Yes, HTC Is still here.
Once one of the most innovative phone makers, HTC has had a long slide toward mediocrity. While it occasionally does some interesting things, it hasn’t moved the needle in years. Its latest attempt to stay competitive is the HTC U12+, a new flagship that it touts as a “game changing” phone but is really just HTC playing catch-up.
The feature HTC is touting the loudest is the camera, which it claims is the “highest rated” camera on a smartphone right now. That may be true, but the rating comes from DxOMark, whose ratings have been suspect for a while. However, the dual-camera system (16 and 12 megapixels) does sound impressive, with a 2x optical zoom and combined phase-detection and laser autofocus, letting you zero in on subjects as fast as possible.
That’s all well and good, but other phones have had similar features (notably the iPhone Plus models) for a while. Moreover, this is HTC’s first phone with a dual camera since the One M8, something that’s now pretty standard in the industry. At least they went all out with the idea and made the front-facing camera a dual-lens model, too (both 12 megapixels), which should help in creating those artistic selfies with blurred backgrounds.
The insides are decent: There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip, 6GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of storage. It ships with Android 8.0 Oreo. That’s all fine, but it’s kind of table stakes for a flagship phone in 2018.
Same with the 6-inch 2,880 x 1,440 display, which boasts an 18:9 aspect ratio. Smartphones have moved to longer screens over the last year, and it’s good HTC is following suit, but it didn’t go all the way with it: The design isn’t edge-to-edge, with a noticeable “forehead” and “chin” on the front panel. Hardly a deal-breaker, but it does show HTC was either unwilling or unable to push the design further.
One feature we’re looking forward to trying out is HTC’s Edge Sense 2 tech, which is supposed to make the phone more intuitive to use with one hand. We’ve seen features like that before, but HTC’s approach applies some smarts: The phone will sense which hand you’re using to hold the phone and respond accordingly. It also further refines the feature that lets you “squeeze” the phone to do certain things, like zooming in on maps or snapping pics.
Generally, though, this appears to be another safe phone from a manufacturer that’s well on its way to irrelevancy. The U12+ won’t shake things up, but it may buy HTC some time, and its IP68-rated water and dust resistance gives it an edge over devices selling themselves on value (looking at you, OnePlus).
The HTC U12+ costs $799 for 64GB and $849 for 128GB in Translucent Blue or Ceramic Black. There’s also a Flame Red version that’ll be available outside the U.S. No American carriers have announced pricing or availability (further evidence of HTC’s ebbing brand), but you can buy it unlocked from Amazon.
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