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HTC U Play wants to bring you AI for less (hands-on)

The smaller of HTC's new U phones pairs software smarts with a more pocketable size and midrange price.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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Jessica Dolcourt

Editorial Director / CNET Money, How-To & Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Money, How-To, and Performance teams. A California native who grew up in Silicon Valley, she's passionate about connecting people with the highest standard of advice to help them reach their goals.

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The HTC U Play is the smaller than the new HTC U Ultra, but we wouldn't call it the runt. It's meant to be a more affordable version of HTC's new line of phones that use AI, or artificial intelligence, software to try giving you a more streamlined experience.

We didn't get enough time to set up the phone and see how well its AI works, but we do know that this glass phone -- which comes in shimmering white, pink, blue and black -- is the less expensive, more midrange alternative to the flagship U Ultra. For example, although its 16-megapixel camera sounds heftier than the U Ultra's 12-megapixel "Ultrapbixel" shooter, HTC says that the Ultra's camera will take the crisper photos of the two.

HTC U Ultra and Play shine on in glass

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The U Play lacks the Ultra's 2-inch strip of screen to display alerts, but it does have the same AI software running on top of Android 7.0.

Preorders began in select markets on January 12 for £399, which converts to $494 and AU$655.

Hardware specs

  • 5.2-inch screen (1,920x1,080 pixels)
  • 2-inch notifications screen (swipable)
  • 16-megapixel front and rear cameras
  • Octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor
  • 32GB and 64GB options (3/4GB RAM)
  • Up to 2T microSD card
  • 2,500mAh battery
  • Fingerprint sensor with NFC
  • Dual-SIM optional
  • Colors: Ice white, sapphire blue, cosmetic pink, brilliant black
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