HTC has unveiled two visually stunning smartphones called the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play.
With a polished back and big colourful 5.7 and 5.2-inch displays on the front these are not subtle pieces of technology.
Those polished glass backs come courtesy of something HTC calls Liquid Glass. It’s a process that has apparently taken the company two years to develop and we’ll be honest the effects are impressive.
What sets them apart from their rivals though isn’t just the way they look but the way in which they operate.
Rather than create its own personal assistant like Google Assistant or Siri, HTC decided to implement the technology in a totally different way.
Instead it would place it silently inside each of its core apps: Phone, Contacts, and Notifications.
The phone apparently uses you behaviours to adjust these apps so they felt more in tune with what you.
The second screen on the HTC U Ultra for example can show you contacts you’re most likely to speak to.
You can pick these manually, but the U Ultra will also be able to help change it over time as it learns the people you speak to the most, whether it’s over the phone or over text.
It also uses its awareness of the outside to help you plan your day. If you’ve set a weekly work alarm and there’s a bank holiday coming up, the U Ultra/Play will ask if you want to disable it.
If the weather is terrible for that day it will remind you to take an umbrella. These aren’t particularly groundbreaking features but all combined it creates a seamless babysitting experience, for good or for bad.
The U Ultra and U Play are not without their controversies as well. HTC has sided with Apple and ditched the headphone jack, instead opting for a single USB-C port on the bottom.
We’ll be honest we find this decision more than a little baffling, as while Apple’s decision was controversial, there were some legitimate hardware decisions that helped back it up.
After having spent some time with the U Ultra we’re still wondering why, there certainly aren’t an over-abundance of USB-C headphones yet and Apple has its W1 chip to help ease its customers into the world of wireless headphones.
Also, and this will annoy some, a standard headphone adaptor will not come for free with either phone, so you’ll have to pay if you want one.
The headphones you do get with both do admittedly sound impressive. Called HTC USonic, these USB-C headphones apparently intelligently create a sound map of your inner ear, adjusting the audio to be tailored specifically for you.
If the idea of a smartphone that will help run your life for you appeals then the smartphones will be available from early February with pricing still to be confirmed.
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