Sony Xperia Z Ultra
We’ve been using the Sony Xperia Z Ultra for the last week and we’d like to share with you guys our full review. For starters let’s get one thing out of the way — the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a TABLET. We no longer consider it as a “phablet” because it’s really more of a tablet already at 6.4-inches. This is no longer a big phone. This is a small tablet that happens to have telephony features. It’s just crazy big at 6.4-inches to use as a daily driver smartphone. Probably the only way this will still pass as a phablet is if you’re a basketball player with ginormous hands, hehe.
Okay before we get to the full review, here’s a refresher on the specifications.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Spec Sheet
- 2.2GHz Quad-core CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor
- Adreno 330 GPU
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Internal Storage, expandable via microSD Card
- 6.4-inch Full HD TRILUMINOS™ Display for mobile powered by X-Reality™
- 8.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with Exmor RS for Mobile, HDR
- Front-facing camera (not sure yet what the MP is)
- WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, 3G, HSPA+, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS/aGPS
- 3,000mAh Battery
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- Waterproof and dust-resistant (IP55/IP58) durable design
Hardware: Massive, Razor Thin, and… uh… yeah it’s really big
At 6.4-inches, the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is a towering and imposing gadget, especially if you take the POV that this is still a smartphone or even a phablet. It easily and obviously dwarfs the standard 5.0-inch Android smartphones and much more the 4.0-inch iPhone 5. That said, the device will be hard to use as a phone. It will probably block most of your face the moment you hold it up to your ear, hehe.
Despite the massive size though Sony was able to keep the device razor thin and this helps immensely with ease-of-use. They applied the same “Omnibalance” design philosophy that we saw initially with the Sony Xperia Z and then with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.
>>> SEE ALSO: Sony Xperia Tablet Z Full Review
Similar also to the first Xperia Z, they applied the same dual-glass set-up for the front and the back. This gives the Xperia Ultra Z a very premium feel and look. In fact this is probably the nicest looking Android tablet ever made! Heck it can challenge the look and feel of our current favorite, the 2013 Google Nexus 7.
>>> CHECK OUT: 2013 Google Nexus 7 Full Review
The ports and buttons are all neatly placed on the sides of the device with doors/covers to make sure that the device is water resistant. Yes, you can actually submerge this into water and it will survive. So if you’re the type that always spills water on their gadgets you should probably consider getting this one, hehe.
There’s also a magnetic connector at the side which is made for the Xperia Z Ultra dock. This accessory is sold separately but functions like the Xperia Z Dock which we reviewed a few months back. Only difference is that it’s made for a 6.4-inch device.
>>> READ ALSO: Sony Xperia Z Full Review
Display Quality is Superb
One of the most stunning features of the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is the quality of the 6.4-inch display. The resolution of this bad boy is actually 1920×1080 (1080p) which comes out to 344 pixels per inch. That’s already much better than the resolution of the iPad Mini and even the Google Nexus 7. It’s really perfect for watching videos, reading, and other forms of media consumption. Also awesome for sharing photos with friends.
Over-all when it comes to hardware and design, the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is a very good small tablet with telephony features. It’s not as portable and easy to handle as a 5.0-inch smartphone though so it might not be the best daily driver device unless you always have a purse or bag with you to carry it around with.
Software: It’s The Most Powerful Device According to Benchmark Tests
Now this caught us completely by surprise. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is just as powerful as it is big. In fact it has registered the highest score we’ve ever seen on the Antutu Benchmark Test. It hit over 31,000. BOOM.
At this level combined with the sheer size you can probably call this the “Kaiju” of smartphones and phablets, hehe. If you don’t know what a Kaiju is, its those huge monsters that appeared on the movie Pacific Rim.
Anyway, so how do these numbers translate into user experience? In a word — superb. We got a virtually lag-free time with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Basic animations and transitions were all smooth and fluid, almost hitting the same levels as iOS. Apps loaded very fast, even if they are graphics and memory intensive games. Multi-tasking was also snappy. Apps would resume without any noticeable delay.
It shines the most though in games. One of the games that we usually use to test is Zombie Wood. It’s a free Android game (3D shooter). We got the smoothest and fastest gameplay ever of Zombie Wood on the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
The sheer power and the gorgeous display really makes the Xperia Ultra Z one of the best portable gaming machines out there. This makes you wonder why Sony isn’t making full use of their PlayStation platform to provide a superior and differentiated gaming experience.
If you want to see gaming on the Xperia Ultra Z in video, check out the most recent episode of the Unbox Video Podcast. We featured the device in full there. It should be in one of the first segments.
Other than gaming, the Xperia Ultra Z also is a fantastic media player! Watching videos on this device is an amazing experience since you have an 1080p 6.4-inch display. It’s also not that heavy and easy to hold (because of the thin form factor). When we were using this we filled it up with a lot of videos and we used it often while in the car riding to and from work and meetings.
It goes without saying that it also is a great e-reader. Regardless if you’re reading blogs, aggregators, or ebooks, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra will not disappoint.
If there’s one thing that the Ultra Z is bad with though it’s texting, especially if you’re going to try to do it with just one hand. The screen is just to big to be used the usual way you would use a smartphone. That’s one of the big reasons why we consider this as more of a tablet than a smartphone or phablet.
Everything considered, the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is a phenomenal entertainment device. The 6.4-inch display ensures a fantastic experience for media consumption but that also kinda makes it hard for basic telephony uses like texting and calling.
Camera: Average Fare
And just like a tablet the camera on the Sony Xperia Z Ultra isn’t really the best kinda you can get on a mobile device, hehe. There’s no LED flash too so it’s not ideal for low light situations. Here are some of the sample shots we took:
As you can see the colors are kinda washed out. It’s probably better than a lot of other cameras on tablets but it can’t hold its own against cameras of flagship smartphones.
Battery Life: Above Average
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra runs on a 3,000mAh battery. With 50% brightness, 3G, Sync, and our usual moderate-heavy usage of calls, texts, and browsing, we hit a little over 8 hours on the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. That’s arguably good already for smartphone standards. We’re a bit worried though that when we get the LTE model 3,000mAh might not be good enough anymore.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a fantastic small tablet with telephony features. Trying to justify it as a big smartphone just doesn’t hold water anymore because the 6.4 inch display really is too big for that category. If you’re in the market though for one all-around device and you would use it often for watching videos, gaming, and web browsing, then the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a solid contender for your hard earned cash.
It’s now available for a little over Php27,000 on Kimstore. Not that this is the 3G version and it doest not have LTE connectivity. That model is expected to arrive mid-September.