Do we have a good one for you today – the Google Pixel 2 takes on the HTC U11. Here we have two devices with great single lens cameras. The HTC U11 has been available since June, while the Google Pixel 2 made an October debut. Both phones look rather similar from the front with larger bezels than most 2017 models. The backs are completely different looking with the Pixel 2 using a small polished glass top and mostly metal backing while the HTC U11 has a brilliantly shiny piece of glass. Most users hear the word ‘Pixel’ and immediately assume that is the better device – with pure vanilla Android and fast updates – but do not sell the HTC U11 short, as it too is packed with many features. Both devices will run you $650 outright, although the Pixel 2 on Verizon and the HTC U11 on Sprint will allow you to make payments on your purchase. While these two devices do share many of the same internal parts and specs, the overall feel of them is quite different. Let’s take a look to see just what these two handsets have in common and then we will take a closer look at each one of them.
The Pixel 2 and the HTC U11 both share a 16:9 display ratio and Gorilla Glass 5 protects both displays. You will find the same Snapdragon 835 processor and the same Adreno 540 GPU. Both devices have the same 4GB of base DDR4 RAM and 64GB of internal memory. Even in the camera area, these two devices sport a single lens 12MP camera and fairly larger front-facing cameras (FFC). The Pixel 2 and U11 have non-removable batteries and both offer a rapid charge feature. Even their physical sizes are very close, although the slightly larger HTC U11 weighs 23 grams more. Both devices have Bluetooth (v5.0 in the Pixel 2 and v4.2 in the HTC), a fingerprint sensor, a USB Type-C port, no 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, IP67 dust and water resistance, special edges, and Google Assistant.
Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great Android flagships stack up against each other on paper. After that, we will look at each handset in more detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on overall specs and the execution of design and functions.
Google Pixel 2
Google did not sit on their laurels when they designed their second-generation Pixel 2 line-up, although the Pixel 2 could be a tad more modern looking. This outdated look of the pixel 2 makes it the ideal Pixel model to go up against the HTC U11 – also a device with large bezels. The inside specs is another story where Google picked the best processor and GPU available and put them in both the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. Another distinguishing feature of the Pixel 2 versus the Pixel 2 XL is that the former uses a 16:9 aspect ratio and the latter jumped to the newer 18:9 ratio. The Pixel 2 has an Active Edge design that the user can ‘squeeze’ the sides of the phone to conjure up Google Assistant or silence a phone call. Google added a new feature called Google Lens that can identify details about photos. For a small display that only puts out a Full HD resolution and no memory expansion, the asking price is $650 unlocked. Verizon is once again the preferred seller of Google’s phones and if purchased via the carrier, you can at least make monthly, interest-free payments.
The Google Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch AMOLED Full HD display with a resolution of 1,960 by 1,080 pixels and a density of 441 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Google kept the 16:9 aspect ratio on the smaller Pixel 2 and used the 18:9 display ratio only on the Pixel 2 XL. Google included an Always-On display feature that allows the user to see notifications without waking up the device unless you need more detailed or wish to respond to a notification. This helps save battery life by not having to turn-on the main display to see your notifications.
Both Pixel 2 models use the latest from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor with one quad-core clocked at 1.9GHz and another quad-core clocked at 2.35GHz. It uses the exceptional Adreno 540 GPU for graphics rendering – the same combo used on the HTC U11. The Pixel 2 has 4GB of DDR4 RAM and no expandable memory – it comes with a basic 64GB, although you can also order a 128GB model.
Google really took their camera seriously on their Pixel line and somehow managed to upgrade the camera to the best in the industry – and all of this using a single lens. They made more improvements to the new Pixel 2 models and they continue to hold on to the number one spot. Both Pixels have a primary camera with a 12-megapixel sensor, a large aperture of f/1.8, and contain both EIS and OIS stabilization, PDAF and laser autofocus, and a dual-tone flash. The FFC is an 8-megapixel unit with fixed focus and a smaller f/2.4 aperture for selfies and video chatting. The combination of the efficient processor, an FHD display, and the use of Android 8.0 allows the small, non-removable, 2,700mAh battery to make it through an entire day. The Pixel 2 offers fast charging support for those times you need to add some juice to the device.
During the time when Google was pumping out Nexus devices, only the real ‘tech heads’ would consider buying them, but with the new Pixel models, Google’s phones are now aimed at the mainstream buyers. The Pixel 2’s compete quite nicely with the other flagship devices from Samsung and LG. They are not perfect by any means, but no smartphone is perfect for all users. The Pixel 2’s shortcomings stem from a small display, only a FHD resolution, and no memory expansion. While there is no Hi-Res audio, it does have stereo speakers. It comes with Active Edge, which is a nice feature, but it doesn’t go far enough. Google included IP67 dust and water resistance, a dongle so you can use a wired headset. The Pixel is running Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box and will receive the fastest updates. The Pixel 2 measures 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm and weighs in at 143 grams. It is available in three colors – Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. The Pixel 2 will cost about $650 with 64GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a wireless carrier exclusive through Verizon. If you buy it from Verizon, the company will allow you to finance it over 24 months.
During the early years of Android, HTC made some great devices, but in recent years, they have never been able to capture that magic again. They sat there and watched Samsung bully everybody to the number one spot, with LG trailing behind. HTC released their HTC U11 back in June and it received some pretty good reviews and other than the large bezels on the front, it is a beautiful device with the shiniest glass back you will ever see. The inside is full of the best technology, includes a great camera, and Edge Sense is more than just a party trick – it is very functional. HTC kept their 16:9 ratio display and has no 3.5mm headphone jack, which puts it in the same ballpark as the Pixel 2.
The HTC U11 sports a 5.5-inch Super LCD5 display using a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a pixel density of 534 PPI. HTC used the 16:9 display ratio rather than jumping on board with the other flagships that started using a ratio of 18:9. HTC also past on any kind of display notification, something most other flagships are incorporating into their devices to help save battery life and making it more convenient for users. HTC uses Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the screen of the U11.
HTC, like Google, included the most powerful and up-to-date processor available when the device was released – the Snapdragon 835 octa-core with a quad-core clocked at 1.9GHz and another quad-core clocked at 2.45GHz. Qualcomm pairs with that the Adreno 540 GPU for outstanding graphics. The HTC U11 comes with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable internal memory via a microSD card slot.
In a world crying for dual cameras – I guess more is better – both Google and HTC are bucking the trend and sticking with a single lens format. The HTC U11 uses a 12-megapixel sensor along with HTC’s proprietary UltraPixel 3 technology. The primary camera uses a large f/1.7 aperture, OIS, PDAF, and a dual-tone flash. The FFC sports a huge 16-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 to handle selfies and video chatting. A 3,000 mAh battery powers the device and offers Quick Charge 3.0 – HTC missed out by not including wireless charging since it has a glass back.
HTC has produced one of its best devices in the U11 – the glass backing is beautiful and curved for a good grip, but also a fingerprint magnet. HTC has long had Hi-Res audio in their flagship devices as well as stereo speakers, though the U11 uses the earpiece for one speaker and the other is on the bottom edge of the device – not as good as a full-frontal placement, but they get the job done. Like the Pixel 2, HTC only went for the IP67 rating, and dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack – but they provide a dongle to convert the Type-C port to a headphone jack and include a pair of USonic headphones. The Edge Sense is a much more productive solution than the Active Edges on the Pixel 2. You won’t find pure Android here but damn near close as HTC uses a lite touch on its overlay. The HTC U11 measures 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm and weighs in at 169 grams. It is available in Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, and Solar Red. The U11 will cost about $650 with 64GB of RAM and is available unlocked from the Amazon, Best Buy, and Sprint who will allow you to purchase it on a monthly payment plan.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
The Google Pixel 2 is a solid device and if you must have pure vanilla Android and the fastest updates, then you will cry that the Pixel 2 should be the winner. However, considering the Pixel 2 and HTC U11 cost the same amount, I am picking the U11 as the winner of this comparison.
The HTC U11 has a larger display with a QHD resolution, memory expansion, Hi-Res audio to go with its stereo speakers, has an excellent camera and software, a lite overlay over stock Android, a much better ‘squeezable’ edge that adds real function, a better FFC, a larger battery, and Google Assistant. It simply offers more for your buck and looks better in the process.