Design & Build6.5
The HTC U 11 follows a very similar design language to the earlier HTC U Ultra with its all glass build and Liquid Surface finish. Our unit was the Amazing Silver variant, but you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking it was light blue instead. This is the magic of the Liquid Surface finish, which HTC developed ground up for the U series. It involves the colour being applied to the back in layers so that it bonds differently with the glass, reflecting light in unique ways at different angles. This allows the phone to have a colourful sheen. This is no different from what we saw on the HTC U Ultra and unfortunately, the fingerprint situation is no different either. We spent more time cleaning the back of the phone than actually admiring it because HTC hasn’t put an oleophobic coating on the back and as a result, it gets riddled with fingerprints.
The Gorilla glass front and back is encased by a metal frame, which leads to a better grip on the phone. Additionally, the frame is “squeezable” on the bottom half, but it does not actually bend and that’s a good thing. The lack of flex lends to the credibility of good build quality, but no matter how good the build quality, the fact that you’ve got glass on the front and back means you’re going to have to be careful with how you handle the phone. Gorilla Glass 5 has been shown to protect phones when dropped from a height of 3-4 feet, but we seriously advise from testing the limits of the phone.
The HTC U11 has a 5.5 inch display and overall, the phone is very comfortable to hold, and squeeze. The glass back can be slippery, but the metal frame provides the requisite friction to get a good grip on the phone. The volume rocker and the heavily textured power button are on the right side of the frame, within easy reach. Unlike with the Moto Z2 Play, you won’t confuse between the buttons. On the front, the home button with its embedded fingerprint sensor sits flush with the display and is really hard to tell apart from the front panel. The Gorilla Glass 5 front panel blends into the metal frame and the curved glass feels extremely good to touch.
The HTC U11 is a gorgeous looking phone and there’s no denying it. In some ways, it’s a phone that can be better looking than even the Samsung Galaxy S8. Over the last few months, we’ve seen Android smartphone makers push the boundaries of design and form factor and it is nice to see phones that are good to recommend. The HTC U11 may feel a little on the delicate side due to the all-glass build, but it is a beautiful phone. The only problem we have with the smartphone is just how clingy it is when it comes to fingerprints. Hopefully, the next flagship from HTC will have a more than a generous application of oleophobic coating so that the fingerprints aren’t an issue. Secondly, the all glass build makes this phone not only delicate but also slippery. Unless you’ve got your hands wrapped around this smartphone real tight, there’s a chance it will occasionally tend to slip out of your hands. We also found that when the HTC U11 was placed on an uneven surface, it would slowly slide off it. We had a small scare when the phone almost slid off a table and fell three feet to the ground. The slippery build of the phone resulting from a glass build is the reason the phone loses a few points on the build quality section of this review.