HTC U Ultra specs review


The HTC U Ultra, the 5.7-inch giant phone with a secondary display and an alluring glass and metal design is the new HTC flagship.

And as far as rumors go, it's also the only flagship, with the latest whispers saying there will be no HTC 11 and it will be the new U series all the way.

This would make HTC the first company to go all in with such a large phone as its flagship product. While Apple, Samsung and LG all offer a smaller phone, as well as a larger one, the smaller phone in the HTC U series, the U Play, is not really a flagship-grade device. It's a mid-ranger. This means that the U Ultra will take over as the new and only flagship.

So what is it all about? Let's dive in the details.

HTC U Ultra specs highlights:


Platform: Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense
Dimensions: 162.41 x 79.79 x 7.99 mm, 170g
Display: 5.7-inch 1440 x 2560 S-LCD5 main screen, 2-inch 160 x 1040 secondary screen
System chip: Snapdragon 821 with 4GB of RAM
Storage: 64GB, expandable via microSD cards
Camera: 12MP rear cam with PDAF, laser AF and OIS, 16MP UltraPixel front camera
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Extra features: HTC USonic headphones, USB-C, no 3.5mm jack, 4 hi-quality mics,


Design and Display


The first thing that one notices in the HTC U Ultra is the new design that is a departure from the traditional for HTC metal body towards a new glass and metal concoction similar to the one used by Samsung and other phone makers recently. HTC takes pride in the new 'liquid glass' finish to the glass that makes it more reflective and... well, liquid-like. It's also a fingerprint magnet.

The big thing about the HTC U Ultra that does not get talked much about is the sheer size of it. It's a gigantic phone. The only other mainstream phone in recent history that approaches it closely in terms of how physically giant it is, is the Nexus 6. The HTC U Ultra is a hair narrower than the oversized Nexus 6, but it's also taller than it, and features a rather flat back in contrast to the curved back of the Nexus 6. Let's put it in other words, the HTC U Ultra is much bigger than the already big LG V20, Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel XL, while the 5.5" Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge looks like a very small phone compared to the Ultra. For many people, this would be a dealbreaker. Dealing with such a big phone is not everyone's cup of tea, after all.

Next up, HTC has killed the 3.5mm headset jack. It has a special reason: the new HTC USound headphones that connect via the USB-C port on the bottom of the phone and measure the shape of your ear by beaming a laser. This way, HTC measures the specific form of a person's ear and makes needed adjustments to deliver well-balanced audio quality.

The most distinctive feature of the HTC U Ultra is the secondary screen, but let's first comment on the main screen. It's a 5.7-inch display with a 1440 x 2560-pixel, Quad HD resolution. This means this is one very sharp display that is also well fit for virtual reality. Unfortunately, though, the HTC U Ultra is not fully compatible with Google's advanced mobile VR platform Daydream. In terms of display protection, the HTC U Ultra - commendably - uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5, the latest tough glass technology that is more resistant to scratching and overall resists damage better.

Next up, you see the S-LCD 5 in the description of the display technology. This stands for Super LCD 5th generation, where Super LCD is the technology that HTC has been using for years. What is special about this 5th generation S-LCD tech? Quite honestly, HTC does not bother to explain, but we have seen mentions of its wider color gamut and faster touch latency. Historically, S-LCD displays are actually manufactured by Korean company S-LCD, owned by Samsung Electronics. Back in the day, the original S-LCD screens were known to feature no gap between the display element and the actual outer glass. This in turn resulted in less glare.

The secondary display features the same high sharpness as the main one: it sports a 160 x 1040-pixel resolution, and by the looks of it will copy the functionality of the secondary screen on LG V phones.

Performance and Memory


Under the hood of the HTC U Ultra is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system chip. It's hard to be excited about the Snapdragon 821: a gradual evolution over the Snapdragon 820, it will power HTC's flagship phone when it launches in March 2017. Problem is that around that time we expect to see new top-tier phones from Samsung and LG, all rumored to launch with the much more powerful Snapdragon 835 SoC on board. The Snapdragon 821 will simply not be on par with that chip, and that's a problem given the premium pricing of the HTC U Ultra. The 4GB of RAM on board seem like a reasonable amount that should allow for proper multitasking.

When it comes to storage, the 64 gigs of on-board storage are welcome: they should be enough for a wide majority of users and with 4K video, 64GB seems like a more reasonable amount of storage than 32GB. We're also glad that the HTC U Ultra supports a microSD card slot for expandable memory. That's something that many power users still rely on.

Internet and Connectivity


There is one important thing to know about the HTC U Ultra: it will not work on Verizon Wireless or Sprint in the United States.

The phone, however, does support 4G LTE bands for AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. To be more specific, here is the full list of the FDD-LTE bands that the HTC U Ultra supports: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20 and 28.

AT&T's 4G LTE network currently runs on bands 2, 4, 5 and 17 with band 17 being crucial for good performance in many markets, and all of these bands are supported on the HTC U Ultra. T-Mobile's LTE network requires bands 2, 4 and 12, and all of them are supported as well.

The support for the key bands 3,7 and 20 means that the HTC U Ultra will also work on most 4G LTE networks across Europe.

Battery


The biggest open question to the HTC U Ultra revolves around the size of its battery: it features a 3,000 mAh battery, much smaller than most 5.5-inch phones these days, and the HTC U Ultra is actually a 5.7" phone with a secondary display. This is not a good sign for battery life. We do hope that HTC has done some smart optimizations to get the most out of this battery, but at this point we can only hope that the phone will get the average user through a full day. Don't get your hopes high about more than that, though.

On a positive note, the phone support Quick Charge 3.0, and you will be able to top up the battery quickly, so a 10-15 minute recharge at lunch time might do wonders for extending the battery life of your phone.

Expectations


All in all, the HTC U Ultra is a device with a snazzy design and high expectations from its camera, which builds up on the foundation of the already very good HTC 10. There are a few puzzling decisions, however, that hold it back: the premium price of $750 will simply not be competitive when it launches in March along with behemoths like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and even the traditionally aggressively priced LG flagship.

HTC no longer seems to have the relationships it had with U.S. carriers and it will not be sold via AT&T and T-Mobile, so you will only be able to get it online at HTC.com. The majority of people buy their phones via a carrier in the United States, and are not willing to spend $750 at once, so that is definitely a drawback.

The new HTC USound does seem like a neat thing, but it will hardly be enough to grab the attention of the demanding high-end phone shoppers. It will be an uphill climb for HTC.

Related phones

U Ultra
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 16 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(26h 3G talk time)

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22 Comments

1. shield

Posts: 843; Member since: Sep 12, 2015

In addition to that, the HTC U Ultra is equipped with 4 (yes, four) always-on high-sensitivity microphones. Yep, that sounds creepy to us too, but it's there for a reason. These mics can be used to record hi-res audio that will not clip so easily at concerts and that will still sound good on your recordings. LG V20 It also has four microphones.

7. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Four high sensitivity ALWAYS ON mics...even more battery drain. This thing will have horrid battery life, I bet. HTC, you just can't get the battery life right. The M8 was saved by the legendary SD801 and it's renown efficiency.

11. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 966; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Both LG and HTC need to seriously prioritize battery life. Not lasting a whole day is unacceptable for such a huge device.

15. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

This. I am excited to see what LG brings in the G6, though. Hopefully it won't be too bad, but they have a bad battery life track record. The G2 and M8 were the battery flukes from LG and HTC, respectively. Honestly, it may be between Nokia and OnePlus if LG can't get it together...and I ain't holding my breath!

2. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

If there will be an HTC 11, then there is no point of releasing the U Ultra. The HTC 11 will be better in every way.

17. TechNeck

Posts: 652; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Did you not read the other article about how they said that there isn't a HTC 11 planned? ._.

18. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

It's all rumors. Besides, HTC won't miss an opportunity to release a SD 835 phone.

19. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah.. they probably hide HTC11 to get more sales for U series... because only HTC diehard fans will throw their money for this overpriced crap, and even them won't buy this phone if they know HTC11 is coming,,

3. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Such a big phone and no 3,5mm jack and only a 3000 mAh battery... And the release date doesn't make sense at all... Oh, and no 3,5mm jack = no buy

8. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

$750. Outrageous price tag given what you listed.

4. John-Knotts

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Gorgeous phone from the back. Okay looking on the front. Small battery for such a large phone, no headphone jack and for last year's specs it's overpriced. I like HTC, but this feels like a miscalculated release that should have come out while the Note 7 was going up in smoke.

5. Joms_US

Posts: 200; Member since: Oct 02, 2016

Might as well give it a score of 8.X bwahaha... only the iTards believe in iPhoneArena score.

6. fyah_king unregistered

That battery though!!!:(

9. sumpil

Posts: 91; Member since: Feb 02, 2016

HTC always uses the latest CPU chip from Snapdragon for a current year, so I still think that another flagship is around the corner, the U series is just like the A series where HTC tests new designs.

10. iDroidPhony

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 21, 2016

This is a good phone but with a battery that will not last a day, no way.

12. true1984

Posts: 866; Member since: May 23, 2012

this seems more like the replacement for the butterfly than anything else

13. syam7863

Posts: 73; Member since: Sep 15, 2016

"Next up, HTC has killed the 3.5mm headset jack. It has a special reason: the new HTC USound headphones that connect via the USB-C port on the bottom of the phone and measure the shape of your ear by beaming a laser." This CAN be done WITH the 3.5mm jack there. At least people have choice.

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

if only they make it a bit thicker to house bigger battery, flatten camera bump, and give it 3.5 jack.. and release it 4months ago with name "HTC 10 plus".. it may sell well...

16. sumpil

Posts: 91; Member since: Feb 02, 2016

They don't need to make it thicker, they either can't afford a bigger battery or the supplier that supplies them makes thick batteries with less capacity

20. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

HTC U Ultra priced at $750 means it won't sell like hotcakes... No way, HTC!

22. hubert52

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 15, 2017

-SOC SD821 instead of SD835 as the next flagship phones coming in 2017 -Thicker, heavier but with less battery than a S7 Edge... from last year. -No headphone jack (wired and wireless audio are not incompatibles and meet all needs) -Not water resistant (Pixel can afford not to have this, as they have the fastest OS) -No AMOLED display It's sad to say, but HTC seems to be doomed due to poor customer needs assessment.

23. XeeyoreboiX

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 25, 2011

I still don't understand the removal of the headphone Jack. I use the headphone jack too much even though I use bluetooth headphones and use the headphone jack if my headphones aren't charged which happens quite a bit considering I use them all through the day. I was excited about this phone but the headphone jack removal swayed me away from it.

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