Phone or tablet? One of the rivals was telling us to "feel free". If asked, Sony would probably go for a simple yes. As in, why not have both. As in we cannot quite make up our mind either. As in... hell yeah. The latter suits the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Boy, does it not!
It's a sexy piece of design and impressively powered, too. Four Krait 400 cores clocked way up to 2.2 GHz and 2 gigs of RAM on the Snapdragon 800 chipset will never leave you short on torque. Sony has done well to address the screen deficiencies of past models and the X-Reality-powered (former Mobile Bravia) Triluminos display offers nicely improved viewing angles compared to the original Xperia Z.
It's an ultra-responsive screen too, which can register pen or pencil input. And we mean just any pen or pencil you may have lying around, not a dedicated stylus along the lines of the Galaxy Notes.
The Sony phablet is remarkably slim, at 6.5mm, not the slimmest ever but certainly the slimmest device with a screen over 6-inches. And Sony managed to up the level of protection and obtain IP58 certification for the Xperia Z Ultra, which practically means you can go swimming with it.
There is also a solid camera on board with particularly high video recording quality.
So far, so splendid. Indeed, there are no real deal-breakers with this phone. Of course, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is not without its weak spots, but it's nothing major. The non-removable battery is one of the issues. The lack of a flash (which usually nicely doubles as a flashlight is a downer, too. And let's not forget the quiet loudspeaker.
OK, we've mentioned it a couple of times already - and the clash of the two phablets is imminent anyway, with the Note III scheduled to be reveled in a matter of hours. All we have at the time of writing is unofficial preliminary specs, but the S-Pen and a 5.7" 1080p screen are more or less a safe bet. In all likelihood, it will be the same chipset too, so the phablet crown will be pretty much decided between these two. We can't wait.
Or there may very well be a third horse in the race, the recently-announced Liquid S2. Acer will probably struggle to match Samsung and Sony's level of brand recognition, but that's about the only area perhaps where the Liquid S2 falls short. With a 6" 1080p IPS LCD, it's powered by the same Snapdragon 800 chipset and is the world's first smartphone capable of shooting 4K UHD videos.
Of course, there are other, more affordable options, out there but they're alternatives rather than real competition for the Xperia Z Ultra. The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is the closest match for screen size but the resolution maxes out at 720p. The situation with the Huawei Ascend Mate is pretty much the same. Neither of those however matches the brilliant design and IP certification of Sony's phablet.
There goes the Xperia Z Ultra, more a tablet than a phone. A bit unwieldy for sure, especially compared to Samsung's Notes. But it sure shows the Japanese have hit the form of their life, unafraid to experiment in a segment they debut in. 6+" diagonal must've been too much for Samsung. They are playing it safe there with an expendable midranger, the Galaxy Mega 6.3, instead of pushing the Note III to its limit.
The Xperia Z Ultra is a seriously cool looking gadget, although an extra millimeter around the waist and another 1,000mah of juice might have been a smart move as well. Still, Sony's phablet has demonstrated unmatched performance - the browser loads everything instantly, apps are bullet-quick - and it also has the best screen on a phablet yet.
Of course, it may soon lose this or that advantage to the likes of the LG G2 or the Galaxy Note III, but even then it will be a force to be reckoned with for quite a while. And a phablet to be proud of. So, keep them coming, Sony.