• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

 

Smartphones just seem to be getting bigger all the time… it began with the Samsung Galaxy Note – the ‘phablet’ as it has become known – and now Sony has joined the bandwagon with the whopping 6.4in Xperia Z Ultra. It’s far bigger than either the Samsung Galaxy Mega or the Galaxy Note 3 and it is nearing tablet territory (when you consider the Google Nexus 7 – which is a tablet – measures 7ins).


But is it worth carrying around a cumbersome device to get that admittedly beautifully large screen?


Hey, good looking

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review Photo 1


It may be huge but it is enormously good looking – take a look at that bold, rectangular body (the same one you’ll find on the other Xperia smartphones in the stable). Smooth glass is the coating on both sides, and the body itself is amazingly slim at just 6.5mm. Choose from black white or purple models – but don’t be surprised if it gets covered in sticky fingermarks.


Okay we’ve put it off, but we have to talk about the size of the Ultra Z – one of the largest smartphones we’ve got our hands on – and in fact everyone kept asking us while we were testing it; is it a phone or a tablet? Well, the answer is not straightforward.

 

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review Photo 2


You don’t have to have a headset to make calls but you do look rather odd holding it up to your head – we even felt rather self-conscious getting it out on the train or bus. As it doesn’t quite measure up to 7ins it probably is too small to be put in the tablet class, but you’ll need rather large pockets to accommodate it – we managed to slip it into a pocket on a pair of baggy jeans, but kept getting prodded by it when we went up and down stairs. It’s better off for everyone if it’s thrown in a bag.


And it will stand up to a bit of rough treatment too – it’s dustproof and can survive being dropped in water (or more likely the loo) for 30 minutes or so. Drop it on the pavement though and it would end up with scratches at the very least.


Screen star


We absolutely love the 6.4-in Triluminous display. Almost stretching from edge to edge, the screen seems to hover on the surface, thanks to the fact that the device itself is so slim. Its Full HD 1080p resolution offers a 342 ppi, with clean, sharp images. Much of this is thanks to the X-Reality engine, which helps to keep everything beautifully vibrant. Watching HD films was a joy, with no ghosting or other problems – and it’s bright too, so can counter the harsh glare of the sun or office lights.
 
 Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review Photo 3

While the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 come with their own stylus, you can use a pencil or any other stylus on the Xperia Z Ultra – it worked very well using the already loaded Sketch app. It doesn’t offer quite the same level of control as Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, and in actual fact we’d rather have a neatly attached stylus on the device itself.


Nevertheless we were totally impressed by its flexibility – and how responsive the display is. We doodled away with the usual art apps and were able to take notes while on the phone – handy for jotting down addresses and phone numbers.


Powerhouse


Sony has managed to cram in an amazing amount of body into the slim chassis. Under the bonnet there’s a 2.2GHz quad-core chip that can cope with HD video, the latest games and apps – even after two years it shouldn’t be out of date. It gets a bit warm when you’re playing games, but this didn’t overly concern us.


That big screen would surely have an impact in battery life, we thought – but it still lasts a full day on a full charge – pretty impressive. This is helped enormously by its stamina mode, which means virtually no power is used when the phone is not in use. And if you’re streaming video, expect to get more than five hours before the battery dies.

 

 

Take a shot


The Xperia snappers never fail to please and the Z Ultra follows the pack, offering a great, feature-packed model, with an impressive Superior Auto mode, that automatically alters the settings to get the best shot in the available lighting conditions. Snaps taken in the daytime proved realistic colour-wise and well lit. And evening shots had less grain than we expected, but if the light gets too dim, you’ll just end up with a grainy mess. The shutter is fast, as is auto focus, and you can focus manually by tapping the screen.


Other modes include Burst, which takes around 10 snaps a second until you stop holding down the shutter and Picture effect, which makes your shots look distorted and animated. There’s sweep panorama and an HD video mode, which allows you to grab video and take snaps at the same time.
If you want full control there are manual controls, plus geotagging and timers. For ‘selfies’ and video calls, there’s a decent two-megapixel front-facing snapper.


It’s a pity there’s no physical shutter key though – you have to tap the display to take your shot.


 
The NFC support means you can connect to Sony devices such as headphones, TVs and backup servers, while the device also offers support for 4G LTE, so you get speedy internet access. There’s 16GB of onboard memory, which is expandable using a microSD memory card.


Our conclusion


This is a fabulous multimedia machine, which makes playing games, watching movies and surfing the web a joy while you’re out and about. But it doesn’t quite know if it’s a tablet or smartphone and is rather wieldy for carrying around – even compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. You should try it before you buy it to see if you really want a phone of this size.

Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions : 179 x 92 x 6.5 mm

Weight: 212 g

Dust-proof and water-resistant : (IP55 / IP58)

Screen size: 6.4 inch

Screen Resolution: 1920 * 1080 pixels

Screen Type: Triluminos with X-Reality Display

Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 344 PPI

Processor: 2.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974 Quad Core

RAM: 2GB

Battery capacity : 3000mAh

Onboard Memory: 16GB (microSD support)

Camera :  8 mega-pixel Exmor RS & 2 mega-pixel (front-facing)

Operating system: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE : Yes / Yes/ Yes

Bluetooth / NFC : Yes -/ Yes

Colours : Black, White & Purple

Launch Date: September 2013

Price : £600 (TBC)

Checkout the full Sony Xperia Z Ultra specification here.

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