The tablet-sized phones commonly called “phablets” sure can be big, but Sony may have pushed the envelope too far with the Xperia Z Ultra, a top of the line handset boasting big features in one of the biggest handsets we’ve ever seen.
Big phones are popular as ever lately, and Sony appears interested to get in on a slice of the action.
The Xperia Z Ultra is the first phablet from Sony, and takes on much of the technology and design used in the recent Z1 handset, but applies it to a bigger screen, jumping from a 5 inch display to one that truly sits at the big table, measuring 6.4 inches diagonally.
The resolution in this display hasn’t changed, with Sony still relying on a Full HD 1920×1080 screen, which on the 6.4 inch display shows 344 pixels per inch, a few higher than what Apple uses in its Retina class displays of the iPhone 5S and 5C.
Multitouch is, of course, supported, though Sony has gone one step better and made it possible for sharp pointed accessories to also be used here, with common pens and pencils being substituted for a stylus on this handset.
The screen is also protected by mineral strengthened glass which is resistant to scratches.
Under the big screen is all of the useful technology we rely on from a smartphone handset, and here in the Xperia Z Ultra, there’s that in spades.
Android is the operating system of choice here, with Sony equipping the Xperia Z Ultra with 4.2 “Jelly Bean” out of the box, though an upgrade to 4.4 “KitKat” should be coming along soon. Sony’s PlayStation inspired Android overlay runs on the handset.
Connection options are spot on identical to the Z1, with 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, as well as support for the newer 802.11ac WiFi technology, Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication (NFC), wired microUSB, and some of that Category 4 4G LTE technology (with support for Cat3, too).
Two cameras are in this smartphone, and include an 8 megapixel camera on the back, as well as a 2 megapixel camera up front for video conferencing. Both can capture video at 1080p, though neither have flashes.
And like the Sony Xperia Z1, there’s also a neat trick of water and dust resistance, meaning it can be taken in the water with you, or survive a dip in the pool or a heavy burst of rain.
The Z Ultra is rated for IP58, which means it’s protected against dust, and immersion of water beyond one metre, though not for an infinite depth, and generally down to a maximum of three metres.
Ports are mostly covered on the Xperia Z Ultra, and consist of a microUSB port covered by a flap on the left edge, a microSIM slot with a plastic tray and a microSD slot on the right edge covered by a longer flap, while the 3.5mm headset jack is at the top on the right edge.
Buttons are also few and far between, as Sony is relying on Android’s on-screen soft buttons for this handset.
As such, you’ll find all the physical buttons on the right edge, with a volume rocker just above the circular power button, with all remaining buttons existing on the touch screen, acting for whatever Google deems appropriate at the time, though usually for back, home, and multi-tasking.
The battery in the phone is rated for 3050mAh and is not removable.
In the Z Ultra, Sony is continuing its modern design used in previous handsets, taking the idea of a rectangular phone and literally running with it.
Just like in the Z and Z1, the phone is a rectangle, covered in glass on the front and back, with a trim of metal sitting atop some plastic.
It’s simple, elegant, and works quite well, also managing to be one of the thinner devices you’re likely to see, measuring in at 6.5mm, which is thinner than many of the flagships out there from other companies.
As per usual, the screen takes up most of the device, and with a 6.4 inch screen, that’s a big portion of the phone.
Thankfully, the button placement on the right edge makes the phone easy to grip, even with that massive screen size, so you shouldn’t have any problems there.
In the hands, it’s more comfortable than you’d expect, which given the size is pretty impressive, though Sony has helped this along by softening the edges.
The phone can be a tad slippery with all the glass on the front and back, so just make sure to grip it accordingly.