HTC U Play hands-on: New “Liquid” design from HTC makes its debut

by Todd Haselton | January 12, 2017

HTC introduced two new smartphones on Thursday morning, including the HTC U Ultra (my favorite of the two) and the lower-powered HTC U Play. We had a chance to check out both, and here we’ll talk about some of our early impressions of the HTC U Play.

The U Play isn’t a flagship, let’s get that out of the way first. It is, however, a really attractive glass smartphone that adopts HTC’s new “Liquid” hardware design. It sports a glass panel on the back that was manufactured to look a bit like liquid though, of course, it’s a solid. You’ll dig the reflective metallic design, though, which will be familiar to fans of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7.

The U Play sports a 5.2-inch 1080p Super LCD display that looked crisp enough during our brief hands-on time. It won’t support VR, though, so don’t get your hopes up too high. Under the hood, the U Play sports a Mediatek Helio P10 processor that seemed zippy enough, though it won’t offer the performance of HTC’s flagship U Ultra, which packs a Snapdragon 821 chip. Other features include 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, 3GB or 4GB of RAM (likely depending on the market) and a microSD card slot for adding up to 2TB of additional storage.

You’ll also find a 16MP main camera with OIS and a 16MP front-facing camera with an UltraPixel mode. There’s a 2,500mAh battery under the hood and a USB-C port for charging. HTC says it supports “fast charging” but QuickCharge 3.0 isn’t here due to the lack of a Snapdragon processor.

I definitely love the look of the HTC U Play, and I like that it’s running Android Nougat out of the box with some of HTC’s software enhancements, but I’m certainly more drawn toward the HTC U Ultra. The U Play will launch sometime in the coming weeks (or months) and the US is not yet a confirmed market. HTC didn’t discuss pricing, either, but I hope it’s in the $400 range (or lower) if it wants to compete with the likes of the OnePlus 3T.



Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...