Renew or die, or at least not grab the attention of the technological media. Perhaps that was the idea of HTC in 2017 when they try to overcome a bad stretch too long and the reason to surprise with a new line of mobiles, the U, which we have been able to prove now in the MWC, having already a first impressions The HTC U Ultra.
As we saw at the time of its presentation this is the most powerful of the two, opting for a Snapdragon 821 and 4 GB of RAM and highlighting the design especially in terms of finish and colors, varying a lot with respect to the line that had Followed in the extinct range One and the Desire. On the paper, it promised quite a bit and in a way, it was a top of bridge range until we knew the “HTC 11”, and now we have finally been able to verify if it is so in our opinion. We will tell you in as much detail as possible.
Design and construction: The issue is to shine
We can speculate on whether the finish is going to become fashionable (or has already been) from the Jet Black of the last iPhones, but the fact is that HTC has given this touch to all the colors of the U, both Play and Ultra. Beyond the tastes in this regard, it gives a false sense of poor quality to the touch when it is not a flimsy plastic and we have not seen any scratches (partly also because it is a very light terminal).
But the negative and more objective is that this back side turns out to be an exaggerated fingerprint magnet. Beyond this, it is a fairly large terminal considering the sizes that are being achieved with the same screen diagonal; Contrasts sharply with the LG G6, with the same screen diagonal and compact. The U Ultra forces much more to use with two hands, although in its favor is that it is thin and light.
Two screens (only if you want)
One of the features that stood out in its presentation in terms of its differentiation with its rivals is the dual screen function (that is, there are no two panels, it is a software partition). A relative differentiation given that we have already seen this in the LG V10 and LG V20, although in this case can be deactivated.
The main function of this second screen is to have quick access to contacts and applications. We have six tabs by which we navigate by scrolling to one side or another (music playback, contacts, shortcuts, reminder, time, calendar), being quite intuitive and being able to customize its appearance (that is always, in lock screen, etc.) In the settings menu. An interesting addition, although the position at the top edge may not be the most comfortable depending on the grip.
As for the sensations with the panel in general, both resolution and colors and temperature are correct (maybe in some photography it seems very cold, but it is quite balanced). The tactile response is also correct and the auto brightness setting works seemingly well (although here it would be necessary to see how it changes when the environment changes). What is needed is a better use of the front (in this case we have 69.7%).
Relying on Sense for software and for “intelligence”
One of the features that most caught our attention in its presentation was Sense Companion, the personal assistant of HTC whose main mission is to know more to its user to adapt to the use and to make it easier and comfortable to it. For this reason it was not possible to prove it in the first impressions, since its operation depends on the data that it collects of the use, the pages visited and the services of third parties during days, but at least we were able to see how it is the HTC U Ultra as soon as To fluency.
The Korean Taiwanese are still relying on their personalization layer and Android Nougat 7.0 installs Sense, but it is not too invasive in general. The test terminals were minimal in apps, there was not too much bloatware or at least an annoying amount of pre-installed apps, and it was pretty fluid. We do not appreciate lag in multitasking or even opening a lot of apps and looking for multimedia or the most demanding.
In the absence of being able to test games with high graphical load and to see how it behaves after days of use and more facilities, at the moment we are left with good sensations. Nor have we noticed a flashy warm-up, considering that it is a relatively thin phone for the total size it has.
Playing with the known for the camera
HTC has not climbed the double camera car with the U-line and in fact have resorted to rescue the concept of UltraPixel, being rather conservative and trying to get juice out of it especially in the front camera. The conditions of the stand at the fair are not the best to test the cameras, but at least we see how they behave precisely under unfavorable conditions.
The front camera in its standard mode shows results very much in the line of a mid-range mobile front, with the right detail (not exaggerated by post-processed as in some cases) and with a tendency to magenta. The UltraPixel mode does show more detail and fewer watercolors, although the color remains too much towards the roses.
The rear camera is the same as the HTC 10, so we expect to see similar results as soon as we can try it outdoors and in lighting situations more favorable than the stand. There we found that it compensated quite well for the contrasts of illumination of the site (dark backgrounds with points of intense light like the tables themselves), and that even with the loss of detail due to these dark spots the noise shone by its absence.
A positive point in terms of its interface is the possibilities both in terms of modes (we see that Zoe is still present) and some manual controls for those looking to take the rudder a little more in the snapshots (temperature, ISO, exposure, focus, balance White and light source).
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In view of multimedia production and reproduction
In the absence of being able to check the USonic, which also promises to adapt the sound according to the user’s audio preferences, we are left with the fact that the four microphones do their job well in a completely polluted acoustical environment and make a good capture of our voice. The quality of the audio promises to be quite acceptable, although it is powerful enough to perceive it in such an unfavorable environment.
In conjunction with the display, the audio features make it a candidate for those looking for a multimedia center in their mobile. If the user is comfortable with the size, we have a panel with plenty of resolution (QHD), custom color adjustment, promising audio (especially in headphones) and that does not experience any problem or heating in the high video playback quality.
A good bridge to an upcoming flagship, but rather expensive
In perspective, and after statements by HTC regarding the Snapdragon 835, the U-line is planned as a bridge, as a transition renovation to know what would be the flagship of the Koreans for this year. You may be marking the lines of this one seeing that the bet is differentiated by audio, by design and with “minimum” as for the most powerful of the moment (a Snapdragon 821 and 4 GB of RAM).
Perhaps the weak point is the construction itself, being a fairly large terminal that does not integrate a battery that stands out (stays at 3000 mAh) and that the finish, far from being a claim, is a magnet of footprints intended to appeal to an audience That look for the most exaggerated glossy touch. Although being large, as we have commented, is quite fine and not heavy.
It will lack to see how it turns out in terms of autonomy in practice and if the camera defends itself. In this sense, HTC could have risked with a double camera for this model, trying to improve what we already saw in the One M8 to get closer to competitors such as iPhone 7 Plus, Huawei Mate 9 or even the LG G6, since the price and features make it play in its own league.
HTC seems to have “settled” down a slope for some years now, hence it is increasingly interesting to keep track as to what market strategy to follow, both in relation to its range of products and to the Smartphone launches. We will see if this U-line is a second first step to a renewal (after the HTC 10) and if it manages to recover in the convulsive market of the mobile.