Last month, we learned all about HTC’s reinvented branding for 2017 with the announcement of the HTC’s new U line of phones. Jason went hands-on in HTC’s Sydney offices, and as you can see, the results are pretty spectacular. Gone are the black obelisks of old, replaced with some bold blues and more.
Today, HTC has announced the plans for local availability. Both HTC’s U Ultra and U Play will go on sale from March 8th, with pre-sale opening today for the HTC U Ultra. HTC U Play will open at retail for $799 at retail partners JB HiFi and Harvey Norman. HTC U Ultra will join the U Play for $1,199. Here’s all the pricing and availability information we have.
The big news that HTC is happy about is the Vodafone carrier exclusive. Look, we know that not everyone likes Vodafone, and that’s fine, but you don’t have to sign up with Vodafone to get these; you just won’t find them on other carriers, not just yet.
The unique thing about this carrier deal though? Vodafone aren’t just selling the new HTC phones in “carrier friendly” black and white, opting to range all the colours for HTC U Ultra, and all bar Cosmetic Pink for the HTC U Play.
You mightn’t realise, but this is a big deal. Carriers don’t range handsets that they don’t think they can sell, and sell quite a few of. Remember a few years back with the Motorola and Vodafone deal around the Moto X Play and Moto X Style? Despite the feedback at Ausdroid, Vodafone sell an awful lot of these handsets, which was great news for them, and also for Motorola.
We’re expecting to see that same thing this time around — Vodafone will sell quite a few of these HTC handsets, mark my words.
Pricing and Availability
|HTC U Play||JB HiFi and Harvey Norman||Brilliant Black, Sapphire Blue and Cosmetic Pink||$799|
|HTC U Play||Vodafone||Brilliant Black, Sapphire Blue and Ice White||From $5 on the $60 plan|
|HTC U Ultra||JB HiFi and Harvey Norman||TBC||$1,199|
|HTC U Ultra||Vodafone||Brilliant Black, Sapphire Blue, Ice White and Cosmetic Pink||From $8 on the $80 plan|
HTC U Play
HTC U Ultra
What’s so hot about the HTC U Ultra and U Play?
So, that’s when and how they’re available — but do you remember what each offers? Here’s a quick rundown.
HTC U Ultra is a 5.7-inch device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821, paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, expandable by MicroSD. There’s a secondary, 2.05-inch display atop the main display which is to be used for notifications and HTC’s own AI called HTC Sense Companion (more on that below), as well as some unique headphones called USonic — these headphones analyse your inner ears and adapts the audio output from the phone to your unique ear structure. The U Ultra also features HTC BoomSound Hi-fi Edition, which places a tweeter at the top of the phone and a woofer at the bottom.
The HTC U Play is the mid-tier device which looks equally impressive, if we’re being honest. Featuring a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Mediatek processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, the U Play will suit someone who wants to spend a little less than four figures on a phone, but still wants something that’s unique, looks great, works great, and is enjoyable to use.
|HTC U Play||HTC U Ultra||Release date||TBC||TBC||Screen size||5.2-inch||5.7-inch + 2.05-inch||Screen technology||Super LCD||Super LCD||Resolution||1,920 x 1,080||2,560 x 1,440 + 160x1040||PPI||424||518||Rear camera||16MP||12MP||Front camera||16MP||16MP||Chipset||MediaTek Helio P10||Snapdragon 821||Core config||—||4 x 2.15GHz||Ram||4GB||Storage||MicroSD||Yes, up to 2TB||Yes, up to 2TB||Battery||2,500 mAh||3,000 mAh||Battery removable||—||—||Connector||USB C||USB C||Headphone Port||—||—||Headphone Location||—||—||Speaker Configuration||Bottom||Bottom||Android OS||—||Android 7.0||Vendor skin||Sense||Sense||Dimensions||145.99 x 72.9 x 3.5-7.99mm||162.41 x 79.79 x 3.6-7.99mm||Weight||145g||170g||Colours|
Both phones feature the USonic headphones (though, sadly, the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone), as well as HTC’s new AI which it’s progressively developing.
The HTC Sense Companion app brings AI to your device; it watches how you use the phone and learns from your actions. Everyone will start with the same out-of-the-box experience, but over time it’ll learn more about you and place frequently-used contacts, information and even some widgets into the secondary display of the U Ultra.
In the demonstration we saw of the U Ultra, the secondary display showed notification icons while the main screen was off, but also featured a series of swipe-able panels containing things like Spotify playback controls, weather and frequently-used contacts (with the ability to initiate a call or text from the secondary display without distracting you from whatever’s happening on the main screen.
It seems like there’s a lot to like, and when we get a review unit in the near future, we’ll walk you through the features so you can decide whether the HTC U Ultra or HTC U Play might be for … U. In the meantime, please read Jason’s excellent hands-on report.