HTC U12+: Everything you need to know

HTC U12+
HTC U12+ (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

HTC may not be that well-known in the U.S., but if you ever take some time to look at what the company's kicking out, you'll see that it knows how to make an excellent phone. There's a reason it was chosen to create the first-ever Android device, after all!

HTC's last two flagships, the 10 and U11, were both top-notch phones that flew under the radar for a lot of people. The same will likely be the case for the U12+, and should you decide to pick it up, this is what you can expect.

The latest HTC U12+ news

August 17, 2018 — Flame Red U12+ now up for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada

Since its launch, the U12+ has been available in two colors in the U.S. and Canada — Translucent Blue and Ceramic Black. Now, customers in both countries can pre-order the drop-dead gorgeous Flame Red color.

Pre-orders are live right now, and as usual, the phone will set you back $799 and $1,099 for the United States and Canada, respectively.

See at HTC (opens in new tab)

July 24, 2018 — The U12+'s buttons are getting fixed

See more

The HTC U12 is receiving an update in Europe, a few weeks after the same one was released in parts of Asia, to fix the unreliable volume and power buttons on the phone's frame. These buttons were largely the reason the phone was lambasted in our review, and a primary purchase concern for many people.

According to AC's Alex Dobie, who has been using the phone over the past few weeks, the buttons are "noticeably improved." There's no word when the update will hit U.S. units, but we'll keep an eye out for it.

We'll be updating our review soon, but in the meantime, take a gander at what else it can do.

All the big details

Read and watch our review!

The HTC U12+, when it was released, was a beautiful, feature-rich phone with one major drawback: its capacitive buttons were bad. And that's being generous.

But in the vein of other 2018 flagships, the phone had other benefits, including one of the best cameras on the market.

Now that there's an update to fix the phone's button problems, we'll be re-evaluating our review, but in the meantime, read up on the phone.

HTC U12+ review: Buttonless blunder

Take a gander at the specs

The U12+ is HTC's flagship phone for 2018, and as such, it's equipped with some of the best tech around.

Between the blazing-fast Snapdragon 845, an impressive set of dual cameras, IP68 dust/water resistance, and a large 3,500 mAh battery, the U12+ has everything you could ask for in a 2018 flagship.

HTC U12+ specifications: Dual cameras, BoomSound, Edge Sense 2 for $800

HTC's got three colors to choose from

If you like to make sure your phone stands out from the crowd, HTC's got you covered with the U12+.

The phone's available in three colors, including Ceramic Black, Flame Red, and Translucent Blue.

Ceramic Black is the most subdued of the trio, looking more gray than anything else. However, if you want something that really sticks out, the color-changing Flame Red and see-through Translucent Blue will be right up your alley.

There's no wireless charging despite the glass back

You might think the U12+ supports wireless charging thanks to its glass back, but similar to the OnePlus 6, wireless charging is nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully, HTC does offer Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0 to help you refuel the U12+ in no time at all. We certainly would have liked to see wireless charging make an appearance, but c'est la vie.

A word on the U12+'s "buttons"

The power button and volume rocker on smartphones haven't really changed that much over the years, but for whatever reason, HTC decided to shake things up by removing physical buttons altogether and replace them with button-shaped nobs that don't actually move at all.

Similar to the Force Touch trackpad on Apple's recent MacBooks and the home button on the iPhone 7 and 8 series, putting force on the U12+'s "buttons" will trigger a vibration through the phone and perform the desired action — such as turning the screen off or changing the volume.

HTC says they made the change to help with the phone's IP68 rating, but we came away less than impressed with their performance during our hands-on preview. Thankfully, there's an update to fix some of the buttons' most glaring problems.

How does the U12+ stack up against the competition?

In a bubble, the HTC U12+ would easily be the best phone you could buy. However, the Android space is anything but.

We've seen a lot of excellent smartphones so far this year, and with prices creeping up all the time, it's important you spend your money wisely on something that's going to serve your needs as best as possible.

Here are the most recent phones we've put against the U12+:

Edge Sense is more powerful and customizable than ever before

The U11 was the first gadget to tout HTC Edge Sense, allowing you to squeeze the phone to open apps, take pictures, and more.

With Edge Sense 2, HTC made using your phone while laying in bed less of a hassle.

That functionality makes a return on the U12+ in the form of Edge Sense 2, and as the name suggests, lets you do even more than you could on the U11.

Most notably, Edge Sense 2 allows you to trigger certain actions with other gestures instead of hard squeezes, such as light taps. On the U12+, you can double-tap the left or right side of the phone to shrink the UI down to a one-handed mode. Double-tap the right, the screen goes to the right. Double-tap the left, it goes to the left. That might not sound very impressive, but it should prove to be incredibly useful in day-to-day use.

Something else we're excited about is a sub-feature of Edge Sense 2 called "Smart Rotate." The sides of the phone can detect how you're holding it, meaning that even if auto-rotate is on, the screen won't flip horizontally by accident. If you've ever been frustrated by your phone's UI flipping all over the place while trying to use it while you lie in bed, the U12+ just solved that problem once and for all.

The U12+ is expensive

There's a lot to like about what HTC's done with the U12+, but one aspect you may not be too keen about is the price.

If you'd like to own the U12+, you'll need to cough up a hefty $799 in the U.S. for the model with 64GB storage. Want more room with 128GB? Get ready to pay $849.

HTC does offer 0% interest financing through its website to stretch that price over the course of 24 months, but even so, this is a phone that's going to put a big dent in your wallet.

See at HTC (opens in new tab)

To make matters worse, you can't buy it on any U.S. carrier

The U12+ is being sold through HTC's own website in the States, but that's it. Unlike phones from Samsung, LG, and just about everyone else, you won't find this thing in your local carrier store.

HTC fans or people that want the U12+ bad enough will be able to purchase it just fine, but that lacking carrier support means HTC isn't getting the U12+ in front of eyes of potential customers that may not even know the phone exists.

Speaking of carriers, the U12+ works on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon

On the plus side, folks that purchase the U12+ shouldn't have any trouble getting it to work on the carrier of their choice.

The U12+ is compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and any MVNO that uses those carrier's networks (such as Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, etc.)

There's no support for Sprint, however, so Big Yellow subscribers are going to have to sit this one out.

Updated July 2018: This guide has been updated to reflect an important update for the U12's buttons.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

138 Comments
  • Wireless charging and IP68 are table stakes in 2018.
  • What would I like to see, very simple. Proper carrier distribution here in the US. And a lot of marketing wouldn't hurt. You cannot and will not have great sales if you can't get it in the hands of John Q. Public!
  • Rather have a flat screen and big battery on a bright display
  • Flat screens are a dying breed :(
  • The actual display panel will be flat to avoid distortion, just the edges will be rounded to flow down onto the sides.
  • If that means you cannot securely place a tempered glass protector on it without it peeling off at the edges, then it's a complete no-go for me... That's the issue people have with edged screens. The glare is also pretty awful at the edges, as well. I don't mind curved edges off the screen (2.5D, or whatever they call it), but there need to be a mm or two beyond the screen for good protector placement, otherwise it's a useless "feature" to me). And that's assuming it will even be available on my carrier. HTC is good for being only on the **** carriers, these days - like Sprint. Odd for a "struggling" phone maker. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
  • I'm with you on curved screens! Rocking a s8 active with flat screen and a perfectly installed tgsp.
  • Exactly - Wireless is one reason I am considering the S9 plus. I don't like the design of the device, but I cannot do without wireless charging.
  • It's got to have more than one LTE band on Verizon to meet with any success.
  • 100% agree. And better distribution than the u11. Otherwise...
  • It has all Verizon network bands.
  • Love the U11, but I'm trying to go a bit longer between phones so I'll probably skip the U12. I just hope HTC is still around for the U13
  • Don't hold your breath, HTC could go with something like K2, R45, T69 who knows HTC loves to come out with a random alphanumeric names that make no sense at all.
  • HTC cannot miss the mark with the U12. It needs all the pieces of a flagship phone and all the bands. I am currently writing this on a U11 and love the phone but for them to be considered they need nothing missing like IP68, wireless charging and all supported carrier bands. They also need to spend the billion dollars from Google on marketing. If they can they need to be in all major carriers as well. I prefer a carrier unlocked phone but for the masses it needs to be there.
  • I agree with you. I would add that they also need a headphone jack. There may be a lot of people that do not care, but HTC is not apple. No headphone jack is just another reason not to get it. The only phones I will look at right now are the LG and Samsung phones.
  • pvcleave - The 3.5 headphone jack is such a throwback. It's simply impossible to get the audio performance of USonic through a passive jack that's a hundred years old.
  • Throwback? Literally everything has headphone jacks, except some phones produced in the last couple of years. USonic may be great and all, but it will work regardless of the presence (or in the absence of) a headphone jack, it is by no means an argument for getting rid of the hardware. That being said I'm sure less people would buy USonic stuff if a headphone jack was present on the devices. They really are doing you a favor by getting rid of the headphone jack.
  • Most regular people do not even use headphones not alone a Jack.
  • Can't miss the mark, the 11 & plus are not selling that well. Now Google has taken their best R&D people away in trade for the 1 billion dollar infusion. Hey I like HTC & owned the 10 but if anybody is going backwards it's their CEO Cher Wanger & upper management. They are the blame. No marketing or proper carrier distribution always hurts a good phone. Yes, the 12 will probably be a great phone but again will be the best phone no one is buying!
  • Removal of 3.5 and dim screen are biggest U12+mistakes, bigger than those buttons. HTC lost many old fans with the decision to run for others solutions than to stay their own. Sony and htc haven't seen worse days. While trying to be iPhones, real their competition is running over them. Ppl actually don't care for squeezing, infact, I am sure more would prefer 3.5 back than edge sense implementation.
  • Actual not. Most average people do not even use headphones. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the buttons and Edge Sense is extremely useful. I would not want a phone without it.
  • Bring back the iconic front facing speakers from the M8. I'll sell my Razer and Pixel 2 XL and pick up the U12.
  • HTC was bashed for the space their front speakers used, so it's not likely they will come back in that exact form. Perhaps as dual front facing slots though.
  • I have never understood the interest in tiny front facing speakers. Sure they sound better than a Mono speaker, but why loose screen size for tiny speakers. If I want decent sound I will have a Bluetooth speaker.
  • The M8 didn't have tiny speakers. Front facing lets you have bigger speakers than down firing.
  • True; each M8 speaker was four times the size of a Samsung speaker. When travelling, I didn't NEED a bluetooth speaker. The M8 could fill a hotel suite fine by itself :)
  • The U12+ speakers slaughter the M8 speakers.
  • why do you have a razer phone and pixel 2???
  • Why, when the U12+ speakers blow away the M8
  • Memory card, headphone jack and Verizon support.
  • Wireless charging is a must for me. No reason not to include it if there's a glass back.
  • I would like to see band 71 support in the US for the U12 if I am going to consider that phone
  • I hope its offered through AT&T in the US.
  • If they even offer it in the us
  • Under screen fingerprint sensor or on the front at least. Not worried about wireless charging. Apart from that just a slightly tweaked U11. It's definitely the most underrated phone of 2017 not just one of them.
  • Front Speakers and the infrared blaster again please!
  • I have the U11 Plus in translucent and it is perfect in every way. All it needs is front facing stereo speakers. That's the only thing the U12 needs.
  • Ah, would love to have access to that one, all we have in the US is the U11 Life.
  • It needs an update to Sense, Blinkfeed has adverts and the super LCD 6 screen just isn't bright or the colours aren't saturated enough. It's such a shame since the M7 was king... It's all down hill for HTC now
  • Loved my M7. Best phone HTC has ever made. If they had that exact design with today’s specs, they would get my money in a heartbeat.
  • All glass back phone should have wireless charging otherwise what's the point of having glass backs
  • It looks awesome.
  • This is one of the devices I'm very excited for this year. If we get a 18:9 screen ratio at a good size with rear fingerprint and minimal bezels save for a little at the top and bottom for sensors and speakers (please don't do an essential or iphone x and eat into the screen, I'll take a little bezel at the top and bottom to have a full un-obscured screen.) Give me a great camera and a clean UI and I'm in. It might come down to this or the Pixel 3 for me as LG is flaking out and I can't go back to samsung. Only other manufacturers I'm looking at are Sony, Nokia & Moto. Oh, and the screen has to be flat, all the way to the edge or I'm out.
  • Hoping it is flat
  • The display is flat because HTC made it a point to make sure the image did not get distorted by curves. However, the edge of the glass itself is rounded slightly. It feels very nice without creating reflections.
  • The edge of the glass is not rounded.
  • Still on my htc 10, still waiting for same perfect tool, skipping all the jewelry from htc with glossy backs and stale fronts. Hope to see proper, differently designed, htc 10 successor this year. Htc knows how to make great phone inspite everything. They just don't have brave and capable designers.
  • All of those work for Google now
  • BigTank, you got that right. Google depleted HTC but left a 1 billion dollar trail. But it appears they took the best of HTC!
  • Hi Goran, it seems all their capable designer's have left & went to Google. But they did leave a billion dollar infusion behind. We will see if they put it to proper use. Marketing & carrier distribution would certainly help!
  • HTC needs to get him game together! They are making new products but UNABLE to fix supply chain for their Repair department. I am waiting over 90 days for my HTC 10 to get fixed
  • Interesting: The phone in the Twitter image has the top of the phone covered in tape. Not sure if HTC came up with their own face mapping tech, or if they are hiding dual cameras. HTC had dual cameras long before Samsung and Apple, so it would be interesting to see what they do on the front. It's not like they would be noobs at portrait mode either, as they had that before the others as well. Not sure they will go with dual cameras on the back, because dual cameras on the back is SO 2014... "Although the U11 was one of 2017's most eye-catching phones when viewed from the back, its front resembled a device that could have been released in 2015"... Unless it was a brand other than HTC, in which case it is given a pass. The screen will likely be 2:1... not because it's a good thing, but because that's the trend and because HTC gets singled out for bezels. The design engineers can probably still taste shoe leather in the back of their throat from the time a Mobile Nations reviewer put his shoe so far up their behind that it almost came out the other end, lol. And for the record, I would prefer a "gorgeous" SLDC6 (as GSMArena put it) over a flawed AMOLED. The U11 screen is better than the iPHone 8 Plus, better than the LG V30, and I can't say there was anything about the S8 that would make me prefer it over the U11 screen when compared side by side. I have not done a side by side with the Note 8 or the iPhone 10, but it's safe to say that HTC is using a very refined and mature technology, and I'm not so sure changing that would be a good thing. Unless you really like blue ;) I'd love for them to have a through the display FP reader as well... anything to keep me from having to pick the d@%n thing up hundreds of times a day just to unlock it. On the back is better for a lot of people, and I get that. For me, my phone is out and on a surface face up when it's not in my pocket, so front means I just touch the phone instead of picking it up EVERY time to unlock. How about that download speed in the Twitter photo? 800+ Mbps over 5G? I'll take some of that regardless of what phone it's on!
    IP68 for the U12 would be fine, but IP67 would be ok for the way *I* use my phone. I've had mine in the pouring rain for hours at a time and held it under water with no issues. If I'm at the pool or beach, I leave my phone in my shoe or sandal unless a friend is using it, and in that scenario, I'm more concerned about her dropping it on the walkway. They MUST keep USonic. It will probably be the same as the U11, as I don't see any way it could possibly be improved aside from matching the frequency response between canceling and non-cancelling modes. Right now, the sound quality in the default active cancellation mode is beyond words. Turning off ANC makes it a little less perfect.
    But either way, I can't go back to passive sound, and it will probably be years before Apple, Samsung, or LG catch up to USonic. Google may license the technology from HTC, but we'll see. Wireless charging? Fine, but I don't care because a bulky charging pad is just clutter to me. Personal preference again, but I'm not one of those people who needs to charge my phone every fifteen feet. Been hammering the U11 hard all day, and as the sun sets in the West, it's still at 62%. It's workable as a two day phone... except when there's been an update and it has to re-learn battery optimization for several days. Just bein' honest! Stereo speakers? That would be cool, though it would be slots on the front instead of full grilles. More carrier support would be nice, although AT&T is fully in bed with the big two. Unlocked is better better better, but having more carriers would mean more sales sales sales. Oh, and advertising? Please? I saw more U11 ads than I have for other HTC's, but when I'm out on a date and the girl is admiring the phone, she usually asks "How come I've never heard of HTC?"
  • How do you have time to date?
  • Not as much anymore! Think it was only a couple times last month, but my "dates" are only as friends and time has been crazy. Got called by three of them on this past Saturday, but couldn't go anywhere because I was putting major work into the car and prepping for a trip on Sunday with my wife. Oh wait, were you talking about how do I have time for dates after typing ginormous posts like that? Yeah, sorry about that... I have to learn to condense more, lol!
  • Wife. Dates with other girls. Girls admiring your phone.
  • I can't see why so many want wireless charging, my missus had it on her Samsung S6 which she always had on the sofa with her and the amount of times it slid off whenever she moved, lol. I keep my own phone charging on the other side of the bed so a charge pad would be no good and as I work away so using a pad in the minibus would also be no good, proper wire for me, USB c all the way.
  • Glad it works for you.
  • I use to think wireless changing was a waste. Since my Note 8 I will never buy another phone without wireless charging. I have 3 wireless charging stands, one at work one on my nightstand and one in my home office. So great just to put my phone on the stand. With the AOD makes a nice clock with notifications. My phone sits a a nice viewing angle and has never slid off the charger.
  • That was me too. Thought it was a gimmick, when I got my Lumia 920 in 2013. Took me 6 months to use the free wireless charger. Not stopped since! epic feature, and EVERY flagship should have it.
  • Project Fi release
  • I love the simplicity of Project Fi. Google is making it very easy to subscribe to their service whether its Play Music, YouTubeTV, or whatever else.
  • Honestly I would have a U11 today if it was offered on more carriers. On Sprint, the problem is that LG and Samsung are both less expensive than the U11 with their BOGO deals.
  • Nice, will buy the unlocked non carrier version directly from HTC. U11 was a good phone, with the move to more modern look U12 will be great phone. Hopefully the also work on Sense and make it more modern looking. It looks a bit stale in the current state.
  • carrier support: AT&T
  • Not excited
  • More carrier support in the US. If on all carrier's it will sell very well!
  • I'm more excited about the gal in the picture!
  • Yeah, she's cute, but I bet she doesn't have wireless charging either!
  • I can't plug into her 3.5mm jack either.
  • Something wtthout a 6" screen. Would have been nice for it to be Essential phone sized.
  • You would have loved the original HTC One Mini. 4.3 inch HD screen and a feel that made you want to fall asleep holding it. No card slot and only 16GB, and it only had the SD 400, but it did have crazy standby time of 692 hours. That was the best feeling phone I've ever had.
  • If this release is anything like the 11plus it will succeed. Please HTC, carrier distribution here in the US is a must. Put it on all major carrier's and watch what happens. The edge sense is a great feature and add stereo speakers, 6gb's & 128gb's of storage. Stop screwing around & put that 1.1 billion dollar infusion to work. Your still a very capable OEM so just do it!
  • What they need to do, besides all you've mentioned, is learn how to optimize the damn batteries they put in their phones. Especially if they insist on continuing to use SLCDs, as opposed to AMOLED.
  • Here's what we know... HTC will not make any money with this phone and grow closer to extinction...
  • So go buy another phone.
  • Basically it should be the U11 Plus with front facing speakers.. And available in the U.S. for goodness sakes with all the necessary bands.
  • A red Sprint version
  • Is it not a big deal that there is no Sprint support? Why would HTC - in desperate need of a hit!, come out of the gate with only 3 wheels?? And, why would Sprint - desperate to retain customers, not try to get anything that could potentially be the new hotness?? I'm frustrated with both on this one...
  • CDMA is a thing of the past and HTC knows this. Verizon will have CDMA eradicated by the end of the year.
  • USB-C is good enough for me right now. Wireless charging has its drawbacks. Bezel-free sides is eye candy... nothing really useful about it other than the visual cool-factor. I want to see the U12 produce an even better camera and more capable inner antenna for greater WiFi reception and cellular signal strength. I appreciate the corporate need of taking away a user replace