We saw the clues coming about the LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition
which was just released into the Google Play store, but the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition had us a bit surprised. Sony has always been a close collaborator with Google in the Android Open Source Project, and it has long been assumed that there would be a Google Play Edition Sony device eventually, and that time is now.
When we went to the Google Play store to check the listing for the newly announced LG G Pad 8.3 GPE, we saw that there was another listing: the Sony Z Ultra GPE, which is now officially the first phablet to be in the Google Play Edition lineup. As with other Google Play Edition devices, the Sony Z Ultra GPE is the same as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra on hardware, but is running stock Android 4.4 KitKat. This means that you get the same 6.4-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 8MP rear camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor, 2MP front camera, and 3000mAh battery.
That's a lot of phone right there. As you would also expect from a Google Play Edition device, the Z Ultra is unlocked and selling at full unlocked pricing: $649. It is available right now in the Play Store for U.S. customers, no word on international availability.
The one odd thing about this listing is that unlike the other GPE devices, the Play Store listing does have the device as the Sony Z Ultra, without the Xperia branding unlike the LG G Pad and Samsung Galaxy GPE devices. It may not mean anything, but it was a curious note. We haven't yet seen an official announcement from Sony, so there may be an explanation of the name change coming.