HTC U Ultra review: All that glitters

All that glitters

GSMArena team, 20 March 2017.

Telephony

The HTC U Ultra supports VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling (which needs carrier support to work). The chipset supports several LTE bands (both FDD and TDD) so you should have no trouble traveling abroad, but the phone will not work on CDMA carriers. The Home dialing assistant will make sure to add the correct country code to numbers that don't have it.

HTC U Ultra dialer - HTC U Ultra review HTC U Ultra dialer - HTC U Ultra review HTC U Ultra dialer - HTC U Ultra review HTC U Ultra dialer - HTC U Ultra review
HTC U Ultra dialer

Flip to mute, Quiet ring on pickup and Pocket mode are available (the latter boosts the loudspeaker volume when the phone is in your pocket or bag). The U Ultra supports Android Nougat's native call blocking abilities.

Loudspeaker

The HTC U Ultra has stereo speakers in a setup that has become popular on HTC phones - the earpiece is used as the second speaker in the stereo pair. Two modes are available, Theater and Music and their names describe their best uses.

Music goes for traditional stereo sound and creates good separation. The Theater mode feels more like multi-channel emulation and creates a more immersive sound.

The effect is quite pronounced and we think quite good too. However, it affects the sound, especially vocals and high frequencies, so it's best to use the right mode.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Meizu Pro 6 Plus 60.6 69.5 70.3 Below Average
Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus 65.0 68.2 70.8 Average
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 70.0 69.1 71.8 Good
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 68.3 72.2 72.9 Good
LG V20 68.2 68.6 80.9 Good
HTC U Ultra (Theater) 67.3 73.1 80.6 Very Good
HTC U Ultra (Music) 61.7 73.1 86.7 Very Good
HTC 10 evo 65.8 75.4 80.6 Very Good
ZTE Axon 7 66.4 72.2 84.1 Very Good
Huawei Mate 9 83.1 74.5 85.0 Excellent

Messaging

The messaging app is simple and with clean Material Design looks. You can adjust the message preview between 1 and 3 lines for the threaded view. The app's wallpaper and speech bubble colors can be customized.

Basic messaging app - HTC U Ultra review Saying hi - HTC U Ultra review Blocking contacts - HTC U Ultra review Changing speech bubble colors - HTC U Ultra review
Basic messaging app • Saying hi • Blocking contacts • Changing speech bubble colors

HTC continues to use the TouchPal keyboard as the default on its phones. It offers solid customization options like 2-axis resizing, split view and themes (including custom fonts). You can add a number row, pick which emoji to use (and there's even emoji prediction, imagine that!).

The TouchPal keyboard - HTC U Ultra review 2-axis resizing - HTC U Ultra review Split keyboard - HTC U Ultra review Themes - HTC U Ultra review
The TouchPal keyboard • 2-axis resizing • Split keyboard • Themes

Note that this is the free version of the keyboard. You can get a bit extra out of it, by enabling TouchPal Cloud, which will offer better word suggestions and teach you about trends in words and phrases. The Cloud will also sync your personal dictionary (privacy-minded people may not like that).

Other apps

HTC preloaded the Record app - as you may have heard, the company partnered with Under Armour to make fitness tracking solutions. This app is how you control them. You can use the full HTC Healthbox combo - a smart band, chest heart rate monitor and a smart scale. It was nice to see that this isn't locked to just the UA brand, also supported are: the Samsung Gears (S2, S3, Fit2), Withings watches, Fibtit, Garmin, Jawbone and so on.

The app can work without accessories. It can count steps and calories, track activity and sleep time, even your general mood. You can follow friends and famous people as they post updates (you can post too), a mini social network to keep your motivation up.

UA Record app - HTC U Ultra review Logging your exercises - HTC U Ultra review Samsung Gears are supported - HTC U Ultra review And many others - HTC U Ultra review
UA Record app • Logging your exercises • Samsung Gears are supported • And many others

The Voice recorder app seems basic, but it's worth pointing out that it has high-quality recording modes - AAC LC (good but lossy) and FLAC (lossless and Hi-Res, but takes up a lot of space). There is no option to record 360° audio. However, we assume that's the default mode though, just like it is in the camera.

Voice recorder - HTC U Ultra review Switching audio codecs - HTC U Ultra review Lossless FLAC recording - HTC U Ultra review
Voice recorder • Switching audio codecs • Lossless FLAC recording

It was nice to see the Flashlight, an old HTC standby, but it has lost its ability to change the light power of the LEDs. We're used to a certain standard of living, HTC, that includes three brightness levels for the flashlight app.

The flashlight app has only one brightness level - HTC U Ultra review The flashlight app has only one brightness level - HTC U Ultra review
The flashlight app has only one brightness level

Jokes aside, this about exhausts the list of useful pre-loaded apps. Facebook (+ Messenger) and Instagram came pre-installed, a dead-simple Weather app and some bloatware (to be fair, it seems that it was region-dependent cruft).

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...