HTC U11 Review

Audio & Camera


There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11. But HTC does provide a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor in the box, and a delightful pair of HTC USonic earphones with Active Noise Cancelling, made possible by USB-C. The USonic headphones are great, so much so that I didn’t mind using them in place of my Jaybird X2’s while at the office.

HTC’s USonic USB-C earphones with Active Noise Cancelling are of great quality

The tweeter-woofer earpiece-bottom speaker Boomsound combo found on the HTC 10 is back on the U11. It has great audio quality and volume, but the sound it outputs is on the warmer side, and gets a little distorted at the maximum volume. Majority of the sound comes from the bottom speaker and not the earpiece, which means a significant proportion of the audio can still be blocked by accident. Thankfully though, I’ve found that this never happened.

I still prefer the dual front facing stereo combo originally found on the HTC One M7/8/9, but I have no complaints about the speakers on the U11.

Camera & Video

After suffering from sub-par cameras for many years, HTC finally got it right with the HTC 10 and continues to do so with the U11, claiming an impressive DxOMark score of 90 and thus clinching the title of best smartphone camera. That being said, you should always take benchmarks with a pinch of salt.

No fancy dual cameras or any sort of gimmick here, just a good, reliable camera.

In my personal experience, I was rather satisfied with the camera. It proved itself capable in practically every situation, though it gets a little noisy in low light. The camera conveniently launches with a double press of the lock button, and even has a pro mode that allows for full manual controls and RAW image capture. No fancy dual cameras or any sort of gimmick here, just a good, reliable camera.

Video quality was good as well. It is able to capture 4K video, and has a feature HTC calls “3D Audio”: using its 4 microphones, the U11 is able to amplify a particular audio source if you zoom in on it in the video’s viewfinder. It works as advertised, and is pretty neat. You can disable this feature if you would rather not have it on.

(left to right) bottom microphone, USB-C, bottom Boomsound speaker. The microphone is easily blocked by accident

Instagram’s app only utilises the microphone on the bottom edge of the phone, which means you’ll likely get muffled audio when uploading a video to your Story

I did have an issue with the video capture on the phone. I had filmed a video and uploaded it as an Instagram story, only to find that the audio had been muffled. After conducting some experiments, I realised that while the U11 has 4 microphones, Instagram’s app only utilises the microphone on the bottom edge of the phone. Holding your phone in portrait mode means that your pinkie is likely covering this microphone, leading to muffled audio.

Thankfully, this isn’t an issue in the phone’s native video recording app. I did notice another small software bug though: when recording a video, the phone seems to miss out on the last couple of seconds of the recording prior to hitting the stop button. It’s a minor bug and should be easily fixable with a software update.

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