You’ll see one common theme with the HTC U12 Plus review: it’s a fine phone, but not amazing.
We feel a little wistful with this phone as well: we’ve cried out for a phone brand to be innovative for a long time, doing something other than the same black rectangle with a camera on the back, that criticizing a brand that finally does feels wrong.
HTC might have been innovative, but in the wrong way. The volume and power buttons being immobile (but pressure-sensitive) and so similar to each other under the finger is a mistake from the brand and will put off new users.
The squeezable sides are a nice idea, but we couldn’t find a way to use them effectively, as the hand position just doesn’t lend itself to activating the system properly.
There are some real wins on the U12 Plus though: the audio performance, both through the bundled USonic headphones and the external Boomsound speakers, is excellent.
The design of the phone, with the two-tone colors catching the light in an attractive way or the translucent blue showing the inside of the phone, is sublime - yes, it’s a little larger in the hand, but the build quality is at the level we expect from HTC.
The rest of the handset is like we said above: fine, but not amazing. The camera can do some nifty things, especially in low light, but is otherwise on a par with the rest of the industry (but with a slow interface).
The screen quality and movie watching is… pretty good. Not the best, but fine. Battery life is just about OK (but could improve over time as the phone learns you).
We could have digested all of that if HTC had priced the phone appropriately but we feel that asking AED 3,500 for it, which is more expensive then almost every other phone out there, isn't the best strategy for HTC. At that price point, you're paying more for the brand than the product and HTC just isn't at that level that Apple or Samsung enjoy.
Who's it for?
This is a phone for two types of people: those that crave a phone with excellent audio performance, and HTC fans. If you enjoyed the HTC 10, then you’ll find this handset a natural (if larger) evolution.
Otherwise, it’s hard to recommend this handset, because it's very expensive, doesn’t really excel in any place, and will irk when you try to change the volume, or encounter little bugs in the system (which, in fairness, may get ironed out and we’ll update the review if that happens).
Should I buy it?
If you’re one of the two types of phone buyer listed above, then maybe this is the phone for you. You certainly won’t hate what you’re getting (although you'll need to get to used to some bits), and the performance will be just fine.
However, compare the U12 Plus to a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, Huawei P20 Pro or OnePlus 6 and you’ll be a little disappointed with it being a fraction behind in a number of areas, but costing more.
Thinking you might like to see some other options? These are the phones we think you should be checking out:
HTC U11 Plus
The difference between the U12 Plus and the U11 Plus isn’t huge, and the price is more competitive. You’re losing the fancier camera, inner speed and double tap bar on the side of the phone, but otherwise the experience is rather similar - a good option for the HTC fan on a budget.
- Read our full HTC U11 Plus review
The OnePlus 6 is easily the best phone from the brand and boasts a superior screen and slightly slicker performance. It’s also a a lot cheaper, although you’ll lose a touch of camera quality and audio experience.
- Read our full OnePlus 6 review
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
This is the best phone on the market right now - it’s got top performance, a great camera, strong battery life, an amazing screen and, well, it just excels in so many areas. A touch more expensive, but it’s not far off in terms of audio quality either.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review
Huawei P20 Pro
The Huawei P20 Pro is the current flagship from Huawei and has somewhat similar specs to the HTC with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. It's Kirin 970 processor isn't as fast as the Snapdragon 845 on the U12 Plus but it does have a bigger battery at 4,000mAh.
The P20 Pro excels in the camera department with three lenses and a 40MP sensor which bests the HTC U12 Plus. It's also priced much lower at AED 2,999 which gives it an edge,
- Read our full Huawei P20 Pro review