The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictIf a lack of headphone jack doesn’t bother you and you don’t require the best specs on the market, the HTC U11 Life offers a solid design, guaranteed updates, and enough power for daily basic tasks and light gaming. Just be mindful of the battery life...
- Great display
- Guaranteed updates
- Near-stock Android experience
- microSD support
- Weak battery
- Requires a specialized Type-C USB adaptor
- Slow charge times
Despite a few occasional setbacks, HTC keeps releasing new phones that provide innovative features and interesting approaches to how they expect people to use their mobile devices. The U11 Life brings a touch of this to the mid-range market. But does also offer a good value?
Picking up the phone, you’ll notice one of the first compromises HTC made when offering this budget-friendly version of their U11. Instead of a glass back, you’re greeted with plastic. Fortunately, reviewers had no issues with flex or scratching—though many noticed the “liquid” finish didn’t pop as much as it did on the glass-backed model.
Both comfortable to hold and able to stand up to the dangers of life with an IP67 water and dust resistance rating, the design and build pleased everyone.
Around front, you’ll find a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD panel with a fingerprint scanner tucked just below. While you won’t get the deep blacks of an OLED panel, reviewers were pleased with the level of detail, vivid colors, and excellent outdoor visibility.
Powering the phone, you’ll find a Snapdragon 630 processor with 3 to 4GB of RAM. While a mid-tier chipset, performance remains snappy for daily tasks and the phone also handles games with little hassle—though not at the highest settings. Reviewers noted some minor delays when loading apps and during heavy multitasking. However, that’s to be expected given the price and hardware.
With 32 to 64GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 2TB, you shouldn’t run into storage concerns. However, some reviewers noted problems using the microSD card as internal storage. So if you plan to install a lot of apps or play multiple resource-intensive games, the added cost of the 64GB model might be a consideration.
As an Android One device, the U11 life ships with Android 8.0 Oreo. It will also receive security updates for 3 years and OS updates for 2. The interface is also as close to stock Android as HTC could pull off while still integrating their Edge Squeeze feature.
Speaking of, this unique feature was a hit with reviewers. You can bind various actions to a quick squeeze of the phone for added convenience and easy launching of frequently used phone functions.
Another area that helps separate the phone from competitors is the inclusion of 16MP cameras on both front and rear of the phone. Reviewers were pleased with image quality—in particular when enabling the punchy HDR mode. The front-facing lens also captures great images, but many wondered if the 16MP was overkill for quick selfies and video chats.
Without optical image stabilization, the camera struggles in low light. However, reviewers found image quality acceptable.
Unfortunately, one of the most criticized elements of the phone is its 2600mAh battery. While reviewers could squeeze a full day of usage out of a single charge, they barely made it to the charger at the end of the day. To further complicate matters, recharge times hover around 1.5 hours for a full top off.
For media lovers, the front-facing speakers are a resounding hit with reviewers. But the lack of 3.5mm headphone jack irritated many. Not because it requires an adaptor to connect standard headphones, but because HTC requires a specialized adapter and doesn’t include it with the phone.
However, to soften the blow, HTC ships uSonic USB Type-C headphones with the phone.
Overall, reviews are positive. TechRadar says, “The HTC U11 Life’s biggest problem, if you don’t mind the missing headphone jack, is competition. There are a lot of great alternatives, many of which have metal or glass frames for a more expensive feel.” Pocket Lint liked the phone, calling it “a well balanced mid-level phone that's certainly worth a look.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Fergus Halliday, PCWorld
A solid stock Android experience that’s easy to recommend if you can’t stand all the other options or are particularly drawn in by the design and waterproofing.
- Stephen Fenech, Tech Guide
Delivers all the features you want in a device that is just the right size and at an ultra-competitive price.
- Daniel Tyson, Ausdroid
As the first Android One handset in Australia, the HTC U11 Life has a lot to live up to – and for my money I think it does. HTC have delivered a finely tuned handset that’s beautiful to both look at and hold. The phone also has good hardware inside, that when paired with a stock And...
- Florian Wimmer, Notebookcheck
Guaranteed regular security updates - this is a strong argument for the HTC U11 Life. A great pair of earphones included and a good battery life are further arguments. But there are also downsides with a bad speaker, lack of audio port, and not very accurate navigation.
- Michael Passingham, TrustedReviews
The U11 Life is by no means a bad phone, and it’s a shame that a few software oddities completely ruin the experience. In every other way, it’s a decent piece of kit.
Prices (Where to Buy)
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the HTC U11 Life user manual here.
HTC backs up the U11 Life with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your U11 Life has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact HTC support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find HTC's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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Manuals / User Guides
- HTC U11 Life Quick Start Guide (PDF)
- HTC U11 Life Manual (PDF)
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