HTC U Ultra vs. Google Pixel XL
The HTC U Ultra is 5-percent taller and wider, and 10-percent thicker than the Google Pixel XL.
Weights are very similar.
You have three colors to choose from for each phone.
HTC's display comes out 7-percent bigger, in terms of area.
Both have sharp QHD resolution, but the smaller Pixel XL has a slightly-higher pixel density.
HTC is using a Super-LCD 5 panel (an IPS LCD that eliminates the air gap between display and glass), while Google uses OLED.
While the Ultra's back looks like a Samsung copy, the second screen on its front, above the main display, makes its face look like an LG copy. Like the V20, this strip of screen is home to notifications and shortcuts.
HTC is joining the trend of cutting the headphone jack from its latest flagship. Its 2016 flagship hung its hat on its hi-fi capabilities, but it's unlikely the jackless U Ultra will continue to please audiophiles – leaving LG and Sony as the top smartphone-maker picks in that category.
While the Snapdragon 821 isn't exactly outdated, it's a late-2016 processor showing up in HTC's early-2017 phone. We would bet its launch-window rivals, the (expected) Galaxy S8 and LG G6, will have the updated Snapdragon 835.
RAM is even, at 4 GB a pop.
Google offers two storage tiers, maxing out higher, but HTC's only tier offers a generous 64 GB.
The U Ultra also adds expandable storage.
Considering it has a power-hungry QHD display, the U Ultra has a relatively small battery compared to its peers.
We'll have to test the U Ultra's camera to know if it stacks up to the Pixel's, but that will be a tall order: The Pixel phones are our current picks for the best photography in mobile.
Camera aperture (rear)
Never mind Google's narrower aperture, as its algorithms still give it the best low-lit shots you'll take with a smartphone today. Again, though, we'll have to test the Ultra's camera before having anything to say about it.
Google also left out Optical Image Stabilization, another sign that its photo-processing software is voiding the need for key camera-hardware features.
The Ultra has a home-button fingerprint sensor, while the Pixel's is on its backside.
The Pixel XL runs stock Android Nougat, while the U Ultra will launch with an HTC-skinned variant of Nougat. The Pixel, however, will receive future Android updates almost immediately; don't expect that for the Ultra.
HTC made the odd move of announcing its 2017 flagship two months before it starts shipping. Consumers like near-instant gratification: It's hard to see this as a formula for success.
The U Ultra is also going to be sold online-only (and GSM only, meaning no Verizon or Sprint support), illustrating how far HTC's smartphone-industry star has fallen. Its flagships were once carried – and marketed – on all the major carriers. Today the struggling company seems more invested in VR.
Starting price (full retail)
The Ultra rings up for $20 less than the Pixel, though that includes double the internal storage and a microSD slot.
Still, based on the spec sheet, it's hard to recommend jumping on the U Ultra. By the time it ships, the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 will likely be already here or coming soon: With an obsolete processor at launch, no more hi-fi-audio focus and at least two copycat design features, does HTC's flagship have enough going for it to forge a strong identity of its own?