Sony Xperia Z Ultra outclasses the supersized competition

by: Andrew GrushJune 25, 2013


It wasn’t that long ago that a 4-inch display would have been considered gigantic. Fast forwarding to 2013 and “bigger is better” certainly seems to be the accepted philosophy when it comes to smartphones.

Manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei have quickly pushed past six inch displays and are flirting ever so closely with the border between phone and tablet. Not one to be shown up for long, Sony recently unveiled its massive Xperia Z Ultra.

The 6.4-inch supersized Sony smartphone truly bests the competition in every way, not just when it comes to size but functionality and design, too.


As you can see, the Ascend Mate and Galaxy Mega 6.3 don’t even begin to hold a candle to Sony’s newest big-screen smartphone.

The Z Ultra not only has a beefy Snapdragon 800 processor and Full HD display, it also wins the show with an extraordinarily thin design. The ZU comes in at just 6.5mm versus the Galaxy Mega’s 8mm, or the Mate’s 9.9mm profile.

There’s clearly a lot to be impressed about when it comes to the Z Ultra, especially on paper. From a hardware standpoint, is the Xperia Z Ultra perfect though? Admittedly, it isn’t without its weaknesses.

For starters, the 8MP camera has no flash, which could certainly anger photo buffs out there. The ZU also has just a 3,000 mAh battery, though we really can’t say how this affects its battery life until we get the chance to play with the handset for ourselves.

Still, Samsung and Huawei should be sitting up and taking notice of the Sony Xperia ZU.

Sony saw the trend of increasing screen sizes, and reacted just like the competition – but with one major difference: Sony did more than slap a big display on an otherwise unimpressive handset.

What sets the Xperia Z Ultra apart from the crowd.

With the Ascend Mate, Huawei at least went a little above and beyond by giving it a reasonably performing quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. The Ascend Mate’s hardware isn’t ground-breaking, but it isn’t at all bad either.

As for the Galaxy Mega? Take away that 6.3-inch display and all you are left with is a dual-core decisively mid-range handset with only 1.5GB RAM, 8GB storage, a 720p display and few features to really make us say “WOW”.

If you were to shrink the Sony Xperia Z Ultra’s display down to something much smaller, you’d still find a highly-powerful 1080p smartphone with a bleeding-edge Snapdragon 800 processor. It’s also worth mentioning that the phone is also waterproof and dust resistant.

Beyond the obvious, Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra employs quite a bit of “extras” that further help it stand out. Sony’s Triluminous technology improves color gamut considerably over the Xperia Z, and the X-Reality Engine gives us much sharper video.

Let’s also not forget that the Z Ultra has true note-taking functionality thanks to its unique ability to use pens, a graphite pencil or just about anything as a stylus.


What the competition can learn from the Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Sony made some sacrifices with the Xperia Z Ultra. In order to keep the profile thin, the camera and battery aren’t as good as they could be. The design also appears to have a non-removable battery, though the Z Ultra is far from the only phone moving towards such a design.

Will any of this hurt the reception of the Z Ultra? While we can’t predict the future, we doubt it. Instead, consumers will probably be too busy taking notice of its impressive 1080p display, powerful processor and extremely thin, sexy design.

The Ascend Mate and Galaxy Mega aren’t bad phones by any means, but you can’t exactly call them head-turners.

This is somewhat similar to how the HTC One has won over quite a bit of attention, due to an equal mix of solid specs and amazing design. Like the Xperia Z Ultra, the HTC One made some sacrifices (such as no microSD), but in the long-term, the average consumer doesn’t really pay mind these shortcomings, or at least can look past them.

How the Galaxy Note 3 factors into the super-sized phone battle

For now, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is the fastest, sexiest and most powerful phone in its class. Unfortunately, like all things, it is a position that won’t last. The smartphone world evolves quickly and what is the best today might not be on top of the game tomorrow.

The most immediate rival will probably be the Note 3.

While the Galaxy Note 3 will come nowhere near the Xperia Z Ultra in terms of display size (rumored at 5.7-inches), if the specs and feature set are similar – it will still be Sony’s biggest threat in the big display smartphone market. Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra has also come to the market early enough that Samsung may be able to learn a few lessons from the 6.4-incher before bringing out its next-gen Note.

Still, Sony has done a fantastic job with the Xperia Z Ultra and for those that want an absolutely massive phone with tons of power, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better.

  • inspire

    the writer seems to be anti-sony!

    • MasterMuffin

      How? He’s saying that this is currently the best phone in its category and that competition needs to learn from Sony. If you read the article, it seems to be quite opposite

  • mumusen

    no flash? that’s stupid.

  • rog

    ok come on only bigger by an inch no flash

    • mobilemann

      that’s what she said

  • trololo

    The only phone recently introduced to have NO flash! Come on Sony, at least an LCD

    • hahaha


    • Gilles LeBlanc

      What if having flash means thicker phone? They did say they where compromising for it.

  • Charles Chambers

    I’m spoiled by the boom sound. I would love to own this phone but I can’t give up the htc one boom sound.

  • Garry DeWitt

    No flash
    Possible battery life issues
    no front facing speakers

    Only things making me hesitate. I guess we’ll find out when reviews come around.

  • hoggleboggle

    love the any-pen stylus input and the water proofing, but it is just too big for me. not quite enough to be a tablet and too much to be a phone. the current note 2 is probably pushing the absolute limits as far as practical phone sizes go. i really hope samsung go with a 5.7 inch display and not any bigger.

  • Rockwell mellow

    They cut corners making it too thin which has ruined it imo

  • Grman Rodriguez

    I don’t see the point on these article, it’s like saying the Xperia Z was the best smartphone ever back in January, while it can be true you should wait for everyone to launch their bad boys before comparing, we all know the Mega is just a experiment and has no real intention to compete with the Z Ultra

  • najiy91

    togari or xz ultra is not the so called note 3 giant killer. yes sony make a mistake with no led but wait for the beast.HONAMI!

  • yeah

    I very rarely get a decent shot using flash anyway, so that is not that big of a deal. Love the thinness, but the battery life surely will be a question mark, no matter what Sony says about the stamina mode.

    Hopefully this will at least inspire Samsung to put more effort to its design of the Note 3, although I doubt it.

  • Xennex1170

    Any bets on Sony coming out with a case for the phone that has a built in LED flash? :D

  • Kile

    I’d be really keen on this, but again no removable battery. So the note 3 or s4 active it is. Hopefully the note will be waterproof to make it the ultimate all in one device.

    Plus songs updates take agggesss or don’t happen. Samsung updates their flagships much quicker.

  • Robert Wood

    Non-removable battery = non-starter. Shame.

  • Peter Blanco

    In all honesty I try NOT to use flash so it doesn’t bother me much not having it. Does it have DDR3 ram or DDR2? That could make the difference between being the most powerful smartphone to date or not!