HTC U12 Life review

Is there life in this phone?

HTC U12 Life

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Like the HTC U11 Life before it, the U12 Life is not a standard-setting smash. Its build is less high-end than the competition, and there's no currently-trendy notch.

Of course, a phone that doesn't have these elements is precisely what some people want. This is the HTC U12 Life's real value. It's something a little different.

It misses out on a higher score because of a lack of important optimizations and finishing touches.

The phone seems to load apps slightly slower than rivals with the same spec, and the lack of a good Auto HDR camera mode is a big loss for photographic versatility. But it's still a solid phone that saves you hundreds off a top-end model.

HTC U12 Life

Who's this for?

If you think glass phones are slippery and shatter-prone, and most definitely don't want a notch, the HTC U12 Plus is a solid choice.

Should you buy it?

The Honor 8X offers a bit more for your money, as does the Moto G6 Plus, a similar notch-free phone. So you'll have to like the specific design here for the HTC U12 Life to be the best option out there.

Here are four alternatives to the HTC U12 Life:

Honor 8X

This phone arrived at roughly the same time as the HTC U12 Life. For around $50/£50 less you get a more powerful chipset, a larger screen with a notch and a higher-res camera with a surprisingly decent AI low light mode. Honor offers more, for less money. But not everyone likes Honor's 'Emotion' software.

Read our full Honor 8X review

Moto G6 Plus

This Moto costs a little less than the U12 Life. And is a reminder that while once the G series was all about very low-cost phones, today they’re actually surprisingly glossy.

A curved glass back, good 12MP rear camera and splash resistance all make this a compelling alternative to the U12 Life.

Read our full Moto G6 Plus review

Nokia 7 Plus

The Nokia 7 Plus is aging in the fast-paced world of phones. But its price has now come down to match the HTC U11 Life. It has the same size screen, and a comparable notch-free design, but you do get a little more with the Nokia.

That includes a faster Snapdragon 660 chipset, smart aluminum shell and a very handy secondary camera on the back that allows for 2x optical zoom, which is something not often seen at the price.

Read our full Nokia 7 Plus review

Honor 10

Yet more proof of Honor’s ultra-aggressive approach, the Honor 10 offers quite a bit more for just a little more money. There’s 128GB of storage, a faster chipset and higher-spec cameras. However, the screen is smaller, so this is not really a like-for-like comparison.

Read our full Honor 10 review

First reviewed: October 2018

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.