Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review
The Xperia Z Ultra is Sony's first foray in the so-called “phablet” realm, and it comes with a bang, confirming everything we hoped for since the first Sony Togari rumors broke out. The goalposts are always moving in this category, but in general it constitutes of phones with really, and we mean really, big displays.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra undoubtedly delivers in that respect, as it's the phone with the largest screen ever concocted, while still being called a handset... of sorts. At a 6.4” diagonal, some might argue that the Full HD panel is more akin for a small tablet, and we wouldn't spend hours convincing them of the opposite.
Sony is targeting a really niche market here with the Z Ultra, yet on paper it still makes every effort to position its gigantic phone as a premium one. It's been thinned to the extent of being the most slender brand-name handset out there, while keeping the waterproof certification we've come to expect from flagship Xperias lately. That makes it the thinnest IP certified handset, in addition to being the slimmest Full HD one.
It was also the first handset announced with the powerful quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset, and the first you can draw on with a regular pen or pencil, so Sony has stuffed a lot of superlatives in the Z Ultra from the get-go. Are those “firsts” and “mosts” going to be enough for the world's largest phone to attract mainstream buyers as well? Read on to find out...
In the box:
- In-ear stereo headphones
- Wall charger
- microUSB cable
- Warranty and information leaflets
The first impression left by the Xperia Z Ultra when you grab it is the size, though if you think about it as a smallish tablet rather than a phone, you'll be better prepared for the surface area that ensues in your hand, at least mentally. One-handed operation is very hard with that kind of width and length, and almost impossible if you have smaller hands. It is way taller and a tad wider than the Galaxy Mega 6.3 or the Huawei Ascend Mate 6.1, which should tell you what to expect from its ergonomics.
Just like those two phablets, however, Sony has provided ways to scootch the keyboard left or right , so you can still reach all keys with your thumb only. As for the dialer, it just shrunk it from both sides so that it's equidistant for each thumb to dial, still risking to drop the humongous handset in the process.
The second impression is “geez, that's thin”. Sony already makes the thinnest tablet out there with the Xperia Tablet Z, and with the Z Ultra handset it shaves off the inches even further, arriving at 0.26” (6.5mm), which makes it the thinnest Full HD gear at the moment.
IP58 certification (higher than on the Xperia Z), so you can dunk the whole phablet in up to five feet (1.5m) of water for up to an hour. Watch movies in the bathtub, take it out on the beach or in the rain – the Z Ultra has you covered.
The materials that Sony uses for the chassis aren't shabby either, as we get a scratch-proof glass back and hairline pattern metal framing top and bottom, with matching sandblasted aluminum rim on the sides. The whole slab's weight is kept at bay - those 7.48oz (212g) aren't impressive for today's smartphone standards, but considering the gargantuan 6.4” display, the weight is pretty manageable. More so if we compare it to the Galaxy Mega 6.3, which is all-plastic, not waterproof, and still only negligibly lighter.
All buttons are placed at the right, with the signature round metallic power/lock key situated comfortably, ready for your thumb. The volume rocker is also well-placed, and all key are easy to feel and press without looking, with deep and clicky feedback to them.
dock connector on the left, so you can place the phone in landscape mode in the separate magnetic dock, tilted comfortably for watching movies while charging, for example. An LED notification light at the top right bezel area rounds up a very classy exterior, which comes painted in your choice of white, black or purple colors.
The unibody Z Ultra has a sealed 3000 mAh battery pack, but Sony managed to eke out a microSD card slot on the right side, so that you can extend the internal memory amount if you run out of storage for your movies and TV series that are bound to be a staple on such a big-screen device. Next to the memory card slot is a micro SIM one with a plastic tray, both covered with a protective flap to seal them off from intrusive water, just like the microUSB one at the top left side. The flaps are very easy to pry open and then snap back into place.
The 6.4” screen is a Triluminous display with OptiContrast and X-Reality – behind all that marketing speak you see a Full HD display that is simply better than the one you'd find on the Xperia Z, for instance. This is a relief, as, besides the wider viewing angles, the display on the Z Ultra also shows more vivid colors than the washed out ones on the Z, thanks to the Triluminous pixel technology. It's still not up to par with the best in terms of color and brightness shift when you tilt the phone at extreme angles, but certainly better than what Sony treated us with before.