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Sony unveiled its awesomely elegant and uber-light Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet at MWC 2015, a device with great performance powered by the fastest Qualcomm processor (Snapdragon 810), featuring a stunning display and packaged in a sleek body that is 50 g lighter than the iPad Air 2, for the same thickness (6.1 mm).

The Sony tablet got a lot of traction during MWC 2015, and for good reason. We played with the device on the show floor, and here are our first impressions.

Specifications Highlights

  • Dimensions 167 x 254 x 6.1 mm
  • Weight 389 grams Wi-Fi only, 393 grams Wi-Fi + LTE
  • Resolution 2560×1600 pixels
  • Display Diagonal 10.1″ – Scratch-resistant glass + Anti fingerprint coating
  • Processor/Soc Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bits 8-core CPU  with Adreno 430 GPU
  • RAM 3 GB
  • Internal storage  32 GB
  • MicroSD up to 128 GB
  • OS Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Front Camera 5.1 MP
  • Rear camera 8.1 MP
  • Battery Capacity 6000mAh
  • water resistant and dust tight (IP65 and IP68 – 1.5 m submersion)

More specifications on our product page here

What’s New

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet (10.1-inch)  released in February 2014 and the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact released in November 2014 were the predecessors of the Z4 Tablet. The Z3 offers a more compact body and is a hair thicker (6.4 mm vs. 6.1 mm), and the Z4 is 50 g lighter than the Z2 for the same 10.1-inch display size. Just like the previous models, the Z4 is water resistant and dust tight (IP65 and IP68 – 1.5 m submersion) and features a 8.1 MP rear camera.

The front shooter has been bumped from 2.2 MP in the Z3 to 5.1 MP, probably to to address the ever growing selfie trend. On the processor side the Xperia Tablet Z4 gets the top of the line octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, a great upgrade from the Snapdragon 801.

The Z4’s 10.1-inch 2K display is the star of the show, and a great improvement over the  8-inch WUXGA (1920×1200) display featured in the Z3 Tablet Compact and the Z2 10.1 inch tablet.

The battery capacity has been increased from 4500 mAh in the Z3 Tablet Compact  to 6000mAh for the Z4, the same capacity found in the Z2 Tablet. This is mainly due to the return to a larger form-factor.

Design

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z4 is impressively thin and light, a key feature for a tablet that motivates me to hold it just like another (paper) folder filled with a few documents. The small  weight calls for an additional thin keyboard, an accessory that Sony designed greatly, and that provides additional battery life as well. Their compound weight would still be considered as ultra-light.

As Sony says, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is surely the thinnest and lightest tablet in the world: the body 6.1 mm thin body weighs only 389 g (WiFi only version) !

Sony maintained the water resistant feature despite the super compact body and even managed to remove the flap cover on the micro USB connector, which is better for the user experience.

Display

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A tablet is a content consumption device and as such the display is a key component for a good user experience. On that side Sony does not disappoint in the Z3, the 2K (2560×1600 ) IPS multi-touch panel delivers a stunning image quality.

The IPS technology provides good viewing angles and Sony’s Triluminos technology delivers more vivid colors, two features that enhanced greatly the viewing experience. According to Sony, the display is 40% brighter than the Xperia Z2 Tablet.

Protecting the key component of the device was necessary, so Sony added a scratch resistant glass and a anti-fingerprint coating to the package which seemed to work reasonably well at MWC, but we’ll need to see how it perform in the real world.

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Bluetooth Keyboard BKB50

Sony launched the Z4 tablet with an optional Bluetooth keyboard that will only add 383g to the whole package and will turn your tablet in an ultra light Android laptop.  The BKB50 gets a 430 mAh battery to sustain one month of battery life with 2 hours a day of typing. When connected to the Z4 Tablet, the keyboard enables a quick app launcher. To know more including which language layouts are supported go to the product page on the Sony website.

Camera and  Entertainment

Camera

Shooting pictures and photos is not the primary usage on a tablet, however I have seen many tourists using such devices for taking vacation photos. The rear camera has been bumped to 8.1 megapixels, a standard resolution in mid range smartphones. the front shooter gets 5.1 mega pixels, a resolution that is now seen in flagship smartphones such as the Galaxy S6.

Video Playback

A tablet is a content consumption device so as such the viewing experience is very important. Sony put many design effort into the display and the result is great. The video is fluid and delivers bright colors and deep contrast.
Additionally, the company enhanced the stereo speakers audio quality with its 3D Surround Sound technology (VPT) and Clear Audio+, Sound improvement software. When I tried video playback at MWC, the level of noise in the room was incredibly high and despite that, I could perfectly hear the soundtrack. You can check the video i shot, knowing that the sound rendered in Youtube is not the same as the real experience.

According to the manufacturer, the Z4 tablet sustain 17 hours of video playback, which is awesome for people like me who travel intercontinental flights on a regular basis.

Performance

On the performance side, the Z4 Tablet gets state-of-the-art hardware and software, the flagship Qualcomm SoC Octa-core Snapdragon 810 with 3 GB RAM delivers high performance. The Adreno 430 GPU with the multi-core CPU are critical to provide best of class gaming experience as well. You can check the Snapdragon 810 MDP benchmark on this page here – we will update this article with the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet benchmark.

When we played with the Sony Xperia Z4 on the show floor, the interface was smooth and fluid and the responsiveness was similar to other devices featuring the same hardware, and not particularly faster.

On the software side, the new Sony tablet gets Android 5.0 Lollipop, with a very light customization from Sony.

Comparison with the iPad Air 2

See side by side specifications comparison on our page here

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is lighter and larger

One of the most popular competitor of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is the iPad Air 2 that launched in October 2014. The iPad Air 2 measures 240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm (9.45 x 6.67 x 0.24 in) while the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is 167 x 254 x 6.1 mm, so the Apple device is a little smaller but weighs about 50 g more (48 g for WiFi only and 52g for WiFi+LTE).

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is water resistant and dust tight
Sony was the first to introduce water-resistance in a high-end smartphone with thin form factor back in 2013, namely the Xperia Z, and since then the Xperia Z line of product is mostly waterproof. A lot of people want that feature because it has happened often that mobile device fell into swimming pools, bathtubs and more. The new Z4 Tablet despite its ultra thin form factor is water resistant and dust tight (IP65 and IP68) and allows for 1.5 m submersion, according to Sony. This is a feature that Apple never offered in any of its mobile devices, and for the first time, Sony delivers a water resistant USB connector without a flap cover.

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet has a larger and sharper display
The Apple device offers a  9.7  inch display with a screen resolution of 1536 x 2048 pixels, which delivers a pixel density of 264 ppi. By comparison, the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet display is slightly larger at 10.1 inch with a higher resolution of 2560×1600 pixels, which offers a higher pixel density of about 299 ppi.

Content and entertainment consumption is the primary activity on a tablet, so the display quality is critical. On that side Sony wins over the iPad Air 2.

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet has a better front camera
The rear camera is the same on both devices, however Sony offers a 5.1 MP front shooter while the iPad Air 2 gets a 1.2 MP camera module. Sony is able to deliver full HD video (1080p) on the front side while the iPad Air 2 offers only HD 720 p.

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet delivers more time of video playback
According to Apple the iPad Air 2 offers “up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video, or listening to music” and according to Sony specifications sheet, the Z4 Tablet delivers up to 17 hours of video playback time. 17 hours is great for people like me who travel regularly on long flights of more than 10 hours.

Apple iPad Air 2 is offered in more color options

The iPad Air 2 comes in Silver, Gold and Space Gray versions while the Sony Xperia Z4 has only two versions, black or white.

Apple iPad Air 2 has more internal storage options but no MicroSD slot
Sony limited the storage option to 32 GB while you can get a 16GB, 64GB or 128GB models of the Apple iPad Air 2. Despite the super thin form factor, Sony managed to still offer a Micro Sd slot, so users will be able to extend the storage up to additional 128GB for a much lower price when compared to what Apple users have to spend to match this.

Apple iPad Air 2 runs iOS 8 andSony Xperia Z4 Tablet is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop
Both OS have now similar performances and supports a huge numbers of applications. I use both so I do not have that much preference over one, some people do for specific reasons. If you think about switching, make sure your favorite applications are supported. I will update this paragraph with more details about the differences soon.

Conclusion

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The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is an impressive device in terms of product design and performance.

Thanks to the ultra thin and light body, the Z4 Tablet can be carried around as an additional document folder or paper notebook and not any more as a heavy laptop, which makes it a good productivity device as well as a great content delivery platform with excellent performance and connection to Sony entertainment services.

To make sure users can take advantage of the productivity applications, Sony developed an awesome optional keyboard that only adds 383g to the whole package.

When compared to Apple’s flagship tablet, namely the iPad Air 2, the Sony Z4 Tablet outperforms it on most level, from the sharper display, to the lighter weight and finally the longer video playback time (17 hours vs. 10 hours, on the paper).

Filed in Reviews >Tablets. Read more about Android, android 5.0, Android 5.0 Lollipop, MWC, MWC 2015, review, Sony and Tablet.

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