(Pocket-lint) - HTC has announced the U11+, a slightly larger, more exciting version of the U11 flagship that appeared earlier this year. The new device follows the trend of super slim bezels and a huge display but without the huge footprint, putting it on par with the likes of Google, Samsung, LG and Apple.
There are rumours circulating that the HTC U11+ could have been the Pixel 2 XL, but Google chose the LG device rather than the HTC device.
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Design
- Both have squeezable frames
- Both water resistant, though U11+ has higher IP rating
- Pixel 2 XL is slimmer and lighter
The HTC U11+ follows in the footsteps of its smaller brother the U11, offering the Liquid Surface design that delivers a striking finish on the rear. It is available in Amazing Silver, Ceramic Black and Translucent Black, the latter of which shows some of the internals for a really unique look. It isIP68 water and dust resistant.
A single camera lens is positioned on the rear, along with a circular fingerprint sensor below and the HTC logo, while the front is almost all screen with very slim bezels surrounding it and the sides are squeezable. There is USB Type-C at the bottom of the U11+, a volume rocker and power button on the right and no 3.5mm headphone jack anywhere.
The Google Pixel 2 XL's design is a combination of metal and glass, with a small glass panel at the top of the rear housing the single camera lens and flash. Like the U11+, there is a circular fingerprint sensor on the rear of the Pixel 2 XL too, allowing for the large, slim-bezeled display on the front.
Colour options for the Pixel 2 XL are limited to Just Black, and Black and White, both of which are IP67 water and dust resistant. The bottom of the device sees USB Type-C, while the right edge sees a power button and a volume rocker and there is no headphone jack on this device either. The Pixel 2 XL also has squeezable edges, but rather than called Edge Sense like HTC's device, they are called Active Edge - and HTC's version is a lot more customisable than Google's.
The HTC U11+ is the narrower of the two devices measuring 158.5 x 74.9 x 8.5mm and weighing 188g, but the Pixel 2 XL is the shorter and lighter measuring 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm and weighing 175g. HTC looks a little more premium, but it certainly needs a lot of wiping to clear the fingerprints off.
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Display
- Both have 6-inch, 2880 x 1440 resolution, 18:9 displays
- U11+ has LCD, Pixel 2 XL has OLED
- Both will support mobile HDR
The HTC U11+ comes with a 6-inch Super LCD 6 display that pumps out a 2880 x 1440 resolution for a pixel density of 538ppi. It doesn't offer any fancy extras like an Always-On display, but it is protected by 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and it will support HDR10 after an update.
The Google Pixel 2 XL meanwhile, also has a 6-inch display but Google opts for an OLED panel over LCD. It too offers a 2880 x 1440 resolution though, meaning the same pixel density as the U11+ and it also has 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection and mobile HDR compatibility.
Both the HTC U11+ and the Google Pixel 2 XL feature 18:9 aspect ratio displays compared to the standard 16:9 aspect ratio we were accustomed to until 2017 hit.
While the specs are close, the Pixel 2 XL has been plagued with display problems. Claimed to be more naturally tuned, most see that it lacks vibrancy, leaving everything looks dull and lifeless. It has also been criticised for poor viewing angles, early burn-in and other problems. The HTC is too new to fully assess, but on first glance, it looks a lot better than the Pixel 2 XL, while also claiming to be DCI-P3 tuned.
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Cameras
- Both have 12MP rear cameras
- Both have 8MP front cameras
- Both capable of 4K video recording from rear and 1080p from front
The HTC U11+ features a 12-megapixel sensor on its rear featuring an f/1.7 aperture and 1.4µm pixels. There is a dual-LED flash, optical image stabilisation, UltraSpeed autofocus and up to 4K video recording capability with Hi-Res audio.
On the front of the U11+ you'll find a new 8-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and an 85-degree field of view. It offers up to 1080p video recording capability, along with Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie features. Boost HDR takes care of dynamic range, although we don't know exactly how these cameras will perform just yet.
The Google Pixel 2 XL features a 12.2-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture and 1.4µm pixels. There is a dual-LED flash on board this device too, along with optical and electronic image stabilisation and autofocus with laser and dual pixel phase detection.
The front camera on the Pixel 2 XL is 8-megapixels, like the U11+. It offers an aperture of f/2.4 with 1.4µm pixels and fixed focus. The rear camera on the Pixel 2 XL is capable of up to 4K video recording while the front can handle up to 1080p.
The Pixel 2 XL has one of the best cameras you'll find on the smartphone with Google leveraging machine learning to take care of things like portraits and HDR, leaving you with good results in pretty much any conditions. Although we've not tested the HTC camera yet, we suspect that the Pixel 2 XL will be the better of the two.
Google also gives you unlimited storage in Google Photos, so you can back them up and clear that space off your phone when you're running short.
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Hardware
- Both run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
- More RAM on U11+ and microSD supported
- Larger battery capacity on U11+
The HTC U11+ runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (in the UK), with microSD for storage expansion.
There is a 3930mAh battery capacity, with support for Quick Charge 3.0 and in terms of sound, the U11+ features HTC's USonic headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, along with HTC BoomSound HiFi edition speakers and support for Hi-Res audio. It's a great audio package, on top of a compelling hardware package.
The Google Pixel 2 XL also uses the Snapdragon 835 platform, with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage, neither of which have microSD support for storage expansion, so that's a minor downside for Google's phone, although the unlimited photo backup is appealing.
The battery capacity is a fraction smaller in the Pixel 2 XL too, at 3520mAh, though fast charging is also supported on this device, with Google offering up to 7 hours charge in 15 minutes. Audio-wise, the Pixel 2 XL has front-firing stereo speakers, which are positioned in the bezels above and below the display - although they're not that good - while the device also offers noise suppression.
There's a lot of parity, but HTC offers you a little more for your money, with more flexibility.
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Software
- Both run Android Oreo
- U11+ has HTC Sense over the top
- Both offer Google Assistant
The HTC U11+ launches on Android Oreo with HTC Sense over the top, while the Google Pixel 2 XL offers pure Android Oreo with no bloatware.
HTC Sense has been significantly stripped back over the years but the software experience will still be a little different between these two devices, even though they are almost both vanilla Android. Both devices offer Google Assistant, but the HTC U11+ also offers Amazon Alexa as an additional assistant.
There's certainly a lot of appeal to the pure Android Pixel 2 XL, with a great new launcher. Everything is slick and fast and you're front of the queue for updates. HTC will be a little slower with those updates, as well as bundling in a lot of other functionality. Alexa you might like, but some bits you might want to turn off, like BlinkFeed, or replace like the TouchPal keyboard.
We're leaning towards the Pixel 2 XL for its purity, but you can get very close to that experience with a few app changes. Got to love Android for that flexibility!
- What is Google Assistant, how does it work, and which devices offer it?
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Price
- U11+ is £200 cheaper for same storage capacity
The HTC U11+ will cost £699 in the UK for the 128GB variant. The Google Pixel 2 XL costs £899 for the 128GB model. That perhaps make for surprising reading with the HTC phone being cheaper - something that the company hasn't always done in the past.
In general, the HTC U11+ looks like better value for money compared to many of these big-screen phones.
HTC U11+ vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Conclusion
The HTC U11+ and the Google Pixel 2 XL are on par in that they both offer premium designs, waterproofing, huge displays and similar hardware, thought the U11+ does pip Google's device to the post in a couple of areas.
Firstly, the U11+ is £200 cheaper for the same storage capacity (128GB), while also offering microSD support and more RAM. It also offers a larger battery capacity, higher water and dust resistance rating and the company's signature BoomSound technology. Then you have a display that's likely to be a lot more popular and the uniqueness of that rear design - even if HTC are saying that the Translucent Black might not be immediately available in the UK.
The Pixel 2 XL is the lighter and slimmer of these two devices however, whilst also running pure Android software with no bloatware and it is an excellent device, even though it currently has some screen issues, which are plaguing this phone. Aside from the software advantage, the camera will be a huge deal for some people as it's likely to be the hands-down winner in any camera shoot-out. The question is, are those pros worth the extra cash to you?