breaker, it has to be used carefully.

On-board you have three virtual assistants like HTC’s Sense UI, Amazon’s Alexa and even Google Assistant. Okay, Alexa isn’t in India yet, but isn’t one assistant enough?

Also, photos in low light settings have overblown highlights. It is clear that the camera tries to overcompensate for the dark areas.

Worth Buying?

At Rs 51,990 the HTC U11 is the most aggressively priced flagship in India. It has the wherewithal to hold its own and compete shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the S8 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11
No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11 (Photo: The Quint)

The only thing working against HTC is that they are still under the spotlight because the HTC U Play and Ultra weren’t a huge hit and customers are now weary about the U11 the same way. Don’t worry people, the U11 is a much better gizmo and justifies its price tag appropriately.

 

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