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HTC ditches digital buttons for its midrange U12 Life

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Last year’s HTC U11 Life was a midrange phone with it all — affordable with an attractive design, good performance, and some water resistance thrown in for good measure. We liked it enough to choose it as the best phone under $400 in our list of the best cheap phones. HTC is back with a follow-up — aptly called the HTC U12 Life.

The HTC U12 Life could be as good as its predecessor, boasting decent midrange specs at an affordable price, but you should know it’s not coming to the U.S. Here’s everything you need to know.


While most 2018 flagship phones have adopted the edge-to-edge design similar to the iPhone X with a notch, HTC has stuck to slimmed down bezels. You get a 6-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 on the front, and a noticeable forehead and chin around the screen.

On the back, the HTC U12 Life looks a lot like a mixture between the iPhone X and a Google Pixel, featuring a dual-finish back. At the top, there’s a glossy finish, while the bottom two-thirds is slightly more matte. There’s a vertically-aligned dual-sensor camera in the top left-hand corner, and a fingerprint sensor at the center top. Unlike the more expensive HTC U12 Plus, the U12 Life does have a headphone jack.

One notable difference between the HTC U12 Life and HTC U12 Plus is that HTC has done away with the Digital Buttons — a feature that we found was frustrating and overly sensitive. We’re glad to see those go.

The phone is available in two colors: Midnight blue and twilight purple.


Key Specs

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
  • Memory: 4GB, 6GB RAM
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB
  • MicroSD Storage: Yes
  • Screen size: 6 inches
  • Resolution: 2,160 x 1,080
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
  • Battery: 3,600mAh
  • Size: 158.5 x 75.4 x 8.3mm
  • Weight: 175g (6.17oz)
  • Operating system: Android 8.1 Oreo
HTC has opted for the Snapdragon 636 to power the U12 Life, coupled with an option of 4GB or 6GB of RAM. You also get either 64GB or 128GB of storage based on the RAM size you pick, and you can always add more by taking advantage of the MicroSD card slot.

Expect satisfactory performance that can easily handle most day-to-day tasks. It’s the same processor as the one inside the Moto Z3 Play, and we didn’t have any performance problems on that phone.

When it comes to battery life, the phone packs a large 3,600mAh battery and can be charged through the USB-C port. The battery capacity is a pretty significant jump from the HTC U11 Life, which had a 2,600mAh battery. There is no wireless charging support.


Unlike the HTC U11 Life, HTC has given the U12 Life a dual-sensor rear-facing camera, which features one 16-megapixel primary sensor, and one 5-megapixel secondary sensor. The camera features an f/2.0 aperture, along with phase detection autofocus, a dual LED flash, and 4K video recording.

At the front of the phone, you’ll find a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, which is a solid inclusion — though we will have to wait and see if the high megapixel count translates to a good image quality.

Price and availability

Not much is known about the pricing and availability of the HTC U12 Life, but we do know that it will not be coming to North America. HTC says that an “example of pricing” is 299 pounds (around $390). We’ll update this story when we hear more.

Updated on August 30: HTC has taken the wraps off the U12 Life, and we’ve added official details. 

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Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
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