HTC’s new flagship phone has AI and a second screen, though no headphone jack

HTC is removing 2017 off to a drifting start with an unseasonably early proclamation of a subsequent flagship phone: a U Ultra. This 5.7-inch device inaugurates a new U array of smartphones and is assimilated by a smaller and obtuse U Play, that beam things down to 5.2 inches and a humbler camera and processor spec. HTC is touting a new Sense Companion, that is a take on a flourishing trend for putting AI assistants into phones, and a further of a second shade during a tip of a U Ultra. As with Apple’s latest iPhones, Lenovo’s Moto Z, and a HTC Bolt, conjunction of HTC’s new handsets has a headphone jack.


HTC’s U Ultra in blue and pink, bracketed by a smaller U Play in white and black
Vlad Savov

But a initial thing you’ll substantially notice about a U Ultra and U Play is their all-new design. we got to see and hoop a dual new phones forward of today’s proclamation and they are strikingly, shockingly glossy. HTC has changed to a new all-glass exterior, that it calls Liquid Surface construction, and a association has spent a lot of time formulating a element that mimics a properties, not usually a look, of liquid. What that means in use is that you’ll infrequently get sensational-looking reflections that lend a U phone a utterly singular appearance, nonetheless some-more mostly than not, you’ll usually wish for something reduction “liquidy” to grip. The aspect of both phones is ultra well-spoken and if we don’t put them inside a case, they’re probable to keep slipping out of your hand.

HTC’s U Play and U Ultra

HTC’s U Play and U Ultra: all tone variants of these phones have black bezels during a front.
Vlad Savov

The other vast change on a outward is a U Ultra’s second screen, that is a skinny 2-inch frame staying to a right of a front-facing camera and immediately above a Super LCD 5 screen. The 5.7-inch Ultra has what is now a flattering customary Quad HD fortitude on a categorical display, and it maintains a same pixel firmness on a 160 x 1040 second screen. Exactly as with LG’s V10 and V20, this frame serves as a alighting symbol for notifications, reminders, shortcuts to visit contacts, and song playback controls.

HTC U Ultra and a second screen

HTC U Ultra and a second screen
Vlad Savov

The specs of a U Ultra are in line with stream flagship tier expectations: there’s a Snapdragon 821 during a heart of this new smartphone, along with 4GB of RAM, and a choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage. HTC creates an increasingly singular inclusion by also charity a MicroSD label container for enlargement by adult to 2TB of additional storage. The camera has been upgraded with a further of phase-detect autofocus, nonetheless is differently unvaried from a 12-megapixel UltraPixel shooter on a HTC 10. You still get laser autofocus, vast pixels, an f/1.8 aperture, and visual picture stabilization. Amusingly, a front camera of a U Ultra beam to a aloft fortitude of 16 megapixels, nonetheless it also has an UltraPixel mode that produces 4-megapixel snaps.

The 3,000mAh battery competence be a tiny on a tiny side for a U Ultra’s vast display, and a same can be pronounced of a 2,500mAh battery of a U Play. Many other 5.2-inch phones have scaled past a 3,000mAh symbol by this point. The U Play’s downgrades from a categorical U flagship are not insignificant: it swaps a Snapdragon for a Helio P10 processor from MediaTek, halves a storage offerings to 32GB or 64GB, and uses a 16-megapixel back camera with smaller pixels than on a Ultra model. It also creates do with 1080p arrangement resolution. The biggest shortcoming, though, competence be on a program side, as a U Play will start shipping with Android Marshmallow on board. The U Ultra, on a other hand, is formed on a latest Android 7 software, Nougat.

HTC U Ultra in blue and white

HTC U Ultra in blue and white
Vlad Savov

Software is where HTC hopes a U phones will mount out, with a concentration on a user — a suggested “U” — and a array of supposed AI enhancements that are fundamentally a phone presaging what you’ll wish to do and portion adult useful suggestions. Provided you’re gentle to let a phone learn your habits, it’ll do such things as advise we recharge it if it knows you’ll be divided from a energy opening for longer than it expects a battery will last. Or it will tell we to dress comfortable on a cold day. HTC already has some geographically and contextually wakeful suggestions in prior iterations of Sense, nonetheless in 2017 those things are removing grouped together underneath a AI selling banner. One neat inclusion here is always-on voice detection, that will concede HTC’s AI to accept commands even while a phone’s arrangement is off. And HTC says it has grown a form of voice-based biometric authentication.

As to that blank headphone jack, HTC points to a bundled USonic earphones — a rebranded chronicle of a in-ear headphones enclosed with a HTC Bolt and 10 Evo — and says their alleviation in sound is contingent on a some-more able tie supposing by a digital USB-C interconnect:

We private a headphone jack since we trust a audio knowledge on a phone can be so most some-more than usually a elementary delivery of sound. The sonar-like capabilities of USonic wouldn’t be probable with a 3.5mm headphone jack. We have microphones built into both earbuds that “listen” for sonic pulses, that can afterwards adjust your audio to compare your ears’ singular architecture. We trust a marketplace is prepared to pull audio into new innovations that advantage consumers’ listening experience.

Why a association couldn’t have finished a USonic things and still defended a unchanging headphone jack isn’t done clear, nonetheless during this indicate it’s apropos apparent that a whole mobile attention is changeable to Lightning and USB-C and abandoning a normal 3.5mm jack. In a box of HTC, that also means owning a span of USonic headphones that usually work with HTC devices, notwithstanding carrying a presumably concept USB-C connector.

The HTC U Ultra with 64GB of storage goes on pre-sale currently for $749 from HTC.com in a choice of possibly blue, black, white, or pink. Deliveries in Taiwan will start by a finish of January, nonetheless a rest of a universe will have to wait until March. The U Play will follow after this spring, nonetheless there’s no tough denote about a price, that will vacillate depending on a internal market.

HTC is also going to launch a singular book U Ultra with a turquoise potion shade on a front and 128GB of storage. Pricing and launch date for that device have nonetheless to be announced.


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