• Operating System: Android 8.1 Oreo
  • System on Chip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
  • CPU: Octa-core 1.8 GHz Kryo 260
  • GPU: Adreno 509
  • Memory: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB eMMC Flash expandable with microSD
  • Display: 6-inch 1080 x 2160 IPS
  • Camera: 20MP (rear), 13MP (front)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 + A2DP + LE, 802.11ac, WiFi-Direct
  • Dimensions: 158.5 x 75.4 x 8.3 mm
  • Weight: 175g
  • Pros:
  • Large screen
  • Cons:
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • No Android One

Bringing Life To You

It’s been a while since we’ve we’ve seen HTC smartphones and many thought we’ll only see HTC-made Google smartphones after the search giant acquired part of HTC’s design team. But looks like HTC isn’t about to throw in the towel yet as it continues to release smartphones, one of it being the HTC U12 life.

Cutting into the highly competive mainstream market, the U12 life is a midrange device that has a decent build and design. The rounded corners and sides are definitely the preferred style for most these days, since that makes a device more comfortable to hold. While it may look like metal, the back and frame of this smartphone is made of plastic. The back panel is also covered by an additional layer of acrylic to give it a glossy sheen.

Fingerprint attraction at its best

Fingerprint attraction at its best

The two-tone finish at the back is a nice touch, especially the textured bottom part that makes the phone easier to grip. However, it’s a major fingerprint magnet and you’ll quickly see ugly smudges after minutes of use. Combined with the fact that the rear camera juts out ever so slightly, and you’d really want to be using a case with this phone.

Due to the use of 18:9 ratio displays, capacitive buttons are things of the past. The only thing that is also on the front here is the 13MP camera and the accompanying LED flash. As for the back, there’s the 16MP and 5MP (depth sensor) cameras, dual LED flash, and fingerprint sensor. The headphone jack can be found on the top, USB Type-C connection and speaker at the bottom, volume and power buttons on the right, and finally the SIM tray on the left.

For a midrange, the U12 life has pretty respectable hardware. The Snapdragon 636 chip comes with an octa-core CPU and decent GPU, which does perform decent enough for general use and applications. But if you’re looking to play high-end games on this, then it will feel very sluggish unless you dial down the visual settings.

Despite being part of HTC’s life series, the U12 life ditches the IP resistance rating and isn’t an Android One device, which many prefer. In return, its large 3,600 mAh battery and screen resolution makes it a decent device for watching video content.

The large, notch-less screen makes it a decent device for watching videos

The large, notch-less screen makes it a decent device for watching videos

Though it may be a midrange, you can tell from the specs that HTC went all out on cameras. The main rear dual camera setup delivers solid photos and the depth sensor is particularly great for some fun Bokeh shots. However, the lack of optical stabilisation means you might often get blurred shots.

CHIP CONCLUDE: A midrange device that looks great and has a good camera. It’s a bit hard to recommend due to the comparatively heftier price tag, but it’s still worth looking at if you’re in the market for a good camera phone.

(to be published in issue January 2019)