Being offered online only (and incompatible with Verizon's or Sprint's networks) HTC's new U Ultra isn't likely to see even a small fraction of Apple's iPhone sales numbers. But is the Ultra worth considering, despite its expected niche status? Let's see how it stacks up next to Apple's 7 Plus.
Both phones are large, even relative to their respective screen sizes. The HTC U Ultra comes out 3-percent taller and wider, and 10-percent thicker than the iPhone 7 Plus.
The iPhone, however, is 11-percent heavier.
HTC's design team appears to have had a recent Samsung Galaxy flagship sitting on its drafting table while imagining the U Ultra. Its glass and aluminum design is nearly a spitting image of Samsung's 2015-16 design language.
Apple gives you two extra color options to choose from.
The U Ultra has a 7-percent bigger display.
The Ultra also has a 28-percent higher pixel density. But rather than engaging in pixel arms races, Apple is known for getting PPI to a "sharp-enough" mark and then refining subtler details like white balance, colors, brightness and contrast.
HTC is using a Super LCD 5 IPS display, which eliminates an air gap between display and glass.
HTC took a page from LG's book (in fact, that page looks nearly photocopied), with a second strip of screen sitting above the main display. It shows notifications and shortcuts.
Apple's screen has the company's 3D Touch, which lets you pop up shortcuts and previews by pressing harder on the glass.
The iPhone 7 Plus has one of the better cameras of 2016 (though not on par with Google's Pixels), while we've yet to sample the Ultra's photography.
Camera aperture (rear)
Aperture, which often determines the quality of low-lit shots, is even.
Both handsets have Optical Image Stabilization.
Apple's second camera on the 7 Plus lets you jump straight into telephoto-zoom mode, as well as create bokeh (blurred-background) portrait shots.
Apple's battery has a slightly-smaller capacity, but it's also driving a less pixel-rich display. Consider this a yellow flag for HTC, until we run battery benchmarks on the U Ultra.
Both phones have late-2016 processors, but in HTC's case that may be concerning: It's an early-2017 phone, but the company opted not to use Qualcomm's latest high-end silicon.
The Ultra gives you an extra GB of RAM.
HTC only gives you one storage tier, but it's a generous 64 GB.
You also get a microSD slot with the Ultra, something Apple has never shown any interest in providing.
Apple's 2016 iPhones have IP67 water protection; HTC didn't add any meaningful water resistance to its flagship.
Neither phone has a traditional 3.5-mm headphone port.
Both phones put their fingerprint sensors in their home buttons.
HTC took the unusual step of announcing the U Ultra two months before it starts shipping. You can pre-order it now, but it's likely to have some stiffer competition by the time it ships.
Starting price (full retail)
The U Ultra is US$20 cheaper, and gives you double the storage of the entry-level iPhone 7 Plus (along with expandable storage). But with no Verizon or Sprint support, no more hi-fi audio focus like we saw in last year's HTC 10 and a relatively small battery, it sounds like one you'd be better off holding off on. Especially with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 likely waiting around the corner.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more