Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

HTC Launches U Ultra and U Play

HTC Singapore yesterday launched two new smartphones here, the U Ultra and U Play. A departure from their usual solidly-built metal designs, HTC has clad the new smartphones all in glass. They are beautiful, well-made, and the glass helps to stand out from the crowd other smartphones.

The more premium of the two, the U Ultra has a 5.7-inch Super LCD display with 2560×1440 resolution. There’s a secondary 2-inch display too, with 160×1040 resolution. The screen is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 with curved edges.

Smartphone cameras have become a fierce battleground amongst manufacturers in the last year or so. With the U Ultra, HTC has built on their HTC 10’s camera, which was awarded a pretty awesome DXOMark score of 88, making it better than the iPhone 7, though just short of Google’s Pixel smartphones. The main camera has 12 megapixels, using HTC’s UltraPixel 2 with 1.55μm pixel size. There is both phase detection auto focus and laser focus, optical image stabilisation, f/1.8 aperture, and dual tone LED flash. RAW format is supported, with manual controls and exposure time up to 16 seconds long.

The front camera has 16 megapixels, with a really wide 150° angle of view. Selfies are not good enough anymore, the U Ultra is made for wefies.

Under the hood, the U Ultra is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 clocked at 2.15 GHz with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. MicroSD storage is supported with up to a whopping 2 TB of capacity. The smartphone uses nano-SIM, supporting 4G LTE (up to 600 Mbps downloads), VoLTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC. Fingerprint sensor is built into the home button.

The data and charging port uses USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, which is getting quite popular by now. However, note that there is no 3.5 mm audio jack. Instead, HTC provides a earbud headphones with an USB Type-C connector.

Battery capacity is just 3000 mAh, which could be a little bit of a concern. It has a pretty big screen, after all, plus that extra secondary display, so I’d expect battery life may suffer.

The other HTC U Play is a mid-tier smartphone with a 5.2-inch display and 1080p resolution. This model doesn’t have a secondary display, and it’s powered by MediaTek Helio P10 Octa-core processor. Other key differences include the main camera which is now a 16 megapixel sensor, USB 2.0 port (still USB Type-C), and an even smaller 2500 mAh battery.

The HTC U Play will please travellers though, having dual nano-SIM, dual standby dual active, dual 4G, so you’re dual connected with the best coverage and service.

The HTC U Ultra will retail for S$898 from 25 Feb, while the HTC U Play will arrive in early March at S$548.

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