The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictWhile the unique features all come down to personal preference, the general specs, design, and performance of the phone make it a solid value -- particularly if you’re looking for a great mobile camera.
- Fast performance
- Generous storage
- microSD support
- Great cameras
- BoomSound speakers
- Haptic buttons
- No 3.5-mm headphone jack
- A weak screen in bright sunlight
- Slippery rear coating
HTC has a hit-or-miss record with their last few releases. Once an innovator in the smartphone market, they’ve created some phones that people felt were more gimmick than value. With their latest release, they’re focusing on a single model and going all in on a few of their previous phone features. Has HTC found a balance that’ll give you a reason to consider them with the HTC U12 Plus?
On the design front, the phone keeps with the 2018 glass and metal design trend -- though it’s a little chunkier than most of the competition. However, reviewers found this lent the phone reassuring heft in the hand and didn’t hinder holding the phone for long periods or stashing it in their pockets.
The phone is available in three different transparent back colors that reviewers loved. However, the glass treatment is both a fingerprint magnet -- a potential issue with the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner -- and prone to slipping off of tables. So you’ll want to use the clear rubber case included with the phone.
The phone has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) for up to 30 minutes. However, as part of this, HTC used haptic buttons for power and volume controls. This received mixed responses. Instead of pressing a button down, they’re pressure sensitive. Many found this hard to adjust to while others found the buttons were overly sensitive and registering touches when they weren’t made.
The star feature of the phone -- at least according to HTC -- is the Edge Sense 2 buttons. By squeezing or double tapping specific parts of the outer edge of the phone you can launch apps, enable the camera, and perform a wide range of customizable tasks.
Reviewers found that while the feature generally worked, it wasn’t very intuitive. Ultimately, whether the feature is useful is a matter of preference.
Around front, things look more familiar. There’s a 6-inch 1440p S-LCD panel with HDR 10 support flanked by stereo BoomSound speakers. There’s no notch, so you’ll have a small chin on top and bottom. However, reviewers found the screen to size ratio acceptable and loved the audio quality of the dual speakers.
Colors were accurate, but the brightness struggled to keep up in direct sunlight. Otherwise, unless you’re expecting the inky blacks of an AMOLED panel, the screen has plenty of detail for everything from web browsing to movies.
Powering the phone, you’ll find the same octa-core 2.8Ghz Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM that powers a wide range of 2018’s flagships. There’s little to worry about in terms of performance. From the latest games to heavy multitasking, the phone handles things with ease.
Offering 64 or 128GB of internal storage, there’s plenty of room for your favorite apps and media. But if you need more, microSD card support makes it cheap and easy to add up to 2TB of additional storage space.
The phone ships with Android 8.0 Oreo and HTC has promised updates to Android 9.0. HTC’s Sense skin was a non-point with most reviewers. If you like personalizing, it adds theme support for the phone. Otherwise, it doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of extra features -- but it also doesn’t come with a ton of bloat.
Cameras are one area where reviewers agreed. The dual-lens rear camera with a 12MP wide-angle lens and 16MP telephoto lens impressed. From low-light performance to quick snapshots, the images captured included plenty of detail, nice color, and a good balance. There's also a handy 2x optical zoom for better framing without sacrificing image quality.
Around front, the dual-lens 8MP front-facing lenses received equal praise. The portrait mode offered great detail while the portrait mode offered silky bokeh effects with decent accuracy.
Unfortunately, the battery is less impressive. The 3500mAh battery with USB-Type C charging is just enough to get through the day. So you must recharge nightly. Fortunately, there’s Quick Charge 4.0 support to keep things topped up as needed. But there’s only a Quick Charge 3.0 adapter included. So you’ll need to part with a little more money for the fastest charge speeds.
There’s also no headphone jack. However, HTC includes both a Type-C adapter and a pair of decent active noise-canceling earbuds with the phone.
Overall, reviewers found the phone solid but questioned the value of the added features. CNet said, “There is a certain set of power users who will gravitate to what the U12 Plus has to offer, but this is by no means a mainstream phone.” Then there’s the hit-or-miss nature of the haptic buttons and Edge Sense 2.0. Ausdroid focused on this, saying, “If they can fix the touch issues then there is no doubt in my mind I could easily recommend this phone to anyone.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Amy Davies, Photography Blog
Overall, for photographers the HTC U12 Plus is a solid option, with a useful native camera app and good image quality. The price being in the mid-range also makes it desirable, but there are phones out there which offer just that touch more “wow factor”.
- Jason Million, G Style Magazine
The HTC U12+ makes improvements over its predecessors with a slimmer body with a refreshing see thru design not seen on smartphones. HTC’s display provides accurate colors and supports HDR content which is great. Unfortunately the U12+ relies a good deal on squeeze and pressure sensitive features wh...
- Fergus Halliday, Good Gear Guide
The HTC U12+ includes all the cursory upgrades you’d expect and plays its strengths without too much fuss but struggles to live up to its price-tag.
- Chris Hall, Pocket-lint
The HTC U12+ is a powerful phone with a good main camera and great display, but the zoom camera lets things down. Edge Sense means some inconvenient compromises and overall it just feels a little more chunky than it needs to be.
- Leigh :) Stark, Pickr
Sure, it’s a good phone, and it’s a good phone for 2018, but is it one of the best? We’re just not seeing that, and feel like for the price HTC is asking, it could be better.
Prices (Where to Buy)
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the HTC U12+ user manual here.
HTC backs up the U12+ with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your U12+ has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact HTC support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find HTC's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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Manuals / User Guides
- HTC U12+ Quick Start Guide (PDF)
- HTC U12+ Manual (PDF)
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