Today, HTC has unveiled not one but two spanking new smartphones. Both iterations of the HTC U 11 released earlier this year, the U11 Life and the U11 Plus are designed to give consumers more options when choosing a smartphone.
As you may have guessed, the U11 + is a high-end version of the U11 with a bigger, better screen and a lot of extra features aimed at consumers who are happy to pay a bit more.
The U11 Life is smaller and slightly less swanky, but will still give you all the main benefits of a U11 device, without the premium price-tag.
But what are these benefits? How do the handsets compare? And which one is better value? Read on and we’ll explain everything you need to know.
What did we make of the original U11? Read the uSwitch review.
1) Screen and design
HTC U11 Plus and U11 Life in hand hero size
HTC U11 Plus ceramic black back of the phone
The first difference you’ll notice between the U11 Life and the U11 + is the difference in size and design. The former has a 5.2-inch full HD screen framed by thick bezels, while the latter has a much bigger, brighter 6-inch Quad HD+ edge-to-edge display.
Both phones come with the same liquid glass finish as the original HTC U11, giving the phones a pearlescent quality that appears to change colour as they catch the light.
The U11 Life will be available in Sapphire Blue and Brilliant Black, while the U11 + will come in a more subtle Ceramic Black. There’ll also be a Translucent Black colourway for the U11 + that will be on sale exclusively on HTC’s website.
Both phones also come with a reassuring waterproof rating. The U11 Life has a rating of IP67, so it’ll survive for up to half an hour in a metre of water.
The U11 + has an even better water-resistance rating of IP68, meaning that it can be plunged as deep as 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes and will still work fine afterwards.
2) Louder, prouder sound
One of the standout features of the HTC U11 is undoubtedly the HTC USonic sound system, so we’re pleased to see the tech back on the U11 Plus and the U11 Life.
With active noise cancellation and high resolution audio recording on both handsets, you’ll get fantastic sound with minimum background noise, whether you’re listening to your favourite song or filming a home video.
As you’d expect, the U11 + comes with audio smarts that are even more refined. It’s Hi-Res audio-certified, so you’ll get stunning sound quality. And HTC has claimed that the U11 + is 30% louder than the HTC U11 with a better dynamic range and significantly less distortion.
Both the U11 Life and the U11 + come with HTC USonic earbuds in the box. These clever earphones can map your inner ear with sonar-like technology and will then tailor the audio to fit your unique way of hearing.
It’s worth bearing in mind that, like the HTC U11, the Life and the U11 + come without a headphone jack. But the HTC USonic earbuds will hopefully replace any need for your old wired headphones.
3) Squeezable sides
Another shared feature the U11 and these two new handsets is HTC’s innovative Edge Sense technology.
This handy function allows you to you activate key features on the phone simply by squeezing the sides of the device.
Edge Sense on the U11 Life works in the same way as it does on the U11 by letting you activate Google Assistant, turn the torch on or even take a selfie just by giving the phone a squeeze.
Which will be particularly useful now that winter’s on the way, as you’ll be able to do things on your phone without taking your gloves off.
The U11 +, however, has updated the feature to let you access your most-used apps, contacts and quick settings through Edge Sense.
Designed to make the phone perfect for one-handed usage, the Edge Launcher will open a wheel filled with all your favourite apps with a simple squeeze.
4) Big battery
The HTC U11 + comes with an absolutely huge 3930mAh battery, which claims to give users as much as 25 hours of talktime on a single charge.
The U11 Life comes with a more modest 2600mAh battery. Which is still pretty big, particularly considering the price of the phone.
Both phones also work with QuickCharge 3.0. So when you do need to boost your battery, you won’t have to sit by a plug socket for hours.
5) Pricing and availability
SIM-free, the HTC U11 Life will start at £349, while the U11 + will cost £699.
There’s been no word yet about which networks are planning to carry the phones. But we’ll let you know as soon as we do.
Can't wait for the U11 + and Life? Check out deals for the standard U11.