Best 4K Display Phones in 2020

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Winner
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, 256GB, Midnight Green, Fully Unlocked (Renewed)
Best Price
Samsung Galaxy S10 Factory Unlocked Android Cell Phone | US Version | 128GB of Storage | Fingerprint ID and Facial Recognition | Long-Lasting Battery | U.S. Warranty | Prism Black
HTC U12+ Factory Unlocked Phone - 6" Screen - 64GB - Translucent Blue (U.S. Warranty)
Model
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Galaxy S10
U12+
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent June 2020
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent April 2020
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good April 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
Samsung
HTC
Display Diagonal Size
6.5 inches
6.7 inch
6.0 inch
Storage
256 GB
128 GB
64 GB
Battery Capacity
3.969 mAh
4,500 mAh
3.500 mAh
RAM
4 GB
8 GB
6 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
1.12 oz
0.43 oz
6.56 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Outstanding performance
  • Powerful 6.5-inch 4K display
  • Very good Battery life
  • Great design, very handy
  • Excellent 4K display with integrated fingerprint sensor
  • Best Price
  • Android 8 & awesome Performance
  • Two great dual cameras
  • Very good 4K Display
Cons
  • High price
  • Battery life "only" good
  • No Wireless charging
Winner
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, 256GB, Midnight Green, Fully Unlocked (Renewed)
Model
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent June 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
Display Diagonal Size
6.5 inches
Storage
256 GB
Battery Capacity
3.969 mAh
RAM
4 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
1.12 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Outstanding performance
  • Powerful 6.5-inch 4K display
  • Very good Battery life
Cons
  • High price
Best Price
Samsung Galaxy S10 Factory Unlocked Android Cell Phone | US Version | 128GB of Storage | Fingerprint ID and Facial Recognition | Long-Lasting Battery | U.S. Warranty | Prism Black
Model
Galaxy S10
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent April 2020
Manufacturer
Samsung
Display Diagonal Size
6.7 inch
Storage
128 GB
Battery Capacity
4,500 mAh
RAM
8 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
0.43 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Great design, very handy
  • Excellent 4K display with integrated fingerprint sensor
  • Best Price
Cons
  • Battery life "only" good
HTC U12+ Factory Unlocked Phone - 6" Screen - 64GB - Translucent Blue (U.S. Warranty)
Model
U12+
Test Result
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good April 2020
Manufacturer
HTC
Display Diagonal Size
6.0 inch
Storage
64 GB
Battery Capacity
3.500 mAh
RAM
6 GB
Performance of Smartphone
Value for money
Weight
6.56 oz
Water Resistant?
Pros
  • Android 8 & awesome Performance
  • Two great dual cameras
  • Very good 4K Display
Cons
  • No Wireless charging

We tested and compared the Best Smartphones with 4K Displays in terms of Performance, 4K Display Quality, Camera, Price and more. Above you will find the Ranking of the Best Smartphones with 4K Display and below we provide you with more Info about 4K Displays and the in-depth analysis of each Phone.

2020 Guide: Phones with 4K Display

Best 4K Display Phones in 2020

The designation 4K is the abbreviation for Quad Full High Definition. This resolution is the further development of Full HD and thus offers the eye significantly more pixels.

The table below shows that there is even the further development Ultra HD 8K, which makes little sense for most smartphones. A higher resolution also means more and more pixels on the screen.

If you now decide to use a mobile phone with 4K video resolution, the screen diagonal should be at least 5 inches. Otherwise the phone is not able to display the number of pixels. Further purchase criteria are the color intensity and the pixel density that the 4K display offers.

Pixel density of over 250 PPI recommended: If you are still unsure which 4K smartphone to buy, you should definitely pay attention to the pixel density (pixel per inch, PPI) when buying.

This is a very decisive factor when it comes to displaying brilliant images. Experts recommend a density of at least 250 PPI, so that the difference to Full HD is visible to the naked eye.

Recording videos in 4K with the phone

If you don’t just want to watch QHD movies and pictures with your new 4K smartphone, but are creative yourself, you should look for a phone with a 4K camera. Many 4K smartphones are even equipped with a 4K front cam, so taking pictures of ultra-sharp selfies is no longer a problem.

If you want to share your videos and photos with friends and family, they should also have a 4K smartphone. Otherwise, the high resolution is for your own pleasure.

Large Phone Manufacturers rely on smartphones with 4K Display

If you are interested in a new smartphone and want to buy it either locally or online, many people pay attention to the screen diagonal, memory and resolution. That’s why the major leading manufacturers of smartphones have also started to produce 4K phones. Currently the following brands offer current models with 4K resolution:

  • Sony
  • Samsung
  • HTC
  • LG
  • Huawei

Advantages and Disadvantage of Phones with 4K Displays

Many people are excited about the brilliant images that a mobile phone with a 4K display delivers, but what are the specific benefits? You can look forward to the following plus points when you buy a phone:

Advantages of 4K Display Smartphones

  • Images and videos are displayed pin sharp
  • 4K camera allows you to create photos and videos in QHD
  • Experts predict 4K displays as new standard variant for smartphones

Disadvantages of 4K Display Smartphones

  • 4K only makes sense with a display size of at least 5 inches
  • Mobile phones with 4K display are often more expensive than Phones with Full HD resolution

How to find a Cheap 4K Display Smartphone

4K displays are still a relatively recent development, so the purchase prices for 4K mobile phones are sometimes very high. If these purchase prices are too high for you as a one-time investment, you can of course opt for an offer with contract.

In this case, the providers often either give you the phone completely, the purchase price is lower or the price is split over the duration of the contract. Before you decide to sign a contract, it is not only worthwhile to compare the different tariffs.

A 4K Smartphone comparison, as you can find it for example in a Smartphone 4K Test, helps to find the right model, as we provide below in this article.

Ranking First: Apple Iphone 11 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review


Pros

  • Outstanding performance
  • Powerful 6.5-inch 4K display
  • Very good battery life

Cons

  • High price

A glass casing, top computing performance and a good dual camera: there are many reasons to get an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The outstanding display is another argument: with a resolution of 1125 x 2436 pixels, the retina display of iPhone 11 Pro max is one of the best in the world.

With the smartphone, you can take razor-sharp 4K shots at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second (fps). iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus can also capture 4K content, but with a smaller screen.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max looks like an enlarged iPhone X, but has a few new features in store. Among the most important new features are the faster A13 bionic processor, the enhanced camera and the better battery life. Like its little brother iPhone 11 Pro, the 11 Pro Max comes in silver, gold, space grey and night green.

Design

Like its predecessor, iPhone 11 Pro Max features a 6.5-inch diagonal 4K display. Apart from the size, it doesn’t differ from iPhone X at first. The display has narrow edges and a noticeable indentation on the upper edge.

The front camera is located in it, as well as several sensors that are needed for Face ID facial recognition. According to Apple, the 3D face recognition should work faster and also from larger angles. In a direct comparison with the iPhone X, we didn’t notice any relevant differences, though.

With a weight of 1.12 lbs, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is relatively heavy, but it still lies comfortably in the hand thanks to the 19.5:9 format. The transitions between the 4K display, stainless steel frame and the glass backside feel very well finished.

The back is now matt and doesn’t catch unsightly fingerprints. Apple probably got a bit inspired by Google’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL. iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are waterproof as usual. In the new version they are certified according to the IP68 standard and can withstand up to 30 minutes in four meters of water depth.

4K Display

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max display

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max features an 4K display with 2,688 × 1,242 pixels, the highest resolution of any iPhone to date. The pixel density is 459 ppi, content looks super sharp. With a brightness value of 832 cd/m², the display shines very brightly, so there should be no problems recognizing content even outdoors in direct sunlight.

The “True Tone” setting is also recommended, which the iPhone 8 models already have. In this setting, the display automatically adapts to the ambient light, so that colours appear uniform in different environments. The 4K display also has a very good anti-glare coating.

Colours and contrasts look very vibrant on iPhone 11 Pro Max, and the device represents 100 percent of the DCI-P3 colour space. So you see HDR video in full dynamic range. The white point is almost exactly as it should be.

Performance

In terms of performance, Apple again sets new standards with the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. The combination of the most important innovation, the Apple A13 Bionic Processor, and 4 GByte of memory ensures extremely fast performance and excellent graphics performance.

Like Huawe’s own Kirin 990 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855, which are in Android smartphones, the processor is manufactured in a 7-nanometer process. The difference to chips manufactured in the 10 nanometer process (for example the A11): They work more efficiently and save energy. According to Apple, the A13 is supposed to work 20 percent faster and 40 percent more efficiently.

The benchmarks show that the new A13 goes one better. In the GFX benchmark, the iPhone 11 Pro Max clearly beats even the strongest Android competitors. The system responds at lightning speed, and app launches and browser performance are also impressive.

Battery Life

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max comparison

Apple has given iPhone 11 Pro Max a larger battery (3,969 mAh instead of 3,174 mAh), which it claims will run up to 5 hours longer than its predecessor. In our online battery life test, in which we automatically play videos on medium brightness and scroll on websites, the iPhone 11 Pro Max reached an impressive 14:01 hours. This is the best result among all iPhones so far and shouldn’t cause any restrictions in everyday use.

With the iPhone 11 Pro Max (and the iPhone 11 Pro) Apple finally packs a strong power supply with 18 watts of output power into the scope of delivery. The predecessors came with a 5 watt power supply. Thus, the charging time of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is now a brisk 138 minutes. In the first 30 minutes, the iPhone charges its battery to just over half – that’s great. You can also charge it wirelessly.

Camera

For the first time, the back of the new premium iPhones features a triple camera. But Apple is by no means the first manufacturer with such a design, as many Android smartphones, for example from Huawei and Samsung, have been using three lenses for several photo options for a long time.

All three lenses take pictures with a resolution of 12 megapixels. In addition to a wide-angle and telephoto lens with f/1.8 and f/2.0 apertures, an ultra-wide-angle lens with f/2.4 is now also available, allowing shots with a viewing angle of 120 degrees. The telephoto lens allows a double optical zoom and captures depth information for the blur effect when taking portraits. As before, an optical image stabilizer in the main and zoom lens is designed to ensure less camera shake.

The transition between the three lenses works seamlessly, and colours and sharpness remain the same – even during video recording. Snap with the standard lens, and the larger image of the ultra-wide-angle lens is indicated in the camera app.

That’s helpful for seeing the potential benefits of wide-angle perspective. But if it’s too late, you can still adjust the angle afterwards in the Photo Gallery under “Edit” – at least for 30 days. That’s how long iPhone 11 Pro stores the additional information.

When it comes to capturing a moment spontaneously and quickly and there’s no time to jump to video mode, you can now simply stay on the shutter release longer (as known from apps like Snapchat and Instagram). In this case, you shoot a video in Full HD resolution.

In video mode, iPhone 11 Pro, like its predecessors, films at best in UHD resolution at 60 frames per second – or optionally with a 12-megapixel front camera. You can shoot slow-motion videos with the rear camera at 240 frames per second (fps), while the front camera achieves 120 fps.

Iphone 11 Pro Max: Photo Quality

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max camera

The photos from the test laboratory have very good, natural colours. Even fine details and structures such as hair or yarn are very clearly visible – even in twilight. However, conspicuous image noise cannot be overlooked. This is also confirmed by our laboratory measurement. On the other hand, fine structures are not so strongly softened.

Apple is again using its software to improve the photo quality. For example, the “Smart HDR”, which is activated by default, is supposed to be even better and thus create more detailed portraits and photos even in low light conditions. The software selects the four best ones from shots with many different exposure settings and combines them into an HDR image.

A new feature is a night mode that activates by itself: The automatic exposes dark sceneries for 3 seconds, but whoever wants can also increase the exposure time to 10 seconds. Night shots are brightened up with it, but cannot quite keep up with the level of the Huawei P30 Pro (in test).

It remains to be seen what else will happen when Apple’s “Deep Fusion” optimization is rolled out. According to Apple, the Neuro Engine calculates the best result from nine shots. Before the shutter button is even pressed, the camera already takes 4 pictures and even after the shot is taken, four additional pictures are taken.

By the way, selfies are also very successful, but the bokeh effect often looks anything but natural, because the software does not always recognize edges well. The background sharpness can also be adjusted gradually after the shot.

Speaker Quality

The iPhone 11 Pro Max does not differ from the 11 Pro in terms of features. Both have Bluetooth 5.0 and support fast LTE in the gigabit range.

A memory card slot is still not available. The stereo speaker delivers a clear, spatial and sufficiently loud sound. In the scope of delivery of the new iPhone 11 Pro models, Apple appears more generous than before with the 18 watt adapter, but a jack adapter for headphones is still missing.

Verdict

Huge 4K display, great performance, great photos. Apple is doing a lot of things right with its new giant iPhone. With very good scores in the display, performance, camera, and battery categories, iPhone 11 Pro Max performs excellently in the test, which is why the Iphone 11 Pro Max is ranking First in the Best Phones with 4K Display.

Ranking Second: Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 review


Pros

  • Great design, very handy
  • Excellent 4K display with integrated fingerprint sensor
  • Best Price

Cons

  • Battery life “only” good

Whether you’re shooting super slow motion or making AR emojis, the Samsung Galaxy 10 camera is certainly one of the best on the market today. Thanks to its variable aperture setting, the smartphone can take first-class photos even in unfavourable lighting conditions. The S10 can also film in 4K at 60 fps. In addition, the screen of DisplayMate’s flagship phone was recently voted the best 4K display.

Curved design, huge 19:9 display, top performance: two years ago, Samsung heralded a minor revolution with the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S9, on the other hand, didn’t become a trendsetter because it looked so similar to its predecessor.

The anniversary mobile phone, the Galaxy S10, is once again a visual refreshment: the Gorilla Glass 6, 4K display takes up a much larger part of the front of the device, the remaining edges on the top and bottom are significantly narrower than on its predecessors. The South Koreans have come up with a solution for the front camera, which nevertheless has to find a place somewhere, which isn’t called “Notch” – Samsung has never followed this trend.

As with the Galaxy A8s or Honor View 20, there is a small hole in the upper part of the 4K display, behind which the front camera is located. Samsung then calls this “Infinity-O-Display”. This hole is smaller in the Galaxy S10 than in the Galaxy A8s. Moreover, the Samsung solution doesn’t have room for more than the camera. Thus, there is no infrared sensor that could be used to unlock the device more securely.

The Galaxy S10 comes – how could it be otherwise – again in a slightly curved edge design including aluminium frame, and looks cool and modern. The Galaxy S10’s comparatively compact dimensions and first-class workmanship make it easy to use. The glass back looks good, but is also prone to fingerprints. Classic white and black, as well as blue and green are available for the color selection.

4K Display Quality of the Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 scope of delivery

At 6.1 inches, the screen of the Galaxy S10 provides the largest screen diagonal to date among the standard models of the Galaxy S series. In the modern 19:9 format, operation is still pleasant even with smaller hands. However, left-handers will find it difficult to reach the power button, which is placed quite high up.

With a resolution of 3,040 x 1,440 pixels (QHD+) and a high pixel density of 552 ppi, the screen not only turns out sharp, but also shows colors and contrasts in an outstanding way, typical for OLEDs. Black elements in particular look deep and rich. This is also fun for films and videos, especially since the Samsung Galaxy S10 completely covers the DCI-P3 colour space relevant for HDR films and is HDR10-specified.

Other color representations can also be selected in the display settings. There you can also switch the resolution. By default, the S10 has a resolution of 2,280 x 1,080 pixels to take some of the load off the battery. But if you like, you can increase the resolution. However, there are hardly any visible differences in everyday life apart from VR glasses.

The maximum brightness is outstanding; in the test lab we measured extreme 909 cd/m² with 50 percent white content. The screen is therefore still very legible even in bright sunshine. If you manually turn the screen fully up indoors to make videos and photos look better, it still reaches a good 444 cd/m² in this test.

As soon as users play HDR videos, the screen also turns up the brightness of highlights indoors. A small white text panel in a video, for example, shone brightly at 980 cd/m². The Galaxy S10 accordingly offers a first-class HDR video experience with great colours and crisp contrasts.

Features

The days of a rather awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner under the camera on the back are over: The Galaxy S10 (Plus) is the first Samsung smartphone in which the fingerprint sensor is invisibly built into the 4K display.

To unlock the Galaxy S10, the finger is simply placed on the display in the indicated position. The technology is not new, Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and OnePlus have long since launched their own models with the feature on the market.

However, Samsung doesn’t use an optical sensor, but relies on the safer ultrasound technology, which means that even creamed, damp or very cold fingers aren’t a problem.

We tried to unlock the Galaxy S10 with a wet finger. The mobile phone reacts just as fast as lightning as with dry fingers; it’s enough to place your finger on the intended spot for half a second.

However, the area is quite limited. A bit of practice is needed here at the beginning when you want to wake the phone from standby until you have internalized where your finger has to be.

Alternatively, face recognition is also available. We wanted to challenge this and went into a pitch-dark room. It did not fail, the unlocking succeeded in all five attempts.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy S10 4K display

The processor performance is strong, because Samsung builds top processors for Android: In the USA and China the current Qualcomm-SoC Snapdragon 855 is under the hood, in all other parts of the world the latest chip Exynos 9820 developed by Samsung itself is used. Samsung explains that there are many reasons for using two processors, including licensing costs, different regulations and patent rights.

The Exynos is equipped with 8 GByte RAM. According to Samsung, the CPU performance is said to be 33 percent better than the predecessor, and the graphics performance is said to have increased by as much as 37 percent. In the test, the Galaxy S10 reacted extremely quickly in all – even performance-intensive – tasks.

Our self-made, large test PDF with tons of street names opened the Galaxy S10 much faster than the Galaxy S9 (in 6.2 instead of 13.7 seconds). In PC Mark for Android it reaches 7,862 points and is thus again clearly ahead of its predecessor (5,483 points). A lot has changed in terms of graphics performance. It achieves an excellent result in the benchmark GFXBench – at least among the Android phones. But it can’t keep up with the iPhones.

On the device, Android 9 Pie runs under Samsung’s user interface OneUI 1.1. The interaction now mainly takes place in the lower 2/3 area of the 4K display to avoid cumbersome finger movements. There should be regular updates for two to three years, even if experience has shown that they are always delayed. The security patch on our test device was after all from February 1st, 2019, so it was up-to-date.

We are generally satisfied with the battery life, but we don’t find it too spectacular. Samsung uses a 3,400-mAh energy storage device. Together with the more efficient processor, the Galaxy S10 lasts 9:57 hours in our online runtime test – that’s almost 80 minutes more than the predecessor S9. Other devices, like the Honor View 20 for example, run for 11 hours. The Huawei Mate 20 even manages over 16 hours.

For our online runtime test, we dim the brightness to 200 cd/m² suitable for indoor use and let the smartphone load videos and websites from the LTE network. A script also simulates scrolling and typing inputs.

The S10 is fully loaded again in about 100 minutes. After half an hour it is at 46 percent. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro makes it to 65 percent in this time – handy if you forgot to recharge until the last moment. If you have a Qi charging station at home, you can also charge the Galaxy S10 wirelessly. By the way: The Galaxy S10 has a built-in charging surface, so that it can become a Qi charging station itself and can charge compatible devices, such as the Galaxy Watch Active, but also other mobile phones with an inductive charging function wirelessly.

Camera Quality of the Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 comparison

On the back of the Galaxy S10, Samsung accommodates an impressive triple setup consisting of a wide-angle (12 MP), ultra-wide angle (16 MP) and telephoto (12 MP) lens. So photo enthusiasts don’t have to do without an optical double zoom, expansive group or landscape shots or the hip bokeh effect for background blur in portraits. An optical image stabilizer supports both wide-angle and telephoto lenses. This is helpful because it means even telephoto shots don’t shake as easily. However, we are a little bothered by the distorted image of ultra-wide-angle shots.

A camera with a 10-megapixel sensor takes pictures on the front. The selfies look a bit bright, but very sharp. There is also a small highlight in the videos: You don’t just shoot with the back camera, but also with the front camera in 4K resolution.

The automatic scene optimization has also been extended, which can now recognize 30 different motifs and adjust color tones accordingly – new are, for example, “cat”, “dog” and “baby”. The AI also suggests the ideal shooting position or warns of closed eyes or backlighting. The quasi obligatory night mode is of course also included. In darkness, this mode combines several images into one optimized image.

The super slomo for strongly slowed down action scenes was extended from 8.4 seconds to 14.8 seconds. There are also new live focus effects to bring people into the foreground, as well as AR emojis. With the help of face tracking, user movements are registered and transferred to the 3D avatar. However, our test device still had problems recognizing a cheekily sticking out tongue.

Cool is the variable aperture size, which changes according to light intensity. In brightness, the Galaxy S10 Plus chooses a rather small f/2.4 aperture, which allows a good depth of field. At twilight (below 100 lux), the system increases the aperture to f/1.5 to capture more light. The latter promises better tracing, less noise and overall better photos in these situations.

Photo Quality

Samsung Galaxy S10 back side

All in all, we like the Galaxy S10’s shots very much. Under good lighting conditions, they get the full score. The detail of hair, yarn or the grid of a screen is great, colors look very natural and not too gaudy.

Also the shots in low light are convincing, because they get a lot of details, reproduce colors very well and are low-noise. At first glance, we wouldn’t have noticed that the test pattern was a test pattern in low light – impressive. Contrasts are also very clear, e.g. small fonts on photos are very well visible.

Only the edge blur is negative in the test shots. The Galaxy S10 Plus also has this problem. Selfies are very sharp, like the S10 Plus, but a bit too bright for our taste.

Included Equipment

The Galaxy S10 fulfils just about every wish you could have in terms of equipment. It is waterproof to IP standard 68 and supports LTE Cat 20 with up to 2 Gigabit per second downstream (as soon as available in Germany). Bluetooth 5 and NFC are also included. The Galaxy S10 also already offers the next WLAN standard, Wi-Fi 6.

And one thing in particular could please users of classic headphones: Samsung continues to rely on a 3.5 mm jack socket, although this already became a rare feature last year. But the sound with the stereo speakers is loud, clear and overall very good, even without headphones.

In addition, the language assistant Bixby now speaks German, even if she doesn’t understand every sentence right away. Common commands, such as weather information, work without any problems. If you want, you can also give her a nickname with which she will address you.

The Galaxy S10 can also be connected to a monitor via Dex cable, whereupon it creates a desktop as usual on a PC, on which several windows can be opened simultaneously and side by side. The Galaxy S10 can then be used as a touchpad or keyboard.

The Galaxy S10 is a large mobile phone in a still handy format that cuts a fine figure in all applications. However, it is expensive, but at least users are offered a lot of memory. The standard version comes with 128 GBytes. There is also space for a microSD card or alternatively a second SIM card. And the S10 is of course waterproof as well.

Verdict

The Galaxy S10 is one of the best smartphones currently available. In the test, it makes an excellent impression in all applications: 4K display, performance and recordings with the triple camera are outstanding. The equipment also leaves nothing to be desired, the battery life is good, but not spectacular.

These are the reasons why the Samsung Galaxy S10 is ranking second on the Best Phones with 4K Displays. Also due to the compared with other Phones low price, the HTC U12 won our ‘Best Price’ Category, so if you are on a tighter budget, we would advise you to buy this awesome Phone!

Ranking Third: HTC U12 Plus

HTC U12 Plus review


Pros

  • Android 8 & awesome Performance
  • Two great dual cameras
  • Very good 4K Display

Cons

  • No wireless charging

The HTC U12 can also play and record 4K content without having to downscale. Unlike the iPhone 11 Max Pro, the phone only records at 30 fps. For this, the Taiwanese manufacturer’s device offers a top-of-the-range camera, which can take good pictures even in twilight.

The model also impresses with an excellent sound, which is reproduced in stereo. The 5.5 inch LC display with a resolution of 1440×2560 pixels rounds off the overall package.

Last year, HTC released its top model in two versions – as the HTC U11 and the larger HTC U11 Plus. In 2020, the Taiwanese will go all out and rely on a single top model: the HTC U12 Plus. Like its predecessor, it has a 6-inch diagonal LC display in 18:9 format and – contrary to the current trend – no cut on the top like the iPhone X. The display edge turns out a bit narrower than that of the predecessor, though.

The HTC U12 Plus is anything but boring on the outside. It appears with a glass case and aluminum frame in three color variants: “Translucent Blue”, “Flame Red” and “Titanium Black”. Especially exciting is the dark blue version, which has a transparent back and lets you look at the battery, antennas and tracks, among other things. But the red version also looks cool and – as the name suggests – is reminiscent of flames when moving.

HTC calls its design “Liquid Surface” because the glass surface is supposed to remind one of liquids. And it works: all three colors have a noble shimmer. Unfortunately, the glass casing is also very susceptible to fingerprints.

The workmanship is on a high level. In a blind test we liked the haptics as well as the transition from the display to the frame very much, but we find the Galaxy S9 to be more rounded. The HTC U12 Plus lies largely well in the hand, even the main camera on the back doesn’t stick out. It does feel very smooth, though. The fingerprint sensor is located on the back under the camera and is within easy reach.

4K Display

HTC U12 Plus display

The screen resolves content with 2,880 x 1,440 pixels and thus offers a very sharp 4K display with a pixel density of 537 ppi. The colors are also vibrant, the HTC U12 Plus represents almost 135 percent of the sRGB color space and is therefore HDR color space-compatible.

Fortunately, the screen’s great maximum brightness enhances the very good impression, as the HTC U12 Plus reaches a good 290 candelas per square meter (cd/m²) in our test lab – in our entire mobile phone best list, only three devices offer even better: among them is the Iphone Max Pro. Another great test result: The Samsung Galaxy S10, for example, briefly turns up to 340 cd/m².

The good brightness value is particularly noticeable in sunlight, as content is easily clearly visible in such situations. There are no restrictions for indoor display.

HTC has good news for those for whom the screen is sometimes too big for one-handed operation: If you want, you can use the “double tap” on the edge of the smartphone to make it smaller to 4 inches and thus easily control all applications with one hand.

Performance and Battery Life

HTC U12 Plus battery

The combination of a fast Snapdragon 845 processor and 6 Gigabyte RAM convinced us in the test: The U12 Plus offers top performance. The system reacts very quickly and smoothly and gives a lot of pleasure when surfing the web or playing 3D games. It is one of the fastest models currently on the market.

The HTC U12 Plus’ battery life turns out okay: In our online battery life test with the 4K display turned on, the 3,500 milliampere-hour battery reached 7:38 hours. For comparison: The normal (but smaller) U12 runs 8:45 hours with a 3,000 mAh battery under the same conditions. So you will have to charge the battery every day, if you use a lot Games or the Camera.

Camera

Over a few months, the HTC U11 has been the top of the digicam rating in our mobile phone best list. The camera of the new flagship can build on these strengths and offers top picture quality in daylight and evening light. The special thing: There is not only a dual-cam on the back, but also on the front.

On the back, HTC uses a 12 megapixel camera with a relatively fast aperture (f/1.7) paired with a 16 megapixel telecamera with double the focal length (f/2.6). Thanks to the telephoto lens, there’s a 2x optical zoom that doesn’t miss any details. However, only the 12 megapixel camera has an optical image stabilizer. There is also a portrait mode with a bokeh or blur effect, which the 8 megapixel front camera also has, as HTC also uses a two-lens system here.

For sharper photos with lower noise, especially in twilight, the so-called HDR Boost is available, which the manufacturer has improved (HDR Boost 2). The U12 Plus takes several photos with different exposures and combines them into one photo. Twilight photography is one of the paradise disciplines of the HTC U11. And the U12 Plus also shows excellent twilight performance in our test. Compared to the HTC U11, it’s noticeable that the soft focus is a bit more active and reduces noise, but the detail display is still great. The twilight shots of the HTC U12 Plus are among the best in the mobile phone sector.

Video clips are recorded at up to 60 frames per second in UHD resolution, and four microphones provide 360° 3D sound. Slow-motion recording is possible in Full HD at 240 fps.

Comfortable User Experience with Edge Sense 2

HTC U12 Plus US version hands on

With the U12 Plus, HTC has expanded its “Edge Sense” pinch control. By holding, tapping and pressing the pressure-sensitive frame, you can trigger various actions, such as activating the camera or flashlight. A new feature is the double tap on the edge, which calls up a mini-launcher with the most popular apps.

So you can activate apps without having to go through the Home screen – even on both sides of your phone. In the test, however, this required a little practice and patience, because the system needs a short moment to react to the pressure.

We found the missing volume control key hub and the on/off button a bit difficult to get used to. The keys are rather hinted at and hardly provide any haptic feedback.

Features of the HTC U12 Plus

HTC Android 8.0 uses Oreo as its operating system under the HTC Sense user interface – it should be upgradeable to the new Android P version. HTC wants to roll out security and major updates for the U12 Plus for at least two years – so Android Q should still be pending. That’s fine, but we would like to see three years of updates from an expensive top model, as Google promises for the pixel 2 (XL). Apple usually updates iPhones for five years.

The HTC U12 Plus has plenty of memory available, as the internal memory, which can be either 64 or 128 gigabytes, can be expanded with a micro SD card. Alternatively, a second SIM card fits into the slot, which can also be simultaneously logged into the LTE network. However, if a second SIM card is used, a memory card is not required. With support for Gigabit-LTE (up to 1.2 Gbit/s), ac-WLAN and Bluetooth 5.0, the U12 Plus is also fast on the move via wireless.

It is pleasing that users need not fear an involuntary water bath, as the device is dust and waterproof according to IP Standard 68. Nevertheless, there is an open USB 3 type C port on the lower device frame, which serves as a headphone jack via the included adapter. Unfortunately, the U12 Plus lacks a 3.5 millimeter jack socket. HTC supplies a pair of USB-C compatible ear studs that score points with discreet active noise cancellation and measure the ear canal by ultrasound to optimize the sound.

Verdict

The HTC U12 Plus is of high quality workmanship, has two excellent dual cameras and top performance – and brings itself in the test on the third rank of the Best Smartphones with 4K Displays. The battery life and maximum display brightness are surprisingly good.


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