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Interface and functionality

A simple but well-rounded interface makes Sense, and we liked the Motion Gestures


The U Play is managed by HTC's latest Sense interface which is sadly layered on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow instead of Nougat, though an update should be arriving at a later date. HTC made Sense close to stock Android, relegating most basic tasks to Google's default apps, with only custom theming and some extra features thrown in, so updates should arrive faster and easier.

As usual with Sense, the BlinkFeed news and social feeds aggregator makes for a welcome return just to the left of your home screen, but HTC has partnered with News Republic for the novelties feed, and this app is one of the more annoying when it comes to unsolicited “breaking” news notifications that are hard to switch off. HTC's Motion Launch gestures, on the other hand, provide many handy shortcuts to access key functionality while your phone is sleeping. You can double-tap or swipe up the screen to unlock it, for instance, or swipe left to enter BlinkFeed directly. The only thing missing is swiping down on an empty screen area to unfurl the notification shade – such a simple but useful gesture that not many popular brands have implemented yet.

The HTC U Play comes with the company's new Sense Companion, a voice-controlled smart assistant similar to Google's Assistant and Siri. Similar to what most assistants do, the Sense companion will let you interact with your phone with your voice and the assistant will be proactively feeding you with relevant data that might be of interest to you, like weather info, reminding you of upcoming events, and so on. Nothing groundbreaking that you will be using on a daily basis while commuting in a crowded metro car, but HTC says it learns and adapts to your needs in time.

Processor and memory


The HTC U Play is powered by a mid-range MediaTek Helio P10 chipset, which is a 64-bit octa-core affair, clocked at 2 GHz. The phone also boasts some 3 gigs of RAM and 32GB of native storage (23GB available), as well as a microSD card expansion slot tucked in the SIM card tray.


The interface runs smooth as silk, with no noticeable hiccups to speak of, though HTC doesn't go crazy on complex graphics or transitional animations, either. Some heavy 3D games may encounter hiccups, and we noticed a few unassuming titles that don't show in full bloom on account of the ARM graphics, but for most other purposes this processing power would suffice.

AnTuTu Higher is better
HTC U Play 53512
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 60678
Honor 8 89824
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 63191
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
HTC U Play 1408
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1316
Honor 8 2922
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 1395
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
HTC U Play 3115
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 3450
Honor 8 4758
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 2897
JetStream Higher is better
HTC U Play 24.368
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 31.472
Honor 8 45.665
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 29.879
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
HTC U Play 18
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 33
Honor 8 40
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 23
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
HTC U Play 4.8
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 9
Honor 8 18
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 6.9
Basemark OS II Higher is better
HTC U Play 980
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1432
Honor 8 1957
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 375
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
HTC U Play 781.33
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 766
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 783
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
HTC U Play 2823.33
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 3951
Motorola Moto G5 Plus 3586

Connectivity


Given the MediaTek chipset, don't expect LTE and voice compatibility on all US carriers, save for a few AT&T or T-Mobile bands, as the U Play is meant for international markets. It offers all the usual wireless radios a decent midranger should have, and wired connectivity is done via the USB-C port at the bottom. There is no standard audio jack, though, which might throw some folks off.

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