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HTC U Ultra Review

htc u ultra review

When HTC showed up in January with the HTC U Ultra, we were skeptical about the entire schtick. While the phone has a solid set of specs and is quite the looker, the unlocked sales pitch that included a 2-month pre-order period was odd. We actually called it an HTC Kickstarter project. Yikes. So here we are two months later and the phone is now available. We’ve had one in house for a little over a week and have a whole bunch to say about it in this lengthy HTC U Ultra review. 

To recap, the HTC U Ultra is an unlocked GSM phone that works on AT&T and T-Mobile in the US and costs $749 through HTC’s online store. In the box, HTC is including some extra goodies, like a clear case and HTC USonic earbuds that create profiles of your ear by listening to them or using sound waves or something along those lines. You’ll find a Type-C cable too, as well as a quick charge adapter and a cleaning cloth, which you’ll most definitely need with black or blue models. There are no carrier partners, though you can find it cheaper at places like eBay.

The U Ultra features 5.7-inch QHD LCD display with secondary ticker display, all of which is covered in Gorilla Glass 5. You get 64GB storage out of the box with SD card support, 4GB RAM, 3000mAh embedded battery with Quick Charge 3.0, USB Type-C port, fingerprint reader, HTC BoomSound with dual speakers, a Snapdragon 821 processor (same as is in the Pixel and G6), 12MP UltraPixel 2 camera at f/1.8, 16MP front camera, and Android 7.0 with HTC’s Sense on top. See, it’s all there for the most part.

As for what’s good about the U Ultra, you might be surprised to know that quite a bit of it is good. From the really, really nice LCD display to the external speakers with BoomSound and one of the best smartphone cameras around, there are some things to like. Unfortunately, there are just as many drawbacks, like the ridiculous size of the phone at a time when everyone else is shrinking bodies, how easy it scratches and smudges, the lack of a headphone jack (or a 3.5mm adapter), a smallish battery, and again, the lack of availability coupled with that high price and the limited connectivity.

Let’s dive into it!

  • droidbeat

    Seems like this phone is getting a bum rap. It really seems like a good phone. Just too big for it’s primary screen size. And it can’t be used on Verizon or Sprint. The positive characteristics of this phone (display, audio, camera, liquid surface finish, Sense UI, etc.) tell me that HTC is still in the game. They just need to get more efficient with those bezels, offer the phone on all carriers, and get those front facing stereo speakers back. And oh yeah, put a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.

  • The Ultra may not be for everyone, but AP sure is trying hard to make this look like a terrible device when, in reality, it’s a pretty great phone. Pricey, but a good experience and overall, it’s solid. Camera seems to be sharp as a tack, screen is good and I have no idea what battery test they run, but I’m getting 16 hour days our of it as compared to 6 hours from my Note. So far, so good on the Ultra in my book.

  • shamatuu

    They should know when to quit

  • jshep23

    WHERE THE F is Nougat on the Verizon HTC 10!?!

  • jshep23

    Not a Flagship..they said that many times. The CEO always says different stuff because he has no idea what’s going on.

    • David Martrano

      Their CEO is a she and your absolutely right does NOT know what’s happening in the world today! The proof is in the pudding the Bolt & U! Yikes!

  • s0uth

    I wonder how many units they will sell.

  • GalaxyUser

    HTC: Help this company

    • David Martrano

      I hate to say it but HTC is beyond help! Boy, I use to really like their phones! 750.00 for the U & 600.00 for the Bolt! I guess I don’t know what to say! It’s a nightmare come true! Where are they headed? What has happened and WHY?

  • Fred

    HTC should have made this phone like three years ago, in 2017 it will be a massive flop.

  • The Doctor

    I don’t understand why this phone exists.

  • needa

    Disappointing. Even worse is needing the case on it. You put that case on and it looked like every other phone I have seen.

  • php

    Bloody hell, who buys a phone through a carrier? Is cancer fashionable in NA right now?

    • Jkdem85

      About 99% of America

  • trixnkix637

    And you thought One Plus wrote the blueprint on what NOT to do with a phone.

  • Kevoskee

    Also No Wireless Charging and IP68 water and dust resistance

  • disastrousrainbow

    One of the most baffling product releases HTC has done in a while. Including a secondary display was a mistake because the function of a ticker just isn’t as essential as the overall ergonomics of handling a phone. However, it’s the release date that’s even worse. If this would have been out around the time the V20 and Note 7 were on the market, different story, especially because its specs are actually pretty tight. But releasing it now, during this high-profile timeframe, without carrier support, at $750, and not including essential items like a 3.5 mm-to-USB-C adapter?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5f29ff5ab6bed3c9e767a10f0c238902822e3792651c701d29aabaa6350e3947.gif

    • Michael Bassett

      release date is trying to catch as many people off contract as they can before the Samsung S8 releases.

      • disastrousrainbow

        That still doesn’t make much sense when most finance through a carrier, and when newer and better spec’d (in the S8’s case) devices are so close to release at cheaper (in the G6’s case) prices.

    • The whole thing is a big mess, but particularly the price and launch and availability.

      • disastrousrainbow

        It’s sad because I was really looking forward to their next flagship device after the HTC 10 but since that’s nowhere to be found and instead we have this “don’t call it our flagship” Ultra lineup of devices, it’s like HTC Sense? More like HTC Nonsense…

      • David Martrano

        The price of this phone is ridiculous. 750.00 huh! 6 month old soc! The battery life 3000mamp with a duel display. They did not learn anything from the V10! Weak battery for it’s size! Why does this phone even exist! But it’s shiney! HTC what the heck are you doing! Terrible, sucks, no good & I’m flabbergasted & confused. The 10 is a good phone, but this! Yikes!

  • disastrousrainbow

    One of the most baffling product releases HTC has done in a while. Including a secondary display was a mistake because the function of a ticker just isn’t as essential as the overall ergonomics of handling the phone. However, it’s the release date that’s even worse. If this would have been out around the time the V20 and Note 7 were on the market, different story, especially because its specs are actually pretty tight But releasing it now, during this high-profile timeframe, without carrier support, at $750 and not including essential items like a 3.5 mm-to-USB-C adapter?

  • Taios

    When htc fix one thing they break other things.

    The camera has been their Achilles heel for years since the original One m7. When they finally put out a great camera, they release a phone that’s instead flawed in so many other ways.

    The next htc flagship is my last hope for htc. If they mess that one up – they’re done.

    • Camera really is pretty good too. And yep, everything else then took a hit. Ugh.

  • MadMartigan

    “In the box, HTC is including some extra goodies, like a clear case and HTC USonic earbuds that create profiles of your ear by listening to them or using sound waves or something along those lines.”

    …or something along those lines? Well, if that doesn’t scream “in-depth”, I don’t know what does. 😉

    • That’s me poking fun at their big sales pitch about in-box ear buds. Sorry the sarcasm didn’t carry. 😛

    • David Martrano

      Maybe the Sonic ear buds & the clear case are worth 300.00 and the phone 450.00.Yeah right! HTC, what are ya doing!

      • MadMartigan

        It was more in response to the “something along those lines…” as the “Sound/Ear Test” was part of the HTC 10 and a feature I would *love* to see on other devices (or even built into Android).

  • “Are you an HTC super fan?”

    I was back in the days of the HTC DROID phones. The Iris, Incredible, & finally the DNA. While I do understand the DNA came out with some of the 1st phablets. Was also the 1st with a 1080p screen (god that screen was beautiful). The battery life & HTC missing or going back on promised updates killed my love for them. Thank god I never bought a Thunderbolt.

    • Bob

      DInc was the best phone HTC had period.

    • himynameisricky

      Remembers the Thunderbolt I had for 2 years *shudders* Never again HTC

    • mustbepbs

      I loved my DNA. One day it just died though. It shut off and never came back. Once I got the refurb from Verizon, I sold it.

  • D in B

    DOA, just like everything else for the past 3 years from HTC. The 10 was at least a good phone…..the last few phones since are just them throwing crap against a wet wall. Nothings sticking, including this awful attempt.

    • Bob

      Good thing they got the Pixel contract.

    • trevorsalienarms

      Does that include the Pixel?

      • D in B

        you mean the one google gave the blueprints for? and HTC still hosed it up with all of the issues its having? speaking hissing, bluetooth issues, camera issues. come on now, look it up then get back at me.

        • trevorsalienarms

          bro…that’s the joke. I seent it.

  • Tyler Durden

    I loved MKBHDs video ripping into it. What was HTC thinking?

    • GalaxyUser

      They haven’t been thinking for years now.. HTC “Quietly Brilliant” is dead.

      • Charles Rogers

        The Quiet part is definitely still alive.

    • Just saw his and yep, he’s right on all accounts. It’s got some major issues.

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        Soooooo Kellen… Anything coming through the grapevine about the March 20 HTC announcement being a flagship?. …. Or just the X10 that they really haven’t properly announced yet?

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        • jshep23

          Probably the X10

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  • mcdonsco

    WTF is wrong with HTC making this an HTC online store exclusive? Are they even TRYING to survive as a company? Seems like they are TRYING to fail.

    Who ever runs that company, not just CEO, all executive level management, should be shlt-canned.

    • T4rd

      On top of that; this is the wrong phone (too many compromises) at the wrong time (before the SD835 is available) at the wrong price (lol @ $750). I’m a big HTC fan, but this was just straight retarded.

    • MI95SHO

      Maybe they are hoping if their mobile division does so bad, someone will buy it up. Haven’t seemed to try to do something brilliant since the VIVE release

    • Consider the idea that carriers all hard passed on it.

      • mcdonsco

        Sounds like you think (or know?) that’s what happened?

    • David Martrano

      Boy, you said that right! Their CEO Cher Wang-er takes it in her shorts! You have destroyed HTC as a company! Why did you sell the 28 acre factory in Shanghi for 91 million? Huh! I would like to know what your employees have to say about YOU! You need a good-bitch slapping!

  • Me

    POTY

  • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    this phone is garbage with garbage battery life. no thanks. 3000mah in this large of a phone? laughable. and at 749? this is a sub 500 device. completely laughable attempt by HTC.

    • D in B

      this phone will sell a few hundred, worsening HTC’s money issues. the thing i’m trying to figure out is….WTF is HTC thinking? its as though they are giving people reasons not to buy their horseshit.

    • David Martrano

      750.00 huh! How about the local dumpster! What is this, why does it exist! This is a insult to one & all! What will the 11 cost if it ever gets released!? Tell me HTC, this is a bad dream, pinch me! I know this is just a nightmare come true!

  • HTC, drop the price by $100 and you have a solid G6 competitor. It’s not worth $749 with those shortcomings.

    • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      drop it by 300 and it still wouldnt be a competitor for much

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        I’d have to agree. Because the sub $500 category from last year will eat this phone alive.

        • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          exactly. this phone looks nice i guess but i hear its easily scratchable. the battery life is about 60% of that of the pixel. and its sluggish at best. I call this a completely failure by HTC. this phone is not going to save them.

          waiting to see what they do with the 11 though. hopefully they turn it around.

    • Me

      Yeah it’s kinda DOA. Might have to drop it $250 to even be remotely competitive.

      • steadymobb

        Yeah.

    • Suicide_Note

      This phone should cost no more than $300. It’s no wonder that HTC is a sinking ship.

      • What exactly is it about the Ultra that makes it worth $300 less than the Pixel XL?

        • Suicide_Note

          Let’s make a list, shall we?

          1. Everything

          And there you have it.

      • paul_cus

        I agree it should be lower, but HTC would lose a ton of money if they gave the phone away for $300.

      • Michael Bassett

        Not kidding, $1300 in 2011 to $75 today. Wow

      • David Martrano

        Their like a ship that pirates wouldn’t even want! Maybe Davey Jones locker! Their CEO Cher Wang-er needs to be locked up & throw away the key! My one time favorite gone with the wind! It’s a crying shame!