HTC’s latest U Ultra appears to disrupt the whole flagship handset scene that we’re used to seeing. It’s not intended on being a flagship by its makers, but it’s a great match for what we’ve been seeing of late by smartphone makers – handsets which are being passed off as flagship spec’d.
Here’s a comparison between the U Ultra and Pixel – the current gold standard for Android.
Design-wise, the U Ultra seems very derivative. It’s like a cross between a OnePlus 3 and a Galaxy Note. The Pixel’s design is very minimal and very Pixel-ish. Yes, it does have similarities between the iPhone, but doesn’t really remind us of it. HTC’s offering has a mix of a curved glass on the front and the back. We’re not sure how well that will fare for users looking for a smudge-free phone, but the Pixel’s smoother texture, although a mix of glass and metal, will make for a better logical choice. Google learned its lesson after the Nexus 4.
The HTC’s got two screens – a clear copy-paste from what we saw on the LG V10 and V20. The secondary screen would show things like the user’s favourite contacts, quick app shortcuts and reminders, giving the user room for their otherwise cluttered notifications panel. There’s nothing else on offer here for the secondary screen. The main display of the Ultra is that it’s got a 5.7-inch Super LCD screen at a resolution of 2560×1440. It’s got Gorilla Glass 5, and in a special edition of the phone, users will also get the chance of enjoying the display under a special Sapphire glass protection. Added to the 2.05-inch strip of display atop, which has a resolution of 1040×160, there’s very little space left on the front for more real estate.
The Pixel offers an AMOLED screen and depending on the variant, the user can get a 5-inch screen at FHD resolution or a bigger 5.5-inch QHD resolution. They are simple displays, covered with Gorilla Glass 4. The picture will be a bit sharper on the Pixels because of the vibrant colour production, but the HTC’s won’t be looking bad either.
HTC has gone with the same camera sensor on the back as its older brother – the HTC 10. It’s a 12MP sensor with OIS as well as PDAF and laser autofocus. It’s also got dual-tone LED flash, which is a staple. The Pixel phones will come with 12.3MP sensors that have made a great reputation for themselves. They are arguably the best Android camera phones out there today. We haven’t seen what the U Ultra’s camera can do yet, but we’re expecting it to be a decent snapper.
At the secondary, the HTC’s is far more superior. It’s a 16MP sensor with auto-HDR. The Pixels have half the megapixels with the regular features that accompany a secondary camera. Not that it’s bad selfie camera, but it’s still not one of the best.
Both these phones have the same internals. They come with 4GB of RAM and storage options up to 128GB. Only the Ultra has expandable storage however. Processing comes by way of the tried and tested Snapdragon 821 Processor and graphical chops courtesy of the Adreno 530.
The U Ultra has a 3000mAh battery, while the Pixel comes in at a 2770mAh juice pack. The XL, which is the preferred competitor to the HTC here, has a monster 3450mAh battery, providing more juice, for the same specs.
Software wise, HTC’s phones have always run smoothly. The Ultra will come with Nougat out of the box and should run as good as any other flagship, but it definitely won’t be as good as the Pixel’s. The Pixel is far ahead in optimization and smoothness compared to the competition out there right now.
As a matter of fact, the Pixel is still the better phone, and probably will be for the better part of 2017 as well, as it still has its bases covered – it’s got a headphone jack, while the HTC’s Ultra doesn’t, it’s got better battery backup and better software. Good luck with HTC for trying to optimize Android for two screens and providing timely updates. At the end of the day, reliability and performance are what matters to users. Not dual screens or regrettable mistake of not being able to use wired headphones when the wireless ones run out of charge.