Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review

The ever blurring line between smartphones and tablets just got thinner when Sony introduced the Xperia Z Ultra. At 6.4-inches, it’s the largest handset to hit the Indian market and just so happens to be the most expensive.

₹35,000

tech2 rating

3.3/5

avg. user rating

4.1/5




The ever blurring line between smartphones and tablets just got thinner when Sony introduced the Xperia Z Ultra. At 6.4-inches, it’s the largest handset to hit the Indian market and just so happens to be the most expensive. While bigger is not always better, Sony seems to have got it spot on with the display as it’s the single most stunning thing you’ve ever seen fitted to a smartphone. However, a gorgeous display does not guarantee it being a good smartphone as it has to bear the brunt of everyday use, handle voice calls without dropping and most importantly – sit comfortably in your pocket. The latter might be a tall order for the Ultra given its size, so let’s see if it has its basics right.

Note: Before we venture further, we would just like to mention that the unit we have with us today is not the retail unit, so naturally, we did have minor software glitches along the way. Apart from this, however, the hardware underneath is the same as the final retail units, so this shouldn’t affect our review. We will be getting the final unit soon and update the review wherever necessary.

Design and build
The Z Ultra debuts Sony’s new Triluminos display, which uses the same panel technology used in its 2013 BRAVIA TVs. The result of this is a stunningly bright and vivid picture with decent viewing angles. Despite having an IP58 certification, the screen is not dull and lifeless like the Xperia Z; it is just the opposite. The build is very good and even though the phone is very thin at just 6.5 mm, it feels sturdy. The Xperia Z Ultra doesn’t have one bad angle and is truly a jaw dropper in terms of design. There’s an ergonomically placed power and volume rocker on the side along with a microSD card and microSIM slot. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is not covered, though. There are two exposed leads as well for connecting the phone to the optional dock.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review

Stunning design and build

 

There’s a mono speaker slit down at the bottom of the phone along with a lanyard loop. The front and back are extremely glossy and attract smudges very easily. The screen doesn’t scratch easily, but the same cannot be said about the back. Despite having a screen guard, the back of our unit developed many hairline scratches without even dropping it. The 8MP camera is devoid of any flash, which is very puzzling and will certainly not go down well with prospective buyers. The battery is completely sealed off, so there’s no chance of swapping it out. The design, while stunning, is the least ergonomic to use. You’ll have to stretch your hands all the way just to grip it firmly, so forget about one-handed usage.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

Super slim at just 6.5 mm

 

Overall, the Z Ultra has a stunning design and looks absolutely gorgeous from every conceivable angle, but is real pain in the back side to hold or keep in your pocket.

Features
The Z Ultra is the first phone in India to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC. This powerful chipset packs in four CPU cores running at 2.2GHz and their fastest Adreno 330 graphics. Couple this with 2GB of RAM and we’re looking at an incredibly smooth Jelly Bean experience. Sony’s skin adds some nifty customisation options to the UI as well. The display is extremely vibrant; it actually feels like a mini cinema in your hands. The phone is also IP58 certified, but we didn’t put it to the test since one of the port flaps refused to go back in place securely.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

A familiar interface

 

Sony has peppered the Z Ultra with its usual suite of apps like McAfee Security, TrackID, Sony LIV, Music Unlimited, Office Suite etc.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

Benchmarks are off the charts!

 

Media
The Walkman music player is very similar to the ones we’ve seen in the past and so is the video player. Audio quality is good through headphones, but the speaker volume is quite weak and not very loud. According to Sony, certain compromises had to be made in order to achieve the desired slim profile. Sound enhancements are present in the form of ClearAudio+, which automatically amplifies the sound, or you could fine tune the settings through a 5-band graphic equaliser along with features such as Clear Stereo, Clear phase, xLOUD and Dynamic normaliser.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

The display is excellent for videos

 

The video player won’t read WMV, FLV and some AVI files, but everything else, including MKV files, works just fine. There’s 16GB of onboard memory, which is expandable to 64GB via microSD card.

Connectivity
Sony has launched the HSPA+ variant in India, so no LTE support. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS and GLONASS.  The handset also supports Miracast for mirroring your phone on a compatible TV. There’s MHL as well for cloning your phone via a cable. The display is a joy to use for surfing the web. The pixel count is high enough to make individual pixel indiscernible to the naked eye. Text is sharp and even heavy web pages are rendered quickly thanks to the speedy chipset.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

The Sketch app is a nice addition to the suite

 

We also had an issue with the ear piece as the caller’s voice sounds tinny and muffled. Even at full volume, it’s quite difficult to hear the person in noisy environments. The sound from the earpiece causes slight vibrations around that area and it almost feels like you’re on speaker phone. We’ll give the Ultra the benefit of doubt as this is a demo unit, so we’ll confirm back once we get a retail piece.

Camera
The 8MP camera resolution is not as much of a letdown as the quality of pictures it captures. To make matters worse, Sony has left out an LED flash. And with the sensor unable to handle low-light well in the first place, the results aren’t pretty. The list of options is exactly the same as the Z and ZL; HDR video is present as well. There’s also a lot of colour noise in indoor images, which is very apparent in the blurred-out background in macro shots.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

Lots of colour noise visible in indoor shots

 

Video recording is smooth, but the quality of videos is just about average.

Battery life
We easily managed to sail through our 8-hour loop test and still had about 44 percent battery remaining. The 3050 mAh battery onboard will easily last you a day on moderate usage and Sony’s Stamina mode should help increase that even more.

Sony Xperia Z ultra

Available in three shades

 

Verdict and price in India
For an asking price of Rs 46,990, we expected a lot more than just a good display and waterproofing. The Z Ultra makes an excellent waterproof PMP, but sadly, it does not make the cut as a phone. In fact, I really hope Sony launches a PMP with same feature set as the Ultra (minus the calling function) for under Rs 20,000 as it would easily give the iPod touch a run for its money.

 

The Z Ultra is simply too unwieldy to be used as a primary phone. The camera quality is strictly average and the loud speaker is anything but that. And for this price, we expected at least 32GB of onboard memory. It does have an excellent display, however, and one of the fastest chipsets ever fitted to a phone, which makes it great for entertainment and gaming. If the two above mentioned points are your main criteria, then nothing beats the Z Ultra. For rest of us, we’ll just have to wait for Sony to bring this Triluminos goodness to a screen size that’s more pocketable.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Specifications

Xperia Z Ultra is the big screen phone that uses the very latest screen technology developed by our BRAVIA® TV engineers. The large, high-resolution 6.4inch Full TRILUMINOS Display with X-Reality for mobile comes with a 1920 x 1080 progressive scan, for incredibly crisp pictures free of jagged edges. Paired with a pixel density of 342 pixels per inch, you get pictures that are razor sharp and superiorly bright. To make sure that this big screen phone can handle whatever life has in store, we designed it to be super durable. The high IP55 & IP58 rating means it’s waterproof* and dust resistant, so feel free to use it in the rain and bring it to the pool. Both the front and back panels are made with durable tempered glass, coated with an anti-scratch film. And the skeleton frame is made of tough glass fibre polyamide. It has superior mechanical strength, and is so strong that it’s often used as a metal substitute in cars and electronics. We’ve matched the latest Sony software with the all new, super powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. This advanced Quad-core processor is 75% faster than S4 Pro and gives you maximum power and speed with outstanding battery time – run multiple apps simultaneously, surf the web with little loading time, and stream videos without a break. The Snapdragon 800 processor is asynchronous, which means each core is powered independently. So you get the precise amount of power when you need it, without wasting power when you don’t. The 8 megapixel camera is built with the same modules as leading Sony cameras. Exmor RS for mobile is an evolution of our Sony image sensor technology, with a next-generation BSI light sensor. By adopting the technology of luminance and colour noise reduction, we’ve created a camera that snaps highly detailed shots with low noise – even in challenging lighting conditions. You’re now also able to reproduce objects in more vivid colours and capture night images and faces in stunning clarity.

Display

Form FactorBar
Screen TypeTFT Capacitive Touchscreen
Screen Size6.4 inches
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Number of Colours16M
ProtectionShatter Proof Sheet on Scratch-Resistant

Processor

ProcessorQuad Core Qualcomm MSM8974
Speed2.2 GHz

Memory

Internal Memory16GB, 2GB RAM
Extendable MemorymicroSD, up to 64GB

Camera Features

Sensor Resolution8MP, 3264x2448 pixels
FeaturesGeo-Tagging, Touch Focus, Face Detection, Image Stabilization, HDR, Sweep Panorama
Digital Zoom16x
Video resolution / frame rate1080p
Front facing camera2MP

General Features

OSAndroid
Version4.2 (Jelly Bean)
FM RadioFM Radio with RDS
Bluetooth FeaturesV4.0 with A2DP
MessagingSMS, MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
GPSYes, with A-GPS Support and GLONASS
USB ConnectorYes
NFCYes
Available ColoursWhite, Black, Purple

Carrier Networks

2GGSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3GHSDPA 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz
4GYes

Data

GPRSYes
EGPRS or EDGEEDGE
WiFiWi-Fi and WiFi Hotspot

Body

Dimensions92 x 6.5 x 179 mm
Weight212
KeyboardQWERTY Keyboard

Sound

Alert ToneVibration, MP3
SpeakerphoneYes
Audio connector3.5mm

Battery

TypeLi-Ion
Capacity3000
Talk Time with Standard BatteryUp to 14 h (2G) / Up to 16 h (3G)
Standby Time with Standard BatteryUp to 790 h (2G) / Up to 820 h (3G)

Miscellaneous Features

Built in ApplicationsBookmarks|#|Google Chrome|#|Google Play|#|Google Search|#|Google Voice Search|#|NeoReader Barcode Scanner|#|Google Maps for Mobile with Street view and Latitude|#|YouTube|#|Facebook
Other FeaturesAirplane Mode, Alarm clock, Calculator, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Setup Wizard, Tasks, Xperia Gallery

After Sales Service

Warranty Period1 Year

Price

Warranty Period1 Year




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