Today, HTC unveiled the U12+, the next generation of the U11 flagship series. Even before the official presentation, we were able to get a sneak peek at the new smartphone from the Taiwanese manufacturer. In this initial hands-on with the HTC U12+, we’ll take a look at the interesting details that the unspectacular design brings with it.
Club members will save directly when sales start
Last year, HTC presented the U11, a smartphone that was very impressive and gave users a new way of interacting with Edge Sense technology. The 'Press Me' feature was later adopted in the Google Pixel 2, although Google renamed the feature “Active Edge”.
With the HTC U12+, the Taiwanese company is further expanding its Edge Sense capabilities with additional functions and combining them with high-end equipment and a design that can be described as subtle development.
Before we get to the features, let's look at the price and availability of the HTC U12+. The smartphone will go on sale starting in mid-June. The HTC U12+ will be offered in three colors: glossy black, opaque black and violet. The recommended retail price for the HTC U12+ with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory is listed at 799 euros in Europe (around $940), so this means there isn't a significant price jump from the U11. If you want it cheaper, you should become a member of the HTC Club, as members can get the U12+ with a 10% discount.
A classical design without the notch
In terms of design and appearance, the HTC seems unspectacular. At first glance it seems HTC adopted the look of the HTC U11+. On closer inspection, however, you can see that HTC hardly carried over any aspects from the device’s predecessor. Although the front and back are again made of Gorilla Glass, the protective glass is used in a slightly different way, so that the rounded edges have a smaller radius. This means that the bezels at the side of the U12+ are slightly narrower than similarly-sized smartphones.
The second innovations in design and handling are hidden in the aluminum frame. To reduce the number of moving components, HTC has replaced the classic buttons with raised pressure-sensitive protrusions. This feature worked very well in our early tests and if you apply pressure, the device will vibrate.
The 18:9 format makes the 6-inch smartphone look slim, but there are more compact smartphones with a similarly large display, as HTC decided not to integrate the notch. The HTC U12+ requires the space above the display for two wide-angle 8 megapixel cameras. With the dual-front camera, the HTC U12+ can also take selfie portraits. HTC claims the face recognition with a second camera is also meant to be more secure than with a single-camera design, like the solutions offered by Huawei, Honor and OnePlus.
The dual camera making a comeback at HTC
For the first time since the One M8 in 2015, a top HTC smartphone again has a dual camera. The dual camera on the HTC U12+ consists of a wide-angle 12MP unit with an aperture of f/1.75 and a focal length of approximately 25m. The second camera, with a focal length of approximately 49mm, takes photos with a maximum of 16MP and is mainly used to provide a 2x optical zoom. In combination with the main sensor, it can create blur effects in portrait mode.
In terms of videos, the HTC U12+ offers all the classic features. Fans of the HTC U11 and U11+ will be familiar with some of these features: you can focus the image with the support of four microphones or record a 3D audio track in the video. One new feature is that the U12+ can now record videos in 4K at 60 fps, and thanks to optical image stabilization, videos should look smooth. The HTC U12+ can also make recordings in slow motion at 240 frames per second in Full HD.
Edge Sense 2 has become more sensible
HTC is convinced that the pressure-sensitive frame will make the smartphone easier to use in everyday life. With the HTC U12+, the brand is using improved hardware, which now also reacts more sensitively to inputs. Instead of simply pushing on the frame, the ultrasound-based Edge Sense 2 technology can now also detect a slight double-tap. This feature worked very well in our hands-on and could even be used for shortcuts, depending on which side you double tap.
Everything your heart desires
What about the technical data? HTC packs it all in the U12+. It has everything that you'd expect in top smartphones, and the variants have been reduced. The device will have 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. If you need more memory, you can insert a MicroSD card with up to 2 TB via the hybrid slot. You can also use this slot for a SIM card. The 6-inch Super LCD 6 panel has a resolution of 1,440 x 2,880 pixels. At 3,500 mAh, the battery has become significantly smaller than it was in the U11+. HTC Boom Sound and IP68 certification are still there for dust and water resistance.
A very promising first impression
The HTC U12+ made a solid first impression. Edge Sense 2 has gained new hardware for everyday use. On paper, the equipment in the HTC U12+ makes it seem like the device will be a complete package, even if it doesn’t come with wireless charging and a 3.5mm jack connection. The price is low compared to the direct competition, but it’s questionable whether this is all enough to reach the masses. In our final review, we’ll see how the camera setups compare and if Edge Sense 2 proves useful in everyday life.