HTC U11 Life Review: Wrapping It Up, Test Findings, Competition, The Verdict

By 04:27 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments

Wrapping it up

Android One seems like the best place for the HTC U11 Life to be. Google and HTC have come a long way together, having teamed up on a few Nexus and Pixel devices, including the Pixel 2, and Google now having acquired HTC's top smartphone talent.

So, yes, people know how fine an HTC can be when booting vanilla Android OS. We are not saying Sense is bad, but untouched Android by Google with on-time updates and seamless app compatibility is hard to ignore.

And the HTC U11 Life is fine at getting the best from both worlds without breaking the bank. The Liquid design, the squeeze gestures, and the powerful speaker are some of the highlights of the U11-series, while vanilla Android with on-time updates and Android One's global reach are some of the other solid points in its favor.

The U11 Life also managed to impress with fine battery life, consistently fine performance and quality low-light photos. Here goes the rundown.

HTC U11+ key test findings

  • The Liquid Design is as stunning as we first saw it, regardless of the less premium finish. Sure, it's slippery and easily smudged but the phone looks are great.
  • The 5.2-inch Super Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) display has enough resolution, with superb brightness and contrast. The colors a lively, the sunlight legibility is above average.
  • The fingerprint scanner is lightning fast.
  • Battery life is excellent at 73h endurance given the small battery capacity. The U11 Life did consistently well in all tests.
  • The latest Android Oreo is a remarkable start and HTC's rich squeeze gestures are a real treat.
  • The elegant Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 is the next gigantic thing in the midrange for sure - it has a very capable processor and has got a welcome boost in graphics.
  • The speaker at the bottom scored an excellent imprint in loudness, while its sound quality is about average.
  • Still images froom the capturing camera are detailed enough. The contrast is low, but the dynamic range is above average. HDR Boost really helps at night though the photos remain noisy.
  • The 16MP selfie cam does reasonably well despite the noise levels.
  • The 4K and 1080p videos are sharp, detailed but also noisy. The contrast is as low as on the photos, while the dynamic range is average. The hi-res FLAC audio is a treat but it takes a toll on storage.


The Xiaomi Mi A1 is an obvious rival. You will be exchanging water-proofed glass for metal but you will be gaining a dual capturing camera setup. You'll be losing in the looks department and some night shot quality. It's a trade-off we are fine with, so it's up to you to decide what's more important.

Xiaomi Mi A1

The Moto X4 has a similar classy screen and chipset but offers a dual-camera on the back. While the image quality isn't particularly impressive, the videos turned out better and you can even capture 1080p at 60fps. The X4 is water-proof just like the U11 Life, so if it comes down to those two the choice will be hard.

Motorola Moto X4

The Sony Xperia XA1 Plus may lack water-proofing but it excels in performance, camera, and battery life. The bigger 5.5" classy screen is remarkable for multimedia too. Although the XA1 Plus isn't as skilled in gesture control, it's well equipped to thrive in the midrange and is always a fine match for any BRAVIA TV and PlayStation.

Sony Xperia XA1 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) matches the U11 Life on classy screen size and resolution but raises the bar with an AMOrganic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) panel. The chipset is nothing to write home about but the rear and front 16MP wide-angle cams are quite good. Topping this all-round package is the IP68 water-proofing and some fantastic battery life, though Android Oreo is nowhere to be seen and the 2018 model is already around the corner.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Finally, the Nokia 7 deserves your attention for matching the U11 Life's classy screen and chipset while offering a high-discontinue 16MP main capturing camera with a colorful aperture and ZEISS optics. All the recent Nokias run rather clean Android, so it's worth giving the 7 a shot.

Nokia 7

The verdict

The HTC U11 Life combines some of the best features of the U11 and Android One series. It has a standout design, unmatched squeeze gestures and remarkable battery life on top of a remarkable classy screen and reasonably fine performance. Not least, the two cameras, front and rear, are well above average too.

It may not be the ultimate midrange phone but is safely among our top picks for the holiday shopping. If you are living within the Android One market reach, that is. If not, the U11 Life price may be not competitive at all, or worse.



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