With HTC’s first phone of 2018 hoping to make a splash, we thought we’d pit it against two big rivals costing just either side of its £700 price tag to see where your money is best spent.
We first met the new HTC U11+ in November 2017 but the company wasn’t ready to set it loose until this side of the new year celebrations. Meanwhile, Apple’s new star player, the iPhone X, arrived on store shelves that same month alongside the first iteration of the OnePlus 5T.
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: Specs at a glance
|HTC U11+||OnePlus 5T||Apple iPhone X|
|Weight||188 grams||162 grams||174 grams|
|OS||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 7.1 Nougat||iOS 11.2|
|Rear camera(s)||12-megapixels||16/20-megapixels (dual sensor)||12/12-megapixels (dual sensor)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Apple A11 Bionic|
|Storage||64GB/128GB. MicroSD up to 256GB||64GB/128GB. Non-expandable||64GB/256GB. Non-expandable|
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: Design
As became customary for many manufacturers last year, HTC switched gears and dressed its 2017 flagship, the HTC U11, in a glass-backed form accented by a metal frame, a look this plus-sized version also brings to the table. It’s narrower than the original and feels great in the hand, with rounded edges and a sturdy feel but the glass is a serious fingerprint magnet.
Apple employed a similar thought process to the iPhone X’s aesthetics, giving the smartphone family a much-needed design overhaul in the process. Apple’s glasswork is better at repelling fingerprints than HTC’s but the polished stainless steel frame is the complete opposite, looking like a distorted, smeared mirror, assuming you don’t immediately wrap this £1000 handset up in a case the moment you purchase one.
Whilst the 5T represents the pinnacle of the OnePlus’s industrial design and engineering thus far, it hasn’t made the jump to a glass-backed form and as such, boasts the most stain and smear-resistant body amongst this trio, not to mention the thinnest. It’s also available in the most exciting range of colours, provided you can find the special edition Sandstone White or Lava Red variants that are popping up in various markets across the world. The U11+ comes in two variations of black and something called Amazing Silver, whilst the iPhone X essentially comes in black or white (officially marketed as Space Grey and silver).
All three phones are the first of their respective manufacturers’ to embrace the growing trend in elongated displays, popularised by rivals like Samsung, LG and Huawei. As such, the biggest change in each instance has been the need to relocate the phone’s fingerprint sensor. In the case of HTC and OnePlus, it’s simply been moved to the back, however, Apple, unwilling to compromise on its latest handset’s clean aesthetics, scrapped the hardware altogether and replaced it with a technology called Face ID.
The X also boasts IP67 dust and water-resistance, whilst the U11+ trumps both the X and its own predecessor with IP68-certification. Most likely as a cost-saving measure, the 5T has no such additional protection, which might be something to consider for outdoorsy-types unwilling to wrap it in a toughened case.
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: Screen and media
Whichever phone you pick you can expect a big-screen experience. Based on sheer size the 5T takes the lead with its 6.01-inch display, followed by the U11+’s 6-inch offering, whilst the iPhone brings up the rear with its comparatively compact 5.8-inch effort.
The U11+ wins out with regards to overall sharpness at 538 pixels per inch and it’s generally a fantastic all-round screen that’s hard to find fault with. That said, both the 5T’s Full HD+ resolution screen and the iPhone’s sharper Super Retina HD Display opt for OLED tech instead of LCD, affording your eyes more vivid colours, better contrast and deeper black. Apple doesn’t stop there, however, cramming in HDR support for both the HDR10 (coming to the U11+ via a software update) and Dolby Vision standards. As such, compatible content is amazing to look at and the general viewing experience doled out by the iPhone trumps anything its rivals can throw at it. If only ‘the notch’ didn’t get in the way of its full-screen viewing experience.
On the audio front, both HTC and Apple have opted for stereo loudspeaker output, making them better suited to music and media enjoyment out-loud than the single downward-facing driver inside the 5T but OnePlus is one of the few manufacturers still producing a flagship with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, something plenty of users still value. If you want to use wired headphones with either of the other two, you’ll have to rely on their respective in-box adapters.
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: OS
As you’ll spot in the spec rundown above, HTC has blessed it newest blower with the latest and greatest revision of Android, whilst OnePlus 5T owners are still left waiting to move off from Nougat. Both feature tweaked iterations of Google’s mobile operating system, with the U11+’s squeezeable Edge Sense functionality, new Edge Launcher and Alexa integration being strong stand-out inclusions, whilst OnePlus’s clean Oxygen OS experience is unquestionably reminiscent of iOS, but with greater customisability.
iOS 11 as it appears on the X should feel relatively familiar to anyone who’s ever used an iPhone but the new aspect ratio, loss of home button and ‘the notch’ all significantly alter how you interact with everything. Not only is there a learning curve for existing iOS users but in its current state it’s also arguably more convoluted than the Android experiences offered up by its competition.
In addition to unlocking the phone, the fingerprint sensor on the U11+ can also wake the screen and double as a shutter button, whilst OnePlus’s software facilitates a host of interaction shortcuts, plus there’s a new Face Unlock feature to rival Apple’s Face ID smarts. It’s notably faster than Face ID but based on the technology at play, likely falls short on a security and reliability front.
Apple’s TrueDepth sensor array, which enables Face ID also grants it the unique ability to motion-track various muscle groups in your face and tie them into animated emoji, called Animoji, something its Android competition simply can’t join in on.
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: Performance and battery
Whilst there’s no question that any of these devices will serve you well in everyday usage, benchmark enthusiasts will appreciate Apple’s efforts with its newest A11 Bionic chip, which in most cases leaves the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 found in both the HTC and OnePlus in the dust. Both Android phones try to squeeze additional oomph from the sizeable amount of RAM at their disposal, with 6GB available to the U11+ and a whopping 8GB inside the OnePlus 5T variant we were testing.
Things are a little more level on the storage front with all three offering a base 64GB of internal space. The Androids can be had in 128GB flavours too, whilst the iPhone jumps straight up to 256GB, although the extra capacity doesn’t come cheap. The U11+ comes with the added bonus of microSD support up to 256GB – an unquestionably more affordable way to add in extra storage space whilst also matching the 5T (which like the iPhone lacks expandability) with dual-SIM capabilities too.
As for battery life, Apple’s efforts with the 2716mAh cell inside the iPhone X give it the best battery life of an iPhone to date, at a consistent day and a half of use per charge. The 3300mAh cell inside the OnePlus will see you through a day’s heavy use, whilst the U11+ brings in the big guns with a capacious 3930mAh battery that matches the iPhone for longevity, despite the extra pixels its screen is pushing.
All three devices also sport fast-charging in one flavour or another: the U11+ accommodates Qualcomm’s standard QuickCharge 3.0 smarts whilst OnePlus relies on its own excellent Dash Charging tech to rejuvenate the 5T in minutes. This is an area where Apple has dropped the ball. Whilst the addition of wireless charging is a nice addition, the X supports fast-charging but Apple decided not to put one in-box. Instead, if you want to stay on-brand you’ll have to fork out for one of Apple’s existing higher wattage USB-C chargers which, as we discussed in our iPhone X Review, are not the cheapest accessories out there by a country mile.
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: Cameras
If you’ve seen the samples in our HTC U11 camera review, you’ll already have a pretty clear picture of what the U11+’s main snapper is capable of; not least because it’s essentially the same module at play here. HTC’s software smarts in the HDR department mean that it’s almost a dead-ringer for the top-notch image quality produced by the likes of Google’s Pixel 2 family and the hardware, with its wide f/1.7 aperture, ensures impressive low-light performance too.
Apple’s latest 12-megapixel dual camera setup blows any previous iPhone imaging out the water and whilst it still needs work in low light, it takes amazing pictures in practically any other condition, using it dual lens system to create beautiful bokeh in portrait shots and also allowing up to 2x lossless zoom as well. Despite mono audio recording it also produces the best-looking video quality of any smartphone we’ve tested and can shoot up to 4K resolution at 60fps or 240fps slow motion at Full HD, an untouchable feat as it stands.
The dual camera setup on the OnePlus has undergone a notable tweak from its predecessor’s zoom lens setup, instead opting for better low light performance and also allowing for that same Portrait mode goodness as the iPhone, with stunning background blur at your disposal. Only Apple can apply the same impressive talents to its front-facer however; on that front both OnePlus and HTC leave you with a humble beauty mode.
HTC U11+ vs OnePlus 5T vs iPhone X: Verdict
The HTC U11+ makes for a compelling smartphone package in its own right, bringing in attractive qualities from its siblings and rivals to create a desirable big-screened smartphone. If you’re looking for a solid all-rounder, then the U11+ will serve you well.
It’s bigger and bulkier than the £500 OnePlus 5T, but the extra cash nabs you that bigger battery, a sharper screen and more up-to-date software. Apple’s offering, meanwhile, adds in a host of additional smarts, such as it’s HDR-compliant display and cutting-edge processor; elements that leave the U11+ looking a little dated already. HTC might be selling the U11+ direct for £699 but it’s already cropping up elsewhere online for markedly less and as such, might make for the perfect alternative to OnePlus fans looking for something that gives you a little more or those who want a powerful flagship that can’t swing the iPhone X’s steep price tag.
The HTC U11+ may only be available directly through HTC’s own website but O2’s ensured that you can pick up its competition: both the OnePlus 5T and the Apple iPhone X on a host of great tariffs to suit your needs.