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HTC U Ultra review: All that glitters

Introduction

The One couldn’t reinstate HTC as the King of Android, so will U be able to? The HTC U Ultra sets off on a new path of design but stays on the familiar footing of high-caliber camera and audio. A Dual Display makes a surprise appearance as the stalwart headphone jack is left behind.

HTC U Ultra review

The main screen is a 5.7″ Super LCD5 panel covered in Gorilla Glass 5 or, for the fancier 128GB model, Sapphire crystal glass. The supplementary screen adds 2.05″ worth of space for vital notifications and reminders, but we didn’t see any apps make use of the extra room for additional controls.

HTC U Ultra key features:
Glass back with a “liquid surface”
5.7″ Super LCD5 with 1,440 x 2,560px resolution (513ppi)
2.05” secondary screen with 1,040 x 160px resolution (Always on)
Snapdragon 820 chipset – 4x Kryo (at 2.15GHz/1.6GHz), Adreno 530; 4GB of RAM
Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense UI and Sense Companion
12MP main camera, f/1.8, OIS, Laser and Phase detection AF, dual-LED flash
2160p and 1080p videos at 30fps; 360 sound or High-Res audio (24-bit FLAC)
64GB storage, microSD slot (hybrid dual-SIM slot); 128GB version available later
LTE Cat. 11 – 600/50Mbps; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB-C (USB 3.0, DisplayPort)
3,000mAh battery (sealed)

Main shortcomings:
More expensive than similar phones
Secondary screen is underutilized
No headphone jack
Battery capacity smaller than 10 evo’s (despite Always on screen)
4K video capture capped at 6 minutes

The U Ultra is powered by a Snapdragon 821 chipset, which coupled with the QHD resolution of the main screen leads to HTC’s other passion – VR. The Viveport app comes pre-installed, which currently serves to augment the HTC Vive experience but does not have VR capabilities of its own… though HTC has expressed interest in mobile VR, so we’ll see how that goes.

Back to the real world, you’ll be able to capture spectacular photos and videos of it thanks to the 12MP camera that we first saw on the HTC 10. It boasts a large sensor (and, as a result, large pixels), a bright aperture and high-res audio recording for the 2160p videos.

HTC U Ultra official images - HTC U Ultra review
HTC U Ultra official images - HTC U Ultra review
HTC U Ultra official images - HTC U Ultra review
HTC U Ultra official images - HTC U Ultra review

HTC U Ultra official images

Speaking of audio, the HTC U Ultra supports both BoomSound and USonic. The first tunes the stereo speaker experience – for either music or videos – while the second personalizes the headphones experience. You will need USB-C headphones, though, preferably ones from HTC as those are the only ones (for now) to support USonic.