First Impressions: Sony Xperia Z Ultra

We take a sneak peek at Sony's Godzilla-sized phone, the Xperia Z Ultra. Let's find out if it's worth the hefty asking price.


We were privy to a little sit-down with Sony’s latest monstrosity known as the Xperia Ultra Z. The smartphone will be hitting retail across India from August 2 and we managed to get some alone time with this device. This is Sony’s latest flagship and instead of replacing the Xperia Z, it will sit higher up the Android chain all by itself. The Xperia Z had its share of pain points, but despite that, managed to create a strong presence in the market due to its amphibious nature and aggressive pricing. Sony is pinning the success of the Xperia Z Ultra on the display more than anything else.

First Impressions: Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Beautiful design

 

And what a display it is! The display panel in the Z Ultra features the same technology used in Sony’s 2013 BRAVIA TVs. We didn’t get much information on the workings of its new Triluminos display, but one things for sure – it’s miles better compared to the panel on the Xperia Z. The colours are really rich and vibrant, albeit a tad oversaturated.

The Z Ultra does very well with reds and greens and manages a much wider colour gamut than before. We suspect this technology will make it to future high-end Sony smartphones too and maybe even some select mid-range devices.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Incredibly thin but not the most comfortable to hold

 

The phone itself is massive and I really mean massive! At 6.44-inches, it’s on borderline tablet territory. The Z Ultra is quite cumbersome to hold in one hand, let alone use it. And due to its size zero waistline (just 6.5 mm), there’s barely anything to hold onto. Don’t get me wrong, the phone looks absolutely gorgeous from every angle, but it’s definitely not ergonomic. Like the Xperia Z and ZR, the Z Ultra is IP55 and IP58 certified, which means it’s waterproof up to 1 m underwater for 30 minutes. We just hope the Z Ultra is actually usable underwater unlike the Z or even the Tablet Z.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

The lack of flash is quite alarming

 

The phone is incredibly fast thanks to the Snapdragon 800 SoC onboard. This is the first handset in India to feature Qualcomm’s most powerful chipset yet and is certainly the one to beat. Sony has tweaked the UI a bit and added some new features like toggle switches in the notification bar and a new pop-out menu in the app menu when you swipe to the right. The phone will ship with Android 4.2.2 out-of-the-box and will hopefully be updated to 4.3 soon.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Indoor shots are average at best with ambient light

 

 

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

The quality improves under natural light, but the details are still lacking

 

 

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Another close-up under natural light

 

 

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Outdoor shot (this is shot through a glass window)

 

We also got a chance to play around with the camera, which is an 8MP shooter capable of 1080p at 30fps. Strangely, Sony hasn’t included a LED flash, which means low-light or night time shots would suffer quite a bit. Switching the camera to "Intelligent Auto" reduces the pixel count to just 7MP for some reason. Our test shots were taken at full 8MP resolution. Low-light performance seems pretty average at best, as there’s a lot of noise in the photos. With better lighting, the quality is slightly better, but it still lacks detail when you zoom in. We didn’t mind the low 8MP resolution, but we expected Sony to bump up the imaging quality, which sadly hasn’t happened. Then again, this could be an issue restricted to the demo units, so we’ll have to wait for a retail sample before we pass our final judgement.

The bottom line
Sony has priced the Z Ultra at a whopping Rs 46,990, officially making it the most expensive Android smartphone in the market. After my brief stint with the device, two things impressed me the most – the display, which is quite brilliant, and the design. The form factor is certainly going to be an issue for many as it’s not very pocketable unless you have the habit of wearing cargos or a suit all the time. The lack of an LED flash for the camera will also make potential buyers step back and think twice. Another feature we wished was present was an IR blaster. Overall, the Xperia Z Ultra is a very pretty looking device, but I am not really convinced about its practicality. We’ll be bringing you an in-depth review very soon, so hang tight.

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