HTC U11 vs Sony Xperia XZ Premium: The HTC U11 brings strong entertainment chops to the table but is it a match for the newly-proven multimedia master that is the Sony Xperia XZ Premium? We compare the two to see what each phone offers.
Both Sony’s flagship phone and the new premium HTC handset have unique features to boast about. In the case of the Xperia XZ Premium its 4K HDR-compliant screen and 960fps slow motion video recording are both world-firsts that prove unquestionably enticing, even if they’re not the primary reasons to buy it (find out what are by reading our full Xperia XZ Premium review).
The new U11 meanwhile is the first place you’ll find HTC’s own Companion assistant alongside the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa all in one place. It also serves as the stage for the launch of Edge Sense, the company’s new interaction technology that lets you perform various actions by squeezing the lower half of the phone’s body on each side. It’s intriguing for sure, but might not prove as immediately appealing as the Premium’s killer screen resolution and fancy slow-mo talents. Check out our HTC U11 hands-on review for full details and our initial thoughts.
Aesthetically the U11’s Liquid Surface design offers not only a more natural feel in the hand, but a smaller overall footprint and narrower bezels. That’s despite both phones sporting 5.5-inch displays. By comparison, Sony’s design language is bold, but dated, with strong lines and comfortable rounding along its edges hindered by bigger bezels and an unquestionably palm-filling footprint.
As seems customary for 2017 flagships, both feature predominantly glass (Gorilla Glass 5 to be exact) designs with metal elements. They look great but attract fingerprints after even the slightest touch.
Sony has an established history of making its devices life proof and the IP68-certified dust and water resistance found on the XZ Premium means it’s no exception. HTC has only recently started fortifying its phones with comparable levels of protection from the elements and the U11 enjoys some of the most robust in the company’s history, with IP67 certification.
These devices’ screens are both serious talking points. In the case of the HTC U11, its Quad HD Super LCD5 panel is both beautiful and unquestionably bright, with exceptional viewing angles to boot. What the XZ Premium’s display slightly lacks in those areas it makes up with sheer innovation. The 4K resolution gives you an insane pixel density whilst HDR10 support, although underutilised right now due to a lack of native content, offers a superior viewing experience when looking at media made for it.
If you’re more of a music fan, the U11 features HTC’s BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition, reworked to turn the body of the phone itself into an acoustic chamber which supposedly helps with frequency response. Meanwhile, on the wired audio front, the included USB-C USonic headphones can be tailored to output to a user’s specific hearing range using the company’s own one-touch calibration tool and come with active noise-cancellation. The 3.5mm headphone jack has been given the axe, however.
Sony’s XZ Premium also boasts a respectable pair of front facing stereo loudspeakers and support for noise-cancelling headphones (sold separately) but without the need to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack altogether. At least HTC is also throwing in a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter with every U11 that features its own integrated amp to ensure that you still get great quality audio, even if you don’t have access to the Xperia’s ingenious up-resing abilities.
It’s a case of new sensors all-round when looking at these phones’ primary snappers. The U11 boasts HTC’s UltraPixel 3 sensor with a 12-megapixel resolution, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4μm pixels, OIS, EIS and a blisteringly fast 0.3 second shutter time. Sony’s new 19-megapixel Motion Eye tri-sensor heads up the XZ Premium’s imaging experience with an f/2.0 aperture, EIS and visually arresting 960-frames-per-second slow-motion recording.
Both flagship phones can take crisp, detail-packed shots in pretty much any conditions. HTC wins for speed while Sony’s Xperia has more pizazz, so take your pick. Check out our full Xperia XZ Premium camera review for samples and the rest, and stay tuned for our full HTC U11 camera review.
Dive beneath the modified Android Nougat experiences on both phones and you’ll find remarkably similar innards powering these two handsets. Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835 sits at the helm, followed by 4GB of RAM, microSD expandability and Quick Charge 3.0 on the battery front.
Admittedly, the U11 trumps the Premium if you’re planning on slotting in a memory card, as the latter is limited to (still decidedly large) 256GB cards, whilst the HTC can take cards up to an insane 2TB. Meanwhile the Premium sports a larger 3230mAh battery (versus 3000mAh on the U11) but we suspect fewer pixels and lower performance demands of the U11 might mean that the HTC outlasts the Sony by up to an entire additional day in real-world testing.
If it isn’t already evident, the HTC U11 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium share some pretty fundamental elements and yet offer uniquely different propositions. The new U11 is expected to hit the UK sometime in June for around £649 SIM-free whilst the XZ Premium is hitting stores imminently at that very same price point.
You can grab the HTC U11 from O2 from June 1.
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