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HTC U Ultra Review: Gorgeous Looks, But a Hefty Price Tag

The rear side of the smartphone is pretty appealing and the Blue coloured (review unit) looked gorgeous. It is a fingerprint magnet, though.

Krishna Sinha Chaudhury | News18.com@krishnaa_tweets

Updated:April 25, 2017, 10:44 AM IST
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HTC, once a giant in the Android world launched its flagship – the U Ultra in India just under Rs 60,000. This HTC flagship falls in the phablet category with a 5.7 inch screen and sports a metal and glass body, and the company calls it ‘liquid surface’ design. This is the first time HTC has ditched the all-metal design for its flagship.

This smartphone is HTC’s aim to fill the gap caused by the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and also entice users towards a new design.

A key highlight of the smartphone is a secondary screen placed above the primary one, quite like the ones seen in LG V20 and LG V10.

The rear side of the smartphone is pretty appealing and the Blue coloured (review unit) looked gorgeous. It is a fingerprint magnet, though.

 
The back of the U Ultra is extremely glossy, which is enough to explain why HTC has included a transparent hard case cover with the device in the package. A SIM ejector, power adapter and USB cable, earphones and standard documentation have been included in the box.

The dual-SIM card slot is placed on the top while the volume rockers are on the right while the power key is placed below it. There is no Micro-USB port in HTC U Ultra and no 3.5-mm audio jack as well. The user will have to rely solely on a USB Type-C port for charging, audio and data transfer.

The HTC U Ultra is running Android 7.0 Nougat along with the latest version of Sense.

The HTC U Ultra looks great but is that enough for a smartphone priced at Rs 59,900? Here is our detailed review.

What’s Cool?

HTC, the legacy brand which prides itself in producing the beautiful metal One-series line-up of flagship smartphones, has rendered a mirror finish to the U Ultra that looks gorgeous.

HTC-U-Ultra-review-1
(Image: Siddharth Safaya/News18.com)

In my opinion, the Sapphire Blue (review unit) looks the best out of all the variants. The way it catches the light when held up is incredible.

The 5.7-inch QHD LCD 5 display is top-notch and made blacks look rich with good viewing angles, something which is found in AMOLED displays. The big screen makes browsing two apps at once, streaming videos and playing games a pleasurable experience.

The HTC U Ultra’s 12-ultrapixel camera is capable of taking good images thanks to fast PDAF. The macro shots were impressive too.

Its camera app has a simple interface and offers several manual control options like HDR, Panorama, Slow Motion and Hyperlapse video along with a Pro mode with RAW photo support. The U Ultra’s camera is fast with almost no shutter lag and pleasant colour accuracy.

The company’s Zoe video app is also included that is essentially a fast way to capture quick videos like GIFs.

The 16MP HTC Ultrapixel camera for selfies also gets a thumbs up from my side. It ‘beautifies’ pictures without making them look too washed out. Another USP of the smartphone is its software with minimal bloatware. It runs like a charm.

Unlike other HTC flagships, the U Ultra has a single bottom firing speaker, which is pretty loud and won’t let you miss any call. It delivered loud sound despite being a small sized one.

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(Image: Siddharth Safaya/News18.com)

The HTC USonic headphones, included in the box, are pretty comfortable. Thanks to additional of rubber ear tips, you can also size up for the best fit.

Performance-wise, the U Ultra handles multi-tasking, gaming and video streaming simultaneously, with ease. The fingerprint scanner is sensitive and unlocks the device in a snap.

What’s not so cool?

The home button and the capacitive buttons have been placed too low and that is an annoyance.

The rear camera bump is also hard to ignore given the fact that HTC U Ultra doesn’t have a slim frame.

The low-light performance of U Ultra’s camera did not impress. In dark conditions, the snapper lagged and there was a delay from when you press the shutter button and the image actually being taken.

Also, the display does not provide the best contrast ratio.

HTC could have accommodated a chunkier battery in the U Ultra; the 3,000mAh battery is pretty small to power a device as big as this one. The device heated up when the camera was used for a while.

Using last year’s processor, the Snapdragon 821 also gets thumbs down from us.

That secondary display on top offers limited tasks. The secondary display can only have contacts, reminders, music player control, weather and calendar events.

Also, at Rs 59,900, the U Ultra should have been water resistant.

Moreover, the phone doesn't come with VoLTE support out of the box. HTC says an over-the-update will fix the issue soon. However, users can still use Reliance Jio via the Jio 4G voice app.

The only pain point is that the app doesn’t work at all when connected to Wi-Fi.

Verdict

The U Ultra is a decent package overall and looks gorgeous. It has several misses when comes to competing with flagship smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S8, Apple iPhone 7 Plus amongst others. Somebody looking for a good phablet with impressive looks should consider the U Ultra.

HTC U Ultra Camera Sample Images

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 Outdoor shot (Image: Krishna SinhaChaudhury/News18.com)

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Outdoor shot - captured during sunset (Image: Krishna SinhaChaudhury/News18.com)

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Close-up shot (Image: Krishna SinhaChaudhury/News18.com)

 

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Macro shot (Image: Krishna SinhaChaudhury/News18.com)

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Outdoor shot (Image: Krishna SinhaChaudhury/News18.com)

Note: All images have been resized for web.

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