HTC U11 review: Squeeze U

GSMArena Team, 09 June 2017.

Display

The U11 sports a gorgeous 5.5-inch display. The choice of this screen size means HTC has bumped up the default display size for its flagship. Screen size has been slowly creeping up since the first HTC One (M7)'s 4.7-inch. The M8 and M9 both had a 5-inch screen, and the HTC 10 was the first QHD screen on an HTC flagship, which also got a minor bump in size to 5.2 inches.

HTC U11 review

The display itself is a Super LCD 5 IPS display with QHD (1440 x 2560 px) resolution and offers a pixel density of 534ppi. It offers great viewing angles, bright colors, dark blacks, and great contrasts.

The U11 isn't the brightest screen around, nor was the HTC 10 last year, either. While Apple and Samsungs flagship phones easily break the 600-nits mark, the HTC U11 remains well under 500. Once bright light shines on it, it's able to go into an overdrive mode, which gets it another 100nits extra for a maximum brightness of up to 583nits.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC U11 0.308 483 1568
HTC U11 (max auto) 0.373 583 1568
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 0.41 573 1398
Apple iPhone 7 Plus (max auto) 0.50 681 1362
Apple iPhone 7 0.35 561 1603
Apple iPhone 7 (max auto) 0.40 656 1640
Samsung Galaxy S8 0 440
Samsung Galaxy S8 Max auto 0 618
LG G6 0.228 468 2053
LG G6 max auto 0.277 564 2036
HTC 10 0.29 428 1543
Huawei P10 Plus 0.335 547 1633
Sony Xperia XZ Premium 0.463 573 1238
Xiaomi Mi 6 0.462 603 1305
LG V20 0.43 475 1097
LG V20 Max auto 0.59 628 1064
Google Pixel 0.00 445
Google Pixel XL 0 432
OnePlus 3T 0 447
Sony Xperia XZs 0.461 564 1223

So is this display any better when it comes to color reproduction? Kind of. The HTC U11's default setting yielded an average deltaE of 4.9 with a max detlaE of 9.8 @ 50% grays. Our unit's display is tuned very cool, so whites and grays looks blue and colors almost appear oversaturated.

Thankfully, there's a setting that allows further tuning of the display, though it only lets you nudge it warmer or cooler. After setting it three notches warmer, we were able to achieve numbers much closer to color-accurate. The average deltaE was 3.1 with a max detlaE of 5.1 @ green.

Adjusting color temperature - HTC U11 review
Adjusting color temperature

The display gets quite dim at 6 nits, dim enough to pick up your phone in the middle of the night and use it comfortably. Otherwise, if you wear polarized sunglasses, you'll be able to see the screen just fine as long as you aren't using it in landscape, as is the case with the majority of smartphones.

Where LG and Samsung have the U11 beat is on HDR video playback. This isn't something that the vast majority of consumers are going bananas over and the amount of HDR content is still quite limited so we shouldn't count that agaisnt it.

The screen's performance outdoors is not as competitive. Thanks to the relatively reflective front glass, the other flagships will probably give you better screen legibility in direct sun.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • OnePlus 5
    3.882
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Connectivity

The HTC U11's Snapdragon 835 enables a vast variety of connectivity options thanks to the chipset's quad-band GSM modem. Single SIM and US variants will be capable of LTE-A Cat 16 with theoretical speeds of 1024/75 Mbps. Meanwhile, the DualSIM models will be Cat 15 with theoretical speeds of 800/75 Mbps.

There will be a singleSIM and dualSIM version for Global distribution while the US gets two variants: one will be sold unlocked and will work on all US carriers including CDMA carriers Verizon, while Sprint will get its own model, which they will sell directly.

All variants will support Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n for 2.4GHz and 802.11 a/n/ac for 5GHz (dual-band Wi-Fi). Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, and GLONASS are also present. The USB-C port may be used for OTG and is capable of USB 3.1 speeds. There's also support for Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0. NFC is also here, of course.

HTC U11 review

The USB-C port is also relied on for outputting external audio since there is no longer a 3.5mm headphone jack. HTC's included U Sonic headphones have a USB-C connector and the phone comes with an adapter as well.

HTC Connect is baked into Sense UI and offers native support for Airplay (HTC 10 was the first Android phone to support Airplay out of the box), AllPlay, Blackfire, Bluetooth, Chromecast, and Miracast devices either nearby or on your Wi-Fi Network. You can also connect to DLNA devices through here. HTC connect is intended to "Choose where to play media". You can find HTC Connect in the Settings.

HTC Connect - HTC U11 review Compatible streaming devices - HTC U11 review
HTC Connect Compatible streaming devices

Battery life

The HTC U11 has the same sized battery as the HTC 10 - it's 3000mAh. It does need to power a larger 5.5-inch display, up from the HTC 10's 5.2 incher so we were a bit pessimistic starting our battery test. If you were one of the people who were disappointed by the lack of a battery capacity upgrade, you'll be glad to know that the U11's score is a bump above the HTC 10's initial battery performance from last year. The U11 didn't do a whole lot better, but the improvement is more remarkable when you remember that it has a larger screen.

While the U11 scored 1:20h lower than its predecessor in 3G talk time, it did better in every other category. In both our web browsing and video test it scored about an hour and a half better than the HTC 10's 9:08h and 8:42h scores, respectively.

Combined with the battery draw we measured in standby, all these numbers yielded the U11 an overall battery endurance score of 73h. Despite its improvement over the HTC 10, the Galaxy S8's endurance score of 84h is still unmatched, thanks to its AMOLED screen and superiorly efficient standby power draw.

HTC U11 review

The HTC U11's battery scored 73h, and although its categorical scores weren't too bad, we figured the U11 could have done even better if it wasn't for the above average power draw in standby.

The U11 features Quick Charge 3.0 just like the HTC 10 did. Under ideal charging conditions like proper ventilation, the U11 charged up to 52% in 30 minutes. Varying charging conditions like poor thermal ventilation or too high of an ambient temperature will result in slower charge times.

The U11 battery life may not be among the best, it's certainly consistent and well above average. The battery should last all day for most, though if you're a heavy user constantly streaming and listening to music, you might want to carry a charger around with you.

Our proprietary rating denotes the number of hours the phone will be operational if you are to make an hour of 3G talks, web browsing and video playback per day. Such usage pattern may not apply to you directly, but we've established it so our battery results are comparable across devices.

The proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.