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Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review: Bursting with Power!

Full Review of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Full Review of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

We’ve been using the Sony Xperia Z Ultra for the last week and we’d like to share with you guys our full review. For starters let’s get one thing out of the way — the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a TABLET. We no longer consider it as a “phablet” because it’s really more of a tablet already at 6.4-inches. This is no longer a big phone. This is a small tablet that happens to have telephony features. It’s just crazy big at 6.4-inches to use as a daily driver smartphone. Probably the only way this will still pass as a phablet is if you’re a basketball player with ginormous hands, hehe.

Okay before we get to the full review, here’s a refresher on the specifications.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Spec Sheet

  • 2.2GHz Quad-core CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB Internal Storage, expandable via microSD Card
  • 6.4-inch Full HD TRILUMINOS™ Display for mobile powered by X-Reality™
  • 8.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with Exmor RS for Mobile, HDR
  • Front-facing camera (not sure yet what the MP is)
  • WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, 3G, HSPA+, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS/aGPS
  • 3,000mAh Battery
  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • Waterproof and dust-resistant (IP55/IP58) durable design

By the way, if you haven’t seen our unboxing and hands-on post on the Sony Xperia Ultra Z, click here.

Hardware: Massive, Razor Thin, and… uh… yeah it’s really big

Despite the size it still is very thin
Despite the size it still is very thin

At 6.4-inches, the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is a towering and imposing gadget, especially if you take the POV that this is still a smartphone or even a phablet. It easily and obviously dwarfs the standard 5.0-inch Android smartphones and much more the 4.0-inch iPhone 5. That said, the device will be hard to use as a phone. It will probably block most of your face the moment you hold it up to your ear, hehe.

Despite the massive size though Sony was able to keep the device razor thin and this helps immensely with ease-of-use. They applied the same “Omnibalance” design philosophy that we saw initially with the Sony Xperia Z and then with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

>>> SEE ALSO: Sony Xperia Tablet Z Full Review

Whoa.
Whoa.

Similar also to the first Xperia Z, they applied the same dual-glass set-up for the front and the back. This gives the Xperia Ultra Z a very premium feel and look. In fact this is probably the nicest looking Android tablet ever made! Heck it can challenge the look and feel of our current favorite, the 2013 Google Nexus 7.

>>> CHECK OUT: 2013 Google Nexus 7 Full Review

The ports and buttons are all neatly placed on the sides of the device with doors/covers to make sure that the device is water resistant. Yes, you can actually submerge this into water and it will survive. So if you’re the type that always spills water on their gadgets you should probably consider getting this one, hehe.

There’s also a magnetic connector at the side which is made for the Xperia Z Ultra dock. This accessory is sold separately but functions like the Xperia Z Dock which we reviewed a few months back. Only difference is that it’s made for a 6.4-inch device.

>>> READ ALSO: Sony Xperia Z Full Review

Display Quality is Superb

Perfect for landscape mode due to the 6.4-inch size
Perfect for landscape mode due to the 6.4-inch size

One of the most stunning features of the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is the quality of the 6.4-inch display. The resolution of this bad boy is actually 1920×1080 (1080p) which comes out to 344 pixels per inch. That’s already much better than the resolution of the iPad Mini and even the Google Nexus 7. It’s really perfect for watching videos, reading, and other forms of media consumption. Also awesome for sharing photos with friends.

Over-all when it comes to hardware and design, the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is a very good small tablet with telephony features. It’s not as portable and easy to handle as a 5.0-inch smartphone though so it might not be the best daily driver device unless you always have a purse or bag with you to carry it around with.

Software: It’s The Most Powerful Device According to Benchmark Tests

Now this caught us completely by surprise. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is just as powerful as it is big. In fact it has registered the highest score we’ve ever seen on the Antutu Benchmark Test. It hit over 31,000. BOOM.

Look at that!!!
Look at that!!!
King of the hill!
King of the hill!

At this level combined with the sheer size you can probably call this the “Kaiju” of smartphones and phablets, hehe. If you don’t know what a Kaiju is, its those huge monsters that appeared on the movie Pacific Rim.

Anyway, so how do these numbers translate into user experience? In a word — superb. We got a virtually lag-free time with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Basic animations and transitions were all smooth and fluid, almost hitting the same levels as iOS. Apps loaded very fast, even if they are graphics and memory intensive games. Multi-tasking was also snappy. Apps would resume without any noticeable delay.

It shines the most though in games. One of the games that we usually use to test is Zombie Wood. It’s a free Android game (3D shooter). We got the smoothest and fastest gameplay ever of Zombie Wood on the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

Panalo!
Panalo!

The sheer power and the gorgeous display really makes the Xperia Ultra Z one of the best portable gaming machines out there. This makes you wonder why Sony isn’t making full use of their PlayStation platform to provide a superior and differentiated gaming experience.

If you want to see gaming on the Xperia Ultra Z in video, check out the most recent episode of the Unbox Video Podcast. We featured the device in full there. It should be in one of the first segments.

Other than gaming, the Xperia Ultra Z also is a fantastic media player! Watching videos on this device is an amazing experience since you have an 1080p 6.4-inch display. It’s also not that heavy and easy to hold (because of the thin form factor). When we were using this we filled it up with a lot of videos and we used it often while in the car riding to and from work and meetings.

Great for watching videos
Great for watching videos

It goes without saying that it also is a great e-reader. Regardless if you’re reading blogs, aggregators, or ebooks, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra will not disappoint.

Unbox android app now in final testing stages. Should be out VERY SOON
Unbox android app now in final testing stages. Should be out VERY SOON

If there’s one thing that the Ultra Z is bad with though it’s texting, especially if you’re going to try to do it with just one hand. The screen is just to big to be used the usual way you would use a smartphone. That’s one of the big reasons why we consider this as more of a tablet than a smartphone or phablet.

Mahirap mag text!
Mahirap mag text!

Everything considered, the Sony Xperia Ultra Z is a phenomenal entertainment device. The 6.4-inch display ensures a fantastic experience for media consumption but that also kinda makes it hard for basic telephony uses like texting and calling.

Camera: Average Fare

And just like a tablet the camera on the Sony Xperia Z Ultra isn’t really the best kinda you can get on a mobile device, hehe. There’s no LED flash too so it’s not ideal for low light situations. Here are some of the sample shots we took:

DSC_0007

DSC_0005

DSC_0003

DSC_0002

As you can see the colors are kinda washed out. It’s probably better than a lot of other cameras on tablets but it can’t hold its own against cameras of flagship smartphones.

Battery Life: Above Average

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra runs on a 3,000mAh battery. With 50% brightness, 3G, Sync, and our usual moderate-heavy usage of calls, texts, and browsing, we hit a little over 8 hours on the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. That’s arguably good already for smartphone standards. We’re a bit worried though that when we get the LTE model 3,000mAh might not be good enough anymore.

Verdict

Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a fantastic small tablet with telephony features. Trying to justify it as a big smartphone just doesn’t hold water anymore because the 6.4 inch display really is too big for that category. If you’re in the market though for one all-around device and you would use it often for watching videos, gaming, and web browsing, then the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a solid contender for your hard earned cash.

It’s now available for a little over Php27,000 on Kimstore. Not that this is the 3G version and it doest not have LTE connectivity. That model is expected to arrive mid-September.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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4 Comments

    1. bsta po c6833 ang model nya working po at any network ang LTE and also make sure that your area is covered by LTE..

      Best device i used other than the note series, 🙂

  1. I bought this phone just this week from GameXtreme Philippines. Smooth transaction, fast shipping and good aftersales support. This phone is an awesome mobile entertainment device! But I probably won’t be using it as a phone. It’s just too big.

  2. Been using this for a week as my daily driver and l’d say it’s a very powerful and stunning phone. I’m getting used to the sheer size and in my opinion, it’s not so difficult to handle. Maybe you just really need to have a pouch or a small bag to carry it around. The ultra-slim profile of 6.5mm helps a lot in handling and grip. As for the display, the 6.4-inch screen looks gorgeous and bright even when set at a lower brightness level. Build quality is topnotch; the metal frame and glass back panel makes it ooze with elegance even more. For the camera, yes there is noticeable noise in the photos especially when taken in low light. But the ones taken in good lighting conditions turn out very good, if not excellent. The lack if LED flash is also worth mentioning. The front facing snapper does its job so well. For LTE connectivity, I have yet to try using it. And for the processor, this one’s really a beast. Smooth, ultra-fast, and super-responsive. The Snapdragon 800 – 2GB RAM combo pack a huge punch though it is considered as an older hardware now. I ran AnTuTu v5.6.2 and it scored 38,843. That’s way higher than benchmarks with previous Android Operating Systems. Maybe it could be attributed to optimizations brought by KitKat (my unit has v4.4.4 KitKat out of the box). I am loving this phone. Definitely bursting with power!

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