The HTC U12 Plus (+) is now official following its unveiling in Taiwan earlier today. This marks the latest smartphone to come through from the company as part of a new line of mobile products branded as ‘U’ phones. Although, unlike some of the other U-series phones, the U12 Plus is the company’s flagship option, following on from the U11 Plus (and the standard U11), the HTC 10 before it, and the One M line before that. Therefore, for those looking for the best the house of HTC has to offer in 2018, look no further than the U12 Plus.
While a number of premium 2018 phones have seen little change compared to their 2017 predecessors, the U12 Plus has changed enough to make this a noteworthy device. So much so in fact that HTC refers to the U12 Plus as its “biggest and boldest flagship phone ever.” Drawing on improvements to its display, its use of Edge Sense, and most evidently in the camera department as the HTC U12 Plus comes equipped with twice the number of cameras the U11 Plus did. As not only is there a dual-camera setup on the rear of the device, but also one on the front. Resulting in the camera experience being one of the aspects HTC is highlighting as a clear selling point of the U12 Plus - along with a refined design and improved general specs.
U12 Plus Specs
The HTC U12 Plus features a 6.1-inch QHD+ Super LCD 6 display along with an 18:9 display aspect ratio, resulting in a 2880 x 1440 resolution and a 537ppi. Although Corning’s Gorilla Glass protection is in use, HTC has yet to specify which version. In addition, the display also features support for HDR 10, as well as DCI-P3 and sRGB modes. Inside, the U12 Plus is powered by the Snapdragon 845 64-bit octa-core processor (clocked at 2.6 GHz), along with a a 3,500 mAh battery. The U12 Plus also supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging technology which looks to offer a 0 to 50-percent charge in only 35 minutes, according to HTC. Closing out the core spec list is 6GB RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, with the option to expand as and when needed up to 2TB via a microSD card.
12-megapixel (wide-angle lens, UltraPixel 4, 1.4um pixel size, f/1.75 aperture, OIS) and 16-megapixel (telephoto lens, 1.0um pixel size, f/2.6 aperture) cameras are included on the rear of the phone, along with a fingerprint scanner. A single 8-megapixel (1.12um pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, 84-degree wide-angle lens) camera is positioned on the front and can also be used as one of the security methods by scanning the user’s face. Android 8.0 (Oreo) is also included on the U12 Plus with HTC’s Sense UI over the top, as is an IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. Audio properties include 3D audio with 4 microphones, HTC BoomSound, and Hi-Res Audio recording. The U12 Plus is scheduled to be available in in both single-SIM (nano) and dual-SIM (nano) variants, along with support for the following 4G LTE bands: FDD-LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 28, 32, and 66; TD-LTE bands: 38, 39, 40, and 41. The U12 Plus supports Cat. 18 Gigabit LTE, while Bluetooth 5.0 is also on offer. In terms of the physical dimensions, the phone measures 156.6 x 73.9 x 8.7-9.7mm, and weighs in at 188 grams.
U12 Plus Hardware & Design
HTC has never been one to shy away from implementing different ideas into the designs of its phones, and it's continuing that trend this year with the HTC U12 Plus and the new Translucent Blue color option. The Translucent Blue color of the HTC U12 Plus allows the owner to see right through the backside of the phone, and peering through the glass back, it’s possible to see some of the components on the inside of the device that make it up, something which HTC carried forward from a design choice last year with the U11 Plus. Though the U12 Plus isn’t HTC’s first device with a translucent color option, the translucent color did change this time around. The U11 Plus was available in a Translucent Black while this year HTC has switched things up to a Translucent Blue color instead, while also changing a little bit of what you see through the translucent backing in regards to the hardware components. The remaining two colors are the Ceramic Black, which HTC offered on the U11 Plus too, and a Flame Red.
The translucent color is one of the more noticeable hardware design choices that HTC has made here, but there are other distinctive things to look at. Another obvious one, and perhaps the first thing that users will pay attention to as it’s on the front of the phone and will be the first thing that most will interact with is the screen. HTC has slimmed the bezels down to the most minimal they’ve ever been on any device that HTC has ever made, and this is even more noticeable thanks to the size of the screen which is 6-inches. HTC says the phone is also easier to hold because the screen uses a new 3D glass that sort of curves the edges to help the phone better fit in the hand.
The HTC U12 Plus comes with HTC’s Liquid Surface design, and comes in two additional colors alongside the translucent blue, which include ceramic black and flame red, though HTC does state that availability if the colors will vary by region which means that some regions may not get access to every color. HTC is also using new pressure-sensitive buttons for ‘Edge Sense 2’ which HTC says will help “bring the experience to life,” so the buttons should feel more interactive and perhaps easier to use. Though not different from last year’s HTC U11 Plus, the fingerprint is once again on the back of the device, and as is the case with most phones these days it also comes with an IP68 rating so it is water and dust resistant. This doesn’t mean you should be completely care-free with it around dust or water but should any accidents happen it’s likely that it won’t be the end of the device.
U12 Plus Camera
The HTC U11 Plus featured what was considered one of the best mobile cameras of 2017 and its successor appears to be set to continue the same tradition, drastically improving upon the previous model in nearly every respect, though primarily by doubling the number of total sensors on offer. The new dual-camera setup includes one 12-megapixel sensor that’s relatively similar to the previous one, both in terms of size (1.4µm) and the fact that it’s mounted behind an f/1.75 lens. The change comes in the form of an extra telephoto camera using a 16-megapixel (1.0µm) sensor and an f/2.6 lens, with both supporting phase detection and laser autofocus. 2x optical zoom is also part of the package, whereas digital magnification will get you up to ten times larger image, with the quality of its results naturally being heavily dependent on the amount of lighting in your immediate vicinity.
Both optical and electronic image stabilization are supported by the twin camera setup of the HTC U12 Plus, as are augmented reality stickers and a new real-time bokeh mode enabled by the telephoto lens. Coupled with a dual-LED flash unit and face detection functionalities, HTC’s latest Android flagship should be an extremely capable tool for portrait photography. The device also features HDR support which the company is referring to as “HDR Boost 2,” whereas its manual mode allows for exposures that are up to 32 seconds long and can export RAW files.
The single 8-megapixel (f/2.0) camera of the HTC U11 Plus is now enhanced with the addition of another identical module to the front of the new smartphone, with the phablet being capable of capturing an 84-degree field of view, which should be more than enough for most group selfie scenarios. Every software feature of the flagship’s rear cameras is also supported by its front-facing system, save for the Pro mode. Screen flash is meant to compensate for a lack of a physical flash on the top bezel, whereas the two front cameras of the HTC U12 Plus also allow for Live Makeup, Auto Selfie, and a number of other functionalities meant to take your photography game to the next level.
The front cameras can capture 1080p clips, whereas the rear setup is once again able to deliver 4K recordings at 60 frames per second, being compatible with the same AR stickers that can be attached to your photographs in real time. The U12 Plus is yet another HTC-made device that ships with four microphones allowing for 360-degree audio capture meant to make your video content more immersive, especially given how the quad-module setup is rated for recording 24-bit, 96KHz audio. Slow-motion functionality is also on offer but more as an afterthought, though it’s still better than 120fps footage of the U11 Plus. The newer device can capture 240fps content at a 1080p resolution which won’t slow down action by a lot but also won’t deliver video files that will eat up your flash storage in a matter of days. Hyperlapse and every other conventional video mode that contemporary smartphones — including those from HTC — have already been supporting for years are unsurprisingly included in the U12 Plus as well.
All things considered, the HTC U12 Plus is effectively the U11 Plus with one extra camera on both sides and should hence allow for better portrait photography, low-light performance, and generally be more versatile than its already critically acclaimed predecessor. The user interface of the default Camera app appears to be relatively similar to that from last year, though the overall package now appears to be a mix between Samsung’s AR filter focus and the straightforward nature of the mobile photography experience offered by Google’s Pixel lineup. Compared to other alternatives that are currently available on the market or will be released in the coming weeks, the HTC U12 Plus certainly has the specs to be considered a member of the elite smartphone imaging tier, though time will tell how well its camera holds up in everyday scenarios.
U12 Plus Battery
The battery is one of the few components of a smartphone that hasn’t changed much over the years, and in many respects is the one component that has changed the least. Of course this hasn’t stopped manufacturers from trying to improve the battery life of a device every time they launch a new one, although in the case of the HTC U12 Plus there’s not seemingly that much on offer in terms of battery innovation. Instead, the U12 Plus boasts a battery with a 3,500 mAh capacity with HTC hoping the greater capacity ensures the phone does not run out of power, too quickly.
At the software level HTC has included a couple of options which will look to save on power as and when needed. For example, the U12 Plus features both a power saving mode and an extreme power saving mode. Both of which will turn off just about everything and leave only the essential features working with the idea being the other features cannot demand additional power from the battery while paused. This doesn’t have to just be for when the battery is already low, as it can also be activated when the device is not expected to be in use for longer periods.
When it comes to charging, the U12 Plus features Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 support and with Quick Charge 3.0, the 3,500mAh capacity battery in the U12 Plus can charge up to 50-percent in just 35 minutes. This also means that in around an hour you can have a fully charged smartphone. At present, there does not seem to be any further advanced charging features on offer, such as wireless charging.
U12 Plus Security
HTC has outfitted the U12 Plus with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor in the same place as it was on its predecessor, the U11. The fingerprint sensor is still pretty fast, and also comes with gesture support, like bringing down the notification shade and such. It is located just below the cameras on the back of the U12 Plus, putting it in the perfect spot for use with an index finger without needing to reposition the grip of the U12 Plus.
Those that wish to unlock the U12 Plus without their fingerprint can opt to use their face as HTC has added face unlock here. Generally speaking, HTC has made it pretty easy to set up, and it also seems to respond fairly fast. Of course, it should be mentioned that face unlock is currently not as secure as using a fingerprint and for those more concerned about securing a device, the fingerprint sensor remains the better option. Still, it’s always good to have more options to easily unlock a device.
U12 Plus Variants
HTC has now announced two variants of the U12 Plus which largely differ as 64GB and 128GB storage flavors. It is also worth noting that the company announced that both single-SIM and dual-SIM U12 Plus variants will be available, depending on the market. Other than those points, the different U12 Plus models sport the same specs, and the same design overall. There is always a chance that HTC may announce other, market-specific variants of the U12 Plus in the coming months, and it is possible these might differ in some respects.
U12 Plus Availability
The HTC U12 Plus is available for pre-order starting today from HTC’s website. In the US, the Translucent Blue is going to be priced at $799 for the 64GB model and $849 for the 128GB model. The Ceramic Black is going to be available in 64GB only, with a price of $799 as well. Purchasing from HTC’s website means that you’ll be able to pay for the device in installments, at $0 down and $34 per month for 24 months. The Flame Red color is not yet available, however, HTC has confirmed to Android Headlines the Flame Red color will be coming in the next few months. So if you are looking to pick up the Flame Red color, you may want to sit back and wait a bit. Finally, HTC is not selling through any carriers, but will be selling the U12 Plus through Amazon and Newegg -- in addition to its website -- when it launches in June. No specific release date has been provided yet.
In Canada, availability is similar, with pre-orders beginning today on HTC’s website. Pricing is a bit different, however, with the Translucent Blue priced at $1,099 for the 64GB model, and $1,169 for the 128GB model. Meanwhile the Ceramic Black model is also priced at $1,099 for 64GB of storage.
U12 Plus Gallery