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HTC U11 smartphone review: A return to form

By James Lu - 22 Jul 2017
Launch SRP: S$998

Benchmark Performance, Imaging, Battery life, and Conclusion

Performance Benchmarks

The HTC U11 runs on Qualcomm's flagship octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor, paired with 6GB RAM. On paper this makes it the most powerful Qualcomm-powered smartphone currently available. 

The Snapdragon 835 is Qualcomm's first 10nm processor, with the U11 using the default clock speed 4 x 2.45GHz "big" cores, and 4 x 1.9Ghz "little" cores setup. The U11 also sports the new Adreno 540 GPU that Qualcomm claims is 25 percent more powerful than its predecessor in 3D performance.

  HTC U11 HTC U Ultra Huawei P10 Plus LG G6 Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
  HTC U11 HTC U Ultra Huawei P10 Plus LG G6 Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Launch SRP
  • From S$998
  • From S$898
  • From S$998
  • From S$988
  • From S$1148
  • From S$1098
Operating system
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense
  • Android 7.0 with EMUI 5.1
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with LG UX 6.0
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with Dream UX
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core (4 x 2.45GHz Kryo & 4 x 1.9GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821Quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)
  • Kirin 960 octa-core, 2.4GHz
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core (2 x 2.35GHz Kryo & 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo)
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz), 10nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit
Built-in Memory
  • 6GB
  • 4GB
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 5.5-inch Main / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (~550 ppi) / Super LCD 5
  • 5.7-inch Main / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (~513 ppi) / Super LCD 5
  • 2.05-inch Secondary / 1,040 x 160 pixels (~513 ppi)
  • 5.5-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels / LCD
  • 5.7-inch / 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (564ppi) / IPS LCD / FullVision Display
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.8-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (570 ppi) / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.5-inch / 4K HDR (3,840 x 2,160 pixels resolution) / TRILUMINOS for Mobile / X-Reality / Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.7, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/2.3'' sensor size, 1.55µm pixel size, Auto-HDR, OIS, laser & phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash,
  • Front: 16-megapixel
  • Rear (main): 12-megapixel, f/1.8, RGB
  • Rear (secondary): 20-megapixel, f/1.8, Monochrome
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: Dual 13-megapixel, f/1.8, OIS, 3-axis, phase detection AF + 13-megapixel, f/2.4, 125-degree wide-angle, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2, 100-degree FOV
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.7, 1/2.5" sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, phase detection autofocus, OIS
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: 19-megapixel 1/2.3-inch f/2.0, Memory-stacked Exmor RS, Triple Image Sensing (Image sensor, Laser AF sensor, RGBC-IR sensor), SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), 25mm G Lens
  • Front: 13MP 1/3.06-inch f/2.0 Exmor RS, Quick Launch and Capture, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, USB 2.0 Type-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • USB Type-C Gen 3.1
  • WiFi Miracast
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC
  • DNLA
  • Google Cast
Storage Type
  • 128GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 64GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 64GB storage (expandable via microSD, up to 256GB)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage (expandable via microSD up to 256GB)
  • 3,000mAh
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • 3,000mAh
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • 3,750 mAh
  • 3,300mAh
  • 3,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,230mAh, non-removable
  • Qnovo Adaptive Charging
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm
  • 162.4 x 79.8 x 8 mm
  • 153.5 x 74.2 x 6.98 mm
  • 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
  • 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm
  • 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm
  • 169g
  • 170g
  • 165g
  • 163g
  • 155g
  • 191g

Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

The U11 showed great improvements over the 821-powered U Ultra, and trailed only Samsung's Galaxy S8. In actual usage, the U11's browsing performance was snappy and responsive.



Quadrant is an Android benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performances. Take this benchmark with a grain of salt, because both the U11 and XZ Premium massively underperformed here. We suspect one aspect of the Quadrant benchmark is incompatible with the Snapdragon 835 and causing these results.



3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

This was the U11's best benchmark by far, as it absolutely destroyed the competition. Compared to the similarly 835-equipped Sony XZ Premium, the U11's extra 2GB RAM seems to have really helped in this graphics intensive benchmark.



The U11 sports a brand new rear camera. The 12-megapixel, f/1.7 shooter boasts a 1.4μm pixel size, optical image stabilization and HTC's UltraPixel 3 technology. It also has UltraSpeed AF and improved HDR. HTC's previous UltraPixel cameras have had a tendency to overexpose shots, but fortunately HTC seems to have fixed that for the U11, which consistently takes great photos with spot-on color reproduction, good contrast, and sharp focus across the image. Auto-focus is speedy and accurate, and the wide f/1.7 aperture gives it great low light performance. 

Click for full-size image

The front camera is a 16-megapixel, f/2.0 shooter with UltraPixel technology. Unfortunately, unlike the HTC 10 it does not have optical image stabilization.

Video recording on the U11 is also quite good. The U11 can record 4K video in 30FPS, or Full HD at up to 120FPS. The U11 is one of the first phones to benefit from Qualcomm's EIS (electronic image stabilization) 3.0 tech, which reduces camera shake when shooting footage. It uses a new algorithm that better understands how the phone is moving and corrects the image quickly. This feature was previously exclusive to the LG V20. To complement video footage, the U11 can also capture stereo 3D sound thanks to its four-microphone array. There's even an interesting trick called Acoustic Focus that lets you zoom in on a sound source, isolating it, and reducing background noise. 


Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The U11 is powered by a 3,000mAh capacity non-removable battery, which is slightly on the small side for a 5.5-inch QHD display. Nevertheless, it performed fairly well in our video looping benchmark, lasting just four minutes short of nine hours.

Strangely enough, while the U11 runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, it uses QuickCharge 3.0, not the newer QuickCharge 4.0. Nevertheless, QuickCharge 3.0 is still very effective, and will give the U11 about 60 percent charge in just 30 minutes.



HTC may be pushing Edge Sense as the next big thing in smartphones but honestly it's probably the least interesting feature in the U11 - at least for now. Without app customization, Edge Sense is basically just an overbuilt app launcher that can only launch two apps. While you can use it to take pictures in the default camera app, I found it more convenient to just press the onscreen shutter button or volume button to take a picture. Once HTC launches full app customization, that may change, but for now Edge Sense isn't all that useful.

Having said that, you can completely ignore Edge Sense, because the rest of the U11 is actually really good. In fact, it makes me wish HTC had simply declined to participate in the gimmick wars and gone with a fully traditional smartphone. In a sea of minimalist monochrome designs, the flashy color-shifting U11 colors are a breath of fresh air, so if you're the type who likes to stand out a bit, this is definitely a phone you should be considering. Benchmark performance is also excellent, battery life is reasonably good, and the U11's display is top notch too - although I do wish it had Mobile HDR support. Audio, both from the BoomSound speakers, and the bundled USonic earphones are amongst the best out there (and if you want to use your own headphones, at least you now have the option to, thanks to the included 3.5mm adaptor). At S$998, the U11 is currently the most affordable Snapdragon 835 powered smartphone out there (at least until the OnePlus 5 launches), and its 6GB RAM also makes it more powerful than the other 835-powered model out there, the Sony XZ Premium, which costs S$100 more.

All things considered, while the U11 may not have the forward-facing features of some of its competition, it delivers a strong performance in all of the traditional areas you actually care about.

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  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8
The Good
Attractive glass design in gorgeous range of colors
IP68 build
Good benchmark performance
Stereo Boomsound speakers
Great camera performance
The Bad
Edge Sense isn't that useful
Display isn't Mobile HDR compatible
Headphone port only through supplied dongle
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