This is the second year since HTC shook up its design style from all-metal to its Liquid Surface glass. The glass comes in three versions: Ceramic Black (not actually ceramic), Translucent Blue (actually translucent), and Flame Red. These colors are a bit more conservative than the bolder Sapphire Blue and Amazing Silver from the U11.
Many argued that the U11 had a very fragile design compared to the HTC 10's rock-solid metal chassis, and they are not wrong. The HTC U12+ brings some design changes to improve the structural integrity of the phone. There's a hard lip in the chassis and you can see this all the way around the perimeter of the display glass. The shape of the rear glass is also flatter and doesn't curve as much.
The U12+ has new pressure sensitive buttons that are more like nubs in the chassis. The positives with this new kind of key are: improved water-proofing and better structural integrity. Depending on how you look at it. Actually using these keys might be a bother to some. We'll go into more detail in the UI section.
This device feels like a taller and boxier version of the U11. The taller display bumped the capacitive buttons out and have been replaced with on-screen navigation controls while the fingerprint scanner has moved to the back. The camera is now flush with the rear glass and the camera comes with a laser sensor to assist with autofocus.
Like the U11, the U12+ has pressure sensors embedded into the phone's frame. In addition to pressure sensitivity, the frame can also detect which points of the frame are in contact with your fingers as part of Edge Sense 2.0. Let's take a closer look at the rest of the hardware.
Starting with the front, we've got a tall 6-inch Super LCD display. The screen's corners are not curved like many other manufacturers have done but we aren't complaining. The upper and lower bezels are certainly a bit larger than the Galaxy S9's and this is to make enough room for the BoomSound speakers.
Above the display is the absence of a notch in the display, and we're definitely thankful for this. To the right of the in-call receiver is a mic hole, the usual light, and proximity sensors, as well as a notification LED behind the glass. Dual 8MP selfie cameras take up the space to the left of the receiver. As mentioned earlier, there's a lip around the entire edge of the glass that joins it to the aluminum frame.
There are no buttons on the left of the device - here is where the SIM/microSD card tray lives. Dual SIM models would have a hybrid slot for either a second SIM card or a microSD card. To the right are the phone's only buttons: power, volume -, and volume +.
The power key has a nice texture for telling it apart from the volume keys, however, these aren't actually buttons, they are pressure-sensitive nubs that simulate buttons and offer haptic feedback. The same pressure sensors used for Edge Sense 2.0 are used to detect which "key" is being applied with pressure. More about these keys in the UI section.
There's a mic at the top, and another on the bottom. Down here is also the BoomSound speaker port, and a USB-C port. There is no headphone jack, so you either have to rely on using an adapter or use the included noise-cancelling USonic Earbuds.
The actual frame looks nice on our Translucent Blue model, which has got a black matte finish. Otherwise, this is the only color option that has see-through glass. HTC first did this with the U11+ and we're happy to see something like this. It lets us peer inside and appreciate some of the inner workings of these devices that we entrust our entire digital lives with.
It doesn't quite take us back to the time in the 90s when transparent housings were all the rage, but it does put a new, more subdued twist on the trend.
Centering the back of the phone is the HTC logo, just above the printed stripes that fade the transparent part of the glass to the non-translucence. HTC didn't make this area translucent because it figured that the battery wasn't all that interesting to look at.
Above the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is a dual LED flash and HTC's new dual cameras. This setup reminds us of the LG V30's (or V30+, or V30S, or V35) a little bit in the arrangement and position of the cameras and fingerprint scanner.
The U12+ has dual autofocus systems as well, the lasers are here to the left of the camera and another mic right next to the camera. The camera ring is pretty much flush with the rear glass, so no camera hump here.
Overall, a handsome looking device from HTC. Our only concerns lie in durability, particularly if the phone was to be dropped on a corner - since the front glass has that lip that goes around the entire front edge of the display.
This glass might be more likely to become damaged than the rear. Thankfully, HTC offers a glossy plastic clear case in the box that you can use until you can get a proper case - which we highly recommend you invest in.