It’s a phone. It’s a tablet. It’s a phablet. We have honestly been scratching our heads about just what the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is, and almost a week into using it, we are still not clear about the answer. What we are certain of saying is that the Xperia Z Ultra is one of the most powerful devices that we have been able to hold -- just about -- in the palms of our hands.
No matter what task we threw at it -- be it high-definition games, video editing or watching full HD films -- the device handled it with an elan. We have seen well-specced devices in the past but not too many come with the kind of muscle the Xperia Z Ultra packs in -- a 2.2 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, backed up by 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB onboard storage (expandable using a memory card) and every connectivity option you could want including 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC. And all of this topped off by a magnificent 6.4-inch full HD display, powered by the Bravia 2 engine, with Android 4.2 purring beneath it.
The question about the Xperia Z Ultra, however, is not whether it can handle what you throw at it -- it handles Android brilliantly. It is about how easy it is to use. Sony deserves a round of applause for making such a large device look alluring -- on first glance, the black model looks like a slab of granite, with a button-free, smooth jet black front, and a classy glass-covered back (both front and back are scratch resistant). It is also positively anorexic at a mere 6.5-mm thin (thinner than the iPhone 5 and the HTC One). We lie not -- every single person who saw the Xperia Z Ultra gaped at it.
The gaping, however, tends to end when you start using the device. The Xperia Z Ultra is way too large for single-handed use. It is more than half a foot long and is almost a third of a foot wide. Yes, it is surprisingly light for its size (a touch over 200 grammes), but it is its size that makes it very difficult to use. Fitting it into a trouser pocket is not just difficult, but can even be painful, and you feel that the device will drop right out of your hand if you use it one-handed -- at that width, typing is almost always a two-handed exercise, and taking photographs using the competent rather than exceptional 8.0-megapixel camera at the back is also best done with two hands. Oh, and when you make a phone call, the Ultra effectively hides half your face -- call quality is good, but the feeling of that much glass against your cheek is not! Ironically, the very display that makes viewing anything on the device a pleasure, is also its Achilles Heel, making it difficult to handle.
All of which begs the question as to whom the Xperia Z Ultra is aimed at? At Rs 46,990, it is definitely one of the most expensive handsets in the country and squarely in iPhone 5, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 territory, all of which are superb devices in their own right. Yes, some might say that none of those worthies have as big a display, but if it is large displays you covet, you can get larger and equally brilliant ones on an iPad and Sony’s own Xperia Table Z by paying lesser. Yes, it is a great option if you are looking for a good looking hardware beast that you can carry around in an overcoat, mainly for viewing content and writing on at leisure (when you can use both hands). But if you are planning on using it as a phone, ah well, just make sure your hands -- and wallet -- are big enough to stand the strain.
>> Good call quality
>> Clear display
PROCESSOR: 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad core processor
RAM: 2 GB
DISPLAY: 6.4-inch full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels)
Storage: 16 GB storage (expandable)
OS: Android 4.2
CONNECTIVITY: GPS, NFC, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
CAMERA: 8.0-megapixel rear camera
Price: Rs 46,990
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