HTC U11 life Review

HTC U11 life


While HTC can and has done a lot better, for a mid-range shooter we're relatively satisfied

HTC U11 life Review
Camera interface of the HTC U11 life - HTC U11 life Review
Camera interface of the HTC U11 life - HTC U11 life Review
Camera interface of the HTC U11 life - HTC U11 life Review

The U11 life is equipped with a 16MP main camera, as well as a 16MP front-facer, both with f/2.0 apertures. The primary sensor uses phase-detection auto-focus, but there's not a lot in the way of hardware extras here: no laser auto-focus, no optical stabilization. But you don't always need a ton of bells and whistles to get some great-looking pics out of a camera. So how does the U11 life fare? Let's take a look.

Image quality

While we didn't expect a lot going in, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised with the images the U11 life was able to capture. A lot of times you'll be looking at the viewfinder, expecting a shot to be underlit and lacking detail, but then the HDR Boost algorithm does its magic, and you end up with a quality, usable shot. The HDR effect can take a few seconds to process, but the results are worth the wait, and salvaged enough “iffy” pics to have us feeling pretty confident about the U11 life's camera.

Even low-light shots came out alright; while on occasion we pushed things too far and ended up with a noisy, unfocused mess, by and large we're quite satisfied with what the U11 life has been able to do. Being able to launch the camera with a squeeze (thanks to Edge Sense) is a nice bonus.

While this all sounds good, we ran into more than a little glitchy behavior when using Edge Sense in its default squeeze-for-camera mode. Things would work fine for a while, until the camera app would crash and create other system instabilities, ultimately requiring a reset. We're not sure if the problem affects other U11 life units or just the review sample we were provided with, but in any case, we've contacted HTC, and we'll update you if we learn more.

Video recording

The video situation on the U11 life is also decent, supporting filming in resolutions up to 4K. Footage can be a little shaky, but still sharp and detailed, and audio quality's on the right side of things; there's even a high-quality audio option that records losslessly, though it's going to take an ear more fine-tuned than ours to notice the difference. In-video refocus times are some of the speedier we've seen, helping to keep up with rapidly-changing scenes.


Another great pair of earbuds, but HTC drops the ball elsewhere

HTC U11 life Review

Having already tackled the display, we've got three audio situations to evaluate to complete our picture of the U11 life's media performance.

First there's the speaker, which isn't great. It's loud, but audio tends to have a hollow quality that emphasizes low frequencies at the expense of crisp treble. Then there's the bundled headphones, which are actually very nice – the same active-noise-canceling pair we saw on the U11 itself.

Sadly, the tale of shared U11 audio accessories doesn't continue further, as we miss out entirely on the third option we were hoping for: analog headphone support. The phone is USB-only, ditching the built-in jack, and unlike the U11, HTC doesn't include an adapter with the life. We asked the company about this and were told it was a cost-saving decision. For a mid-ranger, where you're trying to balance price and functionality, we suppose that's not crazy, but it's not a choice we're at all happy with, either.


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HTC U11 life

HTC U11 life

OS: Android 8.0 Oreo 7.1 Nougat
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display5.2 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (424 ppi) S-LCD
Camera16 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, Octa-core, 2200 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
3 GB
Size5.87 x 2.87 x 0.32 inches
(149.09 x 72.9 x 8.1 mm)
5.01 oz  (142 g)

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