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HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: What’s the difference?

HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: HTC just launched its first new mobile phones of 2017, the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play. But what’s the difference between the new HTC U-series mobiles, in terms of specs, features, camera tech and the rest? And which is best for you? Here’s our full U Ultra vs U Play comparison review.

HTC has come out swinging in 2017, launching a pair of new smartphones when we’re only halfway through January. The HTC U Ultra is a premium device set to take on the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel phone with its solid specs and features set. Meanwhile the more affordable HTC U Play offers some of the U Ultra’s features, for a less wallet-emptying asking price – making it more of a rival for the Moto G4 Plus, among others.

So what’s really the difference between these two new HTC phones and which might be best for you?

HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: Specs

Phone HTC U Ultra HTC U Play
Weight 170g 145g
Screen size 5.7-inches 5.2-inches
Screen resolution Quad HD (2560×1440) Full HD (1920×1080)
Second screen? Yes (2-inch 1040×160) No
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Water resistant? No No
OS Android 7.0 Nougat Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Processor Snapdragon 821 MediaTek Helio P10
Memory 4GB 3GB or 4GB
Storage 64GB or 128GB 32GB or 64GB
microSD? Yes (up to 2TB) Yes (up to 2TB)
Battery 3000mAh 2500mAh
Rear camera 12MP UltraPixel 2 f/1.8 16MP UltraPixel f/2.0
Front camera 16MP f/2.0 16MP f/2.0

HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: Design

The HTC U Ultra and U Play both sport a new glass and metal frame, with the back constructed entirely out of shiny, curvy glass. However, the U Ultra is by far the bigger, heavier phone, rocking a mighty 5.7-inch screen. That’s in comparison to the relatively diminutive 5.2-inch display-laden U Play.

Neither handset is water resistant but they do both boast a fingerprint sensor, for quick and convenient security and shun a headphone jack in place of a Type-C USB port that works in conjunction with the bundled USonic Hi-Res Audio-certified headphones.

HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: Features and performance

The major difference between these HTC phones when it comes to features is the U Ultra’s second screen, which sits just above the main display. This dinky 2-inch panel works independently from the main screen, just like on the LG X Screen and its more premium V models.

This secondary screen can be used to display important information such as notifications and also act as a shortcut hub to your most-used contacts and apps. And with HTC’s Sense Companion ‘AI’ on board, the screen can learn your habits and only display information that’s important to you. In this way, you only need to turn on the U Ultra’s battery-draining primary screen when you want to browse the web, play with Pokémon GO and so on.

Speaking of screens, the U Ultra sports a massive 5.7-inch Quad HD display which should prove well-suited to media. Backed by BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition speakers, you can expect class-leading visuals and audio. The U Play scales things back to a smaller 5.2-inch Full HD screen and loses the front-facing dual BoomSound blowers, giving you mono audio instead.

Performance is also cut back on the U Play, to a MediaTek Helio P10 chipset backed by 3GB or 4GB of RAM. The U Ultra is head and shoulders higher in the performance stakes, with a Snapdragon 821 processor backed by 4GB of memory. That should make the U Ultra a much wiser choice for gamers and more demanding users.

Both phones boast the new HTC Sense Companion “AI”, which can learn your daily phone habits and help to make the general layout and so on more efficient. We’re looking forward to testing this “AI” out for our in-depth U Play and U Ultra reviews.

HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: Cameras

When it comes to camera tech, the Ultra U should capture better pictures than the U Play and perhaps any HTC before it outright, able to adapt to a range of conditions, especially when it comes to low light snaps.

The new UltraPixel 2 12-megapixel camera on the HTC Ultra U is backed by Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), laser autofocus and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), while the U Play’s standard 16-megapixel snapper only comes with PDAF and OIS. That means the U Ultra should snap onto your subject more quickly and cleanly in low light, while the larger f/1.8 aperture lens can suck up more light than the U Play’s f/2.0 lens.

Serious photographers can snap RAW images on the U Ultra, something missing on the cheaper HTC handset. You can also shoot up to 4K footage on the U Ultra, while the U Play maxes out at Full HD video recording.

Both phones have the option of shooting in Auto HDR and pack a 16-megapixel selfie camera which can take 4-megapixel UltraPixel shots in low light. These will apparently be brighter and sharper than standard results, which we’ll be sure to test in our full U Play and U Ultra reviews.

HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play: UK price and release date

So far HTC is yet to tell us an official UK price and release date for these phones, but we do know that the HTC U Ultra and U Play will be hitting stores in mid-to-late February. Carphone Warehouse has already set up a ‘register your interest’ page, so will be ranging both phones once they’re available. More when we have it, and stay tuned for our full HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play reviews.


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