HTC introduced its all-new U-line of smartphones that focuses on design and AI capabilities. Of this, the first two smartphones -HTC U Ultra and U Play made it to the Indian sphere this week. Priced at Rs 59,990 and Rs 39,990 respectively, these smartphones cater to the premium segment and boast some top-of-the-line features. I got a chance to play with both the devices for a little while and here are my first impressions about the higher-priced HTC U Ultra. Also Read - HTC Desire 20+ launched with 48-megapixel quad rear camera setupAlso Read - HTC Wildfire E Lite smartphone design leaks online
With what it calls as the liquid 3D design , HTC has been able to build a beautiful smartphone with contoured edges and a reflective surface. However, the epic proportions of beauty come crashing down the moment you hold the glass and metal phone in your hands. The HTC U Ultra is a fingerprint magnet and with the smooth design, it seems prone to slipping off your hands. Add to it the glass and metal body, the fragility is palpable. Also Read - HTC Wildfire E Lite listed on Google Play Console
The HTC U Ultra can safely be called one of the most gorgeous looking Android smartphones out there in the market. But what could kill its charm is the high maintenance it might require. A smartphone, be it a cheaper model or an exorbitantly priced device, has become a daily commodity, travelling places with the user (which includes the abhorred restrooms) and at times also shifting hands. Now, in such a scenario one cannot afford to have a smartphone that constantly needs to be scrubbed clean. Covering up the phone with a case might keep the unpleasing fingerprint marks at bay, but in my opinion, it purely takes away the aesthetic value the HTC U Ultra has been designed with.
Physical buttons on the HTC U Ultra are limited to the power button and volume rocker which are placed on the right. There is a home button on the front which doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. At the rear panel, the slightly protruded square camera module rests alongside the dual-tone LED flash. The Type-C port for audio and charging is placed at the bottom alongside the speaker grille and microphone. ALSO READ: HTC U Ultra with secondary display, AI assistant launched at Rs 59,990: Specifications and features
The smartphone features a 5.7-inch Super LCD 5 display offering a wide QHD resolution at 2560×1440 pixels, layered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top. It is sleek at 7.99mm, but given the weight and extra smooth surface, the phone might feel difficult to use for one-handed navigation. There is also a 2-inch landscape display layered above the main display. This panel is for app shortcuts and notifications. Both the displays were responsive and legible in the given lighting conditions.
It may be recalled that a secondary display on smartphones isn t exclusive to HTC. The feature has been previously experimented with by LG for its V10 and V20. The always-on secondary display is essentially not a huge innovation but an added frill that has not witnessed many takers. The landscape display on the HTC U Ultra is customizable and you can add your choice of app shortcuts or reminders. One of the interesting bits here is that the panel works in coordination with HTC s Sense Companion AI assistant. While we are yet to see it working in the real-time usage, it is said to learn user behavior over time to be able to offer customized notifications.
The HTC U Ultra houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage that can be further boosted up to 2TB using microSD card (hybrid slot including dual nano SIM support). During the brief time using the device, there were no lags or app crashes. Having said that, a detailed verdict on the phone s everyday performance shall be posted after a thorough review.
With Android 7.0 Nougat at its core, the HTC U Ultra comes with the HTC Sense custom Android UI layered above. Fuelling the smartphone is a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0. Although HTC is claiming that the given capacity can offer a talk time of up to 26 hours on 3G/4G; a real-life usage will be able to ascertain the same. The hybrid slot on the HTC U Ultra offers support for a secondary 4G LTE SIM.
If you are spending over Rs 50,000 on a smartphone, you would most certainly expect it to offer a brilliant camera. The HTC U Ultra features a 12-megapixel rear camera along with a 16-megapixel front camera. It offers multiple shooting options including selfie panorama, pro mode, hyperlapse, long exposure, and much more. In the given lighting conditions, the camera output is decent and sharp. A testing in outdoor and varied lighting conditions might bring out the true capabilities of the camera. However, given the premium pricing, a dual-camera module or a higher megapixel count have been welcome additions.
At Rs 59,990, the HTC U Ultra appears to be a pricey affair given that there is nothing extraordinary on offer other than a glass design so perfect that it s almost a flaw and a dual display that is no more than an added frill. As pointed out in our previous article, the HTC U Ultra will most probably become obsolete in terms of hardware in just a few months when a slew of new premium phones, which will be powered by Qualcomm s top-end 835 SoC will be launched. That said, in the premium category, there is already a range of smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge which offers a dual-curved edge display, the Honor 8 which offers a dual camera module under Rs 30,000, and the OnePlus 3T that offers 6GB of RAM. Watch this space for a full review of the HTC U Ultra.