Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

HTC U11 vs. Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Can Android champ beat Apple’s flagship?

htc u11 vs apple iphone 7 plus back
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
HTC has finally taken the wraps off of the HTC U11, the company’s latest-and-greatest smartphone. The device is sleek, stylish, and boasts some pretty impressive specs under the hood. Of course, it’s not the only phone that fits those criteria.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus isn’t just sleek and stylish, it was also the most powerful phone around when it first debuted in September. Whether you’re an Android or iOS user, the fact remains that the iPhone is an impressive device. But how does the newly-unveiled U11 compare? Here, we take a closer look at both devices to find out.

Specs

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

HTC U11

Size 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29-inches) 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm (6.06 x 2.99 x 0.31 -inches)
Weight 188g (6.63 oz) 169g (5.96 oz)
Screen 5.5-inch LED 5.5-inch LCD
Resolution 1,080 x 1,920 pixels (401 pixels per inch) 1,440 x 2,560 pixels (534 pixels per inch)
OS iOS 10.0.1 Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Storage 32/128/256GB 64GB (U.S.), 64/128GB (International)
MicroSD card slot No Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor A10 Fusion Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 3GB 4GB (U.S.) 4/6GB (International)
Connectivity GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
Camera Dual 12MP rear, 7MP front 12MP rear, 16MP front
Video 4K 4K
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, magnetic
Water resistant IP67 IP67
Battery 2,900mAh 3,000mAh
Ports Lightning USB-C
Marketplace App Store Google Play
Color offerings Jet Black, Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Red Blue, black, white, gray, red
Availability Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile Sprint, HTC.com, Amazon
Price Starts at $770 $650
DT review 4 out of 5 stars Hands-on

It’s normally easy to compare Android smartphones because they often use the same Qualcomm-built chips. When comparing an Android device with an iPhone, however, things become a little more complex.

The HTC U11 features Qualcomm’s latest chip, the Snapdragon 835, which has only been featured in a couple new phones since its launch. Now, pair that with 4GB of RAM — or 6GB, if you’re buying the more powerful international version — and you have a very powerful phone.

The iPhone 7 Plus, in comparison, also features a very powerful chip — the Apple A10 Fusion, which partners with 3GB of RAM to run the iPhone. The U.S. version of the U11 offers 64GB of storage, while the international version provides 64 or 128GB. The iPhone, on the other hand, is available in 32, 128, and 256GB configurations. While there are more storage options for the iPhone, the HTC U11 does have a microSD card slot, so you can easily expand storage.

Now, there’s a few things to consider when comparing performance, including processor speed and RAM, but the most important thing is how that hardware works with software to deliver real-world performance. That’s where benchmarks can help in comparing the two devices. While we haven’t received any benchmarks since the launch of the phone, before launch the device was spotted scoring 1,912 on Geekbench’s single-core test, and 6,137 on the multi-core test. By comparison, the iPhone 7 Plus scored 3,331 on the single-core test, and 5,520 on the multi-core test.

In other words, it’s a little unclear who the winner is here. Most apps use only one thread at a time, meaning the single-core test is a better indicator of real-world use when one app is being used. However, if you start multitasking, the multi-core score becomes more important. Because of that, this one is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Design and display

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone has long been hailed as the king of design, and the iPhone 7 Plus is the culmination of years of excellent design choices. The HTC U11, however, certainly doesn’t look bad. In fact, it looks pretty great. While the iPhone boasts a simple, yet sleek look, HTC has taken a shinier approach with the glass-backed U11. The back of the U11 is also quite simple, featuring only the camera and HTC logo. Phones are also becoming thinner, and while the new HTC U11 is thin, it doesn’t beat the iPhone, which sits in at 0.29 inches. Another important thing to note is that neither of these two phones have a headphone jack — you’ll need to go wireless or use USB-C/Lightning headphones to listen to your music.

While design is largely subjective, the quality of a display is not. Both of the phones feature a 5.5-inch display, with the iPhone display being LCD and the U11 display being S-LCD. On the iPhone, you’ll find a 1,080 x 1,920-pixel display, which offers a pixel density of 401 pixels-per-inch. The U11, on the other hand, boasts 1,440 x 2,560 pixels, with a density of 534ppi.

Again, while design is largely subjective, resolution is not. The HTC U11 is the winner here.

Winner: HTC U11

Battery life and charging

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The HTC U11 and the iPhone 7 Plus are pretty equal when it comes to battery capacity. The U11 has a slight edge in capacity with 3,000mAh over the iPhone’s 2,900mAh, and that extra capacity translates to longer battery life, at least in this case. While the U11 has a more power-intensive display, it seems as though the device also has a longer battery life. The U11 supposedly provides 24.5 hours of talk time on a single charge, while Apple claims the iPhone 7 Plus can provide 21 hours of talk time.

The HTC U11 also offers Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, which allows you to get hours of use out of a couple minutes of charging. The iPhone 7 Plus has no such feature.

The longer battery life and the inclusion of Quick Charge 3.0 make the HTC U11 the winner here.

Winner: HTC U11

Camera

Apple has long been hailed as a leader in the mobile photography world, but the HTC U11 could be the phone to beat. The iPhone 7 Plus offers a dual 12-megapixel camera on the back, with optical image stabilization, phase detection autofocus, and an aperture of f/1.8. It also offers 2x optical zoom. The HTC U11 offers similar features — you’ll find a 12-megapixel camera with an f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilization, and phase detection autofocus.

While the iPhone 7 Plus certainly offers some great features in its camera thanks to the dual-lens, the U11’s camera is both better for low-light situations thanks to its larger aperture, and is rated higher by camera testing site DxOMark. The HTC U11 scored 90 in tests, while the iPhone 7 Plus scored 86.

The front-facing camera on the U11 is also better. The iPhone 7 Plus’ front-facing camera sits in at 7-megapixels with an f/2.2 aperture, while the HTC U11’s selfie cam comes in at 16-megapixels.

The U11 is the winner here, though, in some situations, the iPhone may offer a better shot thanks to its dual-lens and software.

Winner: HTC U11

Software, durability, and price

Software

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

This one will be a major point of difference for many people — and we’re going to be upfront and say that we won’t be awarding a winner here. After all, software largely comes down to personal preference.

We can, however, highlight some of the major differences between the two phones. While iOS is often considered the easier-to-use of the two mobile operating systems, Android is considered to be the OS that “does more.” That’s to say, if you know what you’re doing, you may get more out of Android. If you want things to “just work,” on the other hand, then iOS may be the mobile OS for you.

The HTC U11 runs pretty close to stock Android, but there are some major additions to the software. For example, HTC has included its digital assistant, called Sense Companion. Sense Companion is not a voice-based assistant, but rather an assistant that will pop up every now and then with suggestions based on your calendar and usual mobile use history. On top of Sense Companion, you’ll also be able to use Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa, where those assistants are available. The device also has Edge Sense, which gives the user the ability to touch and squeeze the edges of their phone to control different aspects of the user interface.

If you’re already plugged into either OS, then switching over to the other is going to be difficult. Still, if you think you’ll prefer one over the other, then don’t hesitate to make the switch.

Winner: Tie

Durability

iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple has stepped up its game this year in making the iPhone more durable, and it has paid off. For starters, the iPhone is largely built with metal, while the HTC U11 is almost completely coated in glass. This means that if you drop these two phones, the U11 is more likely to break. The design may look good, but it’s not great for durability.

Both the HTC U11 and the iPhone 7 Plus feature IP67 waterproofing, however, which means that they’ll both be able to withstand being submerged in a meter of water for as long as 30 minutes.

Because of the fact that the iPhone’s design features more metal, it’s a more durable phone.

Winner: Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Price and availability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone 7 Plus launched last year, so it’s been available for some time now. You can get it for yourself from the Apple website, or from any major carrier, both in the United States and in many countries around the world. Pricing for the device starts at $770.

The HTC U11 is a little less available, at least for now. The device will be officially available for purchase starting June 9, though you can pre-order it now. Unfortunately, in the United States, the only carrier you can get it from is Sprint, though you can get it on Amazon for the other carriers. The device costs $650 outright, or you can opt for a payment plan through Sprint, which will run you $29 a month for 24 months.

The iPhone is more expensive, however, at least for now, it’s also readily available. This one is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Overall winner: HTC U11

It’s a close battle here. The phones are relatively matched in terms of performance, but the HTC U11 edges out the iPhone when it comes to the camera, battery, and display. While the iPhone 7 Plus is more durable than the U11, it’s not enough to level the playing field.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider the iPhone 7 Plus — you should. It’s an excellent device with a great design and brilliant software. Right now, however, we think the HTC U11 is a slightly better phone.

Editors' Recommendations