Smartphones run the gamut in terms of features and prices, and while we all might love to be carrying the hottest, best-performing, most stylish handset around, models like that have a tendency to also be among the most expensive. Luckily for shoppers who'd rather not spend the better portion of a month's rent on a new phone, there are also tons of more affordable options worth checking out.

While some of those more budget-concious phones are built from the ground up as such, others emerge as scaled-down versions of full-price flagships, aiming to deliver a user experience that's still somewhere in the ballpark of what we'd get from their more expensive brethren, while dialing back on some of the less necessary expenditures.

That kind of flagship-lite phone is just what we're looking at today, as HTC introduces the U11 life, a device that aims to deliver some of the same features and design elements as this year's earlier U11, while doing so for half the price.

What kind of trade-offs are we in store for? Does the U11 life succeed in its mission, or are you better off paying more for the U11 proper? Let's take a look.

In the box:

  • U11 life
  • USonic earbuds w/ alternate tips
  • SIM tool
  • USB Type-C to Standard A cable
  • Fast charger
  • Safety guide
  • Warranty booklet
  • SIM tray guide

Design

What looks like a flagship doesn't necessarily feel like a flagship


HTC's goals for the U11 life are pretty straightforward: take the U11, shrink it down a little bit, and make the phone more affordable in the process. So while the U11 life has the same basic look as its flagship namesake, instead of metal edges and a glass back, we've got a phone that instead incorporates a lot of plastic.

The manufacturer has clearly tried its best to recapture the color-changing effect of the U11's back panel, but it's not quite the same here – there are aberrations where reflections separate into different colors, and the effect is just not as impressive as we saw with the U11. That said, you have to be paying a bit of attention to spot the differences, and at a casual glance HTC's efforts are pretty successful here.

HTC U11 life

HTC U11 life

Dimensions

5.87 x 2.87 x 0.32 inches

149.09 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.01 oz (142 g)

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) AT&T

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) AT&T

Dimensions

5.96 x 3.01 x 0.34 inches

151.5 x 76.4 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.6 oz (159 g)

Honor 9

Honor 9

Dimensions

5.8 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Dimensions

6.15 x 3 x 0.24 inches

156.2 x 76.2 x 5.99 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

HTC U11 life

HTC U11 life

Dimensions

5.87 x 2.87 x 0.32 inches

149.09 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.01 oz (142 g)

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) AT&T

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) AT&T

Dimensions

5.96 x 3.01 x 0.34 inches

151.5 x 76.4 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.6 oz (159 g)

Honor 9

Honor 9

Dimensions

5.8 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

147.3 x 70.9 x 7.45 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Motorola Moto Z2 Play

Dimensions

6.15 x 3 x 0.24 inches

156.2 x 76.2 x 5.99 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Display

A solid display that doesn't hits all the right notes


While the U11 went with a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, the U11 life offers a more conservative 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 screen. The good news is that brightness is solid, despite the fact that peak brightness isn't as high as on the U11. Color accuracy is also decent but not perfect, resulting in a panel that feels right at home on a mid-range handset like this.



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16 Comments

1. worldpeace

Posts: 3127; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Cons: No analog headphone jack but it got nice earbud (as you write in pros) (and somehow iPhonearena didn't write the lack of headphone jack as CONS in iPhone 8 and iPhone8+ review)

3. farhanh

Posts: 8; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

not a solid con & not a fair score, it definitely deserves >=8 relative to your review

4. ishaqthkr

Posts: 155; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

WTF 3-4 hrs and a review is out?

6. bucknassty

Posts: 1325; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

thats what crossed my mind.... didnt this thing just get announced last night, must have been hiding in their closet

9. worldpeace

Posts: 3127; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Wont bother to write article about unboxing, first impression, or hands-on, and probably they already write this article before unboxing, and use that 3-4 hours to add photos.. (Probably, They get review unit weeks before announcement, and didn't leak anything about it because embargo.)

11. combatmedic870

Posts: 984; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

Well, they did post an article about the htc u's and then took it down. So.... They probably got their hand slapped by htc.

14. worldpeace

Posts: 3127; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

And they slap back with that 7.7/10 score.

7. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2146; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I say Apple and Amazon and Google wipe out these low hanging companies, such as HTC, Motorola, Sony to hang it up and retire from Android by buying them out...

17. jacky899

Posts: 430; Member since: May 16, 2017

I was wishing Google bought out HTC. The compan's leadership is really losing direction.

8. jellmoo

Posts: 2562; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

So it has a nice build, a good screen, pretty decent battery life, a nice little camera and is zippy enough for everyday use. Also with a pretty attractive price. So it gets a 7.7 with no real cons? Meanwhile devices that have actual defects are getting scores like 8.8 and 9 whilst being exponentially more expensive?

13. fyah_king unregistered

I'll wait til it's $200. I do like the loud speakers it has to be one of the loudest out there.

15. jacky899

Posts: 430; Member since: May 16, 2017

Why was this review so half-assed? PA needs to review all other phones with the same level of professionalism as they do with Samsung phones. But the chin on this phone is pretty disappointingly ugly.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

U11 life
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, Octa-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh(21h 3G talk time)

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