The HTC U12 Plus is a chunky, glossy but capable flagship device. With four cameras, exceptional photo and video capabilities and some innovative audio features, it is a fine choice. But is it better than 2017’s HTC U11?
The U11 was an underrated phone – aside from the amazing looking glass back it had a brilliant, Google Pixel-level camera and fast performance. But in a world of Samsung Galaxy phones, it struggled to sell.
We’re big fans of the HTC U phones, and still love the U11. Here we compare that phone to the newer U12 Plus to see which you should go for and if the U12 Plus is a decent upgrade.
HTC U12 Plus vs HTC U11: Price and availability
The HTC U11 retailed for £649 when it launched, so it’s good to see the U12 Plus is only £50 more at £699. That’s a pretty standard price for an Android flagship in 2018.
You might be tempted to look for the U11 cheaper, though – HTC’s official website has it for £449 at the time of writing.
HTC phones are tricky to find from mobile operators unfortunately, so we’d recommend buying direct from the company.
HTC U12 Plus
HTC U12 Plus vs HTC U11: Design and build
Although the U12 Plus continues the design ‘liquid surface’ design ethic from the U11, the two phones actually look quite different.
The U11 has a standard 5.5in 16:9 display whereas the U12 Plus has a taller 6.0in 18:9 screen. Both are LCD rather than the usually expected OLED screens on high end phones, but they are both vibrant, bright, high resolution displays that you won’t be disappointed with.
The U11’s 16:9 screen means it has larger bezels at the top and bottom of the front of the phone. These contain the camera, earpiece and a fingerprint sensor on the chin. On the U12 Plus these bezels are much slimmer but pack dual front cameras – the fingerprint sensor is on the back, though.
Because of this, the Android navigation buttons are on-screen on the U12 Plus, whereas on the U11 they are capacitive buttons lit up in the chin bezel either side of the fingerprint sensor.
You will likely prefer one of the designs. The back of each phone is impressive in the same way though, with exquisite layered glass designs that reflect and refract light in amazing ways. If the front of the phone is plain and black, then the back is one of the most attractive of any smartphone we’ve seen.
On the back of the U11 is a single camera, while the U12 Plus has two – so that’s two and four cameras respectively overall in comparison.
The side bezels of the U12 Plus are also notably slimmer, which helps you hold the taller, larger device easier in one hand. But both phones are chunkier than you might expect due to the curved glass backs and are largely two-hand affairs.
So, while the similarities are there with the colourful glass design, the phones end up looking and feeling quite different in comparison.
HTC U12 Plus vs HTC U11: Features and specs
There’s a lot different in the specs too. Here’s a handy comparison chart:
|HTC U12+||HTC U11|
|OS||Android Nougat 8.0||Android Nougat 7.1|
|Screen||6.0in 18:9 LCD6, 537 ppi||5.5” Quad HD LCD 5 display|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Graphics||Adreno 530||Adreno 540|
|Memory||6GB RAM||4GB RAM|
|Storage||64/126GB GB storage (region dependent)||64GB storage with micro SD up to 256GB|
|Main camera||Dual 12Mp (f/1.8) + 16Mp (f/2.6) with OIS||12Mp, f/1.7 with OIS|
|Front camera||Dual 8Mp cameras (f/2.0)||16Mp, f/2.0|
|Wireless||802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi||802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.0, aptX||Bluetooth 4.2|
|Communications||4G LTE||4G LTE Cat16|
|SIM type||Nano SIM (Dual SIM in some regions)||Nano-SIM|
|Interface||USB-C 3.1||USB-C 3.1|
|Battery||3500mAh non removable battery||3000mAh non-removable battery|
|Charging||Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, 4.0 compatible||Quick Charge 3.0|
|Dimensions||156.6 x 73.9 x 8.7 mm||154 x 76 x 7.9mm|
The displays differ in size, and in the U12 Plus you get the Snapdragon 845 instead of the 835 in the U11. In most regions, the U12 Plus also has more storage (128GB) and more RAM (6GB) than the standard U11 that had 64GB and 4 GB RAM.
The single 12Mp camera on the U11 is excellent and has an aperture of f/1.7. The main 12Mp sensor on the U12 Plus is f/1.75 and is coupled with a 16Mp f/2.6 lens that allows for portrait mode shots.
This means the U12 Plus is the more versatile set up, with better zoom and effect capabilities. It can also record 4K video at 60fps compared with 4K at 30fps on the U11.
With two cameras on the front, the U12 Plus can also do portrait selfies – great if you’re into that sort of thing.
Both phones also have squeezable (yes, really) sides. This allows you to squeeze and launch certain customisable actions. The U12 Plus goes one further and has tap input on its edges, and also no moving buttons – the clicks are actually force feedback instead.
Perhaps more importantly, the U12 Plus has a 3500mAh battery, bigger and longer lasting than the 3000mAh cell in the U11 (though in our experience the U11 has quite decent, efficient battery life).
Both are fast charging compatible, but despite the glass back that technically allows for it, neither can be wirelessly charged. The U11 is IP67 waterproof, while the U12 Plus is IP68 (for most people there’s no difference between the two – both ratings are good).
HTC U12 Plus vs HTC U11: Software
The U11 shipped with Android 7.0 Nougat but is upgradeable to 8.0 Oreo – though this upgrade will depend on your region and operator, so you may want to check before you buy. The U12 Plus ships with Oreo out the box, and will get Android P, but we don’t know when.
HTC’s Sense overlay of stock Android is quite subtle but does change things like the common font, app icons and menu appearance. In fact, some aspects of the design haven’t changed for about four years, and while Oreo makes it look new, if you are an HTC fan it might be disappointing to see that neither phone really shakes up the look of the software.
That said, it’s a good clean version of Android that has few performance flaws. If you’re buying, then the newer U12 Plus will be supported for longer, but the U11 running Oreo in 2018 or 2019 is a perfectly good – and potentially cheaper option.