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HTC U Play Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 04/10/2017

Play nice. HTC's U Play is a mid-range smartphone with a very nice casing and some highlights: for example, HTC installs a personal assistant called Sense Companion. But is the U Play's everyday suitability also convincing?

For the original German review, see here.

HTC aims to be more exclusive and sends its low-cost smartphones into retirement: High-quality models are to save the Taiwanese manufacturer who has had problems with sales in the recent past. HTC's U Play is a smartphone with exciting new features that are to shuffle up the mid-range. For example, it comes with a headset that adapts to its user's ears, a personal software assistant, and a completely new casing design comprised of glass and metal.

These are actually good preconditions for success, but some strong rivals exist in the mid-range, such as OnePlus' 3T that is traditionally a price crusher and comes with many premium-range features. Honor's 8 also offers a lot of power for little money, and Huawei's Nova Plus is also a worthy opponent. Sony's Xperia X is now also situated in the mid-range due to price reductions.

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HTC U Play (U Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.2 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 424 PPI, capacitive touchscreen, Super LCD, Gorilla Glass, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 22.8 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: audio out via USB C port, Card Reader: micro-SD max. 2TB, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: prximity sensor, motion G-sensor, compass sensor, gyro sensor, magnet sensor, USB Type-C, USB OTG, Miracast, DLNA
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.2, GSM (850/​900/​1800/​1900), UMTS (850/​900/​1900/​2100), LTE (B1/​B3/​B5/​B7/​B8/​B20/​B28/​B38/​B40); bandwidth (download/​upload): 300Mbps/​50Mbps (LTE), LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8 x 146 x 72.9 ( = 0.31 x 5.75 x 2.87 in)
Battery
9.5 Wh, 2500 mAh Lithium-Ion, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 15 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 420 h
Operating System
Android 7.0 Nougat
Camera
Primary Camera: 16 MPix BSI sensor, optical image stabilization (OIS), ƒ/2.0, dual-LED flash
Secondary Camera: 16 MPix UltraPixel mode, BSI sensor
Additional features
Speakers: speaker in lower edge, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, HTC U Sonic headset, charger, USB C cable, polishing cloth, transparent cover, HTC Sense Companion, Zoe, Help, 24 Months Warranty, SAR rates: 0.4W/​kg (head), 0.48W/​kg (body), quick charge
Weight
145 g ( = 5.11 oz / 0.32 pounds), Power Supply: 60 g ( = 2.12 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
449 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

HTC takes a different approach with its two newest smartphones, the HTC U Ultra and the now in review U Play: The Taiwanese manufacturer has created a design language called "Liquid Design" that works with multiple layers of glass, merged by high temperatures, for achieving stability and special effects on the rear. These effects are rather unspectacular on the black model where the environment is simply reflected. However, the glass curved at the edges creates a certain sense of depth. Other available colors are white, blue, and pink. The effects on these models are more striking as the light is reflected in different color hues on their backs. For example, a mother-of-pearl effect is produced on the white model. A problem of the glass surface is the high fingerprint susceptibility. The smartphone could also slide off just slightly slanted surfaces.

The casing is relatively stable. We cannot affirm the pressure sensitivity discovered in the screen of HTC's U Ultra in the U Play. The smartphone can only be warped marginally and does not produce any noises then. Unfortunately, an edge is very palpable in some places between the rear and metal bezel. Otherwise, all corners are rounded and the smartphone is very ergonomic to hold.

HTC's U Play is quite lightweight at 145 grams and fairly compact in terms of size. Only its height of 8 millimeters is a bit taller than those of the comparison devices. This is due to the protruding camera.

Size Comparison

152.6 mm / 6.01 inch 77.4 mm / 3.05 inch 7.7 mm / 0.3031 inch 155 g0.3417 lbs152.7 mm / 6.01 inch 74.7 mm / 2.94 inch 7.35 mm / 0.2894 inch 158 g0.3483 lbs151.8 mm / 5.98 inch 75.7 mm / 2.98 inch 7.3 mm / 0.2874 inch 162 g0.3571 lbs146 mm / 5.75 inch 72.9 mm / 2.87 inch 8 mm / 0.315 inch 145 g0.3197 lbs145.5 mm / 5.73 inch 71 mm / 2.8 inch 7.45 mm / 0.2933 inch 153 g0.3373 lbs143 mm / 5.63 inch 69 mm / 2.72 inch 7.7 mm / 0.3031 inch 152 g0.3351 lbs

Connectivity

HTC's U Play is within the category standard with 3 GB of working memory and 32 GB of internal storage. However, more memory for the same price is now also available in, for example, OnePlus' 3T, and Honor's 8 even has 4 GB of working memory. The USB C port is the only existing physical port in HTC's U Play. It only supports USB 2.0 speed but external storage devices can be connected to it or it can be used for recharging other devices. A 3.5-mm audio jack is no longer installed. Users who want to connect their old headphones or earphones with a lug jack will need an adapter (from 5 to 20 Euros, ~$5 to ~$21, on the web). Our review sample is a single-SIM handset, but HTC's U Play also exists as a dual-SIM model.

Left: no interfaces
Left: no interfaces
Right: standby button, volume control
Right: standby button, volume control
Lower edge: USB C port, speaker
Lower edge: USB C port, speaker
Upper edge: SIM slot
Upper edge: SIM slot

Software

HTC's U Play is delivered with Android 6, which is a bit disappointing seeing that HTC's U Ultra already has Android 7. At least the security patches from January 1, 2017 are relatively up to date. HTC does not modify Android much and tries to put most functions into proprietary apps to make updating the operating system fast and easy. In addition to a help app with frequently asked questions concerning the handset, the system cleaning software Boost+ and photo app Zoe are preloaded.

The personal assistant called Sense Companion is to make HTC's new U-series special. It collects smartphone usage data and gives recommendations based on that. It gets to know its user better over time and adapts to their habits. A problem was that the app apparently was still in development at the market launch of HTC's U smartphones, but it is now available. Sense Companion needs a few days to get to know its user good enough for giving recommendations and then, for example, it recommends restaurants on trips or warns about traffic jams on the way to the next appointment.

Communication and GPS

Having nine LTE bands and speeds in LTE Cat.6 standard, i.e. up to 300 MBit (download) and 50 MBit (upload), HTC's U Play is well-equipped for its category. Only Sony's Xperia X offers slightly more wireless diversity. A network should still be found outside Europe. HTC's Play U did a good job in our practical test. In the well-developed German Vodafone network, we always had at least 3/4 of the LTE signal and could also use mobile Internet reliably indoors.

As to Wi-Fi, HTC's U Play uses all up-to-date standards; it supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and can thus access the less frequented 5 GHz network, allowing it to utilize high-speed networks. The decent transmission speeds also underline this: We measured 249 MBit/s (receive) and 260 MBit/s (transmit) in our standardized test a meter away from the router. OnePlus' 3T is a bit faster, but it is possible to transmit data quickly with HTC's U Play. The reception quality is also decent: We had the full signal standing next to the router, and half the signal was displayed at a distance of 10 meters and through three walls; pages opened a bit slower then.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
OnePlus 3T
Adreno 530, 821 MSM8996 Pro, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
257 MBit/s ∼100% +3%
HTC U Play
Mali-T860 MP2, Helio P10 MT6755, 32 GB eMMC Flash
249 MBit/s ∼97%
Huawei Nova Plus
Adreno 506, 625, 32 GB eMMC Flash
53.4 MBit/s ∼21% -79%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
Adreno 506, 625, 64 GB eMMC Flash
32.9 MBit/s ∼13% -87%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
OnePlus 3T
Adreno 530, 821 MSM8996 Pro, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
313 MBit/s ∼100% +20%
HTC U Play
Mali-T860 MP2, Helio P10 MT6755, 32 GB eMMC Flash
260 MBit/s ∼83%
Huawei Nova Plus
Adreno 506, 625, 32 GB eMMC Flash
51.5 MBit/s ∼16% -80%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
Adreno 506, 625, 64 GB eMMC Flash
31.2 MBit/s ∼10% -88%
GPS test indoors
GPS test indoors
GPS test outdoors
GPS test outdoors

The GPS module in HTC's U Play usually could not locate us indoors, but the reception increased near a window. Our position was found quickly with an accuracy of 5 meters outdoors, which is a good accuracy rate.

To test its tracking capabilities under real-life conditions, we took HTC's Play on a bike trip along with Garmin's Edge 500 professional navigation system. The measured route differed by 170 meters over a length of 6.5 kilometers, which is acceptable. HTC's U Play sets tracking points less frequently, and thus the route is only an approximation. The professional navigation system updates the location more frequently and the route is thus traced more accurately. However, more inaccurate smartphones than HTC's U Play exist. It is absolutely suitable for occasional free-time navigating.

GPS Garmin Edge 500: overview
GPS Garmin Edge 500: overview
GPS Garmin Edge 500: woods
GPS Garmin Edge 500: woods
GPS Garmin Edge 500: bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500: bridge
GPS HTC U Play: overview
GPS HTC U Play: overview
GPS HTC U Play: woods
GPS HTC U Play: woods
GPS HTC U Play: bridge
GPS HTC U Play: bridge

Telephone and Call Quality

Phone app
Phone app

The features of the phone app modified by HTC hardly differ from Google's stock app. Tabs for navigating are displayed in the screen's upper area. The keypad opens when the app is launched, but it is also possible to directly open the contact or call lists.

The call quality is good: The contact sounds relatively loud and clear via the internal earpiece. The microphone transmitted our voice a bit muffled and the contact did not hear us at all when we spoke too quietly. This is also true for the hands-free mode via the speaker: Too quiet voices are not transmitted and a minor echo is also present. The contact sounded considerably more muffled via the speaker than over the earpiece. We rate the call quality as good, although the HTC U Play user will enjoy calls more than the contact.

Cameras

Front camera photo
Front camera photo

HTC installs two 16-megapixel cameras into its U Play smartphone. Yes, that's right: The front camera also has a resolution of 16 megapixels, making very sharp selfies possible. It is also possible to switch to the UltraPixel mode (front camera only), which reduces the resolution. Larger pixel areas are then used for capturing more light, which is to be noticed positively especially in low-light situations. However, this mode should preferably not be used in bright light as our test photo illustrates: The UltraPixel mode pixelates the edges greatly when the photo is scaled up. Otherwise, we very much liked the front camera's photo quality and sharpness. The front camera does not have a flash and HTC compensates for this via a bright screen. This also means that the user is dependent on HTC's camera app when using this feature.

The rear camera does not offer an UltraPixel mode, but the sharpness and color reproduction are good. LG's G4 produces slightly more vivid and sharper photos in our comparison test. The dynamic in dark environments is also decent, but we liked the brightening of LG's G4 more. Videos can be recorded in Full HD quality at maximum; the frame rate is limited to 30 frames per second. We did not like the brightness adaptation quite as much: It is quite jerky when changing from bright to dark scenes (or vice versa), and it does not brighten dark areas enough in our opinion. It is possible to adjust this manually, but this does not lead to a smooth transition and a very visible color noise appears quickly. Thus, much more could be expected in terms of video quality, and the videos also display a light bluish tint.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

An evident blurriness becomes visible in the primary camera's photo under defined light conditions in the lab. Text on colored backgrounds frays visibly. The sharpness decreases visibly toward the photo's edges in some areas. Compared with the CalMAN ColorChecker card, the color reproduction is a bit too inaccurate.

ColorChecker Passport: The reference color is in the lower field
ColorChecker Passport: The reference color is in the lower field
Photographed reference card
Photographed reference card
Reference card (detail)
Reference card (detail)

Accessories and Warranty

HTC USonic headset
HTC USonic headset

HTC is quite generous with accessories: A polishing cloth and a plastic cover for the smartphone belong to the unusual extras in the box. The power supply, USB C cable, and SIM tool are rather standard. The in-ear headset would also normally not be worth mentioning, but it has two special features: Firstly, HTC's U Play does not have an audio jack, and thus it is a headset with a USB C connector. Secondly, the headset called USonic can analyze the inner ear of its user and adapt the sound accordingly. This actually does have an audible impact and makes this accessory seem very high-quality.

It is possible to purchase a charger or car charger in HTC's web shop for approximately 35 Euros (~$37). The USonic headsets cost 40 Euros (~$42), and a high-quality headset by JBL with noise-cancelling technology is available for almost 200 Euros (~$211).

HTC includes a 24-month warranty on its smartphones. Please see our Guarantees, Return Policies and Warranties FAQ for country-specific information.

Input Devices and Handling

TouchPal is the name of the keyboard app, and it offers many features, such as adjustable size, skins, various languages, and a dividable letter field. The keys have a double assignment which can save time, but it also limits the clarity somewhat. It is also possible to enable Google's GBoard or install another keyboard app from Google's Play Store.

The screen is very touch sensitive even in its corners and offers a pleasant and glide-friendly surface. The fingerprint scanner below the screen responds very quickly to a previously saved fingerprint and can also be used as the home button. Back and menu touch buttons that also respond reliably are beside it.

The volume control and grooved standby buttons are situated on the right. Both buttons are easy to find and have clear pressure points.

Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode

Display

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid

The 5.2-inch screen exactly matches the category standard with its Full HD resolution.

The average brightness of 432 cd/m² is midfield, and the illumination of 90% is accurate enough to let large colored areas look evenly bright.

419
cd/m²
408
cd/m²
448
cd/m²
432
cd/m²
424
cd/m²
451
cd/m²
431
cd/m²
432
cd/m²
444
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 451 cd/m² Average: 432.1 cd/m² Minimum: 5.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 424 cd/m²
Contrast: 1696:1 (Black: 0.25 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.7 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 4.1 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
99.7% sRGB (Calman 2D)
Gamma: 2.32
HTC U Play
Super LCD, 1920x1080, 5.2
OnePlus 3T
Optic-AMOLED, 1920x1080, 5.5
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.5
Sony Xperia X
LCD, 1920x1080, 5
Huawei Nova Plus
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.5
Honor 8
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
Screen
-24%
-14%
-54%
-10%
-16%
Brightness middle
424
421
-1%
658
55%
404
-5%
485
14%
451
6%
Brightness
432
430
0%
633
47%
392
-9%
481
11%
443
3%
Brightness Distribution
90
84
-7%
93
3%
91
1%
90
0%
93
3%
Black Level *
0.25
0.66
-164%
0.68
-172%
0.5
-100%
0.4
-60%
Contrast
1696
997
-41%
594
-65%
970
-43%
1128
-33%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.7
7.1
-25%
4.9
14%
7.1
-25%
4.2
26%
5.4
5%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
10.8
15.3
-42%
9.1
16%
13.2
-22%
7.9
27%
9.9
8%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.1
6.8
-66%
5.8
-41%
9.7
-137%
4.8
-17%
6.7
-63%
Gamma
2.32 95%
2.23 99%
2.26 97%
2.23 99%
2.36 93%
2.33 94%
CCT
7359 88%
7866 83%
7840 83%
9502 68%
7568 86%
8262 79%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9354 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The screen's black value of 0.25 cd/m² is very good and results in an also very good contrast ratio of 1696:1. Only OnePlus' 3T outperforms that with its AMOLED panel with a theoretically infinite contrast. The color reproduction of HTC's U Play also looks relatively vivid subjectively.

The screen's white balance can be set to different levels in the settings. We test the image reproduction in the warmest and coolest color temperature, and in the default setting with the CalMAN software and the photospectrometer. The colors most closely correspond to the sRGB reference color space in the latter and deviate most in the cool mode. A color haze is visible in the grayscale levels in all modes. It varies from purple, blue and green depending on the setting, and it is most visible in the cool white balance.

Saturation Sweeps, standard
Saturation Sweeps, standard
Saturation Sweeps, cool
Saturation Sweeps, cool
Saturation Sweeps, warm
Saturation Sweeps, warm
Grayscale, standard
Grayscale, standard
Grayscale, cool
Grayscale, cool
Grayscale, warm
Grayscale, warm
Colorspace, standard
Colorspace, standard
Colorspace, cool
Colorspace, cool
Colorspace, warm
Colorspace, warm
ColorChecker, standard
ColorChecker, standard
ColorChecker, cool
ColorChecker, cool
ColorChecker, warm
ColorChecker, warm

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
30 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 19 ms rise
↘ 11 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 73 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.9 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
32 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 14 ms rise
↘ 18 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 21 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (39.7 ms).

When tilting HTC's U Play to a side, the content always remains well-legible even from very flat angles. Although a minor haziness and a loss of contrast may appear, the camera captures this more intensely than the human eye.

HTC's U Play can be used outdoors, but the user will sometimes have to look for shade in order to recognize the image without problems due to the glossy screen. The brightness is generally enough for outdoor use, but a higher brightness - like in Asus' ZenFone 3 - would help the smartphone in this scenario.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Outdoors: ambient light sensor
Outdoors: ambient light sensor
Outdoors: maximum brightness
Outdoors: maximum brightness
Outdoors: medium brightness
Outdoors: medium brightness
Outdoors: minimum brightness
Outdoors: minimum brightness

Performance

HTC's U Play is furnished with MediaTek's Helio P10 MT6755 SoC. Eight CPU cores calculate at a maximum of 2 GHz here. Subjectively, the speed is sufficient even when apps are running in the background. However, the processors in all comparison devices offer much higher performances according to the benchmarks.

An ARM Mali-T860 MP2 graphics chip is installed. Experienced readers will know by just looking at the name that two calculating clusters are at work here. They clock at 700 MHz. The graphics unit is nothing for very high expectations, but it is enough for everyday use. HTC's U Play also lags behind the comparison devices in the benchmark in this case.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
51628 Points ∼18%
OnePlus 3T
159866 Points ∼54% +210%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
62484 Points ∼21% +21%
Sony Xperia X
77650 Points ∼26% +50%
Huawei Nova Plus
64601 Points ∼22% +25%
Honor 8
94671 Points ∼32% +83%
Geekbench 4.0
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
2825 Points ∼9%
OnePlus 3T
4236 Points ∼14% +50%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
4042 Points ∼13% +43%
Huawei Nova Plus
3156 Points ∼10% +12%
Honor 8
5481 Points ∼18% +94%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
775 Points ∼13%
OnePlus 3T
1881 Points ∼31% +143%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
820 Points ∼14% +6%
Huawei Nova Plus
845 Points ∼14% +9%
Honor 8
1726 Points ∼29% +123%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics (sort by value)
HTC U Play
1498 Points ∼33%
OnePlus 3T
1728 Points ∼38% +15%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
2109 Points ∼47% +41%
Sony Xperia X
1504 Points ∼33% 0%
Huawei Nova Plus
1773 Points ∼39% +18%
Honor 8
2482 Points ∼55% +66%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics (sort by value)
HTC U Play
349 Points ∼5%
OnePlus 3T
2418 Points ∼34% +593%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
380 Points ∼5% +9%
Sony Xperia X
761 Points ∼11% +118%
Huawei Nova Plus
384 Points ∼5% +10%
Honor 8
818 Points ∼11% +134%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
HTC U Play
421 Points ∼7%
OnePlus 3T
2221 Points ∼35% +428%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
465 Points ∼7% +10%
Sony Xperia X
855 Points ∼14% +103%
Huawei Nova Plus
465 Points ∼7% +10%
Honor 8
961 Points ∼15% +128%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
HTC U Play
1516 Points ∼34%
OnePlus 3T
1452 Points ∼33% -4%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
2112 Points ∼47% +39%
Sony Xperia X
1441 Points ∼32% -5%
Huawei Nova Plus
1795 Points ∼40% +18%
Honor 8
2587 Points ∼58% +71%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
HTC U Play
565 Points ∼5%
OnePlus 3T
3310 Points ∼29% +486%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
719 Points ∼6% +27%
Sony Xperia X
1280 Points ∼11% +127%
Huawei Nova Plus
733 Points ∼6% +30%
Honor 8
1112 Points ∼10% +97%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
HTC U Play
657 Points ∼8%
OnePlus 3T
2577 Points ∼32% +292%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
842 Points ∼10% +28%
Sony Xperia X
1313 Points ∼16% +100%
Huawei Nova Plus
844 Points ∼10% +28%
Honor 8
1273 Points ∼16% +94%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
HTC U Play
9970 Points ∼12%
OnePlus 3T
22426 Points ∼26% +125%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
15984 Points ∼18% +60%
Sony Xperia X
10801 Points ∼12% +8%
Huawei Nova Plus
15823 Points ∼18% +59%
Honor 8
15531 Points ∼18% +56%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
11713 Points ∼2%
OnePlus 3T
34494 Points ∼6% +194%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
13466 Points ∼3% +15%
Sony Xperia X
21087 Points ∼4% +80%
Huawei Nova Plus
13412 Points ∼3% +15%
Honor 8
22157 Points ∼4% +89%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
11275 Points ∼5%
OnePlus 3T
30810 Points ∼13% +173%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
13955 Points ∼6% +24%
Sony Xperia X
17404 Points ∼7% +54%
Huawei Nova Plus
13882 Points ∼6% +23%
Honor 8
20235 Points ∼9% +79%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
HTC U Play
18 fps ∼0%
OnePlus 3T
91 fps ∼1% +406%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
23 fps ∼0% +28%
Sony Xperia X
30 fps ∼0% +67%
Huawei Nova Plus
23 fps ∼0% +28%
Honor 8
41 fps ∼0% +128%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
HTC U Play
18 fps ∼1%
OnePlus 3T
59 fps ∼2% +228%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
21 fps ∼1% +17%
Sony Xperia X
33 fps ∼1% +83%
Huawei Nova Plus
23 fps ∼1% +28%
Honor 8
43 fps ∼1% +139%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
HTC U Play
7.1 fps ∼1%
OnePlus 3T
46 fps ∼8% +548%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
9.9 fps ∼2% +39%
Sony Xperia X
9.2 fps ∼2% +30%
Huawei Nova Plus
9.9 fps ∼2% +39%
Honor 8
19 fps ∼3% +168%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
HTC U Play
7 fps ∼2%
OnePlus 3T
45 fps ∼12% +543%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
9.7 fps ∼3% +39%
Sony Xperia X
15 fps ∼4% +114%
Huawei Nova Plus
10 fps ∼3% +43%
Honor 8
19 fps ∼5% +171%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
HTC U Play
4.8 fps ∼0%
OnePlus 3T
32 fps ∼1% +567%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
6.2 fps ∼0% +29%
Sony Xperia X
4.6 fps ∼0% -4%
Huawei Nova Plus
6.2 fps ∼0% +29%
Honor 8
10 fps ∼0% +108%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
HTC U Play
4.8 fps ∼0%
OnePlus 3T
32 fps ∼1% +567%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
6.1 fps ∼0% +27%
Sony Xperia X
10 fps ∼0% +108%
Huawei Nova Plus
6.6 fps ∼0% +38%
Honor 8
11 fps ∼0% +129%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
3356 Points ∼17%
OnePlus 3T
5664 Points ∼29% +69%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
6785 Points ∼35% +102%
Sony Xperia X
4379 Points ∼22% +30%
Huawei Nova Plus
5724 Points ∼29% +71%
Honor 8
6735 Points ∼34% +101%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
HTC U Play
10 Points ∼0%
OnePlus 3T
891 Points ∼44% +8810%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
702 Points ∼35% +6920%
Sony Xperia X
774 Points ∼38% +7640%
Huawei Nova Plus
754 Points ∼37% +7440%
Honor 8
994 Points ∼49% +9840%
Graphics (sort by value)
HTC U Play
666 Points ∼2%
OnePlus 3T
4444 Points ∼15% +567%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
1019 Points ∼4% +53%
Sony Xperia X
1581 Points ∼5% +137%
Huawei Nova Plus
1015 Points ∼4% +52%
Honor 8
1703 Points ∼6% +156%
Memory (sort by value)
HTC U Play
996 Points ∼13%
OnePlus 3T
1954 Points ∼26% +96%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
1042 Points ∼14% +5%
Sony Xperia X
1408 Points ∼19% +41%
Huawei Nova Plus
1553 Points ∼21% +56%
Honor 8
2556 Points ∼34% +157%
System (sort by value)
HTC U Play
2173 Points ∼13%
OnePlus 3T
3130 Points ∼19% +44%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
2923 Points ∼18% +35%
Sony Xperia X
2564 Points ∼16% +18%
Huawei Nova Plus
2132 Points ∼13% -2%
Honor 8
3952 Points ∼24% +82%
Overall (sort by value)
HTC U Play
344 Points ∼4%
OnePlus 3T
2218 Points ∼26% +545%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
1215 Points ∼14% +253%
Sony Xperia X
1450 Points ∼17% +322%
Huawei Nova Plus
1262 Points ∼15% +267%
Honor 8
2034 Points ∼24% +491%

Legend

 
HTC U Play Mediatek Helio P10 MT6755, ARM Mali-T860 MP2, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus 3T Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro, Qualcomm Adreno 530, 64 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, Qualcomm Adreno 506, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia X Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 MSM8956, Qualcomm Adreno 510, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei Nova Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, Qualcomm Adreno 506, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Honor 8 HiSilicon Kirin 950, ARM Mali-T880 MP4, 32 GB eMMC Flash

Internet-browsing is not as fast with HTC's U Play as with the opponents. Then again, the performance is sufficient for routine use; HTML5 pages open relatively fast and usually run smoothly.

Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
3163 Points ∼6%
OnePlus 3T
9798 Points ∼19% +210%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
4905 Points ∼9% +55%
Sony Xperia X
8388 Points ∼16% +165%
Huawei Nova Plus
4730 Points ∼9% +50%
Honor 8
10692 Points ∼20% +238%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
9981.6 ms * ∼17%
OnePlus 3T
2719.3 ms * ∼5% +73%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
8041.4 ms * ∼14% +19%
Sony Xperia X
3677 ms * ∼6% +63%
Huawei Nova Plus
8027.7 ms * ∼13% +20%
Honor 8
2979 ms * ∼5% +70%
JetStream 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
HTC U Play
22.318 Points ∼6%
OnePlus 3T
54.526 Points ∼16% +144%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
31.118 Points ∼9% +39%
Sony Xperia X
50.92 Points ∼14% +128%
Huawei Nova Plus
31.3 Points ∼9% +40%
Honor 8
64.046 Points ∼18% +187%

* ... smaller is better

Storage access conveys a mixed impression. While accessing Toshiba's micro-SD reference card and read access on the internal storage is rather slow, HTC's U Play is relatively fast when writing on the internal storage.

AndroBench 3-5
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard (sort by value)
HTC U Play
23.6 MB/s ∼27%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
50.07 MB/s ∼57% +112%
Sony Xperia X
12.82 MB/s ∼15% -46%
Huawei Nova Plus
33.32 MB/s ∼38% +41%
Honor 8
23.59 MB/s ∼27% 0%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard (sort by value)
HTC U Play
36.8 MB/s ∼38%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
79.22 MB/s ∼82% +115%
Sony Xperia X
17.67 MB/s ∼18% -52%
Huawei Nova Plus
41.64 MB/s ∼43% +13%
Honor 8
53.68 MB/s ∼56% +46%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
HTC U Play
52.7 MB/s ∼21%
OnePlus 3T
74.39 MB/s ∼30% +41%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
7.4 MB/s ∼3% -86%
Sony Xperia X
10.26 MB/s ∼4% -81%
Huawei Nova Plus
30.12 MB/s ∼12% -43%
Honor 8
31.5 MB/s ∼13% -40%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
HTC U Play
32 MB/s ∼16%
OnePlus 3T
123.57 MB/s ∼63% +286%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
74 MB/s ∼38% +131%
Sony Xperia X
36.28 MB/s ∼18% +13%
Huawei Nova Plus
35.64 MB/s ∼18% +11%
Honor 8
34.16 MB/s ∼17% +7%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
HTC U Play
135.5 MB/s ∼23%
OnePlus 3T
165.3 MB/s ∼28% +22%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
188 MB/s ∼32% +39%
Sony Xperia X
117.38 MB/s ∼20% -13%
Huawei Nova Plus
82.13 MB/s ∼14% -39%
Honor 8
119.25 MB/s ∼20% -12%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
HTC U Play
197.3 MB/s ∼13%
OnePlus 3T
436.43 MB/s ∼29% +121%
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
282 MB/s ∼19% +43%
Sony Xperia X
184.33 MB/s ∼12% -7%
Huawei Nova Plus
241.57 MB/s ∼16% +22%
Honor 8
247.46 MB/s ∼16% +25%

Games

HTC's U Play definitely can be used for playing games - as long as the demands are not too high. The graphics-driven Asphalt 8: Airborne and the somewhat less-demanding Dead Trigger 2 still achieve playable frame rates even in maximum details. Consequently, games with even lower hardware requirements, such as Angry Birds 2, are no problem for the graphics card. It supports most modern APIs so that it should be possible to play most games in the future. However, other smartphones in this category have higher performance reserves.

Navigating with the touchscreen and position sensor function smoothly and without issues.

Asphalt 8: Airborne
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Dead Trigger 2
Dead Trigger 2
Asphalt 8: Airborne
 SettingsValue
 high29 fps
 very low30 fps
Dead Trigger 2
 SettingsValue
 high48 fps

Emissions

GFXBench battery test
GFXBench battery test

Temperature

HTC's U Play does not heat up excessively even during full load. We measured a maximum 35.9 °C on the front, which is also distributed quite evenly over the smartphone's entire surface. It was at most 32 °C in idle mode.

It is unlikely that the SoC's clock speed throttles even during prolonged load. The battery test of GFXBench shows us this: Although the frame rates fluctuate slightly, they are even higher in the 30th run than in the first.

Max. Load
 34.3 °C
94 F
32.4 °C
90 F
32.8 °C
91 F
 
 35 °C
95 F
32.7 °C
91 F
35.9 °C
97 F
 
 34.2 °C
94 F
32.6 °C
91 F
33.4 °C
92 F
 
Maximum: 35.9 °C = 97 F
Average: 33.7 °C = 93 F
29.3 °C
85 F
31.8 °C
89 F
34.8 °C
95 F
30.3 °C
87 F
32.7 °C
91 F
34.7 °C
94 F
30.9 °C
88 F
32.5 °C
91 F
34.4 °C
94 F
Maximum: 34.8 °C = 95 F
Average: 32.4 °C = 90 F
Power Supply (max.)  33.2 °C = 92 F | Room Temperature 21 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-350
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 33.7 °C / 93 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 35.9 °C / 97 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 34.8 °C / 95 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 29.3 °C / 85 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.
Heat-map, rear
Heat-map, rear
Heat-map, front
Heat-map, front

Speaker

Pink Noise speaker test
Pink Noise speaker test

HTC has a long tradition in great smartphone speakers. Users are already happy with decent-sounding speakers in mid-range devices, but HTC's U Play only offers one on the lower edge. It is very treble-heavy, but at least it is relatively loud with 88.2 dB(A). Basses and mids are barely audible and the sound makes a rather tinny impression. The speaker in OnePlus' 3T is considerably better and even this model's sound does not fill us with awe.

The sound output using the USB C port and included headset is good, just like via Bluetooth. Many users will likely be upset about the lack of a 3.5-mm jack, making an adapter necessary for existing headsets and headphones, which cost between 5 and 20 Euros (~$5 and ~$21). Here, the quality is important; it was discovered that an adapter reduced the iPhone 7's audio quality.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2030.229.330.22526.829.126.83126.727.826.74027.932.627.95027.726.727.76323.528.823.58024.324.924.310027.124.727.11253222.13216034.820.834.820040.820.140.825046.219.846.231551.42151.440055.921.755.95006020.56063063.22163.280065.218.465.2100069.11769.1125072.617.372.6160077.115.277.1200078.715.578.7250077.11577.1315080.814.980.8400080.515.180.5500076.814.676.8630070.414.670.480006214.6621000063.914.663.91250051.714.651.71600041.414.641.4SPL88.228.888.2N64.41.264.4median 63.2median 17median 63.2Delta13.8313.826.128.726.12625.22625.42725.425.829.325.825.226.125.223.123.823.133.430.833.436.13336.135.428.935.434.724.734.743.324.943.349.71949.753.319.153.356.520.456.559.318.159.363.617.563.664.71764.768.815.968.869.114.569.170.713.770.772.614.372.675.813.475.874.213.674.275.513.375.574.312.974.371.812.771.871.81371.872.212.772.266.61366.65512.75584.427.584.456.9156.9median 66.6median 14.5median 66.69.83.69.8hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseHTC U PlayOnePlus 3T
HTC U Play audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (88.2 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 24.5% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (9.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 7.1% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (7.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 10.2% higher than median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (29% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 78% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 15% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 86% of all tested devices were better, 4% similar, 11% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

OnePlus 3T audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (84.35 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 24.6% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (7.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4.6% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (4.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 7.1% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (2.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (20.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 17% of all tested devices in this class were better, 10% similar, 73% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 45% of all tested devices were better, 9% similar, 46% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency diagram in comparison (checkboxes above can be turned on/off!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

HTC's U Play is not one of the most power-guzzling smartphones in its category, but it is not a saving marvel, either. Among the selected comparison devices, Huawei's Nova Plus can carry this title. HTC's U Play consumes a minimum of 0.92 watts when enabled, which is the highest rate of all - despite the fact that its screen is much smaller than the ones in other comparison devices. The rates in a turned-off state and in standby mode are also relatively high.

A maximum of 6.2 watts is needed to keep HTC's U Play running during full load.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.11 / 0.24 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.92 / 1.84 / 2 Watt
Load midlight 4.3 / 6.2 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
HTC U Play
2500 mAh
OnePlus 3T
3400 mAh
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
3000 mAh
Sony Xperia X
2620 mAh
Huawei Nova Plus
3340 mAh
Honor 8
3000 mAh
Power Consumption
-17%
4%
1%
24%
0%
Idle Minimum *
0.92
0.61
34%
0.83
10%
0.56
39%
0.49
47%
0.78
15%
Idle Average *
1.84
1.77
4%
2.11
-15%
1.69
8%
1.63
11%
1.89
-3%
Idle Maximum *
2
1.81
9%
2.12
-6%
1.75
12%
1.76
12%
2.02
-1%
Load Average *
4.3
6.67
-55%
3.41
21%
6.01
-40%
2.98
31%
5.28
-23%
Load Maximum *
6.2
10.98
-77%
5.46
12%
7.03
-13%
4.99
20%
5.44
12%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

With 2500 milliampere hours or 9.5 watt hours, HTC's U Play has the lowest-capacity battery among the comparison devices. Thus, it is not surprising that the battery life is not exactly long. The smartphone lasted 7:53 hours in the Wi-Fi test, which is roughly 60% of the runtime that Huawei's Nova Plus achieved in this test. The Sony Xperia X's runtime is even a bit shorter, but the battery life puts HTC's U Play at the back end in the comparison group.

The smartphone lasts a work day in practice, even when it is used more frequently with occasional demanding applications. Economical users will perhaps have to reconnect it to the outlet after two days, also considering that two energy modes for increasing the runtime are present.

Charging via Quick Charge only takes 1:30 hours, which is quite fast.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
21h 42min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
7h 53min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
8h 34min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 43min
HTC U Play
2500 mAh
OnePlus 3T
3400 mAh
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
3000 mAh
Sony Xperia X
2620 mAh
Huawei Nova Plus
3340 mAh
Honor 8
3000 mAh
Battery Runtime
24%
54%
-4%
59%
9%
Reader / Idle
1302
1423
9%
1502
15%
1240
-5%
2048
57%
1487
14%
H.264
514
810
58%
905
76%
518
1%
732
42%
526
2%
WiFi v1.3
473
494
4%
797
68%
434
-8%
820
73%
499
5%
Load
223
282
26%
352
58%
213
-4%
366
64%
255
14%

Pros

+ stylish and solid casing
+ not much software
+ lots of accessories
+ preloaded personal assistant
+ many LTE bands
+ fast Wi-Fi
+ NFC and USB OTG
+ quick charge

Cons

- no 3.5-mm jack
- mediocre performance
- fingerprint sensitive
- visible pixels in UltraPixel mode
- camera photos sometimes blurry
- moderate speaker
- muffled microphone

Verdict

In review: HTC U Play. Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de
In review: HTC U Play. Review sample courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de

HTC's U Play looks good, comes with a personal assistant, has two high-resolution cameras, and it is bestowed with generous extras in its box. So, why is it so difficult for us to give it an unconditional purchase recommendation in the highly competitive upper mid-range? Well, HTC's smartphone unfortunately cannot compete with the diverse and feature-heavy opponents in many aspects. Although the cameras have a high resolution, both modules have problems with either the sharpness or pixelated edges in UltraPixel mode. The personal assistant is nice to have, but many apps with similar features can be found in Google's Play Store. The adaptive headset is superb and innovative, but it has led to the loss of the 3.5-mm jack that is quite important for many users.

Unfortunately, the speaker remains far behind the standards known from HTC; the microphone's quality is also only mediocre. It is difficult for us to recommend the handset since HTC's U Play offers an even lower performance than equally priced devices. The battery life situated below the category average is yet another problem of the smartphone.

HTC has built a stylish, relatively solid mid-range handset, installs a good front camera and little software, and HTC treats it to a good screen and a lot of extras. Unfortunately, the aspects such as sound, performance, and battery life remain behind the expectations.

Ultimately, HTC's U Play is a solid mid-range smartphone, but the competition now offers more. Users who find a high-tech headset, personal assistant, and high-resolution front camera convincing arguments will get a stylish smartphone. However, they will also have to accept the mediocre battery life and slightly moderate performance.

HTC U Play - 03/28/2017 v6(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
89%
Keyboard
63 / 75 → 84%
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
46 / 60 → 77%
Weight
93%
Battery
90%
Display
85%
Games Performance
22 / 63 → 34%
Application Performance
37 / 70 → 53%
Temperature
92%
Noise
100%
Audio
52 / 91 → 57%
Camera
74%
Average
72%
83%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > HTC U Play Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2017-04-10 (Update: 2019-04-13)