I don’t often describe smartphones or technology in general as pretty, but the thought keeps coming up as I take in the HTC U Ultra. The HTC U Ultra is the latest device announced by HTC. It’s a 5.7-inch phone with a beautiful display and mirrored glass back. HTC last played in the phablet realm a few years back with the HTC One Max. It was a larger rendition of the their iconic HTC One M7, a beautiful large device with a focus on media consumption.
I had the opportunity to spend an evening with the latest HTC device and a few of the company’s representatives. Four colors were announced but only three were present at the event. If I had to rank the three I would go with sapphire blue as my favorite, followed by the ice white, and in the rear is the brilliant black.
It’s obvious to everyone that glass backed phones are not new to the market, but HTC took it to another level with this deep inset, mirrored color effect. The reflection that comes off the back is mesmerizing. The blues is such a deep color that it borders on midnight. It could almost be mistaken as black at first glance.
The white on the other hand borders on irridesence. I loved that pearl like finish. It has pearl like qualities in all the good ways, not as in an outdated jewelry piece. White phones are not normally my thing, but this one could change that for me. The huge bonus to the white is that it hides the fingerprints well.
In fact that is the problem with glass backed phones, they tend to be fingerprint magnets. So HTC provides a clear case in the box to keep your phone free of fingerprints and add a little protection to the Ultra as well.
This phone continues the trend of smartphones without a 3.5mm headphone jack, but HTC tries to turn that into a plus by providing USB-C headphones. HTC has really done a solid job on the sound front for some time now. These headphones should be no different. I wasn’t able to sample them but the customization HTC has developed on the HTC 10 leads me to believe you will be satisfied. Initially I was not happy about this trend but since I purchased my Sony MDR-XB950BT headphones and went cordless, I can see why manufacturers are moving away from the headphone jack.
Preset sound profiles exist for various headphones, then there’s a customization option that allows you to listen a range of sounds. You adjust them to your hearing, and a custom profile is created. The process is done for both ears and produces a very pleasing sound. Sound recording is another solid feature on this phone. HTC put 4 mics on the phone so you get great recording sound from this device.
The camera was extremely impressive on the Ultra as well. It finds your subject in no time. It takes crisp photos. The camera is on par with the Pixel, but HTC didn’t go on record about that. Overall I was impressed with it though.
Unlike the Pixel, the Ultra can take microSD cards. I love being able to add a storage card to my phone for more pictures and other media on board. HTC does one better by allowing you to convert the microSD to internal memory. This allows you to store unlimited apps and media on the phone without bogging the system. If you have ever owned a phone with limited storage, you know the struggle of being unable to install updates or taking new photos.
Lastly, let’s not forget the second display that sits on top and houses the Sense Assistant. HTC has developed this assistant program that learns from your usage and attempts to address your most common needs based on phone usage over time at work, home, etc. In previous devices this was referred to as Sense Home. It was a widget that would update your most frequently used apps depending on the time of day and your location. Only time will tell how useful this feature becomes, but the hope is that it will take the thinking out of customizing your device to fit your needs.
All in all the Ultra is a great device for those desiring a larger display in a beautiful package. It feels suprisingly thin and manageable. Photos and video seem to be a strong suit. The second screen adds some convenient info right up front. To help soften the blow of flagship pricing, HTC is offering a trade up program.
Those of you in the San Francisco and New York areas have an opportunity to come out and experience the HTC U Ultra yourselves. Check in here to reserve your spot!