The HTC U11 Life brings Android One to Australia with Vodafone carrier exclusive; where it’s available on a number of plans, or outright from HTC themselves for $599. HTC has promised at least two platform updates for the HTC U11 Life – both Android P and Android Q; when they’re released, with security updates delivered along the way.
Here is what you wish to know about this upcoming Android phone.
The Design and Hardware
HTC brand is good at hardware design; and manufacturing and so you can expect the same with the U11 For fans of the HTC U11; the design language is the same as the U11 Life; though as a mid-range device materials have changed slightly. The phone has acrylic rather than glass, and the acrylic Liquid Surface is paired to the Gorilla Glass on the front; and both are a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but they clean up well with a wipe.
The rear houses a 16MP camera sensor, which sits slightly raised above the back of the phone. And an LED flash sits to the right, apart from the HTC logo in the middle. And Android One branding below, there’s relatively little to interrupt the Liquid Surface design. The design is, like many HTC phones, beautiful. But is limited to the ‘Brilliant Black’ colour option for Aussies right now.
The phone with a 5.2-inch FullHD resolution LCD display has a minimal bezel on either side of the screen. But there are bezels above and below with the fingerprint sensor and capacitive back. And multitasking buttons take up the majority of the below screen real-estate. While a 16MP selfie camera, speaker and proximity sensor take up the top.
At the top of the phone is where you find the dual purpose SIM/microSD card slot, and at the base, you get a mid-mounted speaker which leaves the USB-C port off-centred to the right – seemingly a conscious design decision by HTC on all their handsets.
The microSD card supports cards up to 2TB in size, but since none of those has made it to market, you can slot in essentially any sized microSD card that comes your way. The mono speaker isn’t the ‘BoomSound’, but the phone and earphones supplied in the box are set up for the USonic audio experience that maps your hearing for an improved audio experience.
The solid construction also includes an IP67 dust/waterproof rating which can survive the rain or a splash. It runs Android on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (with that microSD card slot).
The phone also has all the connectivity you’d want: Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac and the GPS supports A-GPS, GLONASS and even Beidou. The phone supports all the LTE bands in Australia at LTE Cat 11 speeds – that means it’s capable of producing downloads up to 600Mbps and is powered by a 2600mAh Li-Ion battery.
The display on the U11 Life is bright and easy to read. Super LCD has always been HTC’s domain, offering great colour reproduction and dynamic range with expanded viewing angles. Having the screen covered in Gorilla Glass adds an element of protection as well to stop micro-scratches. The display is responsive and easily viewable in both sunlight and artificial light and that’s what you want out of a phone display.
The U11 Life has a 16MP BSI sensor behind an f/2.0 aperture on both the front and rear of the phone. The rear sensor gets Phased Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), but the front sensor is simply fixed focus. The cameras both support HDR boost for a bit of ‘pop’ in your pictures.
The U11 Life shoots good pictures from the rear camera during the day, but there’s no specific hardware included to make night shots really pop. There’s no Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) on either sensor, so you really need a steady hand in low light to make the difference.
The HDR Boost does make a difference, offering more pop and vibrancy with the increased dynamic range. There’s also the option to tap to focus when shooting in the app, and it’s worthwhile doing, capturing a more steady shot.
In terms of video, the rear camera offers support for 4K video recording (2160p@30fps for up to 6 minutes), with the front still able to capture 1080p video just fine. The 4K video on the rear camera is pretty impressive. There are other video gimmicks included with the U11 Life camera software including Hyperlapse and Slow Motion Video.
The shining light for the U11 Life is the inclusion of HTC’s USonic earphones that come with Active Noise Cancellation. The earphones themselves are very comfortable to wear, with the inclusion of different sized ear tips going a long way to ensure a secure, comfortable fit. There’s an inline control built-in to the earphones with a single play/pause control button that also answers or ends a call.
The HTC USonic feature requires a bit of training to set up, throwing some white noise into your ears. The USonic software through the earphones uses the white noise to then calibrate the audio experience to your personal hearing level.
The software is Android One and comes with Android 8.0 (Oreo) straight out of the box. Android One guarantees the phone will receive at least three years of updates, including updates to both Android P and Android Q when they’re released.
As far as looks, the HTC U11 software experience is stock as a rock. Stock launcher, stock notifications, app drawer and for the most part: Settings. There are a few extras in the settings to control ‘extra’ features like the Edge Sense software which looks identical to a Pixel phone.
HTC launched Edge Sense with the HTC U11 last year. Edge Sense is software paired to squeezable sides of the phone. Squeeze the phone sides and you can launch an application, or perform an action. In the HTC U11 Life, the squeezable sides are set up to launch the camera by default. You can change this to launch a voice assistant or other apps like the flashlight or any number of system options.
Where to get HTC U11 Life?
HTC U11 Life is priced at $599 and you can get Vodafone is selling the U11 Life on its range of Red plans, starting from $16.63 per month. You’ll be able to pay off the U11 life over 12, 24, or 36 months. Monthly repayments are as follows (excluding any potential loyalty discounts):
- 12 months: $49.92 per month
- 24 months: $24.95 per month
- 36 months: $16.64 per month