HTC U Ultra and U Play phones a notable shift for flagging company

12 Jan 2017

From left: HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play. Image: HTC

After the excellent HTC 10 failed to turn around the former smartphone giant’s fortunes, it’s pinning its hopes on you. Sorry, on U.

HTC has today revealed its latest attempts to revitalise its smartphone operation, with the release of U Play and U Ultra.

In a shift away from previous releases, this is full-on targeting, with millennials central in the company’s crosshairs.

Whereas the M was a previous line, HTC is now all about the U. Both devices have adjustable sound to tailor them towards the user, with voice assistants and something called Sense Companion driving home the personalisation.

The U Ultra sports a 5.7in, 2560 by 1440 display. Operating on HTC Sense and Android Nougat, its processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, with 64GB memory, 4GB RAM and a microSD slot.

The rear camera is 12MP with various quirks such as ‘laser autofocus’, ‘phase detection autofocus’ and a pretty decent f/1.8 aperture – it’s 16MP, though stripped down, on the front.

Interestingly, its slow-mo video recording is 120fps at 720p, with other 4K recording capabilities now pretty much the norm.

HTC U Ultra

HTC U Ultra. Image: HTC

Another interesting element is a second screen at the top of the phone, which delivers notifications “without interrupting your browsing experience”. It is essentially an alert tool, tailored to your favoured contacts or apps.

The 3,000mAh battery can, according to the company, provide up to 26 hours of talk time, with USB 3.0 providing a quick charge.

The U Play is the smaller device, with a 5.2in 1080p display and an Octa-core 64-bit processor supporting MediaTek Helio P10. In Ireland, the devices will have 32GB storage, 3GM RAM and, again, a microSD slot.

HTC U Play

HTC U Play. Image: HTC

The rear camera matches much of what the Ultra’s front camera can achieve, with an f/2.0 aperture and 1080p video recording, positioning this phone well into the mid-range.

Both devices feature a ‘selfie panorama function’, eliminating the need for selfie sticks. Meanwhile, HTC’s ‘intelligent headphones’ can “adapt to your hearing, offering personalised tuning and ambient noise reduction”.

The HTC U Ultra will be available to purchase, sim-free, on the HTC e-store from €749. No sim-free options are currently available on the Play device, with Three yet to reveal its pricing.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic