HTC has announced two new smartphones in the form of the U Ultra and the U Play, both of which have been designed to focus around you, as their names suggest.

The two devices feature very similar and unique designs, but they differ in what they offer in a number of areas. Here is how the HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play compare to help you decide which is the right one for you.

  • Similar design with curved glass construction
  • Fingerprint sensor and USB Type-C on both
  • U Ultra is the larger and heavier device

The HTC U Ultra and the U Play both feature similar designs with a 3D contoured reflective liquid surface and a curved glass construction coloured with layered minerals.

There is a capacitive button housing a fingerprint sensor on the front of each device, the volume buttons and signature ridged power button on the right and USB Type-C at the bottom. The U Ultra has a square rear camera lens, while the U Play has a circular rear lens and they offer different flash setups.

The U Ultra is the larger and heavier of the two devices, measuring 162.4 x 79.8mm and weighing 170g, while the U Play measures 146 x 72.9mm and weighs 145g. Both have a thickness that ranges between 3.5 and 8mm.

  • Larger, sharper display on the U Ultra
  • Secondary Dual Display on the U Ultra
  • Better protection on the U Ultra

The HTC U Ultra has a 5.7-inch main display, coupled with a 2.1-inch secondary display, allowing users to see information such as notifications and the weather without powering on the main display, as LG offers with its V20.

The main display has a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, delivering a pixel density of 515ppi, while the Dual Display as HTC calls it has a 1040 x 160 resolution. The displays are protected by either Gorilla Glass 5 or a special edition Sapphire Glass is also available.

The U Play by comparison has a smaller 5.2-inch display with a Full HD resolution. It doesn't offer the Dual Display function and its lower resolution means it offers a softer display with a 423ppi pixel density. It too is protected by Gorilla Glass, though HTC doesn't specify which generation.

  • Same front-facing camera capabilities
  • Laser autofocus and wider aperture on U Ultra
  • 4K video and 3D Audio recording on U Ultra

The HTC U Ultra and U Play both have a 16-megapixel front-facing BSI sensor with an UltraPixel mode, 28mm focal length and f/2.0 aperture. They are both capable of Full HD video recording and they offer modes such as Auto HDR, Voice Selfie and Live Make-Up.

The rear cameras differ however, as their designs suggest. The U Ultra has a 12-megapixel UltraPixel sensor featuring 1.55µm pixels and an aperture of f/1.8. There is a dual-tone LED flash, OIS, laser autofocus and phase detection autofocus, along with 4K video recording with 3D Audio.

The U Play on the other hand opts for a 16-megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0, phase detection autofocus and OIS. It too has a dual-tone LED flash but it is only capable of Full HD video recording and it misses out on laser autofocus.

  • U Ultra is more powerful
  • Bigger battery capacity on U Ultra
  • Better audio capabilities on U Ultra

The HTC U Ultra has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip under its hood, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory. MicroSD expansion is available with support up to 2TB and Android's adoptable storage feature.

The U Play has the MediaTek Helio P10 processor, supported by 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, depending on the region. MicroSD storage expansion is on board again, with the same support for up to 2TB and adoptable storage feature.

The U Ultra has a larger battery capacity of 3000mAh, compared to 2500mAh and it also offers better audio capabilities. The U Play has dual microphones with noise cancellation, along with HTC USonic, while the U Ultra has four microphones for 3D Audio, USonic, BoomSound Hi-Fi edition and it is Hi-Res audio certified.  

  • Both Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense
  • Both have HTC Sense Companion
  • Same software experience

The HTC U Ultra and U Play both launch on Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense, meaning the software experience will be nearly identical.

The two devices also offer HTC Sense Companion, which is an AI for suggestions based on what you do.

The HTC U Ultra and U Play might look similar but they are very different beneath their surfaces.

The U Ultra is the more powerful handset, offering better rear camera and audio capabilities, along with a larger and sharper display, secondary display, larger battery and more powerful hardware.

The U Play has size on its side though as the smaller and lighter option, and it still offers the same software experience and an identical front-facing camera to the U Ultra, as well as a similar design. Price will play a key role in the decision between these two handsets, as well as what features are actually important to you.