HTC U11+: Plus-sized battery, plus-sized screen, plus-sized awesome

Did you like the HTC U11? I sure did and it was low-key one of my favourite phones last year, despite some of its weaknesses. I thought HTC was going in the right direction and it looks like they took that into consideration when designing their brand new HTC U11+ flagship smartphone.

Cherry on top? It looks like they’ve also fixed some of their smaller flagship’s biggest weaknesses. Yeah, you can get excited now.

Let’s start with one of the big headline features: Its display. HTC’s U11+ has that little ‘+’ symbol there for a reason and that reason is because this device has a 6″ Quad HD (2880×1440 pixel) Super LCD5 display. But, they didn’t just make the screen bigger, they brought this phone right into 2017 with a tall 18:9 aspect ratio and super minimal bezels. It was about damn time, HTC.

The second massive upgrade comes in the form of the device’s battery. Gone is the paltry 3,000 mAh cell from the U11 and in its place you’ll be happy to find a sizable 3,930 mAh cell which should translate into some solid battery life. But, this is one thing that only a full review can reveal.

Unfortunately, the rest of the specs remain pretty much identical to its smaller brother. This means you get a Snapdragon 835 Octa-core processor clocked at 2.45GHz and memory configurations of either 4GB RAM/64GB storage or 6GB RAM/128GB storage. Well, I say unfortunately but these are still top-of-the-line specs so performance won’t be lacking here. You can even expand the storage further with a microSD card (it’ll take capacities up to 2TB).

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In the camera department, HTC has equipped the U11+ with what looks like a similar 12MP UltraPixel 3 camera sensor as the U11 with an f/1.7 aperture lens (with OIS), but HTC says that they’ve done some tweaking so it’s even better than the smaller device. Now, it features full-sensor PDAF and HDR Boost technology, but remains a single-camera unit. Still, considering the fact that the U11’s camera is one of the best cameras of 2017, I don’t think many would mind the lack of a second shooter. In front, you have an 8MP selfie shooter with an f/2.0 aperture that also has HDR Boost and new noise reduction technology.

HTC’s main camera will shoot 1080p slow motion at 120fps and 4K with Hi-Res audio. The U11’s 3D Audio and Acoustic focus also makes a return to the U11+ and it records this with 4 built-in microphones.

Staying on the topic of audio, HTC has upgraded the awesome BoomSound  Hi-Fi edition earpiece stereo speakers that adorned the original U11. Now, on the U11+, these speakers are 30% louder with “richer sound and better dynamic range audio with less distortion”. The U11’s BoomSound implementation was already one of the best I’ve heard, so this upgrade is music to my ears.

It is a shame, however, that the 3.5mm headphone jack is not making its way back to the U11+. The silver lining is that it seems like this phone will come with a pair of USonic earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC).

HTC’s Edge Sense technology also makes a return to the U11+ so if you enjoyed squeezing your phone, you can continue to do so here. The company has added some new features with Edge Sense though, including something called an Edge Launcher. You can think of it as a kind of quick-access wheel that you can put your favourite apps, contacts and quick settings in. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can also be programmed to be triggered with a squeeze, much like it is on the Google Pixel 2.

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Speaking of software, HTC’s new flagship smartphone will come with Android Oreo out of the box with HTC Sense built on top.

Finally, we have the elephant in the room: Its build. Nope, it’s not a metal unibody, so I guess it’s time to accept that metal unibodies are dead for now. U11+ continues HTC’s liquid surface design with the addition of a cool new translucent back variant in addition to Ceramic Black and Amazing Silver. It’s still shiny and glossy and probably a big fingerprint magnet, but it looks pretty ergonomically sound. Oh, it’s also slightly more water resistant than the U11, now with a dust and water resistance rating of IP68. This means it’ll survive submerged in depths of up to 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.

The HTC U11+ will be making its way to Malaysia beginning December 2017 (next month). It will come in two colours — Amazing Silver and Ceramic Black. Right now, there’s no information on how much this phone will cost or which variant we will be getting but stay tuned for further updates.

What do you guys think of the U11+? Let me know in the comments below.