HTC had been at the forefront of a revolution when Android was just a blip in the smartphone market years ago. Innovative designs and bold strategy is what made HTC a darling amongst Android fans and while things have slowed down for the Taiwanese company, we still see some interesting devices coming out from their side. A case in point is the new HTC U Ultra.
U Ultra is the best that HTC can offer right now and its claim to fame is the Dual Display and Sense Companion.
Design and Build Quality
HTC U Ultra is a beautiful-looking phone. The moulded glass at the front and back are fused together with the metal side that gives the phone a very distinct look. It’s solidly built as well.
Handling the processing performance is the 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB RAM and it goes without saying that the phone is more than capable of handling them without showing a sign of slowing down. There’s 64GB of built-in storage, which you can, theoretically expand to up to 2TB by utilising a slot in the hybrid SIM compartment.
The U Ultra has a 5.7-inch Quad HD super LCD 5 and while the display cannot match the deep blacks of an OLED panel, the display on the U Ultra is top-notch. It is bright, crisp (thanks to the resolution) and offers good viewing angles. However, HTC also allowssome customisations, like changing the display’s colour temperature and activating or deactivating Night mode. The display is also protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for the 64GB variant.
But if we talk about the secondary display, it measures 2 inches and sits right at the top of the main display. Understandably, the secondary display works independently and can be activated either by lifting off the device or double-tapping on it. The secondary display is handy and works like your notification panel but allows you to do more. For instance, you can open any app of your liking, control music, call or SMS any contact, turn on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, flashlight and more. Quite honestly, one can argue about the utility of a secondary display, but think of it right now as the edge display that Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S6. While the uses were limited at the start, the edge display is handy now that we’ve got third-party developers taking advantage of the additional screen.
The phone runs on Android 7 Nougat with HTC Sense as the skin overlay. The interface is smooth and is more or less the same if you’ve used an HTC device before. Swiping right will reveal BlinkFeed, which is HTC’s Flipboardesque integrated news app. The phone is also equipped with BoomSound loudspeakers, Hi-res audio support, 3D audio recording with four mics and HTC USonic. USonic is HTC’s audio platform that analyses user’s “inner ear and automatically adapts the sound profile to optimise the listening experience”. Marketing babble aside, we did feel the difference when USonic was activated. One gripe we have with the audio on the U Ultra is that it does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack and supports USB Type-C connection only. To top it off, HTC also does not bundle any 3.5mm headphone jack to Type-C connector along with the sales package.
The U Ultra also features Sense Companion, which is HTC’s take on the digital assistant. HTC says it works as a personal companion that learns from the user’s usage pattern and interaction with the device, based on which it suggests timely suggestions and tips. For instance, it can tell you to carry a power bank if you’re going on a long trip or even recommend a restaurant and book a table. Sense Companion will also support voice recognition to execute commands and queries from the user. However, at the time of going to press, Sense Companion was not activated for us to fully utilise it.
On the camera side, U Ultra comes with 12MP UltraPixel 2 camera at the back. The camera supports OIS and focuses fast with PDAF and Laser Focus.
Additionally, the camera supports HDR, Panorama, Zoe Camera, Hyperlapse, slomo video and 4K video recording. For selfie lovers, there’s a 16MP sensor on the front with UltraPixel mode and voice activated selfies.
U Ultra comes with a 3000mAh battery.