After pretty thoroughly leaking ahead of time, HTC has made the new mid-range U11 Life official. The U11 Life takes on much of the styling and features of the U11 flagship launched earlier this year, but scales back materials and specs to meet a $349 price point.
It has a 5.2-inch 1080p SuperLCD screen, and is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor, 2600mAh battery, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Despite the drop in specs, the U11 Life keeps IP67 water-resistance, Edge Sense squeezing, a fingerprint sensor and has HTC's USonic active noise-cancelling earbuds in the box. And yes, that means there's no headphone jack here.
The body of the U11 Life may look nearly identical to the U11 from a distance, and that's definitely a good thing, but the frame is plastic rather than metal and the back is an acrylic material instead of curved glass. The cameras are of course of lower quality as well, with 16MP BSI sensors and f/2.0 lenses on back and front, both lacking OIS. Thankfully not many more corners are cut, as this $349 phone still has NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and many of the other "nice to have" features so often dropped in lower-end phones.
Many people would prefer to have the Android One version, but it just isn't available here.
Now here's the interesting part: there are two distinct models of the U11 Life, one for North America and another globally. Internationally, the U11 Life is identical hardware-wise but is one of the new crop of mid-range Android One devices, meaning the U11 Life has a Google-sanctioned version of Android 8.0 with few HTC changes aside from the addition of Edge Sense. Certain markets will also see a bump up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, though it seems like the 3/32GB model will be what most people see.
The North American model is running Android 7.1.1 with HTC's Sense customizations, and in the U.S. the only carrier you can buy it through is T-Mobile — though thankfully HTC.com is also selling it unlocked (and lacking Verizon and Sprint support, sorry). HTC says it will update the U11 Life to Android 8.0 within 30 days, but don't expect the interface to change much — this will still be Sense, not Android One.
The U11 Life goes on sale right away from HTC.com in the U.S. for $349, Canada for $449, and on November 3 from T-Mobile. Various nternational markets will also announce availability independently, but pricing is set at £349 in the UK and €349 in Europe.
HTC U11 life: Premium Innovations Without Putting a Squeeze On Your Wallet
Squeezable Edge Sense, Amazing Cameras, Weather-Resistant Design, and USonic Noise Cancelling Earbuds In-Box Deliver Unparalleled Smartphone Value
SEATTLE – Nov. 2, 2017 – Building on the award-winning design and innovation of the flagship HTC U11, HTC today announced the newest member of the "U" family of smartphones, the HTC U11 life. Like its predecessor, the HTC U11 life is designed to reflect "U" – your drive, passion, creativity, and individuality – yet uniquely delivers flagship-quality features and experiences at just a fraction of a flagship's price.
The HTC U11 life gives you the best innovations from the HTC U11 and more:
- Edge Sense, the next dimension in touch interaction that lets you squeeze HTC U11 life to perform your most common useful actions, including Google Assistant.
- Amazing cameras, with Phase Detection Autofocus and HDR Boost on the 16MP main camera for faster, clearer photos, and UltraPixel light sensitivity on the 16MP front camera for awesome selfies even in low light. Google Photos is also the default gallery, providing free and unlimited storage of high quality photos and videos.
- Durable, weather-resistant liquid surface design, incorporating an acrylic glass back that stunningly transforms light with every movement you make – even in rain, snow, or dust with IP67 water and dust resistance1.
- HTC USonic earbuds in-box, the most personal listening experience on a smartphone that adapts to your ears, in addition to built-in Active Noise Cancellation.
- Get the latest from Google with Android One – enjoy the newest Android OS update, Android Oreo, right out of the box, bringing you a best-in-class software experience designed by Google.
The HTC U11 life in Sapphire Blue is available in the US and Canada beginning today for just $349 ($449 CAD) at htc.com. It will also be available in T-Mobile stores nationwide and at t-mobile.com beginning Nov. 3.
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