In the early days of Android smartphones, HTC was renowned for producing some of the finest devices in the market. However, over time, the company faced fierce competition and struggled to maintain its prominence. As a result, HTC smartphones gradually faded from Western markets.
Fast forward to the present, HTC is making a comeback with the HTC U23 Pro, a mid-range smartphone designed to reclaim its place among the top contenders.
The HTC U23 Pro marks the company’s renewed attempt to regain its foothold in the smartphone market. With a blend of performance, design, and camera capabilities, the U23 Pro seeks to make a compelling case for consumers looking for a mid-range smartphone. The journey won’t be easy, considering the well-entrenched competition, but HTC’s legacy and determination suggest that the U23 Pro might just be the device to mark the company’s comeback in the Western markets.
HTC U23 Pro: Video Review
|HTC U23 Pro
|6.7 inch, OLED, 120Hz, 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~393 ppi density)
|Qualcomm SM7450-AB Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 (4 nm)
|Memory Card Slot
|Fingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
|108 MP, f/1.7, (wide), 8 MP, f/2.4, (ultrawide), 5 MP, f/2.2, (macro), 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
|32 MP, f/2.5, (wide)
|Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
|GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
|30W wired, 15W wireless, 5W reverse wireless, Reverse wired
|166.6 x 77.1 x 8.9 mm (6.56 x 3.04 x 0.35 in)
|205 g (7.23 oz)
|IP67 dust/water resistant (up to 1m for 30 min)
HTC U23 Pro: Design
Upon first glance, the U23 Pro’s appearance exudes familiarity, presenting itself as a rectangle with rounded corners – a form that has become emblematic of Android smartphones. Yet, it’s the subtle integration of elements from the past that lends this device a unique charm in 2023.
The HTC U23 Pro’s design embraces practicality, showcasing two buttons on the right side and a USB-C port at the bottom. It’s as if HTC is inviting us to indulge in a sense of nostalgia, reintroducing components that were once staples of smartphones from a bygone era. The inclusion of a headphone jack at the top and a microSD port within the SIM drawer reflects an acknowledgment of user preferences, a throwback that many would find welcome.
The HTC U23 Pro prioritizes practicality over ostentation. The plastic back, despite its matte finish, hints at a design ethos that values utility over ornate elegance. The placement of four photo lenses, surrounded by a plastic rim, attempts to replicate the look of high-end smartphones, although it lacks the premium feel of those higher-priced counterparts.
The display, while generous in size, finds itself framed by relatively wide borders. The punch-hole design for the selfie camera, while effective, lacks subtlety in its execution. This design approach, with its unassuming back adorned in plastic, gives the HTC U23 Pro a no-nonsense appearance. However, this straightforward design can’t hide the fact that the device is relatively large and weighty. At 8.9mm thick and 205g in weight, it might not slip effortlessly into the pocket but is still comfortably manageable.
With an IP67 waterproof rating, the device offers protection against the elements, making it suitable for various environments. The Gorilla Victus-certified glass covering the screen adds an extra layer of resilience against scratches, enhancing its longevity. The fingerprint sensor integrated into the unlock button adds a layer of security and convenience.
Among the subtle bonuses, a touch of nostalgia manifests in the form of a notification LED. Nestled in the upper right corner, this diode harks back to an era when LED notifications were common and serves as a gentle reminder of pending alerts, even when the smartphone rests in standby mode.
The U23 Pro smartphone comes equipped with a substantial 6.7-inch OLED display, boasting a Full HD+ resolution and an impressive 120Hz refresh rate.
On paper, this spec sheet appears to position the device competitively within its class. However, the initial impression of the display leaves something to be desired. Out of the box, the screen tends to lean towards a slightly excessive blue hue, which might not be ideal for those seeking color accuracy. The calibration possibilities are somewhat limited, leaving users with a choice between “Natural,” “Boosted,” or “Adaptive” modes. Unfortunately, none of these options effectively correct the blue-tinted coloration, leaving room for improvement in terms of display calibration.
The device’s display prompts a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of the early days of Android smartphones when OLED panels sometimes exhibited exaggerated and unrealistic colors.
The device manages a respectable peak brightness of 488 nits when auto-brightness is switched off. However, enabling auto-brightness seems to yield erratic results, with the screen alternating between overly bright and dim settings.
HTC U23 Pro: Performance
Under the hood of the HTC U23 Pro is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 SoC, an Adreno 662 GPU, and 12GB of RAM. While it doesn’t aim to be a speed monster, this smartphone is packed with components that are well worth its price, delivering commendable performance for a wide range of tasks.
When put to the test in everyday use, the HTC U23 Pro showcases a notable absence of slowdowns. In fact, the device manages tasks smoothly, with only a slight delay observed when awakening from standby after prolonged periods. This minor hiccup aside, the smartphone’s performance remains consistently stable, providing an overall satisfactory user experience. Benchmark results mirror this sentiment, reflecting a power level that aligns with expectations for a device situated in its price bracket.
The HTC U23 Pro’s endurance also stands out over extended periods of usage. Stress tests reveal a stable performance curve, indicating the device’s capacity to sustain prolonged usage without significant dips in performance.
Gaming enthusiasts will also find solace in the HTC U23 Pro’s capabilities. The device proves its mettle by delivering a gaming experience that is not only enjoyable but also seamless. Testing a demanding title like Diablo Immortal at 60 FPS with balanced graphical settings highlights the device’s ability to handle gaming with grace, all while avoiding noticeable slowdowns. This showcases the HTC U23 Pro’s versatility, indicating that it caters to a wide spectrum of usage scenarios, from productivity to entertainment.
The HTC U23 Pro comes preloaded with Android 13, offering users a near-stock Android experience with only subtle aesthetic modifications introduced by HTC. The familiarity of the default OS interface ensures that Android enthusiasts will feel right at home.
Notably recognized for its presence in the virtual reality market through the Vive series, HTC doesn’t shy away from promoting its “Viverse” ecosystem on the U23 Pro. This ecosystem is represented through a folder of preinstalled applications. While HTC’s VR headset users might find this inclusion relevant, those less invested in VR might choose to remove these applications from their device.
It’s worth mentioning that the HTC U23 Pro exhibits a restrained approach to manufacturer applications. The device doesn’t overwhelm users with excessive bloatware or intrusive notifications, setting it apart from certain smartphones that burden users with redundant software.
The HTC U23 Pro arrives on the scene flaunting an ambitious array of five camera lenses. However, as is often the case with mid-range smartphones, a comprehensive spec sheet doesn’t necessarily guarantee consistent performance in everyday use. Let’s delve into the examination of these lenses and their real-world capabilities.
Starting with the flagship 108-megapixel wide-angle sensor, the default shooting mode captures images at 12 megapixels for more manageable file sizes. Users can manually switch to the “108 MP” mode within the camera app to leverage higher-resolution shots. Despite the high megapixel count, image quality struggles with light management, leading to frequent exposure issues. Shots oscillate between being underexposed and overexposed, resulting in inconsistency. When successful, however, the images exhibit commendable clarity. The presence of optical stabilization proves advantageous for achieving clear photos and stable videos, even at 240 FPS for 1080p recording.
The 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens showcases both the strengths and weaknesses seen in the primary sensor. Similar to the main lens, stable shots are a common outcome, yet exposure management issues persist. A distinct veil-like effect on images is attributed to struggles in balancing light. Additionally, zooming in exposes a lack of sharpness and a noticeable chromatic aberration effect.
The 5-megapixel macro lens, often included in mid-range smartphones, serves up results that are unfortunately in line with expectations – lackluster. Such lenses tend to lack practicality, and the HTC U23 Pro’s macro mode follows suit, producing vague and generally unusable results.
Selfies from the 32-megapixel front lens show promise when image enhancement settings are kept at bay. However, Portrait mode introduces a series of challenges, including exaggerated bokeh, overexposed backgrounds, and an overly aggressive “Beauty” effect, which can transform subjects into caricatures.
The portrait mode exhibits greater control and sophistication when using the 2-megapixel depth sensor on the front lens. This sensor effectively enhances the depth effect, resulting in pleasing portraits that add a layer of dimension and visual appeal.
When faced with low light conditions, the HTC U23 Pro’s camera performance remains uninspiring. Exposure issues observed during daytime photography become even more pronounced in low light scenarios. While a dedicated low-light mode is present, it struggles to significantly improve outcomes.
Armed with a robust 4,600 mAh battery, the HTC U23 Pro positions itself as a reliable partner capable of keeping up with your day-to-day activities. Even when utilizing a bright screen and a brisk 120 Hz refresh rate, this smartphone boasts impressive longevity, offering up to 11.5 hours of screen-on time before the battery is depleted.
Of course, the actual battery life you experience will be contingent upon your specific usage habits. It’s common knowledge that gaming and other demanding applications tend to drain battery faster than typical everyday tasks. However, the HTC U23 Pro manages to maintain a high-average performance, providing ample power for a range of activities.
On the charging front, the “fast” charge capability reaches a maximum of 30W wired charging speed. While not the most impressive charging speed seen in the market, it still ensures efficient recharging times. A complete recharge takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes, which is notably swift.
HTC U23 Pro: Conclusion
The HTC U23 Pro makes a valiant effort to rekindle the brand’s presence in the smartphone market. While it offers a mix of classic design elements and contemporary features, there are areas where it falls short of excellence.
The device’s plastic build and mixed camera performance might deter users seeking a premium experience, but its solid battery life, smooth performance, and balanced display refresh rate could make it an appealing choice for mid-range users seeking dependable functionality. As HTC attempts to find its place in the competitive landscape once again, the U23 Pro represents a step towards reclaiming its spot in the smartphone arena.