HTC says that the design of its new phone is inspired by water. And to be fair, it does look wet and shiny, like a boy in a Hockney painting emerging from a swimming pool, skin glistening in the California sunlight.
The U Ultra’s all-glass, all-the-time aesthetic gives it a slick and glossy style that stands out from the army of metallic unibody handsets on the phone market. I like it a lot.
The phone is a real hand-stretcher, with a superb 5.7-inch, QHD display big enough to eat your dinner off. That’s more pixels than the new Huawei phablet, the Mate 9, and keen eyes will be able to spot the difference.
More remarkable is the inclusion of an always-on second screen, situated to the top right of the primary display and used to show notifications and other information without obscuring anything else you might be working on. You can see calendar reminders and weather updates here, or use it as a shortcut bar for contacts and apps. In practice it seems superfluous, too alien to the DNA of Android’s operating system to feel integrated. Beefed up battery management is another selling point, but do beware the (increasingly common) lack of 3.5mm headphone jack. A powerful, pretty and inventive phablet, the U Ultra will turn heads.