Hands-on: HTC U11 Life review


It's a sad fact of cellular life that there's something about "lite" versions of flagship smartphones which is invariably disappointing.

It's also Hi-Res audio certified and sports Active Noise Cancellation, so you should be able to get good quality audio from the phone, as is often the case with HTC handsets. I've been using one on T-Mobile for over a week and it feels nearly like I'm using an HTC U11 while being $200 less and a bit less fragile with shiny blue acrylic back.

What do you think of the U11 Life?

Although we're impressed with the design of the U11 Life, it's the specs on offer that really show why it's a lot cheaper.

XDA Developers spotted the HTC-made device within the AOSP last week and, although it's not exactly the same as the device unveiled today, it bears numerous hallmarks of the new HTC U11 Plus. It's still a fingerprint and smudge magnet, mind.

The U11+ now has a water-resistance rating of IP68, up from an IP68 rating on the U11. It does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but you were probably expecting that.

With the HTC U11+ priced at £649, it's unsurprising if it's the kind of phone which is appealing but simply out of your budget. It runs on Android Oreo with HTC Sense U.I.at the top. Each has a microSD card slot to expand storage, a 2600mAh battery, NFC, and a USB Type-C port. The "big" U11, of course, has a Snapdragon 835, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of memory. It also features also feature Edge Sense technology.

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There's also something called the Edge Launcher, a wheel that pops onto the screen from either the left- or right-hand side, which places apps, contacts and quick settings within reach of your thumb.

Better still, it's completely reprogrammable and HTC says you can use it on any app.

We'll test out battery life soon but for now HTC claims you'll get an extra two hours of video playback or web browsing compared to the HTC 10. A full-day battery life is no issue with this phone, as we found in our review.

Then there's the camera. In terms of optics, the phone packs a 12 MP UltraPixel 3 OIS f/1.7 aperture camera on the back and an 8 MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture on the front just like the HTC U11.

Around the front there's another 16MP camera, also with an f/2.0 aperture, so this is one of those rare phones where the front-facing camera may be a similar quality to the rear one, though the front-facing camera can only record video in up to 1080p.

You can use one of them, both of them or neither of them, though HTC recommends Assistant for when you're out and about, and Alexa for when you're at home. The absence of optical image stabilization doesn't come as a surprise given the price, but it does reduce some of the point-and-shoot flexibility that more expensive phones have come to offer.