HTC U Ultra review: All that glitters

All that glitters

GSMArena team, 20 March 2017.

Display

The HTC U Ultra has two screens, the main one being a 5.7" Super LCD5 with QHD resolution (that's 1,440 x 2,560px). The secondary one has 160 x 1,040px resolution, losing 400px of horizontal resolution to make room for the selfie camera.

HTC U Ultra review

April 5: We retested the screen (since we had issues with the original test) and updated the results below.

Those specs sound very similar to the LG V20 screen, but the U Ultra has a different panel.

Unfortunately, not in a good way. The contrast ratio is below 1,000:1 (while the V20 is a bit over that). Also, the black levels have a noticeable glow compared to the HTC 10 evo at comparable brightness levels.

HTC the top brightness is nothing special either, reaching around 430nits on manual (a bit below the V20) and topping out at a hair over 500nits (while the V20 crossed 600nits).

And finally, the HTC screen had a noticeable color shift when viewed at an angle, something the V20 screen didn't have.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC U Ultra 0.539 428 794
HTC U Ultra (max auto) 0.564 507 899
HTC 10 evo 0.387 525 1357
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 0.41 573 1398
Apple iPhone 7 Plus (max auto) 0.50 681 1362
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 0.00 392
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge max auto 0.00 610
LG V20 0.43 475 1097
LG V20 Max auto 0.59 628 1064

Surprisingly, despite its deficit in contrast, the sunlight legibility was on par with the LG screen - a very respectable score, one of the best among both LCD and AMOLED screens.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (X20)
    2.145
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Color accuracy is not perfect - the default mode gets 6.1 average deltaE, 10.7 max. We managed to improve that reading by dragging the color temperature slider all the way to Warm (since the white balance is too cool by default). That only got us to 4.6 average and 8.8 max.

Those readings are comparable to the LG V20, but behind the leading phablets in this class. We normally don't worry about color accuracy, but we love having the option.

For late night usage, the HTC U Ultra can drop its screen all the way down to 5nits, and the Settings menu offers a blue light filter that you can toggle on in the late hours of the day when you'd probably prefer the warmer hues.

The second screen can be set to Always on or to be active only when the main screen is on (or the other way around - only when the main screen is off). You don't get much more settings for it; there's no separate brightness slider or a way to schedule the screen to switch off at night.

Connectivity

The HTC U Ultra is available only as a Dual SIM phone with a hybrid card slot - meaning you can put in a microSD card only if you use a single SIM card. A pretty fair trade-off, we think, given that you get 64GB as base storage and can go up to 128GB if you need both dual SIM and plenty of storage.

Anyway, you're looking at 600Mbps of theoretical download speeds thanks to LTE Cat. 11 with 3 Carrier Aggregation. Both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling are supported, which offer higher quality audio and better reception respectively. Note that there's no CDMA support.

The Wi-Fi connectivity itself covers a/b/g/n/ac and there's Bluetooth 4.2. NFC is available for Android Pay and other uses.

The sole wired connection is the USB-C port, but it is highly capable. It is wired for full USB 3.1 speed and supports DisplayPort connections, meaning you can have TV out with the right adapter.

This USB-C port is also responsible for audio output, good thing that HTC includes a decent pair of buds in the box.

Battery life

The HTC U Ultra comes with a 3,000mAh battery that is sealed inside the body. QuickCharge 3.0 fills up the battery fast, but you may need to do it more often than you would like. The smaller (and cheaper) HTC 10 evo has a bigger battery, 3,200mAh. Even the iPhone 7 Plus is not far behind at 2,900mAh.

The U Ultra does have a more efficient chipset than the 10 evo - Snapdragon 821 features many refinements in power efficiency compared to its predecessors. Still, in a body this size we expected more.

The phone starts off well, we got an 81-hour Endurance rating with the secondary screen off. There are several ways to activate it with movement or tapping so that you may be okay without the Always-On functionality. Still, it's a feature that several flagships offer, and if you leave it on, you're looking at a lower 66-hour Endurance. That's more than the Galaxy S7 edge gets with Always on enabled, so it's a good job by HTC!

The HTC U Ultra should last up to 26 hours in a 3G call according to official numbers, we measured 23 hours, which is still respectable.

Both web browsing and video playback deplete the battery in around 8 hours, give or take half an hour, which is not as ideal. The good news is that the LG V20 gets similar times, actually an hour more in web browsing. A Galaxy S7 edge or iPhone 7 Plus will go for hours more, however.

HTC U Ultra review

Overall, the U Ultra battery lasted longer than we thought it would - after all, you don't have to look far to find a phablet with a larger battery. Still, HTC made it work, and that's all that matters.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Reader comments

  • Jetze

It is sooo cheap now. I boight it for 188€!!!

  • KKV

Does HTC U Ultra still makes sense to buy now? If yes, Why? If no, pls suggest some good phone under 25k. Preference priority is 1.camera, 2.battery 3. hardware & performance. 4, rest (3.5mm jack, flash charge, notch, etc.)

I am an avid hTC user since long. My first one was htc wildfire then i bought a htc evo 3D. Recently my wife had two htcs. One M8 and now she is using U Ultra. To me all are awesome phones. The M8 had very short battery life but other than that it w...