There’s no question about it – the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is one might impressive ‘smartphone’, though some may consider the 6.4-inch display a tad too large. However, that doesn’t stop the Z Ultra from being a really nice and slick device.
One of the most impressive things about this handset is that Sony opted for the Snapdragon 800 processor over the Snapdragon 600 we’ve been seeing in most flagship devices launched this year. How does the Xperia Z Ultra stand up against the competition, though? Find out in our review!
Put frankly, Sony’s Xperia phones look really stylish, and the company seems to have found its groove for its Xperia lineup, as the general design elements remain the same. It’s a pretty sweet looking theme among these devices. That said, and putting the size aside for now, we see elements of the Sony Xperia Z in its rigid corners. As you can see, the entire front is made of the screen, and the back has the standard ‘Xperia’ logo with the 8-megapixel camera in the top corner.
The button layout is standard for Xperia devices — big, silver power button atop the volume rockers, which are positioned right where your thumb would land. As we’ve all come to expect with Sony phones, the IP certification means that every port is covered with a small piece of rubberized plastic, effectively making the device dust-proof, and water resistant. And for anyone that’s ever lost a smartphone to a toilet or any of the other myriad water-based opportunities, this should certainly come as good news. Why can’t more smartphone manufacturers do this?
I did see a problem with the SIM and microSD card slot cover — no matter how much I tried to get it to feel secure, it just didn’t. Finally, after exerting a bit more effort, I was able to make it completely secure and flat with the rest of the side, instilling more confidence in the device’s resilience.
Nonetheless, the Xperia Z Ultra is one of the most attractive phones ever. The black slate design is in full force here, even with this white edition. At 6.5mm thin and 212 grams light, the Z Ultra is a featherweight of a phone that feels quite light and svelte, despite being absolutely massive.
Sony has always had a knack for making sleek and somewhat futuristic looking devices, and the Z Ultra is yet another testament to that. In the hand the Xperia Z Ultra is a tablet, especially when holding it in landscape — there’s no other way around it. The Xperia Z Ultra is simultaneously the biggest phone and at the same time, the smallest tablet. That said, using the device in a single hand can be difficult, but it’s certainly possible.
Turning the phone on its side and working landscape gives you a much more natural feeling since the bezels on the top and bottom are large enough for thumbs. Ease of use in landscape makes the Xperia Z Ultra feel good and make it quite like a personal assistant in that regard.
As a phone this is far from an easy thing to bring around. While thin enough to fit in most pockets, it is so tall that it will stick right out. Then, there’s the fear that any awkward tilts or bends will snap it in two. It’s not that fragile, by any means, but you can’t help but feel that way with such a tall and thin device.
Attractive, huge, practical one day, fun another, and then just plain odd to handle yet another day, there is only one way to describe this monster. It’s altogether the toy we dreamed of as kids, but then often think of as overkill as adults. Luckily it manages to please both those sides in all of us.
Coming in at a whopping 6.4-inches, the Xperia Z Ultra’s display is one of the largest you’ll ever see, on a, er, smartphone. While some displays (Nexus 10, Sony Xperia Tablet Z) are surpassing that 1080p resolution, the Xperia Z Ultra stuck with the tried and true. Sporting 1080p resolution, it features 334 pixels per inch. It’s definitely one of the most impressive with its Triluminos feature and the X Reality engine.
Display wise, the Xperia Z Ultra is a great improvement over the Xperia Z. Speaking of the Xperia Z, if you remember, the viewing angles weren’t the best, but in the Xperia Z Ultra, they’re at least decent. The enhancements bring a good level of contrast among the colors, too.
Watching videos makes you feel like you’re holding a small Sony BRAVIA TV. In broad daylight, however, the brightness leaves something to be desired. Ultimately, it’s a screen made for mostly indoor usage, partially due to its lack of true brightness, but also because of its sheer size. When it is done right, however, this is a really fun screen to use.
The other enhancement to this screen is its ability to register touches from a myriad of metal surfaces. This is most practical with, say, the back of a pen, perhaps the tip of a pencil, a key, a headphone plug, the corner of your sunglasses…
Probably the most important part of the Xperia Z Ultra is the performance. No, we’re not looking at the S4 Pro packaged into the Xperia Z or the Snapdragon 600 found in most 2013 flagships. In the Xperia Ultra Z, we have the top dog of mobile processing — the Snapdragon 800. Clocked in at a impressive 2.2GHz, this package is backed by the Adreno 330 and the standard 2GB of RAM.
As you might expect with such impressive specs, scores were incredibly high in AnTuTu, and Epic Citadel flowed as beautifully as I’ve ever seen. I don’t even have to mention how fast and easy it is to fly through the Xperia Z Ultra’s interface. Multitasking with Small Apps is even more impressive.
Looking at the Xperia Z Ultra’s hardware, it has 16GB of onboard memory along with a microSD slot to allow yourself more storage space. As we mentioned earlier, the Xperia Z Ultra has IP-58 certifications for water and dust resistance.
As far as sensors go, the Xperia Z Ultra actually falls a bit behind the competition with the lack of an IR Blaster. So much for controlling things in your living room with such an advanced handset. A shame, really, but not necessarily a feature that many users will take advantage of.
Furthermore, various versions of the Xperia Z Ultra are available for various networks and LTE connectivity, so be sure of what you’re getting for your respective network.
A very thin 3,050 mAh battery is packaged inside the Xperia Z Ultra. With such a large capacity, it’s supposed to get this incredibly large phone through an entire day of work and play, and it seems successful at doing just that.
In my battery tests, I watched a couple of episodes of Top Gear — that’s two hours of high quality programming — and after 2 hours I got to 70%. That would put the battery in straight media consumption crack up to 7 hours. In a full day’s work, the good standby time and power saving features help the phone get through that full day you need. If you use it like a tablet with a lot of continuous usage, you’ll get tablet-like longevity.
If you use it less intensively and more like a phone, then you’ll get more out of it.
Pretty much every tablet we’ve seen, the Xperia Z Ultra’s camera does not include a flash diode and that usually alludes to its quality. In the app, things remain largely the same as in previous Xperia phones — you get the Superior Auto that hearkens back to Cybershot days and does a good job getting the right settings for your shot.
Included are a number of scenes for pinpointing the best shot settings, sweeping panorama, and some picture effects. Other than that it’s more of what we’ve come to expect from a smartphone camera, though with a device this big and advanced, it would’ve been nice to see a 13-megapixel camera instead of the 8MP performer.
The camera, like all top performing 8MP+ on the market, does very well in brightly lit environments. It also has an affinity for the macro photo takers in all of us, as evidenced by the photo above.
As for picture quality, it’s good enough for a device you might not be taking many pictures with. Without a flash unit, you won’t be taking many low light shots, but luckily, good lighting makes for nice pictures out of the Z Ultra. While this phone manages to be just small enough to not look as weird as a tablet when taking pictures, it certainly toes the line. And, its quality makes it a camera backup rather than a replacement shooter.
Sony’s Xperia UI hasn’t changed a whole lot since the Xperia Z, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because the Xperia Z came out not too long ago. Sony keeps their interface pretty simplistic, only with an Ice Cream Sandwich theme, despite running Android 4.2. One notable edition I found in the Xperia Z Ultra is a built in way of connecting your PlayStation 3 controller to the phone. It’s actually a pretty awesome feature, if you own a PlayStation 3 controller. ROM’s anyone?
Otherwise, you get pretty typical elements in much darker and less colorful tones. You get the different Sony apps for media consumption, like the Gallery and the Walkman. And finally the Small Apps, small overlays that give you quick access to little apps for multitasking.
This is the price for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra – unlocked.
A price for the Xperia Z Ultra in the U.S. hasn’t been revealed just yet, but it does sell for a whopping £800 over on Amazon U.K. Convert that to USD and you’ve got one of the most expensive phones ever. In reality, the American price should actually only be $800USD, but general release info is still vague.
And so, there you have it. If you’ve noticed me go back and forth in this review, that’s really just the nature of this device. At one point it’s brilliantly fun and the size is great for putting the world at your fingertips. In other instances it’s just not a practical device unless it’s used primarily in your office or home.
All at once this is a phone that appeals to the toy driven kid in all of us, the spec hungry, and the part of us that is, for all intents and purposes, curious. And when you finally get your hands on the device you will either find a lot to love about it, hate the size, or ponder that one day this might become the standard — but it won’t be mine, yet.
And how about you? Any thoughts on Sony’s latest creation? There’s no doubt that it’s a highly impressive device, and represents the first handset to come into our review lab with a Snapdragon 800 SoC. What would have done to make it more compelling? Is this Sony’s Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One Max competitor? Sound off in the comments below!
Like this post? Share it!
“The Xperia Z Ultra is simultaneously the biggest phone…”
What about the Asus FonePad?
Should have continued with, “That isn’t based off of the Nexus 7″
meh battery on these phablets are pathetic. don’t the manufacturer hear the cries of consumer for larger batteries? plus i thought the adreno 330 was supposed to be 50% better yet test on the lg g2 says otherwise
One of the reason why they wanna keep to thin profile is to maintain the weight of the device. we are talking about phabet here, weight does matter and is often forgotten. you will notice the sore when holding a 262g instead of a 212g one, though the difference is just mere 50g.
7 hours may not be the best, certainly not the worst either, if one needs more juice, he/she can always have a power bank along. note that not everyone prefers a BUILT IN THICK AND HEAVY DEVICE, if you want, just get a power bank.
still does not explain for the high battery consumption from adreno 330. Again its SUPPOSED to be more efficient. up to 50%!!!!! sadly it didn’t deliver. this reviwer just provided a very incomplete review which is worthless. i could read marketing ads and learn more
I think Sony just missed a chance to really fight the phablet war. The slim profile is cool but the Ultra is just too big to be used like a phone and just too small to be used like a tablet. If Sony really wanted to fight the Note 3 or the One Max, it should have chosen a 5.7, 5.8 display. With this size, no matter the wonderful specs, it will be a niche device like the Mega 6.3. I fell that Sony just tried to create a new niche for high-end devices, like Samsung did with the first Note. Only time will tell with certain if they are right, but I think, again, that the Ultra is just too big and just too small at the same time to be really successful like the Note.
No way! I’m buying the XZU and not considering the Note 3 and HTC One Max because of the desire for a large screen size.
Its a niche product and not targeted at main stream audiences.
Pocketability is actually pretty good. In this reviewers tiny jeans, even the Note 2/LG G2 wouldn’t have fit.
Horses for courses but please don’t judge how I use and prefer my devices. If its not for you so be it, but don’t make it something its not designed to be.
so compared to the note3 the xzu is:
- inferior screen ie. color, contrast, sharpness, and viewing angle
- inferior battery
- laughable result of stylus application and usability
- inferior speakers
- inferior camera
- no flash
- poor phone capabilies
- on top of that sony extremely poor track record for updates/ support
and you still want this pos? well go ahead I would want to see you in line when I get my note 3 anyway
You shouldn’t forget the extra “weight” brought by TouchWiz (see S4 vs S4 Google edition).
When talking about updates, it’s not a good idea to bring Samsung along.
Only a face to face will clear this. Let’s wait and see.
Forget this. This is important for a lot of guys but doesn´t matter to others. The hardware specs of the Android flagships are reaching a point where it is impossible to differentiate one from another. The Android flagship of the end of 2013 will have a 5.0 screen (the G2 has 5.2), Snapdragon 800 CPU (the S4 will receive a international version with this CPU. The One most certainly will receive and update too), an Adreno 330 GPU, 13 megapixel camera (except the One with that joke called Ultrapixel) and a big battery.
The only thing that will really differentiate a smartphone from the other to the mainstream public is software features, no matter if in the end people never really uses them.
And speaking of OEMs, it really doesn´t matter what do you choose. The only Android devices that really, really receive timely updates are the Nexus ones. The others (even the S4 and One GEs will not receive fast updates like the Nexus devices, as Google already confirmed).
Have you seen the screen of either device?
Battery – rumoured 3200mah vs 3050mah is an extra 20 minutes (5% difference). Woot to you!
Stylus, camera are fair points but screen size is king. +0.76″ is a huge difference and will make a massive difference for reading, browsing.
Haha record for updating…yeah Samsung is great at that…you keep telling yourself that. At least Sony will contribute to AOSP and use a standard open source processor like the S800. (unlike exynos proprietary crap).
My note 2 is still stuck on 4.12 which it came with on launch…
Haha you line up for phones…enough said… :P
Man, are you really serious? Or stupid? I never said anything bad about people that bought this phone and their preferences, specially yours. I never judged anyone. I was only commenting about the phone.
Do you really think that a 5.2 device like the LG G2
wouldn´t fit in this guy’s pocket???
You said “don’t make it something its not designed to be”. Seriously, are you really really talking about the same device as me? It´s a smartphone, right? It´s intended to be used like one. Carried all the day in pockets and used is the street.
Yes, it´s a niche device, but will it be successful??? The Note 2 is a success and and sold something like 20 million units. If it´s a niche smartphone, Sony just missed a monstrous chance of doing a mainstream device that a lot of people would buy. I´m buying a Note 3 or One Max at the end of the year. I really like all the features of the Ultra but it´s just too big.
I don´t have big hand and I want to carry my smartphone without worrying to have deep pockets all the time. I want a smartphone, not a mini-tablet. For media consumption, I already have a 10.1 tablet.
And how do you know the pocketability is fine??? Have you ever put this phablet in your pocket to know??? I didn´t but you can see in the video how huge it is in a normal pocket.
About the battery, the latest rumor is 3440 mAh. The reason your Note 2 wasn´t updated is because Samsung decided to jump Android 4.2.2. The Note 2 and the S3 will receive the 4.3 version.
Again, do you really understand anything about open source??? Do you know what you are talking about???
Samsung is not a symbol of openness but you know that Qualcomm is one of the more IP protective companies? We don´t know for sure (he said he can´t say the reason because of the lawyers) but all the smartphone sites bet that the reason Jean-Baptiste Queru, the great JBQ, leaved Android Open Source Project is Qualcomm is a pain in the ass to deal with. They simply don´t want to release the binaries and factory images to devices like the new Nexus 7. If you don´t know what I´m talking about or who is JQB just do a little search here in AA. The openness of Android just lost one of it´s greatest defenders.
If you think this device is meant for mainstream then clearly its not for you. Its a phablet, not a main stream smart phone ala S4. Just like how the Galaxy mega was never designed to be mainstream – it targets a niche audience.
The reviewer didn’t even try to push it in his pocket. Most people on XDA who actually OWN this device have no issues with pocketability. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2396505
I’m not saying qualcomm is perfect, but they’re much much better than samsung and exynos…just ask any XDA developer.
Having researched this phone for the past 6 months since the rumours first started, I actually know and have read most of the articles/users thoughts about it. Can you say the same?
Yes, I can say the same. I read a lot about the Ultra just as I read a lot about all the other Android flagships, be them tablets, phablets and smartphones. As I am specially interested in phablets, I can say I read as much as anyone else read about this device.
I never said in my original post that this isn´t a niche device. I said that if this is the case, Sony just missed a chance to make a mainstream phablet, like the Note 3 or the One Max, that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.
The same way I never judged your preferences, I never said anything about people that will really buy it.
My post is totally focused Sony business decisions. I really don´t give a shit if other people prefer Sony, Samsung, HTC, Apple or Nokia.
Yes, Sony created a niche device at 6.4. They will also release the Honami next month, that will most certainly feature a 5.0 screen. This leave a big hole in Sony lineup. They just missed a really big chance to make the new mainstream phablet king. A lot of people would certainly buy this phone if it had a 5.8 screen, a less slimmer profile, the same battery and the IP 58 rating.
If this is the case, I would certainly drop other devices to grab an Ultra for myself.
About the pocketability, look at this comparison and tell me if it´s really that pocketable. This is my opinion. Everyone has the right to have one.
Fair enough. Glad they did make a 6.44″ one though as its the main reason I’m getting it over something tiny like the 5.7″ note 3. Having used a gtab 7.7 as a phone for six months (in the pocket and no headsets), this is nothing! :P
The pic you linked looks pretty pocketable – whereas the Nexus 7 looks borderline (ie fine on work days but not in casual wear/on the weekends).
In case you need more proof that the reviewer had a) tiny pockets b) didn’t really try to push it in.
It’s all your opinion. n.n So, I believe you should add to your assumptions the useful three letters: “IMO”.
Lean to conversate, express your point of view pleasantly. That way your opinion will be stronger and will actually persuade,even if you don’t want it to.
I only wrote this rude way because this liqn7 guy said that I judged the preferences of the guys that will buy the Ultra, what I never did in my original post.
I also didn´t included IMO in first post simply because I wrote “I think” in the beginning of the post implying that the commentary is my opinion, my view about the gadget. Thanks for the advice anyway.
poor updates and support? as for the OEM chosen by XDA as the best on 2012 and most of the mid-range phone updates and also some older flagship (not only flagship)?
Looks like this guy Owns the Note 3 already! Appreciated!
Say No to Cheap PlasticPhone!..
No one says being smart at something is easy. Well said, agree.
boy are u school kid or anything..if its not for you thats ok..but how can u compare z ultra with note 3 …are u nuts??its something like comparing horse with the donkey..looks ,design and large screen alone can blow sammy crap out of the water..no matter what they do sammy crap can never touch the class of awesome unbelievably thin,sexy premium device..and try taking ur note 3 in rain and water it will die on you..let alone thinking of swimming with it which the z ultra can do effortlessly..try comparing the hypersaturated cartoon screen with the triluminous xreality screen side by side..we can all laugh at the difference of quality..come on boy get some fresh air..stop living in delusional dream world sammy created for you…cheers
I’m with you and when I hear people say “its too big to use as a phone for people will laugh” I only have to ask who are these people and do I give a d******. I used a 6″ chinese phone for a while that was pretty good quality and I’m waiting for my Sony as we speak. Hey if I’m going to use all those great apps I want to have enough room to actually use them!
Really? I’m considering the ZU and not the Note because I think if I do go for a massive screen I might as well go the whole way and get something that actually functions as a small tablet as well as a large phone. Having said that I haven’t handled a ZU so my opinion is based on reviews only
I have it. It is more than impressive. Yes it’s gigantic. But wafer thin and light. It is soo quick and responsive. Get either the Sony Sbh50 or the SBH52 to combat the size while using it as a phone. This device is for media consumers. People that text more than call and have adequate if not unlimited data. If you’re gonna use it to make a ton of calls this is not for you.
I love this phone, I have owned it for a week and was only reticent about using it as my daily driver until my aftermarket cases came, which they did and they fit it like a glove. Its very much a statement device, more than a phone and a little more than a tablet. I am a professional who has 2 active email accounts, am on the phone a bit and stream music via Bluetooth to my car and my headphones at the gym. I am getting close to 14 hours of heavy use out of it each day and it has shown no lag whatsoever. If your considering, the white is the only way to go. I have not noticed any fingerprints on it at all. Thankfully the cases I ordered, thank you Hong Kong, all came with screen protectors. Seriously, forget the argument of phone, tablet or….It’s a spec laden STATEMENT and perfect for those of you who need to be able to SEE without having to double tap, pinch and zoom.
All in all, I rate the phone 8 out of 10, I am still trying to used to the Sony UI, but its a lovely phone nonetheless and as close to stock Android as you can get without it being..well…Stock Android :)
where did you get the case? type & link please. thx
Best one of the four I got. Slim, sleek, fits and protects
I am really considering this device but the ONLY thing that is holding me back is “how on earth am I going to go around the gym or for a nature run with a device like this?”.
I can see myself buying the SBH52 but I am not sure if the NFC compatibility would have a limited range.
So, if you don’t mind, can you please tell me how are you carrying this device around at the gym?
Good morning, Ironically I was reading your question at the gym. The phone was 12 meters away under a bench, whilst I was training with a set of Bluetooth headphones on. NOW these are by far the best headphones I have owned, and would highly recommend them, until the SBH52 is available for sale in September. http://www.mobilezap.com.au/26856-moor-stereo-bluetooth-headset.htm <——– also look for them on EBAY. I recommend a good case as well, I have three of them and they are all perfect for "portability" Let me know if you want links. But I suggest the ROCK Flip from EBAY :) Hope this helps… Michael
Hey! Thanks for your reply. I am going to pre-order the LTE version. I really like the Rock Flip case, I am going to get that too.
I love watching movies at the gym to kill time while doing my cardio. This phone will be PERFECT.
As for the headset, I’d rather wait till SBH52 comes out. Thank you once again!
I jog around the neighborhood with it in my pocket, so it’s not really an issue for me.
This phone is really nice. Too big for me but I will certainly buy the honami i1 which should have similar specs.
About the price, Amazon UK sells the phone for over £800 but you can find the phone on clove.co.uk or expansys.com for £612 and £639 respectively (inc. vat).
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/231022898456?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 best case
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/330967611684?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 second best case
Still waiting on
I was really interested in this device (currently own a Note 2), largely due to the ability to use any device like a stylus. The two things that turned me off was that they’re not using Corning glass (which is a must, IMO, with a screen this size), and the lack of a flash. The lack of flash I thought was extremely odd given this is Sony we’re talking about.
After reading this, I was additionally disappointed at the poor viewing angles and poor outdoor visibility. I’m also not a huge fan of the square corners, especially on a device this large. Rounded corners would make the device look a little less imposing.
It’s still an impressive device, but I think I’ll ride the waves a little longer and see what makes it to shore in the next few months.
You have a bug, the page displays a dialog box saying: “apps list” when opened. When you dismiss it it comes back again.
This is my smart-phone all the specs is stunning!
The screen is so sensitive! If you have sweaty palms like me, this will be very disappointing. It will mess entirely the screen.. Taps everything..
You will have to turn off the screen and wipe it out then it gets back to normal
You know what, you can call me a SONY fan…
My first mobile was a T610, which was one of the first with a good display and camera
Then came along the K500, with its amazing sound quality
Then K750i, with its Cybershot camera and LED Flash
W800 followed suite, with its WALKMAN application
Post this, came the S500, with its amazing colour accents
Then it was K850′s turn. It had a 5 MP camera and LED flash
I loved all these feature phone……
Then came the Android Xperia X10, which was an amazing phone, considering it had a 4″ screen and 8 MP camera with HD recording. I simply loved this phone.
Now, i rock an Xperia Z Ultra and there is no looking back
SONY….. Yeah baby yeah !!!
SONY launcher is the lightest among it all… anyday i would prefer the Google launcher…. But comparing Samsung’s TouchWiz, LG and HTC Sense, SONY is definitely better
Light launcher with minimal gimmicks
You know !!)