Made For U: HTC Debuts U Ultra Flagship With Dual Displays And AI Wizardry For $749 Unlocked

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HTC is back at it again with a brand new flagship that will take on the next wave of smartphones from Samsung and LG. While HTC hasn’t in recent years found the same success that it once did in the early days of Android, the company is hoping that its new U Series family will improve its fortunes.

The U Ultra is the true flagship of the family, featuring a large 5.7-inch QHD (2560x1440) display. Complimenting that primary display is smaller 2-inch (160x1040) screen that is used to show reminders, notifications and your favorite contacts (among other things). In a break from previous HTC flagships, the U Ultra ditches the aluminum unibody design for a what it calls a “Liquid Surface” that features glass on both the front and the back. Like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, this should prove to be a magnet for fingerprints and smudges.

Specs wise, you won’t find anything out of the ordinary with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM (which seems a little low for a 2017 flagship), and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. As you would expect, there’s a microSD slot that provides support for an additional 2TB of storage space. On the camera front, you’ll find a 12MP UltraPixel unit that has been upgraded with phase-detect autofocus. Interestingly enough, the front-facing camera is now a 16MP unit, which has an 4MP UltraPixel mode.

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Other features of the Android 7.0 Nougat-powered device include a 3,000 mAh battery and the requisite fingerprint sensor. However, also noteworthy is what the U Ultra lacks — in this case, a 3.5mm headphone jack. Devices like the Moto Z family and the iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus have also made such a move (although the latter got the most flak for the decision). In its place, customers will have to rely on the bottom-mounted USB-C port that supposedly delivers brilliant audio using U-Sonic, which is a "sonar-based audio system delivers sound truly made for you". And of course, BoomSound is still along for the ride.

HTC has also infused the U Ultra with that it calls the HTC Sense Companion, which makes everything that the smartphone does “All about U”. The AI assistant is described as “the personal companion who is always learning from you.” HTC describes the following scenarios where the powerful AI assistant can come into play:

Suggesting you dress warm and leave for work earlier on a snowy day

Or reminding you to charge if it figures you need more power to last until you get home

And even recommending the perfect restaurant when you’re away for the weekend

It knows you – and it’s made to evolve and get to know you better over time.

In addition to the U Ultra, HTC has also introduced the U Play, which adopts the same basic design language, but comes with mid-range features and specs. You get a smaller 5.2-inch 1080p display, MediaTek Helio P10 processor, 3GB or 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of internal storage (plus a microSD slot). The cameras remain the same with a 12MP shooter on the back and a 16MP shooter up front. However, battery capacity is slashed from 3,000 mAh to 2,500 mAh. Oddly enough, the U Play will ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

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The HTC U Ultra is available to pre-order today in the United States with a starting price of $749 unlocked. It will be available in Brilliant Black, Cosmetic Pink, Ice White and Sapphire Blue. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have pricing and availability information for the U Play.

Tags:  HTC, u play, u ultra