Yesterday, we got our first good look at the Taiwanese phone maker’s big-screen flagship, courtesy of an executive tasked with rebuilding HTC’s business and reputation in the Philippines after almost four years of absence. And what better way to do that than to show off a huge — possibly intimidating — phone with massive appeal. To wit: Strangers have come up to us with questions about the phone and its maker.
The HTC U Ultra is one of the two smartphones to have adopted the company’s new “liquid” hardware design. And it’s truly mesmerizing — most especially when planted on a table and light bounces off its reflective glass back. We’re particularly fond of the blue model we’ve played around with recently.
The admiring glances of people around us suggested we were not alone. Keeping it pristine, however, will take some effort; thankfully (and rightfully), the company includes a clear plastic case and a cleaning cloth in the box.
Handling isn’t as bad as some make it out to be, although the 5.7-inch display size plus the secondary 2-inch screen for displaying notifications, jumping into a favorite app, and more does make the U Ultra a challenge to use single-handed for anyone with small hands. The thick top and bottom bezels and hardware buttons also make it taller, and thus harder to pocket than most other smartphones.
Notably, HTC has (again) dropped the headphone jack and pairs the U Ultra with Type-C earbuds for private listening. There’s also a square hump where the 12-megapixel main camera sits, which some may find inherently unattractive on a 2017 flagship.
As for the LCD display, it is a joy to use — bright and sharp and vibrant. About as good as it gets in today’s market. Meanwhile, the home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader can be found under the screen, sandwiched between the capacitive back and recent-apps keys. We would have wanted to see them centered on the lower bezel, where there’s plenty of wasted space.
Unfortunately, we were not able to try out the cameras on the HTC U Ultra, and we can’t tell you yet how well it performs in the day-to-day grind. What we can tell you is that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor that powers the assembly is among the best money can buy, and that the 4GB of RAM that accompanies it is more than enough to ensure everything runs smoothly.
There’s plenty to like about the HTC U Ultra inside and out. But it’s impossible to make a clean judgment without knowing how much it will retail for when it officially hits the streets. In the U.S., though, it’s priced at $749 or approximately P37,326 off contract.
A release in June isn’t out of the question, we’re told, though July might be a more realistic guess. Other HTC phones expected to be available locally include the HTC Desire 10 Pro, One A9s, U Play, and the more recently announced U11.
We are currently putting the HTC U Play and Desire 10 Pro through their paces, so expect a review soon.
Unboxing the HTC U Ultra
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