Lighter fare from HTC now as we talk about the U Ultra’s sibling device, the U Play. This phone is expected to spread across the globe through this and next quarter and will introduce entry-level users with the company’s Sense Companion program.
If you’re not familiar with the Sense Companion, it’s not really a digital assistant the way you’d think of Alexa or Google Assistant. Rather, it automatically tunes the phone to your wants and needs within the native UI and apps. If Sense Companion detects that you’re using the U Play in a way that would drain the battery before sundown, it will automatically trigger power saving mode. It also remembers what criteria is most important to you when you’re searching for a restaurant.
The material for the body of the device comes out of HTC’s CMF Kitchen (the acronym stands for “color, materials, finish”). Branded as “liquid surface,” the intensely reflective glass is processed through something called Optical Spectrum Hybrid Deposition provides the device with a three-axis visual symmetry. Similar deposition methods are used for optical fibers and industrial films and coverings.
Cosmetic Pink headlines the colors with a supporting crew of Sapphire Blue, Ice White and Brilliant Black.
The core hardware package on this is modest when compared to the U Ultra: a single 5.2-inch display and options for 3GB or 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage. The USB-C jack performs up to USB 2.0 spec. There’s no BoomSound speaker implementation for the U Play, though there is Wi-Fi ac, something we’ve found lacking from many of the mobile industry’s forlorn mid-ranger options.
The U Play runs an unnamed version of Android — judging by no Google Assistant mention, we suspect that the phone will be running one version or another of Marshmallow or that at least one SKU will be.
If you caught our editorial coverage on the HTC 10 evo/Bolt, the same complimentary USB-C earbuds provided with that device are now with the U Play, dubbed “USonic”. A microphone is embedded in each earbud to measure sound reflection in the ear canals and allow for the system to adjust EQ accordingly.
We’ll have more coverage of both the HTC U Ultra and the U Play if and when we receive review devices.