Like it or not, phones this days are almost designed not to last, which ultimately makes more money for manufacturers in the long run. Of course, users will cling to their expensive smartphones as long as they can, so durability is still an important factor. Last year’s HTC U11 was rated by JerryRigEverything as a complete and utter failure. And while this year’s HTC U12+ does address that critical flaw, it seems to have opened up a whole different can of worms instead.
Let’s get the somewhat unexciting things out of the way first. The HTC U12+’s use of Gorilla Glass 5 means there is nothing to fear even from open razer blades you shouldn’t have in your bag or pocket. The Super LCD, not AMOLED, screen will turn off pixels after 10 seconds under direct heat but heal just as fast. No, the HTC U12+’s durability doesn’t come from those.
One hole HTC may have dug for itself is the fancy new capacitive buttons that replace physical power and volume buttons. They’re made from metal but, unlike regular buttons, they can actually fall off with enough force. And once they’re out, the buttons stop functioning completely. Not exactly smart design.
HTC has addressed the structural problem of the HTC U11’s screen and now uses flat glass and some kind of buffer between the glass screen and the metal frame. That does successfully avoid the problem of the screen breaking when bent but, for some other strange reason, it is the back glass that has a problem now. No, it doesn’t break but, instead, gets easily pried off its adhesive.
So while the HTC U12+ won’t break when bent, it’s back will easily come off, far easier than any glass back phone. While that does ironically make it great for teardowns, it does mean that the phone’s dust and water proof rating can just be as easily rendered useless.