“The U12+ is the company’s latest flagship and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor”
I reviewed the HTC U11+ a while back and was thoroughly impressed with the smartphone. Not only was I enchanted by the handset’s stunning design, but I found it to be extremely capable in almost every aspect. That said, the Taiwanese giant seemed to have lost its lustrous charm and the company is struggling to stay afloat amidst the competition. However, HTC’s latest flagship, the U12+, could turn the tables back in its favour as the smartphone comes packed to the brim with innovative features and impressive specs. I managed to get my hands on the flagship at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai and here are my first impressions of the same.
The HTC U12+ is a glass-back smartphone which makes use of the company’s Liquid Surface design language, the likes of which we’ve already seen on the brand’s previous models. Naturally, the U12+ boasts a luxurious in-hand feel and looks simply stunning, especially in the Transparent Blue colourway I got to check out. As the variant’s name suggests, a part of the smartphone’s back is translucent in nature, allowing you to peek inside at its innards. Suffice it to say, the U12+ is one of the coolest smartphones I’ve held in my hands this year.
Much like most smartphones launching these days, the U12+ too features a nearly bezel-less design. However, the phone doesn’t ship with the infamous notch, which could make it an instant hit amongst a certain section of prospective buyers. On the flip side, the U12+ is a massive smartphone and despite its curvy back, I did find the smartphone a bit difficult to operate with just one hand. The handset is quite slippery too and smudges the minute you touch its surface. Therefore, I’d recommend you invest in a protective case or a micro-fibre cleaning cloth if you’re thinking about purchasing the flagship. On the bright side, the U12+ comes with IP68 certification, making it impervious to damage from dust and water.
One of the biggest changes HTC introduced with the U12+ is that the company has done away with mechanical buttons and instead, has introduced faux buttons which give a sense of being pushed with vibrations. That said, I did find the buttons a little too easy to press. Moreover, since HTC currently doesn’t let users tweak the feedback levels, you might end up pressing them inadvertently. However, I will reserve my judgement on the usability of the pressure-sensitive buttons until I’ve reviewed the smartphone. Worth mentioning that the flagship also comes with Edge Sense, the feature that allows you to perform certain actions when you squeeze the sides of the phone.
The HTC U12+’s window to the world is a 6-inch QHD+ panel with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The technology backing the smartphone’s display is Super LCD 6 and therefore, you might miss out on the punchy colours which are synonymous with AMOLED panels. That said, the display on the U12+ is compliant with HDR 10 and boasts impressive brightness levels and viewing angles.
In terms of ports and buttons, the HTC U12+ features the power switch and the volume rocker on the right. The left spine of the smartphone is reserved for the dual-SIM tray, with the speaker grille and a USB Type-C port positioned at the bottom. A secondary speaker has been placed inside the earpiece, next to the dual selfie shooters. Towards the back of the device, you’ll find two more camera sensors along with a fingerprint scanner. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test the accuracy of the sensor during my time with the device on the show floor. However, if previous smartphones from the company are any evidence, then the fingerprint reader on the U12+ should be quick and reliable too.
At the heart of HTC’s U12+ is Qualcomm’s powerful Snapdragon 845 processor which works alongside 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage. Naturally, you can expect the smartphone to breeze through graphics-heavy games as well as resource-hungry applications with ease. During my short stint with the device, I didn’t notice any jitters while navigating through the UI or jumping in and out of applications.
For optics, the U12+ ships with a total of four cameras, with two positioned on the front and two at the back. The primary camera setup of the smartphone makes use of a 12MP wide-angle shooter and a 16MP telephoto lens. The 12MP wide-angle sensor comes with support for OIS whereas the 16MP telephoto lens allows users to optically zoom up to 2x. A feature called Sonic zoom also makes a return on the U12+ which allows users to zoom in on the audio source while shooting videos. HTC claims that the feature has seen drastic improvement since it was showcased on the U11 (review), and it now offers almost 33 percent more focussed sound.
For selfies, the smartphone ships with a pair of 8MP sensors on the front which add capabilities like portrait selfies, facial unlock, AR stickers and much more. Unsurprisingly, the HTC U12+ comes across as a solid camera phone on paper and DxOMark has even given the handset a score of 103, which is shy of just six points from the current industry leader, the Huawei P20 Pro. We will talk more about the smartphone’s camera prowess in our full review, so stay tuned for that.
Software-wise, the HTC U12+ boots Android Oreo skinned with the company’s Sense UI on top. The interface comes with new additions to Edge Sense, including a ‘double tap’ and ‘hold’ feature which should help users interact with the smartphone better. In the battery department, the HTC U12+ sips juice from a 3,420mAh cell. As of now, HTC hasn’t announced its plans to bring the smartphone to India, but if it does, the phone could pose strong competition to the current crop of flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S9+ (review) and Huawei P20 Pro (review).