OnePlus 5 vs HTC U11: Which is best?

Does the OnePlus 5 top HTC's squeezable, wallet-squeezing wonder?

Every big Android flagship has its own unique aesthetic, but the HTC U11 has a more functional twist: pressure-sensitive touch panels on the sides.

You'll use them to interact with the phone in certain ways, letting you open apps and snap selfies, among other actions. Everything else here is flagship-grade, but that's one thing that definitely sets the U11 apart from the pack.

By contrast, the OnePlus 5 is a lot more ordinary with its functional design choices – but it still fits in well with the top-end crowd and does so at a price that's RM600 less than the competition. So are you looking for extra bells and whistles, or just the best phone you can get without spending several hundred quid?

You'll have to sort out your own priorities there, but we've gone ahead and put these two top Androids against each other.

Design: Give it a hug

At a glance – from the front, at least – these two handsets have a lot in common. They're pretty iPhone-esque, with standard 16:9 widescreen displays, a typical amount of bezel all around, and a fingerprint sensor (and home button, on the U11) at the bottom.

Flip 'em around and it's a different story. The OnePlus 5 keeps up the Apple tribute, looking much like an iPhone 7 Plus on the back: the antenna lines ride along the top and bottom edges of the metal, there's a dual-camera module popping out, and a company logo in the upper-middle.

But the HTC U11 is something else: it's gorgeous "Liquid Surface" glass, which is super-reflective and looks much like a pool of water. And with different colours put in various layers, the resulting combinations are dazzling. Still photos don't do it justice, but it's really striking in person. The U11 certainly has the advantage in looks.

And then it does something else: it responds to your hand hug. Wait, what? Indeed: the pressure-sensitive left and right sides let you squeeze to trigger various actions, as mentioned before. It's kind of odd, but it lets you get to certain things faster – however, it's limited to HTC's own apps now, for the most part.

Even so, it's a clever little addition, and it helps the HTC U11 feel extra-unique. And the HTC 11 is also IP67-rated for water and dust resistance, while the OnePlus 5 still doesn't make any effort in that regard. C'mon, OnePlus.

Winner: HTC U11

Screen: More (pixels) is better

As with past models, the OnePlus 5 bucks the Android flagship trend of using higher-resolution Quad HD (2560x1440) displays and sticks with a cheaper, less-power-hungry 1080p panel. Even so, at 5.5in, the screen offers a crisp 401ppi (pixels per inch), and the AMOLED panel provides awesome contrast and colours.

The HTC U11 isn't AMOLED, unfortunately, but it is an excellent 5.5in IPS display with vibrant colours and plenty of brightness. And in this case, it is indeed a Quad HD panel, which means it's even sharper than the OnePlus 5 – albeit ever so slightly. We're giving it to HTC here.

Winner: HTC U11

Camera: No losers here

HTC has had mixed results in the past with its flagship cameras, but the U11 is its best effort to date. Everyday snaps are pretty exceptional, with speedy auto-focus and a hybrid stabilisation system that works with the wider 12-megapixel f/1.7 lens to pump out clear, bright images.

The shutter tends to feel a bit slow, though, as there's a slight delay between your screen tap and the capture. It's the one big downside here, even if the results still prove pretty strong.

Likewise, OnePlus hasn't usually been able to hang with the top heavyweights when it comes to camera quality, which is understandable given the price – but with the OnePlus 5, we finally have a back camera that's about as good as anything out there.

The OnePlus 5 uses a dual camera setup with a 16MP (f/1.7) main sensor and a 20MP (f/2.6) secondary sensor alongside, which team up to deliver fantastic shots. You'll get great colours and contrast, a speedy HDR mode, and pretty good electronic video stabilisation. And the second sensor means you get neat tricks like the backdrop-blurring portrait mode.

Low-light auto shooting struggles a bit, although you can make up for it with manual shooting. The HTC U11 does better in low light, but on the other hand, the OnePlus 5 doesn't have the sluggishness of the HTC. Both of these produce really fine shots overall, with maybe the slightest advantage for the U11 – but everything considered, they're very close.

Winner: Draw

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