Taiwanese manufacturer HTC has unveiled two inaugural models for its new U series of smartphones. The 5.2in and 5.7in handsets both come with an AI-enabled voice assistant called Sense Companion, enhancing user experiences with contextual suggestions and recommendations.
The HTC U Ultra is the brand's new top-of-the-range 5.7in smartphone. It stands out from competitors thanks to a second screen to the top right of the phone's main display. This fully customisable screen mainly serves to display notifications and audio playlist info, keeping the main screen uncluttered. The U Ultra runs a Snapdragon 835 processor, and has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage (which can be extended with a microSD memory card).
HTC's other main innovation for this smartphone is an onboard assistant powered by artificial intelligence, offering users help and guidance. Sense Companion is relatively comparable to Google Assistant. In any case, it is a hot concept in the smartphone world right now, coming just a few days after Huawei presented the Mate 9 running Amazon's Alexa intelligent assistant at CES, Las Vegas (USA).
HTC's assistant is billed as an essential companion for Sense users, capable of offering contextual recommendations, such as suggesting an earlier wake-up time on the day of a morning meeting, or reminding users to charge a low battery before heading out for an appointment. It can also recommend nearby hotels and restaurants, for example. Recommendations and suggestions are based on user habits, and the system is designed to evolve over time as it gets to know the user.
This AI feature is also coming to the HTC U Play, a lower-spec model that doesn't have a second notifications screen and has pared down spec sheet compared with its top-end counterpart, including a single 5.2in display, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
The HTC U Ultra is due out from mid-February with the U Play expected in March. A premium "Sapphire Glass" 128GB version of the HTC U Ultra is also due to follow. All three handsets run the Android operating system with the HTC Sense user interface. — AFP Relaxnews
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