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

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.

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