HTC announces the new HTC U Ultra and U Play. They’re both designed with you in mind, hence the U.
Last year so many new devices made it to the market, all trying to bring something new and unique to the table. Some offered a fast charging feature, better camera, dual displays, dual lens cameras, the list goes on.
Coming back from CES, we saw a trend in the use of AI (like Amazon Alexa), in order to make peoples’ life easier by allowing them to connect to smart things and interact via voice. I think HTC have thought about it and cleverly added it to their device in a meaningful way.
Both the U Ultra and Play now feature an ultra-thin yet durable liquid surface coloured glass design that HTC said it’s the result of two years of development. As thin as the devices are, the glasses were melted (as you would), to curve the edges.
The glass body is great and looks really nice from all angles, however, one thing I have to mention here is how much of a fingerprint magnet it is. HTC used glass because it expands the colour options they can offer beyond the basics of that of a metal body.
The HTC U Ultra and U Play are all about U and here’s why
HTC are using a new machine learning system or an AI called HTC Sense Companion, built to be a personal companion that will learn from you. It will be part of your device and life, learning about your schedule, location and other user habits.
From its learnings, it will be able to suggest that you dress warm and leave for work earlier on a snowy day or remind you to charge your device if it figures you need more power to last until you get home.
Unlike other personal assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa or Siri, it can recommend the perfect restaurant when you’re away for the weekend without the need to ask it. Google Now can do something similar based on location, but HTC Sense Companion will do it intelligently based on your habits.
HTC also said it will evolve and get to know you better over time, so the more you use it, the better the recommendations get. There’s also the voice recognition part; the HTC U Ultra is always listening for your command to ask for assistance.
Dual display for less interruption on the HTC U Ultra
The HTC U Ultra features a 5.7-inch display and a second always on 2-inch display for notifications and displaying vital information without interrupting your workflow. The new Dual Display gives you the information you need, like your favourite contacts, apps, reminders, event notifications and more.
The HTC U Play, on the other hand, is missing this feature, though, as it’s smaller at 5.2 inches, but still offers the learning aspect of the Ultra and other features that make it very user-friendly and all about U.
As for the display resolution, the U Play has a Full HD (1080p) with a Super LCD panel and Gorilla Glass, while the U Ultra has a Quad HD (2560×1440) Super LCD panel with Gorilla Glass 5 on the 64GB model and a stronger Sapphire Glass on the 128GB model – the 2.05 inch secondary display on the Ultra comes in at 160×1040.
Listening is key with the new HTC U Ultra and U Play
HTC recognised every person’s inner ear is as unique as their fingerprint, meaning the way you listen to music may well be different to how I do, so using HTC USonic to analyse your inner ears with a sonar-like pulse, and the new earphones will adapt to you.
Just like having a personal sound engineer, you can tweak each ear and even recalibrate if you move to a different environment that affects your listening experience.
HTC still doing what users like from Boomsound to Ultra Pixel imaging
In the HTC U Ultra, you get HTC Boom Sound Hi-Fi edition speakers featuring a separated sound design with your tweeter above, woofer below. There’s also four omnidirectional mics for recording 360-degree immersive audio.
The U Ultra packs a 12MP Ultra Pixel main camera, a technology designed by HTC to deliver less blur, faster focus thanks to its new PDAF + laser autofocus, and better photos at night. While in the U Play, you get a 16MP main camera, they’re both loaded with a 16MP front shooter with Ultra Pixel mode.
The U Play’s front camera is selfie-ready with f/2.0 aperture (U Play’s main camera is also f/2.0) and a 28mm focal length so not only will you get brighter and sharper images, you will also be able to fit more people in your selfies without having to stretch your arms too much.
The U Ultra main camera is 1.55μm in pixel size with f/1.8 aperture and can capture 4K videos and slow motion video recording in 720p at 120fps, while the U Play can only capture 1080p FHD videos.
What’s under the bonnet
The HTC U Ultra is loaded with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with a 64-bit, quad-core configuration clocking up to 2.15GHz coupled with 4GB of RAM running Android 7.0 out of the box. Its 64GB base model can also be expanded using a microSD card up to 2TB.
The HTC U Play running on a MediaTek Helio P10 Octa-core processor with a 64-bit configuration coupled with 3GB of RAM and its storage can also be expanded by up to 2TB with a microSD card.
Both devices use a USB Type-C connector for charging, data transfer and headphone – no 3.5mm headphone port present. No word on pricing yet, but the U Ultra and U Play will be available from Carphone Warehouse. Stay tuned for our full review when we get our hands on it.