Welcome to the latest edition of our ‘Device Advice’ blog series, sharing our thoughts and insights into the most recent device releases from the world of mobile, tablets and beyond.
After a shaky start earlier this year (HTC sold a large part of its phone division to Google for $1.1 billion before hitting a 13-year low in YoY growth in April), the HTC U12 Plus was announced to eager fans on Wednesday 23rd May and it’s big.
The device is bursting with features and loaded with cameras, but compared to other flagships on the market, the U12 Plus is considerably more affordable. So, what has HTC changed over the last 12 months?
Despite the existing trend for the smartphone notch, HTC hasn’t followed suit in its design of the U12 Plus, though it has reduced the bezels at the side of the screen. The U12 Plus comes in the Liquid Surface gradient glass that HTC introduced last year with the U11, which, while being attractive, is vulnerable to drops and fingerprint smudges.
The smartphone will land with an 18:9 aspect, similar to the U11 Plus, and a 6-inch LCD display and will also hold an IP68 rating making in water and dust resistant which is fast becoming the expectancy amongst newly released devices. The U12 Plus will be available in black, red and a translucent blue casing.
Although the U12 Plus may not be as eye-catching as recent flagships, the phone does offer a ‘squeeze’ function that may come in very handy, which was originally debuted on the HTC U11 Plus. Users can now make long squeezes, short squeezes or squeeze and hold to confirm actions. Each squeeze is customisable and triggers a different reaction. We also saw this function appear on Google’s Pixel 2, but HTC has upgraded this functionality for the U12 Plus. On the HTC U11, ‘squeeze’ was a gimmick you didn’t need, now it has the potential to enhance user experience.
Powering the handset and the ‘squeeze’ functionality is Snapdragon 845, which also powers the OnePlus 6. The U12 Plus is backed by 6GB RAM and comes with 64GB of storage whilst the device features a microSD slot for additional external storage if needed.
Onboard the HTC U12 Plus, the software hasn’t changed drastically since the U11 Plus. The U12 now lies pretty close to Android Oreo but HTC have since confirmed that the phone will be moved to Android P, which will please Android fans.
The device battery is larger than its predecessor, but with the larger display, it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. Despite the Gorilla Glass 3 back, the phone doesn’t have wireless charging, but it does support Quick Charge 3.0 (although the power adapter is purchased separately – users will find a Quick Charge 2.0 charger in the box).
The U12 Plus has also seen the return of the dual camera for HTC. The HTC One M8 was the first phone with dual-rear cameras, years before it became popular amongst competitors.
The main lens at the back of the device, named UltaPixel 4, is 12-megapixels and offers laser and dual pixel technology for focusing. The camera on the U11 was good, so there are high hopes for the U12 Plus for photo quality and low light performance. The second camera on the rear, is a 16-megapixel lens providing optical zoom and depth information. Flip to the front, and you have the same features, the device features two 8-megapixel front-facing lenses.
As with the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, the U12 Plus is equipped with 2x optical zoom which will make photos look sharper, whilst there has also been a boost to HTC’s HDR system, which takes and combines more shots for optimum quality.
On the video front, HTC has incorporated a nifty feature called Sonic Zoom which uses the phone’s four microphones to hone in on a subject for better audio. The company is also offering an auto zoom-in and auto zoom-out feature for a smoother action.
And to listen to the videos or any onboard music, the U12 Plus comes complete with USonic active noise cancellation earbuds – similar to Apple’s efforts in acknowledging the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The HTC U12 Plus is now available for pre-order and shipments of the device will begin around mid-June. The base model of the handset will be available in the UK with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. This model will cost £582.50 excluding VAT across three colour variations. For £624.17 excluding VAT, users can opt for 6GB RAM with 128GB of storage, but this will only be available in the translucent blue device.