HTC comes out with beautiful phone designs, and the U Ultra is no different. This time around, the all-metal chassis has been replaced by one that has a blend of glass and metal. Among the black and blue options, the latter will garner more eyeballs. However, there is no hiding the rather large footprint—it is longer, wider and thicker than the LG V20, (which also has a 5.7-inch display and a dual display above the main screen) because the bezels are thicker. At 170g, however, the U Ultra is lighter by 4g. It isn’t water resistant, which is now an almost taken-for-granted feature in flagship phones.
This is the first HTC phone with the Sense Companion Artificial Assistant (AI) app. Over time, it will learn how you use your phone, and also provide location and time-based suggestions, such as places to visit and traffic on your route. Our experience, however, was hit and miss. It hardly ever notified us about any interesting places to visit based on our location, and didn’t send traffic updates.
The 5.7-inch display has a Quad HD (2,560x1,440 pixel) resolution, while the second screen is 2.05 inches (1,040x160 pixel) in size. In terms of text readability and the brightness or colour aspects, these would be on a par with most flagship phones. The second screen can be used quickly to check notifications, calendar events, access favourite contacts and even apps that you may use often. However, we aren’t entirely convinced that the second screen genuinely adds value to the overall user experience.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 4 GB RAM is a potent combination for a flagship Android phone. That is, at least till the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 powered Samsung Galaxy S8 comes along. Given the mammoth size of the phone, though, we expected a bigger battery than the 3,000 mAh it packs in—it lasts a day with ease on a single charge but can’t be stretched more, because the high-resolution screen drains a lot of juice.
The 12-megapixel camera is hit and miss. In good light, the photographs are adequately detailed. However, it does take multiple tries to get the right focus. Low-light photos end up with dull colours and aren’t very crisp.
While the HTC U Ultra has an appealing design and performance is smooth, the reality is that the price tag makes it quite hard to recommend. The faults, including the inadequate camera, get magnified at this price.