7.7 Average

Cool design with adaptable side keys; the HTC U12 Plus is cheap but it sure is not behind. The smartphone comes with dual-lens camera setup and improved boomsound speakers but suffers from the lack of a good battery, poor contrast ratio, and no wireless charging. The TechSeer will give it a 7.7 out of a solid 10.

  • Design 8.4
  • Display 7.0
  • Hardware & Performance 8.5
  • Camera 7.2
  • Battery Life 6.8
  • Value for Money 8.5

The smartphone battle is really beefing up these days, not only in the budget and mid-range categories but also in the flagships. It’s now turn of the Taiwanese company HTC to present their latest flagship, the HTC U12 plus. Sporting a back and front dual lens camera setup, a Super LCD6 display and the powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset, it is likely that this flagship will give a tough time to the likes of Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, Apple iPhone X, and Huawei P20 Pro.

HTC U12 Plus Review

The Pros

  • Highest rated dual cameras
  • Fingerprint and Face Unlock
  • Powerful Speakers
  • The incredible Edge Sense 2 technology

The Cons

  • No Notch
  • Smaller battery compared to previous models
  • No Headphone Jack
  • No wireless charging

Pricing & Availability

HTC U12 Plus will be available at a starting price of $799 USD (AU$1100 / £699). It was launched on 23rd May but you can get your hands on it from this month of June.

The date depends on your country and region. The pricing is set to attract Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X users. You can book your HTC U12 plus from HTC website or if you are in USA you can check it out from Best Buy or Amazon US. If you are in Australia, you can visit nearest JB-Hifi or Harvey Norman. eBay has some pretty good deals as well.

There was a bit of controversy over the name of the smartphone. There is no U12 model, and many people were left in a confusion as to why the “Plus” comes in the name. This was explained by the company itself, which clarified that the reason for the “plus” is because of the smartphone’s size and specs and that it should be compared more to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus rather than Samsung Galaxy S9. Now that this confusion has been sorted we will take a look at the major aspects of the HTC U12 Plus.

Design

  • No Headphone Jack
  • Hard to get over squeezy sides
  • Two-tone back look

HTC has a history of making stylish and distinguished phones. The company has again done an amazing job in terms of the design of the HTC U12 Plus. But it’s a shame that there is not much metal used in the making this smartphone. It could be due to metal hinderance when transferring data at a speed of 1.2Gbps.

The smartphones rest on your palm and hands pretty nicely unlike some of the latest phones like Moto G6. HTC U12 Plus has a two-tone look due to a polished glass on both front and back. It is the same technology which is used in Honor 10. You can tilt the phone and the colors will change. I know some of us will like it but some won’t. I’d prefer to go for “no shine”. HTC U12 Plus comes in three different colors. Flame Red, Translucent Blue, and Ceramic Black. 

HTC has introduced side buttons which are non-pressable instead they vibrate when you will receive a notification. The sides are squeezy just like they were in HTC 11. HTC wants you to adopt this design features in HTC U12 Plus as you can grip the phone pretty good and use the side keys in various apps like changing tabs when using Google Chrome. You can change the functionalities of these keys for every app from the settings. You need to get used to this if you want to use the side key features as we have not seen this kind of feature in any other smartphone.

HTC U12 Plus comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. The body also caters to the IP68 certification making it water and dust proof.

Display

  • No Notch
  • Poor view angle from sides
  • No Deep contrast

Moving on to the screen; HTC U12 Plus features a 6.0 inches SuperLCD display with 1,440×2,280 pixel resolution and an 18:9 aspect ratio. It can support both HDR10 and DCI-P3. Keep in mind that this smartphone does not come with a notch unlike any other flagship this year. The display is not as attractive as Samsung S9 Plus or iPhone X. Of course, these companies pay their dues when it comes to display. What lacks in HTC U12 Plus is that it does not offer a true display. You need to see it from the front if you want to have a good view. Seeing the videos from the side would make them a bit dark and shady. One of the reasons this happens is because HTC LCD technology does not offer deep contrast. But the person looking from the front can enjoy high definition colors with a vibrant screen.

The Cameras

  • Good night shots
  • Slow Image processing when capturing photos
  • Not many AI features

Back Cameras: HTC U12 Plus comes with 12MP + 16MP dual lens camera. The company has really worked in the camera department of the device with the introduction of a snapper, dual lens after so many years, an improved optical image stabilizer (OIS) and another electronic sensor to keep images sharper. It’s the company’s first dual-lens camera phone ever since the HTC One M8.

A 16MP telephone lens is a plus to zoom your photos without comprising much on sharpness. The HDR Boost allows it to sharpen the images just like in every other flagship. The night mode is where the camera’s worth is decided at this age now. Now that we have seen iPhone 8’s camera does pretty average when a night shot is taken. HTC U12 Plus has done a good job in this area and has delivered better results with more sharp pictures and true colors. The camera is a bit slow due to all these functionalities. It could be their hardware or a software issue which they can improve in the future.

Front Camera: The front camera offers an 8MP dual lens on HTC U12 Plus which is pretty good for taking selfies. There is no front flash just like in most of the flagships but you can use the screen flash which is an old-school strategy now. The front camera did pretty averagely when we compared it with iPhone X and Samsung S9 selfies.

HTC U12 Plus has achieved a DxOMark score of 103, which makes it the best camera smartphone after Huawei P20 Pro which we find is not entirely true. The cameras allow shooting videos up to 4K resolution. HTC U12 Plus lacks camera AI features which got our attention in recent LG G7 ThinkQ review.

Sound, Storage, and Extras

  • Improved Boomsound speakers
  • Good Audio recorder

The sound quality on HTC U12 Plus is really good. You will have a good time watching Netflix or your daily channels due to its improved Boomsound speakers. It offers 64/128GB of internal storage depending upon your region. You can also use your own SD card up to 2TB. You can use SonicZoom if you want to screen record with audio on. We have used a screen recorder on the new iPad and iPhone X and SonicZoom did better in terms of screen recording with audio on.

The Battery

  • 3500 mAH battery
  • Average Battery Life

HTC U12 Plus features a battery of 3500 mAh which is shorter in capacity compared to its previous flagships. It lacks the capability to provide enough power to run most of the apps all day long as compared to its competitors. Our testing showed that HTC U12 Plus has an average battery life and you will need a charger if you want to stay out all day long. But the good news is that HTC U12 Plus supports Quick Charge 3.0 through which you can charge your phone up to 50% in 35 minutes.

Software

The HTC U12 Plus comes with Android Oreo (8.0) out of the box along with HTC’s own Sense UI. Not only it features Project Treble which promises faster updates as new versions of Android appear, but also the company has guaranteed Android P (9.0) update when it becomes available. Both virtual assistants in the form of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are present. Plus the company has also included Edge Sense 2 software which controls pressure sensitive hardware and allows squeezing operations.

Verdict: HTC U12 Plus

With all the essentials of a flagship plus other interesting features, HTC no doubt has brought one of its best smartphones in the game that can give a tough time to Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. But it is a shame that HTC U12 Plus has not excelled much in the camera department, screen features or build quality compared to its major competitors. They are using price as their competitive advantage to gain more customers. The handset cost less than almost all of the latest flagships. You can opt for a smartphone with squeezy sides but you need to adapt for it first.

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