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Sony Xperia Z Ultra review

 Review: October 2013  

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: An ultra-large, ultra-powerful smartphone that's also ultra-thin!

Today's best buy: Sony Xperia Z Ultra SIM-free ... from Amazon (£0)



The Sony Xperia Z Ultra. We're so excited, it's hard to know where to start this review. Just breathe deeply and start at the beginning ...

The biggest smartphone ever

Get out of the way, Samsung Galaxy Mega, you are no longer the biggest smartphone! And when we say big, we mean huge! There's no mistaking the Z Ultra for an ordinary smartphone, but you might mistake it for a tablet. With a screen measuring 6.4 inches, it's very nearly as big as a tablet. You might think it's too big, but spend a bit of time playing with that screen and you might just change your mind.

If it was simply big, it would be impractical. What makes the Ultra so gorgeous is the fact that it's shockingly thin. With a thickness of a mere 6.5mm, it's 15% slimmer than the iPhone 5s, and that really does make it manageable, despite weighing nearly twice as much as an iPhone, at 212g. To put that in perspective, it's about half the weight of many 7-inch tablets. So what's the message here? The Z Ultra is big, but thin. It's heavy, but surprisingly light. In other words, it handles like nothing else you've ever experienced. It feels truly exotic.

The exotic feel is helped by the use of premium metal and glass in its construction. The Z Ultra is waterproof as well, just like the Xperia Z1.

Let's return to that enormous screen. Not only is it the biggest screen on any smartphone we've reviewed, it's a gorgeous full HD 1080p screen with a huge 344 ppi pixel density. It's fitted out with Sony's Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 and Triluminos features and can also be used with a stylus, making it somewhat like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Bigger, faster, better

It's not just the screen size that's been souped up. Sony has crammed all the latest spec hardware into the innards of this beast, ensuring that you won't experience anything like the disappointment of the underpowered Samsung Galaxy Mega.

Let's start with the processor. It's the latest quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 800 processor running at a turbocharged 2.2GHz and with the Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM on hand. That makes it the fastest Android phone so far, equal to the LG G2 and Sony Xperia Z1.

Moving on to memory, you get 16GB onboard plus the option to add a memory card for additional storage. The Z Ultra supports the SDXC format, which means that you can add a 64GB card for an enormous 80GB of total storage!

8 megapixel camera

The Z Ultra comes with a very competent 8 megapixel camera. It's sadly not the 20 megapixel monster that Sony gave their Xperia Z1 superphone, but it does share many of the same features. Not least on this list is the Sony Exmor RS sensor, a stacked CMOS image sensor that combines High Dynamic Range and W (white) pixels in addition to conventional RGB (red-green-blue) pixels for vastly better low light performance. You'll also find a high-powered 16x digital zoom, autofocus, an image stabiliser, face detection and a host of other features to make your photography come together.

As well as stills, you can shoot 1080p video and there's also a front-facing 2 megapixel camera for 1080p video chat.

Competition amongst high-end smartphones in 2013 is cut-throat and this rates as a 4 star camera phone - excellent but not the very best.

4G connectivity

The Ultra has full support for 4G LTE, including the EE, O2 and Vodafone networks in the UK. It also runs on the HSPA+ and GSM networks, giving you the fastest data speeds possible in your area. The phone also supports practically every other connectivity standard possible, including Bluetooth 4.0, NFC (for one-touch sharing), DLNA and screen mirroring with compatible Sony TVs.

Battery life

The power requirements of a device like this are huge and anything less than a huge battery would be a fail. Fortunately, the Z Ultra doesn't let us down, having been fitted with a 3,000mAh battery. This is equal to the battery of the LG G2 superphone, and about twice the capacity of the iPhone 5s' battery!  It's enough to provide 7 hours of continuous video playback or up to 16 hours of talktime. We reckon it'll see you through a day of heavy use.

In addition, the optional Stamina Mode disables Wi-Fi and data traffic when the display is off, while keeping calls and text notifications active. As soon as you turn the screen back on, normal activity resumes. You can customise this setting, for example to keep Facebook notifications active when the screen is off. Stamina Mode can extend the battery standby time four-fold.

Conclusion - love at first sight?

Still reading? Why aren't you buying? If you want the ultimate in power from a smartphone in 2013, then you're on the right page. The Sony Z Ultra certainly has the biggest and best screen. It also has all the power you need to back it up - quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, up to 80GB memory, 4G connectivity and a whopping battery. It's also delightfully slim, despite its heaviness.

On the other hand, if you want the best camera phone then choose the Nokia Lumia 1020 or the Sony Xperia Z1. If you want something that's not quite so big, then the Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One could be yours. And if you're an iPhone fan, what are you even doing reading this stuff???

Sony Xperia Z Ultra features include:

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Jio. Sim is not supported to my sony z ultra.

Asked by sekhar from india on 24th Oct 2016

Sony Xperia Z Ultra user reviews

Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 9 reviews:

Reviewed by Phil from UK on 29th Jan 2016
Bought this second hand after owning Z and Z1. This is fantastic, am now selling my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 as this far outshines it for video playback and games. Not too bothered about 8MB camera, not so important.

Reviewed by Joseph Pierce from Indonesia on 16th Jul 2014
It's the best phone I've ever used

Reviewed by Martin from UK on 23rd Jan 2014
Got this phone a couple of weeks before Christmas as a treat for myself, and I am extremely pleased with it. I have had my fair share of phones over the years, and this is the best I have had. I agree with Adrianeds, the camera is really good, and takes good shots in low light with no flash. However, this phone is about the screen, and it delivers in bucket loads, for movies, youtube whatever it's stunning. It's fast, slick and smooth, ok, it's big but it's so slim it handles a dream. And when you pull it out to text or answer a call, everybody looks at you and wonders what it is. Now that is the ultimate "geek style". It's mega!

Reviewed by Adrianeds from Wales on 10th Jan 2014
Just wanted to add to my previous comment on the Xperia Ultra, as regards the camera. One Tech website has given the camera stick, and to be honest I believe unfairly. Granted there is no flash, but that's not the end of world. Photography plays a huge part in my line of work, so I do have an idea about taking pictures. To keep it simple, photography is about the quality of the lens and sensor, then the pixels. Better the lens and sensor better the picture. The pixels, to many with a poor lens defeats the object, it's like drinking weak tea. To some extent the same could be argued with the oversampling method, of huge pixel count to just oversample and get a lower pixel final picture. Reduces noise etc, however, it make photo's seem diluted. The camera here takes excellent photo's, with good detail in any weather in daylight. It does struggle a little in lowlight, but, a flash can also make your photo to white unless controlled fully.
My point, don't be put off this phone because of the no flash, it still takes excellent all-round photo's for us all to share.

Reviewed by Lucinda from Great Britain on 2nd Jan 2014
My Daddy brought this phone for my birthday, I love it, the screen is very big and the quality is banging, great for doing my homework on. Games all just work, no lagging. All of my school friends are jealous of my phone but they don't have rich parents, Ha Ha.

Reviewed by Adrianeds from Wales on 21st Dec 2013
I have one, couldn't resist the temptation, even though I have a HTC One, which is superb, this is way different. Was tempted to go for the HTC One Max, but my local Vodafone shop was so un-helpful I simply walked out. Got it on the Three Network, and it is simply superb. Don't be put off by the size, as it is so slim, it's manageable, screen is as good as any other smartphone, phablet, if not dare I say better. And everything just works, it is a joy, I really really like it. Anyone who are in any doubt, don't be it is well worth buying, you won't be disappointed, promise.

Reviewed by Aditya from Indonesia on 19th Dec 2013
This Fablet its OUTSTANDING :D

Reviewed by rick from uk on 17th Dec 2013
you guys knock one phone down for a 5.9 big screen then turn around and praise the ultra doesnt make sence the 6.4 is way to big the phone also sctatches very easy mine went back

Reviewed by Andy from UK on 21st Oct 2013
I have one. It's enormous, but every inch of that 6.4" screen justifies the size.

I got a comment that it looked like something offered to Jean Luc Picard on Star Trek Next Gen, so as to view planet data. If that's not a recommendation of geeky style, nothing is.

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