The HTC U23 Professional is a reliable mid-ranger with clear software program, wi-fi charging, and IP67 certification. On the subject of the broad strokes stuff, nonetheless, it has little or no to suggest it above its key rivals, that are variously cheaper, sooner, higher at taking photos, and have higher shows.
These of a sure classic will hear the title ‘HTC’ and suppose again wistfully to the early days of the smartphone revolution, when the Taiwanese producer appeared like the one one able to taking the combat to Apple.
The corporate is a a lot diminished drive today, having flogged a lot of its smartphone enterprise to Google and shifted its focus to VR with the Vive headsets. HTC nonetheless maintains a minor curiosity within the smartphone enterprise, nonetheless, and the HTC U23 Professional makes for a shocking and attention-grabbing new mid-range contender.
Design & Construct
Flat, angled plastic rim and plush plastic rear
Considerably hefty at 205g and eight.9mm thick
HTC was famend for its envelope-pushing smartphone design work, however the HTC U23 Professional is gunning for cost-effective dependability. Its flat plastic rim, plastic again, and flat show don’t precisely resurrect recollections of the HTC One M7.
There are thrives to be discovered right here, however they’re extraordinarily understated. That flat rim, for instance, is ever so barely angled, thus giving the impression that the rear of the cellphone is barely smaller than the entrance.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
That plastic rear additionally has a soft-touch end that feels fairly plush, and appears quietly luxurious, particularly within the uncommon Espresso Black tone that my overview mannequin is available in, which tints in direction of darkish brown within the mild. You too can seize the cellphone in a extra orthodox Snow White if you want.
The U23 Professional’s show is coated in Gorilla Glass Victus, which is good and difficult for a mid-range cellphone. You additionally get nearly flagship-level mud and water certification, courtesy of an IP67 ranking.
As understated as this design is, it may well’t disguise the truth that the HTC U23 Professional is a fairly massive, heavy cellphone. It’s 8.9mm thick, and it weighs 205g, which doesn’t make it uncomfortable to cart round by any means, nor does it disappear into your pocket.
You do get a pair of loud (if considerably tinny) stereo audio system, and that additional thickness permits the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack on the highest edge. Authentication is dealt with by a fingerprint sensor housed throughout the energy button on the best edge, which is dependable, if not particularly speedy.
6.7in FHD+ 120Hz OLED
Color accuracy means off the mark
HTC has given the U23 Professional a 6.7in OLED show with an Full HD+ decision and a 120Hz refresh price. That feels like a aggressive spec listing, and it’s notably good to see 120Hz enabled by default fairly than having to scramble round within the settings menu.
Nevertheless, this is likely one of the most disagreeable shows I’ve used shortly. It primarily comes all the way down to the display’s overly vibrant colors.
Every of the three color mode choices (Pure, Boosted, and Adaptive) is extraordinarily punchy and oversaturated, making all the things from net content material to video footage look gaudy. Perhaps the nostalgia of the HTC model fed into this, however I used to be put in thoughts of the early days of Android smartphones, again when Samsung’s preliminary OLED panels went slightly loopy with the colors.
Positive sufficient, operating the HTC U23 Professional via a normal check utilizing a colorimeter confirmed that none of those modes might be deemed color correct, not less than for those who’re speaking in regards to the common sRGB color area that the majority content material is calibrated for.
It will get to an affordable brightness of 488 nits with auto brightness switched off. Switching auto brightness on led to some freaky behaviour, with the display going from too shiny to too darkish in blended situations.
Along with an obvious lack of HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient assist, the HTC U23 Professional show appears like a lower-grade OLED element than we’re accustomed to coping with within the £500 class.
Specs & Efficiency
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor
12GB of RAM
256GB storage, microSD slot
The HTC U23 Professional runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, which is a mid-range chip that we haven’t seen in too many handsets earlier than. Maybe probably the most high-profile current instance has been the Xiaomi 13 Lite, with which the HTC U23 Professional is a direct competitor. It’s additionally within the Motorola Razr 40.
As with that fellow Xiaomi mid-ranger – and aided by a formidable 12GB of RAM – the HTC U23 Professional runs decently, enabling you to flit between apps and skim via menus at a silky 120Hz. As talked about within the earlier part, unlocking the cellphone utilizing the fingerprint sensor isn’t the speediest course of.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
Gaming efficiency is strong, with physics-heavy console racer Wreckfest operating comfortably (if not completely) on medium-to-high settings.
In CPU benchmarking phrases, the HTC U23 Professional tops the Xiaomi 13 Lite, ties with the Nothing Telephone (1), and falls nicely wanting the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion and the Poco F5. On the subject of our common GPU benchmarks, the HTC ties with the Xiaomi 13 Lite and the Nothing Telephone (1), however is obliterated by the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion, the Poco F5, and even the Pixel 6a.
HTC U23 Professional benchmarks
In brief, then, the HTC U23 Professional performs adequately inside its class, however avid gamers can get a lot sooner for related and even fairly a bit much less cash.
One last standout spec is the availability of 256GB of inside storage as customary, plus the potential for extra via a microSD slot. Bravo for going the additional mile right here, HTC.
108Mp predominant digicam with OIS
8Mp ultra-wide, 5Mp macro, 2Mp depth
Struggles with lighting extremes
The HTC U23 Professional’s digicam system is each inch the mid-range performer. Which may sound wonderful, provided that it is a mid-priced cellphone, however with the Pixel 7a (and now discounted Pixel 6a) obtainable for means much less, it’s not prone to impress anybody.
It’s a superbly strong set-up, led by a 108Mp predominant sensor with OIS (optical picture stabilisation) and EIS (digital) stabilisation, in addition to a large f/1.7 aperture. This leads to reasonably sharp, pleasingly natural-looking photographs in first rate lighting. HTC doesn’t punch colors up an excessive amount of, which many mid-range producers are inclined to do.
Its limitations began to be uncovered when taking pictures on a sunny day, the place all the things seemed washed out and murky because the U23 Professional didn’t compensate. In different photographs the place the brightness didn’t encroach on the scene an excessive amount of, I noticed hints of overexposure within the background.
At different instances, when making an attempt to take a close-up of a beer glass in entrance of a much less sunny harbour scene, the U23 Professional bought the tone proper, however took three makes an attempt to lock on to the foreground topic.
There are points on the reverse finish of the brightness scale, too. Low mild photographs with the devoted Night time mode lively yielded plenty of grainy artefacts, largely evident in darkish skies. OIS may nicely be in play right here, however the sensor clearly isn’t big, and HTC’s picture processing doesn’t appear to be up there with the higher mid-range producers.
The secondary cameras aren’t something to write down residence about both, with an 8Mp ultra-wide the one different sensor of notice. The 5Mp macro and 2Mp depth sensor aren’t actually price greater than a cursory point out, with the macro particularly too hit or miss – with far more misses than hits. As is typical, they’re actually there to bump up the variety of cameras in an try to impress.
There’s a 32Mp selfie digicam round entrance, however regardless of its comparatively pixel-packed nature, it’s not a robust performer. All of my selfie photographs had been extraordinarily delicate with overexposed backgrounds, whereas portrait mode yielded plenty of bizarre artefacts across the fringe of the topic.
Battery Life & Charging
4600mAh battery yields mediocre battery life
Sluggish 30W wired charging
15W wi-fi charging assist
Given the HTC U23 Professional’s thick, heavy physique and heavy use of plastic, it’s a little bit of a shock to study that it solely has a 4600mAh battery. I might have anticipated a normal 5000mAh cell.
Positive sufficient, I discovered the cellphone’s stamina considerably underwhelming. In a day of pretty average utilization (14 hours off cost, simply over 3 hours of display on time), I noticed the cellphone dropping to 38%. It’s commonplace to have half-a-tank left to play with in such a situation.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
This disappointing outcome was borne out in the usual PCMark Work 3.0 battery check, the place the HTC U23 Professional scored an underwhelming 9 hours and three minites. That’s 5 hours lower than the Poco F5, whereas even the Pixel 7a – a cellphone that’s not precisely famend for its stellar battery life – managed nearly two hours extra.
It scores slightly higher than the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion and solely rather less than the Xiaomi 13 Lite, however each of these telephones have even smaller batteries.
HTC doesn’t embrace a charger within the field, however the U23 Professional helps as much as 30W wired charging. I used a 66W charger from one other model, which yielded the telltale “Charging quickly” message, however might solely get the cellphone to 24% in half-hour. A full cost took over two hours.
All of which sounds fairly adverse, however there’s one appreciable saving grace to the HTC U23 Professional’s charging set-up. It helps 15W wi-fi charging. That’s not as particular a mid-range characteristic because it was, with the likes of the Pixel 7a and the Nothing Telephone (1) packing it in, but it surely’s nonetheless not the norm.
The HTC U23 Professional comes with a pleasingly stockish tackle Android 13. That is Android largely as Google meant, with menus, layouts, and app icons that may be acquainted to any Pixel or Motorola customers on the market.
HTC provides a number of elaborations, with the clock widget particularly nodding to its extra illustrious previous, but it surely’s nothing too elaborate.
Certainly, you possibly can argue that HTC might do some extra embellishing. There’s none of Motorola’s tasteful mild enhancements or gesture-based shortcuts, for instance. You additionally don’t get any of Android 13’s glorious Materials You color customisation choices, for no matter motive.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
When it comes to bloatware, you get a handful of HTC’s personal Vive-themed apps, nodding to the model’s new standing as, firstly, a VR firm. With no Vive headset handy, I used to be unable to check these out. Both means, these are stand-alone apps, and will be fully ignored and even uninstalled.
HTC doesn’t seem like making any daring claims about ongoing software program or safety updates right here. Given the corporate’s step again from smartphone market prominence in recent times, that is most likely comprehensible, but it surely’s price maintaining in thoughts for those who’re intending on maintaining your subsequent cellphone round for a number of years.
Value & Availability
At £499, the HTC U23 Professional prices £50 greater than the Pixel 7a, the Poco F5, and the Xiaomi 13 Lite. It’s technically the identical worth as the fashionable Motorola Edge 30 Fusion, however given the age of that cellphone now you can get it for nicely under RRP.
You should buy the HTC U23 Professional direct from HTC’s on-line store in addition to Amazon.
It’s not obtainable within the US however you possibly can try our chart of the most effective mid-range telephones.
Jon Mundy / Foundry
Whereas the HTC U23 Professional isn’t a nasty cellphone, it’s robust to make a case for it on the asking worth. Not with so many wonderful rivals providing a lot extra for related or much less cash.
It isn’t notably quick, it doesn’t have an excellent display, it doesn’t have a robust digicam setup, it doesn’t cost in a short time, and its stamina is underwhelming. Every of its predominant mid-range rivals does not less than certainly one of this stuff nicely, and sometimes extra.
You do get a pleasingly clear OS and wi-fi charging right here, in addition to IP67 certification, none of that are a given at this worth. However when you may get the Pixel 7a, which ticks nearly all the aforementioned containers for £50 much less, it’s tough to see what the HTC U23 Professional brings to the desk past nostalgia.