Despite launching decent hardware and gaining positive critical review HTC has been falling behind its competitors for years. To change this state of things the company decided to listen to its customers and design a phone inspired by their needs. Dumping the old approach to the phone’s design HTC opens 2017 with two new smartphones. Both phones, the flagship HTC U Ultra and the more affordable U Play, come as a big surprise in terms of the external look and hardware.
Earlier today HTC released its latest flagship. Debuting accompanied by a less expensive HTC U Play, the HTC U Ultra comes dressed in a beautifully crafted glass body, offering powerful specs and a secondary display functionality.
Abandoning the aluminum unibody devices it is known for, HTC releases phones closed in a shiny, eye-catching glass shell. The HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play arrive closed in two front and black glass surfaces with metal frame finish. Those of you familiar with the mobile business have surely already noticed that the HTC’s new sleek design strongly resembles the one featured by the Samsung’s Galaxy phones. Everything here is so perfectly curved and symmetrical. The durable glass the handsets are made of is most definitely Gorilla Glass 5 famous for its scratch resistance. Interestingly enough, the company also announced that they’re going to launch a more exclusive sapphire glass model of the HTC U Ultra sometime this year.
HTC U Ultra
It’s not a secret that the HTC U Ultra is the company’s flagship offering for 2017. Inspired by the LG V20, the company equipped the handset with a secondary front display. It looks like the HTC has decided that if they can’t beat the rivals, they will follow the paths set by them. The secondary screen is a 2.0-inch 160×1040 p panel, while the primary display is a 5.7-inch LCD screen sporting Quad HD resolution. Just as in the LG V20, the secondary screen will perform primarily a notification function, but it will be also integrated with the company’s own AI assistant enabling touch and voice control without the necessity of powering up the main screen.
Driven by the ultra-fast Snapdragon 821 processor coupled with 4GB RAM the phone runs Android 7.0 Nougat and is kept alive by a bit disappointing only 3,000 mAh battery. In the optics department, this measuring 7.99 mm thick phablet provides its users with a combination of a 12MP “Ultrapixel” rear camera with OIS, laser auto-focus and an impressively sharp 16MP selfie-oriented front shooter. Furthermore, a fingerprint scanner built into the home button guarantees extra safety of your data, while a “BoomSound” technology additionally supported by a new “Unsonic” platform adopting its sound profile to suit an individual user, will take care of immersive sound experience.
HTC U Play
Speaking a similar design language this more budget-friendly device houses a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD screen panel and runs a noticeably weaker MediaTek Helio P10 processor. As for RAM and ROM variations the phone will be available in two configurations: 3GB RAM/32GB of storage and 4GB RAM64GB of storage, whose accessibility will depend on the region. What’s important here just as the offering 64GB of built-in storage U Ultra, both variants of the U Play will come with a microSD card slot. The rear camera is represented by a 16MP not “UltraPixel” sensor and an identical front snapper. Unfortunately, there is no OIS and laser auto-focus here found in the flagship model.
Just as the U Ultra, the U Play has a 7.99 mm thick profile, a fingerprint scanner and no headphone jack which was replaced by an USB-C port. Fed by an even less powerful 2,500 mAh battery the cheaper model works on the same Android 7.0 Nougat, but it doesn’t offer the secondary screen functionality.
Pricing and availability
Discussing the pricing and availability details, the U Ultra will be open for pre-order on HTC.com later today. Priced at $749 the 64GB model will be sold in four color options: sapphire, black, white and pink. However, even if you buy the phone today don’t expect it to come before mid-March which is when the phone is planned to start shipping. It’s surely a big delay in comparison to its home market of Taiwan where the phone will be officially available later this month. As for the sapphire glass 128GB model of the phone scheduled to hit the market later this year the phone will cost setting you back $910. When it comes to the more affordable U Play, the phone will debut in the first quarter of 2017, however its US availability hasn’t been officially confirmed yet. According to the HTC’s press release, the base 32GB variant of the phone will cost something round $440.