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HTC U11+: re-testing the retail unit


We published our HTC U11+ review last November, and while we liked a whole lot about the fancy flagship, it generated some controversy around the display and battery test results. The article was based on the only retail unit available at that time – the Taiwanese one – and while it should have been representative of the pack, we were not blind to all the doubt to follow.

HTC U11+ review

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and the HTC U11+ is available pretty much everywhere. So, we decided to grab the European retail unit, repeat our tests, and hopefully address those unresolved doubts.

Unboxing the HTC U11+

We couldn’t provide you with the retail package in time for the original article, so this is where we right this wrong. The HTC U11+ comes into a very slim paper box that packs a lot of goodies.

HTC U11+ review

Besides the phone itself, inside you’ll find a QC3.0-enabled charger plug, a USB-C cable, and company’s own USonic noise-canceling in-ear headphones. Naturally, a proper USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter is provided, but HTC is also throwing a complimentary transparent plastic case and a cleaning cloth for that beautiful glossy body.

Now, let’s get down to some serious business, shall we?

Display

The HTC U11+ comes with a 6″ QHD screen of the newest Super LCD6 kind. It scored an excellent 1626:1 contrast ratio and demonstrated deep black levels but barely average brightness at 309 nits. The maximum level of illumination hurt the sunlight legibility score a lot, too.

HTC U11+ review

Back then we argued the screen might have been limited to 300 nits for a reason – such as to prevent overheating or increase the battery life. We haven’t got any official quotes on those, so they still remain guesses and nothing more.

Now that we have the new unit here, with box and everything, let’s see how things will turn out.

The good news is the SLCD6 screen kept the same flagship-grade contrast of 1630:1. Unfortunately, the maximum brightness of the U11+ screen is even lower at 287 nits than the previously measured 309.










Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC U11+ 0.190 309 1626
HTC U11+ (EU) 0.176 287 1631
Google Pixel 2 XL 0 420
Samsung Galaxy Note8 0 412
Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Max Auto) 0 647
Huawei Mate 10 (normal) 0.3 415 1383
Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal) 0 422

Because of the lower illumination the sunlight legibility score went down as well.

Sunlight contrast ratio


  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    4.234

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148

  • Huawei Mate 10
    2.742

  • HTC U11+
    2.556

  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    2.253


  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Battery life

The HTC U11+ is powered by a large 3,930 mAh battery and supports Quick Charge 3.0 (35% in 30 mins). The battery test we did on the Taiwanese unit scored a 67 hour rating.

HTC U11+ review

The European unit of the U11+, unfortunately, pumped rather similar hours as well. It did slightly better in 3G and web browsing, and fractionally better at standby. All of these small improvements helped the U11+ to improve its final rating up to 72 hours, 6h better than the Taiwanese one.

HTC U11+ review

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the HTC U11+ for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.

Performance

The HTC U11+ is powered by the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 (8x Kryo CPU, Adreno 540 GPU). The mass market version of the U11+ has 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, though there is a limited model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage available in some markets.

HTC U11+ review

We ran all the benchmarks again on this U11+, but the different in the scores is negligible.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better


  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    6740

  • HTC U11+
    6654

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better


  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    183147

  • HTC U11+
    180195

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better


  • HTC U11+
    13

  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    13

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better


  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    3301

  • HTC U11+
    3257

Boom Sound speakers

We did the loudspeaker test again and there is no change since the old unit. But since we were quite impressed with the speaker performance, we decided to give you a quick recap.

The HTC U11+ has two different modes for its Boom speakers – Music and Theater. Music mode is optimized for reaching all the highs, mids, and bass notes in the cleanest way possible. Theater mode is a more immersive experience while watching videos, as the speakers are set to project toward the front of the phone.

No matter which mode you choose, the HTC U11+ offers the loudest speaker output we have measured to date. For once HTC’s Boom speakers are really boomy!

As far as the sound quality is concerned, although subjectively, it’s equally impressive. You just have to hear it for yourselves.


Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
Google Pixel 2 XL 66.2 70.4 78.2 Good
HTC U11+ (EU) 91.2 75.4 90.7 Excellent
HTC U11+ 91.5 75.4 90.5 Excellent

Excellent audio quality

The HTC U11 did an amazing job in the first part of our audio test. When hooked to an active external amplifier it delivered very loud and perfectly accurate output.

When headphones come into play the volume remained impressively high and there was barely any distortion to note. Even the stereo crosstalk barely increased, making up for another great performance. Certainly one of the most talented musicians of the season and one for audiophiles to keep on their shortlist.















Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
HTC U11+ +0.03, -0.17 -93.9 93.9 0.0066 0.013 -94.0
HTC U11+ (headphones) +0.19, -0.06 -93.1 93.1 0.012 0.127 -73.4
HTC U11 +0.05, -0.11 -94.1 94.1 0.0017 0.0067 -94.5
HTC U11 (headphones) +0.05, -0.02 -93.7 93.8 0.0018 0.105 -53.7
Honor View 10 +0.02, -0.01 -92.6 92.6 0.0021 0.012 -94.4
Honor View 10 (headphones) +0.17, -0.03 -92.0 92.1 0.0023 0.092 -52.8
Samsung Galaxy S8+ +0.01, -0.03 -92.1 92.1 0.0020 0.0086 -92.5
Samsung Galaxy S8+ (headphones) +0.03, -0.03 -92.5 92.5 0.0024 0.046 -77.3
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 +0.02, -0.02 -94.3 94.3 0.0038 0.0072 -93.5
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 (headphones) +0.31, -0.01 -93.3 93.3 0.016 0.243 -63.8
LG V30 +0.02, -0.01 -93.2 93.1 0.0008 0.0069 -94.2
LG V30 (headphones) +0.03, -0.02 -92.9 92.9 0.0057 0.051 -68.1
HTC U11 +0.05, -0.11 -94.1 94.1 0.0017 0.0067 -94.5
HTC U11 (headphones) +0.05, -0.02 -93.7 93.8 0.0018 0.105 -53.7

HTC U11+ frequency response
HTC U11+ frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Camera

We really liked the HTC U11+ camera when we first reviewed the smartphone. It has a 12MP UltraPixel 3 OIS camera with an f/1.7 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, UltraSpeed (read Dual Pixel) autofocus, and a dual-LED flash. The camera is capable of image stacking and supports the so-called HDR Boost – where it fully utilizes that image stacking.

HTC U11+ review

We snapped some new samples around the office and found our unit to be equally impressive in image and video quality to the one we had last November.


HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 86, 1/5849s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 82, 1/7798s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 86, 1/5849s - HTC U11+ review

HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 89, 1/3342s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 85, 1/4925s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples - f/1.7, ISO 113, 1/100s - HTC U11+ review

HTC U11+ 12MP camera samples

Here are some low-light photos we took with the U11+ and we left the HDR Boost to Auto for all of those.


HTC U11+ 12MP low-light samples with HDR Boost set on Auto - f/1.7, ISO 822, 1/14s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP low-light samples with HDR Boost set on Auto - f/1.7, ISO 797, 1/14s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP low-light samples with HDR Boost set on Auto - f/1.7, ISO 929, 1/14s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 12MP low-light samples with HDR Boost set on Auto - f/1.7, ISO 954, 1/14s - HTC U11+ review

HTC U11+ 12MP low-light samples with HDR Boost set on Auto

Finally, we snapped a few selfies.


HTC U11+ 8MP selfie samples - f/2.0, ISO 94, 1/100s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 8MP selfie samples - f/2.0, ISO 65, 1/50s - HTC U11+ review
HTC U11+ 8MP selfie samples - f/2.0, ISO 113, 1/33s - HTC U11+ review

HTC U11+ 8MP selfie samples

Of course, we shot a 4K video and it turned as great as on the previous U11+ unit.

Finally, here is a bonus 1080p video shot with the front camera of the HTC U11+.

Wrap up

The HTC U11+ intended for Europe turned out no different than the unit we got months ago intender for Taiwan. The software might be newer, but it didn’t increase the screen brightness nor did boost the battery life by much.

In the end of the day the HTC U11+ is still one of the best-looking smartphones out there, with snappy hardware and high-quality camera experience. The U11+ also offers unmatched loudspeaker performance, one of the best audio outputs we’ve recorded, and the 3D and FLAC capturing in the clips makes for a top-notch sound in video recording.

HTC U11+ review

The low screen brightness is the only thing to taint the otherwise great experience, but if you are willing to look beyond the numbers, you’ll find that the screen is actually pretty alright, and far from that dim panel the numbers are painting it to be.



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