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HTC U12+ Preview: A premium flagship with amazing cameras

26 June 2018 5

HTC's latest flagship U12+ is out for quite some time. Almost everyone is well aware of HTC's financial losses from last few years certainly makes it quite hard for the company to stand up against the big giants like Samsung, Apple, and Huawei.

At a time when new OEMs are gaining business pretty fast, the Taiwanese giant is fighting for its survival. The first question in everyone's mind is why should you grab the HTC U12+ when you have options like iPhone X, Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 and many others. The answer is HTC is offering few extra things which aren't available on any smartphone in the market.

The HTC U12+ is being offered at a very reasonable price as opposed to its competitors. Like always we put the latest flagship in head-to-head competition against a number of its competitors and in most cases, it emerges as the winner. Today we will preview HTC U12+ to know in detail regarding the real pros and cons of the device.

Due to their financial issues last year HTC offloaded a huge portion of their talent to Google. The pressure sensitive edges were so liked by Google that they incorporated it in Pixel 2 lineup. This year HTC stepped up their design game as well as brought dual cameras setup on the rear side. Let's find whether the latest U12+ is indeed worthy to be amongst the best flagships or not.

73.9 x 156.6 x 8.7 mm
6 inches - 2880x1440 px
Go to comparison page
Design

HTC is amongst those OEMs who always try to bring something different as far as design is a concern. The company introduced unibody metal design with One M7 when Samsung and other were using plastic bodies even for the premium flagships. Now when all big giants are bringing glass and metal sandwich design HTC followed a different path by introducing liquid glass surface. We have to admit HTC is a pioneer in bringing liquid glass surface. The new U12+ is announced in three striking color options including Translucent Blue, Flame Red, and Ceramic Black. Amongst these three colors options, the Flame Red is quite eye-catching.

If you are unaware of the liquid surface, this surface has deep colors within the glass that's why it showcases different colors on different angles. Huawei opted this for their Twilight color variant of P20. The front and rear glass are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The chassis is made up of aluminum.

Like most of the latest flagships, the U12+ is an IP68 certified device which means you can dunk it in water for 30 minutes without any damage. When almost everyone is following the notch trend of iPhone X the HTC opted a different route and stick with the bezel-less design. However, they further reduced the bezels as opposed to the predecessor.

The overall feel of U12+ isn't quite different from the predecessor. Surprisingly despite having glass rear the device lacks the wireless charging support when almost every flagship in the market has this feature. The dual cameras setup on the rear is placed horizontally in the center with LED flashlight and circular fingerprint scanner below it. It lacks the traditional 3.5mm headphone instead you will have to rely on the USB-C port for charging and headphones.

HTC didn't bring front-facing speakers this time instead the company brought stereo speakers with audio from earpiece and second speaker which is placed on the bottom edge. If you are looking for an audio-centric device the U12+ is certainly a great option which you should consider.

Being a Plus variant it falls in the phablet category but it can be grabbed easily thanks to round corners. One of the most interesting aspects of the U12+ design is it lacks any physical button even it doesn't have buttons for volume and power. Find out more in the next section

First smartphone without mechanical buttons

Last year HTC used squeezable frame Aka Edge Sense as the key selling aspect of U11 lineup devices design and this year HTC took it to next level by introducing Edge Sense 2.0 without any physical button. The side buttons on the U12+ are not mechanical buttons instead HTC introduced pressure sensitive buttons with haptic feedback.

The Edge Sense is also refined with the version 2.0 as it performs three different functions including squeeze, long squeeze, and double tap. You can customize all these functions according to your preference. You can use squeeze feature to call Google Assistant, camera and many other apps. The Edge Sense 2.0 certainly brings enough features to enhance your UI experience. So you have to apply pressure to press the volume rockers and power button. The new buttons perform way different from regular buttons that's why you may find them odd.


Display

Undoubtedly the display screen on the U12+ is so far the best we witnessed on any HTC branded smartphone. The display panel is of 6.0-inches with Quad HD+ screen resolution of 1440 x 2880 pixels. The display aspect ratio is 2:1. HTC U12+ features a complete bezel at the top instead of a notch. Its a Super LCD 6 display panel. HTC once again didn't opt the OLED display panel that's why we can't claim it has the best display panel.

The display comes with HDR 10 support but it only support Youtube content, you won't have HDR support for Netflix and other video streaming services. The visual experience of watching video is pretty good thanks to the large display and Boomsound speakers. Although the display panel is a bright color reproduction and contrast level aren't great enough to wow customers.

Hardware

Being the latest flagship smartphone the U12+ is bringing everything you can expect from a true high-end device. The Qualcomm's Octa-core Snapdragon 845 SoC is powering the U12+. It is the same SoC which is powering almost all flagships of 2018 except Huawei. The Octa-core SoC is accompanied with 6GB RAM and built-in native storage is 64GB. Its native storage is further expandable using MicroSD card.

The U12+ marks return of dual cameras setup, the company opted dual cameras setup not only for the rear side but also for the front-facing side. The One M8 was the first smartphone on the market with dual cameras setup on the rear. At that time it brings depth sensing on board when no other device was bringing. However, with the U12+ HTC evolved the One M8 cameras in a better way.

The primary rear sensor is a 12MP module with an aperture of f/1.75. HTC dubbed this camera as UltraPixel 4. The sensor uses Phase detection and Laser autofocus tech for focusing. To ensure blur-free images the device has Optical image stabilization as well. The secondary sensor is an optical zoom lens up to 2x. The module is a 16MP sensor with f/2.6 aperture.

The camera setup not only works great in daylight conditions but also results are pretty great even in low-light scenarios. The front-facing side has dual 8MP sensors to capture amazing selfies and support for bokeh effect. HTC is amongst those OEMs who yet to use AI to enhance the camera capabilities. However, as per DxoMark, the camera sensors on the U12+ are the second best in the market. A fairly large 3,500mAh battery cell is on board to keep the U12+ lights on. It supports Qualcomm's Quick charge for fast charging. On a single charge, the device easily lasts more than one day.

Specs HTC U12+
Display 6.0-inches
Screen resolution 1440 x 2880 pixels
Chipset Snapdragon 845
RAM 6GB
Storage 64GB Expandable via MicroSD
Rear cameras 12MP+16MP
Front camera Dual 8MP
Battery 3,500mAh
USB Type-C
3.5mm headphone jack No
OS Android Oreo

Software

In terms of software, HTC retained the overall same UI which they introduced last year with the U11+. The prominent changes are mostly related to Sense Edge. The device is pre-installed with Android Oreo with HTC's Sense UI layer over it. HTC is removing bloatware from past few years that's why the new UI is much cleaner and more close to stock UI. HTC also confirmed the Android P update will be rolled out later this year.


Audio capabilities

Apart from having stereo speakers setup the U12+ features BoomSound HiFi Edition. The device uses the internal body as a resonance chamber to provide a great level of bass and audio experience. LG also introduced this feature with the G7 ThinQ. Although HTC U12+ doesn't have 3.5mm headphone jack it is shipped with the company's USonic headphones and undoubtedly we can claim them one of the best headphones straight out of the box. The headphones also allow the user to personalize their audio setup and also have active noise cancellation feature. Overall the U12+ is a great audio-centric smartphone.

Conclusion:

Undoubtedly from past few years, HTC is struggling hard to remain in the business and this year the company also announced the U12+ is the only flagship of this year. However, the good thing is despite having critical financial issues the company is innovating continuously. The new U12+ is innovative in terms of design, pressure sensitive edges, non-mechanical buttons for power and volume with haptic feedback is something not available on any smartphone in the market.

In the display section it may be not as good as other full front-facing display smartphones but still, it is pretty much on par in the hardware department. The U12+ quad cameras setup is pretty impressive. Last but not the least the £699 price makes it a cheaper option as opposed to big giants like Samsung's Galaxy S9+ which cost £869. The dual cameras setup on the rear and the front could become an aspect to grab U12+ over its competitors.

In the end, we would like to hear our readers thoughts regarding the U12+ preview in the comments section below. Stay tuned for more previews and comparisons.

The HTC U12 Plus is available at Amazon Marketplace for $ 759. The price/quality is avarage but this is the best device in this price range. To see others 7 offers click here.
(last update 20 September 2018 @ 13:58)

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