HTC has confirmed its first big launches of 2017, with the reveal of a new family of devices, called U.

The HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play make up the pair of devices and in fitting with the name, HTC says that these devices are designed to be closer to you, to get to know you and to become better smartphone companions. 

This is thanks to HTC Sense Companion, an app that gets to know you, managing your phone in a more personal way. It will, for example, aim to manage your battery use to reflect your daily patterns, make smart suggestions about your alarms if you've left them set during a national holiday and so on.

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Aiming to differentiate, Sense Companion plans to go above and beyond Google Assistant - also offered on these phones - to create a symbiotic relationship between you and your phone. 

Marketing and positioning aside, it's the U Ultra that's the star of the show. Although the U Ultra isn't HTC's 2017 flagship, the specs are very much at top level, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, with microSD. Then there's the 5.7-inch Quad HD display, supported by a second ticker display for notifications. That's Pixel XL-beating specs

Around the back there's a 12-megapixel camera with OIS and laser focusing, and a massive 16-megapixel front camera.

The HTC U Play takes things down a step, with a 5.2-inch Full HD display and powered by a MediaTek Helio P10 chipset with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. The smaller device also misses out on that second display, so although it's fairly well equipped, it's a different device.

There's a change to the camera too, with a lesser 16-megapixel camera with smaller pixels and missing out on laser focusing. It too has a 16-megapixel front camera. 

What both devices share is a luscious design that's a real departure for HTC. Called liquid surface, the U phones are a glass sandwich, but with colour and depth to the back like you've never seen before. It's a real premium finish and although it will need a regular wipe, both devices look great.

The HTC U Ultra and U Play will be available in the UK around mid-February, coming in white, black, blue and pink, prices are still to be confirmed.