HTC U12+ vs HTC U11: Should I upgrade?

HTC recently announced its latest flagship effort, the HTC U12+. The company has clarified it has used the “+” to mark that there’s not going to be a plus version in the future. Unlike last year, when the HTC U11 was followed a few months after by the U11+.

The U12+ is actually the spiritual successor of the U11+, but given that the latter never launched in the US, we’re going to treat the newcomer as the U11’s replacement instead.

The HTC U12+ just went up for pre-order in the US, so U11 owners, the big question is…should you upgrade? Let’s find out.

What’s the same

Not much, really. Starting with the visual aspect, the U12+ is quite different from the U11. At least on the front. One of the biggest disappointments about the U11 last year was the outdated design with large bezels around the display.

Well, that’s no longer the case with the U12+ which sports a tall body, svelte bezels around the 18:9 display and a fingerprint scanner on the back. Yet, unlike many Android OEMs these days, HTC has decided against including a notch. So at least in this respect the U12+ and U11 are alike, there’s no display cutout on either of them.

The U12+ boasts a 6-inch display with 2,880 x 1,440 pixels and 537ppi. This is quite similar to the U11 which had a 5.5-inch screen with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels and 534ppi. Basically, this is a jump from the old 16:9 aspect ratio to the new 18:9 one.

Moving on, we should note that both smartphones are water defiant. Although the U12+ is actually waterproof (IP68 rating), while the older U11 is only water-resistant (IP67 rating).

The Liquid Surface mirror glass coating is back on the U12+. This year you’ll be able to pick up the phones in Translucent Blue, Ceramic Black and Flame Red.

Last year you had a bit more options including Brilliant Black, Sapphire Blue, Amazing Sliver, Ice White and the magnificent Solar Red.

But what is Liquid Surface? It’s a color treatment that gives regular glass a more stylish appearance. Different colors are added to layers of glass, with subtle variations or alternatively more contrasting colors in each layer. So when you hold up the phone in the light, it will reflect and show different colors shining through.

Also making a return on the U12+ is the 12-megapixel main camera sensor, although this time it is backed up by a second camera sensor. More on that in the next section…

What’s different

While the HTC U11 wasn’t exactly short on performance, the U12+ comes with Qualcomm’s latest silicone. There’s also 6GB of RAM with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. In comparison, the base U11 version included only 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

The camera is the scene for some of the biggest improvements this year. The new U12+ includes a main 12-megapixel wide-angle camera (f/1.8) and a secondary 16-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom (f/2.6). But only the main one has optical image stabilization.

In contrast, the HTC U11 relied on the singular 12-megapixel sensor (f/1.7) we talked about above. Even so, it was capable of producing some stunning results, as confirmed by DxOMark.

So what can you do with this new setup? Well, for example, you get Portrait Mode and a bunch of other new features like a smooth auto zoom function. The camera can also record 4K video at 60 fps and there’s a slow-mo mode that can capture 1080p at 240fps too.

Oh and the U12+ is one of the few main-stream flagships that has a dual 8-megapixel+8-megapixel selfie camera on board. So prepare for some excellent selfies!

Now, do you remember the gimmicky Edge Sense feature that debuted on the U11? Well, it’s been upgraded to version 2.0 on the U12+. So it’s possible to double tap on either side of a phone to trigger an action. Or you can simply hold the phone to prevent screen rotations or dimming.

The U12+ might also prove to be one of the best smartphones for those who love loud music. On its latest flagship, HTC has refined its BoomSound technology with two separate speakers, one acting as a tweeter and a secondary one for fuller soon. Speaking of audio, HTC has also further developed Sonic Zoom, so users can now focus in on the sound of a subject they are recording when they zoom in on them.

Last but not least, battery. The U12+ includes a 3,500 mAh powerhouse, which is an upgrade over the U11’s 3,000 mAh unit. So hopefully, the U12+ will be able to keep the lights on for a longer period of time.

Conclusion

If you are coming from the HTC U11, then the U12+ offers plenty of reasons to upgrade. It benefits from a new bezel-less design, a bigger battery, new chip, improved Edge Sense and has more cameras.

Overall, there are very areas that haven’t changed, so the U12+ is off to a very promising start. Although it’s not very competitively priced.

The phone just went up for pre-sale starting at $799. In contrast, the U11 was priced at $649 at launch.