HTC U11 First Impressions – Solar Red | Ongoing Review

I am an HTC fan. Maybe not as much in recent years as I used to be in the past, but there was always a soft spot for them in my heart. My very first smartphone was an AT&T branded HTC 8525 running Windows Mobile and it was awesome. Over the years I’ve used other HTC devices and have pretty much been happy with their quality. However, over the past few years, HTC has lost a lot of their edge to more capable smartphone makers like Apple, Samsung, and others and they’ve never really been able to capture that magic of the past. Not even the HTC One 10 (which was a fantastic phone) made a blip on the average consumer’s radar. This year though, HTC hopes to change this with their newest flagship, the HTC U11.

The HTC U11 is a new direction for the company in terms of flagship devices. While the design borrows from the look of the passed over HTC U Ultra, it’s better in every way with a much more manageable size. I won’t go to much into the specifics with this post, but I will in a later more in depth review. For now, I’m just covering my initial impressions based on looks and a fw short days with the device.

The Look

2017 is the year of the almost all glass smartphone and HTC has gone this route as well when designing the HTC U11.What differentiates it however from the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 is that this device doesn’t feature the “tall” screen the other two devices have and has a more traditional screen ratio.  That will probably be good for those that still find the taller aspect ration of those other devices a bit strange.

The front screen itself looks pretty unassuming and honestly kind of bland. From this view, the HTC U11 sort of just looks like any other rectangular slab of an Android device, completely black and anonymous. There are no brand markings or any defining features other than maybe the fingerprint reader at the bottom, but even that just blends in.

Speaking of the display, the screen is gorgeous. It’s bright, clear, and crisp. It’s very easy to read tiny text on it and I don’t really see any issues with color output. Usage in bright sunlight also isn’t bad, though I don’t think it’s quite as bright as some other units.

It’s not until you start viewing the HTC U11 from the sides and rear that you really see the beauty in the design. The border is made of aluminum that seamlessly blends into the curved front screen while also blending into the new rear liquid-glass panel. And it’s this liquid-glass panel that I really want to talk about as it’s what sets it apart from other devices with glass backs. The glass on the U11 is simply stunning with a crazy color shifting mirror like back. It’s amazing looking in Solar Red where the color shifts between a deep red and gold. There are times where it even look pink and orange. It’s really hard to capture on camera just how cool this looks.

And with that said, the HTC U11 is one of the most difficult smartphones to photograph. It’s difficult finding a good angle to shoot it from where it doesn’t reflect your face, the camera, the background, etc etc. You might also notice the lack of fingerprints in my photos and that’s only because I wiped it down between each shot. Otherwise, the HTC U11 is an absolute fingerprint magnet. It’s hard to keep its mirror like back pristine and you’ll find yourself constantly wiping it down unless you use a case.

Lastly, let’s talk about the the size of the HTC U11. While many other publications have noted its large size, it’s only slightly larger than the previous HTC One 10 and smaller than the the giant LG V20. It’s not that difficult to use one handed, though typing is a bit of a stretch sometimes with one hand. I wouldn’t really recommend it either because the U11 is a bit on the slippery side, but what phone isn’t these days? I run it with the included case to help with grip. I’ll most likely find a better case that protects it a bit more but still allows for the Solar Red back to show through. I wouldn’t want to hide the best part of this device.

For the most part, the HTC U11 does look very nice, despite the anonymous looking face.However, I don’t mind really because it’s an elegant design that feels good in my hands due to all the curved edges. Yes it’s a little slippery and a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but that’s something to me that can be fixed with a good case, which is what I’m in search of right now.

 


Review unit provided by the manufacturer

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