The HTC U12 Life is a smartphone that is friendlier to the wallet than HTC’s top model: the HTC U12 +. While the latter falls away from the strong competition the U12 Life has a few notable features.
That HTC has been stinking for years is no longer news. Also, the latest HTC U12 + does not convince: the glass design is generic, the price too high, the headphone port is missing and the operation with squeezing and touch-sensitive buttons is not a step forward, on the contrary. But this review is about another smartphone, the HTC U12 Life. This cheaper HTC smartphone stands out because it deals with all the aforementioned negatives. The HTC U12 Life is a quirky smartphone with an attractive price of about 350 euros. Green fragile glass housing, no gimmicks, a modest price and everything you need.
You expect modest specifications for those 350 Euros. The Snapdragon 636 processor, for example, is not uncommon in this price range. Furthermore, you get a lot back for that price. The U12 Life has 6GB memory, a large battery (3600 mAh), fast charger, 64GB storage that you can expand with a memory card, dual-cam and a large 6 inch (15.2 cm) screen. Because of the screen ratio of 1 by 2, the device size is not absurdly large.
HTC U12 Life Specifications
Price from: $ 349
Colors: purple, blue
OS: Android 8.1
Screen: 6 inch LCD (2160×1080)
Processor: 1.8 GHz octa-core (Snapdragon 636)
RAM: 6 GB
Storage: 64 (expandable with memory card)
Battery: 3.600 mAh
Camera: 16 and 5-megapixel dual-cam (back), 13 megapixels (front)
Connectivity: 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5, wifi, GPS
Format: 15.9 x 7.5 x 0.8 cm
Weight: 175 grams
Other: USB-c, headphone port
HTC U12 Life
- Unusual design
- Big screen
- Reasonable price
- Glass body feels more plastic
- Slow, unrefined HDR mode
- App loads slightly slower than rivals
The shiny plastic case feels much less fragile and smooth than all those glass smartphones that pass by, a case is therefore not an absolute necessity. Although the screen naturally always remains fragile. The shiny plastic is, like glass, very fingerprint sensitive and has less the luxury appearance of metal and glass smartphone cases. In the housing, you will also find just a headphone port, which HTC scribbles back a bit from his decision of last year not to equip any smartphone with the 3.5 mm connection. And that is a courageous move from HTC.
The device scores very well on paper. But there are a few drawbacks that you have to take into account. The screen of the HTC U12 Life, for example, this is of a large size and fortunately, the screen edges on the side are not too big. At the top and bottom, these edges are quite substantial. The full HD screen is sharp enough, only the view is a bit pale. Also, the screen brightness could have been a bit higher, making it sometimes difficult to read the screen when you are outside in the sun.
The dual cam also does not score too well. Of course, you cannot expect a smartphone of 350 euros to shoot stunning photos, but in practice, I even had enough light from blurry photos. Colors are often just too dull too. In less light, the quality of the photos is already going down far and wide. The double camera cannot be used strangely enough to zoom in, but for photos with the depth-of-field effect. But because there is already a lot of blurring and blur, the effect is already largely gone. Of course, you make the marketing department of HTC a lot easier by placing a dual-cam, but I wonder aloud whether the smartphone maker cannot better opt for one lens of better quality. In the same class, you can find smartphones with a better camera, such as the Huawei Mate 20 Lite.
It is strange that HTC does not choose to install Android One on the U12 Life
The screen and the camera are the critical points. But with daily use, you experience little inconvenience because it is a very decent smartphone. The battery life is fine, it can be stretched to a day or two. A large amount of memory is fine and the device continues to work very smoothly.
The U12 Life runs on Android 8.1. The Android skin HTC Sense has been rolled over and although this skin is far less drastic, it does not enrich the Android. It is shrieking with many notifications and there is bloatware like all apps from Facebook and the somewhat nonsensical Boost + app that brings unnecessary Android optimization.
Nevertheless, no annoying virus scanners and the amount of bloatware falls within the limits, especially compared to smartphones in the same price range. The reputation HTC has when it comes to Android and security updates is very bad. If updates are already coming, you will only get them very late. It is crazy that HTC does not choose Android Oneto to install on the U12 Life so that as a user you get a clean version of Android, which receives direct updates from Google. That would also save HTC a lot of costs and development. This makes smartphones like the Nokia 7 Plus a better option if the support and life expectancy of your smartphone is important. Because let’s be honest, even though HTC would make beautiful promises in the area of updates, the future of HTC is very uncertain.
When you have around 350 euros to spend on a device you have it right because there are many excellent choices. This HTC U12 Life is one of them. But also the aforementioned Huawei Mate 20 Lite (better camera) and Nokia 7 Plus (better software support) are covered here. But also the Moto G6 Plus, which is a bit cheaper and has a better screen panel. Nevertheless, the HTC U12 Life is a great choice: the device is complete, smooth and the battery life is fine. However, you should do it with a somewhat lesser image quality, camera, and software support.