back to article HTC U11: U-hoo. Look over here! Two new phones! We're Not Actually Dead

HTC will have two new devices in the stores this month, and insists it has held onto a sizeable phone division, even after the reassignment of 2,000 HTC staff to the Chocolate Factory. "It's more of a partnership" an HTC staffer told us. The partnership does include slapping Google's dud AndroidOne brand on one of its devices …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Hmmm.... Well, since a screen-meets-concrete incident yesterday, I'm in the market for a new handset.

    Let me reassure you, gentle reader, that the concrete was unharmed.

    Dang, I was hoping to hold out til Qualcomm's active IR 3D scanning tech arrives on handsets early next year.

    1. K
      Thumb Up

      Depends what your budget is.. But would highly recommend taking a look at the Xiaomi handsets. Not many suppliers in the UK, but they're awesome and spectacularly well priced.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Well, my Nexus 5 has been fit for purpose (niggles might be small battery and the so-so camera) but its no longer updated, and the midrange Android world looks pretty good. Still, I've never lived with an iPhone, and the available peripherals and software, plus camera and system performance look attractive, even on a now not-too-pricey 6 model (in Android world a 2 year model might not be updated for long, but it is a 64bit model, who knows).

        Either that or some cheap n cheerful phone to tide me over til next year's new features.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Xiaomi handsets and other cheap (rootable) android phone might be the way for you to go, since you are "hoping to hold out til Qualcomm's active IR 3D scanning tech arrives on handsets early next year". At around $100~200, it's 1/5 price of a typical flagship phone. It is a fairly good 'filler' phone when you're wait for something better with it's low starting investment cost (phone-meets-concrete again? buy another one).

        For Xiaomi handsets, their main android-based OS MIUI has a very active community for rooting, so if you searched ahead you'll know at least you have the ability to remove it's bloatware. Not to mention you can also unlock the bootloader online to install custom rom like lineageOS.

        The only downside is a flagship phone is expected to last 2-3 years (hardware and software support), with these type of phones you should be expecting it to last 1 year (unless you provided support to it).

    2. Mark 110

      My HTC U11 is by far the best phone I have owned. Highly recommended though a bit pricey.

  2. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Dongle

    I'm presuming 'moved the DAC out of the phone' is a subtle euphemism for 'they've bloody well gone and removed the bloody headphone jack!'?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Dongle

      Less is more, or so we're constantly told.

      Apart from the price tag, of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dongle

      Actually:-

      "the Plus has better sound"

      contradicts:-

      "Although it's a pity that HTC moved the DAC out of the phone"

      Er, guys, there has to be a DAC, even if it's a crappy thing using a single IO line, some software and some el-cheapo capacitors and resistors, and that has to be coupled to an amplifier. How else do you hear what the person you just made a phone call to is saying?

      So, what they're saying is:- "we've omitted a 3.5mm socket and the small amount of circuitry attaching it to the on-board DAC and amplifier, and you now have to use a *second* DAC and amplifier for your headphones."

      Come on, we're supposed to be reducing the amount of electronics sent to landfill, not increasing it.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Dongle

        @AC

        The high quality DACs on some phones aren't used for phone calls- it's a discrete component. In fact, not all of the high end DAC is used for all apps, because it's power hungry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dongle

          @Dave 126

          I hear what you're saying about a power hungry DAC, but if they're going to boast about turning the volume up to 11, I believe they should have the decent quality hardware to back it up built in to the phone.

          1. Bronek Kozicki

            Re: Dongle

            "if they're going to boast about turning the volume up to 11" ... that's a big if, as things stand.

          2. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Dongle

            There's a case to be made either way. On one hand, a good pair of headphones will last longer than a mobile phone. On the other, lots of people want the versatility of a 3.5mm socket. Then back on the first hand, many people don't plug their phone into an amp any more, because a Chromecast Audio (or similar) is less faff.

            1. JohnFen
              Unhappy

              Re: Dongle

              Whether you prefer a headphone jack or bluetooth depends on your use case. But phones don't have to force you to choose -- they can support both. In my view, this fact means that there is very nearly no good argument for removing the headphone jack.

              There are, of course, other unrelated arguments being made for the jack's removal, but I've yet to see one that both makes sense and is accurate.

  3. M Mouse

    All very nicely reported...

    But did no-one at El Reg notice there was a phone launch in London yesterday, for the Razer (or did the 'double the cost' pricing at £699 (or US$ 699) and launch date of 17.11 just not "hit the spot" ?

    I'm not a gamer as such but the price (with 8 GB RAM) is rather attractive to me, saving a bit compared with some other new 'flagship' phones, for sure.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: All very nicely reported...

      If you want to play games while on the go, why not get a Switch which is half the price? As a rule games on mobiles are pretty bad. No buttons.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: All very nicely reported...

        I think the hope is that Razor, as primarily a gaming peripheral brand, might release controllers for it.

        I hear their gaming laptops (that aren't gaudy and in fact just look like black Macbook Pros) are rather good, even for non gaming power users.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: All very nicely reported...

          Even so, good Android games are few and far between as Ouya found out. You hardly need it for Candy Crush.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dual SIM ?

    The only mention of SIM in the article was in the word "parsimonious".

    Do I win a prize ?

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Dual SIM ?

      or sd slot or removable battery,......

      1. JimmyPage
        Thumb Up

        RE: or sd slot or removable batteryDual SIM ?

        good catch sir ! Yes, the cornerstone of any new phone I get (my 2 year old Wileyfox Swift is still covering all but one need) will be:

        Dual-SIM,

        SD-slot (which doesn't require losing a SIM),

        Removable battery,

        Full GPS suite (US, EU, Russian and China)

        NFC

        Not network locked

        Basic Android which doesn't need rooting to remove cruft

        No cruft to start with

        But - in a microcosmic example of market pressures - I don't need a new phone. I am "managing" with a 2 year old device and am mature enough to not care about the shiny.

  5. RyokuMas
    Devil

    "... but curiously Google has revived it, not for sub-$100 phones, but for mid-rangers in mature markets, like the HTC U11 Life, announced today..."

    Makes perfect sense if you think about it - Google is first and foremost an advertising company, whose goal is to get you to buy stuff. If you're looking at the market that's buying landfill Android, the chances are that they won't have too much disposable cash to spend on the stuff that's being advertised.

    Much more sensible to try and track/control an audience that is in a position to respond to those efforts.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Just because people don't have lots of money, doesn't mean they have none: several billion Indians and Chinese with only a couple of dollars a month are still a market and Google does lots of testing to make sure its content and ads is served to them.

      And these poor people have just as much a right to use the internet as you, you entitled fanboi.

      1. RyokuMas
        Paris Hilton

        "entitled fanboi."

        Ah, the ad hominem approach - first resort of those without a decent counter argument.

        I never said anyone doesn't have the right to use the internet - even Donald Trump has the right to use the internet, more's the pity.

        And I'm pretty sure Google does do lots of testing to make sure that approvedappropriate content is served for each region.

        But say you were running a business and had the option of focusing your marketing effort either on individuals with a disposable income of (say) £100/month, or £1000/month (hypothetical figures to make a point here) - which would you choose to put the most effort into?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "entitled fanboi."

          It's quite common for businesses to be in the position where 90% of their revenue comes from 10% of their customers. The ones that decide to concentrate on the good 10% and ignore the rest go bust after a while. Why? Because within that no so good 90% are hidden the clients who should one day grow to be your new top 10%

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: "entitled fanboi."

          Ah, the ad hominem approach - first resort of those without a decent counter argument.

          haha, focus on the throwaway remark after I presented the counter-argument.

          We know you have a beef with Google because, for you, IOS users are much more profitable.

          But markets segment: Walmart and Cartier both make lots of money.

          1. RyokuMas
            FAIL

            Re: "entitled fanboi."

            "We know you have a beef with Google because, for you, IOS users are much more profitable.""

            And therein lies the crunch - the assumption that because I have posted something against Android, I am by default an iOS user (an "entitled fanboi").

            I have a beef with anyone who abuses a position of power for their own gain at the expense of the masses. If an article raises how Apple have done something stupid, for their own gain at the expense of their users, or out of sheer hubris, I'll slate Apple. Same with Microsoft, or anyone else.

            Right now (and I'll be the first to admit it) Google are getting the lions share of such comments from me - simply because by their position as the defacto search provider, they have an unprecedented level of power over how people use their computers. Google put a link on their results page with wording "A faster way to browse the web" - and all of a sudden, their Chrome browser is #1 - coincidence? An entire industry - SEO - has grown up based on trying to make web pages more appealing to Google; similarly, there are divisions and dedicated agencies with SEO's mobile counterpart (user acquisition) dedicated to making things as favourable as possible to Play services.

            At the same time, Google is trying to get us all to use their own proprietary extension of markup on webpages, having already effectively taken over what was originally an open source mobile operating system by closely coupling their services with it. And all the time, they are acting with more hubris ("don't be evil" is long gone) and trying to hide behind a mask of benevolence.

            Of course, if you are happy going round the same cycle with Google as we did with Microsoft about 15-20 years ago - or worse, reaching a state where Google is actively controlling the content you see and thereby influencing the actions you take (remember - Chrome is now the #1 browser), then that's your bag.

            (Ironically, upon trying to submit this, I was asked to complete a Capcha - the first time I have seen it on El Reg. You know, the one that by clicking the checkbox, you agree to a bunch of Google's T&Cs...)

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Stop

    Nope

    Maybe I'll accept the lack of a headphone jack when there are two USB ports. I'd rather have the phone be a few milimeters larger than have to carry more accessories while traveling.

  7. JohnFen

    Nonstarter

    No headphone jack means no sale to me.

    The day will come when there is a reasonable replacement for headphone jacks. That day is not yet here.

  8. Slow Joe Crow

    I want to believe

    My M7 is on its last legs and the subsequent HTC One offerings were unimpressive. I'd seriously consider the U11 Life but I think a Moto G is more budget friendly since I'm buying unlocked having finally cut loose from AT&T.

  9. Piro Silver badge

    Sick and tired of all these huge phones, no real choice

    My wife is stuck with a modded Motorola Photon Q (with Android 6 CM installed) because it's STILL (5 years later, no exaggeration) the best landscaper slider available.

    I have a pair of phones with 5.2" screens, but only because I really couldn't find anything smaller that caught my eye (after owning a Sony Z3 Compact that had problems, I didn't much feel like buying a Sony again just yet, which is a shame, because they're the only ones taking that segment seriously!).

    If you want choice in the market today, you're screwed. If you want an enormous slab with the same features as other enormous slabs, you're well catered for. I can't believe leaving out a sodding 3.5mm headphone jack is something the market has decided is OK. Pathetic.

  10. james 68

    Hardly a non-biased review

    Is it just me or for the majority of this story does it sound like the author woke up this morning to discover that HTC had taken a shit in his cornflakes?

    It reads like one long whining session with a small forced admission at the end that they're actually good phones.

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