HTC U11 Life: Mid-range with a killer feature

While the HTC U11+ is a balls-to-the-wall upgraded version of the HTC U11, the company has also released a more watered-down and budget friendly version of their early-2017 flagship smartphone. It’s called the U11 Life and although this handset seems pretty uninteresting on paper, it does have one very interesting trick up its sleeve.

Remember the hoo-haa and excitement Xiaomi caused when they launched their first new Android One-powered Mi A1 smartphone? It blended the company’s trademark value-for-money specs with the purity and fluidity of stock Android. Needless to say, it was a big hit.

And the new HTC U11 Life, operates on pretty much the same concept, which makes it immediately more attractive to enthusiasts.

There are actually two versions of this handset: The US version runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with HTC‘s Sense skin on top, while the second Global version will be part of the Android One program and is the first Android One smartphone that’s running on Android Oreo out of the box.

On the hardware side of things, you get a standard 16:9 5.2-inch Full HD 1080p LCD display, a Snapdragon 630 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD). The biggest bummer about the spec-sheet is the smartphone’s tiny 2,600 mAh battery.

For photos, the handset gets 16MP f/2.0 aperture cameras on both the front and back of the handset. There is no optical image stabilisation, however.

Besides those differences, the rest of the U11 Life is pretty similar to its more expensive flagship brother. It looks pretty similar — all glossy and shiny — though the handset is made out of plastic and not glass + metal. U11 Life also comes with IP67 water resistance, which isn’t really common in the mid-range, and access to Edge Sense.

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This means you can squeeze the phone to perform various tasks, launch in the Edge Launcher where all your favourite apps and contacts live, and call up voice assistants. On the Android One version of the handset, Edge Sense works like it does on the Google Pixel 2 where a squeeze will bring up the Google Assistant.

Unfortunately, the similarities also carry over to some of the inconveniences on the U11, so there’s no headphone jack. Worst of all, HTC doesn’t even include a USB C to 3.5mm dongle in the box so you’ll have to go pick one up yourself if you want to use your own headphones. Luckily, HTC bundles a pair of their USonic active noise cancelling headphones in the box.

HTC’s U11 Life is priced at USD349 (around RM1,476) and is available for purchase now in the US. However, there is no information on when or if the handset will make it to Malaysia.

What do you guys think of the U11 Life? Let me know in the comments below.