Sony Xperia Z Ultra review: Thinking big

GSMArena team, 03 September 2013.
Pages: 1234567891011

Tags: Sony, Android

Introduction

With the Xperia Z Ultra, Sony is finally turning its attention towards a market segment it has avoided so far. The market headstart of their flagship Xperia Z along with the subsequent releases in the upper midrange has set quite a serious foundation for Sony's mobile phone business creating an excellent possibility for experimenting in a niche that has been invented and so far dominated by Samsung's Note series.


Sony Xperia Z Ultra official images

Of course, a 6.4" phablet stands little chance of matching the sales of a proper flagship such as the Xperia Z, but it's all about sending a message. And the message is loud and clear: "Be my guest, Galaxy Note III". There's more to it of course - it's about the company's level of confidence to venture into unknown territories. Indeed, it's not every day that we see a device that not only dwarfs the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, but is getting ready to challenge the Note III. It takes courage to stand up to the standard-setter but, at least on paper, the Xperia Z Ultra has the looks and the powerful hardware to pull it off.

Before we proceed any further, here's the cheat sheet for this review.

key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with 42Mbps HSPA; 150Mbps LTE
  • 6.4" 16M-color 1080p capacitive touchscreen Triluminos display (344ppi pixel density); X-Reality engine
  • Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean with custom UI
  • Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400 CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with geo-tagging, HDR
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • 2 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • IP 58 certification - dust resistant and water resistant
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV out
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 16GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
  • MHL-enabled microUSB port
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
  • Gorgeous design and impressively slim waistline
  • Ample 3050 mAh battery

Main disadvantage

  • Unwieldy size for a phone
  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • No camera flash or camera shutter key
  • Below average loudspeaker performance (probably due to the increased water tightness)
  • No proper video playback decoders (XviD, DivX) out of the box

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is one beast of a smartphone (although at this size it already steps on tablet territory). The Snapdragon 800 chipset brings a meaningful performance improvement over an already very snappy Snapdragon 600, while the screen packs all the latest technology Sony has its hands on. The Triluminos display of 1080p resolution promises to solve the long-standing viewing angle issues in Sony's lineup, while the X-Reality enhancements means punchy colors and impressive contrast.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Sony Xperia Z Ultra Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra at ours

With the screen and chipset bagging two industry firsts for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, you'll forgive us for being overly enthusiastic at the start of this review. There's quite a lot to test still and we are itching to see Sony's latest brave our review routine. We start with the design and build right after the break, followed by a closer look at the display before we treat you to a lengthy tour of the UI.

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