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.
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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.