Feature set summary for Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
The eight-megapixel snapper is rammed full of features, plus there’s 4G and NFC support on offer. Onboard storage adds up to 16GB, but this can be expanded using memory cards.
Style and handling summary for Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
As we have come to expect from Sony, the Z Ultra looks great and features the same bold styling as other 2013 models. But it is really big, so don’t expect to squeeze it into a small handbag or pocket.
Battery power summary for Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
Even with that huge screen you should get a whole day out of a full charge, and video playback will see the battery die after a decent five or so hours.
Performance summary for Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
The Xperia Z Ultra had the speediest processor of any mobiles when it launched so it should prove future proofed for both media fans and gamers.
User friendliness summary for Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
It’s hard to hold this monster in one hand, but the massive display does make surfing the net and watching movies fun.> >
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review Scoring Summary
|Style & Handling|
Fabulous ultra sharp display; great-looking Sony design; lots of power
Full Review and Specification for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Deals
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Sony Xperia Z Ultra Specification
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
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)
By Simon Thomas on 14th October, 2013