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Best Overall: U12+ at Amazon
“Brings all core specs up to parity and includes a few truly unique features that you won’t find in any other phone.”
Runner-up, Best Overall: U11 Plus at Amazon
“Has a unique one-hand experience that allows users to swipe anywhere on the home screen for quick access to notifications.”
Best Value: HTC U11 EYEs at Amazon
“Sporting dual 5-megapixel front-facing cameras and f/2.2 aperture, this smartphone was made for social media.”
Best Mid-Range: HTC U11 Life at Amazon
“A moderately-priced smartphone with plenty of appealing features.”
Best for Seniors: HTC Bolt at Amazon
“A good mix of durable hardware and strong reliability, making it a smart choice for an older crowd.”
For the brand's most recent flagship, HTC has brought all of their core specs up to parity and included a few truly unique features that you won’t find in any other phone. For starters, the side buttons are pressure-sensitive and paired with HTC's software in a really unique way. You can actually squeeze the phone while it’s in your palm to activate a whole new dimension of features while interacting with your favorite apps — they've even optimized this feature to work with a whole bunch of third-party apps. But the real kicker here is the camera system. On the back, HTC has given you both a 12MP and a 16MP sensor/lens combo for a dual-lens effect, and on the front, they’ve included two separate 12MP lenses to give your selfies a new level of depth. According to HTC, this gives the U12+ the highest camera rating of any smartphone on the market.
The U12+ also has a super-sharp LCD display that measures six inches diagonally, at a resolution of 2880 x 1440. The processor by Qualcomm operates at eight cores and 2.8 GHz alongside 6GB of RAM, so the phone feels fast. At 3,500 mAh, the battery is pretty huge for the phone size, and even gives you fast charging and a couple of levels of power save mode. This model also includes NFC, Bluetooth 5, and a USB-C port for charging. All in all, the U12+ is a nice little powerhouse that’s a slim 8.7 mm and weighs only 188g.
The previous generation of HTC's flagship device boasts a bevy of strong features that help it stand out from a crowd while still driving home some of the best Android software around. Inside the U11 Plus is a Snapdragon 835 processor which helps launch apps instantly, a 3,930mAh battery, 6GB of RAM and a 6-inch QHD+ display that's so crystal clear it replicates a near-cinematic viewing experience.
When it comes to capturing photos, HTC’s 12.2-megapixel rear camera offers plenty of good news with outstanding low light capabilities, fast image capturing, optical image stabilization and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies. Highlighting the U11 Plus’s video experience is the brand's proprietary BoomSound technology for extra-loud speakers or USonic earbuds for active noise cancellation. HTC also manages to separate the U11 Plus from the smartphone pack with a unique one-hand experience that allows users to swipe anywhere on the home screen for quick access to notifications.
As social media only becomes more ubiquitous, smartphone manufacturers like HTC have been pressed to improve their cameras every year, delivering more professional and polished results for Instagram feeds everywhere. HTC’s latest selfie-driven smartphone, the HTC U11 EYEs, is the latest in this evolution. Sporting dual 5-megapixel front-facing cameras and f/2.2 aperture, this smartphone was made for social media. A wide 80-degree view ensures that not only can you get yourself in frame, but all your friends as well. The rear 12-megapixel camera is more standard quality, but it adds some high-value features like 4K video capture and optical image stabilization.
The included Snapdragon 652 processor and 4GB of RAM keeps apps running smoothly. It’s not flagship performance, but it’s not flagship pricing either. The large 6-inch display with 2160 x 1080 resolution has bright and beautiful colors, great for viewing photos and videos. The edges of the device feature HTC’s much-loved Edge Sense technology. Just squeeze the device to bring up a bevy of actionable shortcuts. Further adding to the value of this phone is the 3930mAh battery, which holds an all-day charge.
Mirroring the design of HTC’s flagship devices, the U11 Life is a moderately-priced smartphone with plenty of appealing features. The phone’s design revolves around HTC’s unique “Edge Sense” technology — squeezing the device on both sides enables the user to launch apps or other selected shortcuts. It’s also a brilliant way to quickly launch the camera without tapping any buttons. You can opt to utilize Edge Sense as a shortcut to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for voice assistance.
Running a near-stock version of Android, the U11 Life doesn’t lag when opening or switching between apps. That’s due in part to the Snapdragon 630 processor and 3GB of RAM. Apps and photos also look great on the 5.2-inch Super LCD display with 1080p resolution, and videos sound even better with HTC’s built-in USonic speaker system (among the best-quality in the industry). The U11 Life also comes equipped with 16-megapixel front and rear cameras and the whole device is rated IP67 for water resistance.
Water-, splash- and dust-resistant, the HTC Bolt is a sharp looking smartphone that adds a hint of style while remaining protected from the elements. Rated IP57, the Bolt can withstand up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes which is ample time to retrieve it from a puddle or bathtub. Adding to its hardware strengths is Gorilla Glass 5, one of the toughest pieces of glass available for smartphones to help prevent scratches making it ideal for seniors who might stick the phone in a purse or pocket with keys and other items floating around. The metal unibody design feels equally as solid while protecting the 5.5-inch Quad HD display, 16-megapixel rear camera, and Snapdragon 810 processor. Available with 3 GB of RAM with 32GB of internal storage, the Bolt is a good mix of durable hardware and strong reliability making it a smart choice for an older crowd.
Screen - Today most smartphones have dazzling screens that run anywhere from 4.5 inches to 6.5 inches and up. Size plays one factor, but resolution is also important, especially if you stream a lot of video. Some of the best screens out there measure around 2880 x 1440 pixels.
Battery life - While the industry has made great leaps when it comes to screen size and resolution, those displays quickly suck the energy out of your phone. Depending on how much you use your phone, you’ll probably need to charge it each night at the very least. A device with a 3000mAh should be ample, but if you’re a power user, spring for a 3930mAh battery to be safe.
Camera - Most phones have (at least) two cameras: a front-facing camera for selfies and a higher-quality rear-facing camera for capturing everything else. Front-facing cameras generally have smaller sensors, around 5 to 8MP, while the rear-facing ones range anywhere from 8 to 12MP and up.
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