back to article HTC U12+: Like a Pixel without the pratfalls, or eye-watering price tag

It may be news to you that HTC is still with us, but the fact it's here is good news for phone buyers. HTC's only flagship smartphone of 2018 – the U12+ – looks like a sensibly priced alternative to the Pixel and Galaxy, without the eccentricities and flaws of the Huawei P20 Pro. htc U12+ PICS HTC is hanging on in the phone …

  1. Stuart Moore
    Stop

    No Headphone Jack, No Sale

    You forgot to mention, but there's no headphone jack (according to https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/new-product/mobile-phone/htc-u12-plus-3664388/ )

    Shame as there does appear to be an SD card (had to look at https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/22/htc-leaks-flagship-u12-plus/?guccounter=1 to find that!)

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

      Well as I have happily given up a tangled life for wireless headphones, the lack of a headphone socket (accumulates dirt) doesn't worry me - although I agree that many people would want to konow.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

        "the lack of a headphone socket (accumulates dirt)"

        Oddly enough, since the 1980s, I've never ever had a problem with headphone jacks accumulating dirt.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

      Indeed, although Andrew is keen on camera / video info a few lines detailing other features would help e.g.

      SD card?

      Headphone Jack?

      RAM / Processor info

      Dual SIM?

      Removeable battery?

      Android version & chance of updates for longer than a nanosecond

      USB C or B to charge

      How much unremoveable pre installed crud

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

        How much unremoveable pre installed crud?

        I was waiting for this too, given much recent discussion of FB and similar I felt sure it would be mentioned.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

        Aww bless someone stuck in 2007 with 2007 requirements. Does it also need to support 8track?

        1. Piro

          Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

          Yeah, to hell with options and choice, am I right? Because you have no use for it, why should anyone else?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

        If you want all that legacy junk, buy a Samsung. This is of course the benefit of Android and multiple OEMs, you have the power to choose what features you want and it the appropriate device.

        The fact HTC have gone this route (as have Google, Apple, Sony and others), suggests there is a market for phones that focus on different feature priority than what Samsung do.

        I dont want any of this features, and don't want to pay extra for them

        Whilst AO might hate Google and try his best to spin things ("Like a Pixel without the pratfalls, or eye-watering price tag"). Someone want to explain that £699 for the U12+ 64gb is MORE than £599 for the pixel2 64gb. There is only one Prattfail here..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

          £100 less for a Google phone with no bloat, 3+ years of updates, better camera and an OLED display, or the HTC...

          Who is the real Pratt?.. I think it's pretty obvious....

          There is nothing wrong with the U12+. But the Pixel2 is so much more advanced for less Dosh.....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

          If you want all that legacy junk, buy a...

          What a nice way to step on the music industry as a whole in less than half a sentence. Not. The 3.5mm headphone jack today is still compatible to the 6.35mm audio jack which all professional music equipments today use. That's as legacy as the usb for wired mouse/ keyboard.

          I dont want any of this features, and don't want to pay extra for them

          Oddly, you are paying for them anyway. The manufactures see it as a feature. You know that right off the bat when a cheap $100 smartphone can easily have a headphone jack plus extras.

          Also, what is wrong with you bluetooth fans? I'm sure plenty of us would love to have BOTH the bluetooth AND a headphone jack options.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

            "professional music equipments " doesnt connect that headphone jack up to a 1p cheap any nasty integrated DAC....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

              How good do you think that snapdragon integrated SOC is? Answer very average.

              I want to pick my critical analogue audio components, not trust a contract design house who wants to find the best value to fit the manufacturing cost point.

              Good luck, I hope your mass produced audio stage works for you, however I found a HUGE audio quality increase just by using a £10 inline USB-C HTC DAC

          2. Altema

            Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

            Not really stepping on the music industry. We don't use headphones in commercial studio control rooms, except to make sure the mix still sounds good when downgraded to consumer products. We do use them in the studio itself so the singers and musicians can hear without leakage to the microphones, but not having a headphone jack on a smartphone has zero impact on that.

            The basic jack has been around since 1878, and was originally designed for telephone switchboard operators. It was adopted for audio use, and reduced in size for consumer products, but remains a very reliable connector. However, it can never be more than a passive analog connector when it comes to music. The jack can be used for a data pass-through, and can also be wired for simple power, but as a basic connector, it neither degrades or enhances the audio chain. USB C, on the other hand, can supply all those functions including analog audio passthrough from an internal DAC, plus many other functions including acting as a 10 gigabit data bus.

            And this is where the HCC USonic comes into the picture. ALL music stored on a smartphone is digital, and that music is streamed digitally through the USB C port to the custom DAC in the USonic headphone plug, and the headphones actually use bidirectional data transfer to perform a real sonar scan of your ear canals, and saves the results to your audio profile on the phone. In addition to that, the sound environment is monitored by the microphone array in the phone, and the CPU processes that information to cancel the environment noise from the audio output to the ears. Active noise cancellation (ANC) is not new, but having it controlled by the phone CPU is.

            So, what's the result of all this? Earbuds that sound better than my favorite Sennheiser open backs plugged into a studio SSL recording console. Earbuds that don't require batteries or charging. Earbuds with bass extension down to frequencies that most over-ear headphones can't match. If I can take a page from GSMArena, it's as if HTC figured out a way to deconstruct the music and recreate each individual instrument with unmatched detail and clarity. The soundstage has no walls and the spatial imaging is so well defined that you can close your eyes and point to instruments. Even on older classics like Roundabout by YES, you feel like you would bump your face into Steve Howe's left arm if you moved too much.

            Anyways, to sum this up as an audio professional, HTC alone has a compelling reason to leave behind the consumer grade 3.5 jack because USonic is light years ahead in performance and function. I still use my Sennheisers and my Ghostek soDrop 2's, and they sound sweet through the hi-res certified external DAC that HTC gives you for free, but I would choose USonic over a built in jack any day. And if HCT comes up with a commercial grade USonic processor that will tie into the data bus of recording consoles, I would buy it.

    3. Goldmember

      Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

      I thought I would hate not having a headphone jack on my phone. But it's something you just get used to. It is also the final defence in making the phone fully waterproof; a major plus for holidays or just peace of mind against accidental damage.

      My U11 came with an adapter for 3.5mm headphones and some excellent noise-cancelling USB-C headphones in the box.

      But having to choose between charging or headphone use is an annoyance on plane journeys.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

        Sony phones have been waterproof and had a headphone socket for years - though latest Sony flagships have ditched the port. Top end Samsung phones have been waterproof for a few generations now, and still retain the 3.5mm socket.

        I saw a mate the other day, had dropped his phone into a puddle of paint and thus funked up the charge socket. Having wireless charging is a form of reduncy - if the USB socket dies the phone can still be used. If my phone lost its 3.5mm socket, it'd be annoyance but I'd find a workaround somehow (i.e I'd spend £20 on dongles instead of £500 on a new phone)

      2. Piro

        Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

        Waterproofing has nothing to do with the 3.5mm jack, there are plenty of waterproof devices with them.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

      I have long since moved on from the inadequacy of a chest onboard DAC feeding a headphone jack.

      External inline DAC sounds so much better.

      No interest in sloe external SD storage or removable batteries either

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Headphone Jack, No Sale

      I find the disdain for analog technology by smartphone manufacturers deplorable.

      Headphone jack, FM radio, IR blaster.

      They do not make the phone 'bulky'. They do not significantly increase the cost of production or eat into profit margin.

      Seems like those very useful features are now only found on midrange/budget phones e.g. the Nokia 6 (2018), rather than flagships.

      https://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_6_(2018)-8972.php

      If you want those useful features, you'll have to tolerate an inferior screen, an inferior camera, a slower chip, less memory/storage, less premium (more plastic) build, no certified waterproofing etc.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Bagpi
    Meh

    "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

    I had plenty of HTCs in my time, but gave up on them when I realised that they considered phones older than a few months too elderly to have even basic security updates. Has anything changed in this respect?

    1. Happycheesecake

      Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

      Nope, my dual-sim U11 is stuck on Nov 2017 security patch (as is everyone elses; some have Dec 2017), and HTC when asked have no idea if/when there's going to be an update.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

      Exactly what put me off HTC years ago. I had a HTC Hero and Sensation between 2009 and 2013 - the former got sod all updates despite many promises and the latter, while it did get occasional updates was beset by the random turn off problem (plus other updates/fixes promised by tech support that never materialised). IIRC the Sensation was EoLd about 18 months after launch in the UK - so you'd have been SOL if you bought it on a two year contract. I bought SIM free so cut my losses after about 20 months and went to something else which proved significantly more reliable (not perfect but streets ahead).

      HTC may make some great Hardware (as evidenced by AO's various reviews) but that's nothing if the software support is utter shit (as evidenced by HTC's own behaviour over many years). And, no, I wasn't feeling confident enough to flash Cyanogen onto either handset - it shouldn't be necessary to do that just to make a £500* flagship phone usable (*Sensation June 2011 launch price).

      From my POV, HTC's progressive decline is them reaping what they've long been sowing with respect to software support and updates. Such a shame for an early pioneer of Android hardware.

    3. Steve Evans

      Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

      Exactly my reaction... "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls, or eye-watering price tag, long term support or timely updates".

      I owned one HTC... Once... It received exactly one update from HTC a couple of months after a bought it, and within 6 months the moved onto new models and abandoned it.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

        I have an HTC10. I wish I didn't.

        1. truetalk

          Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

          I have an HTC M10 and love it, never any issues and plenty of updates.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

        I owned one HTC... Once... It received exactly one update from HTC a couple of months after a bought it, and within 6 months the moved onto new models and abandoned it.

        I used to feel this way, as a "buy-and-keep" sort of person. I buy my cars new and run them for a decade or so. But when thinking of phones we need to consider the fact that larger, sealed in batteries are more popular (and therefore much more economic for manufacture), that handsets aren't designed for many years of trouble free operation (which tit designed the awful, fragile USB socket?), and that they are always at risk of loss, breakage, theft, or simple failure.

        At the moment I hold out on a 3.5mm socket and SD card, and the fine fellows at Xiaomi have done me proud. But I'm relaxed about the software updates because I paid £160 for a phone that should otherwise frighten Apple and Samsung.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

      No HTC on the Google list, neither are Samsung

      You would have to be mug to buy either personally. Likewise if you bought a phone without checking that list and then subsequently decided you cared are updates...

      https://www.blog.google/products/android-enterprise/android-enterprise-recommended-raising-the-bar-of-excellence-for-enterprise-mobility/

      "Delivery of Android security updates within 90 days of release from Google, for a minimum of three years"

      Android is also about choice, it from someone that cares about timely updates and long term support, or buy from someone that has flashy TV adverts and sports sponsors the footy.. your choice....

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

        "No HTC on the Google list, neither are Samsung"

        I wonder if Google has a crystal ball? I wouldn't trust that list very much.

        Besides, the aim is pretty low. Buy a second hand phone that was out a year before being purchased, has been owned for a year or so, and after you had it for a year, it has no more support. And that's a best case scenario.

        And updates being made available no later than 90 days after Google provides them? Well, that's not very impressive either.

        Basically, the phone industry is a bit sh*t, isn't it?

        1. Pseudonymous Howard

          Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

          Early this year I bought a second hand LG G5 from 2016. It is has Android 7.0 and to my surprise it is still receiving security updates from LG. Patch level is currently 1st of March 2018. There are companies who are at least keeping their installed versions up to date. If I want the latest Android, I can always switch to LineageOS. Also Huawei surprised me: The P8lite (first edition) is also still receiving security updates.

          1. Brenda McViking

            Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

            Whereas my LG V20 is more modern (Oct 16) than a G5 (Feb 16) and is on a September 2017 patch level. So it didn't even get 12 months of support before LG threw in the towel (Which I assume they have, seeing as I haven't had an update for 9 months now.)

            Grass isn't greener...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Like a Pixel without the pratfalls"... and presumably without the updates

          "I wonder if Google has a crystal ball? I wouldn't trust that list very much."

          Vendors lose access to bundle Google play services if they make that list and fail to deliver on the 90 day turnaround and 3 year update support.

          It's well documented the requirements to get on that list and what is at stake if you break the agreement.

          Sorry if your phone isn't on that list, perhaps you should have checked before you bought your footballer xfactor phone....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HTC Sense

    No Sense UI. I really liked that on my older HTC phone - especially the flip clock widget and background.

    1. Hairy Spod

      Re: HTC Sense

      yes to this day my old HTC desire remains the most useable (and sensibly sized) phone I've ever add.

      It even recieved a mid life software update!

    2. Rimpel

      Re: HTC Sense

      look for 'sense flip clock and weather' on the play store...

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: HTC Sense

        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.droid27.senseflipclockweather

        That one?

  5. g00se
    Headmaster

    Invocation

    ... but in Google's phone it merely evokes the sinister data-slurping Clippy-style assistant.

    The word you want is invokes

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Invocation

      evoke is perfectly legitimate as well.

      To bring up or recall.

      Although you could say invoke is closer, due to being used in a computing scenario.

      1. MondoMan

        Re: Invocation

        "evokes" is a virtual action -- it conjures up an image in your mind -- while "invokes" is an action in the real world.

  6. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Price

    You put the price of a Pixel, and the price of a U11, but you don't think its worth putting in the price of the U12 you are reviewing??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Price

      That would ruin the illusion. The superior Pixel2 is £100 cheaper

      Still it's nice to know Android has a new free phone.

      Remind us again what The Register gifting policy is again, and if you can write Payola in exchange for free stuff?

  7. Millarmusic

    More like nothing like a pixel with even worse pratfalls and more expensive.

    Millarmusic

    More like nothing like a pixel with even worse pratfalls.

    The device may be okay (at most) device hardware wise and with its spec sheet, but down to software alone it's far far behind and will never receive a worthy update in any of the next forms of android. It's out of date already being released with 8.0 when my OG pixel XL runs andoid P 9.0 (my phone's 1.5 years old). As they state the HTC device is presumed to go to 9.0 but can guarantee it won't go any further than that if even gets that far,and won't receive the monthly updates a pixel receives. It is no where near future proof for an average 2 yer contact and will be left to gather dust security wise.

    They can put all the bells and whistles they like on the device if the software's shit, the device will run like shit. HTC support is like a fart in the wind which only adds to the frustration when they use cheap parts that break so often. Volume keys power buttons, camera lens all known to fall out or break of so very easily, so they removed the buttons and instead used preassure sensitivity on the side, no more just press with one finger screen off then? Making a very simple thing like turning off the screen from a 1 finger job to a whole hand grip job. Why make a simple task more complex? (Like apple iPhoneX they removed the fingerprint scanner big fail) What happens when that pressure side fails? No back up button to use so it will be registered useless. By today's standards aswell the screen to body ratio is low with a chin and a head like a 2016 2017 device.

    Another example is its being released beside the likes of the one+ 6 with similar stats but for some reason the 1+ 6 flies ahead of it... Reason being software and cheap materials being used on connecting boards by HTC it just can compete.

    And for a 64gb phone it's still £700 price taken off HTC website. One plus 6 with same version of ram at 6gb with same 64gb is £469... And if anything I'd say the OnePlus 6 feels and looks £230 quid more than the HTC, not other way round. It's not affordable as you've made it sound to be. Plus...You can buy Pixel 2xl is in Currys today for £629, cheaper than the HTC.

    To compare the HTC device to a pixel is pretty crazy,even though the company's work closely, it's like night and day. A secure updated device which you know will get 3 years at least of monthly and large updates or choose an HTC which may receive one or 2 throughout its life.

  8. Adam 52 Silver badge

    But up to a point, Lord Copper

    All those years mixing with journalists starting to leave an impression!

  9. Insane Reindeer

    Qi

    When Nokia bought this to market, everyone scoffed. Now devices get a negative mark for not having it. I sometimes wonder why Nokia kept going for as long as they did. Nothing they made or tried seemed good enough for the market and reviewers back then. Qi for example. And the camera. The 808 Pureview was laughed out of town and the Lumia 1020 fared little better. Both of which take better, truer, pictures than just about any phone on the market today and can actually be used at night/in low light thanks to actually having a proper flash.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Qi

      @Insane Reindeer

      "The 808 Pureview was laughed out of town"

      Reason? Symbian OS.

      "Lumia 1020 fared little better"

      Reason? Windows Phone OS (and the Elop-fication of Nokia).

      Also, back in the day, wireless charging was less ubiquitous than it is now. Like it or not, Apple is always the de facto trendsetter (refer to the unfortunate notch epidemic of Android phones in 2018). Big market share = sheer volume in sales of accessories = proliferation of technology or standard.

      Wireless charging is like IP68 water/dust-proof certification: nice to have, not necessarily dealbreakers if without them. But if you're paying top money for a flagship phone, psychologically you feel 'shortchanged' for not having those features, especially when a competing brand has them.

    2. Piro

      Re: Qi

      Was it really Nokia?

      If we're talking standard Qi maybe, but Palm's touchstone charger made wireless charging beautiful and functional quite some time ago. No idea why it didn't catch on.

      I still use my HP TouchPad to this day because there aren't any modern tablets with wireless charging and stands designed for them!! I would never use a tablet that required charging from a cable, it's just way too much hassle, not to mention you'd quickly wear the connector out.

  10. JHSyd

    The one huge difference between the HTC and Google products -- and, indeed, with all non-Google products -- is the consideration that if HTC's phone biz is heading south, 12+ buyers are even less likely to get Android security and OS updates/upgrades at all, let alone in a timely fashion.

  11. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    $799?

    That price is still pretty eye-watering. I've been looking at cheap droiders to use as GPS trackers for my dogs, they can be had for £30 upwards. The bottom end of the market has truly reached commodity pricing.

  12. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Innovation

    Being able to control the phone by squeezing or other things is certainly better than sticking a notch in it!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HTC was hard done by the 'lost years' flogging that inferior Ultrapixel camera.

    HTC should sue ST Microelectronics for loss in sales.

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