First, there’s the obvious change from metal to glass, but that’s only the beginning. The HTC U Ultra also breaks convention from HTC’s past by launching much earlier than the company’s typical flagships. And then there’s the fact the the HTC U series ditches the number-based nomenclature of its predecessors.
It is pretty obvious HTC wants the U Ultra and its mid-range brother, the U Play, to stand out from the HTC we’ve become familiar with over the years. The name change and material switch certainly have our attention, but with so many flagship devices on the market, it’ll need to do a lot more than that to win our affection. With that in mind, let’s jump into a look at the top HTC U Ultra features that you should know.
The secondary display
Along with its main 5.7-inch Quad HD display, the HTC U Ultra also has a secondary display on top that’s just two inches and has a resolution of 160 x 1040. This is similar to the secondary display that can be found on the LG V10 and the LG V20. In the case of HTC’s new phone, the smaller display is designed to show notifications, contacts and more, and certain apps could access the display exclusively.
The 16MP front-facing camera with ‘UltraPixel’ mode
If you like to take selfies, the HTC U Ultra may be the smartphone for you. It has a 16MP front-facing camera, which means you are getting a sensor in the front that many high-end smartphones put in the back. In addition, the camera can be switched from the normal high resolution mode to what the company is calling UltraPixel mode. UltraPixel mode is supposed to be four times more sensitive to light compared to the normal mode, which should make it great for taking low-light photos.
The rear 12MP camera is no slouch, either.
The HTC U Ultra’s rear camera is supposed to offer some improvements compared to the one found on the older HTC 10. It has an UltraPixel 2 camera sensor for low-light pictures, along with laser autofocus, phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilization (OIS), a 1.55µm pixel size, and an f/1.8 aperture. All in all, its rear camera is packed with pro features.
See also: HTC 10 review
The audio hardware and features are impressive, but there’s no headphone jack
HTC has tried to be a leader in offering better audio in its smartphones, and the HTC U Ultra is no different. It adds the company’s trademark BoomSound Hi-Fi speakers, with a tweeter above and a woofer below. It also has four high-sensitivity omnidirectional microphones for better positional sounds when you record or film an event. In addition, it comes with something called HTC USonic, which is supposed to optimize headset audio by sending in sonar-like pulses inside your inner ear.
HTC has also decided to join in on the trend in ditching the standard 3.5mm headphone jack with the HTC U Ultra. That means you will either have to hook up a USB Type-C adapter to keep using your old wired headphones, or get a wireless pair. HTC will be offering its own USB Type-C USonic earphones with the phone.
It has its own AI assistant, Sense Companion
HTC is joining the bandwagon of companies that want to improve your life by adding an AI-driven digital assistant in your smartphone. The HTC U Ultra will support what the company calls Sense Companion. It will learn from your actions and send out notifications and suggestions to help you out in your day, such as a reminder to take an extra battery with your phone if you are going on a longer trip.
Sense Companion will have voice command features that will let you unlock the phone with just your voice. It will also integrate with Google Assistant, the AI that’s available in Google’s Pixel phones. It’s important to note that Sense Companion may not be available with the HTC U Ultra out of the box when it officially launches, but it will be added in a future update.
The phone has a sleek contoured glass design
The HTC U Ultra ditches the metallic look of the company’s previous phones for a glass design. The company says the look of the phone was made in a new process so that the colors bond into the glass in multiple layers. The glass is then molded around the sides and edges of the phone. The phone will come in Sapphire Blue, Ice White and Brilliant Black colors, and some parts of the world will also be able to get the phone in a Cosmetic Pink color.
The unlocked version of the HTC U Ultra is being sold right now on the company’s website for the price of $749, and will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks. Shipments of the phone are scheduled to begin mid-March. At the moment, there’s no word on if any US wireless carriers will also be selling the phone via their monthly device payment plans, so unlocked is your only option right now.