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HTC U Ultra Review: Beautiful But Lacks Grip

Do you really need 2 screens?

This January, HTC has caused quite a splash when it unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the U Ultra. Can the HTC U Ultra beat last year’s flagship model, the HTC 10?

This flagship smartphone has dumped its metal body for glass, has an enormous 5.7-inch display, adds an interesting second screen on top and getting rid of the headphone jack.

To be released in Singapore on 25 February, does the HTC U Ultra worth a price tag of $898 SGD and standout from the rest of the Andriod competitors?

Design and style

The U Ultra is a huge smart device with a 5.7-inch display screen. The physical buttons at the bottom and the small 2nd screen on top means there is a lot this smartphone will offer to the users. It’s fairly comfortable to hold by the sides but reaching up to the top of the screen is going to be a stretch for all.

The HTC U Ultra comes with a glass-backed design. It comes in 4 colours: black, blue, pink and white.

With the glass-backed design and plus size, it is hard to have a good grip. So, it is recommended that you have a good case to protect the phone in case it drops onto the ground and leaves a nasty scar.

2nd display screen

The most obvious feature on the HTC U Ultra is the 2-inch touchscreen that sits at the right of the front display.

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This is not a brand new concept as LG’s V10 did the exact same design. You can swipe through the second screen to show weather details, your next calendar appointment, accessing your favourite apps and keep track of your notifications. The 2nd screen can be used while the smartphone is locked and the main screen is off.

The 2nd screen has great advantages when coming to music controls and doing a quick dial to a contact. However, it was easy for anyone to forget that this quick functions existed.

The U Ultra has a green LED in the top left of the phone that flashes when you have a notification. The light will keep flashing until you dismiss it. You can set limitations such as making it flash only when the screen is off and eliminating it for some notifications. However, there’s no method to completely eliminate it.

Camera

Like the last year’s HTC 10, the U Ultra is equipped with a 12-megapixel affair with a 16MP selfie video camera that can switch to a 4MP “Ultrapixel” mode for low light.

No earphone jack

When Apple ditched the 3.5mm earphone jack on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, many felt thought that this is a bad move. However, Apple is not the only one. Lenovo and HTC have also eliminated the 3.5 mm jack in favour of audio output through the phone’s USB-C charging port.

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HTC has a set of USB-C earphones in the box. However, HTC did not include an adapter to convert the UBC-C to 3.5mm earphone jack.

Sense OS

The U Ultra operates on Sense HTC’s version of Android Nougat 7.0. Swiping right from the home screen will activate “Highlights”, which displays news feeds and social networks posts.

Other points

Battery life is average and will get the users through the day. Generally, the U Ultra is responsive and music played through the speakers is well above average. Memory at 64GB should be enough for practically anyone despite there will be a 128GB variation.

As the HTC U Ultra has a glass back, you might encounter lots of fingerprints on the smartphone.

Verdict of the U Ultra

The U Ultra is good looking and responsive. The second screen is interesting and probably in the future, HTC could add more features to it to make it much more helpful. The absence of a headphone jack can be annoying.

In general, with its price tag of $898, it will be tough to the U Ultra to stand out from its competitors such as the Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S7 in the Android market, especially with Samsung’s next big thing around the corner.