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.
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.
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.
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.
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.