As expected, HTC’s big media event took place earlier today and the company unveiled its latest flagship product the HTC U Ultra alongside a smaller alternative, the HTC U Play.
HTC is focusing a lot on “U” with the launch of these two new devices that aim to deliver a highly personalized experience. The first thing you’ll notice when looking at these two phones is the new design. People have been wishing HTC will revamp the design of its products for quite some time and now the moment we all been waiting for has finally come.
HTC’s new phones take advantage of a new-all super glossy exterior which the company calls Liquid Surface construction. While the phones do indeed look gorgeous, they might just be a bit too slippery to be used without a phone case. A problem I also noticed with the Samsung Galaxy A (2016) series.
Being a flagship phone the HTC U Ultra features high-end specifications in line with most of last year premium phones. But HTC could have been the first company to announce a Snapdragon 835-powered device, instead the company left this honor to another (unknown) Android OEM.
The HTC U Ultra features last year’s Snapdragon 821 chipset under the hood which works in concert with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. Surprisingly enough HTC has added a microSD card slot which will allow users to expand memory to up to 2TB.
We previously mentioned the HTC U Ultra is a phablet which makes use of a 5.7-inch QHD display (2560 x 1440-pixel resolution) plus a secondary mini screen with 160 x 1040 res. Like in the case of the LG V20, the second screen can be used to display additional information like notifications, reminders or music playback controls.
In the photo department, the phone features a 12MP UltraPixel main camera which takes advantage of phase-detection autofocus, laser autofocus, f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. The phablet features an 16MP selfie snapper which inexplicably features an UltraPixel model that allows 4MP self-portraits to be snapped.
The HTC U Ultra ships out with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box and the new Sense UI plastered on top which includes the so-called Sense Companion. Here’s where things get more interesting. It appears HTC has been researching AI extensively for the past year, so the HTC U Ultra takes advantage of a few AI-driven enhancements.
Making use of machine learning, the phone will learn your habits and provide helpful suggestions based on them. So if the device “knows” you’re supposed to pick up your daughter from school and the roads appear to be crowded, it will suggest you leave a few minutes earlier.
Like in the case of the HTC Bolt, the HTC U Ultra doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead HTC is selling the device with Usonic earphones – a rebranded version of its in-ear headphones.
Last but not least, we should mention the phablet is powered by a 3,000mAh battery which is a bit flimsy, especially considering that the LG V20 bundles a more consistent, removable 3,200mAh one.
The HTC U Ultra with 64GB of internal storage will be available for pre-sale later today for $794 a pop from the company’s website. Customers can have their choice at Brilliant Black, Cosmetic Pink, Ice White, and Sapphire Blue models. Expect the phones to start shipping out in March (for international customers).
HTC plans to launch a Limited Edition HTC U Ultra with sapphire glass on the front panel and 128GB of storage.
As for the smaller HTC U Ultra variant, the HTC U Play the phone has a 5.2-inch display with 1080p resolution and a MediaTek Helio P10 processor on the inside. HTC will offer the mid-ranger in two variants, one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage and one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.
The main camera has been shrunken to 16MP (although there’s none of that UltraPixel business going on here). But the biggest disappointment is that the phone will ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box.
The HTC U Play is due out on the market in spring, but pricing specifications will be announced then.