HTC's U11 family gets bigger with the U11 life and U11+ handsets

HTC's U11 is a flagship smartphone with high-end specs and a shiny metallic body. The company is expanding the U11 family with the midrange U11 life and the larger U11+. Compared to the regular U11, the U11 life makes do with a power-sipping Snapdragon 630 SoC and an acrylic body. Meanwhile, the U11+ adds a bigger screen with a higher screen-to-body size ratio and a much larger battery.

Both new members of the family retain the U11's best features, including access to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant just by squeezing the phone, water and dust intrusion resistance, and HTC's USonic USB Type-C active noise-cancelling headphones.

The U11 life's screen is a 5.2" 1920x1080 LCD unit. HTC will sell the U11 life with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of onboard storage, or as a higher-end configuration with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Both versions have a microSD slot that can accept cards as large as 2 TB to add more capacity. Anandtech says the Snapdragon 630 SoC inside has four Cortex-A53 cores running at 2.2 GHz, four more Cortex-A53s at 1.8 GHz, and Adreno 508 graphics.The front and rear cameras are both 16-MP snappers. The main camera has a phase-detection autofocus feature that HTC says increases focus speed and decreases blur. HTC says the 2600 mAh battery should net users two hours of extra video playback time compared to the older U10 handset.

HTC's U11 life is available now in a single color the company calls Sapphire Blue. The handset can be obtained unlocked for $349, or from T-Mobile. American phones ship with Android 7.1.1 and HTC's Sense Android overlay. The company promises that a Sense-ified Android 8.0 Oreo update is coming in the next 30 days. HTC will also offer the U11 life as an Android One device without the Sense skin outside the US. The company says the handset will be the first Android One model with Oreo. It's a shame that HTC won't offer the uncluttered Android experience to American buyers, though.

The U11+ is the most technically impressive of the new handsets. This model retains the U11's high-end specs and glass body but adds a larger 6.0" 2880x1440 LCD screen and a 3930 mAh battery. For comparison's sake, the regular U11 has a 5.5"  2560x1440 screen and a 3000 mAh juice box. HTC will sell the U11+ with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of speedy UFS 2.1 storage, or in a higher-end configuration with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Both those versions also have a microSD slot. The back of the phone has the same 12-MP picture-taker with optical and electronic image stabilization as the U11, and the user-facing camera is now an 8-MP unit with a wider 85° field-of-view. The U11+ is somewhat more resistant to water intrusion than the standard U11, earning an IP68 rating.

The U11+ will ship with Android 8.0 Oreo from the get-go. At least one version of the U11+ will have a semi-translucent glass back with an exposed NFC coil. The bad news is that according to Engadget, HTC has no plans to bring the U11+ to America, and foreign shoppers will only be able to buy the device directly through HTC. According to Anandtech, the U11+ will cost British buyers at least £699 (about $770 without VAT) when it goes on sale later this year.

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