1. digitalbreak's Avatar
    HTC U11 is arguably one of the best 2017 flagship smartphones. HTC is now back with a midrange device, the U11 Life for just $349!



    The U11 Life takes a cue from the top end U11 and builds on its unique liquid surface design. Only this time, the back uses an acrylic glass. Not to be confused with real glass, acrylic is just a clear plastic that resembles glass. That said, HTC has managed to create life out of this acrylic by bringing the same stunning liquid surface design to this midrange device. By just weighing 142g, the U11 Life is a delight to hold in your hands!

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-lightweight.jpg

    Specs

    The U11 Life comes with the Snapdragon 630 processor, which is Qualcomm’s midrange octa-core processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB onboard storage and a 5.2” 1080p Super LCD screen. If the 32GB onboard storage isn’t enough, then you can use the microSD card slot for storage expansion for up to 2TB. If you are planning to take your U11 Life out in the snow or rain, then you should be happy to know that it is IP67 rated. The U11 Life is dust, splash and water resistant up to 1 meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes.

    If you are looking for that one port that is hard to find these days on a smartphone, then you will not find it in the U11 Life either. There is no headphone jack. So, you are stuck with getting some nice Bluetooth earphones or use the HTC USonic earbuds that come with the U11 Life. HTC USonic earbuds are probably the best earbuds you will find that ships in the box with a smartphone.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-usonic-earbuds.jpg

    The performance is great and provides active noise cancellation which is nice if you are in a crowded place or just want to get into the music and forget about the rest. And not to mention that these earbuds support Hi-Res Audio, so if you are into Hi-Res audio, you should try out these earbuds for once before you put them aside.

    However, one thing to note is that the U11 Life does not include a dongle so you can’t use your existing 3.5mm headphones. That's probably the biggest downside to every other phone that doesn’t have a headphone jack today. They usually do provide a 3.5mm dongle in the box.

    The U11 Life uses the USB Type-C port for charging and the weird thing about this port is its location. Unlike other phones, the charging port is located on the far right and not in the middle in favor of the speakers. It took me a while to get adjusted.

    Speaking about the speakers, the U11 Life does not come with the iconic HTC BoomSound. So, no front facing stereo speakers! It just has a single speaker.

    The fingerprint sensor is located in a convenient location in the front at the bottom. Its not the fastest but it hasn't failed me yet.

    HTC Edge Sense

    And yes, you can squeeze the U11 Life as it features the HTC’s Edge Sense which is available in the top end HTC U11 and Google Pixel phones. You can configure and choose your desired action for the short squeeze and squeeze and hold actions. For example, I have configured to turn on and off the flashlight with a short squeeze and launch the camera for the squeeze and hold action. You can configure to do other operations and even launch your applications for those actions instead.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-edge-sense.jpg

    Edge Sense is also supported in applications meaning that you can use the squeeze actions, for example, in the Google Maps app, to zoom into the map or zoom into the photo when you use Google Photos app. You can also configure these actions for an app if you know how to do it. For example, I have configured to compose a new tweet in my twitter app with a short squeeze and then another short squeeze will activate voice-to-text using which I can compose the tweet quickly!

    The Edge Sense also supports Amazon Alexa so you can squeeze to launch Alexa. Very useful if you are into the Alexa ecosystem. For me, Google Assistant just works fine!

    Software Experience

    The U11 Life ships with Android 7.1.1 and is expected to get the Android Oreo update by end of this year. The default HTC Sense skin is pretty much the same you get in any other HTC device. Its a basic launcher with an app drawer and support for HTC Themes.

    The home screen is as simple as it gets. To customize your home screens, just long press on the home screen to reveal the settings menu and then choose the option to change the theme, wallpaper or edit pages.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-home-screen.jpg

    The launcher is integrated with the HTC Blinkfeed where you can get the latest news and connect your social accounts like twitter, youtube and many more. If you don’t like the Blinkfeed, you can always turn it off on the home screen page settings.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-blinkfeed.jpg

    The app drawer is also customizable with few options. You can sort apps alphabetically or by most recent or the way you like. You can search for apps and navigate to the Play Store from the app drawer. Hit that 3 dot button and you can manage more settings like changing the wallpaper of the app drawer and show/hide apps.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-app-drawer.jpg

    Rest of the user experience is similar to the default Android experience - the quick panel settings menu and the settings app, more or less look the same as what you get with the default Android experience.

    There is no doubt HTC Sense is fast and is great to see that it can deliver a stellar performance not only in the top end U11 but also to this midrange U11 Life. But the Sense UI is getting old. I hope HTC is working on some new update to the Sense UI as it feels outdated when compared to say the Samsung Experience or even the default Android experience.

    It also supports WiFi calling and Voice-over LTE if your network carrier supports it. Here in the US, U11 Life is fully compatible with T-Mobile and ATT while it supports Verizon’s common radio bands but does not provide those advanced features.

    Camera

    The U11 life comes with a 16MP front and rear cameras with a f/2.0 aperture. However, there is no optical image stabilization. The camera software is the same as you will find in other recent HTC phones like the U11. It comes with many modes including the PRO mode which gives you options to control specific settings your shot.

    However, I noticed the default exposure level to be very low and many times I had to increase the exposure to get a good shot. Maybe this is a software bug or it is probably the limitation of the camera sensor used. Also, the shutter speed is slow and sometimes I get the message that the photo is being processed after pressing the shutter button while shooting in RAW or HDR. Yes, the PRO mode supports shooting pictures in RAW format.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-camera.jpg

    The pictures aren’t bad, but they are not the best. It's not a fast shooter but I think I like the pictures. I found the colors balanced well when the exposure is set right. For $349, I will take it.












    The rear camera supports 4k video recording with Hi-Res audio. You can configure those once you switch to the video mode. While there is no optical image stabilization, when you take videos, the electronic image stabilization kicks in. Here is a sample FHD video I recorded with the U11 Life.

    Performance

    The Snapdragon 630 comes packed with an octa-core processor and Adreno 508 GPU that helps a lot in powerful software and gaming experience. I played a few games like Alto’s Adventure, MARVEL’s Contest of Champions and the EA car racing games. Surprisingly, I did not find any hiccups and enjoyed playing the games in the U11 Life.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-performance.jpg

    However, one thing to note is that U11 Life still uses a midrange processor with just 3GB of RAM which means it could be slower to load apps, games and it doesn’t keep applications in memory for long. When you switch between apps, you could notice a delay as the apps could have been put to sleep instead of keeping them in memory. The first 1 or 2 could work but don’t expect the same with every other app.

    I am surprised and at the same time happy with the U11 Life’s performance. It’s probably one of the best midrange smartphones you can buy today!

    Battery Life

    U11 Life comes with just a 2600 mAh battery onboard. Don’t let that disappoint you. If you are a heavy user, you will easily get a solid 8hrs usage and if not the U11 Life will last you a full day. With a midrange processor powering the U11 Life, there isn’t much you can ask for here with the 2600 mAh battery. You can always get more power by switching to the Power Saving mode. One good thing though is that it supports QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging so you can quickly charge your U11 Life when needed which has helped me a lot!

    Conclusion

    The U11 Life is a remarkable midrange device and if your budget for buying a new smartphone is below $500, then you should certainly consider the U11 Life for its beautiful liquid surface design that is lightweight and for the software experience that does not degrade just because of its a midrange device. And not to forget that it is dust and water resistant that is hard to find in other midrange smartphones.

    HTC U11 Life Community Review: The best smartphone you can buy for less-u11-life-remarkable-device.jpg

    You can buy the HTC U11 Life for just $349 directly from HTC or at a T-Mobile store near you!

    If you want the top end, you can, of course, get the HTC U11, else you will still be happy with the U11 Life. And if you want to know more about the HTC U11, don’t miss my HTC U11 review and top tips & tricks videos for the HTC U11. I will put the links in the description below.

    For more reviews, tips and tricks for the latest smartphones, make sure you are subscribed to my channel.
    libra89 likes this.
    11-21-2017 01:30 AM
  2. dmateo's Avatar
    HTC U11 is arguably one of the best 2017 flagship smartphones. HTC is now back with a midrange device, the U11 Life for just $349!



    The U11 Life takes a cue from the top end U11 and builds on its unique liquid surface design. Only this time, the back uses an acrylic glass. Not to be confused with real glass, acrylic is just a clear plastic that resembles glass. That said, HTC has managed to create life out of this acrylic by bringing the same stunning liquid surface design to this midrange device. By just weighing 142g, the U11 Life is a delight to hold in your hands!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-lightweight.jpg 
Views:	13 
Size:	318.5 KB 
ID:	274233

    Specs

    The U11 Life comes with the Snapdragon 630 processor, which is Qualcomm’s midrange octa-core processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB onboard storage and a 5.2” 1080p Super LCD screen. If the 32GB onboard storage isn’t enough, then you can use the microSD card slot for storage expansion for up to 2TB. If you are planning to take your U11 Life out in the snow or rain, then you should be happy to know that it is IP67 rated. The U11 Life is dust, splash and water resistant up to 1 meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes.

    If you are looking for that one port that is hard to find these days on a smartphone, then you will not find it in the U11 Life either. There is no headphone jack. So, you are stuck with getting some nice Bluetooth earphones or use the HTC USonic earbuds that come with the U11 Life. HTC USonic earbuds are probably the best earbuds you will find that ships in the box with a smartphone.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-usonic-earbuds.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	196.3 KB 
ID:	274234

    The performance is great and provides active noise cancellation which is nice if you are in a crowded place or just want to get into the music and forget about the rest. And not to mention that these earbuds support Hi-Res Audio, so if you are into Hi-Res audio, you should try out these earbuds for once before you put them aside.

    However, one thing to note is that the U11 Life does not include a dongle so you can’t use your existing 3.5mm headphones. That's probably the biggest downside to every other phone that doesn’t have a headphone jack today. They usually do provide a 3.5mm dongle in the box.

    The U11 Life uses the USB Type-C port for charging and the weird thing about this port is its location. Unlike other phones, the charging port is located on the far right and not in the middle in favor of the speakers. It took me a while to get adjusted.

    Speaking about the speakers, the U11 Life does not come with the iconic HTC BoomSound. So, no front facing stereo speakers! It just has a single speaker.

    The fingerprint sensor is located in a convenient location in the front at the bottom. Its not the fastest but it hasn't failed me yet.

    HTC Edge Sense

    And yes, you can squeeze the U11 Life as it features the HTC’s Edge Sense which is available in the top end HTC U11 and Google Pixel phones. You can configure and choose your desired action for the short squeeze and squeeze and hold actions. For example, I have configured to turn on and off the flashlight with a short squeeze and launch the camera for the squeeze and hold action. You can configure to do other operations and even launch your applications for those actions instead.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-edge-sense.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	274.6 KB 
ID:	274235

    Edge Sense is also supported in applications meaning that you can use the squeeze actions, for example, in the Google Maps app, to zoom into the map or zoom into the photo when you use Google Photos app. You can also configure these actions for an app if you know how to do it. For example, I have configured to compose a new tweet in my twitter app with a short squeeze and then another short squeeze will activate voice-to-text using which I can compose the tweet quickly!

    The Edge Sense also supports Amazon Alexa so you can squeeze to launch Alexa. Very useful if you are into the Alexa ecosystem. For me, Google Assistant just works fine!

    Software Experience

    The U11 Life ships with Android 7.1.1 and is expected to get the Android Oreo update by end of this year. The default HTC Sense skin is pretty much the same you get in any other HTC device. Its a basic launcher with an app drawer and support for HTC Themes.

    The home screen is as simple as it gets. To customize your home screens, just long press on the home screen to reveal the settings menu and then choose the option to change the theme, wallpaper or edit pages.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-home-screen.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	295.0 KB 
ID:	274236

    The launcher is integrated with the HTC Blinkfeed where you can get the latest news and connect your social accounts like twitter, youtube and many more. If you don’t like the Blinkfeed, you can always turn it off on the home screen page settings.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-blinkfeed.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	274.5 KB 
ID:	274237

    The app drawer is also customizable with few options. You can sort apps alphabetically or by most recent or the way you like. You can search for apps and navigate to the Play Store from the app drawer. Hit that 3 dot button and you can manage more settings like changing the wallpaper of the app drawer and show/hide apps.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-app-drawer.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	286.6 KB 
ID:	274238

    Rest of the user experience is similar to the default Android experience - the quick panel settings menu and the settings app, more or less look the same as what you get with the default Android experience.

    There is no doubt HTC Sense is fast and is great to see that it can deliver a stellar performance not only in the top end U11 but also to this midrange U11 Life. But the Sense UI is getting old. I hope HTC is working on some new update to the Sense UI as it feels outdated when compared to say the Samsung Experience or even the default Android experience.

    It also supports WiFi calling and Voice-over LTE if your network carrier supports it. Here in the US, U11 Life is fully compatible with T-Mobile and ATT while it supports Verizon’s common radio bands but does not provide those advanced features.

    Camera

    The U11 life comes with a 16MP front and rear cameras with a f/2.0 aperture. However, there is no optical image stabilization. The camera software is the same as you will find in other recent HTC phones like the U11. It comes with many modes including the PRO mode which gives you options to control specific settings your shot.

    However, I noticed the default exposure level to be very low and many times I had to increase the exposure to get a good shot. Maybe this is a software bug or it is probably the limitation of the camera sensor used. Also, the shutter speed is slow and sometimes I get the message that the photo is being processed after pressing the shutter button while shooting in RAW or HDR. Yes, the PRO mode supports shooting pictures in RAW format.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-camera.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	302.9 KB 
ID:	274239

    The pictures aren’t bad, but they are not the best. It's not a fast shooter but I think I like the pictures. I found the colors balanced well when the exposure is set right. For $349, I will take it.

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/PM...-h1454-no?.jpg

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/st...-h1454-no?.jpg

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/8l...-h1454-no?.jpg

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/QG...-h1454-no?.jpg

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/oy...-h1454-no?.jpg


    The rear camera supports 4k video recording with Hi-Res audio. You can configure those once you switch to the video mode. While there is no optical image stabilization, when you take videos, the electronic image stabilization kicks in. Here is a sample FHD video I recorded with the U11 Life.

    Performance

    The Snapdragon 630 comes packed with an octa-core processor and Adreno 508 GPU that helps a lot in powerful software and gaming experience. I played a few games like Alto’s Adventure, MARVEL’s Contest of Champions and the EA car racing games. Surprisingly, I did not find any hiccups and enjoyed playing the games in the U11 Life.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-performance.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	200.9 KB 
ID:	274240

    However, one thing to note is that U11 Life still uses a midrange processor with just 3GB of RAM which means it could be slower to load apps, games and it doesn’t keep applications in memory for long. When you switch between apps, you could notice a delay as the apps could have been put to sleep instead of keeping them in memory. The first 1 or 2 could work but don’t expect the same with every other app.

    I am surprised and at the same time happy with the U11 Life’s performance. It’s probably one of the best midrange smartphones you can buy today!

    Battery Life

    U11 Life comes with just a 2600 mAh battery onboard. Don’t let that disappoint you. If you are a heavy user, you will easily get a solid 8hrs usage and if not the U11 Life will last you a full day. With a midrange processor powering the U11 Life, there isn’t much you can ask for here with the 2600 mAh battery. You can always get more power by switching to the Power Saving mode. One good thing though is that it supports QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging so you can quickly charge your U11 Life when needed which has helped me a lot!

    Conclusion

    The U11 Life is a remarkable midrange device and if your budget for buying a new smartphone is below $500, then you should certainly consider the U11 Life for its beautiful liquid surface design that is lightweight and for the software experience that does not degrade just because of its a midrange device. And not to forget that it is dust and water resistant that is hard to find in other midrange smartphones.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	u11-life-remarkable-device.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	520.9 KB 
ID:	274241

    You can buy the HTC U11 Life for just $349 directly from HTC or at a T-Mobile store near you!

    If you want the top end, you can, of course, get the HTC U11, else you will still be happy with the U11 Life. And if you want to know more about the HTC U11, don’t miss my HTC U11 review and top tips & tricks videos for the HTC U11. I will put the links in the description below.

    For more reviews, tips and tricks for the latest smartphones, make sure you are subscribed to my channel.
    Great review, does the TMobile life run on Android One?
    03-09-2018 08:25 PM
  3. digitalbreak's Avatar
    Great review, does the TMobile life run on Android One?
    Nope. US version does not come with Android One.
    03-11-2018 11:37 PM
  4. Tiffinyq's Avatar
    I loved my U11 until the home key stopped working, it started working again randomly a day later and would intermittently stop every now and again but a reboot would fix it. Now it's dead again and even a full factory reset has not restored it. Most annoying and seems to be a reported issue among other users also.
    04-14-2018 06:40 AM

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