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

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

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

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

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