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Testing the Xperia Z Ultra: the last of the Sony Xperia Z Series

Loie Favre (translation)
0

Sony invited me to Munich and presented its new device, the Xperia Z Ultra. The 6.4 inch smartphone-tablet hybrid and I got to spend some bonding time together during which I tested it out for your reading enjoyment.

xperia z ultra teaser
The magnetic dock works also as a charger. / © AndroidPIT

Design

Xperia Z, Xperia Tablet Z and now the Xperia Z Ultra. All three devices have one thing in common: the design. Sony calls this ''OmniBalance'' and has put an emphasis on high quality materials and a round power button made from aluminum located on the right side of the device. The front and back sides of the Xperia Z Ultra are fabricated completely from glass while the frame is made from aluminum. Sony only selected plastic for the protective port covering.

xperia z ultra klappen
The headphone jack is open on the Xperia Z Ultra, that being said, it's still water-proof. / © AndroidPIT

The Xperia Z Ultra is 6.5 inches thin meaning that it's 0.3 mm thicker than the Huawei Ascend P6. Despite its sturdy 6.4 inch display, the entire device feels comfortable to hold thanks to the fact that Sony has made it slightly curved which gives the body's frame a convex form. That being said, the huge hybrid isn't at all optimized for small hands and one-hand operation is out of the question. You'll only be able to stick this into your pant pocket when the latter is big enough for such things.

xperia z ultra tasche
Not really made for pockets! / © AndroidPIT

Display

For those who don't have a problem with its size, you'll get pumped about the full HD screen which glimmers with lush colors, high brightness and most importantly, great readability on an angle. Even when drastically tilted, the colors don't look washed out and remain quite natural. According to Sony, this is due to their Triluminos technology which is being implemented here in a smartphone for the first time. A few other key traits belonging to this device are the strong background lighting as well as intense color tones.

xperia z ultra videos
Watching videos with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a lot of fun! / © AndroidPIT

Software

The Xperia Z Ultra is packing Android 4.2.2 as well as Sony's very own user interface. Compared to the Xperia Z, Sony made a few changes: for one, the app drawer which presents an overview of all your installed apps is now shown in a pull-out bar found on the left side. This is used to sort and delete apps. What's more, the colors are also a lot lighter than those on the Xperia Z: the settings have received a white background instead of black and many of the apps have become lighter as well. The same goes for the keyboard which is now significantly flatter and rich in contrast.

xperia z ultra ui 02
App drawer and settings: Sony change the look of the UI in many places. / © AndroidPIT

During the course of my test, everything worked free of glitches and dropouts. It becomes immediately apparent that Sony equipped its new device with the Snapdragon 800, the strongest mobile processor offered on the market right now. The system reacts smoothly and stutter-free at all times.

Stylus Operation

The Xperia Z Ultra can also be controlled with a pen or stylus if so desired. This is quite a novelty in comparison to other stylus devices like the Galaxy Note 8. It functions using an electric high-sensitive touchscreen which reacts to even the smallest change in pressure on the display. This doesn't just work with the finger but also the stylus. In practice it worked quite well, however when you only use the pen, there was a delay of a few seconds.

Sony offers apps for handwriting recognition and sketch drawing where you have the choice of many pens and stamps. All in all the manufacturer offers far less software features as Samsung does with the Galaxy Note, which has been almost completely optimized for S-Pen usage.

xperia z ultra skizze
A nice pass-time: Sony's App for sketching. / © AndroidPIT

Camera

The test photos that I took with the 8 MP camera included a slight blue nuance, though this could simply be caused by an incomplete software installed on the pre-series device. In terms of screen resolution, there wasn't anything to complain about in my test. I found it a shame that the camera doesn't include an LED flash. When a device's price starts a 780 US dollars, this is simply a standard feature to include.

xperia z ultra kamera
The LED flash was left out. The NFC logo on the other hand was imprinted onto the body and this time not as a sticker. / © AndroidPIT

Bottom Line

The Xperia Z Ultra completes the Xperia Z line which was explained to me by a Sony rep during the visit. This will be the last device in this series and it's pretty clear that the manufacturer has come up with a worthy last contribution. The one point of criticism that I need to utter is the missing flash, but other than that I was completely happy with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra during the course of my short test. The Xperia Z Ultra should appear in the US market in the third quarter of this year, however no definite price has been decided as of yet. That being said, we can predict it being around the 780 US dollar mark.

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The Xperia Z and the Z Ultra in comparison. / © AndroidPIT

Tech Specs

Display 6.4 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 342 ppi, LCD "Triluminos-Bildschirm with X-Reality-Engine"
Processor Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974), 2.2 Gigahertz, Quad-Core, Adreno 330 (GPU), 2 GB RAM
Camera 8 Megapixel, Exmor-RS-Sensor, Superfast-funktion, HDR
Connectivity  LTE, HSPA+, GSM, WLAN n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, HDMI (MHL)
OS Android 4.2.2 with Sony UI
Memory 16 GB + microSD
Battery 3000 mAh
Dimensions

179 x 92 x 6.5 mm

Weight 212 grams