The HTC U23 Pro is as smooth an experience as it is large, offering a premium smartphone experience at a respectable price. It’s still beaten by power-focused phones like the Poco F5, but it’s a far more convincing full package.
- Gorgeous 120Hz OLED screen
- Decent performance from Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
- Strong rear camera setup
- Wireless charging
- All-plastic chassis
- Rocky battery life
- Not as powerful as some competitors
- Great for binging video contentThe fast, fluid, and huge 6.7-inch 120Hz OLED screen is hard to look away from.
- Capable camera setupThe 108MP-led camera setup should suit most needs with wide, ultrawide and macro lenses.
- Handy wireless chargingWireless charging is a neat addition that you don’t always see in the mid-range market.
Releasing at £499/$499, the HTC U23 Pro doesn’t let a whole lot on with its name. What any of that means is truly a mystery. But what isn’t a mystery is how and why I’ve come to adore it after spending a solid week lugging it around on a bike, to the park, and around a shopping centre.
The coffee black design, which you’ll only really notice when shining the rear under a bright light, isn’t the reason. I much prefer my handsets to sport a bit of colour. But its extensive camera cluster, gorgeous and large OLED display, and snappy performance come as a pleasant surprise.
It’s not the fastest you can get for the money with the Poco F5 kicking around, and the battery isn’t the best even without an always-on display, but it manages to strike a convincing compromise in the mid-range smartphone market.
- Muted and basic outward appearance
- Large footprint with slim top and bottom bezels
- Pretty heavy for a plastic chassis
Sporting an all-plastic design, the HTC U23 Pro isn’t really much of a looker when it’s flipped on its face. The branding is minimal, and the rear casing isn’t trying to pull off any glittery gradients or crazy visual flair.
Instead, it’s a muted and matt dark brown finish that looks smart if nothing else. If that’s not your cup of tea (or should that be coffee?), there’s also a silver-and-white Snow White finish available.
With a little bit of give when pushed down, you might be mistaken to think it’s a classic removable cover with a swappable battery. Giving it a tap with your finger will elicit memories of older HTC devices or something like Samsung Galaxy S2 if you’ve been poking around with these things for long. A plastic finish will do that.
What might catch your eye, however, is the camera cluster positioned right where you’d expect it. A cavalcade of sensors isn’t entirely surprising in today’s smartphone market, but paired with its dark surroundings, the whole look is a little more spider-like than most.
Moving on from the backside for a second, the outer edges of the device house not only a fingerprint reader under the power button, but the still dearly missed headphone jack. It’s alive and well on top of the device, with a second microphone beside it not too far from the one wisely positioned right by the cameras.
The whole package, despite being plastic to the best of my knowledge, is surprisingly heavy at 205g. Not unwieldy by any stretch, but its large footprint lends itself to a heft that’s not too far off Apple’s biggest (and vastly more expensive) smartphones despite their glass and metal construction. At least there’s decent IP67 water resistance to balance that out.
- 120Hz OLED panel
- Bright and crisp
- Wonderful contrast
The main allure of the HTC U23 Pro has to be its big, bold, and beautiful 6.7-inch OLED display.
Thanks to Google’s already simple abstract and punchy app icons, I still sometimes unlock the screen just to see the pop of colour emitted by the bright panel. Is it a little harsh next to my typical iPhone 13 Pro Max? Sure. But for whatever reason, I just can’t get enough of it.
Even better than the blinding brights of the display is its 120Hz refresh rate. Likely the cause for some of the battery woes we’ll get into soon, it’s a near-essential component of a modern smartphone in my view, helping the powerful ones stretch their legs, and the less capable feel faster than they actually are.
Elsewhere, at 2400×1080 (393 pixels per inch), it’s a great screen that’s perfectly suited to games, video, and general browsing. Though it closes the gap on the longer edges with slim bezels, you will note a slight chin and forehead, with the latter keeping a wide earpiece in full view.
They’re not large enough to regard as comfortable off-screen grips, but I’m not talking edgeless display tech here.
- Wide, ultrawide, and macro lenses
- Dedicated depth sensor
- 13MP selfie camera
Don’t mistake the HTC U23 Pro as having four massive sensors on the back. You have a standard 108MP snapper, an 8MP ultrawide option for sweeping vistas or group shots, and a 5MP macro lens for detailed product, flora, and texture photos. That fourth ring, however, is nothing but a 2MP depth sensor.
Whichever lens you choose to take advantage of, you’re sure to get shots with solid colour reproduction and plenty of detail. Inside shots lacked a little warmth, with dark corners losing detail, but it’s nothing some light on-device editing can’t fix.
Out in the garden on a bright and sunny summer’s day, the sensors had no issue highlighting the difference in colour between a row of vivid plant pots, the macro lens managed to make sense of the fruits and blooms, and video managed to keep up with varied lighting conditions, but even with OIS, stabilisation was poor as I tip-toed around my garden.
For heavy use and filling up your storage quickly, the bottom slider of the Camera app can be used to enter Pro mode with lots of manual control, and the 108MP mode. Yes, the full range of the sensor isn’t set at a base level.
You’ll have to manually select it each time. It’s a good option for letting in a lot of detail for reframing, reusing, and cropping down the line, but given it’s locked to 1x zoom and can’t be used in conjunction with portrait, night mode or practically any other tweaks, its uses are limited. Appreciated, but limited.
For the selfie and video call fiends out there, you’ll find lots to love with the 32MP front-facing camera. There are even some built-in beautifying features to boost your eyes or slim your cheeks if you’re into that on-the-fly artificial fiddling.
- Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 SoC
- 12GB RAM
- Mid-range gaming performance
Wherever you look, you’ll see only the 12GB/256GB version of the HTC U23 Pro. There are murmurs of an 8GB version online which, like the non-Pro model, might be exclusive to select regions for the time being.
Either way, it’s a heck of a lot of memory for a smartphone at this price: not completely out of the ordinary, but a somewhat unexpected development. Paired with the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor, the HTC U23 Pro is a silky smooth device in day-to-day operation.
Putting the 120Hz panel to great use, scrolling web pages and changing apps looks fantastic, with the naturally lighting-fast pixel response times of OLED technology only helping it further. In practically every situation sans gaming, HTC’s mid-ranger feels great to toy around with.
Because of that processor, however, gaming is where it can fall ever so short. The vast majority of titles will sing, with competitive MOBAs like Pokemon Unite and League of Legends: Wild Rift playing just fine. The big screen also helps keep your thumbs from covering up too much of that necessary in-game information.
With some of today’s more graphically intensive adventures like Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail, however, you won’t be able to max out the eye candy without tanking the frame rate.
There’s a level of personal preference to contend with there, but with dedicated gaming handsets like the Poco F5 stepping things up with the Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 for even less money, it’s not the best price to performance handset out there if gaming is your core focus. It’s certainly a better all-rounded than either of those, but the competition is close.
Other than a sensitive touch screen during calls and in your pocket you’ll want to be careful with, it’s a great handset that’s suited to virtually everyone. Just don’t leave the volume up: the notification sound is both egregious to your eyes and to the phone’s otherwise respectable loudspeakers. It can get a little toasty under load, but not enough to concern yourself with.
- Android 13
- Limited third-party bloat
- Unintrusive first-party metaverse efforts
There isn’t a massive amount out of the ordinary with the HTC U23 Pro beyond the VIVERSE apps HTC baked into a neatly hidden folder on the home screen.
If, like myself, you know the VIVE branding as the original VR headset Valve sold through its Steam store, you might struggle to really recognise what it stands for now that HTC is out on its own with its virtual reality endeavours. Without going too in-depth, it’s essentially an ecosystem of apps designed around the idea of the metaverse: avatars, crypto coins— that sort of thing.
As disappointing as it might be to hear, at no point did the phone try to thrust its grifting efforts down my throat. Once you skip away from it during the initial setup, you won’t hear from it again. Just uninstall the apps and be done with it all.
Beyond all that, it’s a relatively stock Android 13 experience powered perfectly well by the phone’s Snapdragon chip. There was an issue with a persistent notification claiming to be receiving incoming messages that just would not go away, which did get a little annoying. But other than that and some very irritatingly loud notification chimes, the Android experience was solid.
If there’s one thing I’d like to see, it would be a more aggressive touch rejection option somewhere in the settings. In my short week with the device, I was forced into using the PIN unlock method over either biometric option. Apparently either grabbing the device or looking it its general direction had triggered the unlock failsafe. And this wasn’t a one-off.
Similarly, answering a phone call posed plenty of problems with the screen not turning off when the phone was against my ear, causing all kinds of issues as my skin and hair caressed the still-active touchscreen during my chat. They’re all issues not exclusive to the HTC U23 Pro, but boy did it irritate me to see that it’s still an issue in 2023.
- 4600mAh battery
- 30W wired charging
- Wireless charging
At just 4600mAh, the battery capacity of the HTC U23 Pro is far from outstanding. It feels like there’s a little too much expectation on the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 to conserve power here.
Don’t get me wrong; you’ll easily get a whole day out of the handset: it’s just always the hope to see one comfortably walk into a second day without absolutely demanding a charge every night.
In general daily use which, to me, is around an hour of gaming, a lot of Twitter, Discord, Slack, and emails, and plenty of photos of my pets, a full charge isn’t going to need frantically topping up at lunch to see you home.
And if you do happen to be comfortable with your battery percentage, the reverse charging feature will let you share some of the juice with another connected device: like a friend’s phone. That one even works wirelessly on compatible devices.
In our typical tests, a highly detailed game like Honkai: Star Rail sapped 9% of the battery in just 30 minutes. Again, that result isn’t totally out of the blue, but it’s enough to potentially land you in hot water if you’re ever without an outlet for a day.
Watching an hour of Netflix, on the other hand, sapped one whole percentage point less than the aforementioned turn-based RPG. That’s a comfortable viewing experience likely afforded not only by the comparatively tame effort of playing back video as opposed to rendering live content, but by the adaptive refresh rate that drops to 60Hz when watching video content.
Sadly, your battery woes begin right out of the box, because it doesn’t include a charger. Capable of accepting 30W via USB-C, you can juice up rapidly, going from 0-55% in just under half an hour. That battery-sapping gaming session suddenly doesn’t sound all too bad an idea.
To reach 100% outside of a thorough trickle charge, you’re looking at a 78-minute plug-in session. Wireless charging will take longer, but it’s always a nice option to have.
Should you buy it?
You want a mid-range smartphone that feels high-end: Don’t let the plastic chassis fool you – the HTC U23 Pro feels exquisitely premium in daily use, with a fast, vibrant screen and a chip that’ll manage anything but the very best gaming experience.
You want something with more power for the price: If you’re willing to sacrifice a great camera at the very least, you can get a little more bang for your buck with the Poco F5 if gaming is your thing. That one also comes with a ludicrously fast 67W charger.
Unless you’re after serious gaming power and lightning-fast charge times, the HTC U23 Pro represents seriously good value for money from a reputable brand.
It’s speedy, it’s silky smooth, the camera system won’t let you down, and its OLED screen is wonderful to gaze upon for hours.
But with a chip that can technically be bested by other mid-range handsets at the same price like the Poco F5, it’s a case of deciding whether you want a great general-use handset or a phone that trades its photography potential for raw power. It’s just not much of a fashion accessory.
How we test
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as a main phone for the review period
Thorough camera testing in a variety of conditions
Tested and benchmarked using respected industry tests and real-world data
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Is there a headphone jack?
Yes, there’s a headphone jack on the top end of the device.
Is it dual-SIM?
The MicroSD slot can take a second SIM if you don’t need to use a memory card.
Is it water resistant?
Despite the headphone jack and other visible openings, the HTC U23 Pro is IP67-rated for dust and water resistance.
Does it support wireless charging?
Yes, the HTC U23 Pro supports not only wireless charging, but reverse wireless and wired charging.
Trusted Reviews test data
Geekbench 6 single core
Geekbench 6 multi core
1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
30 minute gaming (light)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge
30-min recharge (no charger included)
15-min recharge (no charger included)
3D Mark – Wild Life
GFXBench – Aztec Ruins
GFXBench – Car Chase
HTC U23 Pro
First Reviewed Date
HTC U23 Pro
108MP + 8MP + 5MP + 2MP
77.1 x 8.9 x 166.6 MM
1080 x 2400
USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Coffee Black, Snow White