Tech Biz

Sony Xperia Z Ultra: Waterproof Super Phablet Like Two Samsungs in One

This huge new smartphone combines popular features in a premium package.

Move over, Samsung. While the South Korean smartphone powerhouse may be releasing handsets with varying sizes and functions, Japanese rival Sony is geared up to release an addition to its Xperia family that combines rugged waterproof design with a super-sized screen.

The aptly-named Xperia Z Ultra will showcase an enormous 6.4-inch 1080p screen with 344ppi the world’s largest HD display on a dedicated phone. The Ultra will also be housed in an incredibly thin 6.5mm case that is both waterproof and dust proof. Comparatively, the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 has a 6.3-inch screen with a resolution of only 720p and 233ppi. The waterproof S4 Active has a full 1080p display with a higher pixel count of 441ppi, but the screen is only 5 inches and the case is 9.1mm thick.

The Ultra’s screen will boast another upgrade – Sony’s new “Triluminos” display. It promises to show a wider range of colors, claiming a color gamut that is 50 percent larger than a conventional LCD panel. “Triluminos tech should allow the Sony Xperia Z Ultra to compete with the Super AMOLED displays on Samsung flagships, which are recognized for their rich colors,” stated Android Authority.

For anyone who switched from an iPhone to a flagship Android in the past year or so, even for Apple users who might have simply held a new-ish Android, the jump in screen size might create a bit of initial shock. If you have small hands, you might need to use both to comfortably use a 5-inch screen equipped device. Positioning the Ultra next to its older and smaller sibling, the Xperia Z, almost comically dwarfs it (and assures that two hands will be necessary).

“There’s no getting away from the sheer size of this beast. The Xperia Z Ultra is a mammoth. It’s huge, crazy huge,” wrote TechCrunch. “It looks more like a mini tablet than a phone when you see it. Even holding the Ultra in one hand feels a little ridiculous.”

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Even at this size, the Xperia Z Ultra is relatively lightweight at 212g (7.48oz). As far as design, the Ultra maintains the same kind of premium materials as the Xperia Z: tempered glass on the front and back with a metallic frame holding it all together. “The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 weighs 198g (7 ounces) but its chassis is mostly made of plastic materials, which somehow doesn't quite impart the same level of luxury as the Z Ultra,” said CNET.

Beneath the Ultra’s elegant surface is the new processor that everyone is talking about – the benchmark-crushing 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. It also comes with 2GB of RAM and 4G LTE connectivity. Taking direct aim at Samsung’s upcoming Note 3, the Ultra will also support handwriting recognition (using a graphite pencil, capacitive stylus, or metal pen with a 1mm or larger tip).

The Xperia Z Ultra comes with 16GB internal storage and can be expanded via microSD with cards up to 64GB. The battery is big, and surely needs to be for powering such a large screen, at 3000mAh. NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi are all on board. It will launch with Android Jelly Bean 4.2.

Of course, with all of its good points, the Xperia Z Ultra isn’t without some shortcomings. In a landscape filled with 13MP integrated shooters, the rear-facing camera will be a relatively meager 8MP. Adding insult to injury, it also lacks a flash. It also lacks the “Quick Settings” feature from the Jelly Bean 4.2 notification menu.

The Xperia Z Ultra is expected to launch in Asia this July and in Europe this September. It will cost roughly $940 (unlocked).