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HTC U11 Life hands-on review

Introduction

Life is short… no, we mean Life is short for Lifestyle. The HTC U11 Life certainly enjoys fine living, but it won’t make you spend your life at work. Affordability, flagship looks and respectable specs were the goals HTC set for itself when designing this phone.

The U11 Life has a bit of a split personality. In most of the world, it will be an Android One phone launching with Oreo. In the US, it will launch with Nougat and HTC Sense, though an Oreo update is only a month away.

Android One has become trendy recently as Pixels are exclusively high-priced and there are few other options for unmodded Android. This particular phone has a unique style with the U11-like back – the rear has an eye-catching translucency and a tendency to change colors depending on light and viewing angle.

HTC U11 Life at a glance
Body: Polycarbonate frame, IP67 waterproofing
Screen: 5.2″ Super LCD, 1080p resolution (424ppi), Gorilla Glass 3
Platform: Snapdragon 630 chipset; 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, microSD slot
OS: Android One Oreo (non-US), Android 7.1 Nougat (US)
Camera: 16MP main with 4K video recording; 16MP selfie
Audio: USonic headphones in box (noise canceling); Hi-Res audio; no 3.5mm jack
Battery: 2,600mAh
Misc: EdgeSense, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, HTC Sense Companion

So the design of the U11 Life is a virtual copy of the more expensive U11. And it shares its love of photography and music too.

See, the pricey Google Pixel 2 does not come with headphones. This HTC does and not just any pair, but USonic headphones with noise cancellation. The phone is also Hi-Res audio certified, you don’t get this level of attention to sound from many others (other than Sony, perhaps).

The camera is also a focal point of the HTC U11 Life. It’s not going to beat the big U11 in a head-to-head combat, but the 16MP sensor is helped by the same HDR Boost algorithm. And it’s capable of 4K video capture too.

While it won’t run Android One in the US, HTC has partnered with T-Mobile to offer aggressive pricing. The carrier will include it in its “Smart Picks” list of best value phones that are available in all of its retail locations.

Anyway, Android One is gaining popularity as people got fatigued with overstuffed skins and slow (if any) updates. These days most people upgrade their phones either because they want a better camera or because the software got too slow. The HTC U11 Life has you covered on both counts.