U prob­a­bly shouldn’t buy this phone

HTC U Ul­tra

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - by JAMES LU

Break­ing away from its usual all-metal de­signs, HTC’s new U Ul­tra ag­ship phone has a metal frame and an eye-catch­ing con­toured 3D glass rear with no vis­i­ble an­tenna lines. While the U Ul­tra looks great, it’s way too big to use com­fort­ably one­handed. There’s been a re­cent trend to­wards large dis­plays in small bod­ies, like the Xiaomi Mi Mix and Sam­sung Galaxy S8, but due to the U Ul­tra’s front fin­ger­print sen­sor, se­condary dis­play and fat bezel, it’s one of the largest smart­phones out there.

The U Ul­tra has two dis­plays: a main 5.7-inch Quad HD 2,560 x 1,440 pix­els res­o­lu­tion (513ppi) Su­per LCD 5 panel and a se­condary 2.05-inch 160 x 1,040 pix­els (513ppi) strip that sits at the top right edge of the phone, next to the cam­era. The main dis­play is sharp with de­cent color re­pro­duc­tion, good con­trast and ex­cel­lent view­ing an­gles.

The se­condary dis­play is some­what sim­i­lar to the one on the LG V20 and can be used to dis­play no­ti­fi­ca­tions and con­trol mu­sic play­back, view the weather, change a set­ting, or quickly jump into a fa­vorite app or con­tact. You scroll through its list of fea­tures by swip­ing along the screen. Un­for­tu­nately, it is far in­fe­rior to the one on the V20.

A good­look­ing phone, with too many aws to rec­om­mend.

Firstly, it’s far too dark, and there’s no op­tion to ad­just the bright­ness. Sec­ond, the U Ul­tra’s se­condary dis­play isn’t used by any apps, and it just dis­plays a blank screen when you’ve got an app run­ning on the main dis­play. And nally, the se­condary dis­play on the U Ul­tra isn’t al­wayson. You have to dou­ble tap it or raise the phone up to turn it on, which com­pletely negates the point of a se­condary dis­play.

On the back of the U Ul­tra is a size­able cam­era bump; de­spite this, the U Ul­tra’s rear cam­era isn’t that im­pres­sive. The specs are de­cent enough, with a 12-megapixel sen­sor, f/1.8 aper­ture, large, 1.55-mi­cron pixel size, op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion and hy­brid phase-de­tec­tion and laser aut­o­fo­cus, but im­age qual­ity lacks con­sis­tency, with the auto fo­cus strug­gling oc­ca­sion­ally, es­pe­cially in low light, and some pho­tos su er­ing from poor ex­po­sure. Col­ors also tend to look a lit­tle dull.

HTC’s BoomSound stereo speak­ers are back but in­stead of ded­i­cated front-fac­ing speak­ers the U Ul­tra dou­bles up the ear­piece speaker with an­other speaker lo­cated on the phone’s bot­tom edge. The sound is still pretty good, with plenty of vol­ume and some sur­pris­ingly de­cent chan­nel sep­a­ra­tion, but the old HTC One was bet­ter.

The U Ul­tra also doesn’t have a head­phone port, and HTC doesn’t even bun­dle in a 3.5mm adapter. In­stead, you get a pair of HTC’s USonic USB Type-C ear­buds (which are de­cent enough but un­re­mark­able). Un­for­tu­nately, you’re prob­a­bly stuck with them be­cause the U Ul­tra isn’t com­pat­i­ble with third-party USB-C to 3.5mm adapters. HTC uses a pro­pri­etary au­dio codec in­side the U Ul­tra, which means the only com­pat­i­ble USB-C to 3.5mm adapter is HTC’s own US$11.99 adapter, which isn’t avail­able lo­cally.

The U Ul­tra runs on An­droid 7.0 Nougat and HTC’s Sense UI 8, which now in­cludes HTC’s new ma­chine-learn­ing AI as­sis­tant: Sense Com­pan­ion. Like most AI as­sis­tants, you can voice to set alarms and re­minders for you, and you can also dis­miss or snooze alarms the same way. Un­like other AI as­sis­tants, Sense Com­pan­ion doesn’t talk back to you. In­stead it pro­vides up­dates and no­ti­fi­ca­tions in the se­condary dis­play. In most cases, this is ne, but if you’re un­able to read your smart­phone dis­play - for ex­am­ple, when you’re driv­ing - you re­ally want your AI as­sis­tant to talk to you in­stead. Sense Com­pan­ion will also track your ac­tiv­ity and be­hav­ior and can send you no­ti­fi­ca­tions based on that. For ex­am­ple, if it no­tices that you fre­quently run out of bat­tery dur­ing the evening, it will re­mind you to charge the de­vice dur­ing the day.

Rather than wait for Qual­comm’s new ag­ship Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor, HTC has opted for last year’s Snap­dragon 821 paired with 4GB RAM. As ex­pected, bench­mark per­for­mance on the U Ul­tra was de­cent, but not class-lead­ing.

The U Ul­tra has a 3,000mAh ca­pac­ity bat­tery, which is far too small for a QHD ph­ablet. Con­sid­er­ing how mas­sive the U Ul­tra is, it’s dis­ap­point­ing HTC wasn’t able to squeeze a big­ger bat­tery in there. As a re­sult, the phone per­formed poorly on our video loop­ing bat­tery bench­mark, last­ing a mere eight hours.

Over­all, the HTC U Ul­tra isn’t a bad phone, but it just doesn’t o er enough to jus­tify its $898 price tag.

The se­condary dis­play on the U Ul­tra is far too dim.

The U Ul­tra has a huge rear cam­era bump.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.