Everyone runs around with a smartphone in hand. The race is ongoing, and everyone wants to grab a phone that fulfills all his needs. However, price is the major factor that halts the selection process of an individual when choosing a smartphone. Hence, the rise of mid-range smartphones in the modern era has grabbed the most attention around the world. So, those of you who do not want to spend a hefty amount on a phone and just want to go for an affordable smartphone option, HTC U11 Life will be the best choice in the current period!
While some people are budget-conscious and hence prefer the mid-range phones, others like to go for a phone that is scaled-down from a full-price flagship product. The latter aims at giving a user experience, which will still be considered as a valuable option and does meet the usage criteria for many of the people.
Hence, keeping in to consideration the flagship-lite smartphone in mind, HTC has introduced the U11 Life, which will provide some great features and design elements that were included in the flagship U11 phone which was released earlier this year. However, the U11 Life comes at half the price than the flagship one.
So what sort of a trade-off deal are we looking for? Will HTC U11 Life succeed in expedition of becoming the most famous mid-range smartphone of 2017 or not? Let’s dig deep to know about it.
In the Box
While unboxing, you will get plenty of things in there along with new HTC U11 Life smartphone. Other than the phone, you will have USonic earbuds, USB Type-C to Standard A cable, warranty booklet, SIM tool, Fast charger, Safety guide and SIM tray guide.
Bottom line: Though U11 Life looks like a flagship, but it necessarily does not actually feel like the flagship phone.
The main goal of HTC while manufacturing the U11 Life was pretty simple as well as straightforward. It simply took the flagship U11 smartphone, shrunk it down a bit and made the new phone more affordable and economical option for the users in this whole process. Hence, while the new U11 Life features the fundamental looks as the flagship one, still it mostly features the plastic body rather than the metal edges and glass back.
The company has also done a good effort in recapturing the color-changing effects of the back panel of HTC U11. However, it is not as similar in U11 Life case. We find different deviations in which the reflections are separately found in different colors, and the color effects are still not much impressive and effective as had been found in case of original U11. That being said, one needs to give a little bit more attention for spotting the main differences, and a casual glance will show that HTC has been quite successful in its efforts.
There is one thing we are curious about, i.e. how well the acrylic back of the phone will survive against the scratches with the passage of time. Up till now, we have not found many problems in this respect. U11 Life will also have the IP67 rating, which means it will be dust and water resistant just like that of original U11.
Talking about the phone layout, it is found very similar to the U11. The most basic and fundamental difference is that there are no antenna lines on the edges of the handset, and that is due to the plastic exterior. The SIM tray and buttons are also found in the same place, and the fingerprint scanner is also found on the same side. The camera might be found as a bit larger this time round, but it will be downgraded from the dual to single-LED flash. However, this position is actually found as consistent. Down to that, the USB port and speaker slot have been found in swapped positions.
This is not something that could be called great. Moreover, if there could be one thing found as annoying about the design of this phone, that would be the bottom-edge USB Type-C port, which has not been mounted on its center, as it is now on the right side of the phone. The major advancement in the phones of modern era is the inclusion of Type-C port, which has actually freed the users from the problem of ensuring that micro-USB cables face the right away. However, we have become quite habitual in centralized USB ports, and this move has basically undone a lot of this ease, which has basically forced the users to give more attention than needed while charging their smartphones.
When comparing the U11 Life with the other phones vis-à-vis weight and dimensions, we find that it is light-weight. The actual weight of HTC U11 Life is 142g, whereas the weight of Samsung Galaxy J7, Honor 9 and Motorola Moto Z2 Play is 159g, 155g and 145g, respectively.
HTC U11 Life actually features a solid display, which however does not hit all the right notes.
We saw in case of U11 a 5.5-inch Quad HD display. In case of U11 Life, there is found a conservative 5.2-inch display with 1080 x 1920p screen. Brightness is sold in this phone, which is good news. However, the peak brightness is not as much high as was found in case of U11. The color accuracy can be considered as decent, but still not perfect. This basically results in the panel, which can be felt as right at home in case of the mid-range smartphone such as U11 Life.
Interface & Functionality
The interface given by HTC to its new U11 Life is same as we expected it to be. The Android 7.1.1 is running behind it with the presence of BlinkFeed by HTC on its top. We also get the Edge Sense feature on this phone which is HTC’s own squeeze-to-use also found on U11 earlier. The same feature is also kept intact in this case, along with which there are customizable features as well as the capability of establishing distinct shortcuts for long-squeeze as well as short-squeeze interactions. This is not found even in case of Google’s recent Pixel 2 phones, which only has the limited Assistant-only squeeze shortcut.
Processor & Memory
Where the earlier flagship HTC U11 came with the high-tech Snapdragon 835 SoC, the latest HTC U11 Life is basically a mid-range phone, and it is designed with the aim of maximizing the value. This hence means that it will be slightly less powerful and hence simultaneously a bit cheaper in terms of memory as well as the processor. Cutting to the chase, U11 Life will be powered by Snapdragon 630 SoC. There were Snapdragon 625 and 626 SoCs before it, hence we can see that in case of mid-ranger, the current SoC will also be a great choice for providing the sufficient speed for delivering common tasks. This chipset will also be sufficient for maintaining the power consumption up to a greatly battery-friendly point.
The snapdragon 630 SoC on this phone will actually give it a better performance, which is same as could be found in case of presence of Snapdragon 626, because the speed test performed on different mid-range phones including U11 Life shows the same speed, as one example was the Moto Z2 Play coming with 626 SoC. Although there are usual stutters found in case of video playback, social media and web browsing, overall this chipset will be proved as sufficient in delivering the users a great deal and value. Moreover, with the 3GB RAM intact with it, the users will be able to get the efficient speed while they are performing multi-tasking.
Additionally, the storage is 32GB. This means that the U11 Life might not be as generously equipped as the other expensive smartphones, still, you will not get so many other options where there is 64GB storage. However, with the option of expandable storage through microSD, you are totally free to add more space as you wish.
The user might not find anything special in case of connectivity options in the HTC U11 Life. The most important modification vis-à-vis connectivity in this phone is the absence of headphone jack. Other than that, there is also off-center USB Type-C port that is also used in it for expanding the storage. As for the wireless connectivity, the U11 Life will get connected with various services in USA, UK and even in Asian countries such as Pakistan. Hence, U11 Life is going to be totally compatible with several carriers and networks across the world with a handful exception of the few.
The HTC U11 Life is going to have 16MP main as well as 16MP front camera for you. Both the cameras will have f/2.0 apertures. The primary sensor will also be using the phase-detection auto-focus. However, there will not be much in case of hardware extras. This is because there is not going to be any laser auto-focus, nor there will be any sort of optical stabilization. Still, the camera system used in this phone will work in the best way. We take a look below about different features of this camera.
While initially we did not expect much from the 16MP cameras installed both on front and back of U11 Life, we were amazed to see the image quality obtained from both the cameras. For most of the time you will find that the images captured will be lacking in detail, but then the magic will be done by the HDR Boost algorithm. Hence, you will end up getting high-quality shots. Moreover, the HDR effect will also take only about couple seconds for processing the image, but the results will be noteworthy and will provide the images of sufficiently greater quality.
Similarly, upon testing, even the low-light shots also produced stunning results, and only occasionally the images captured showed noisy results along with unfocused mess. But we were quite satisfied with the photo-taking ability of HTC U11 Life cameras. A bonus in this regard is the ability of launching the camera with a squeeze.
We also got the decent results in case of video recording in this phone. The camera is able to support the filming of resolutions up to 4K. The footages can prove as a little bit shaky, but we still found quite sharp as well as detailed results. The audio quality has also remained great. The users will also get the high-quality audio option, which will basically record losslessly. However, an ear better find-tuned than ours will be able to spot the difference. We also noticed the in-video refocus time as the speedier one we experience so far, which actually helps in maintaining the rapidly-altering scenes and shots.
Having discussed the display of the phone already, we will now talk about the multimedia features of the phone. Talking first about the speaker, we see that it is not that great as we expected. The speaker is loud, but the audio quality still tends to give us a hollow quality, which will focus more on the low frequencies, which will be provided at the expense of crispy treble. Then we have got bundled headphones, which appear to be nice, but which are same as before in case of U11 that came with active-noise-cancelling headphones.
Unfortunately, we will miss the shared audio accessories that came with the U11. The analog headphone support will not be present in U11 Life. This is a USB-only phone, in which the built-in jack will not be given. There will also not be an adapter in U11 Life. The main reason for omitting it was the cost-saving. This is also because for a mid-range phone, balancing the functionality with price is all company attempts to do, due to which it could have been omitted. However, we are still not happy at all with this decision made by HTC.
You will generally find the call quality in U11 Life as pretty good. We did give closer attention to this aspect in the phone due to many upsets concerning call quality in recently released phones. The closer inspection did reveal some interferences, e.g. repetitive series of silent clicks that appeared to emerge from the earpieces of this phone. While there was continuity experienced in this regard, the noise was so quiet and low that one would not be able to hear them unless the ear is fixed right up with the phone. Moreover, in comparison to the Pixel 2 or iPhone 8, these noises will not be much noticeable, and if you tend to make a lot of phone calls with it, then it will be something you will have to consider before making U11 Life choice.
When it comes to battery capacity and total battery life, we see that U11 Life will prove to be a great companion of its owners. Where the company made a phone totally compatible with the Snapdragon 630 SoC, which is as same as the power-conservative 625 release before, HTC has hence managed to bring up the battery that will have a long-lasting battery life. Even though the battery capacity only stands around 2,600mAh in U11 Life, this is still not a smaller one especially in consideration with the 630 SoC.
The scree-on time of the phone when fully charged is 8 hours, which is fine. However, the mid-range phones in comparison of U11 Life have a better battery performance, where there is about 10 hours of on-screen time. Still, U11 Life would not be embarrassing for most of the users, but it would still not be offering the exceptionally long-lasting battery time.
Moreover, the recharge time is low, as U11 Life will be fully charged within 100 minutes.
We initially did not have a good impression about HTC U11 Life. This was because the smartphone seemed too plasticky and light. Moreover, it did not seem to offer the same great quality as its predecessor flagship model. However, we did not find any issue with its performance, and battery life too seemed sufficient, and the camera did provide us with some great shots even when there were a few meager-sounding hardware issues found.
However, we did find a lot of smaller issues in this smartphone, which ranged from a mushy speaker to the absence of the headphone jack. However, if you are still going to decide to buy a mid-range smartphone from main consideration of its price, then U11 Life should better against all its competing mid-range smartphones, as the former will do alright.
So, how much can this phone actually cost you? If you purchase it directly from HTC’s website, then the price will be about $350. However, the HTC U11 Life price in Pakistan will be about Rs. 48,999 at the time of its launch. Moreover, the price of this phone from retailers worldwide will be about $465. The phone will be available in three color options, i.e. brilliant black, sapphire blue and ice white.
So, in conclusion, we will not be straightforward in recommending to you this phone when talking about the mid-range smartphones, but still there is enough detail based on which we are forced to tell you to like the new HTC U11 Life, as it’s definitely worth considering.