HTC has even less of a foothold in the flagship space than LG does, and the launch of the U11 is hoping to help propel HTC in similar ways to what the G6 has done for LG — picking up sales and improving after a lackluster 2016. For both phones, the way to get back on track is through doing all of the basics right, nailing the hardware and experience instead of reaching for gimmicks that end up hurting the message.
While their relative positions put them below the big leader Samsung in sales and mind share, the HTC U11 and LG G6 are actually quite comparable products. Here's how they line up.
Both phones focus on strength and heft rather than delicate design features.
Unlike the stark contrast in designs seen between the HTC U11 and Galaxy S8, the LG G6 feels more like a direct match for HTC's latest phone. The LG G6 of course has a distinct look with its relatively small bezels and 18:9 display, but the overall build feels of the same generation as the HTC U11. Both phones are unapologetically thick and robust, with metal frames that each feel strong rather than just looking svelte. The phones have a satisfying heft in the hand as a result, which plays into the feeling that both HTC and LG are focusing on strength and simplicity rather than design flair just for the sake of looking nice.
HTC's glass back is a cut above LG's typical color-coated glass. Not only does it offer a unique feeling of depth to the colors that help it stand out, but the way it wraps around the edges of the phone and meets the metal is exquisite. Flipping around to the front, though, HTC's larger bezels and capacitive navigation buttons feel set in the past compared to the LG G6. The displays themselves feel comparable in terms of quality, so it's really a personal preference on how you feel about the "standard" versus "tall" aspect ratio.
HTC takes the lead with a newer processor, but LG has a couple trump cards.
Launching a couple months later, HTC was able to get a newer Snapdragon 835 processor into the U11 compared to the last-gen 821 in the G6. Aside from that, the specs line up similarly — with LG taking the small advantage with a larger battery and of course retaining a headphone jack. Despite HTC doing very interesting things with its USB-C headphones and solid speakers, some people just won't get over the headphone jack omission. The cameras, too, line up similarly. The U11's 12MP with an f/1.7 lens matches up to the G6's 13MP and f/1.7 — there are slight differences in pixel size, but LG has proven to be getting really great quality out of its smaller pixels. Of course the G6 has the trump card of its wide-angle rear camera as well, which continues to go unmatched in the market.
The software styling differentiates these phones further, though again not as much as setting the U11 beside the Galaxy S8. LG has made a move toward simplicity and lowering the number of duplicate apps and services in the G6, and that's the track HTC has been on for a couple of years now. You can easily see that LG's overall interface design is a bit more heavy handed than HTC's, but neither phone hits you over the head with piles of excess features or software cruft. You could say HTC is living a bit in the past with its interface that hasn't changed substantially since 2015, but at the same time say that for all of LG's progress it has yet to catch up with modern software expectations. Pick your poison.
Moving on up
HTC and LG are both fighting similar battles trying to make up ground in the high-end space in 2017, and both the U11 and G6 are great devices to help them do just that. They each focus on having a solid phone with all of the proper internal specs, and just a couple of feature hooks to get people interested. LG has its dual cameras and small bezels, while the U11 offers better speakers, cleaner software and its unique "squeeze" functionality.
Both phones have considerable work to do to try and bring their respective companies back up to a high level in the flagship space, but the U11 and G6 each offer a compelling experience that make them worth considering in 2017.
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