Back in ’97, in the small town of Xindian –
Just kidding, we’re not going that far back, as that’s about as old as I am, plus or minus a few years.
What we will talk about is the HTC I remember. The HTC that once dominated the Android smartphone marketplace, in an era when using the term “Lag-Wiz” to describe Samsungs less-than-stellar-software, was an appropriate and factual statement. Carriers who dominated the smartphone marketplace here in the USA – AT&T and Verizon, did and still overload the phone with “extras” or “freebies”, commonly referred to as “bloatware” or “utter garbage”, however you describe your hatred for this category, is on you. We’ll stick with the term “bloatware” for the time being.
Those were different days. Days when a vast majority of smartphone and non-smartphone users subsidized their shiny new upgrades by signing a contract with the carrier – something relatively unheard of these days, as the monthly payment/EIP/Device Installment model has taken over (Yes, I’m aware the vast majority of the UK, the world and so on has never done such a thing) However, here in the USA, that wasn’t the case. Decades of backdoor lobbying and other friendly donations has caused the vast majority of Infrastructure as a whole to crumble in quality and skyrocket in cost. We’re not here to talk about that.
We’re here to talk about HTCs rise and fall, and where the U11 fits in this ever-questionable market dominated largely by “Galaxies” and “iPhones”, with other niche devices somewhere in the middle, a category that has gone from a very tiny margin with less than desirable products, to a serious – and very focused segment, so much so that a large majority of the US market these days is – you guessed it, “Mid-rangers.” Something that certainly wasn’t the case when HTC dominated the market some years back. When Sense was considered a clean alternative to the problems rampant within TouchWiz and most every other OEM skin. When even Vanilla Android as we know it today on the Pixel, Nexi and OPs weren’t even a thing in the mainstream market, mostly due in part to the now highly coveted “Stock Android” being just as bad in performance and bugs as Samsung and rivals.
Speaking of that old dog HTC, who remembers phones like the Inspire and Sensation, where the entire rear detached from the body, where the physical antennas for the device were held. I have fond memories of the Inspire, seeing as that was my personal first foray into the world of HTC devices, a decision that would lead me down a path to owning almost every single device HTC released in the USA, regardless of carrier – and then some.
Not long ago, OEMs were heavily criticized for being “plasticky” and “cheap” – rightfully so. Phones like Samsungs “band-aid” S5 are imprinted in my memory for life, HTC generally being the exception. While Apple was using a large portion glass and aluminium for its devices, something that would take any mainstream Android device several generations to adapt to. Even a quality metal phone was largely unheard of in the Android space until the M7 came along in 2013 – throwing the world by storm with its innovative “BoomSound” and unibody metal design. Spend a few minutes watching reviews on Youtube around the Galaxy S3 era. 2012 would do good. Read some comments, see just how much people bashed endlessly on the build quality. For good reason no less, but lest we forget folks…plastic is superior. It’s not an iPhone, who needs decent materials?
Phones like the U11 make it very, very easy to forget about that sort of time period. In an era where glass and aluminum bodies are king – I can finally say HTC has caught wind, and done so in spectacular fashion I might add. The very unique curve of the back and sides make what would otherwise be a slippery disaster prone to drops (make no mistake, its still mildly slippery regardless, after all it is glass.)
While that specific catch-up might make you think HTC is all and well in the world, unfortunately it isn’t. With more and more devices this year attempting to shift towards their own standard of an ultra wide aspect ratio – the LG being 18:9 and the Samsung being 18:5:9, Where are the standards here, folks? HTC has decided to play it safe and stick with what works, a move that results in fairly decent, but not gaudy bezels. Sporting a more traditional 16:9, as most any other phone in existence. It works, and it works well. The capacitive keys take a slight getting used to if you’ve moved from any on screen setup, but again – it works. It’s functional, HTC haven’t broken anything severe while conforming to a perfectly usable standard.
What this results in is this – it works. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it 50 million more times. It works, and as a result is very easy to use one-handed. A true pleasure.
Thank you, HTC.
In case you had any premeditated concerns related to chipset supply, or demand, this is no 821. No, this is packing all the high tech goodies you’d want from a 2017 smartphone – aside from an OLED display (One day, HTC. One day.) In order to avoid spending days going over numbers, I’ll give you the lowdown here, including results from my own benchmark testing.
|SoC||Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835|
|CPU||Octa-core, 2450 MHz, Kryo 280, 64-bit, 10 nm|
|Storage||64 GB UFS 2.1, 256GB+ via MicroSD|
|Display||5.5 inch SuperLCD5, 1440×2560, 534PPi|
|Rear camera||12 MP, Exmor RS IMX362, 1/2.55″ diagonally, 12.2MP, 1.4-micron pixels, f/1.7 fixed aperture, OIS, dual-photodiode PDAF, LED flash|
|Front camera||16 MP, f/2.0, 1080p|
|Location||GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, BeiDou|
|Speaker||Front facing “Tweeter” bottom firing “Woofer”|
|Software||Android 7.1.1 Nougat, HTC Sense 9.|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass|
|Power||3000 mAh Non-Removable|
|Features||Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
Now that we’re dead, my dear.
Here’s the meat on the bones, the numbers that you will forever compare against your phone enthusiast friends (That is, If you have any.)
AndroBench and the like, haven’t been tested at this time, please leave a message after the beep. Seriously, do you really think its necessary?!
Performance on this phone is superb, haven’t seen a dropped frame since that time my Father failed to properly mount the family photo to the wall. Apps open and close, and switch between effortlessly. Have yet to need a recents clear, the few times I have done it were on complete accident… Besides, Android is smart. Excessive use of clearing recent apps is punishable by Gingerbread-era TouchWiz.
With the stock configuration, the stock launcher, and stock icons, you could easily mistake it for just about any other HTC phone released in the last few years, and you wouldn’t be wrong. While Sense as a whole still flies, and is definitely one of the cleanest interfaces out there, its not without feeling long in the tooth. While its evident from memory HTC have done minor tweaks to the UI since the 10, drastic changes, which aren’t particularly necessary, leaning more on the side of welcome, would be much appreciated.
All that being said, it is truly a breeze, having just abandoned the Mate 9 as my daily driver in favor of this, I’m pleasantly surprised. If you’re looking for software that doesn’t lag, or hiccup, isn’t full of bloat or ties to the Russian Mafia, well this is the UX for you. Unless of course, you like a ton of additional features, in that case, Unlock the Bootloader, and flash a ROM. That’s the beautiful thing about these unlocked devices, and yes ROMs are available! (Albeit, in beta, Proceed with Caution.) While I don’t personally condone, or take responsibility for these actions, based on past experience, ViperU and InsertCoin do not disappoint.
Or you could, buy a OnePlus 5, save some money (maybe?) but potentially never get a software update, so you’d have that going for you, which is nice.
It should be no surprise then, much like apps, games run wonderfully on the U11. The 835 is a powerhouse, and yes, 4GB is plenty of RAM. I was able to take a game like GTA: Vice City, max it out and play for extended periods without any visible slowdowns. With that being said, your favorite titles such as Angry Birds and Scrabble with Buddies should run exceedingly smooth, ya filthy casuals.
No, I’m not responsible for their poor optimization and 35 pop-up-ads.
Also – No, I definitely did not write that, never test the game and then make a false claim… What do you think people do, invent review sites and tell lies?
This is probably the part you should skip to, if 99% of your usage is Instagram selfies. Then again, if 99% of your usage is selfies, you probably own an iPhone, and are a “swimsuit model” to a varying degree, simply because you decided you wanted to be – a few million followers and some strange DMs later… You’re reading this. What are you doing with your life?
Inspecting this incredible piece of technological based journalism, because you believe in websites with integrity and lacking self interests, despite the fact that your life revolves around such self interests. Ironic.
Now then, since we’re done with the irony, lets talk about how the camera performs, shall we? I took a jolly stroll to my local Mclaren dealership to photograph some fine automobiles. The latest of such was the Mclaren 720S, the latest entry into the “Super Series” which, by any standard is fairly super. Believe me, I’m a professional.
The dealership in question was kind enough to give me a look at the car. The doors were propped open, not short of having the car in a terrible position for photos with the doors open. Here’s what I got, regardless. In this first shot, I was quite literally against the glass.
One thing I noticed immediately was, when the phone was pointed towards the rear of the car, it had a lot of trouble picking up anything, likely due to the phones exposure imbalance, something that has been apparently fixed in the most recent global variant update… Something I don’t currently run, seeing as, for the integrity (Whatever that is) of this publication, the phone is 100000% stock.
Regardless, the phone handles noise/detail/etc very well. Definitely a step up from previous generations… all of them.
In fact, if you’re not a complete HTC n00b (likely you aren’t) You remember when HTC could get most everything straight, however camera performance was the one thing year after year after year after year after year, they dropped the ball on. They dropped the ball so hard, it probably ended up in your back-yard somewhere, from China.
This year – its different. Its on like Donkey Kong. Once HTC updates the US variants to fix the exposure problems, we’re going to see a first for HTC. A really, really good camera. Buy it.
DO YOU EVEN DONGLE, BRO?
Something of late that’s gaining traction for various reasons – each OEM seems to have their own reasoning.
Is removing the headphone jack. Wait what?
Why would you remove the ability to say “PASS ME THE AUX CORD!”
Clearly, HTC has never been a teenager in 2003 with a Nissan Sentra. Nor has Apple, Motorola, or anyone else.
See, the reasoning behind this baffles me. Motorola did it first – technically, though nobody really cares about Moto these days, so what does that matter, right? Well, for reasons known as “COURAGE” the friendly neighborhood fruit company decided that removing this port was necessary. What generally follows with anything Apple related, is, well. Other OEMs try to take notice of the things they already did, so they can re-do it and get shamed for it. Seriously, go on YouTube and look up how to add a headphone jack to your iPhone 7/7+. The comments are hilarious, and do nothing to help the ideology that iPhone/Mac users are fairly unintelligent people, an ideology I don’t side with myself AM I AN APPLE FANBOY AT HEART?! GASP!! The world may never know!
Fortunately, though, Apple, Motorola, Your brother & HTC have been kind enough to include an adapter – now referred to as “The Dongle Life” by many a 3 websites. What this has an advantage is – OEMs generally fail to include a half decent DAC/AMP in their phone, so this could open up a wave of quality aftermarket USB-C DACs people want to buy, or the OEMs could create their own high-fidelity capable version. I’d love to see any OEM include V20 levels of headphone output in their devices as standard.
Getting to the main point at hand, how does it fare? Well, it sounds like a headphone jack. A very, very good one at that. Now I have good ears, but not proper testing equipment. What I can tell you is that, if you pair this with your favorite cans/buds, you will not be let down. Personally, I use V-Modas M100, it has absolutely no problem driving this on local streaming services, at very high levels of volume. FLAC is not something I’ve tested, however if you want to know more – I suggest cruising on over to PocketNow, and watching the “Real Audio Review” for this device.
Now you may be asking yourself “That’s all good and well, right, but is it a problem for you? Will it be for me?”
For me. No. Not in the slightest, as of late I always carry the dongle with me. If that’s an issue to you, then don’t buy the phone, or forget ever listening to music via ancient standards anyways.
Will it be for you? That’s something you have to answer for yourself. Take a bit of Play-Do and shove it in your 3.5mm headphone jack, followed by a heat-gun. Now send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org every single time you wish you hadn’t been such a moron and shut the jack off. That’s what life would be like on the U11. No jack.
Please, for the love of God/Allah/Tacos, don’t do that. We cannot be held responsible, period. We’ll just laugh. A lot. You can send me an email though. Or can you?
BOOOOOOOMSOUND™ & USONIC™
Now, if the only thing you’ve used your 3.5mm jack for in the past was those cheap earbuds that OEMs throw in the box – and carriers remove out of greed. bastards! You’d be pleased to learn HTC includes their own earbuds, that for reasons known only to HTC engineers, you can ONLY use on the U11.
Nothing supports these. NOTHING! Aside from the U11 that is, which baffles me.
Is it because they may not work properly without HTCs “USONIC” tech? Well that’s just silly. Regardless, HTC makes it very easy to set-up according to your ears in the way that they “scan” your ears to test your reaction to frequencies. Whether or not this works, is something I don’t want to pass my dirty earbuds around to other folks to try it out. What I can tell you is this – for what they are, they’re spectacular.
If you are reading this, and you have used the USonic buds to some extent, drop me an email – email@example.com I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’d even give you an INTERNET HIGH FIVE!
Is it a complete problem solver from removing the headphone jack? Depends on you. Is it a viable remedy? Sure.
As I will now demonstrate through screenshots, this is the basic process in which to set up your U-Sonic.
The result is amazing. The music sounds 10x better, more balanced. Try it for yourself – if possible. The results can in some situations, rival my M100s.
Yes, they’re that good.
This is a placeholder – In order to accurately test BoomSound™ vs the competition, a video will need to be filmed. Please standby.
SQUEEZE THE BRILLIANT U!
Or should you?
Its a fairly well known thing – that HTC rarely fools with “gimmicks” such as piling on unnecessary “features” simply to claim your device sells with “OVER $700 OF FREE SOFTWARE STUFF” as if your extra crap is what sells the phone… well, In some regards, it does, though rarely do these “features” have a shelf life beyond a frat party.
We saw LG in 2016 experiment with “modularity” something that failed amazingly, largely due to their own shortsighted thinking. The G5 was a flop in many ways because of that.
That wasn’t even the worst part, they promised that all of these so called “friends” would be usable in Gen 2, a claim often made, rarely held on-to and honored. PROPS MOTOROLA!
This isn’t so much a gimmick as its one of those things you sit and think, why would I ever use this nonsense? Then, you go to use such nonsense, and are amazed by the usability of it. Some ROM developers in the U11 community. Shoutout to j to the 4n u da real MVP! Honestly, I’ve been running Viper-what-have-you since my first HTC back in the day. InsertCoin and Viper have always been incredible ROMs.
IdiotsWithPhones, LLC, Inc, NASDAQ (IWP) a company based somewhere in the global hemisphere, possess no affiliation to alien life forms known as XDA-Developers. Thank you.
Moving on then. At the current setup, the squeeze function is fairly limited to things such as Google now, screenshots, launching the camera, etc. This isn’t to say its not useful, however its certainly not something I find myself using a ton, albeit once muscle memory kicks in later on in life, I’ll be going to mobile phone shops and squeezing the displays, hoping battery life comes out of it.
With that being said, HTC has just done some minor tweaking to the visual style of the Edge Sense. I don’t know that its just my perception, but I have to say the actions feel improved. They’ve also in the same bit added support for Alexa, which is set to roll out Monday 7.17.17.
This review has taken a while, yes, but I figured I’d take my time with it, since any-other opinion you want on the phone is already out.
Well, if you owned any previous HTC phone ever, you know battery life is something that’s never been their strongest suit. Not really sure what went on to change that, but for the first time in almost 7 years of owning HTC phones, I can get through a full day of usage.
What does that look like, you say? Well, I get up around 830, have a short 1.5 hour commute to work, in which I work until about 630 then go home. On a few exceptions where my usage has been much higher than the next, charging is somewhat warranted to get through the day, however as a general rule, I’ve made it through the entire day, and on one occasion stretched nearly 7hrs SOT out of the phone, out of 18-some hours.
My usage is 90% calls, Google Play Music, Facebook/Reddit during the day. YouTube on occasion.
By the same standard, the G6 I had and the S8+, neither of them could churn out consistent SOT numbers. Samsung especially, always has issues with Android System drain fix your shit, Samsung.
With that being said, I seem to have lost the graphs I had saved when I got that remarkable of a day. However what I will show you is much more consistent with my usage.
Getting 5.5 hours or more out of this device is very easy. I never thought I’d see the day(s). Genuinely blown away.
Initially I had planned to resell this device shortly after review, however being so impressed with it, its become my daily driver. Congratulations HTC.
You did good. Your mileage may vary. No two usage scenarios are identical, however many people on Reddit report similar cases.
SENSORS AND BUTTONS
It goes without saying, the fingerprint sensor is at a very accessible location coughS8cough. Wish I could say the same for the capacitive keys, nevertheless you do get used to them in time. When I’d first received this device, I was missing the keys entirely, this is something that I can’t believe I’m repeating in the second “sentence” but yes, they are in a very usable location.
Part of this problem, I feel was due to the stock case that HTC provides you, which is geared towards showing off the pressure-sensitivity of the device sides. What you get in return is a case that is ultimately useless from a protection standpoint, being someone who loves having a solid case and screen protector on their devices… well I just didn’t enjoy using the phone that much, especially with my near OCD when it comes to the conditions of my devices.
You didn’t come to hear about that, did you? Well, too bad. Nothing in life is guaranteed apparently, not even a quality review. Bastards.
Anyways, moving on to the topic at hand or finger I suppose. The sensor is very quick to set up, very responsive, and if you go a step further to modify your device, the CleanSlate kernel offers the DoubleTap to Sleep option, which from what I remember on the 10, was incredibly useful. Since HTC don’t include any type of DoubleTapToSleep built in (They do have a DoubleTapToWake, interestingly enough) you have to rely on this hacked method. Which is just bizarre, I mean really, how much extra work would it have been? Just steal LGs source code, dang-it.
The volume rocker and power button are at logical and sensible locations, HTC has gone through additional efforts to ridge the power button in such a way that, well, you can differentiate the two. The 10 had a similar effect, though based on memory those buttons were a tiny bit too flush. Though, if you’re like me and use any kind of case at all, none of this matters. What it does matter is that both have incredibly responsive feedback, in and out of the case. No problems here, folks.
If it’s not already apparent by now, this device has far exceeded what I would have thought. Hearing about the disappointments of the U Ultra left me weary, and being somewhat let-down by the 10, I opened up my wallet to give HTC one final shot. They blew me out of the metaphorical water. I can’t think of a single reason not to buy this phone.
Heck, I can’t think of a single reason you’d buy anything else over it. It’s the most complete package. The bastards really are brilliant. Let’s hope this trend continues into the coming years, and we see a resurgence.
I can safely say, if HTC continue this, they deserve it. They deserve to knock Samsungs consumer lead. Though, its going to take a LOT more than impressing enthusiasts like me. Many HTC fans have been burnt before by broken promises, shady customer service & the like. None of this is exclusive to HTC, however with their recent let-downs, they really can’t have anything go wrong, or they’ll end up like BlackBerry.
Do take the successor seriously, HTC. Take software updates seriously. Regularly update, add new features, support unlocked bootloaders & warranties. Make promises, but only if you plan to keep them. Buy some advertising time, but for the love of god, don’t hire RDJ. Nothing against you or RDJ, however it wasn’t a fit. Find someone who resonates with clients you don’t already have. It’s a numbers game anymore. The playing field is nowhere near as gentle as it was when you were king. Prove yourself, and win others trust back, and keep it… You will go far & if you don’t you may not have another chance. It’s all you’ve got.
This of course, is a long road in the future, but please, don’t let your manufacturing and design go to TCL. Stay original. Don’t separate. Stay brilliant, friends.
Until the next one.