HTC U Play: Release date, rumours and specs for HTC Alpine

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HTC’s 2017 plans kicked off with a lot of talk about Ocean. First revealed in a concept video, the Ocean name expanded and was attached to a number of handsets – three handsets, in fact – all slated for launch in 2017.

The HTC Alpine name is fairly new compared to those Ocean names and it’s only a couple of our regular HTC leakers on Twitter that are pushing this name: @onleaks and @LlabTooFeR. Both have a respectable record, although one admitted that the HTC Alpine name came from an unconfirmed source.

It’s thought that this device will launch alongside the HTC U Ultra at the 12 January event, carrying the name HTC U Play. Here’s everything we know so far. 

When it comes to design, one of the things that has made 2017 different from previous years is the lack of solid phone photos from HTC. Not only has there been rumours of three devices – with some difference in codenames and a mysterious HTC Vive handset appearing – but there have been very few photos.

That leaves us slightly in the dark as to the design of the U Play. There’s no indication of where this fits into HTC’s line-up of devices either as the naming appears to be new, so it eschews previous family names like One or Desire.

Rumours have suggested that the U Play is a smaller device launching alongside the U Ultra phablet and differing in just about every way. There’s a chance, of course, the U Ultra and U Play are versions of the same phone, but offering hardware differences. Currently, it’s not clear what the situation is. 

That leaves us not knowing what the HTC U Play might offer, so the design might be a complete surprise – or it might look like the purported HTC U Ultra leaks. 

One thing that has been mentioned is the lack of 3.5mm headphone socket, so it’s likely that you’ll be using USB Type-C for your audio.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is a video that’s cropped up from @evleaks. This pitches the whole U thing as a play to personalisation, through what looks like a promo video. In that video there’s a range of different textures and finishes to phones – chemical, fabric, litmus, and three devices. Sadly, those devices don’t match any other purported leaks – but we can’t help feeling this video is genuine and some clue to HTC’s 2017 plans.

Like the design, there have been few specs mentioned for the HTC U Play. One fairly consistent rumour is that this is a 5.2-inch device, but firmly mid-range, suggesting it’s nothing like the U Ultra details that have leaked. 

The display is said to be 5.2-inches with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, for 423ppi. That might be the same size as the HTC 10, but it’s a drop in resolution, very much a mid-range offering.

A newer source of leaks has share some specs that have surfaced from Weibo from @upleaks, a source that hasn’t been as prolific in recent times as it once was. This account also shared some specs for the HTC U Ultra, although those contained some discrepancies, so these are worth taking with a pinch of salt. 

The HTC U Play is said to be powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 chipset, with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (presumably supported by microSD), and a front-mounted fingerprint scanner.

There’s very few sources to corroborate this information, however, so it’s difficult to judge if these are true by any measure. They are mid-range specs and may, perhaps, reflect a cheaper U product to be ranged alongside the Ultra in the way that Motorola tiers its phones – so the display size could be entirely wrong. 

The HTC U Play is rumoured to come with a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 16-megapixel front camera. That’s perfectly feasible, although there are very few sources for this information, so it’s difficult to tell if it’s reliable. 

The HTC U Ultra images that leaked appeared show a laser autofocus sensor alongside the lens, but that’s not been mentioned in any of the leaks so far.

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That leaves us slightly in the dark about the HTC U Play cameras. If there’s a high resolution front-facing camera we can see that HTC will be using this as a social pitch for the “play” angle of this device, claiming you’ll be able to get great selfies of you and your friends. 

There’s been nothing specifically said about the software loadout on the HTC U Play, but it can be assumed that it will be Android Nougat with HTC Sense. We wouldn’t expect a huge change from the build we’ve seen on the HTC 10.

Sadly, that’s about all we have to go on from a software angle. 

The HTC U Play, or HTC Alpine, is rumoured to be launching alongside the HTC U Ultra at the For U event on 12 January. This is one of the confirmed details that we do have: HTC is holding a launch event.

The timing is odd, coming so early in the year, but we can only imagine that HTC is trying to steal a march on rivals and get these devices to market before the main launches around the time of Mobile World Congress 2017.

At the same time, we’re not entirely convinced by the specs and details that have surfaced on this handset, so there may at least be some surprises in store for us on launch day.

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