Fantastically thin: Sony’s Xperia Z4 Tablet reviewed

Power to the keyboard

We don’t often talk about the accessories of a gadget with a review, but in the case of the Bluetooth keyboard made for the Z4, it’s something actually worth mentioning, and that’s because for the first time in ages, here is a keyboard designed to work with the tablet in more than just a “it adds keys to the bundle” capacity.

If you end up grabbing the Sony BKB50 Bluetooth keyboard, you’ll find it adds keyboard functionality to the Z4 tablet, which makes sense given that’s what these sorts of accessories are designed to do.

Like many of the other accessories out there, it also gives your tablet a bit of a hinge to connect to, which also has the added bonus of making the keyboard work as a screen cover for when you’re out and about, but there are a few more tricks to this little box.


For starters, it’s not just a keyboard, as Sony has provided a small touchpad at the bottom with a button underneath, effectively turning the Z4 into an Android laptop if need be.

The way of connecting the tablet to the keyboard is also kind of neat, with a crevice that holds onto the tablet and doesn’t let go until you remove it firmly from that spot.

But probably the most impressive bit about the keyboard is the way the software on the Z4 works with the BKB50.


When you get to using it, you’ll find Android kicks into gear with a different and redesigned soft button bar at the bottom of the screen, with a look more reminiscent of Windows or Chrome OS, providing customisable application shortcuts across a few pages — you can have three page of six icons in this section — while a mouse over (because you have a mouse on that keyboard) will reveal a preview of what is running in that app, much like it would on Windows.

What would normally be the “Start” button on Windows is an up arrow here, and that offers more of those shortcuts, access to settings (to change those shortcuts), and some of Sony’s mini floating apps, allowing you to get a modicum of multi-tasking done if need be.

It’s also a feature specific to the Sony keyboard, so if you bring another Bluetooth keyboard to the party, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t show up.


All in all, this is a pretty neato way of adding to the functionality of the keyboard, but there are a few things it falters with, such as the keyboard itself.

For instance, if you rely heavily on the right side of the keyboard — it’s usually a lefty thing with the right shift key, but it also depends on how you’re used to typing — you may find that the right side feels unusually cramped, with Sony trying to pack as much into the keyboard as possible.

On that side, you have a tiny shift key, a smaller slash key, a tiny Alt key, and for some reason the three Android home screen dedicated choices for back, home, and multitask, even though they’re also right on the screen.

It’s too much, and if you do rely on the right side of the keyboard for some of your shortcuts, your fingers will end up going all over the place.


The mouse is also nowhere near as useful as you might expect, and while it might seem like it can support gestures or even a right click, most of the time Android just gives it a bit of a question mark approach, and hangs there trying to work out what you’ve done.

If you do a lot of typing, though, we can see what the Sony BKB50 would offer over other keyboards simply because it feels like it was made to go with the Z4, and dedicated keyboard hardware isn’t always something you find with tablets.

Yes, you can hold the keyboard by the tablet if it's sitting in place. Hooray for laziness!
Yes, you can hold the keyboard by the tablet if it’s sitting in place. Hooray for laziness!


Samsung and Apple may well be the big players in the tablet market, but Sony’s entrant for 2015 is definitely worth taking a look at if you’re after a tablet that goes the distance and then some.

Offering expandable memory, a solid battery, a lovely screen, and the ability to survive the occasional water spill, this is definitely a fantastic little tablet for anyone who needs one.


Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Superbly thin tablet; Lovely 2K resolution display; Still water resistant; Upgradeable storage; Can work as a phone if need be; Sony makes a Bluetooth keyboard accessory that does a little more than your standard Bluetooth keyboard accessory;
No flash included on the rear camera; Plastic material on the back of the tablet is too easy to tarnish;