HTC introduced two smartphones on November 2, which have been shown in quite a few leaks dating back some time. Keeping HTC’s ‘U 11’ branding, a combination of the company’s “For You” lineup of phones for 2017 and flagship numbering, are the brand new HTC U 11+ and HTC U 11 Life. The pair is joining the already available U Ultra, U Play and U 11, which all together make up HTC’s U-Series of smartphones. Here’s a roundup of everything to know.
The HTC U 11+ will be sold alongside the current HTC U 11 flagship, with its beefed up specs and modern design that takes after Google’s Pixel 2 XL. The HTC U 11 Life is a mid-range device that used to be code-named ‘Ocean Life.’ It’s the smaller of the two and will be more affordable, though the competition could be just as stiff.
It was on November 2 when HTC held its event and unveiled the new pair of Android smartphones, just as we expected thanks to the company’s invitation and teaser posts. Upon first glance, both models look like good buys, featuring powerful specifications, though, as we know from past experience, we know this isn’t everything that makes a phone good. HTC U 11 Life will come in Sapphire Blue and the larger, more premium HTC U 11+ will be available in select regions in choice of Translucent Black, Ceramic Black, and Amazon Silver color options.
Starting with the HTC U 11+, we’re looking at a 6-inch Super LCD 6 Quad HD+ display (with Gorilla Glass 5), following industry trend with a 18:9 ratio and thin top, bottom and side bezels. We kind of expected this, but it’s nice to know for sure that HTC has officially done it, and others are seemingly preparing similar devices of their own for the second half of 2017. Powering the device is a Snapdragon 835 SoC backed up by either 4GB or 6GB of RAM. Both versions are IP68 rated for water and dust resistance, but lack a headphone jack.
HTC U 11+ will come in choice of 64GB (4GB RAM) and 128GB (6GB RAM) storage options, also expandable via microSD. The rear side of the phone boasts a 12MP UltraPixel camera with f/1.7 and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The front of the handset has a lesser 8MP lens with f/2.0. HTC says these have been improved over past HTC devices. Other features include HTC’s AI companion app, USB Type-C for charging, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, Bluetooth 5.0, and a non-replaceable 3,930mAh battery. HTC USonic headphones are included in every box, and HTC’s BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition front-facing speakers are here as well. Together, these additions should make for an awesome audio experience on this phone however which way you choose to listen.
On the software front, HTC U 11+ will come pre-loaded with the latest version of Android, Android 8.0 Oreo, making it the very first other than Google’s Pixel 2 phones to run the software out of the box. Some of the major new features from Google include new notifications, performance and battery improvements by further restricting background data, picture-in-picture mode, new adaptive icons, and system-wide auto-fill. On top will be HTC Sense version 9.0 bringing useful features and minimal bloat, which should make for a smooth experience and fast system updates. ‘Edge Sense,’ which is part of the company’s overlay on top of Android, is also here. Users will be able to squeeze long or short on the phone to activate apps and take different actions, like on the HTC U 11, which first debuted the feature. A fully capable Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (thanks to HTC’s deal with Amazon) will be on board as well, to use AI and machine learning for improving with time and use.
Continuing with the smaller HTC U 11 Life, we have a 5.2-inch Super Clear LCD Full HD display with Gorilla Glass, which is of the more standard 16:9 aspect ratio. The handset is powered by Qualcomm’s upper mid-range, battery efficient Snapdragon 660 processor with 3GB of RAM. The only storage option is 32GB, though like on the U 11+, microSD card support is here.
On the camera sides of things, U 11 Life has a 16MP shooter with f/2.0 on both the front and rear sides. Get ready to take some high-res selfies! Other features include HTC’s AI app, USB Type-C for charging, a fingerprint reader, Bluetooth 5.0, and a non-replaceable 2,600mAh battery. The device is also IP67 water and dust resistant and comes with HTC’s USonic ear buds. No headphone jack is present.
Aboard the HTC U 11 Life is Edge Sense, including the squeeze function built into Sense 9.0, though, the handset, unlike the HTC U 11+ comes pre-installed with Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Google’s Nougat software has features including doze on the go, bundled notifications, split screen multitasking, enhanced security, new emojis, and a new Vulkan API for better overall graphics performance. The device will also have some Android 7.1.1 exclusive features like app shortcuts, GIF touch keyboard support, live wallpaper metadata, and more. Plus, each the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are here as well.
In terms of design, the HTC U 11+ and HTC U 11 Life couldn’t more more different. HTC U 11+ features a flagship design, which is similar in a lot of ways to the Pixel 2 XL. It has a more refined body language, comes with an 18:9 aspect ratio, and has far less bezel around the device. Perhaps most interestingly, the back is semi-transparent, which sets this smartphone apart from rivals in the space.
HTC U 11 Life features a more traditional metal and glass design, which is very reminiscent of HTC U 11 and some other phones from the company.
Unfortunately, the HTC U 11+, which is really the show stopper of the two, will not be available in the US territory. This is a real bummer considering how awesome this device sounds on paper (pending our hands-on testing). However, importing it is always an option! As for the HTC U 11 Life, which is targeting a different audience, it’s available now! This includes the US, where buyers can get it GSM unlocked from HTC to work on a variety of US carriers including both T-Mobile and AT&T. T-Mobile is also selling the phone as the exclusive carrier in the US. Pricing unlocked contract-free has been set at just $349, but T-Mobile has the device for sale at $12 down with $12 per month installments for 24 months. This sums to $300, a $50 discount from HTC’s unlocked model so long as you don’t mind some carrier bloat.
Keep in mind, HTC also announced an Android One version of the HTC U 11 Life, featuring the same design and specifications. The only differences being that is runs Android 8.0 Oreo, Google’s latest version of Android, and there’s an additional option of a 4GB RAM variant with 64GB of storage. Like the HTC U 11+, though, it will not be available in the US.
Release information nor availability has really been confirmed for the HTC U 11+. The HTC U 11 Life is available at the product links we’ve included for you below.
To learn more of the specifics, watch the below embedded videos. You can sign up for product news and other relevant information about HTC phones using your email at the company’s website. Be sure to check out some of our latest news coverage while you’re here and let us know what you think of the new U 11 pair in the comment section below!