The HTC U23 Pro could be a better buy than the Pixel 7a

HTC may not be the Android king any more, but its latest phone is an interesting rival to Google's budget phone

HTC U23 Pro
(Image credit: HTC)

If you're considering one of the best affordable phones or possibly buying a Pixel 7a, it's worth checking out the latest HTC phone first. The HTC U23 Pro comes with a decent specification and a price tag of just £499 – and if you pre-order through you can get a free pair of HTC True Wireless Earbuds Plus. 

I have a soft spot for HTC, because for a long time it made some of the best Android phones: back in 2011 it was the third biggest phone maker by global market share, beaten only by Apple and Samsung. However, some bad decisions (going all-in on Windows Phone, for example) and intense competition from Chinese firms saw it slip speedily down the rankings. And that's a shame, because many of its phones were good devices let down by bad marketing; these days it's probably more renowned for its VR headsets than its phones.

Will this phone change that? Probably not, but you're getting a lot of phone here for not a lot of money. The display is a 6.7-inch FHD+ OLED with 120Hz variable refresh rate and a 20:9 aspect ratio, and inside there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of extendable storage. So far so good. But the real draw here is the camera.

What camera does the HTC U23 Pro have?

The rear camera assembly is a quad-camera setup. The main camera is 108MP with f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilisation, and the other three are 8MP, 5MP and 2MP respectively. The selfie shooter on the front is 32MP with f/2.45, 1080p video and a beauty mode. The battery here is 4,600mAh with 30W fast charging and 15W wireless charging.

The HTC has a bigger screen than the Pixel 7a, and it has a faster refresh rate too. The camera setup is considerably higher resolution than Google's mid-ranger, which is 64MP, although Google's Tensor G2 and firmware may still give it the edge when it comes to everyday photography; as ever, there's more to a camera than its megapixels. And if you haven't been converted to the best wireless earbuds yet or need your phone to have an audio out, the HTC has a headphone jack. Remember them? You can also stream TV and film to a Vive XR Elite VR headset without issues as the HTC U23 Pro supports HDCP2.2 content protection.

The HTC is £50 more expensive than Google's phone, although the bundled noise cancelling earbuds have an RRP of £69 so it's pretty much equal. That promotion ends on the 4th of June, though. Pre-orders are open now on the HTC website.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (