HTC U12 Life hands-on: a capable Android phone that doesn't break the bank

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We live in a world where a top-of-the-line smartphone may cost you over a grand, and there's still plenty of people who aren't willing to part with all that money just to own a decent handset. That's the kind of folks the HTC U12 Life is made for. Its purpose: to cost half as much as a flagship phone, but to get as close to the flagship experience as current technology allows. Unlike the HTC U11 Life, the U12 Life is not coming to the US market, but at IFA 2018, we gave it a quick test run anyway.

Of course, corners had to be cut to bring this mid-range phone's cost down. As a result, the HTC U12 Life uses plastic in its construction instead of glass or metal, but the finish aims to emulate the shiny appearance of a metallic surface. Fine, 0.3mm-wide horizontal grooves are laser-cut across the bottom two-thirds of the handset, adding not only character, but also make the phone more grippy and free of fingerprint traces.

During the brief demo session, the 6-inch LCD display of the HTC U12 Life couldn't wow us with its qualities, but it definitely gets the job done. It is not only of high resolution (1080x2160 pixels), but it has power-saving properties as it is built on LTPS technology, HTC boasts. Together with the energy-efficient Snapdragon 636 and the generous 3600mAh battery, this hardware combo could translate to impressive battery life. Memory is also plentiful for a mid-ranger, comprised of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Unsurprisingly, the HTC LiteSense user interface – built on top of Android 8.1 Oreo – ran pretty well during our quick testing.

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At the back we find a dual camera setup where a secondary cam allows the HTC U12 Life to add the trendy bokeh effects to its photos. The camera also supports video recording at 4K 30FPS and 1080p 60FPS settings – something that can't be said about all phones of this class. Meanwhile, the 13MP front-facing cam gets a super bright LED flash to illuminate your selfies.

We didn't have a whole lot of time to play with the HTC U12 Life, but even the short hands-on demo session was enough for us to tell that this is a phone that packs a lot of value. It will be priced at 349 euro/299 GBP when it is released in early October, and those who register for HTC Club on the company's website will get a 10% discount on top of that. 

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