HTC has just unveiled the U Ultra, and it’s fair to say that the phone has drawn quite a bit of inspiration from some of the best phablet flagships over the past couple of years. There’s a secondary display straight from the LG V series, a design that more reminiscent of Samsung’s Galaxy range, and even a virtual assistant that sounds an awful lot like the Google Assistant from the Pixel and Pixel XL.

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HTC U Ultra hands-on: a major change for HTC

January 12, 2017

Of course, HTC has added its own twist on things, including a range of its sought-after technologies and a few new ones. So here’s how the HTC U Ultra stacks up against the competition on the hardware front.

 HTC U UltraLG V20Pixel XLMate 9 / Porsche DesignGalaxy S7 edge
Display5.7-inch QHD LCD
5.7-inch QHD LCD
5.5-inch QHD AMOLED
5.9-inch FullHD /
5.5-inch QHD
5.5-inch QHD AMOLED
SoCSnapdragon 821Snapdragon 820Snapdragon 821Kirin 960Exynos 8890 or
Snapdragon 820
CPU4x 2.15GHz Kryo4x 2.15GHz Kryo4x 2.15GHz Kryo4x 2.4GHz Cortex-A73
4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.3GHz Samsung M1 +
4x 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 or
4x 2.15GHz Kryo
GPUAdreno 530Adreno 530Adreno 530Mali-G71 MP8Mali-T880 MP12 or
Adreno 530
Storage64 / 128GB32 / 64GB32 / 128GB64GB32 / 64GB

Processor wise, we’re looking at the familiar Snapdragon 821 found in the likes of the Pixel XL, OnePlus 3T and others. On the RAM side, the HTC U Ultra comes equipped with 4GB, which matches what we’ve come to expect from phablets, but doesn’t match the extreme 8GB RAM packed into the recently announced ASUS Zenfone AR. Flash memory option are also equally comparable with the handset’s main competitors, although customers won’t have the option of a cheaper 32GB model of the U Ultra.

There are only some minor tweaks over the Snapdragon 820 that powered the majority of last year’s flagship handsets and performance is pretty much a match between all of these flagships. Some may be disappointed not to see Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 on board, but that will most likely appear in the HTC 11, or whatever it ends up being called.

The U Ultra’s display is also a very familiar sight. The 5.7-inch LCD5 panel boasts a QHD (2560×1440) resolution, offering as crisp an image as any of the other phones in our comparison. Interestingly, there’s an option of Gorilla Glass 5 protection with the 64GB model and Sapphire Glass with the 128GB version. The 2-inch secondary ticker display boasts a resolution of 1040×160, which is identical to resolution the 2.1-inch secondary panel included with the LG V20, so they have a virtually indistinguishable pixel density.

 HTC U UltraLG V20Pixel XLMate 9 / Porsche DesignGalaxy S7 edge
Cameras12MP f/1.8 rear with OIS, PDAF and laser AF
16MP front
16MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.4 rear with OIS, laser & PDAF
5MP f/1.9 front
12.3MP f/2.0 rear with OIS
8MP front
12MP RGB + 20MP monochrome f/2.0 rear with laser AF & 2x zoom
8MP front
12MP f/1.7 rear with OIS & PDAF
5MP f/1.7 front
Fast ChargeQuick Charge 3.0Quick Charge 3.0YesSuperChargeYes
IP RatingNoNoNoNoIP68
3.5mm audioNoYesYesYesYes
ExtrasUSB Type-C, Boomsound, Hi Res audio, HTC Sense CompanionUSB Type-C, MIL-STD-810G certified, 32-bit/192kHz audioUSB Type-C, Daydream, Google AssistantUSB Type-C, DaydreamWireless Charging, Samsung Pay
OSAndroid 7.0Android 7.0Android 7.1Android 7.1Android 6.0

The HTC U Ultra’s camera package will be familiar to company regulars. It’s a 12MP UltraPixel 2 sensor, which uses large 1.55um sized sensor pixels that, in theory, should result in more light capture and better quality shots. These pixel diodes are even larger than the 1.4um sizes found inside the impressive Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 cameras, but we’ll reserve judgement until we can do a hands-on comparison, as HTC’s processing algorithms have often let its cameras down in the past.

The rear camera configuration also comes with optical image stabilization for smooth looking video capture and better low light shots, along with PDAF and laser autofocus modules. While PDAF and OIS are standard across the range, laser auto focus still only features in a small number of handsets and should allow the U Ultra to focus a little quicker than others when taking shots at close quarters. The front camera offers an 16MP resolution, which is far better than most and should produce sharper looking selfies. The camera can also function in “UltraPixel mode” to lower the resolution but increase light sensitivity. Overall, HTC’s latest camera offering seems promising, if not pushing the boundaries with dual camera tech that you’ll find in phones like the Huawei Mate 9.

On to extras and there’s quite a lot packed into the HTC U Ultra, as you might expect from a phone with such a name. Along with the familiar fingerprint scanner, NFC, and BoomSound speaker features, which includes a tweeter and woofer combine, HTC has also included Quick Charge 3.0, a USB Type-C port, and high resolution audio support. Audio buffs may be disappointed to note the absence of a 3.5mm audio jack on the handset, so you’ll have to use a USB Type-C adapter to connect the phone up to traditional wired headphones. Avid music listeners may get a kick out of the company’s USonic inner ear analysis, which is certainly a unique feature although we’re not sure exactly how useful it is.

One of the more interesting inclusions with HTC’s phablet is its Sense Companion. “Artificial intelligence” is shaping up to be the next big flagship smartphone feature and HTC appears to be launching its in-house model a little earlier than most of the competition. Google Assistant in the Pixel XL and Alexa in the Mate 9 US model are the only real competitors on the market right now, unless you count Google Now.

Overall, the HTC U Ultra is an impressive handset that combines excellent base hardware with a wide range of tantalizing extras. The phone is certainly one of, if not the most feature packed smartphones from the company to date, and looks to be a real contender with the best on the market right now. With the Galaxy Note 7 now absent from the phablet market, HTC looks poised to capitalize with the U Ultra.

How do you think that the HTC U Ultra compares with other supersized handsets on the market right now?

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • Gustavo

    The Pixel XL doesn’t have OIS in the camera

  • Puneet Kapoor

    I have owned HTC phones for the past 7 years… but I am disappointed in the current flagship. The U Ultra seems to be a Flagship for 2016… No AMOLED Display, No Snapdragon 835 and a 3000mAH battery.. I was too eager about the HTC Ocean concept.. but this new AI gimmick does not seem to be that path breaking.. I need to switch my device but the U Ultra does not seem to be very convincing.. The phone simply cannot justify the 749$ price tag.. the OnePlus 3T is a much better phone overall with a much cheaper price tag

    • 468

      If you need 7 years to understand simple things like “HTC phones are very expensive piece of shit” than you are FUCKING IDIOT…

      • Drew Forester

        Thing is, they weren’t always. I remember the days of the HTC One X line, and before that, the Touch Diamond. Up until recently, HTC phones have been routinely good to great. Even the HTC One M9’s biggest flaw was that it wasn’t “different enough” from the One M8. The HTC 10 was very much like the One M8: almost perfect, but off in ways that in the end didn’t really matter.

        But HTC got criticized anyway because that’s what people do. And feeling the push, they reacted in a way they shouldn’t have.

        Leading to this atrocity of a phone, and the “Bolt”, a phone with a name from 2009.

        HTC is failing because in the last few years “blind panic” has become their default response to any criticism.

  • #Note5 IsBoss

    Nothing special here just like I thought. Move on gentleman this is a major farce.

    • Look at following report to discover how an individual mom was able to acquire $89,844/year in her extra time on her laptop or computer without selling anything>>> FL-Y.COM/3m18

    • squiddy20

      You clearly don’t know the meaning of the word “farce”.

  • Wow, Huawei Mate 9 specs are crazy.

    • Dusty

      Its the Porsche Design version and the only thing crazy about the Porsche Design mate 9 is the $1200 price tag.

  • Camilla Russo

    Why no amoled? Even apple will finally move to amoled this year so why stay with lcd? And why the camera bump is still a thing? I hope 2017 will be the end of camera bumps.

    • Grant Ding

      agreed. the low profile camera bump on the S7 and HTC 10 are alright, but the bumps on the iPhone 7 (which got a lot more prominent), LG G5 and V20, and now this phone are just stupid. Phone cases wouldn’t need to be so damn bulky in the back if the camera hump were slimmer or just absent.

    • Shani

      I use an A9 and a 10, an amoled display and a SLCD and i prefer the LCD cooler colors to the amoled. Both have their pros and cons

  • Marius Muntean ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    no way! lack of audio port, copy design…no thanks

  • Flop of the year, at the beginning of the year.

  • Smuti

    Typical fail from HTC. Seriously craw in your grave and be done.

  • #Note5 IsBoss

    this is going to be better than any samsung phone ever put out. I cannot wait to support this!

  • Nadir

    The U Ultra has a disgustingly small battery.

  • AvalancheRyder

    Come on HTC, still no waterproofing? It’s 2017 and that should be included with every flagship, and I think Samsung is even adding it to their midrange devices. That’s the only reason I didn’t get the HTC 10 last year.

    • John Quincy Adams

      Why??…..most adults prefer real sound, over waterproofing.

      • AvalancheRyder

        If they prefer real sound, why aren’t they using external speakers instead of relying on their smartphone’s built in speakers?

  • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

    3,000 mAh battery and large IPS LCD? Are they bat-poo crazy?

    • Sumpil

      Remember the phone starts with a base storage of 64GB so obviously you pay for it.

  • Abhijeet Gupta

    Another HighTechCrap Fail. 3000 mah cell with a 5.7 2k panel, no wireless charging. I would take the s7 edge over it any day. even the OP 3T seems a way better option than this one.

  • Yan Qin

    HTC manages to put the worst parts of current flagships from major manufacturers into one single phone. Impressive!

  • Smuti

    AA fix the battery capacity for the S7 Edge.

  • Bojan Radovanović

    you are just missing size comparatin…this is biggest phone under 6′

  • S.L Jones

    The HTC Galaxy S1

    • Nick


  • Grant Ding

    I get that 12 MP vs 16 MP doesn’t make a huge difference in photo quality, but why the FUCK is the front Shooter 16 MP while the rear shooter is still 12? HTC should know from the desire eye that nobody cares about a selfie-centric phone. If you want to take selfies most phones will get the job done really well anyway.

    • Lutfor Rahman

      12MP one is the ultra pixel one, not the ordinary 16MP that in the front. and 12MP one here has larger pixel size than any other existing shooter out there in market.

      • Grant Ding

        I’m not complaining about the rear sensor, I’m saying that using a 16MP front sensor is completely pointless.

  • Christopher May

    Just checked the official HTC spec list on their website and they really have released a phone in 2017 that is “USB 3.1 Gen 1, Type-C” and offers Quick Charge 3.0 charging which is depressing presumably neither Qualcomm or USB-IF will let them use their logos as they have broken the rules of both. USB-C is already struggling to find good compliant gear and Major Manufacturers of smart phones still do this shit :-(

  • Drew Forester

    I remember the days of the HTC One X line, and before that, the Touch Diamond. Up until recently, HTC phones have been routinely good to great. Even the HTC One M9’s biggest flaw was that it wasn’t “different enough” from the One M8. The HTC 10 was very much like the One M8: almost perfect, but off in ways that in the end didn’t really matter.

    But HTC got criticized anyway because that’s what people do. And feeling the push, they reacted in a way they shouldn’t have.

    Leading to this atrocity of a phone, and the “Bolt”, a phone with a name from 2009.

    HTC is failing because in the last few years “blind panic” has become their default response to any criticism.

  • Deonta Alexander

    This is a mid range line their htc numbered line is still the flagship line

  • Gadgetonomy

    I don’t think this is essentially a bad phone per se, it’s just that HTC could have done so much better.

  • Samik Parekh

    Please include physical dimension in this post for all.

  • Vlad

    haha, I am so curious to see a comparison in which one is faster with around 30-40 apps installed, then we’ll talk more

  • Shani

    People basically just love shitting over anything HTC releases. I mean the S7 edge has 3000 mah battery with a shitty UI and a glass build, they’ll buy that, but if some other company makes the same stuff, they’ll be up in arms.