Launched today (January 12th), the HTC U Ultra and the U Play come fully loaded with useful artificial intelligence (A.I), improved voice commands and impressive audio, designed to help users make the most out of their smartphone.
But what’s new about them? Do they live up to the hype? And what’s the difference between the Ultra and the Play?
Read on to find out everything we know so far about the HTC U Ultra and its sister phone, the U Play.
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1. There are two sizes
As with lots of modern-day smartphones, the HTC U range is available in either a premium phablet-size option or a smaller, more affordable version.
The larger HTC U Ultra has an impressive 5.7-inch main display and you can choose between 64GB or 128GB storage variants.
The more modest HTC U Play has a display measuring 5.2 inches and comes in 32GB or 64GB storage options.
As you’ve probably guessed, other benefits of the larger U Ultra include higher specs and a more impressive camera.
2. Dual display
The real selling point of the HTC U Ultra, however, is the dual display. The Ultra’s secondary screen shows notifications without impeding on the main screen.
The Ultra’s 2-inch secondary screen sits above main display to make notifications even easier to see.
HTC is billing this feature as a way of staying in the loop without being disturbed. The smaller, always-on display allows you to check your notifications at a glance without having to exit the app you’re using.
So, you can carry on replying to emails or gaming without notifications getting in the way, meaning that a text from your mum won’t stop you beating your high score on Candy Crush.
You can also change the notification settings, so that the secondary screen only shows you notifications from your favourite contacts.
3. Intuitive artificial intelligence
Both the HTC U Ultra and the U Play feature on-board HTC Sense Companion A.I, designed to learn your behaviours. It then uses what it’s learned to offer helpful suggestions and even pre-empt how you want to use your phone.
For instance, if you normally run low on battery towards the end of the day, the HTC U will remind you to charge it at lunchtime.
It will also tell you about changes in the weather and remind not to set your usual alarm on a bank holiday.
According to HTC, it’s even intuitive enough to recommend restaurants based on your previous searches and update you with travel news likely to affect your commute.
The Ultra and the Play also come with HTC’s own intelligent voice assistant that allows you to navigate your phone, answer calls and snooze your alarm via voice command.
HTC is billing the feature as having ‘the world’s best microphone’, with four microphones located in the corners of the phone so it can hear you and respond from a greater distance.
The voice assistant will recognise and respond to your unique voice only, which adds an extra layer of security.
4. No headphone jack
Back in September 2016, Apple received a lot of bad press for releasing its latest iPhone without a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.
Now, this controversial move now seems to have set somewhat of a trend, with Samsung also rumoured to be doing away with the slot on its 2017 flagship devices.
And the HTC U handsets don’t feature one either.
They do, however, come with a pair of HTC USonic4 earphones that plug into the USB-C port.
Although the earphones aren’t much to look at, they’re actually deceptively smart. When you put the earphones in, they will analyse your inner ears with a sonar-like pulse, and adapt to your own unique way of hearing.
You can also change the headset to suit the noise levels around you. So, whether you’re at the library or on a noisy bus, you can adjust the sound so it’s just right.
If these clever earphones aren’t for you, however, HTC has said that a separate adaptor will be available to buy to enable you to plug your own headphones in.
5. All-glass design in four colours
In an interesting break from tradition, HTC has moved away from its signature metal design to create two new all-glass models.
The self-proclaimed ‘Masters of Metal’ explained that they wanted to create a more durable phone with a sheer, more reflective colour.
Both the U Ultra and the U Play comes in four different colours: brilliant black, ice white, sapphire blue and cosmetic pink.
Each has a pearlescent finish, so the colour appears different depending on the way the light reflects on it.
As you may have guessed, this glossy finish does make it prone to smudges, but HTC has pre-empted this problem by including a clear plastic case with each handset to keep it pristine and fingerprint-free.
Get a more in-depth look at the key differences between the U Ultra and U Play with our breezy guide.