As expected, HTC has joined the league of players that believe headphone jacks are relics of the past and don’t deserve their 3.5mm space on modern smartphones.
The Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer today unveiled two new smartphones in its new “U” lineup: “its first phablet in a while” HTC U Ultra and “aggressively priced” HTC U Play. Neither carry the 3.5mm jack, a trend that Apple gifted to the world.
Both the new smartphones follow “Liquid Design” language, a major departure from the aluminium unibody that older HTC smartphones carry. The “symmetric” smartphones have a curved glass body on both sides now with metal running along the edges.
“Hold it up and you’ll appreciate the phone’s symmetrical construction, and the way it transforms light as you turn it,” the company said at a media event Thursday.
The more powerful among the two, the HTC U Ultra, sports a 5.7-inch QHD (2560×1440 pixels) display with a secondary 2-inch display (of screen resolution 160×1040) decked on top of it. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM, and 64GB internal storage.
There’s a 3,000mAh battery to keep the phone afloat all day. The company says it will launch a limited number of HTC U Ultra smartphones with sapphire glass.
The HTC U Play sports a 5.2-inch full-HD (1920×1080 pixels) display. It features a MediaTek Helio P10 processor, and 3GB of RAM (with another variant carrying 4GB of RAM). The smartphone runs on a 2,500 mAh battery.
HTC is also focusing on “HTC Companion” skin, an AI-driven feature that studies user’s interactions to make the phone experience better and seamless, or so is the plan. For the HTC U Ultra, this works in conjunction with the secondary display. That 2-inch display will give you warnings about rain, for instance. Both smartphones run Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.
On the photography front, both smartphones carry 16-megapixel with HTC UltraPixel technology rear cameras. For the selfie cam, the HTC U Ultra features a 12MP HTC UltraPixel shooter. The HTC U Play surprisingly carries the same 16MP UltraPixel on the front as well.
But, instead of a headphone jack, users will have to get on with the USB Type-C port. Speaking of which, the company also touted “HTC USonic” earphones, which will ship with the phones. The earphones “analyze your inner ears with a sonic pulse, and then adapt to you.”
Both the smartphones will be available in Brilliant Black, Cosmetic Pink, Ice White, and Sapphire Blue color variants. According to the listing on the website, the HTC U Ultra will retail at $749 but won’t ship before mid-March in the United States. The company is keeping the retail price and shipping info for the HTC U Play under wraps for now.
Will the new smartphones see enough takers? Analysts believe pricing the phones aggressively in some markets is the key. “When it comes to design HTC is still in the game,” Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at research firm Counterpoint, tells Mashable.
“Only thing it needs to do is play more aggressively in mid-end segment and leave premium market to partners like Google (which sells Google Pixel).”