Huge phone screens are becoming the norm, and HTC wants to try its hand at making a phone that’s larger than its traditional flagship – that’s how we’ve got the U Ultra.
The 5.9-inch HTC One Max from 2013 showed it was possible to make a phone that was too big, but this is a phone that’s much easier to handle thanks to a slightly smaller display.
The U Ultra is one half of a new partnership of phones – the other is the HTC U Play – which aren’t exactly flagship products but still pack some impressive spec, and may tempt you to upgrade even before the HTC 11 launches.
But in a market full of great large screen offerings from Samsung, Apple and other Android manufacturers, does the HTC U Ultra do enough differently to stand out from the rest of the crowd?
- HTC's U Ultra features two screens, one along the top of the phone
- It offers extra functionality, including music controls and notifications
- HTC Sense AI hasn't launched yet, but may be a big deal
The headline feature of the U Ultra is its dual-screen design. On top of large QHD 5.7-inch display you’ll mainly use to interact with the phone is a 2.05-inch screen sitting alongside the front-facing camera.
This smaller display has a resolution of 160 x 1040, and displays a series of apps in a similar fashion to the second screen on the LG V20. It’s also reminiscent of the way you interact with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and its ‘Edge’ features.
The smaller display is a useful way to see information displayed without interrupting what you’re doing on the main screen.
For example, if you’re typing out a long email on the main screen you’ll see your Facebook Messenger notifications appear in the second screen, rather than having to come out of your email program to check them.
That’s useful as a reminder, and for a brief glimpse of what’s happening, but it won’t show you everything you need, especially if you receive a long message or complicated notification.
The secondary display itself runs a series of different interfaces. There are options for weather, music, contacts and calendar notifications, and you can also set it up to display shortcuts to some of your most-used apps.
We found the most useful option was a note app, as it meant our reminders were waiting at the top of the screen to jog our memory whenever we opened the phone. Spotify integration, meanwhile, makes the music app useful if you often want to flick through tracks.
You can scroll through all these mini-screens by flicking left and right on the screen itself.
Another highlight of the U Ultra is a new AI feature called HTC Sense Companion (HSC). Our review device didn’t have the feature included, however, so we’ll update this review when we’ve had the opportunity to see how it works in day to day use.
In our previous hands-on time with the phone we did get a chance to try an early version of Sense Companion. Among other things HSC will work out your favorite people and suggest updates as time goes by, advise you to take an umbrella if rain is forecast after days of sunshine, and check whether you really want that alarm to go off, or that meeting reminder, when there’s a national holiday coming up.
None of this seems particularly groundbreaking, although as mentioned that was a very early edition of the software, which HTC will presumable iterate on in the future. However, one area which does sound potentially interesting is battery management.
Where some phones will automatically go into low-power mode when hitting a certain percentage, HTC says its AI companion will work out when you usually get home from work, or habitually need power, and offer appropriate prompts, such as suggesting that you root out a charger or take a power bank with you when you're on the go.
If a quick recharge isn't possible the phone will start to disable poorly-performing apps and limit the performance of the phone, to try and eke out some more time until you can get to a charger.
Design and display
- Interesting glass backed design that you'll love or hate
- 5.7-inch QHD main display, which may be too large for some
The HTC U Ultra features a brave design choice you won’t see on any other manufacturer’s phone on the market in 2017. It’s the first phone from the company to embrace a glass back design – and it may not be to everyone’s taste.
HTC calls it a ‘liquid surface’ design, which combines glass and metal, and it isn’t unattractive. It can appear both as a single block color and pearlescent, depending on how the light plays off it, and it looks pretty stunning from afar – especially the sapphire blue variant.
The back of the phone is subtly curved and feels nice to hold in the palm, allowing for a better grip than you might expect when you first set eyes on it. The U Ultra is wider than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge or other phablets though, so those with smaller hands may have some issues with holding it.
Considering there’s a 5.7-inch screen on this phone, though, it’s quite easy to hold. The glass doesn’t feel slippery, like it can on some handsets, and you won’t find yourself losing your grip easily.
Our main complaint with the design is the weight of the phone – if you’re used to a heavier device, you’ll likely notice how the lack of heft detracts from that premium feel the phone is looking for.
We found all of the buttons easy to reach, including the fingerprint sensor which, as on other HTC devices, is on the front of the phone below the display.
The sensor is a little small compared to some others, and it can sometimes be tricky to get your thumb or finger on exactly the right spot to unlock your phone. We often found ourselves pressing down multiple times to be able to open the U Ultra up.
Either side of the fingerprint sensor are capacitive keys for ‘back’ and a list view of the apps you currently have running.
You’ll be able to buy the HTC U Ultra in black, white, blue and pink – although that last version is called Cosmetic Pink in the marketing materials. Come on HTC: women don’t need to be told which phone is designed for them. We know pink phones sell well, so just call it that and don’t make the gender targeting so overt…
The U Ultra features a Super LCD5 5.7-inch display with a QHD resolution – that’s 2560 x 1440 – so you get gorgeous picture quality no matter what you’re looking at. It’s larger than the display on the HTC 10, and at 513 pixels per inch it’s slightly less pixel-dense than the screen on HTC’s last flagship, but offers the same crystal-clear picture.
The brightness is also great on the U Ultra, while viewing angles are exactly as good as you’d expect from a phone made in 2017.
Interface and reliability
- Android 7 software packed in with Sense UI laying over the top
HTC has packed Android 7 Nougat into the U Ultra, with its own Sense UI over the top to give it a unique flavour.
Sense UI has a simple interface that makes everything easy to find, although it will feel slightly different if you were using a stock Android phone before.
A lot of the features here are Android 7’s, with a few of HTC’s bells and whistles added, which means you can use all the benefits of HTC’s UI without having to put up with a lack of customization, as you would on devices that run stock software.
One of the UI options Sense enables is news on your home screen. It uses a service called News Republic, which will source stories to your taste for you to see when you unlock your phone.
HTC’s Blinkfeed is also here to give you a full rundown of your day, with social media and news updates available via a flick of your finger.
When you’re on the home screen you can scroll left and see the highlights of all the services you’ve connected to Blinkfeed – you can see popular Facebook posts, tweets or even news stories, again courtesy of News Republic.
If you want a quick distraction and can’t decided which social media channel to use, Blinkfeed can be a useful little tool.
Movies, music and gaming
- No 3.5mm headphone jack may be a problem for some
- Limited speaker tech, unlike other HTC phones
- Nice big display for playing games and watching video
Media playback is likely to be a sticking point for some people who would otherwise be interested in the HTC U Ultra. As on the iPhone 7, Moto Z and some other phones there’s no traditional headphone port on the U Ultra, so your regular wired headphones won’t work with this phone.
You’ll instead have to opt for a Bluetooth headset or use HTC earbuds, which are included in the box. These connect to the USB-C port at the bottom of the phone, meaning you won’t be able to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time.
This will be a major issue for some, although when we connected our wireless headphones to the U Ultra it offered a solid connection which never dropped out.
HTC is renowned for its quality front-facing speakers, but, like the headphone port, these are missing from the U Ultra.
There’s no patented BoomSound technology as on the HTC 10. Instead there’s just one sound driver, meaning you lose a lot of the ‘oomph’ when listening to audio out loud.
If you’re looking for a phone that can just play the odd song, the U Ultra will suit you well as most phones on the market, but it’s disappointing considering HTC’s superior audio capabilities in previous phones, and we can’t see why it would omit decent speakers on a high-end phone.
We found watching video on the U Ultra to be a very enjoyable experience, thanks mostly to the high-resolution and super-bright display creating a beautiful picture.
HTC doesn’t include its own video app, but if you want to play files directly from the phone’s storage you can launch a simple video player, while you’ve got Google Play Movies or YouTube for online content, and you can also download apps such as Netflix to enjoy movies on the go.
Storage-wise you should be safe with the U Ultra, as it comes in 64GB and 128GB options. We had the 64GB for the purpose of this review, and even with HTC’s software onboard you’ve still got 53GB to fill up with media and apps.
If you’re a gamer the HTC U Ultra will suit your tastes whether you want to test out the odd puzzler or play the latest and greatest mobile titles.
We played a variety of games, and found everything to run smoothly. The likes of Pokemon Go did take a little while to load at some stages, but once it was up and running everything worked well.
Benchmarks and performance
- Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM packed inside
- Not phenomenal benchmarking scores though
Under the hood of the HTC U Ultra is a top-of-the-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor – although it won’t be top-of-the-range for long, as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and HTC 11 are due to launch shortly after the U Ultra, and both are rumored to have newer Snapdragon 825 processors on board.
This setup is still impressive though, especially as it’s back up by 4GB of RAM. That’s more than enough RAM to get you by, and when we were scooting around apps we found the U Ultra to be reliable, and able to keep up with everything we wanted to do.
Running the phone through benchmarking software, we found it returned an average score of 3851. That’s OK for a mid-range phone, but it’s not really strong enough considering the price of the U Ultra.
For example, the HTC 10, a phone with an older processor setup onboard, scored 4962 – and even that was a score we were disappointed with at the time, as the Galaxy S7 had just managed 6542 on the same test.
If you’re looking for decent power in your device you’ll want to go for either the HTC 10 or any other flagship phone from this year, as you’ll get more impressive performance than you will from the U Ultra.
- Average battery life that should last you a full day
- 3,000mAh cell powering a top of the range processor and high res display
When you buy a new phone these days you expect a device that can last a full day without having to be put on charge – and the good news is that we found the U Ultra just about manages this. That said, it sometimes won’t last as long as you’d hope for.
There’s a 3,000mAh battery here powering the large QHD screen and high-end processor. We regularly found the phone would die off towards the end of the day, around 10pm or so.
Considering the U Ultra is powering a 5.7-inch QHD display, it’s a bit disappointing that HTC didn’t opt for a larger cell.
The standard TechRadar battery test – playing a 90-minute video clip from the phone’s memory on full brightness, with connectivity options on – left the battery at 79% capacity.
That’s a similar result to the HTC 10, which dropped 22% of its battery life in the same test; it’s a slight improvement, but nothing to write home about.
The U Ultra supports fast-charging if you need a quick top-up. Disappointingly, though, there’s no wireless charging, and it’s not clear why HTC isn’t embracing the feature on this phone.
It was assumed the HTC 10 didn’t include wireless charging because of its all-metal design, but we would have thought the inclusion of glass in the design here would give HTC the opportunity to include tech that a lot of people are now expecting to see in their high-end phones.
- 12MP rear camera, which we saw on the HTC 10
- Zoe camera mode tries to recreate Live Photos option from the iPhone range
- Super high level 16MP front-facing camera
You’d expect a kick-ass camera to be a highlight of a phone as pricey as the HTC U Ultra, but not only does the camera here not kick ass, in truth it’s a little disappointing.
On paper a 12MP sensor doesn’t sound thrilling, and it’s remarkably similar to the HTC 10’s camera, which we didn’t exactly fall in love with.
The f/1.8 aperture is pretty fast, although despite this we found that images taken in auto mode tended to turn out a little darker than we’d hoped for.
And when we pixel-peeked at images we’ve taken the focus seemed to be a little off. You can tap the screen to focus, which we recommend doing as the autofocus wasn’t fantastic.
Photos from the U Ultra don’t stand up against those from the likes of the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, but this will still suit you if you’re looking to take the odd shot to share on social media.
A big bonus of the U Ultra’s camera, however, is the interface, which we found simple to use. The shutter button on the right-hand side of the screen is easy to hit, while if you swipe in from the left you’ll find a series of other shooting modes.
That includes Zoe camera. This is a mode that captures three seconds of video around your photo, and works in a similar way to Live Photos on the latest iPhone models, enabling you to create short interactive video clips.
Unlike on Apple devices though, you have to choose a separate mode to take Zoe pictures, and this makes it rather redundant – if you want to capture video you can just use the video shooting mode, so it doesn’t really add much.
It’s also quite impractical to share these clips on social media, so you’ll just end up viewing Zoe camera images on the phone.
There’s also a panorama mode, for when you want to stitch a few frames together to capture a sweeping landscape or city skyline.
You may also want to explore the pro mode if you’re a fan of phone photography. Here you can play with the white balance, ISO, focus and more to get the best possible images out of the U Ultra’s camera.
The front-facing selfie shooter on the U Ultra is a big upgrade over the HTC 10. The sensor is 16MP – even bigger than the U Ultra’s rear shooter – and offers video recording at Full HD as well as an auto HDR mode.
If you want a good front-facing camera shot, the U Ultra will deliver. We found selfies to be lively and vibrant compared to those from other cameras we’ve used.
However, in a market that has the Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus it’s the rear camera that really needs to impress, and it’s a shame HTC hasn’t made a bigger effort to improve it for the U Ultra.
The HTC U Ultra is a phone that doesn’t really know where it sits in the market, and it’s hard to fathom who it was built for. It takes a lot of what made the HTC 10 a great device and sprinkles on a little extra, but the design is very different, and it all comes at a higher price.
The lack of powerful speakers and an overtly premium design don’t help the U Ultra to shine, though, and it’s a little disappointing that HTC hasn’t just super-sized the metal HTC 10 with a larger display.
Source From Internets
KEY FEATURES / Specification
18:9 quad-HD display
HDR10 and Dolby Vision
2 x 13-megapixel rear cameras
Very thin bezel
Snapdragon 821, 4GB RAM
32GB storage, microSD
3,300mAh battery, USB-C
Wireless charging (US-only)
Dual-SIM (select Eastern European countries)
Source from gsmarena.com
WHAT IS THE LG G6?
LG’s flagship phones have, for the last few years, pinned their success on standout features. The LG G3 introduced quad-HD displays, the G4 shipped with quirky leather backs, and last year’s G5 went with a modular design. For the G6, LG is focusing on cramming a large display in a small body.
And from my first impressions, it appears that the LG G6 is likely to be far more successful than those failed modules.
The first thing you’ll notice about the LG G6 is its peculiar display. Like the Xiaomi Mi Mix – a China-only phone released in late 2016 – the screen is stretched to nearly every corner of the device.
LG G6 – DISPLAY
Rather than the typical 16:9 aspect ratio seen on almost every other smartphone, LG opts for an 18:9 ratio display (basically 2:1) that provides a taller display in a smaller body.
The 5.7-inch display – a sizeable increase from the 5.2-inch panel of the G5 – sits inside a shell that's barely bigger than its predecessor and noticeably smaller than the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
One side effect of cramming a bigger screen into a shell of this size is that the corners of the panel are now rounded, rather than right angles. While a little odd at first, but I quickly became used to it. It matches the overall curviness of the phone; but it looks best on the black model. On my white review unit, the black border between the panel and bezel is fairly prominent, and the corner curves aren’t perfectly circular. It’s a small issue, but once you've noticed it, it’s hard to forget.
To match the stretched display, the resolution here sits at 2,880 x 1,440 – and it’s a lovely panel. Even though it isn't AMOLED, it delivers vivid colours and deep blacks. It’s the first phone with Dolby Vision support and, like the dearly departed Note 7, it’s HDR10-enabled too.
Blacks aren’t quite as deep as AMOLED panels, though – and with LG’s huge AMOLED business, it seems odd for the company not to utilise its expertise here. Being an IPS LCD also stops it from being compatible with Google’s Daydream VR platform, something that I enjoy immensely on the Pixel.
There were a few demo HDR (high dynamic range) videos on my review sample; content looked noticeably brighter and darker scenes were more detailed too. LG says that HDR content from Amazon and Netflix will work, but it will follow an app update. LG hasn’t said when they'll be available, but I'll update this article when I know more.
Remember when Apple switched the iPhone from a 4-inch to a 5-inch screen? It led to months (maybe years) of apps not fitting the display properly; many required thick black bars at the top and bottom to work. Something similar is happening here, but not to quite the same level of annoyance.
For instance, videos from YouTube, which are almost universally 16:9, have black bars on either side. Media from Amazon’s Prime app has one large bar at the bottom. Some software trickery lets you stretch video in certain apps – Netflix, for example – so films take up most of the screen.
Regular apps are fine, thanks to Android’s native rescaling features, but games will either need to be updated or played with black bars at the bottom. It’s annoying, but not too distracting. The software layer used for videos is present here, so you can stretch games out to fill the entire screen. It works well, and in titles such as Alto’s Adventure or Horizon Chase, I didn't notice the difference.
All of LG’s own apps have been updated; and since the aspect ratio is 2:1, the design theme for the UI is two squares on top of each other. This helps Android 7’s native split-screen multi-tasking, providing more space for each app.
LG’s UI design is far from the best, though. It's a little like iOS mashed with Huawei’s EMUI, with a dash of TouchWiz thrown in. It does have the Google Assistant, though – the first phone to do so aside from the Pixel.
The software does have some nice little additions that make up for the less than amazing design. A swipe down on the homescreen brings up a search that can look inside apps, and the lack of an app drawer is something I actually really like.
LG G6 – DESIGN
For the first time I can remember, LG has crafted a phone that looks "nice". The lack of a thick bezel instantly draws the eye, and LG has also ditched that horrid metal-sprayed plastic that caused so much controversy on the G5.
There’s a slab of Gorillas Glass 5 on the rear (interestingly, it’s only Gorilla Glass 3 on the front), and a metal rim running around the sides, which LG claims adds some much-needed rigidity that's lost with the unorthodox screen.
The standby switch, with a fingerprint pad tucked inside, can still be found on the rear of the handset. However, unlike many phones that use capacitive pads, this switch actually depresses and offers decent feedback. Just below the camera is the perfect place for a fingerprint sensor, simply because it’s where my finger naturally rests when I pick up a phone. A major concern I have with the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S8 is the strange placement of the fingerprint scanner, beneath the glass and thereby eliminating the Home button entirely.
My biggest issue with the fingerprint scanner on the LG G6 is actually its speed and sensitivity. Since it’s basically flush to the rear, accidental touches are an issue. Even when the handset is in my pocket, it seems to randomly think I'm pressing the scanner when it’s brushing against my leg.
So the LG G6 is an attractive phone, once you get over the screen – but once it becomes more common, which I'm sure it will this year, it doesn't feature much else to help it stand out from the crowd.
The black, white and silvery-blue colours lack imagination, and the glass-backed design with metal sides has become almost cliché. You’ll find it on everything from budget Honor and Alcatel phones to higher-end devices.
Basically, it looks great from the front but a little dull elsewhere.
LG G6 – PERFORMANCE
Considering my review unit is a pre-production unit, I'll benchmark the G6's performance in more detail once I've had a play with a European retain unit.
This handset hasn't seen the same level of improvement on the inside as the G5, but it remains a very fast phone indeed; and even on the pre-production software, I haven’t encountered any issues.
As was heavily rumoured, the LG G6 uses last year’s Snapdragon 821 CPU – looks like Samsung did snap up those initial runs of the 835 – with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of basic storage. There's a microSD slot, but I'd have much preferred to see 64GB as the starting point.
The 821 is a great processor, with plenty of oomph and good efficiency. We don’t really yet know all the benefits of the 835 in day-to-day use, but it’s still a shame not to see the latest silicon here, especially if this phone is going to retail at the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S8.
LG G6 – CAMERA
The cameras haven’t seen a huge improvement either, but there have been a few tweaks to the already impressive setup.
Just like the G5, the G6 has two sensors sitting next to each on the rear of the device. One is your typical camera; 13 megapixels, OIS, f/1.8 aperture; the other has a much wider field of view.
The latter offers that GoPro-like wide-angle shot that looks great. Surprisingly, LG told me that it has found that almost 50% of people tend to use just the wide-angle camera, so it’s bumped that from an 8-megapixel sensor to a 13-megapixel version.
It lacks OIS, though, and has a much narrower f/2.4 aperture, so low-light snaps won’t be quite as good. It doesn’t have auto-focus, either – but since that focal point is so wide, it shouldn’t make a difference.
LG has worked with Qualcomm to pluck some of the dual-camera smarts from the 835 CPU to implement them here in the 821. This results in a much smoother process when switching sensors, giving the feel of a single camera. It works, too, although there remains a noticeable change in colour temperature when you switch. The wider-view camera is also much worse in low light, leaving you with very noisy photos.
I’m quite impressed with the LG G6's cameras, but there are a couple of issues. While picture detail is decent, on occasion colours can look a bit drab and the dynamic range just isn’t on a par with other high-end Android phones. Pictures often lack depth – but then this can be seen with almost all smartphones when you’re coming from the Pixel.
The Pixel remains ahead of the G6, not only in terms of picture quality, but with regards to ease of use, too. I’ll cut LG some slack since this is early software – but the time it takes to open the app, focus and snap a picture are currently just too long.
Low-light images are free of noise, however, and if the light is bright you can get some really fantastic shots.
There’s a fairly standard 5-megapixel camera for selfies – and, of course, 4K video recording is supported as well.
LG G6 – BATTERY LIFE AND SOUND
If you live in Europe, then prepare to get annoyed. The European and UK version of the LG G6 is missing some handy features from which other folks will benefit.
There's no wireless charging – that’s exclusive to the US – and nor will Quad Hi-Fi DAC feature for improved sound quality. Sadly, the latter is available only on the Korean model. My review unit is of US origin, so has the wireless charging support and it matches the S7 for recharge speed when docked without wires.
Neither feature is vital, but they’re rare extras that would have been a decent addition. LG couldn’t offer a reason they're lacking – but, apparently, it doesn’t add any extra weight or thickness to the handset to include either of these features.
Also likely to annoy is the fact that the battery is no longer removable. Instead, it’s a fixed 3,300mAh cell stuck behind the glass. This is hardly a surprise, given that the removable battery had such a negative impact on the overall look of the G5. It also means the G6 is finally water-resistant – in my opinion, a far more useful feature than a swappable battery – and has the same IP68 rating as the Samsung Galaxy S7.
I’ll save my final thoughts on battery life for when I've used a retail version, since there are some notable quirks in the stamina department with my unit. Hopefully, these will ironed out, though.
Ditching the modular design was the correct move by LG. It was handled poorly, miscommunicated and failed miserably. With the G6, LG has a phone that I can see being much more successful.
It has all the parts from the G5 that I liked – basically, that ace camera setup – but finally it now looks good and the near-bezel-free design is quite eye-catching. Will the 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio catch on? I really don’t see why not, and if Samsung follows suit then I'm sure it will become the norm come 2018.
There are still a few niggles that stop me from believing the LG G6 is the "Phone of the Year" quite yet. Couldn’t it have waited for the Snapdragon 835? I know a CPU isn’t everything, but it instantly puts the G6 on the back foot. The same goes for those missing features in the European model; surely it wouldn’t have been so hard to add in wireless charging and the Quad DAC?
I believe this to be LG’s best phone in years, but with the competition improving too, it’s a tough call as to whether or not this will stand up against the upcoming iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S8. Price will be a big factor, and if this comes in cheaper than those models then LG could have a winner on its hands.
Source From Online