Fantastically thin: Sony’s Xperia Z4 Tablet reviewed

Australia didn’t see the Z4 phone this year, but that’s ok, because with the Z5 arriving shortly to fill that gap, Sony is also filling the Z4 void with a nice new tablet.

Features

You might think that the tablet world already has too much to choose from, but why not add another?

Sony’s Z4 is filling that spot next, with Sony bringing a 10.1 inch 2560×1600 display to the table, providing 299 pixels per inch of clarity. This screen is protected by a layer of scratch-resistant mineral strengthened glass, complete with an anti-fingerprint layer on top, also.

Two small speakers sit to the side of this screen, and then there’s merely what is under the hood.

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Beneath this display, you’ll find a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 eight-core processor, paired with the Adreno 430 graphics processing unit and 3GB RAM. Storage on the Z4 Tablet is set to 32GB, though this can be upgraded thanks to a microSD slot found on the side of the unit.

Google’s Android is the operating system of choice on this tablet, providing version 5 “Lollipop” out of the box.

Connection options are fairly standard, with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi serving every variant, as well as Bluetooth 4.1, Near-Field Communication, assisted GPS, all here for wireless connectivity, while wired is handled by the 3.5mm headset jack and a microUSB port at the bottom.

One variant of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet can be found with 4G LTE, making it web capable without WiFi in range.

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Cameras are also found here, with an 8.1 megapixel camera on the back capable of capturing Full HD video if need be, while the front relies on a 5.1 megapixel camera.

The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is built form plastic and glass, primarily, and has a degree of ruggedisation applied to it, offering up IP65/68 protection, providing a dust tight build, while water immersion is protected against (when sealed) for up to one metre of freshwater for up to 30 minutes.

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Only a few buttons can be found on the device, with the circular power button and volume rocker found on the left most edge, with the rest of the buttons on-screen and virtual, as part of how Android normally functions.

Ports are also limited, and you’ll only find the 3.5mm headset jack up top next to the microSD tray (which also hides a nanoSIM slot if you opt for the 4G LTE variant), while a water-resistant microUSB port sits on the right edge.

The battery in the Sony Z4 Tablet is rated for 6000mAh and is not removable.

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Performance

Next to smartphones, tablets are one of the other big playing fields where competitors are doing everything they can to unseat what is easily the leader, Apple.

Thanks to its iPad, Apple has shown that tablets — which for a long time were basically thick Windows computers that didn’t feel as portable as you’d really want — could be truly and properly portable, and this has had other manufacturers scrambling.

At the top of this competitor pile is Samsung and Sony, and while the former showed us its wares only a month or so ago, Sony is ready with a follow-up to its Z2 Tablet, found in the Z4.

Announced earlier in the year, Sony’s Z4 is a bit of a late arrival, being shown to the world back in March during Mobile World Congress, though not arriving until this past month.

That said, now that it’s here, we’re ready with our review, so is Sony’s Z4 Tablet the iPad competitor worth ditching Apple for?

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Pick up Sony’s Z4 and you’ll find simplicity in a nutshell, as the design team at Sony take that basic monolith design from the old Bravia TVs and apply it to portable computers. In the world of phones and tablets, it’s no longer monolithic, but rather “omni-balance”, which is what Sony once called its design, though now it’s easier to just refer to the form of the Xperia Z series as “thin and rectangular”, because really that’s what it is.

If you could take a rectangular form, slim it down to 6.1mm, and give it a basic form made of glass and plastic, this is what you’d have, with Sony building one of the slimmest tablets you’ll find today.

Hey, we’d even happily called it fantastically thin, because while all flagship tablets are thin — and this isn’t any thinner than the iPad Air 2 — the way this has been balanced across its body makes it feel fantastically so.

In the hands, the ever-so-slightly-textured matte plastic of the Z4 is comfortable, while the 393 grams of weight are spread out well on the slightly bigger than 10.1 inch body, which is only slightly bigger thanks to a frame existing around the 10.1 inch 2K display Sony has opted to use on this tablet.

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Let’s take a moment and look at that screen, too.

For the first time, this is Sony going beyond the Full HD resolution on a tablet, and it looks excellent. Forget the sharp 1920×1080 or 1920×1200 displays you’ve seen on other tablets — even Sony’s own — because this is a 2560×1600 Quad HD screen retaining the 16:10 ratio most tablets use, catering for widescreen movie support and a little extra room compared to 16:9 when you start typing in landscape.

Granted, a 2560×1600 screen (or “2K” for short) isn’t anything super new, and Sony’s display isn’t as bright as what either Apple or Samsung offers, but coupled with Sony’s Triluminos display technology, the visuals really stand out, displaying sharp text, clear images and colours that look superb, and a general feeling that Sony is well and truly playing with the big boys.

Both the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet (left) and the Apple iPad Air 2 (right) measure 6.1mm thin.

Both the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet (left) and the Apple iPad Air 2 (right) measure 6.1mm thin.

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