It’s tough releasing a new handset with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 out and about. The new LG flagship, although promising, felt more like a prototype to the much more finished-looking Galaxy S8 and Sony’s new flagships pale in comparison to the freshness that Samsung brings to the market. The next contender on the list is the HTC U11 and it is going to give Samsung a run for its money. Here’s how both compare.
While Samsung have been more adventurous this time around and have struck off the traditional aspect ratio for their screen on the S8 by going for an 18.5:9 ratio, HTC has stuck with the 16:9 aspect ratio which have resulted in larger bezels. The U11 will come with a slightly smaller screen as well, at 5.5-inches, but thanks to the curved 3D glass that wraps itself from front to back, the HTC U11 looks every bit as luxurious as the Galaxy S8.
Both offer Quad-HD resolution however, but the “edge” here goes to S8 which has an AMOLED panel with HDR while HTC’s capable LCD panel does not. Even though the Galaxy S8’s display is slightly larger at 5.8-inches, the phone has a higher ppi of 570 versus HTC’s 534.
In terms of audio, this will be a little difficult to compare, since both phones offer their own brand of audio quality. The HTC has four microphones to capture sound for recording and comes with a pair of ear-buds that come with noise-cancelling tech and also use sonar in order to tap into the right way to funnel in the sound inward to the user’s ears based on their ear-shape. Unfortunately, the phone lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack but makes up for it with a dongle and HTC’s most profitable property – the BoomSound speakers. The loudspeaker on the phone is the best yet on any handset, and compared to the S8, sounds leagues ahead.
The S8 also offers a decent sounding branded AKG pair of headphones with a 3.5mm jack, but a very tinny and lousy external speaker. At the end of the day, the compromise fits the cost and HTC U11 makes up for the lack of a jack with a much better loud speaker and a dongle, to beat the headphone blues, not to forget the crystal-clear audio recording capabilities as well.
Design and Build
The HTC U11 is IP67 certified while the Samsung Galaxy S8 is IP68 certified. In terms of design, there will not be much to compare, since they both look very similar and are made of more or less the same materials. The difference arrives in how the devices you their design to form function. The HTC U11’s squeeze function is quite interesting and useful too, especially for those who have missed the camera button on a phone. Using Edge Sense, as HTC calls it, the whole feature seems to be quite intuitive as the phone is already made to be gripped.
The S8, on the other hand has a different kind of sensibility for its edges, which occupy more screen real-estate instead, making the phone seem almost bezel-less at first glance. But that is pretty much all there is to it. Add to that, the S8 also has the unfortunate positioning of the fingerprint scanner – just next to the camera sensor which has provided some criticism from various publishers and users. Not nearly as intuitive as the U11, whose fingerprint sensor is placed well and firm on the front, thicker bezels and all.
The HTC U11 runs Android 7.1 with a similar interface experience as seen with previous iterations of the Sense UI. According to HTC, if it isn’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing, and the phone delivers well, offering the same stock-like performance as is always expected of an HTC flagship. In terms of consistency, HTC is doing quite well, but some might mistake it for being boring. What’s special about the U11 is that it has Google Assistant, but also comes with Alexa and the HTC Companion. That is three whole AI assistants in one phone. The handset will be the first available to activate Alexa with a hot word. HTC is using the capabilities of the processor which now allows for two different hot-words to be called out for different AIs such as Google Assistant and Alexa.
Samsung on the other hand, has offered a more involved experience with their interface, offering new design elements on every release along with a cleaner look towards apps and scrolling. The phone also has an abundance of apps available that might seem overwhelming but impressive still. Samsung have not really done much else apart from the aesthetic of the software, layering over a now almost unrecognizable Android Nougat interface.
The rear cameras are near identical on both phones, offering 12MP camera with f/1.7 aperture and auto-HDR has proven to be create remarkable shots, the HTC’s front camera comes with a 16MP sensor with an f/2.0 lens along with an ‘UltraPixel’ mode that should improve low-light shots. The S8 comes with its own 8MP autofocus selfie cam.
Everything about the phones internally is the same – Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and 3,000mAh battery. There is nothing else that separates the two phones other than how they perform in real-time. HTC has only done a better job at keeping its functional hardware more accessible than the S8.
In conclusion, the winner, by more popular demand, will be the Samsung Galaxy S8, owing to its popularity and its marketing. The HTC U11 is right on par with the Samsung offerings, and much more as well. It has the body and the features to delight users with accessibility, power and three different AI assistants. Unfortunately, HTC is not as good as Samsung when it comes to marketing their product. For the more traditional users, the HTC U11 is the best money can buy. For those who want something different and something they would like to get used to, then the S8 is the best out there.