HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition


Earlier this year, HTC said “out with the old, in with the new,” as the company stepped away from some of its established smartphone branding, and introduced the new U series with the U Play and U Ultra. Sleek and shiny, the glass-enclosed handsets resembled little of the metallic unibody look of One-series phones. While this new direction for HTC’s lineup was interesting, it also felt a bit lacking: in the U Play we had a new mid-ranger, and the U Ultra served to satisfy that phablet itch, but neither felt like a traditional flagship; would we ever get a proper follow-up to the HTC 10? Well, a little patience was all we needed, and now a few months down the line it’s finally time to meet the king of the new HTC U clan, as the manufacturer introduces the high-end HTC 11.

Design

 

HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition
HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition
HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition
HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition

Just like the U Play and U Ultra, the look of the U 11 is done with utilitarian metal design and instead embraces a look that’s flowing, colorful, and almost natural-looking. The dominant design element here is the phone’s rear panel, whose expansive glass construction brings smooth lines and subtle hues to the U 11.

HTC plans to sell the phone in five main colors: ice white, brilliant black, solar red, sapphire blue, and amazing silver – which we wouldn’t blame you for identifying as “light blue.” In fact, the way that hints of blue peek through the silver there may be most prominent with that color option, but this way of blending colors and having them play off each other is present in all those other looks as well: the white shows hints of red at just the right angle, the black hides flashes of green, the red shines with golden yellow, and you’ll even catch a little purple mixed in with the blue.

The blue, black and silver will all be available when the U 11 hits the US, while the white and red are going to remain international-only for the time being (which is a shame, because the white is one of the more impressive of the phone’s color options).

As for the overall build, the U 11 features components of some exacting tolerances, fitting together, if not quite seamlessly, then with seams that nearly blend away under your fingertips. Those tight fits help the U 11 deliver IP 67 dust and water resistance.

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