Yesterday marked a monumental day for HTC as they celebrated their comeback in the Philippine Market with a launch of four devices, including their newest flagship, the HTC U11. We got our hands on a retail version of the device, and here are our initial thoughts.

Design and Build Quality

The U11 feels like a very solid device in the hand. There’s no hint of it being flimsy, and you’ll immediately recognize the good build quality. It does feel a bit heavier than usual though.

In terms of looks, well, I do like how the front is designed, as the 3D glass makes it look even more premium. You’ll need a microfiber cloth however, as the back is an absolute smudge magnet. Sure, that liquid glass coating does wonders of transforming incoming light, but guess what, a lot will probably use a case for it, and unless you plan on putting on a clear one, all that beauty will be hidden from plain sight.

The buttons feel clicky and have good feedback, though I do feel like they should be just a tiny bit thicker. Notice what’s missing? Yes, there’s no headphone jack, which means you’ll have to use the included adapter for your expensive headphones. Just don’t lose it.

Display

The U11’s 5.5-inch Quad HD display does shine with its vivid colors and stunning sharpness. Even up close, every element on the screen looks as detailed as they can be. The screen can also go very bright, but we’ll have to test out visibility in direct sunlight.

There’s a setting to change the color temperature to your preference, which is something I really like.

Performance

There was no hint of lag or stutter when browsing the UI. Apps are quick to open, and switching between multiple running apps was a breeze. We’ll be performing benchmarks and gaming tests on our full review, so watch out for that.

There’s the HTC Edge Sense feature, which lets you perform certain actions like opening the camera app by squeezing the phone. Personally I think it’s more of a gimmick but we’ll have to see. There’s a calibration tool built in the software so you can specify how much force you’ll need to apply in order for it to work. It did take me a couple of tries to get it right, but when you’re able to find the right setting, you should be good to go.

Camera

Photos taken by the rear camera looked better than average. The details were there, sharpness and color accuracy is on point, and there’s just the right amount of vibrancy.

As for selfies, I do like the amount detail that the front camera was able to capture. There’s some hint of graininess in some of the shots though. We’ll be taking more pictures including low light shots in our full review.

The camera interface looks pretty solid with more than enough modes for you to play with. Unfortunately, you can only utilize the full 12MP resolution for 4:3 images.

Software

The U11 runs on Android 7.0 out of the box with HTC’s own UI on top. It doesn’t take much away from the stock experience, while at the same time adding some nice features such as HTC Edge Sense, which lets you squeeze the device to open apps and more.

There are also options for audio enhancements such as for the HTC USonic Headset, as well as HTC BoomSound for improved speaker sound quality.

Another feature that I really like is that you can tap and hold on an icon and immediately, you’ll be show a list of common tasks that you can do. For example, tap and hold on the clock icon and you’ll be given an option to immediately set an alarm and more.

Initial Verdict

It looks like HTC has gotten a lot of things right with the U11. The design, display, the software, all seem to work well. The camera performance is also more than likeable, except for some graininess in selfies. We’ve still got a number of tests to do to see its full potential. But for now, this phone is shaping up to be a very solid contender.

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Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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