After the thoroughly underwhelming and slightly weird U Ultra, it’s safe to say many HTC fans have been waiting for a “return to form” sort of product from the struggling smartphone manufacturer. While the U11 isn’t what I’d call a massive leap forward, it does take steps in the right direction – some obvious, some less so. But this isn’t a phone without compromises.
The headphone jack is still gone. HTC tries to suggest that since it includes its U Sonic earbuds (now with active noise cancellation) and an adapter in the box, the pain of this will be offset for most consumers – but I’m getting ahead of myself here. What is the U11 all about, and should you even care about it in a world where the Galaxy S8, OnePlus 3T, LG G6, and Google Pixel tend to dominate the conversation? Is there really a place left for HTC to compete?
My initial impression is that even if it isn’t the most exciting smartphone of 2017, HTC makes a reasonably good case for the U11 to what is probably a shrinking group of HTC loyalists. For everyone else, though, I’m less convinced.
The U11 does fix some of the most glaring flaws found in the U Ultra. It’s IP67 rated, and the abominable camera hump on the rear is gone – replaced by a small circular module that’s barely raised above the glass back of the phone. There’s no awkward ticker display, and the phone is very manageable in the hand, with a 5.5″ screen diagonal at a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s basically the size of a Pixel XL.
Frustratingly, HTC has continued to stick with capacitive keys on the U11, and I still find their placement visually bothersome – why can’t they be aligned along the center of the bezel’s