HTC U12+ is up with the best: zoom cameras, see-through body, tap or squeeze
If you thought that HTC has been kicked to the curb after its Pixel-making team of engineers got snatched by Google, the freshly unveiled U12+ flagship will quickly change your opinion. Despite the brain drain, the company really delivered a modern flagship that is up with the best, even though, or perhaps precisely because, it said that it will scale back on its overall 2018 portofolio for obvious reasons.
So, without further ado, what's the takeaway from the new HTC U12+ announcement? Well, that it is an heir to the U11+, for starters, not the U11, and we'll take it from there.
- Chameleon glass design with high 80%+ screen-to-body ratio
- Translucent Blue shows off the phone's offal
- Double-tap to go back, squeeze to take a picture
- Dual camera setups both at the front and the rear
- Fast Snapdragon 845 chipset, and up to 1.2Gbps LTE speeds
- Immediate preorders with $799 price tag
Transparent housing, shaved bezels, hefty body
Before its announcement, the U12 got listed on Verizon's Open Development website as having "frameless" design, indicating thinner bezels all around, and it delivers, especially when it comes to the all-important side framing that impacts heavily one-handed navigation.
This is aided further by the round fingerprint scanner placed on the back, and the dual rear camera is ergonomically placed in the middle of the rear, instead of thrown into a corner where it might be inadvertently covered with your finger while holding the phone sideways to take pictures.
HTC calls the new mirror glass coating of the U12+ with the term Liquid Surface, and it is seemingly a variation of what Huawei did to the P20 series in terms of "color-shifting hues" when looked on at various angles. There is a Translucent Blue version that showcases the phone's internals (yep, Jerry Rig Everything style, but straight out of the factory), and a stylish Ceramic Black, as well as a flashy Flame Red model. HTC's newest phone sports IP68 water-resistance certification, too, so expect pricey repairs with all that glass and adhesive, like on most current flagships.
Edge Sense 2
Being able to wrap your palm around the U12+ easily has been the goal of HTC, it seems, as it is introducing Edge Sense 2 with the phone. The technology again offers pressure-sensitive sides, so you can do plenty with just squeezing the handset with variable force. To that, HTC now adds double-tapping, as well as simply holding.
Edge Sense 2 can tell which hand you are grabbing the phone with, and adjusts accordingly. You can double-tap instead of stretching to use the virtual back key, for instance, and we can't praise HTC far enough for those navigation gesture decisions on what is becoming an annoying trend of huge 6-inchers that put our thumb-stretching skills to the limit. Alternatively, just holding the phone will lock its rotation and prevent the screen from dimming, so you won't have those inadvertent screen flips or light out when you are lying in the bed, for example.
HTC says you can map and adjust each and every interaction with the phone with the three pillars of Edge Sense 2 - squeezing, tapping and holding - and those will work with most apps in the Google Play store as well, not only in the stock applications, sweet!
Display, processing power, memory
Fast, but not frugal
Jumping on the dual camera bandwagon with full speed
The main camera records HDR10 video, and has ultrafast whole-sensor phase detection autofocus, aided by laser autofocus. The kit is able to do 4K video at 60fps, as well as 1080p slow-mo at 240fps, too. Given the excellent results that the U11 produces with a single camera, we'd bet that HTC will nail it again with photo and video quality out of the U12+. For what it's worth, the HTC U12+ now has the highest DxO Mark score for a dual camera phone, so HTC must have done something right with those algorithms.
Besides upgraded BoomSound stereo speakers, with separate tweeter and woofer, the U12+ features other audio niceties, like no less than four microphones for noise-cancellation and surround sound recording, scattered strategically around the body of the phone. Those surround mics mean that HTC's Sonic Zoom is here again, allowing you to focus on a particular source of sound or voice in a video, with louder and clearer results than before, while the Audio Boost feature gives extra strength to the "3D audio" recording for some pretty stellar sound to go with your pretty 4K footage.
Not a two-day runner
Price and release date
Spring chicken with a dollar attitude
Ceramic Black on htc.com and amazon.com.
Our bet on $700-$800 price range for the U12's wonders was actually a bit conservative, as HTC is asking $799 for the 64GB version, and $849 for the 128-gigger, but in this day and age, such tags can't surprise anybody.
They are indeed a bit higher than the direct competition of the Galaxy S9 or LG G7, and yet HTC offers a tad more - more cameras, more sound, interactive sides, and that sweet Translucent Blue version that shows off the phone's offal. Any takers?