HTC is no longer the smartphone power player that it used to be. The smartphone market has become a lot more competitive since 2012, with OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei redefining how one views the idea of a premium Android phone. HTC U Ultra, though priced at R 59,900, is a premium phone that looks like nothing else on the market. But is there space for an HTC U
Ultra in the market? Let us find out in our review.
So HTC U Ultra is supposed to be a phone around ‘U’ if you go by the marketing. Apparently it has a ‘liquid surface’ body; well that’s HTC calls the glossy, all glass body of this 5.7-inch phone. We got the Sapphire blue version, and there were mixed feelings towards this colour. While one person in our team seemed totally turned off by the glossy blue, I liked it. It’s everything that a blue should be; not too dark, reminds me of a nice eyeshadow shade. But sadly the glossy back is a fingerprint magnet.
The glossy back also explains why HTC has included a back cover in the box, although it is a transparent one. The camera is bang in the middle of the rear, with the HTC logo below that. On the front, it’s all glass with pill shaped button, that’s also got the fingerprint scanner, and two capacitive buttons on each side that light up when you are using the phone.
What is good?
HTC U Ultra sports a 5.7-inch Quad HD LCD 5 display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. I used this phone to watch all my pre-downloaded Netflix episodes on a long-haul flight, and it is a top notch display. The blacks are deep, and the phone has nice viewing angles, but again like the rest of the device, it is smudge city here as well.
On the performance front, HTC U Ultra comes with the Snapdragon 821, and sure it doesn’t quite feel like the flagship for 2017. After all the Snapdragon 835 is yet to make an appearance on smartphones, thanks to one major player. But performance is not an issue; it can easily handle multitasking, games from Lara Croft Run to Asphalt 8 without any hitch.
Software is where HTC has started keeping things simple and clean. Yes, BlinkFeed is still there when you swipe right from the home screen. The Google Photos app is the default gallery app, and HTC has added a few of its own customisations in the settings. The fingerprint scanner works accurately. Finally, there’s talk of artificial intelligence as well.
Moving onto the camera, this has been one of the key points for HTC phones. HTC U Ultra sports a 12 MP HTC UltraPixel camera on the back with 1.55 um pixel size. The front has a 16MP HTC UltraPixel camera. While the HTC UltraPixel branding doesn’t mean much for the ordinary consumer, as far as smartphone cameras go this does an excellent job when you have great lighting.
What is not good?
The software is not all perfect. There were times when tapping on certain settings in the drop-down menu would get no response. For instance, I found myself tapping Hotspot quite a few times, before it would eventually respond. I don’t expect this in a phone which is worth R60,000.In low-light, HTC U Ultra can’t compete with the iPhone 7 Plus or the Google Pixel.
HTC U Ultra is a gorgeous looking phone, and it works like a charm. It comes with the latest Android Nougat 7.0 with the Assistant already here on this phone. The camera is great, though not yet in the iPhone league.
n Estimated street price: R59,990