Today HTC is expanding its U11 series from one member into three, with the introduction of the U11 life and the U11+. The two new parts are designed to sit above and below the current standard U11 model, with the U11 life aiming at a more price competitive ‘lifestyle’ market, while the U11+ (U11-plus) sits at the top of the pile and is being touted for HTC super-fans who want a little bit more from their U11.

The HTC U11 life: From £349 with AndroidOne

The new wave of smartphones being described as ‘lifestyle’ branded is somewhat absurd: everyone has a lifestyle, but the definition here is more along the lines of ‘lifestyle’ magazines, such as GQ and the like. HTC’s aim with the U11 life is to bring its key feature, the Edge Sense ‘squeeze’ enablement, into a more compelling price point for more potential customers.

The HTC U11 life is a 5.2-inch, 1080p device with IP67 environmental protection, featuring a Snapdragon 630 SoC under the hood, a 2600 mAh battery and a USB Type-C connector. It shares significant design cues from the U11 in the way it looks, however instead of going for a glass rear it uses an ‘acrylic glass’ design to save cost but still give the same design ID as the U11.

There will be two U11 life models depending on the region, each with some different features. The US version of the U11 life will be handled exclusively through T-Mobile, and as such will be an Android N device with HTC Sense. The rest of the world, however, will be getting an Android Oreo device, branded with the AndroidOne logo on the back to indicate that this is part of the AndroidOne ecosystem. What this should mean is that any AndroidOne device will get a guaranteed monthly security update every month for three years (from today), and guaranteed OS updates for two years. When asked how that is enforced/what compensation is available if HTC potentially reneges on that AndroidOne promise, no answer was given in our briefing.

The U11 life will be offered in 3GB DRAM + 32GB storage and 6GB DRAM + 64GB storage models, plus single SIM and microSD card support, with Sapphire Blue and Brilliant Black colors being made available. It was asked if HTC is planning a red model, like the standard U11, however we were told that the change to the acrylic glass design showed that these two colors would be the best option.

HTC’s headline feature with the U11 life is bringing its Edge Sense ‘squeeze’ technology down to a lower price point, and now HTC is promoting that the squeeze can work with any application to perform almost any task. One example we were given was that the squeeze could turn pages of a book in the Kindle app.

Other features include a 16MP f/2.0 main camera with phase detection autofocus, Pro mode/RAW format support, HDR Boost, slow-motion video, 4K video, and picture taking inside a video. This is accompanied by a 16MP f/2.0 front-facing camera with selfie modes and HDR Boost, good for 1080p video. HTC stated that this device has been given a DXO Mark score of 90. Audio is powered by HTC USonic, which is HTC’s audio package that is designed to detect the echo chamber of your ear and adjust the sounds accordingly. This comes from the bundled Type-C headphones as well as the software, and HTC is promoting the U11 life as being high-resolution audio certified. There is no 3.5mm audio jack.

U11 life and U11+

Connectivity starts with the integrated category 11 modem, good for 600 Mbps download and 75 Mbps upload, with up to 3x carrier aggregation and support for VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling. The 2600 mAh battery is expected at a device of this price, although the move to the Snapdragon 630 from the S835 in the standard U11 allows HTC to quote an additional 2 hours of video playback and 2 hours of data use over the standard U11. The Type-C connector is USB 2.0.

Pre-orders for the HTC U11 life will start from today, and we were quoted a UK price of £349 for the 3 GB DRAM + 32GB storage model. This includes the 20% UK tax rate, so it is likely to hit the US at around $385.

HTC U11 Family
  HTC U11 life HTC U11 HTC U11+
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
4 x A53 @ 2.2 GHz
4 x A53 @ 1.8 GHz
Adreno 508
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
4x Kryo 280 Perf @ 2.45 GHz
4x Kryo 280 Eff @ 1.90 GHz
Adreno 540 @ 653 MHz 
Display 5.2-inch SLCD
5.5-inch SLCD5
6.0-inch SLCD6
Dimensions 149.9 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm
142 grams
153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm
169 grams
158.5 x 74.9 x 8.5 mm
188 grams
Waterproof Yes (IP67) Yes (IP67) Yes (IP68)
RAM 3 GB 4 GB 4 GB 6 GB 4 GB 6 GB
NAND 32 GB 64 GB 64 GB
UFS 2.1
128 GB
UFS 2.1
64 GB
UFS 2.1
128 GB
UFS 2.1
MicroSD Yes Yes Yes
Rear Camera 16MP, f/2.0 12MP "UltraPixel 3"
OIS, f/1.7, 1.4µm pixels
Front Camera 16MP, f/2.0 16MP 8MP, f/2.0,
85º wide angle
Battery 2600 mAh
3000 mAh
3930 mAh
Modem Qualcomm X12 (Integrated)
Category 11 LTE
Qualcomm X16 (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE
LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 20, 28, 66 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, 28 (U11+), 32
38, 39, 40, 41
SIM Size 1 x NanoSIM 1x or 2x NanoSIM
Wireless 802.11ac, BT4.2, NFC
802.11ac, BT 4.2, NFC,
Connectivity USB 2.0 Type-C USB 3.0 (5 Gbps), Type-C, Quick Charge 3.0
3.5mm TRRS No No No
Launch OS Android 7.0 w/ HTC Sense (US)
Android 8.0 w/ AndroidOne (RoW)
Android 7.1 with HTC Sense Android 8.0 with HTC Sense
Cost From £349 (~$385) 4 + 64GB: £649 From £699 (~$770)

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  • hybrid2d4x4 - Thursday, November 2, 2017 - link

    Wow, that's gotta be one of the biggest chins in a smartphone in recent years. Looks brutal!
    And pretty much the same hardware as the Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime (which has 4000mAh battery) I got last year for 35% of the price of this thing- good luck with that...
  • evilspoons - Thursday, November 2, 2017 - link

    Is there any word on whether Canada gets Sense or Android One for the Life? We're frequently given "US only" models of phones instead of "rest of world" models.
  • sonny73n - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    I wonder why HTC, Samsung, Sony, LG and even Google think they can rip off customers with phones which only cost about 1/3 to make, like Apple does. There are many Chinese phones that have better hardwares and designs but cost less i.e. Meizu pro 5.
  • vladx - Saturday, November 4, 2017 - link

    Because it's proven they can sell? Besides not taking into consideration R&D and marketing costs.
  • Samuel Lord - Friday, November 3, 2017 - link

    Nice short review, but please Anandtech, remember that this is a PHONE. Unlike Apple and others, HTC considers sound quality important. Why didn't you say a single word about the combined performance of the speaker(s) and microphones? Those were the primary reason I bought and enjoyed the HTC M8. The U11 is supposed to have great phone and intercom sound. What about this this model?? Thanks.

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