As expected, HTC took the wraps off its HTC U Ultra (aka Ocean Note) and HTC U Play (aka Alpine) at a special event this morning. The HTC One X10 was a no-show, but may still make an appearance alongside the HTC 11 (HTC Ocean) at next month’s MWC. Also see: Best new phones coming in 2017
Also see: How to watch HTC U live stream
HTC U UK release date: When are the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play coming out?
HTC U UK release date: Mid-February 2017
HTC has not yet announced official UK pricing for its HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play, but it has confirmed that both phones will be available in mid-February via The Carphone Warehouse (pre-register your interest here), HTC.com, Amazon, Very and Argos. The HTC U Ultra is rumoured to cost $749 in the US for the 64GB model.
These are the first phones we've seen from HTC since the Desire 10 announcements.
HTC U features and specifications
HTC’s new smartphone duo are all about U, but how so? According to the company, HTC U reflects U, learns from U, listens to U and captures the best U, which is really just a clever way of saying the new phones have gorgeous, highly polished liquid glass surfaces, and come with the new HTC Sense Companion, HTC USonic earphones and UltraPixel cameras. The U Ultra additionally puts U on top, with a dual display. We’ll talk more about these features below.
HTC U: HTC Sense Companion
The HTC Sense Companion is the catchy name for the new personal assistant from HTC which makes its debut here in the U Ultra and U Play. By learning your habits and following your activities and usage over time, HTC says it is able to recommend suitable places to eat on a weekend away, warn you to charge the phone if you’re too far from home to get back before the battery dies, and even remind your to dress up warm when it knows you’ll soon be leaving for work on a cold day.
The HTC U phones also support voice recognition, and with four omnidirectional mics the HTC U Ultra will quickly pick up and recognise your voice and respond to your request, even when it's in standby mode. These mics are also used for fully immersive video recording. (The HTC U Play has dual mics.)
HTC U: HTC USonic earphones
Every HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play comes with a pair of USonic headphones. These feature tiny mics in each earbud that can transmit and receive a pulse that maps your inner ear, with the theory being that everyone’s hearing is unique. It can then optimise audio to suit your personal requirements, ensuring you don’t miss any of the detail of the music. The headphones can also be adjusted to handle differing levels of ambient noise.
The audio benefits don’t stop there, with HTC’s BoomSound Hi-Fi edition speakers fitted to the front of the HTC U Ultra. These feature a separated sound design with a tweeter at the top and a woofer below.
HTC U: HTC UltraPixel cameras
Selfies are given huge importance in the photography department, with a high-resolution 16Mp camera at the front that can switch to a 4Mp UltraPixel mode for low-lit scenes, plus there’s a selfie Panorama mode. The rear camera on the HTC U Ultra is also an UltraPixel model, but specified at 12Mp. UltraPixel is four times more sensitive to light than standard mode, according to HTC.
HTC U Ultra vs HTC U Play
A key difference between the U Ultra and U Play is the dual display, which features only on the HTC U Ultra. Rather than interrupting whatever you’re doing onscreen, your most important notifications (those from your favourite apps and contacts or of events, for example) are directed to this second display, putting them right in front of your eyes and at your fingertips.
But there's much more differentiating the two phones, with the HTC U Ultra a flagship-level phone with a large 5.7in Quad-HD display and powerful Snapdragon 821 chip, plus a top storage option of 128GB, and the HTC U Play a smaller 5.2in full-HD handset with the Helio P10 chip and a maximum 64GB of storage. The HTC U Ultra also has the higher-capacity battery, along with Quick Charge 3.0 support for even faster charging.
Cameras are different too. While both feature the 16Mp UltraPixel camera at the front, the U Play has a standard 16Mp camera at the back and the U Ultra has a 12Mp UltraPixel model.
|HTC U Ultra||HTC U Play|
|Display||5.7in Quad-HD (2560x1440) Super LCD 5, Dual Display, Gorilla Glass 5 (or Sapphire Glass in 128GB model)||5.2in full-HD (1920x1080) Super LCD 5 with Gorilla Glass 5|
|Processor||2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core||MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core|
|Storage||64GB/128GB, microSD up to 2TB||32GB/64GB, microSD up to 2TB|
|Operating system||Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense and HTC Sense Companion||Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense and HTC Sense Companion|
|Main camera||12Mp UltraPixel, 1.55um pixels, Laser autofocus, PDAF, OIS, f/1.8, dual-tone LED flash, slo-mo/4K video||16Mp, PDAF, OIS, f/2.0, dual-tone LED flash, full-HD video|
|Selfie camera||16Mp UltraPixel, f/2.0, BSI sensor, full-HD video||16Mp UltraPixel, f/2.0, BSI sensor, full-HD video|
|Audio||HTC USonic earphones, HTC BoomSound speakers, four omnidirectional mics, hi-res audio, noise cancellation||HTC USonic earphones, dual mics with noise cancellation|
|Cellular connectivity||4G (up to 600Mbps), Nano-SIM (dual-SIM option)||4G (up to 300Mbps), Nano-SIM (dual-SIM option)|
|Wi-Fi||Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac||Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
|Other connectivity||GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, USB-C 3.1, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC||GPS, GLONASS, USB-C 2.0, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC|
|Battery||3,000mAh, Quick Charge 3.0||2,500mAh, 5V/2A fast charging|