It’s been a hot minute since we saw an HTC phone at the GSMArena office. Chances are that most of you haven’t really been seeing many HTC handsets in the wild, either. It is hard to accurately pinpoint the current state of the former Taiwanese giant’s smartphone research, production and manufacturing. You might remember that after collaborating heavily with Google on the Pixel line, HTC sold roughly half of its design and research talent and non-exclusive rights to smartphone-related intellectual property to Google in 2017 for $1.1 billion.
Since then, HTC-branded phones have been few and far between and mostly in the budget price segment. Many of these rare Wildfire and Desire-branded phones have also been exclusive to the company’s home Taiwanese market. We aren’t even sure exactly who is manufacturing these and any current HTC devices like the U23 Pro we have for review today.
Historically, HTC manufactured all of its phones in its own factories. As far as we managed to dig up, that is no longer the case since at least back in 2020 when the company started outsourcing some of its manufacturing to Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Compal Electronics Inc. and China’s Wingtech Group. Our HTC U23 Pro unit claims to be manufactured “In China”, which could be mainland China or potentially Taiwan, depending on interpretation. The truth is, we don’t really know, and the fact that we are even seeing an HTC phone with what seems to be an international release is surprising enough.
Indeed, at the time of writing, the HTC U23 Pro seems to be up for sale on Amazon in the US, Canada, UK and Germany. You can also get one straight from HTC.com in a bunch of other countries. A 12GB RAM and 256GB storage unit will set you back about £499/€550/$670, which is not exactly a budget price point.
Looking at the specs of the U23 Pro, it can probably best be described as a mid-ranger by current standards, rocking things like a 120Hz OLED display, a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset and a 108MP, OIS-enabled main camera. Technically, however, in the absence of any superior current HTC phones, the U23 Pro is the company’s flagship offer. Make of that what you will.
In any case, the U23 Pro is an extremely intriguing device we can’t wait to dig into, if for nothing else, simply for nostalgia reasons.
However, before we get to any of the good stuff, let’s quickly unbox the HTC U23 Pro. It ships in a very simplistic and plain-colored two-piece cardboard box. It is not eye-catching at all, with a very subdued two-tone design. Then again, the phone itself isn’t trying to be flashy in any way, either. Regardless, the case is very sturdy and should do a perfectly fine job of protecting the phone, even in the absence of any plastic cradles on the inside.
The accessory situation is quite disappointing. Unless you count the included small HTC sticker as an accessory, all you are basically getting is a sturdy USB Type-C to Type-C cable. The cable is very basic and does not even include an e-marker chip, though. There is no charger in the box, which is quite a bummer.