HTC U12 Plus test and review: a luxury smartphone with flaws

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Test results

Smartphone HTC U12 Plus showed a surprisingly short battery life and a small maximum display brightness. At the same time, its initial price is about 540$ (as of mid-August 2018).

Advantages

Android 8 and high performance
Top two dual chambers
A very good quality

Flaws

Too short battery life
Pretty dark display
No wireless charging

HTC U12+ test results

  • Price-quality ratio
    Average
  • Place in the overall ranking
    33 out of 48
  • Value for money: 58
  • Productivity (20%): 94.4
  • Equipment (20%): 81.4
  • Battery (20%): 65.9
  • Display (20%): 77.8
  • Camera (20%): 100

Stylish glass body in three color options

Last year, HTC released its top model in two flavors, the HTC U11 and the larger HTC U11 Plus. In 2018, the Taiwanese are betting on one luxury model: the HTC U12 Plus. Like its predecessor, this smartphone has a 6-inch 18:9 diagonal LCD display and, contrary to the current trend, there is no top notch like the iPhone X. However, the edge of the display is slightly narrower than its predecessor.

HTC U12 Plus looks very attractive. It comes with a glass body and an aluminum frame in three color options: Clear Blue, Flame Red and Titanium Black. Of particular interest is the dark blue version, which has a transparent back panel through which, among other things, the battery, antennas and cables are visible. But the red version looks cool and when moving resembles, as the name already suggests, a flame.

HTC calls its design «Liquid Surface» or «fluid surface» because the surface of the glass should resemble liquid. The designers succeeded in this: all three colors shimmer nobly. Unfortunately, fingerprints will be immediately visible on the glass case.

Processing is top-notch, in a blind test we really liked the tactile feel and transition from display to bezel, but the Galaxy S9 feels more rounded. HTC U12 Plus fits comfortably in the hand, even the main camera does not stand out from the back. It feels very sleek, although the fingerprint sensor is located on the back of the camera and is easily accessible.

HTC U12 Plus test and review: a luxury smartphone with flaws
HTC U12 Plus is available in three color options: Clear Blue, Flame Red and Titanium Black

HTC U12 Plus: Too dark 6-inch display

The screen has a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels and thus produces a very sharp picture with a pixel density of 537 dpi. Colors are also pleasingly bright and vibrant, with the HTC U12 Plus representing almost 135% of sRGB colors and thus being compatible with the HDR color space.

But the low maximum brightness of the screen spoils the overall very good impression, because the HTC U12 Plus «marked» in our test with a low 290 candela per square meter (cd / m²) — in our entire ranking of smartphone leaders, only three devices offer even less: located below by HTC U11 Plus rating. HTC has failed to improve the specifications here. For comparison, for example, the Samsung Galaxy S9 can briefly give a screen brightness of 740 cd / m².

Low brightness values ​​are especially unpleasant in sunlight, because in such cases nothing is visible on the screen. It should be noted that this disadvantage is not noticeable indoors.

In addition, HTC has some good news for those who find the screen sometimes too big for one-handed use: if you want, you can double-click the edge of your phone to shrink it down to 4 inches and easily manage all your apps with just one hand.

Low screen brightness settings are especially annoying in sunlight
Low screen brightness settings are especially annoying in sunlight

Combination of high performance and weak battery

The combination of the fast Snapdragon 845 processor and 6GB of RAM performed well in our testing, with the U12 Plus delivering top performance. The system responds very quickly and smoothly, and you get pleasure from Internet surfing or 3D games. It is one of the fastest models currently on the market.

However, battery life on the HTC U12 Plus is disappointing, with the 3,500mA-hour battery only lasting 7:38 hours in our online testing with the display on. In comparison, the regular (but smaller) U11 runs 10:14 hours with a 3,000mAh battery under the same conditions, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro nearly 12 hours. You will have to charge the battery every day.

By the way, it takes more than 197 minutes to fully charge the battery, which is more than three hours. Other smartphones with similar specifications often charge up to an hour faster.

HTC U12 Plus test and review: a luxury smartphone with flaws
Fast Snapdragon 845 ensures maximum performance

Cool dual camera on both sides

A few months ago, the HTC U11 took one of the highest digital camera positions on our smartphone leaderboard. The new flagship camera builds on these strengths and delivers high quality images in both daylight and evening light. A nice little thing: there is a dual camera not only on the back, but also on the front panel.

On the back of the HTC is a 12-megapixel camera with a good aperture (f/1.7) paired with a 16-megapixel dual-focal telephoto camera (f/2.6 aperture). Thanks to the telephoto lens, a double optical zoom is possible, which does not miss any details.

Only the 12-megapixel camera has an optical image stabilizer. In addition, there is a portrait mode with a bokeh or blur effect, which is also available on the 8-megapixel front camera, as HTC also bets on a dual lens system here.

For sharper photos with less noise, especially at dusk, there is the so-called HDR Boost, which the manufacturer has significantly improved (HDR Boost 2). The U12 Plus takes multiple shots at different exposures and stacks them together to form a photo.

The Twilight photography mode is one of HTC U11’s showcase disciplines. The U12 Plus also performs well in our test in low light. Compared to the HTC U11, it is noticeable that there is much less noise, and the detail is still great. The shots taken in Twilight mode on the HTC U12 Plus can be considered among the best in the mobile phone sector.

Record videos at up to 60 fps in UHD resolution with four microphones for 360° 3D audio. Slow motion is possible in Full HD mode at 240 frames per second.

HTC U12 Plus test and review: a luxury smartphone with flaws
Reality with both cameras: stylish portrait mode with blur effect

Easy to use thanks to Edge Sense 2

With the U12 Plus, HTC has expanded its «Edge Sense» compression control. By holding, tapping and pressing the pressure-sensitive frame, you can trigger various actions such as turning on the camera or flashlight.

A new feature is a double-click on the frame, which brings up a mini-launcher with the most popular applications. In this way, applications can be activated directly from the home screen — and even on both sides of the smartphone. However, in the test, this took a little more practice and patience, because the system needs a short time to respond to pressure.

One more new “chip” requires getting used to: the absence of volume keys and a button to turn the device on and off. The keys are barely noticeable and provide little to no tactile feedback.

HTC U12 Plus can be controlled by holding, tapping and pressing the bezel
HTC U12 Plus can be controlled by holding, tapping and pressing the bezel

HTC U12 Plus: great technical specifications

The operating system HTC Android 8.0 Oreo uses under the user interface HTC Sense — it can be extended to the new version of Android-P. HTC wants to release security and major updates for the U12 Plus for at least two years — so Android Q is also under consideration. That’s fine, but we want the expensive luxury model to have at least three years of updates, as Google promises for the Pixel 2 (XL). Apple usually updates the iPhone for five years.

Huge storage space is available on the HTC U12 Plus as an additional 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage can be expanded using a micro-SD card. Alternatively, a second SIM card is inserted into the slot, which can also be registered at the same time in the LTE network. If you are using a second SIM, you do not need to use a memory card. With support for Gigabit LTE (up to 1.2Gbps), AC-WLAN, and Bluetooth 5.0, the U12 Plus also works on radio.

It’s nice that users don’t have to fear an involuntary water bath because the device is dustproof and waterproof in accordance with the IP 68 standard. However, there is an open USB-3 Type-C port on the bottom of the device that serves as a headphone jack through included adapter.

Unfortunately, there is no 3.5mm adapter for the U12 Plus connector. HTC ships with two USB-C-compatible earphones that are evaluated with fine active noise cancellation and ultrasonic ear canal measurement to optimize sound.

HTC U12 Plus storage can be expanded with a micro-SD card
HTC U12 Plus storage can be expanded with a micro-SD card

HTC U12+ test results

Price for HTC U12 Plus

To sum up, the U12 Plus, like its predecessor, is full of contradictions: top performance, great camera, great tech, but a dark screen and frustratingly short battery life. As a result, the smartphone could not rise to the top position of our ranking. At a price of about 600$, HTC could offer something more.

Alternative:

HTC U12 Plus test and review: a luxury smartphone with flawsSamsung Galaxy S9

A strong overall package is offered by the leader of our ranking: the Samsung Galaxy S9.

It is in the same price range as the HTC U12 Plus (the Plus version is slightly more expensive)

In addition, pleases with good battery life, a very good camera and excellent performance.

HTC U12+ specifications and test results

Price-quality ratio
58

OS in testing
Android 8.0
The weight
188
Height x width
157 x 75 mm;
Thickness
10.0 mm;
Screen: Diagonal
6.0 inch
Screen: size in mm
68 x 136 mm;
Screen: type
LCD
Screen: Resolution
1.440 x 2.880 pixels
Screen: dot density
538 ppi
Screen: max. brightness
289.6 cd/m²
Screen: checkerboard contrast in a dark room
149:1
Download speed: PDF 5 MB over WLAN
4.5 s
Download speed: chip.de test chart over WLAN
6.3 s
CPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
CPU frequency
2.800 MHz
Number of CPU cores
4+4
RAM
6 GB
Battery: capacity
3.500 mAh
Battery: surf time
7:38 h:min
Battery: charging time
3:17 h:min
Quick charge function
Yes
Battery: Discharging time / Charging time
2.3
Wireless charging function
WLAN
802.11n,ac
VoLTE
Yes
LTE: Frequencies
800, 1.800, 2.600 MHz
LTE: speed
up to 1.200 Mbps
Camera: resolution
12.2 MP
Camera: measured resolution
1.589 line pairs
Camera: expert assessment of image quality
very good
Camera: VN1 noise
1.5 VN1
Camera: Optical Image Stabilizer
Yes
Camera: autofocus
Yes
Video Resolution
3.840 x 2.160 pixels
Front camera: resolution
8.0 MP
LED indicator
multicolor
SIM card type
Nano SIM
Dual SIM
Yes
Protection against dust and moisture (IP certified)
IP68
Biometric unlock
fingerprint sensor, face recognition
User accessible memory
64 GB
Free memory
50.6 GB
Memory card slot
Yes
USB connector
Type-C-USB 3.1
Bluetooth
5
NFC
Yes
Headphone output
Type C
SAR
0.66 W/kg
Firmware version during testing
1.15.401.4
Test date
2018-06-05

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