HTC U12 Life first look

Key Features

  • 6-inch FHD+, LTPS panel
  • Snapdragon 636
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage + microSD
  • 16MP camera plus 5MP secondary sensor for bokeh effect
  • 13MP selfie camera
  • 3600mAh battery with fast charge

HTC U12 Life first look: This seems like a great phone for £299

After the disappointment that was the HTC U12 Plus, the Taiwanese company is back and once again trying to crack the mid-range.

The HTC U12 Life ditches all the gimmicky extras (squeezable sides, unresponsive haptic buttons) of its pricier sibling, instead looking to offer the right balance of affordability and performance.

HTC U12 Life – Price and release date

The HTC U12 Life will retail for £299 when it launches in the UK towards the end of September. You’ll get an extra 10% off if you buy through HTC’s online store. There are currently no plans for a US release.

HTC U12 Life – Specs and features

HTC U12 Life
Screen 6-inch FHD+, LTPS panel
Performance Snapdragon 636
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB + microSD
Rear camera 16MP plus 5MP for bokeh effect
Front camera 13MP
Battery 3600mAh, fast charge
Software Android 8.1

Name aside, the U12 Life bares almost no resemblance to its pricier sibling. While the body is still constructed from glass, it feels more plasticky to the touch, and has a quirky ‘dual finish’ design with a laser-carved pattern to add extra grip.

Above this is a shiny panel that houses the camera module and fingerprint sensor. It’s a decent design, one that certainly feels classier than the £299 price suggests.

Around the front you’ll find a 6-inch FHD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Extra bezel remains above and below the panel, but this space is used to fit in decent-sounding stereo speakers, foregoing the need for a ‘notch’.

Instead of the typical IPS LCD, HTC has used an LTPS (Low Temperature Poly Silicon) panel here. You likely won’t notice much of a difference between this and a standard LCD – I certainly didn’t – but HTC reps said it uses less battery and thus improves the endurance of the phone.

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Standing out at this price point is difficult. Sitting below are fantastic handsets such as the Moto G6 and G6 Plus, while Chinese brands such as Xiaomi with its Pocophone F1 are offering proper flagships specs for a similar price.

The HTC U12 Life is much more conservative with its internals, offering a mid-range Snapdragon 636 paired with 4GB of RAM. It might not be as snappy in benchmarks as the higher-end 845, but it’s still a strong performer and should run the majority of apps and games without too much of a struggle.

Imaging has been a strong point in the past few HTC flagships and the company is hoping to bring some of that prowess to the mid-range here. The U12 Life has two cameras on the rear – a main 16-megapixel f/2.0 sensor paired with a 5-megapixel sensor for the dedicated bokeh mode – alongside a 13-megapixel front camera and LED flash for low-light selfies.

4K video recording upto 30fps is supported, too, and the camera UI is well designed to make jumping between modes super-quick.

Actually, the software throughout is very much like you’d experience in the HTC U12 Plus. HTC’s Sense skin is among the better-looking out there, although it’s a shame not to see this phone launching with Android 9 Pie. It also isn’t going to be an Android One device such as the HTC U11 Life – an interesting move that doesn’t seem overly positive for that particular programme.

A couple of features that could set the HTC U12 Life apart from the crowd are its audio capabilities and battery capacity.

The 3600mAh cell, paired with that LTPS display and energy-efficient process, should comfortably get through a day without too much trouble. The U12 Life also sees the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack, along with stereo speakers. HTC has declined to give these the BoomSound branding, though, so don’t expect sound quality on a par with the HTC U12 Plus.

First impressions

For £299, the HTC U12 Life looks to represent a good deal. It has an attractive screen, decent specs and an interesting camera array.

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