If you prefer a small, lightweight phone then the iPhone 7 will appeal. It has good cameras and is both zippy in performance and waterproof. The HTC U11 is a bigger phone with better battery life and a couple of extra features such as Edge Sense and customised sound. It’s also £50 more expensive, but has double the storage of the 32GB iPhone and lets you add more via a microSD card. If you’re already locked into the world of iOS, then the iPhone is a perfectly reasonable choice. Otherwise, the U11 is a superb phone that doesn’t disappoint.
Price When Reviewed
HTC U11: $649
Apple iPhone 7: 32 GB $449 | 128GB $549
Best Prices Today: HTC U11
HTC has released its 2017 flagship, the U11. Here we compare it to Apple’s latest, the iPhone 7 to help you decide which you should buy.
Also read our in-depth review of the HTC U11 and and our comparison of the U11 vs LG G6.
Which phone is cheaper?
At launch, the iPhone 7, in its smallest 32GB guise, cost £599 (US$649). Add £100 or US$100 if you want 128GB of storage, and the same again for 256GB.
You can now buy it a little cheaper at £579 from Amazon.
In the UK, there’s just one configuration: 64GB storage. This costs £649 from Laptops Direct, £50 more than the iPhone 7.
But, as you’ll see, there are some compelling reasons why you might want to splash the extra cash.
Features and design
Size is the first thing most people consider, and the iPhone 7 – by today’s standards – has a dinky screen at just 4.7in.
Unlike most of 2017’s flagship phones, it doesn’t have a huge screen-to-body ratio. It’s around 65 percent thanks to the areas above and below the screen that house the selfie camera, speaker and fingerprint scanner.
The HTC U11 doesn’t subscribe to the “bezels are evil” train of thought either, primarily because HTC, like Apple, doesn’t manufacture its own screens.
And so the U11’s 5.5in screen makes it a much larger device than the iPhone 7 – more on a par with the 7 Plus.
It doesn’t mean either phone is ugly, though. In fact, both look great, even if the iPhone is almost indistinguishable from the iPhone 6 and 6S.
The U11 is unusual in that it its chassis is mostly made of glass. We think it looks great and there’s a variety of colours to choose between. It isn’t so great if you’ll hide it away in a case, but it’s also delicate and you’ll always be worried about dropping it.
Aside from this, both phones are well built and both lack a 3.5mm headphone jack, preferring instead to include an adaptor in the box to allow users to attach their existing headphones to their USB-C (HTC) and Lightning (Apple) connectors.
Being larger, the U11 has a much bigger battery – over 1000mAh larger in capacity than the iPhone’s.
However, while the U11 can easily last a day with heavy use, you’ll still need to charge it to keep going the next day. The iPhone, too, can last a day thanks to Apple’s complete control over both hardware and software, so it’s unwise to look only at specifications here.
You can’t easily expand the iPhone’s storage, which is where the microSD slot in the U11 is a real bonus. Sure, you get ‘only’ 64GB for your £649, but you can cheaply add more.
The U11 has a couple of other nifty features including squeezable sides. This means you can take photos by applying pressure, launch apps or zoom in on a map. Depending on how long you squeeze determines the action performed, and because it’s just pressure, it works if you’re wearing gloves.
The bad news is that this Edge Sense feature isn’t well supported at launch, and there’s a limited amount you can do with it at the moment.
Both phones are waterproof so will survive a trip under water.
But the U11 has another trick: customisable audio. As well as supporting Hi-res audio, the powered headphones can use sonar to adjust the sound to suit your ears. It’s no gimmick: it really does make the U11 sound great.
This handy table shows how their main specs compare:
Android Nougat 7.1
5.5in, 2560×1440, LCD 5 display, 538ppi
4.7in, 1334×750 IPS display, 326ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
A10 fusion processor
64GB storage with micro SD up to 256GB
12Mp, f/1.7 with OIS
12Mp, f/1.8 with OIS
802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
4G LTE Cat16
4G LTE Cat9
Y, for Apple Pay
3.5mm headphone jack
Quick Charge 3.0
154 x 76 x 7.9mm
Performance: Which phone is faster?
With the Snapdragon 835, the newer U11 outperforms the iPhone 7 in some benchmarks. But when it comes to games, the iPhone 7’s lower-resolution screen means it can hit 60fps in many more than the Quad HD HTC.
More pixels means better quality, but also slower performance. Some titles may not look as sharp on the iPhone, but in practice, many will feel smoother.
Here’s how the two phones compare to each other and some of their other rivals.
Both phones have a 12Mp main camera, and both are capable of producing good-looking photos.
The both have OIS for sharper photos in low light, and both support 4K video recording.
The HTC has a few extras, such as an array of four microphone that allow it to focus on the person you’re shooting, especially if you zoom in.
And round the front, the HTC bests the iPhone with its 16Mp selfie camera.
All told, the U11 is the best choice for photography and video, but you’re unlikely to be disappointed by the iPhone’s photo and video quality.
We’re big fans of iOS, despite its lack of customisation and the fact Apple designs both hardware and software makes the iPhone 7 a slick package.
The phone will get the update to iOS 11 in September, and this brings a few decent new features such as a customisable Control Centre.
HTC has realised that people want a close-to-stock version of Android, and that’s what the U11 delivers.
It has a few enhancements, but has the look and feel of stock Android.
HTC U11: Specs
- Android Nougat 7.1
- 5.5 Quad HD LCD 5 display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
- 4 GB RAM
- 64GB storage with micro SD up to 256GB
- 12Mp main camera, f/1.7 with OIS
- 16Mp front facing camera, f/2.0
- Edge Sense
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 4G LTE Cat16
- USB-C 3.1
- 3000mAh non-removable battery
- Quick Charge 3.0
- 154 x 76 x 7.9mm