I wasn’t particularly impressed when the HTC U Ultra was officially revealed back in January. However, after playing with the phone at the Dubai launch event, my opinion started shifting. HTC sent me a review sample last week and after spending some good time with it, I’m pretty much in love with it. While I won’t call it the best phone I’ve ever used, I will say that HTC has nailed the formula of making a really, really good phone.
Let’s start with the design. I received the Sapphire Blue version of the phone and it is STUNNING. Pictures really don't do justice to it and I highly recommend you try it out at a store. The Liquid Surface design is made using a curved glass that blends into the sides of the phone. The finishing is incredibly smooth and shiny and gives a luxurious and distinct look to the phone. A camera bump on the top disrupts the otherwise symmetrical, uniform look.
As pretty as the HTC U Ultra is, It’s definitely a phone that will require you to use both your hands. It’s big and very slippery, and attracts fingerprints easily. For those of you that want to protect your phone, HTC bundles a back cover inside the packaging. But you really shouldn’t be wrapping the HTC U Ultra with anything other than your hands to truly appreciate it’s beauty.
At 8mm and 170g, the HTC U Ultra is quite thin but not groundbreaking by today’s standards but lighter than I expected. On the top HTC places the SIM card tray that can take two nano SIM cards or one SIM card and a MicroSD card. I’m glad that HTC is finally offering dual SIM option on a high-end phone. On the right, you can see the volume buttons as well as a power button with a different texture while the USB 3 Type C connector sits at the bottom and supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology.
HTC has removed the 3.5mm jack which is something we first saw with the HTC 10 Evo. While I don’t have any issues with the removal of the audio jack, HTC should have bundled a Type-C to 3.5mm dongle with the U Ultra. To make things worse, you can’t add any off-the-shelf dongle. It has to be an HTC specific one for now. I had a chat with HTC about this and they are expecting third party dongles that work with the phone released soon.
Coming to the front of the phone, you can see the huge 5.7-inch IPS display with a QuadHD resolution. It’s a gorgeous display that’s bright enough to use outdoors. Above the main display sits a secondary display- very much like the one seen on the LG V20 and serves a similar purpose- showing notifications as well as giving you access to contacts, calendar or your music app. You can also raise the phone to see notifications on this secondary display when the main one is asleep. I would like an option to keep the secondary display powered up all the time.
While this secondary display helps keep the bezel area small on the top of the device, HTC does take up plenty of area below the screen where you can find the fingerprint sensor and capacitive buttons. That’s pretty much my only complain about the HTC U Ultra’s design- other manufacturers such as LG and the rumored S8 are moving to thinner bezels which makes the phones look more futuristic.