HTC launched two phones at the beginning of the year: HTC the U Ultra and U Play. The HTC U Ultra is a flagship hone, while the HTC U Play is a solid mid-range contender which hopes to take on the likes of the OnePlus 3T with its 5.2-inch Full HD screen, dual 16-megapixel cameras and solid features.

DESIGN & DISPLAY
The U Play comes with a metal frame on the sides in between glass panel both at the front and back. Hold it up and you’ll appreciate the phone’s symmetrical construction. The back of the device comes with a liquid surface finish which gives a premium look to the phone. The U Play has a 5.2-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display screen with 2.5D curved edges on the sides.

The display has good viewing. It’s as crisp and vibrant as you’ll expect from a mid-ranger. The smartphone also lets you change color temperature and has a Glove mode for increased touch sensitivity. The polished surface at back allows phone to nestle perfectly in your hand.

The power button and the volume rockers are placed on the right side of the smartphone whereas there is nothing on the left of the phone. The SIM Tray is situated at the top along with a secondary microphone. At the bottom, it has the USB 2.0 Type-C port and the speaker grill. The fingerprint scanner is situated on the front, just below the display. At the back, we get HTC branding, along with the primary camera module which protrudes a little bit along with laser autofocus sensor and dual-toned LED flash. U Play is just 7.9 mm thick and weighs at 145 grams. It is a dual-nano SIM device, with the second slot able to accommodate a micro-SD card to bump storage up to 2TB.

CAMERA
HTC U Play features a 16-megapixel rear camera along with PDAF, optical image stabilization, f/2.0 aperture, dual-tone LED flash and Full HD video recording. The camera does an impressive job in daylight as well as after the sunset or in artificial lighting but there is nothing to get too excited about it. The rear camera is good, but not great. You’re provided a few bonus features such as RAW image capture and HTC’s Zoe mode, as well as full manual controls. The U Play’s 16-megapixel front-facing camera sports an UltraPixel mode which enables it to capture better quality photos.

The front camera a 16-megapixel shooter gives you a clear and crisper selfies almost every time. It doesn’t disappoint the selfie-lovers at all, though low light could be a little worry.

PROCESSOR
The HTC Play is powered by a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 chipset coupled with Mali-T860MP2 GPU. In everyday use, the U Play was reasonably smooth . It has a 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which is expandable up to 2TB via microSD as it has a hybrid dual SIM card slot for expansion. Layered over that is HTC’s UI, known as HTC Sense. It comes with its own virtual assistant called Sense Companion. And like other HTC devices it has Blinkfeed feature to bring in all your news feed from various social networks and other portals at one place.

HTC SENSE COMPANION
Sense Companion is HTC’s new artificial intelligence-augmented digital assistant, designed to offer helpful suggestions and even pre-empt how you want to use your phone based on your behaviours. HTC has started to roll out its Sense Companion to the U Ultra and U Play devices. Its initial features include helpful recommendations to improve device performance, reminders to charge or bring a battery bank for a long day out, time estimates for arrival when driving in traffic, and clothing and accessory suggestions based on weather conditions. HTC says it’ll be rapidly introducing other new features as well. Users will need to update the HTC Sense Companion from the Google Play store, re-launch the app, and log in to see HTC S ense Companion’s default cards to introduce feature.

BATTERY
HTC U Play gets power from a 2500 mAh non-removable Li-ion battery which is smaller than we’ve seen on many phones. It can last a day if you are not a heavy user. Thankfully, there are built-in battery saving modes you can switch on to increase it. The battery life on the U Play is perhaps the biggest turn off for us.

VERDICT
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the U Play. In fact, there’s a lot right about the smartphone. It’s is one of the best looking and handy smartphone available in the market. It features a sharp display and the camera performance is also good but battery life on U Play may disappoint heavy users. Overall, it offers everything that you expect from a mid-range device. At Rs. 29,999,  we’d say it’s well worth considering

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