If you follow Ubergizmo on a regular basis, you have probably heard of the Sony XPERIA Z Ultra, a large display smartphone that is set to light the “phablet” world on fire. Sony just made the Z Ultra official at Mobile Asia Expo and we can tell you that it features a 6.4″ full HD (1920×1080) display and a super-fast Snapdragon 800 processor.
Right on the heels of LG’s Snapdragon 800 announcement, Sony is the second company to officially made their intentions clear in regards to that chip. Samsung also said to be working on an S800 powered device. But from what has leaked about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, it seems that Sony will offer something unique with the XPERIA Z Ultra: a huge full-HD 6.4″ device with top-notch performance. In other words, the Z Ultra could be the ultimate big screen smartphone of 2013.
Sony XPERIA Z Ultra Specifications
Let’s get the specifications out the way. Here’s a list of the most interesting features according to Sony’s official specs-list:
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (2.2 GHz)|
|OS||Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)|
|Main Camera||8 Megapixel|
|Weight||212 grams (7.47 oz)|
|Size||179.4 x 92.2 x 6.5 mm|
|Colors||Black, White, Purple|
|USB||micro USB 2.0|
|Storage||16GB (11GB of user storage)|
|MicroSD||yes (SDXC, 64GB max)|
|Networks||HSPA+ 900 (Band VIII), 2100 (Band I), 850 (Band V), 1900 (Band II), 1700 (Band IV)|
|Networks (Legacy)||GSM GPRS/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900|
|Battery capacity||3000 mAh|
As you can see above, the Sony XPERIA Z Ultra packs some punch. If you are curious about the capabilities of the Snapdragon 800, I recommend that you to read our preview of that chip using an MDM development kit. It is very fast, and support the latest 4K video formats along with top notch surround audio decoding. I’ve tested the surround sound at Mobile World Congress and it was very impressive.
When it comes to large display smartphones, the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is currently the smartphone that would be the closest in the same category (and the Huawei Mate too, except that it wasn’t successful commercially), but when the XPERIA Z arrives (in “Q3”) it may be the most powerful phone in that category. Samsung has decided to equip their mega-phone with a mid-range processor and only 8GB of storage, so we’re running on the assumption that it was not designed to compete in the high-end, or that it is a first step into that 6″+ smartphone market.
"WHEN THE XPERIA Z ULTRA ARRIVES, IT MAY BE THE MOST POWERFUL LARGE-DISPLAY PHONE"On the contrary, Sony is moving into this new segment in an aggressive manner, a move that may very well pay off when this device launches. It is clear that many handset makers had originally discarded the potential of large smartphones when the Galaxy Note came out, and it looks like they don’t want to make the same mistake twice.
Sony continues to push NFC pretty strongly, and right now, it is probably the company that has the largest number of devices using this technology. NFC is mostly used for device pairing and it works with much less friction when compared to older technologies like Bluetooth.
The 3000 mAh battery is just slightly smaller than what one can find in a Galaxy Note 2 (3100mAh) or the Galaxy Mega 6.3 (3200mAh), but our experience with the Mega 6.3 shows us that even with a large display like this, it is possible to get a very good battery life with this a similar battery capacity. If it came down to it, Sony also has a “Stamina mode”, but I believe that during normal use, it won’t be required.
Industrial Design (OmniBalance still looks great)
"IT IS JUST AS LIFE-PROOF AS THE XPERIA Z"Sony is using the OmniBalance design of the XPERIA Z, which is arguably one of the nicest out there and despite its beauty, it is also tougher than most: built to IP55/IP58 specifications, it is water and dust resistant. It is just as “life-proof” as the XPERIA Z is, and yes you can take photos and shoot movies underwater if you want to (keep an eye on the depth, however). Because of its larger size, Sony estimates that it will be comfortable to write on with a capacitive pen (no pressure sensitiveness).
In terms of size and weight, the Sony XPERIA Z Ultra is close to the Galaxy Mega 6.3, so I’m going to assume that I can put it in my pocket just like I did with the Mega 6.3. The weight is rather on the high side for both devices (200g+), but it is spread out over a larger surface, so it actually feels lighter than what most people would expect.
The XPERIA Z Ultra comes with Android 4.2, with a Sony flavor of course. We haven’t had the opportunity for a meaningful hands-on experience, but at this point, we do not expect anything radically different from the Z Ultra in terms of software.
Both smartphones have been built for an optimal entertainment experience, but you can imagine that the Z Ultra has a distinct advantage due to its larger screen, but also thanks to its ability to decode 4K video streams and top notch surround audio thanks to its Snapdragon 800 chip.
Sony smartphones come with a number of pre-installed Sony media and entertainment services pre-installed, including Walkman, Music Unlimited, PlayMemories and the Reader App. Most of those have 3rd party equivalent, but they are worth exploring for new users, and most definitely very handy for existing Sony customers. If you want to have a feel for how it is to use an XPERIA Z smartphone, I recommend reading our XPERIA Z review.
Gaming and Photo capabilities
In terms of gaming, the XPERIA Z Ultra should be one of the best gaming device. The reason is simple: the Snapdragon 800 is proven to have the fastest graphics engine at this time, so it’s hard to go wrong with that. Additionally, the 6.44″ 1080p display should provide a gaming experience that smaller phones simply can’t equal. Touch controls should be much better, and “swipe-based” games like fruit ninja should be more comfortable too."THE XPERIA Z ULTRA SHOULD BE ONE OF THE BEST GAMING DEVICE"
In terms of video and photography, we know that a Snapdragon 800 chip can encode 4K video in real-time. However, the current specification of the Z Ultra show regular 1080p video recording for both front and back cameras. It is possible that things may get fancier than this, but for now, nothing indicated that the smartphone will record 4K videos. The other thing to take into account is that despite the video processing capabilities, the smartphone lenses can only be so big. It may take a bit more time before we see significant progress in the optics themselves.
Take an extreme form-factor, add the beautiful OmniBalance design and power it with a powerful Snapdragon 800 chip, and the result is the Sony XPERIA Z Ultra which is the most powerful large-display phone to date. For sure, it’s not for everyone and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people don’t see the point of building such a smartphone – we’ve heard that before and so far, they have been proven wrong. On the other hand, I’m sure that it will have some die-hard fans too. This is the fate of every extreme smartphone, and the Z Ultra surely belong in this category.