The U11 marks a new chapter for HTC. Its sleek and shiny new design along with top-notch audio should be enough to sway over some Galaxy customers who are tired of poorly optimized software and slow Android updates. The HTC U11's camera is every bit as good as the Galaxy S8's - in fact, we find them to be identical in most aspects. This could shape up to be a really great year for HTC.
The HTC U11 has the total package: a nice display, excellent camera, an out-of-the-box audio experience that surpasses anything on the market right now, all wrapped in a very attractive package that's priced the same as the entry-level iPhone 7 and lower than the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8. Sure, it's missing a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the bundled earbuds with active noise cancelling represent a justified tradeoff.
Even if HTC is trying to squeeze in a bit too many superfluous features, that doesn't change the fact you still have a great all-around smartphone with or without Edge Sense.
The HTC U11 is definitely one of the nicest looking devices out there. Well, if you're looking at it from the back, as the front doesn't really do much to stand out. If it weren't for the oblong-shaped fingerprint sensor, you might even mistake it for a Plus-sized iPhone.
While not all audiophiles may be satisfied with using a 3.5mm jack dongle, they will surely enjoy the high quality sound of Boom Sound. The active noise cancelling USonic earbuds that can tune to anyone's ear canals should please anyone who loves their music in full and rich sound.
If you aren't about HTC's Sense and frequent updates are more important to you, then look no further than the (HTC-made) Google Pixel XL. While it's priced higher and offers no memory expansion, you'd get updates directly from Google with a camera that's comparable to the HTC U11's along with consistently great battery life.
If you want something more from your camera experience, like a dual-camera, you might want to see the iPhone 7 Plus. It's got an excellent all-around camera and iPhone's unmatched Portrait Mode. Though given its price and how long there's left before the newest iPhone (fall 2017), you might want to wait it out.
You'll get a very comparable camera with the S8, not to mention the S8's gorgeous infinity display with brighter sunlight performance and Samsungs bells and whistles crammed in. Unfortunately, Samsung's UI still slows down on a small number of power-users a few weeks in, despite the Snapdragon 835 on the North American model.
While Xiaomi doesn't make it to many markets outside of China, the Xiaomi Mi 6 is the way to get the power of the Snapdragon 835 on the cheaper side; Well, that's only if you manage to get one directly from China. It's a different take on premium-meets-affordability.
While the OnePlus 3T is effectively sold out, you'll surely be able to snag one for significantly lower than the U11. It offers a great camera, comparable battery life, and a near-stock Android experience with a large developer community if flashing ROMs is your cup of tea. Otherwise you should wait for the OnePlus 5 which is expected to have a compelling package for at least $100, or more, cheaper than the HTC U11's $650 retail price.
If a wide-angle camera excites you more than a top-notch camera, the LG G6 might be the one for you. It's also IP67 water resistant and is even able to handle seawater. Sure LG is using last year's chipset, but its consistent battery life, full vision display, and inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack might be worth taking a look at.
As humans we like shiny things, so if HTC wants to call customers attention in the carrier store, it should be placing these phones on display with the back glass facing the showroom. Its color options are enough to get people saying "What is that? It's pretty!" Unfortunately, Sprint will be the only carrier to sell it in the US, though you'll be able to get one unlocked from HTC and will work on Verizon.
The U11 is literally a reflection of you. It's customizable and its various value-added services can be tailored to anyone. Heck, even its earbuds are tailored to your ears. The HTC U11 isn't the most expensive flagship out there, but it's a pricey sum for your wallet to swallow nonetheless, though one that is worth every penny.