HTC U Ultra goes official with Snapdragon 821, secondary display, AI Companion, and more


HTC is out of the 2017 starting gate fast with today’s announcement of the HTC U Ultra. The world’s most poetic press release talks up many of the phone’s great elements, but let’s break it down in more prosaic fashion here.

What we’re getting is a curved glass design and something HTC is calling a “liquid surface,” though we can’t be too sure if this is just marketing exaggeration just yet. Regardless, it looks pretty neat and offers a much different take on smartphone design than we’ve seen from HTC in a long time.

So, what can it do? Its most radical change for HTC is the inclusion of a secondary display, not unlike that which you get on the LG V20. It server similar functions, too: it’s mostly a glorified apps tray to quickly launch your favorite apps, but it can also feed you quick notifications and reminders without having to turn on the full display. HTC obviously can’t say they’re the first to do so, but it’s nice to see them trying something different anyway.

HTC U Ultra Specs

Internally, this device is pretty damn capable, so much so that we’re wondering if this is HTC’s defacto flagship for 2017 (something we’ll certainly be seeking the answer to). Here’s what’s inside:

  • 5.7-inch Super LCD5 Display
  • 2-inch secondary Display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Processor
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB/128GB Expandable Storage
  • 16MP Front Camera
  • 12MP HTC Ultrapixel 2 Rear Camera
  • 3,000mAh Battery

The front camera is pretty interesting in that it can switch between an UltraPixel setup for lowlight scenarios, but then back over to a typical 16MP sensor for those times when light isn’t an issue and you just want the best clarity possible. The rear, however, remains a fixed 12MP UltraPixel 2 sensor.

HTC is also debuting something they call USonic with this release, a technology which uses microphones to analyze your ears to automatically tweak audio that best fits your ear’s profile.

HTC U Ultra Features

HTC’s software changes for the HTC U seem pretty significant. The biggest change on the list is the new Sense Companion, a voice-activated AI assistant that vows to be your go-to source for whatever it is you need.

Sense Companion can deliver automatic alerts and reminders based on several things, such as reminding you to charge your phone if it thinks it won’t last by the time you get home from work, or showing you a list of restaurants near you when you’ve been away from home long. We also have voice-activated queries and responses, even when the display is turned off.

Pricing and Availability

HTC hasn’t mentioned much in the way of availability details just yet. All we know for now is that it’ll be available in select global markets at some point in early 2017. Of course, we will share more once new details come in. As for pricing, the device is currently listed at HTC’s shop with a $749 price tag and a March 2017 shipment expectation.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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