HTC U Ultra & HTC U Play Now OFFICIAL: Price, Specs & Release Date

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HTC’s “for U” event has now taken place, revealing the handset that was codenamed Ocean Note as the firm’s new flagship, the HTC U Ultra, alongside a slightly lower spec device dubbed the HTC U Play. The emphasis on all this “U” stuff is to do with HTC making these phones highly orientated towards the individual user’s lifestyle, with a signature feature being HTC Sense Companion, a new AI assistant. More on that later though.

Let’s start with the big points; the specs of the lead model, the HTC U Ultra.

HTC U Ultra Specs

  • Display: 5.7in QHD LCD Display @513ppi, Secondary “Ticker” Display (For HTC Sense Companion)
  • Dimensions162.41 x 79.79 x 3.6-7.99mm, 170g
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 CPU
  • RAM: 4GB RAM
  • Storage: 64GB/128GB Onboard, microSD Card Support
  • Primary Camera: 12MP UltraPixel (Same As HTC 10); 1.55µm pixels, f/1.8 aperture, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS),Hybrid  Laser & Phase Detection Autofocus
  • Secondary Camera (Front):16MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • Connectivity: Type-C USB, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 – NO 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Price: $749
  • Release Date: March

Update: The HTC U Ultra can now be purchased in Europe. The handset has hit the market a little early in Romania as a retailer there, the aptly named QuickMobile, is listing the device for RON3,899.90 for the 64GB storage model. That’s £731.68 or $910. Direct conversions don’t seem to apply, however, as you can also pre-order it in the UK from £614.98 via a number of outlets ready for the release date on March 1. From HTC’s own UK webstore it’s £649, and the same at Carphone Warehouse, although here you can also go for pay monthly plans from £50 per month. Clove has it for £620, while Unlocked Mobiles has it for £614.98.

The HTC U Play is also up for grabs from £394.98 at Unlocked Mobiles, £394.99 at Clove, £399 at HTC, and £469.99 at Carphone Warehouse, or CW will also let you have it from £28 per month.

Now, let’s talk a bit about the design. First, what leaps out is the inclusion of that secondary display above the main one, this houses the new HTC Sense Assistant, but we’ll get to that in a moment. HTC has talked a bit about its new “Liquid Surface” design philosophy, which means a bodyshell that the firm has tried to keep as symmetrical as possible – it’s a unibody design primarily made from metal, as per HTC’s usual MO, however, it’s encased with an outer layer of glass. HTC mentioned that a special edition of the handset will be released later which will use Sapphire Glass for this outer layer, making it incredibly strong and durable. Otherwise though, you’re looking at regular Corning Gorilla reinforced smartphone glass.

As per the leaks we saw previously, the handset is available in a selection of colours, including white, black, a somewhat vibrant blue, and a soft pink.

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The 3.5mm audio jack is gone, but the point of this is to allow HTC to have engineered a “USonic” customisation feature for its built-in audio equaliser; the idea being you can fine tune your experience to your wireless or USB headphones. HTC has created a bespoke set of wireless headphones with built-in microphones; these will “listen” to sonic pulses and adjust audio to match your ears specifically – we’re still not entirely clear on how this works, but it sounds like an interesting idea nonetheless.

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HTC Sense Companion is an AI feature built-into the Sense UI on top of Android – HTC says it “learns from U”. It works with the a set of four always-on active microphones built into the handset; these will allow you to unlock your phone via voice commands, as well as apparently manage battery consumption in-line with your daily habits. The assistant will also make suggestions in-line with things on your calendar, social media, and so on. Pretty much it promises to do the stuff all budding AI assistant projects are promising, but as with things in the past like Siri and Cortana, it remains to be seen if it’s actually effective or just an annoying gimmick.

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The HTC U Play is much the same deal features and design wise, though it lacks the secondary display for the HTC Sense Companion – it still has the AI feature onboard, however. There will also be no Sapphire Glass edition for this model. It should have a lower price (yet to be revealed) and a lower spec – there are also two variants, one with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, the other with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Lastly, the HTC U Play will ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow instead of the 7.0 Nougat build shipping on the HTC U Ultra. 

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HTC U Play Specs

  • Display: 5.2in 1080p LCD Display @428ppi
  • Dimensions145.99 x 72.9 x 3.5mm-7.99mm, 145 g
  • ProcessorMediatek Helio P10 CPU Octa-Core
  • RAM: 3GB/4GB RAM
  • Storage: 32GB/64 Onboard, microSD Card Support
  • Primary Camera: 16MP, 1µm pixels, f/2.0 aperture, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)
  • Secondary Camera (Front):16MP
  • Battery: 2,500mAh
  • Connectivity: Type-C USB, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 – NO 3.5mm Headphone Jack

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