2017 was a down year for HTC. First, the U11 and U Ultra were widely criticized. Later, Google purchased a large chunk of HTC's manufacturing division, leaving the Taiwanese company running with a skeleton crew after losing 2,000 key employees. But that's not stopping HTC — their flagship U12+ was just announced, and it's quite impressive.
On the bright side, HTC received a massive influx of money from the Google deal — about $1.1 billion, to be precise. With this extra capital and the relative success of late 2017's U11+, the U12 Plus could start turning the tide for the once highly regarded smartphone company. The HTC U12+ is a competitive phone that gets many things right. While there is one glaring omission, it does check all boxes for a flagship device in 2018, and even brings a few new things to the table.
- OS Version: Android 8.0 Oreo
- Skin: HTC Sense
- Dimensions: 6.17" x 2.9"
- Thickness: 0.34"
- Weight: 6.63 oz
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 clocked at 2.8 GHz
- GPU: Adreno 630
- RAM:6 GB
- Storage: 64 or 128 GB (expandable via microSD)
- Display: 6" Super LCD 6
- Resolution: 2880 x 1440 (537 PPI)
- Rear Camera: 12 MP wide-angle camera and 16 MP telephoto
- Front Camera: 8 MP + 8 MP
- Battery: 3,500 mAh
- Water and Dust Resistance: IP68
- Bluetooth: 5.0
- Other: HTC Face Unlock, Edge Sense 2
Like many of its predecessors, HTC will use Super LCD technology in the U12+ — specifically, it will borrow the same Super LCD 6 panel used in last year's HTC U11+.
Super LCD panels, which are produced by S-LCD Corporation, differ from LCD by removing the air gap between the outer glass and the display element, which results in less glare. It also contributes to lower power consumption and improves outdoor visibility. HTC has been using the technology on their phones since the Nexus One, so its use was expected.
The screen will be protected with Corning Gorilla Glass, although HTC didn't specify what version. Hopefully, after JerryRigEverything conducts his teardown of the device, we will learn this information. Our guess is it will use Gorilla Glass 5, as that is the most common version used by flagship phones in 2018. The display will support HDR 10 (but not the other HDR standard, Dolby Vision) with DCI-P3 and sRGB color spaces.
As with every other non-Huawei Android device, at the heart of HTC U12+ is the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 845 with the Adreno 630. HTC will take full advantage of the octa-core chipset which can reach speeds up to 2.8 GHz.
While the SoC comes as no surprise, the amount of RAM is a head-turner. The HTC U12+ will come with 6 GB on all SKUs. With this much RAM, it's on par with the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and OnePlus 6, two devices that are known to be great multitasking performers. Gaming performance should improve, as games are notorious for using quite a bit of RAM. However, for those of us who don't normally play games on our phones, the combination of the Snapdragon 845 and 6 GB should lead to a truly smooth experience across the board.
HTC will bring back an innovation they introduced last year with the HTC U11, Edge Sense. Updated for the new flagship, Edge Sense 2 will help separate itself from the competition with new tools unique to the device, which improve phone navigation. With Google adding Edge Sense 1.0 to the Pixel 2 lineup, we might be seeing the first new changes coming with the upcoming Pixel 3.
Edge Sense 2 introduces a new way to interact with the pressure-sensitive sides. The gesture can be fully customized to your liking. You can double tap the sides to bring up apps and sensors. Just as you would perform the gesture on your display, by double tapping the side, you can activate one-handed mode. However, what makes this special is that the device knows which hand you are using and will adjust which side the one-handed mode switches to.
Short squeezes and long squeezes are still present and remain as customizable as they were in Edge Sense 1. What will take some time to get used to is the new buttons which aren't really buttons. Similar to the iPhone 7 's 3D Touch home button, HTC has added the same pressure-sensitivity technology used in Edge Sense to replace all the buttons. Instead of depressing, you receive haptic feedback when you've applied enough pressure to activate the "button" functionality. It is different and could assist with operating your phone in the dark.
For the rear cameras, there is a 12 MP main shooter and a 16 MP telephoto lens. The main shooter will be a wide-angle camera with HTC's UltraPixel 4 tech. UltraPixel sensors use enlarged pixels which capture over 300% more light than traditional pixels. The larger pixels improve low-light photography as more light is obtained, as well as improve overall picture quality by recording more information each time you take a photo. The main lens will have a f/1.75 aperture. The second lens provides 2x optical zoom, with digital zoom up to 10x. Its aperture is f/2.6.
There is also UltraSpeed Autofocus 2, which uses phase detection and laser autofocus to get things in focus quickly. Portrait Mode is supported on the rear cameras as well. There is even AR sticker support for those looking to add a little flair to their photos. Pro mode with manual controls is also present with support for RAW format.
As for the front cameras, the HTC U12+ will be in rare company as one of the few four-camera smartphones on the market. Dual 8 MP cameras are on board, each offering 84° field of view and f/2.0 aperture. With the dual lenses, Portrait Mode can easily be accomplished on the front cameras as well. AR stickers are supported on the front cameras as well, along with HDR Boost and live make-up. The screen will also act as a flash for a selfies in low lighting.
Additionally, the front cameras will support Face Unlock. Face Unlock will be implemented similarly to the OnePlus 5, which relies on the selfie cameras to authenticate. While this isn't secure, it is fast and useful when you can't use your fingers to unlock your device (like when it is freezing outside and you have gloves on).
As for videos, up to 4k is supported at 60 fps. High-quality audio recording (24 KHz and 24 bit) is available, along with support for 360° 3D Audio (using the four microphones). Like many 2018 Android flagships, the U12+ will also support slow-motion video at 1080p at 240 fps. OIS is available for video recording. You can even take 8 MP photos while recording 4K video if you desire.
Once again, HTC has included its BoomSound technology in its flagship. Known as BoomSound Hi-Fi edition, HTC uses the bottom firing speaker and the ear speaker to provide high-quality audio that is better than stereo speakers firing from the bottom. Bass is handled by the bottom firing speaker while the ear speaker acts as a tweeter. Using this arrangement, HTC provides more full and rich sound.
Like many OEMs, HTC has removed the headphone jack from their devices following the trend started by Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The U12+ is no different and will not include the popular I/O port. However, thanks to Android 8.0 Oreo, Hi-Fi audio is possible via Bluetooth headphones, as the U12+ supports some Hi-Fi codecs such as aptX HD and LDAC.
As previously mentioned, the HTC U12+ will include a sizable 3,500 mAh battery. While not the largest capacity we have seen, this is definitely at the upper echelon of battery capacity, with many flagships opting for much less. Paired with this large capacity is Quick Charge 3.0, allowing for 50% charge in 35 minutes. It will also support Quick Charge 4.0 when paired with a compatible charger. As for wireless charging, HTC once again will forgo the technology despite its glass back.
VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling are both supported. 802.11ac is supported, along with MU-MIMO for fast data connections when on a Wi-Fi network. You can use HTC Connect to wirelessly stream media from your phone to compatible external devices such as TVs, speakers, and audio systems. More popular standards are also supported such as Chromecast, DLNA, and Miracast. There is also support for DisplayPort over the USB Type-C port.
Devices come in 64 GB or 128 GB storage variants, both of which support microSD expansion (up to 2 TB). Both options will include 6 GB of RAM.
The Liquid Glass Surface design is also making a return. The design, introduced with the U Ultra, reflects light in a way that colors will change depending on the angle you view it from.
The U12+ is available for pre-order right now from HTC's website. Use the link below to pre-order the device unlocked. However, unlike most unlocked devices, there is a version which will work for Verizon customers. Only Sprint customers will not be able to use this device.
Additionally, you can purchase the phone from Amazon, but at the time of writing, this link isn't up. The device will not be sold through carriers.
Pricing starts at $799 for the 6 GB/64GB version. For the 6 GB/128 GB variant, the price increases to $849. For US customers, there will two colors available — Translucent Blue and Ceramic Black. Translucent Blue is the most interesting out of the two as it semi-transparent, revealing some of the internals of the device. There is also a red color, but it won't be available in the US.
With the HTC U12+, fans can be hopeful that HTC is on the rebound. How well it sells will largely depend on increasing customer awareness, but with the spec sheet this thing sports, we can be sure the phone will better compete against the likes of Samsung and LG. What do you think about the U12+? Will you give the once iconic brand another try? Let us know in the comments below.