Review – Sony Xperia Z Ultra – The Big Phablet

homescreenNow that I have had several days to play with my Xperia Z Ultra C6802, it’s time to put some thoughts on paper. I replaced my black HTC One as my daily driver since receiving the Sony last week. How does it stack up to the other big phablets out there? Read on to find out.

Build Quality


HTC One (left) and Sony Xperia Z Ultra (right)

There is no downplaying your first impression when picking up the Ultra, it is a BIG device. Compared to the Note 2, Pro, DNA, Xperia Z or Oppo it is significantly more substantial. It is extremely thin and flat, ie wide and tall. Sony has done an incredible job with the materials and build quality. It exudes high end much more than the devices listed above. With an expansive front LCD (6.4”) and rear glass it feels very rigid, no creaking or twisting due to a removable battery cover like others.

It has extremely square corners and feels like a small high end tablet. Not a bad thing but it does not lend to pocketability. Overall I am very impressed with the device from a hardware perspective.


what a screen

In previous reviews I lumped the rating for the display and speakers together. For the Ultra it is necessary to rate them independently given the importance of the former. The HD display on the Ultra is stunning. As one of the largest display available on a phone it is truly a work of art. The colors are extremely bright/vivid and the blacks are fairly dark. Fonts and pictures are very sharp with no jagged edges even though the PPI is not as high as the other 1080P phones out there. Sony has improved the off axis viewing which was disappointing in the Xperia Z.

“The HD display on the Ultra is stunning.”

Having a display this large is wonderful. Viewing webpages especially in landscape mode truly gives you a desktop feel. The phone feels like it was made for watching Netflix or YouTube videos. Also having many more emails, settings or information in portrait mode are the reasons someone chooses to put a device of this magnitude in their pocket. It is very reminiscent of the feeling I had when I first obtained the Dell Streak with it’s 5” LCD compared to the 3”-4” phones during it’s time.

As much as I can praise the display, the sound is basically average. Earpiece volume is fine if you ever decide to hold this book against your head and the external speaker is adequate. Sound only comes out of small opening in the bottom corner similar to the Z. Cannot compare with HTC’s Boom sound and two front facing speakers. The Ultra pairs easily with a Jawbone headset or SoundFreaq which deliver better audio.


read-more-on-menusThe Sony ships with 4.2.2 and should receive 4.3 soon. Their UI is very light and does not impact the performance of Android or try to do too much like others out there. Navigation and daily use was buttery smooth with no lags. The light UI and 800 Snapdragon processor helped keep everything running quickly. I have long been a fan of their UI which is very professional, has nice transitions and seems much cleaner than TouchWiz or Sense and not as cartoonish as LG.

One thing worth noting is their implementation of multi-tasking. Instead of splitting the screen ala Samsung they have created little applets that hover on the top of your screen. These seem to work very well but there are only limited applications (browser, calculator, notes, recorder and timer) available at this time.


The 8MP camera takes nice pictures especially when there is an abundance of light. In slightly low light environments the camera also did a good job. There is very very little shutter lag. However similar to the Z there is no hardware shutter button. Unfortunately the lack of a flash and the awkwardness of holding a device this big (think tourist using iPads) for pictures hurts the rating.


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Wrap Up

So the big question, “Is this device TOO BIG?”. There is not an easy answer to this question. For someone who carries their phone everywhere and is out in the field, most likely, however for an individual who works in an office environment and uses a small tablet at home this could be perfect for them.

I will most likely continue using the Ultra since I love the big screen, do not talk on the phone much and prefer picking this up for use at home. Is 5.99” a better size? Only time will tell. After a couple more weeks, I will provide a refreshed view and may possibly test using a pen or pencil on the screen.

Thank you for reading my opinion.

About mlee1999

mlee1999 is an avid mobile electronics junky. Starting with the original G1 he has been a huge fan of Android from the beginning. He collects mobile electronics and can't pass up a good deal. Day job is as a banker (go figure) and a huge basketball fan. Great family with kids growing up in a connected world.

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