Introduction



Sometimes smartphone manufacturers keeptheir lineups simple: a clear flagship (maybe in a couple sizeoptions), then possibly a spread of mid-rangers, and maybe even asuper-budget model. And while all those phones can be veryinteresting for their own reasons – for as much as we love ableeding-edge hero phone, a really well-executed lower-end modelthat's still a stunning value can be even more important – it's notuncommon for us to build our expectations of a company's yearlystable of phones around such a product.



That's what makes 2017 so unusual forHTC. Not only are we on track to see the launch of fewer totalsmartphone models than we saw arrive last year, but HTC is switchingthings up in the flagship department, as a company exec confirmedthat we shouldn't be expecting an HTC 11: a direct follow-up to lastyear's HTC 10.



There will be a high-profile flagshipat some point, sure, but likely with some new branding – and maybeeven filling a slightly different role in the manufacturer's lineup.



While we wait to get the full story onthe rest of HTC's plans for the year, we've already seen the companyget off to a quick start, launching a pair of HTC U models back inJanuary. While the smaller HTC U Play will stick to internationalmarkets, the US is getting the larger HTC U Ultra phablet. Withhigh-end specs, a big 5.7-inch screen, and a seriously flagship-levelprice tag, is the U Ultra a fitting replacement for the HTC 10, orwill HTC fans want to keep waiting for a possibly more petitehandset? Here's what you can expect from the company's first majorsmartphone of 2017.



In the box:



  • HTC U Ultra
  • USB type-C to standard-A cable
  • Fast charger
  • Cleaning cloth
  • HTC USonic USB Type-C earbuds
  • Protective case
  • Warranty booklets



Design

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful –with an emphasis on “big”



Sometimes it's easy to reduce a phone'sdesign to a single thought, and with the HTC U Ultra, the most aptwords that come to mind are “big and shiny.” With a 5.7-inchscreen, that “big” aspect is largely to be expected, but even inthe world of similarly equipped phablets, the U Ultra is on thechunkier end of the spectrum. Its 162.4 x 79.8 mm face makes itbigger than the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 (and even bigger than theNote 5), and we'll spare the U Ultra the embarrassment of comparingit directly to the LG G6. Now, it's not like HTC is just wasting thatspace, and the U Ultra does deliver extras those phones lack, like anLG V20-style secondary display. But again, even the V20 is a smaller,more pocket-friendly phone than the hulking U Ultra.



As for “shiny,” the U Ultra offersan attractive glass-topped, polished-metal back panel in your choiceof three colors; in addition to the stunningly bold blue you seehere, the phone is also available in black and white. That high-glossfinish is nothing short of eye-catching, but the near-featurelessexpanse of reflective material also turns the U Ultra into one of themore fingerprint-sensitive handsets out there. We're not talkingabout how you unlock your phone, either: every single little touchyou impart on the U Ultra's body shows up, clear as day. It's abeautiful phone, until you start actually using it; let's just saythat it didn't take long to understand why HTC saw fit to include acleaning cloth in the box.


Continuing our tour of the U Ultra'shardware, we've got our volume rocker and pleasantly-textured powerbutton on the right edge, the hybrid SIM/microSD tray up top, and themain speaker and USB Type-C port on the bottom. As you've probablynoticed by now, that means no analog headphone jack, just like onlast year's HTC Bolt. Instead, you'll use the included USBheadphones.



It's worth mentioning, while we'retalking about design, that the USB port here looks like it doesn'tfit very well. It's not exactly centered along the phone's profile,and introduces a bump that interferes with the bottom edge of thehandset's back panel. We've heard of camera bumps before (and the HTCU Ultra very much has one of those), but a USB bump? That might betaking things a little too aggressively with the drive forcurved-edge construction.



Just like on the HTC 10, we're lookingat a front-mounted fingerprint scanner in the phone's home button,flanked by a pair of capacitive Android buttons. HTC's shiftedfront-facer placement since the 10 to accommodate for the U Ultra'ssecondary ticker display, and we also find a much smaller earpiecegrille here – which also doubles as a secondary speaker for stereooutput.




HTC U Ultra

HTC U Ultra

Dimensions

6.39 x 3.14 x 0.31 inches

162.41 x 79.79 x 7.99 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

LG V20

LG V20

Dimensions

6.29 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.14 oz (174 g)

HTC U Ultra

HTC U Ultra

Dimensions

6.39 x 3.14 x 0.31 inches

162.41 x 79.79 x 7.99 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

LG V20

LG V20

Dimensions

6.29 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.14 oz (174 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page




Display

Secondary ticker displays are just nota good match with LCD screen tech



HTC is stepping out of its comfort zonea little with the screen on the U Ultra, introducing a phone with thesort of secondary auxiliary display we most often associate with LG'sV series. The implementation is a near perfect copy of what LG was upto with those phones, with a little extra strip of screen that sticksout above the main display, and extends about two-thirds of the wayacross.



That sort of setup creates some newopportunities for HTC, but also introduces fresh problems. We'll takea closer look at those in a second, but first let's check out themain screen.



Like the HTC 10, we're looking at aSuper LCD 5 panel with a Quad-HD 1440 x 2560 resolution. But bystretching things out from 5.2 to the U Ultra's 5.7 inches, we'redealing with a corresponding decrease in pixel density. The good newsis that at this kind of high resolution, the phone's got pixels tospare, and the image quality on the U Ultra doesn't suffer as aresult of its increased size.



Color accuracy isn't bad, either,though it does tend to over-saturate at times. Screen brightness isalso decent, and there's a much-appreciated control panel setting toadjust color temperature – not that the screen on our unit neededany tweaking.



All this sounds good – and really,HTC doesn't make any huge missteps. At least, that's true about themain display.



Sadly, the secondary screen suffersfrom some of the same kind of issues we saw crop up with LG's phones– and the chief one there is some distracting backlight bleed. Sayyou're watching a full-screen video on the U Ultra. Since the displaydoesn't turn off the secondary screen's backlight independently ofthe main screen, and unlike an AMOLED panel, an LCD is going to stillbe partially illuminated even when it's trying to display pure black,you get this gray rectangle just sort of floating out there to theside of your video. It doesn't outright ruin the U Ultra experience,but it doesn't look great, either.



FEATURED VIDEO

25 Comments

1. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

Disappointing phone. "Seems like a waste of space."

2. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

This phone is like going on a date with somebody gorgeous that needs to be complimented all the time, is too dim to hold a conversation, is incredibly boring and then lies there and does nothing during sexy time. Beautiful, but not worth the investment.

15. libra89

Posts: 2316; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

What an analogy! A good one but wow spot on.

3. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

I hope to God this is not HTCs main flagship of 2017. Hope that the HTC 11 brings killer features and sets the trend like HTC's always done.

4. kumar1234 unregistered

Yeah, Of all the flagship phone released/announced this year this seems like the worst phone of 2017. Hopefully htc 11 will be better. Otherwise this will be finally the year when htc mobile will be dead, imo.

22. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 970; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

It's an early-2017 device that was released before they could use the SD835. It's no flagship. The screen color accuracy is way off, big fat phone with bad battery life, and offers nothing new. As long as HTC keeps doing stuff like this, where they ignore battery life, camera quality, and screen-to-body ratio, then they will continue to go the way of the Dodo bird.

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

if only it were still 2011 and HTC was the trendsetter instead of the sinking ship. They seriously need to wake up and get with the times.

5. Mr.mobile

Posts: 130; Member since: Mar 09, 2017

Cons of the phone according to me -No headphone jack -not a compact phone far 5.7inch screen -Slippery and finger smuges phone -Costly -Battery capacity is to low should be 3500mah battery

8. dimas

Posts: 3420; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

And the price, don't forget the price. Parody gadget of the year.

7. dimas

Posts: 3420; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

"Poor use of space, see where I'm getting at?"

9. maherk

Posts: 7017; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Of course we do Marques ;)

23. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 970; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Best video of the HTC U Ultra I've seen yet lol

10. vasra

Posts: 131; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Oh, HTC how the mighty have fallen. You have become slow me-too with too many mediocre products. In 2-3 years you will not exist as an independent company.

11. Tabby_Tiger

Posts: 305; Member since: Jan 23, 2017

Time for HTC to get a new CEO

12. Gavst3r unregistered

The M7 was probably one of the best phones I've ever owned. Such a shame things are now like this for HTC

13. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Why is HTC still around?

14. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

You are too generous PA. I would not hesitate to point Cher Wang for the phone looks . All glitter and sparkles. After all she was advocating subtle feminist sexism recently. Bad narrative if not desperate. HTC reminds me of fool that makes fun of one self while believing others laugh because it's funny. No, it is sad.

16. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

HTC U Ultra not impressing at all. Nothing makes it stand out of the saturated and competition. The price tag too is another deal breaker.

17. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

They don't have the engineering or manufacturing chops of LG and Samsung. Or the money if Apple, Microsoft, and Google. They are pretty screwed. Which is a bit of a shame because I would be a fan if every single device purchased from them didn't have a deal breaking flaw.

24. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 970; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Wouldn't they try and actually compete then? They aren't trying. If HTC thinks they can charge that much for a phone that does so little, while being a huge device with bad battery life, they are only fooling themselves. Even LG is going in the right direction, whereas HTC thinks it can choose a random design, make it shiny, and people will just buy it.

18. mercorp

Posts: 1045; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

Two words:Cut the price!

19. btbotimtim

Posts: 272; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

htc thinks they can charge premium price on their flagship without differentiating product quality from other cheap chinese manufacturers. i guess lg at least know that they cannot charge what samsung and apple charge.

20. Symon_Fleece

Posts: 351; Member since: May 30, 2014

The phone is not bad at all, it features excellent camera performance and design, but if you looked at the price, you might choose the s7 edge, V20 or the iPhone 7 plus instead :/

21. johnh3

Posts: 147; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

Here in Sweden we got 4 carriers, Telia, Tele2, Telenor and Tre. Just checking their websites for HTC phones. Was suprised to see that none of them got HTC phones. I dont know how the situation are in other countries? But I think the brand will have a hard time to survive without any retail presence.

25. gtrxman

Posts: 137; Member since: Sep 10, 2011

Just randomly checked the HTC website. They're already discounting by $150. Seems like they realize the error in their ways. Such a shame how directionless this company has become. They're capable of making a fine device, but they're trying too hard on gimmicks and not focusing on the basics.
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)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.