Our Sony Xperia Z Ultra review unit came in what looks like the standard retail packaging, which however had a pretty unusual set of contents. Gone were the microUSB cable and the headset, the only accessory included being a desk dock ending on regular USB and an AC adapter.
We suspect that was just our unit, though, and most of you will be getting a package along the usual lines.
Sporting a huge 6.4" screen with ample top and bottom bezels, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra stands at 179.4 x 92.2mm and sits closer to the 2013 edition of the Nexus 7 than, say, the Galaxy S4. Even the humongous Galaxy Mega 6.3 is more than a centimeter shorter and nearly half a centimeter narrower than the Sony phablet. This means that finding a pocket that can fit the Xperia Z Ultra would be rather, shall we say, tall task.
On the other hand, the phablet has a marvelously slim 6.5mm waistline meaning that if you do manage to find a large enough pocket, it will not create much of a bulge. The weight of 212g is quite hard to swallow too, although we wouldn't expect anything less from a device this size.
The Xperia Z Ultra has kept both the water resistance and the OmniBalance design of the new season's Xperia line and we don't mind that one bit. The device may be huge, but it's also one of coolest looking pieces of hardware that we've come across lately.
Using the same "glass is great, slim is even better" mantra as the Xperia Z, the Xperia Z Ultra goes for an even thinner chassis, which looks scorching hot. Combined with the impressive screen up front, this is a device you'd love to be seen with.
Trimming the waistline isn't even the only great thing about the Sony Xperia Z Ultra's design. The Japanese managed to improve the water-resistance in the process, getting a higher IP58 certification for the phablet, than the Xperia Z's IP57. This means that for all practical purposes, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is hermetically sealed.
The choice of materials has just one negative side - with twice the amount of glass used, there's that much more area to cover in smudges. Indeed the Xperia Z Ultra, just as the Xperia Z, turns into a greasy mess quite quickly, causing it to lose some of its brilliance. The good news is that cleaning it isn't particularly hard. Besides, you can always opt for the white version, which will certainly make fingerprints harder to spot than our black review unit.
The build quality is top notch as well - there are no squeaks, creaks or any other disturbing sounds to be heard when handling the phablet and it generally feels extra solid.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra has the same set of functional elements as its smaller Xperia Z sibling above the screen. The earpiece is flanked by the front-facing camera on one side, and the ambient light and proximity sensors alongside the LED status light on the other.
Since the Xperia Z Ultra relies on virtual navigation buttons rather than hardware ones, the microphone is all you get at the bottom. While the mic does reside under an identical grille to that of the earpiece, the phablet doesn't have front-mounted stereo-speakers.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra's right side features the phablet's signature power key, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack and a pretty huge plastic lid. The volume rocker and the lanyard eyelet are also here, but there's no dedicated camera key.
Underneath the ample piece of plastic sit the microSIM and microSD card slots as well as a pull-out tag with the regulator-mandated certifications.
The top of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is where the secondary microphone is located, while the bottom features the speaker.
On the left you get another plastic lid, only this time it's much tinnier. Underneath it sits the MHL-enabled microUSB with USB host support. The docking pins are some way further down the left side of the Xperia Z Ultra.
Finally, around back we spot the 8 megapixel camera lens and the small logo indicating where the NFC transmitter is. The notable absentee here is a flash of some sort, which obviously wasn't deemed important enough by Sony to include. This of course means that low-light photography with the Xperia Z Ultra is out of the question and that you also can't use the phablet as a torch.
Underneath the back cover sits a 3050 mAh battery that should keep the beast going for up to 16 hours of 3G talk-time or 820 hours of 3G stand-by. Those numbers sound impressive, but we are more interested in finding out how long the smartphone lasts when the screen is turned on and the monstrous chipset is not idle. You can read all about the battery performance on the next page.