Among the number of manufacturers showing up interest to make phablets, Sony too entered the phablets gang by launching the Xperia Z Ultra which managed to stir quite a momentum when announced. The Z Ultra follows the same successful design aspects of Xperia Z but comes in a massive 6.4 display which is way too much for a phablet in the present offerings. It also boasts of a great spec sheet. Let us find out how this device performs and where it ends up in the segment.
Design & Display:
As mentioned earlier, it follows the same design aspects of Xperia Z featuring the same glass covered design. The phone is wonderfully thin at just 6.5 mm and the thin profile adds much more beauty when compared to Xperia Z. Though the phone is nearly 212 gms, Sony has gone for Omnibalance design and you wouldn't feel it heavy at all. The build quality too is very solid. The only downside would be the size – which is way too much for a phone or a phablet, but once you get used to it might just work out fine. The phone sports a 6.4 inch 1080p display with 344 ppi. This is based on Triluminos and X-Reality tech. Viewing angles are great and colors look very rich. But the front glass is a bit reflective, so sunlight legibility isn’t that good. But overall, the display is rich enough and the design so impressive that – we could easily say this is one of the best looking handsets and you will love to use it when size doesn't bother.
The phone comes with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with Sony’s own custom UI on top of it. Users can also upgrade the device to 4.4.4 KitKat. The UI is almost similar to that of Xperia Z. Sony has added few custom widgets for social networks, connectivity, music player etc. There are good number of themes to apply which can change wallpaper and icon colors accordingly. You can control music player from lockscreen itself. Notification area comes up for a swipe at the top and has few toggles switches and you can choose which all you want to display. Overall the UI feels lighter and we didn't observe any hiccups during general usage.
Camera & Audio:
The phone is equipped with an 8MP camera at the back with auto focus and a 2MP front cam which can record 1080p video at 30fps. There is no LED flash which is unacceptable for a premium phone and makes people wonder how it performs in low light. The Superior Auto mode works well and takes pictures in 7MP resolution. The interface is similar to Xperia Z with few shortcuts on the left along with a bunch of scene modes and various options available in the settings. The image quality is of a mixed bag. In broad daylight, the camera takes quite decent pictures, with good but not great amount of detail and colors look sharp as well. During low light, the pictures come out a bit grainy. Noise levels are okay in the daylight but in the low light shots, you can observe good amount of noise and dullness in pictures. Overall the image quality is not consistent and you would need to experiment on the shooting modes, and options to know which suits better. Coming to audio, the loudspeaker produces excellent output interms of clarity and even with headphones plugged in, the phone gives a good musical experience without any noticeable distortion levels and the Walkman music player comes handy as well. But anyhow, loudness levels could have been better.
Connectivity & Additional Features:
The phone comes in single sim version; supports one micro sim that can be placed on the side. Network reception is good and no call drop issues so far. Call quality is very good and noise cancellation works well, but loudness levels could have been better. It depends on how comfortable you're to handle such a massive phone for calls; of course it is thinner and easier to handle, but you should better have a Bluetooth headset. The phone also supports Wifi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G, NFC and A-GPS. Internal memory is of 16GB and the device also supports micro SD cards upto 64GB. The phone also boasts stylus feature, where unlike Note series, you can use anything like a pencil or pen as a stylus. The response is quite impressive and handwriting recognition works well. This phone too boasts IP58 certification for dust and water resistant capabilities, and it is quite better than Xperia Z where it is IP57.
Performance & Battery:
The phone runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with a Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400 processor, 2GB RAM and the beastly Adreno 330 GPU. This is one of the most powerful hardware during its launch period. The phone is able to score well in benchmark tests, scoring around 29k in Antutu and 18k in Quadrant. General usage and multi tasking feels butter smooth and we didn’t observe any lag so far. Some of the heavy games, played quite well and didn't show up any frame rate drops. Here gaming would be quite fun and impressive when compared to the rivals, due to the large display and powerful GPU and processor. The battery capacity is of 3050mAh which is good for such a beasty phone and it easily lasts more than a day under moderate usage.
Water resistant and stylus features
Huge size, quite uncomfortable for many
Camera performance could have been better
Loudness levels aren't ample.
So far, one thing is clear, the Z Ultra is a wonderful phone / phablet. It has its own weak points, where the image quality is not upto the mark in the segment and lack of LED flash isn't really welcome even if you have a good camera optimization. And the biggest con would be the size, which is the most considerable thing for this phone. If you're okay with these aspects especially the size, the Z Ultra is one hell of a smartphone which impresses you in every moment and you would love to carry this phone because of its premium and stylish design.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Rivals:
Sony Xperia Z2
HTC One M8
Micromax Canvas A300 Gold
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy S5
HTC Butterfly S
Nokia Lumia 1520