HTC U11 Life review

Orlin Milinov, 04 December 2017.


The Android One partnership has been keeping us busy lately. It was Xiaomi that kicked off the midrange One devices, Moto joined with the X4 and now the HTC U11 Life is hot on their heels. Trendy design, a big and high-res screen, a reliable processor and a promising camera setup - all coated in vanilla Android Oreo.

Just like Xiaomi gave up its MIUI on the Mi A1 for pure Android, HTC has axed Sense on the U11 Life. Well, most of it anyway. With Google in charge of everything related to software, HTC had to only bring its audio drivers and squeeze gestures.

HTC U11 Life review

The U11 Life is coming from the maker of the Pixel 2, but unlike the U11+ which was once tipped to be a Pixel, the U11 Life has nothing to do with the Google series. Every U-series entry has the Liquid Surface design though, and the affordable Life model is keeping the stunning glass build and chameleon paint jobs.

The 5.2" LCD screen is quite comfortable for one-handed use, while the fresh Snapdragon 630 is here to replace the popular 625 with faster processor and graphics. The U11 Life also comes with the cool USonic noise-cancelling headphones and native support for hi-res audio. Last but not least, the phone may be booting on vanilla Oreo, but the entire Edge Sense functionality is available on the U11 Life.

HTC U11 Life Key Features

  • Body: Liquid Surface design with Gorilla Glass 3 front and rear, polycarbonate frame. It's IP67 water-resistant.
  • Display: 5.2" Super LCD, 1,080 x 1,920px resolution, 424ppi, 16:9 aspect
  • Rear camera: 16MP f/2.0, phase-detect autofocus, LED flash, HDR Boost; 4K @ 30fps, hi-res audio recording
  • Front camera: 16MP, f/2.0, HDR Boost, 1080p video
  • OS/Software: Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Chipset: 14nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 CPU: Octa-core A53 @2.2GHz; Adreno 508 GPU
  • Memory: 3GB RAM/32GB of storage in base model (4GB/64GB in select markets), expandable via microSD slot (or SIM2 slot on dual SIM model)
  • Battery: 2,600 mAh battery
  • Connectivity: Single or Dual SIM; LTE-A Cat 11: 600/75 Mbps, USB Type-C 3.1, 3.5mm to USB-C adapter included
  • Audio: Noise-cancelling U Sonic earbuds (via USB-C) included, three on-board mics for Hi-Res audio
  • Misc: Squeeze actions via sensors embedded into frame, front-mounted fingerprint scanner

Main shortcomings

  • No 3.5mm headphone jack (ships with an adapter)
  • No fast charging
  • No BoomSound speakers

The HTC U11 Life omits one prominent feature available on the other U11 phones, the BoomSound speakers. It comes with just a single speaker at the bottom and there is no proper audio jack either - the unwelcome trend is hitting the midrange now too. We have to finally accept defeat we guess.

HTC U11 Life review

We saw the Snapdragon 630 chip do a fine job in the Moto X4, so we have high hopes for the U11 Life's performance and battery backup. But before we put the U11 Life to the test, let's see what it's made of.

Reader comments

  • Androiduser

What is the "Auto forward" app used for ?

  • Kelthuz

As for the selfie camera, the sensor is actually 4 MPix (AnTuTu says it's 4mpix, HD Kamera app does a 4mpix picture with it), so the native HTC app does some fancy super-res upscaling from several shots taken in the buffer, effectively quadrupling th...

  • Bob

Anyone know what the rear camera sensor is on the U11 Life? There just doesn't seem to be any info on it. HTC's HDR Boost algorithms are extremely impressive if it's a tiny 1.0 micron pixel sensor like the IMX351 used on the U Play (that's my guess) ...