The HTC U11 is one of the best Android phones on the market right now, but the U11 Plus brings some intriguing improvements to the table. Originally designed to serve as Google’s larger Pixel follow-up, the HTC U11 Plus has a bigger display and a different design than its smaller sibling.
As it turned out, Google switched to LG for the Pixel 2 XL – a decision it may be regretting after a flood of screen complaints, though we think the criticism is overblown. In any case, instead of the project being quietly forgotten, HTC took it forward and the enticing U11 Plus was born. Let’s drill into the differences between the two phones to find out how they compare.
Specs and performance
HTC U11 Plus
|Size||158.5 x 74.9 x 8.5mm (6.24 x 2.95 x 0.33 in)||153.9 × 75.9 × 7.9 mm (6.05 × 2.99 × 0.31 in)|
|Weight||6.63 ounces (188 grams)||5.96 ounces (169 grams)|
|Screen||6-inch Super LCD||5.5-inch Super LCD|
|Resolution||2,880 x 1,440 pixels||2,560 × 1,440 pixels|
|OS||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 7.1 Nougat (Oreo update coming soon)|
|SD Card Slot||Yes||Yes|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, GSM||Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, GSM|
|Camera||Front 8MP, Rear 12MP with OIS||Front 16MP, Rear 12MP with OIS|
|Video||2,160p 4K||2,160p 4K HDR|
|Bluetooth||Yes, version 5.0||Yes, version 4.2|
|Other sensors||Edge Sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor||Edge Sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor|
|Water Resistant||Yes, IP68||Yes, IP67|
|Marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Color offerings||Translucent Black, Ceramic Black, Silver||Silver, blue, black, white, and red|
|DT Review||Coming soon||4 out of 5 stars|
Whether you’re skipping in and out of apps, firing up the camera to snap a quick shot, or playing one of the latest games, the HTC U11 offers silky smooth performance. It sports Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor inside, which is the heart of every Android flagship from the last few months.
That processor is backed up by 4GB or 6GB of RAM, depending on whether you opt for the version with 64GB of storage or the one with 128GB of storage. Both can be expanded further via the MicroSD card slot.
The HTC U11 Plus comes in exactly the same varieties, with the same processor, so we expect performance to be very similar. It may have to work a little harder because of the larger screen, but we don’t think you’ll notice much difference between the two. That’s a good thing, because the U11 is slick and fast, outperforming competitors like the Galaxy S8 in our benchmark tests.
Design, display, and durability
One of the things we disliked about the design of the U11 was the size and the chunky bezels top and bottom of the screen. The U11 Plus is inevitably bigger than its predecessor, but it packs a 6-inch display into a body that’s just 5mm taller and just over half a millimeter thicker. The U11 is actually a tiny touch wider.
HTC achieved this by moving the fingerprint sensor onto the back, placing it centrally below the camera lens, just like on Google’s Pixel phones. The Taiwanese manufacturer also shaved the bezels down, giving the U11 Plus a screen-to-body ratio of 82 percent. It doesn’t quite match Samsung’s Galaxy S8, or even Apple’s iPhone X, but it’s a huge improvement over the U11 which has a 71.4 percent screen-to-body ratio.
Something we are a little concerned about is the extra weight, because at 6.63 ounces (188 grams) the U11 Plus is quite a heavy phone.
We’re fans of the liquid glass finish on the back of the U11, so we’re glad to see it on the U11 Plus, though the bigger phone comes in a much smaller range of colors, two of which are black. There’s the oddly-named “Ceramic Black”, which isn’t ceramic, and the more interesting “Translucent Black” which shows off the coiled NFC component inside. The last choice is the familiar “Amazing Silver”. We’re slightly disappointed there’s no solar red option, but it may arrive at a later date.
The screens are both Super LCD, but while the HTC U11 makes do with a 5.5-inch, 2,560 × 1,440-pixel display with a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the U11 Plus changes things up with a 6-inch, 2,880 x 1,440-pixel screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio which matches the latest from LG and Samsung. Extra screen real estate is always nice.
Both phones boast dual speakers, but HTC says the U11 Plus is 30 percent louder with better dynamic range and less distortion. You won’t find a headphone jack on either of these phones, but you do get an adapter for the USB-C port. The U11 Plus also has Bluetooth 5 support, whereas the U11 relies on Bluetooth 4.2. If you use Bluetooth headphones, then you’ll appreciate the extra range and speed.
HTC has also ramped up the durability, with the U11 Plus claiming an IP68 rating. The U11 got an IP67 rating, so it can survive submersion in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The U11 Plus can handle slightly greater depths.
We suspect that the U11 Plus might be too big for some people, but the extra screen, shaved bezels, and added durability are enough to earn it the win in this round.
Winner: U11 Plus
Battery life and charging
Having used the U11 as a daily driver for a few weeks, we can confidently say that the battery life is great. It packs a 3,000mAh battery that will see you through to bedtime with change most days. The battery in the U11 Plus will have to work a little harder because of the larger screen, but HTC has made ample provision for that with a whopping 3,930mAh battery.
We expect the U11 Plus to have serious stamina. It may even go two days between charges. When it is time to plug in, charging is speedy because the U11 and U11 Plus both support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard. Sadly, neither of these phones offer wireless charging support.
Winner: U11 Plus
The 12-megapixel camera in the HTC U11 has thoroughly impressed us. It features HTC’s UltraPixel technology, an f/1.7 aperture, and optical image stabilization (OIS). There’s also support for HDR, slow motion 1080p video, and 4K video recording with Hi-Res audio. Point and shoot with the automatic settings and the results are generally great. That’s probably why HTC has stuck exactly the same camera in the U11 Plus.
The only difference comes with the front-facing camera, which is rated at 16 megapixels in the U11, but just 8 megapixels in the U11 Plus. Both have an f/2.0 aperture and support for full HD video recording. But only the U11 Plus has an 85-degree field of view and HDR boost. We don’t think there’s going to be a big difference, but we’ll need some time with the U11 Plus to be sure. For now, this one’s a tie.
You may imagine that the software on these phones would be identical, but the HTC U11 Plus launches with Android 8.0 Oreo onboard, while the U11 is still awaiting that update – it runs Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. HTC has confirmed that the U11 will get the Oreo update around the end of November.
Both have HTC’s Sense UI over the top and it offers a range of customization options and a few other extras, some useful, some not so much. We like Edge Sense, which enables you to trigger different apps or snap a photo by squeezing the edges of the U11 or U11 Plus. You’ll also find support for Google Assistant or Alexa, so you can pick your preferred assistant.
The U11 Plus also has the Edge launcher, which is a half-circle of customizable apps and shortcuts perfectly placed for your right thumb, and designed to make it easier to manage your U11 Plus one-handed. This will also come to the U11 with the Oreo update.
The fact that the U11 Plus runs Android 8.0 Oreo with a couple of extras on top is enough to sneak the win here, but we do expect the U11 to match it very soon.
Winner: U11 Plus
Price and availability
You can buy the HTC U11 unlocked from HTC or Amazon for $650, or pick it up from Sprint on a two-year contract at $29 per month. In the U.K., the U11 will cost you 600 British pounds direct from HTC, but you can also snag one from Amazon for 500 British pounds now.
The HTC U11 Plus is not available in the U.S. You can preorder one in the U.K. for 700 British pounds from November 20, and it costs 800 euros across the rest of Europe. HTC is only offering the Ceramic Black version in the U.K. to begin with.
It’s a shame that the U11 Plus won’t be released in the U.S., but we’re giving this round to the U11 based on price. Shop around for a discount and the HTC U11 is a very attractive deal.
Winner: HTC U11
Overall winner: HTC U11 Plus
The tweaked design of the U11 Plus has its pros and cons, but the bigger screen and battery offer tangible improvements over the U11. We also like the fact that it’s running the latest flavor of Android and is slightly more water resistant. Beyond that, HTC hasn’t taken anything away — you’re still getting all the things that made the U11 great.
If you’re looking at buying one of these devices right now, then you must weigh up whether the extras in the U11 Plus are enough to justify the increased cost. That task is complicated by discounts for the HTC U11. We think the improvements are worth an extra 100 British pounds, but 200 may be a stretch. Pricing differences aside, the U11 Plus is the superior phone.