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AI Android Hardware

HTC's New Flagship Phone Has AI and a Second Screen, But No Headphone Jack ( 205

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: HTC is getting 2017 off to a flying start with an unseasonably early announcement of its next flagship phone: the U Ultra. This 5.7-inch device inaugurates a new U series of smartphones and is joined by a smaller and lesser U Play, which scales things down to 5.2 inches and a humbler camera and processor spec. HTC is touting a new Sense Companion, which is its take on the growing trend for putting AI assistants into phones, plus the addition of a second screen at the top of the U Ultra. As with Apple's latest iPhones, Lenovo's Moto Z, and the HTC Bolt, neither of HTC's new handsets has a headphone jack. The other big change on the outside is the U Ultra's second screen, which is a thin 2-inch strip residing to the right of the front-facing camera and immediately above the Super LCD 5 screen.
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HTC's New Flagship Phone Has AI and a Second Screen, But No Headphone Jack

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  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Thursday January 12, 2017 @01:22PM (#53654493)

    ... is a ploy to boost the hardware side with expensive Bluetooth alternatives.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      So, what makes HTC think I'm going to buy the Bluetooth headset from them?
      • The headphones are on a rack right there with the phones.

      • They probably can't guarantee it, but some people will buy the "official" whatever, even if there are better 3rd party brands available. They don't care if some of the extra money you spend goes elsewhere, as long as some of it comes to them and increases their profits.

        I'm curious for how many people though no headphone jack is a big enough turn-off that customers will look away. Probably depends on the customer. For me, if I had two phones available with similar specs, but one was slightly thinner than

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          I know that if there is a top grade phone with replaceable battery, micro-sd slot and headphone jack then I'm in. I'm still using a 2 year old S5 Active because it still meets my needs and I haven't seen anything I consider enough better to make me pay out 700-800 dollars.

          • I'm still using a Galaxy S4 because it works fine for what I need, although I did install Cyanogenmod to get Android updates. (That went really well).

            I look at the various new phones that come out, and they are all missing a feature I want, so I will keep using the phone I have until something better comes along.

            My requirements are:

            1. User replacable battery
            2. Micro Sd slot
            3. 5" or smaller screen
            4. 3.5mm headphone jack
            5. Everything else is negotiable. At least with Android, someone will sell me what I want.

            • by TWX ( 665546 )
              I was using my Galaxy SII until it finally physically died. Like, would attempt to boot and would err that it could find components that are soldered on like the SIM card slot and WIFI.

              I replaced it with a Kyocera Duraforce XD. It's not the absolute latest-greatest but it's a ruggedized phone that has replacable battery, microsd slot, headphone jack. Screen is big. There is a smaller version of this phone from Kyocera.
              • The SII was a great phone, it also has a built in FM radio which I quite like, although Cyanogenmod does not seem to be able to make it work.

                One of my sons had one and really liked it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jlechem ( 613317 )
      Must be a shitty ploy, my brand new HTC bolt came with wired headphones. They are usb-c headphones but they are wired and they sound really really good. A cheap ass dongle will let me use my 3.5mm headphones if I so desire. I was butt hurt at first but I've gotten used tho them. Now if it was bluetooth only I would have taken this thing back in a heartbeat.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Thursday January 12, 2017 @02:40PM (#53655093) Homepage Journal

        Fuck dongles. Seriously, fuck needing a dongle to get a 0.01mm thinner phone with worse battery life.

        They are particularly bad for headphones, because you tend to use headphones while moving around where as charging is done stationary. That means strain on the connector, and the headphone socket is fairly robust but the USB port is much more prone to damage.

        • I have a lot of broken and worn headphone jacks that say different.

          Having USB-C ports on portable devices is relatively new so time will tell. Given that the USB-C port is an evolution of the mini and micro USB port I suspect that the people behind this have it figured out. If not then expect USB-D ports or something else to replace them. Sure it sucks having to buy all new accessories when getting a new phone but I'm old enough to remember the days before USB became the charging standard. There were a

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            Given that micro-USB is the flakiest jack I've ever dealt with, I'd be shocked if they finally figured it out. Each progressive iteration of USB has had more problems than the last, because the contacts are too small to be reliable.

            What makes 1/8" mini plugs awesome is that the contact surface alone is about as thick as an entire USB-C connector. For something that's constantly being bumped, you can't beat large contact surfaces for reliability.

      • by robmv ( 855035 )

        and still no way to recharge the phone on the desktop at the office, and listen music at the same time while working, without an USB dock or another dongle, or crappy Bluetooth. And no, not every work environment let you install any kind on media player on your desktop computer.

      • by greatpatton ( 1242300 ) on Thursday January 12, 2017 @03:21PM (#53655511)
        Great and now how are you going to charge and use your phone?
        • by jlechem ( 613317 )
          Yes this does indeed suck, there are some splitters out there so I can charge and listen but honestly the battery life last a long time streaming video and the charger is very very fast. However this doesn't stop it from being a pain in the ass. Why they didn't put in two ports boggles my mind.
      • by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Thursday January 12, 2017 @04:25PM (#53656037) Journal

        Must be a shitty ploy, my brand new HTC bolt came with wired headphones.

        Pushing more expensive headphones might be a bonus short-term side effect, but the real victory here is the potential of closing the analog hole for mobile devices. I fully expect someone to introduce "end to end" DRM within a year or two which will require an authenticated and encrypted connection from the source (file or stream) through the mobile processor, to the headphones. Non-compliant headphones won't be able to authenticate with the host device and therefore won't be usable with certain DRM'd media.

        Don't be surprised when Apple shows more "courage" and removes the analog audio connectors from their next lineup of desktops and laptops (if they haven't already). The desktop / laptop market will swiftly follow once people accept it on mobile.

        Take a look at HDCP [] for an example of how this has already been done elsewhere.

        • I fully expect someone to introduce "end to end" DRM within a year or two which will require an authenticated and encrypted connection from the source (file or stream) through the mobile processor, to the headphones.

          I'm not sure how this helps, it's not like people can't or won't strip the wires from a pair of headphones and wire them to the wires stripped from a microphone. A simpler solution that doesn't destroy the headphones and with only a minimal loss in quality is putting microphones in the ears of a foam head to wear the headphones.

          They can't plug the analog hole.

          Don't be surprised when Apple shows more "courage" and removes the analog audio connectors from their next lineup of desktops and laptops (if they haven't already). The desktop / laptop market will swiftly follow once people accept it on mobile.

          If Apple does get rid of the analog audio ports I expect them to be replaced with the Lightning port or whatever they come up to replace it. This ge

          • Is the analog hole even relevant? I think it's much more convenient for a pirate to use a digital hole (there are plenty) and rip bit-for-bit accurate recordings. Sure, they can fall back on analog if all the digital holes are closed up, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

        • I fully expect most USB-C headphones to be analog in fact, if this phone does support analog audio over USB-C.
          I wonder if you can have a cable with USB-C on one end and jack on the other end.

          Although if you have to use a powered USB hub just because you don't have separate plugs for power and audio, then your USB analog headphones are useless unless there's a DAC in the hub, or plugged into the hub. And if you use a PC to power the hub, then you plug either a DAC or digital headphones.. Then who the hell is

    • I guess that marks the end of 8 years of HTC phones for me. Listening to music is one of my most common uses of my phone, and there's literally no way I'm changing over to headsets I also have to recharge.

    • by decep ( 137319 )

      Using the USB C spec does not necessarily push the idea of more expensive alternatives. Using USB C is less "evil" than Apple pushing the lightning connector because USB C includes [the possibility of] an analog audio signal without the need for an external DAC. This means that all that is required to use analog headphones is a USB C to 3.5mm adapter. This would not even fully be considered a "dongle" because it does not require any fancy electronics for functionality. In Host Audio Adapter mode, pins S

  • SD and battery (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Script Cat ( 832717 ) on Thursday January 12, 2017 @01:24PM (#53654509)

    Does it have an SD slot and a removable battery. If not, still a non buy.

    • by msmash ( 4491995 ) Works for Slashdot
      It does have a microSD card slot.
    • It has an SD slot!

    • Please let me know what type of phone you are using. And how useful is it today?

    • Does it have an SD slot and a removable battery. If not, still a non buy.

      I just bought my wife a new Galaxy S5. IMHO it's the best phone ever made. Everything has gotten worse since. I hope it never goes out of production.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I think the S5 is the perfect phone. They should just keep upgrading the logic board, I can't see why anything else needs to change.

  • Nice Job HTC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nite_Hawk ( 1304 ) on Thursday January 12, 2017 @01:32PM (#53654577) Homepage

    You'd think with their lacklustre performance over the last 5 years they'd play it safe rather than trying to pretend they are Apple.

    Get this message through your thick skulls HTC: You are not Apple. Your customers are not Apple customers. The Android world is a very different place and you aren't in any position to cram user-unfriendly features down people's throats. You will fail if only because there is always some other Chinese company ready to give people what they want.

    • Hey come on now, they're not JUST pretending to be Apple, they're outright copying LG's really neat 2nd screen from the V10/V20 too, right down to the size and location. Can't recommend the v20 enough... not just the 2nd screen, but 3.5mm headphone jack, micro sd, removable battery, and excellent repairability rating... and rootable, though not easily yet. So sad that's a rare combo now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )

      I have a Samsung Galaxy S6, and I hate it. And it's not the UI tweaks, which are minor but generally actually pretty good. And the camera is astonishingly good. No the problem is that the battery life is so bad I have to keep it on Ultra-battery-saving mode unless I'm certain to have access to a charger later in the day. Reviews said battery life was "unimpressive", but what they should have said it was that it was disastrously bad.

      Samsung's had to have known this would be a problem. So what does that t

      • Interesting. My S4 started with a shit battery that couldn't get through a day of light use, and after a year I was carrying around a charger and a spare with me everywhere I went. I upgraded to the S7 after I broke my charging port, and that comes with a glued in battery. But the S7 actually gets me through 5+ hours of heavy use on a full charge. On light use, I can charge it nightly and not be worried about running out of juice.

        Combine that with the wireless charging, and I've run it dead all of

    • It's not a big surprise that other companies are trying to follow them.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        Apple and Google are in the best place. They control the software that runs on their hardware. Apple in particular owns an entire ecosystem with no competition. If you want to run iOS then you'll use an Apple phone. End of story. I haven't bought one (I use a Mac computer for video work and Linux for everything else) despite owning a Mac computer because no sd card or removable battery and now no headphone jack. If all the major Android manufacturers end up doing this nonsense then I'll have no reason

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      I bought a HTC M9 almost a year ago, but I regret it. .- On/Off button on the side.
        - Bloatware.
        - Chewing through battery badly without being used - lose 10% in 2 to 3 hours.

      Next phone will be something else - Maybe a CAT S60. Otherwise I'd fall back to the Ericsson R250s PRO that I recently installed fresh batteries in - stand by time is incredible on it.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        If you just want to talk on the phone a smartphone is the worst thing in the world to use.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      HTC built some of the Nexus devices for Google. They can make good phones, but seem to need help designing them.

  • by Higaran ( 835598 ) on Thursday January 12, 2017 @01:35PM (#53654603)
    Ok, I get is technically 2 screens, but I just think that is the stupidest marketing idea ever. When you say 2 screens, I want 2 screens that are relatively the same size as each other, not one, and some sliver that can only display 4-5 icons stuck up above it. I'd be okay if they called it something else like notification bar or something, but don't call it a second screen.
  • I know it's fashionable to praise/crap on Apple for the headphone thing... but it was actually HTC who was first to do it on smart phones. My HTC Dream (the first Android phone) did not have a headphone jack.
    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      Used to be reasonably common to have proprietary headphone sockets on phones. I seem to remember Motorola did it, and I -think- Ericsson but might be misremembering. There was an iPhone iteration that had a proprietary socket as well (or was it iPod? Not sure - they scrapped the decision after one generation). Taking them away completely isn't common yet but you're right, Apple wasn't the first to do so.
  • I'm just not convinced. No compelling new feature.

    I wanted a removable battery, and that will be hard to find. If I cannot, then HTC is back on my plate.

    The second display looks like their answer to the Galaxy Edge. Feh. It's up top, so I have to stretch a finger or thumb to touch it. Smart move there.

    Multipoint audio? Yeah, I was dreaming of that. Actually, no.

    Water resistance? Well, actually that is interesting. But I bet it doesn't save my phone from being laundered. A dip in the pool yes. Cold water cyc

    • In terms of difficulty, it's far easier to make a sealed case water resistant than it is to make one that opens up and has a gasket to fill in the gaps around the openings. That means you're not likely to get both water resistance and a removable battery in the same phone. Not impossible, but as demand for removable batteries isn't super high, the cheapest and easiest way to do it is seal the whole thing up. Looking at the engineering that went into the S7's micro-SD card slot, I can see why they're going t

  • Obviously, if Apple does it, it must be the way to go!

  • I hate to be the one to break this to you people. But there is no cassette drive [] either.

  • No jack, no buy, no thanks.

  • Artificial Stupidity is a more appropriate tag. Such stuff in current phones is amusing, for a while, tolerable, if they keep quiet unless told otherwise, somewhat useful, for very simple requests, and totally incompetent for anything that requires a bit of planning, insight or sagacity. In time, I am sure they will become deserving of the AI tag. As of today, they are just AS.
  • For years, I've refused to buy a new phone because they always had an annoying headphone jack. I always hated it with its stupid port and for providing me with the option to listen to music while charging. I was really excited when Apple innovated the iPhone 7 without the headphone jack but I'm not really into the iPhone right now because it doesn't offer enough dongles yet. Thank you, HTC, for recognizing what users want and giving us a reason to shell out money for a new phone!
  • Stop confusing hardware with software!

    The smartphone has i.e. a camera. The operating system has something they call AI.

The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be correct. -- William of Occam