HTC U12 Plus vs. OnePlus 6: The new kids battle for supremacy

HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re looking for premium smartphone options outside of Samsung and Apple (and you really should be), then the latest flagships from HTC and OnePlus should be on your radar. As luck would have it, these two have been revealed close to each other, and they each provide incredible good looks, powerful hardware, and some amazingly fun new features.

But, chances are, you only have the budget for one, so which is better for you? We took a look to find out.

Specs

HTC U12 Plus OnePlus 6
Size 156.6 x 73.9 x 8.7 mm (6.16 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches) 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm (6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 188 grams (6.63 ounces) 177 grams (6.24 ounces)
Screen size 6-inch Super LCD 6.28-inch AMOLED display
Screen resolution 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537 pixels per inch) 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage space 64GB, 128GB
64GB (with 6GB of RAM), 128GB, 256GB (both with 8GB of RAM)
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM 6GB 6GB, 8GB
Camera Dual 12MP and 16MP telephoto rear (both with OIS), dual 8MP lenses front Dual 16MP and 20MP rear (both OIS), 16MP front
Video Up to 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps 2,160p at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 480 fps super slow motion, HDR
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes (back) Yes (back)
Water resistance IP68 No
Battery 3,500mAh

QuickCharge 3.0 (4.0 with adapter, not included)

3,300mAh

DashCharge

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon AT&T and T-Mobile
Colors Translucent Blue, Ceramic Black, Flame Red Midnight Black, Mirror Black, Silk White
Price Starting at $800 Starting at $530
Buy from HTC, Amazon OnePlus
Review score Hands-on review 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

oneplus 6 hands on chrome
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’re going to get great performance regardless of your choice because both of these phones are powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor, and it’s a beast that outpaces almost everything else on the market. While OnePlus put a lot into the OnePlus 6’s lightning fast speed, the performance on the U12 Plus isn’t to be sniffed at, either, and we’re reserving judgement until we’ve had a chance to properly test both.

In terms of battery life, you’re likely to see similar results from both of these hefty batteries — though the U12 Plus has the edge with 200mAh more capacity. We got at least a day out of the OnePlus 6, and we expect similar out of the U12 Plus. You won’t be able to wirelessly charge with either phone, despite the glass backs, but the snappy fast charging on both makes up for that. OnePlus’ Dash Charge offers some seriously fast charging, but the QuickCharge 3.0 (and optional QuickCharge 4.0 support) on the U12 Plus is also very speedy. There’s nothing to separate them here, so this category has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie

Design and durability

HTC U12 Plus Review
HTC U12 Plus Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We’ve seen some jaw-droppingly beautiful phones in 2018, and these two are no exception. The OnePlus 6 has a bezel-less design, coupled with vertically stacked cameras on the rear and a cool, stadium-shaped fingerprint scanner. But it’s the glass back that’s the real draw here and the mirror-like reflective surface is incredible. OnePlus used multiple layers of glass to create the effect, and it’s clear the extra effort has been worth it. The HTC U12 Plus has a similar bezel-less design on the front, but flip it over and it’s definitely different. The arrangement of the cameras and fingerprint scanner reminds us of the LG V30, but like the OnePlus 6, it’s the glass back that’s the wow factor here. Specifically, the transparent effect on the Translucent Blue option. It’s very different, and not something we’ve seen from a recent flagship phone.

Moving on to durability — you don’t need us to tell you that glass is fragile. A protective case is a good idea with both the OnePlus 6 and the HTC U12 Plus. In terms of water resistance, only the HTC U12 Plus has any significant resistance, offering an IP68-rating that should make sure the phone survives a trip into the toilet, or into a puddle. The OnePlus 6 has a water-resistant coating on the phone itself, but nothing to stop ingress.

Design is a tough area to call, and we’re glad we have the difference in durability to break the stalemate here. The enhanced water resistance on the HTC U12 Plus wins this round.

Winner: HTC U12 Plus

Display

oneplus 6 hands on home screen
OnePlus 6 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Like big screens? Good, because you’ll find large screens on both. You’ll find a 6-inch Super LCD display on the U12 Plus, running a 2,880 x 1,440-pixel resolution. It’s a bright, sharp screen with a pixels-per-inch (ppi) measurement of 537, making it pretty crisp. The 6.28-inch screen on the OnePlus 6 is huge, bright, and colorful — though you won’t get the same sharpness as you would on the HTC U12 Plus, with the OnePlus phone’s resolution maxing out at 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (402 ppi). However, the LCD in the U12 Plus can’t match the inky blacks you’ll get with the OnePlus 6’s AMOLED screen.

The HTC U12 Plus’s screen is big and beautiful, but we’re suckers for the inky blacks and vibrant colors on an AMOLED display. Despite the sharper HTC display, the OnePlus 6 takes this.

Winner: OnePlus 6

Camera

HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Hubble bubble, double trouble — both of these phones are rocking dual-lens cameras. You’ll find a 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel lens on the back of the OnePlus 6, while the HTC U12 Plus comes with a 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel duo for snapping goodness. We’ve not finished our tests on either of these phones yet, but the initial impressions of both are pretty good — though the HTC U12 Plus has passed DxOMark’s camera tests with flying colors, coming second only to the stupendous Huawei P20 Pro, so we’re expecting great things.

If you’re more of a fan of video, then you’ve come to the right place regardless, since both phones can shoot in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. You’ll get more out of the OnePlus 6 though, as it offers slow-motion videos at 480 fps — the HTC U12 Plus can only manage 240 fps slo-mo. That said, the U12 Plus also comes with the Sonic Zoom video feature, which easily matches OnePlus’s slow motion, allowing you to focus on and boost the sound of your subject.

Which one you prefer is likely going to come down to personal preference. We suspect that the HTC U12 Plus will outperform the OnePlus 6 in our longer tests, but we wouldn’t bet the farm on that yet. This has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

oneplus 6 hands on apps
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Open up either of these phones and you’ll recognize the latest version of Android on both. The OnePlus 6 comes with a slightly altered version of Android — OnePlus’ own OxygenOS — but it’s easily used by anyone with previous Android experience. The same is true of the HTC U12 Plus, which is running mostly standard Android 8.0 Oreo, with a couple of HTC additions thrown in.

If you’re looking for devices that are likely to be updated to the latest versions of Android quickly then you’re also in luck — both OnePlus and HTC have excellent records with Android updates, being among the first brands to update their back catalog of phones when the newest version of Android surfaces. Expect to see Android P on both of these phones not too long after it arrives.

Winner: Tie

Special features

HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6 brings you flagship specs at a midrange price — as such, corners do have to be cut elsewhere to make sure the quality is kept high in the areas that count. That’s probably why you won’t see much in the way of special features on the OnePlus 6. You’ll find face unlock on the OnePlus 6, as well as an optional gesture-based navigation system that replaces the navigation keys — both similar to the iPhone X. There’s also the “Shelf,” which shows your most recent apps, contacts, and other information, for quick access.

In contrast, the U12 Plus comes with more special features than you can shake a stick at. The Edge Sense squeezable sides are back from the HTC U11, with the addition of a new, single-side squeeze command. The sensors will also sense which way you’re holding your phone, and not rotate the view if you’re lying on your side. HTC has also included “BoomSound,” making for better speaker quality.

Winner: HTC U12 Plus

Price

The HTC U12 Plus is currently up for pre-order from HTC’s website and Amazon, with prices starting at $800 for the 64GB model. You’ll need to be with specific carriers though, as it’s only certified to work on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The OnePlus 6 is a lot cheaper, with prices starting at just $530 — though it’ll only work on AT&T and T-Mobile.

Overall winner: HTC U12 Plus

The OnePlus 6 is one hell of a machine, with some incredible hardware and zippy software. However, money talks, and the HTC U12 Plus is just slightly stronger in a few categories, making it the phone to buy. However, if your budget isn’t up to tackling an $800 phone, then the OnePlus 6 is a strong choice. But otherwise, it’s the HTC phone all the way.

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