Sony Xperia Z Ultra: First Impressions

Sony has joined the race for the biggest screen smartphones, with the Xperia Z Ultra. Trust us when we say that the phone is huge, and just a simple number to denote the screen size doesn't quite describe the enormity of it!

Published Date
30 - Jul - 2013
| Last Updated
30 - Jul - 2013
Sony Xperia Z Ultra: First Impressions

The big screen phone battle is passé. Introducing the new category - the biggest screen smartphones money can buy. Just before you get into the 7-inch tablet category, of course! There is no running away from the fact that the Xperia Z Ultra is possibly the biggest smartphone in the high-end price bracket, with the huge 6.4-inch Full HD display. However, this does mean that it will eventually only appeal to a limited demographic of buyers - those who are still struggling to find the perfect balance between a phone and a tablet.

At a price of Rs. 46,990, the Xperia Z Ultra doesn’t come cheap. The phone will be officially launching in India on August 2, 2013, and will be available in three colour options – black, white and purple. Sony says the good response to the purple option on the Xperia Z made them continue with this colour option.

Sony has made an attempt to justify the high-price of the Xperia Z Ultra with the powerful hardware and the high-end specs. The Ultra gets a 6.4-inch full HD Display, which Sony calls the “world’s largest Full HD smartphone display”. The power-plant is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip, clocking at 2.2GHz. This is accompanied by 2GB of RAM, and 16GB built-in storage with the ability to expand that using a memory card.

We had a chance to use this monster smartphone at the press briefing. To give you a better idea about the Xperia Z Ultra, we have a few observations.

The phone is huge. There is no getting away from the fact. When we were handed the device to experience, the enormity was quite hard to take in. The fact that the Xperia Z Ultra has a completely flat slab design makes it look a tad bigger than even the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3.

Speaking of which, the design elements have been carried forward from the Xperia Z smartphone, and almost exactly replicated on the Xperia Z Ultra. Below the display, wait for it, are no touch sensitive keys. They have been integrated into the UI, just like the Xperia Z.

One spine of the Xperia Z Ultra has the power key and the volume rocker. The power key has the same rounded design that stands out, both as a visual element as well as in terms of height compared to the rest of the spine. This is also the spine where the 3.5mm headphone jack sits. The SIM and memory card slot sit here, covered by a water resistant flap.

The other side spine of the Xperia Z Ultra has the dock connector and the flap that has the microUSB port under it.

The Xperia Z Ultra has the IP55/IP58 water resistance ratings, meaning it can be kept under 1.5 metre of water for 30 minutes. Even the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is not covered by any flap, is water resistant.

Sony says the Xperia Z Ultra is the “world’s slimmest Full HD smartphone”, at 6.5mm thickness. No doubt that it is slim enough to claim that, but in terms of weight, at 212 grams, it isn’t the lightest around. As a phone, this makes it rather heavy for most use case scenarios.

Single hand operation of the Xperia Z Ultra is impossible. Don’t even try it, because you will eventually end up with a phone that made peace with gravity.

The Xperia Z Ultra unit that I have photographed is the white colour version, and there is the glass layer on the back, again akin the Xperia Z smartphone. From our experience with that, we must say you need to be super careful to not scratch this.

Let’s get on to the biggest attraction of the Xperia Z Ultra - the Triluminos display. This is what Sony claims as the “world’s largest Full HD smartphone display”. At 6.4-inches, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, the quality is expected to be pristine. For most aspects, like crispness and colour depth, the display did well. But, the reflective nature makes it a tad difficult if you have too many lights reflecting off it. Secondly, with the scaling as it is, text readability on web pages might be an issue because of the small font sizes, unless specifically zoomed in. This is something that is also somewhat applicable for the text that accompanies the app icons, because a lot more icons now fit in one screen, but the font size compared to the smaller screen Xperia Z hasn’t gone up.

Sony has the OptiContrast panel on the Xperia Z Ultra, and that does make the blacks look deeper and most colours now look richer. But, the colour richness will also be attributed to the Triluminos panel, which widens the colour gamut. This is the panel that Sony is pushing in their newer range of Bravia TVs and the Vaio Pro 13 notebook as well. While on the bigger screen TVs, there is always the risk of colours becoming unnaturally rich, the Xperia Z Ultra’s display doesn’t really face that issue.

Sony claims that you can use any stylus or even a pencil on the Xperia Z Ultra’s screen, and the input will be seamlessly detected. While we aren’t too sure how many people would like to poke a smartphone this expensive with a pencil, it is good to know that any stylus works for taking notes and making sketches.

The Xperia Z Ultra comes with the very powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, and with 2GB of RAM. This is one of the most powerful processors’ in a smartphone, and we will run the usual series of tests on this phone to give you a better idea of where it stacks up among the big screen phones.

Sony Mobile has tied up with mobile service provider Vodafone, and subscribers who purchase an Xperia Z Ultra will get 8GB free data usage for the first two months.

Do stay tuned for the detailed review of the Sony Xperia Z ultra smartphone. In the meantime, you can check out some pictures of the device, and how it dwarfs even another very popular high-end Android smartphone.

You though your conventional smartphone was big! This is how small the HTC One looks in comparison to the Xperia Z Ultra.

Another example of the phone's size, in comparison to the HTC One.

A comparison of the thickness between the Xperia Z Ultra and the HTC One.

This is a big phone, and there is no getting away from that fact.

At 6.5mm thickness, the Z Ultra is among the thinnest phones out there. Notice the design of the power key, as carried forward from the Xperia Z.

This is the other side spine, with the dock connector and the micro USB slot towards the top.

The water-proofing solution! Here is an example of how the ports are covered to make this phone IP58 water resistant.

The back has the glass layer as seen on the Xperia Z. Be careful, because this will get scratches very quickly.

The UI is the same as the one we saw on the Xperia Z smartphone, with the extra screen space providing for two more icons on the dock.

There is a lot of real estate on the 6.4-inch Triluminos display for your widgets.

Each screen now packs in even more app icons, but the design of the UI is retained.

This is what we meant when we said there are more icons on the dock.

The home screen in landscape mode. The integrated three function keys change orientation seamlessly.

The device comes with Android 4.2.2 out of the box, but no word about the Android 4.3 update.

A bunch of settings that anyone with an entire ecosystem of connected Sony devices would enjoy.

The X-Reality engine, seen on Bravia TVs, is included in the Z Ultra to make the display crisper and text sharper.

Sony has talked about the Stamina Mode for battery saving on the device. We will test this in detail to see if it even makes a difference.

Asphalt 7 is preloaded on the smartphone.

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