The new Xperia Z Ultra will be available from sale at your telcos come end of the month. It is bound to grab your attention, definitely first with its largest display size for a phone, and the second would be once you pick it up, you would be surprised by the lightness and slimness of the phone.
Xperia Z Ultra Launch – Singapore
Sony invited us down for a private product launch @ the Retrospective, and it was a well-coordinated event. The first part was dedicated towards going through the features of the phone and the various key initiatives and unique selling points of the phone were aptly put forth by Sony. And they are not just marketing spiel, the Ultra Z is the fastest and slimmest Full HD phone, that is waterproof at the moment. Other cool factors about it are the fact that you can write and sketch with any pencil and / or metal-tipped pen. This was done by increasing capacitive sensitivity of the screen. It can be quite useful, so you don’t need to use a specific stylus for the device.
Sony has been pretty aggressive in the mobile device category recently, what with the Xperia Z, ZL, Tablet Z, and now the Z Ultra, emphasizing powerful processors, slimness, and also the waterproof certification. Indeed, the rage was all about waterproof phones when the Xperia Z was first launched, and I had fun dunking the phone in water. But that had toned down with other manufacturers such as the Samsung Galaxy Active following suit to offer waterproof phones. It is a useful feature, and if it could still be maintained in the slim and compact design that Sony has together, all the better. The Galaxy Active is quite the behemoth.
The Xperia Z Ultra is one of the more visually stunning handsets, and most conversations would revolve around the device’s massive size (the display is a giant 6.44 inches). Although some users might worry about its size, the brief trial yesterday prove that it is not overly awkward, but some concerns nonetheless. While the handset dimensions are pretty big, it was still pretty comfortable to hold in one hand. Typing with one hand though, isn’t so easy. There is an option to switch to a one-hand keyboard so that your thumb doesn’t need to fly across the whole screen, but while trying, asian size hands would still find it awkward for one hand operation. The other gripe with the large size means that I can’t fit it my pocket. I tried but no, it is uncomfortable and I’m afraid it might jut out from the pocket. If you have a bag (hint: females) then I think this wouldn’t be an issue.
Some call the Z Ultra a tablet, or the “phablet” but Sony insists that it still is in the phone category. Fun fact, the Xperia Z Ultra is actually larger than the Amazon Kindle, which I am pretty sure constitutes as a tablet, and weighs in which weighs in at 213g (a feather heavier than the Xperia Z Ultra) and a smaller 6” screen. We also compared it alongside with my Nexus 7, and it wasn’t that far off in terms of screen, just 0.56 inches smaller.
The Xperia Z also marks a unique point on convergence. Instead of owning two devices, a phone and a tablet, it puts forth the question of why not just own one quality device instead. ASUS attempted to bridge this question by making the phone a modular extension of the tablet, but it limits the mobility of the tablet. In fact, most people usage of phone for calling is very limited. Sony attempts to sweeten the deal further by introducing the mobile headset so that when you do need to talk, there’s no need to bring this big piece of glass to your ear.
Xperia Z Ultra is Fast!
Specifications-wise, the Ultra have the fastest quad core processor currently, and it even trounced the Galaxy S4 in benchmarks. In real world performance, I can’t really tell the difference for normal usage. However, Dennis pointed out that he was impressed by the instantaneous response when rotating photos from Portrait to Landscape mode on the Xperia Z Ultra. When comparing to the Galaxy S4, there was still some slight delay observed. So there, some real world benefits of using a faster phone.
Since we are on the topic of photos, I gotta say that having a large 6.44” Full HD display is indeed eye-catching. It is equipped with Sony’s proprietary TRILUMINOS® Display and when browsing through the gallery of photos, I was impressed by the richness and colour accuracy reproduction. It is a marked improvement over the previous Xperia Z which had slightly washed out colours. When comparing the Samsung AMOLED type display versus the Xperia Z Ultra, I actually prefer the TRILUMINOS Display.
The closest competitor to the Xperia Z Ultra is probably the 6.3” Samsung Mega, but the similarities end with the size. Under the hood, the Xperia Z Ultra can be considered to be equipped with a Ferrari engine and comparing to a Toyota Vios or similar. So if you are only interested in screen size, then perhaps it could be a valid comparison, but if you are looking for a top tier spec-ed phone, then that’s the target audience for the Xperia Z Ultra.
Another aspect was that of the camera. Attempts to maximise the image quality in low light conditions was challenging. There’s no flash, and while the sensor was able to capture enough light, it seem to have overcompensated in the noise reduction.
Magnetic Charging Cable
I like the ability to use a magnetic charger on the docking pins side so that you don’t need to pry open the flap to access the micro USB port. This was a small irritant for the Xperia Z. However, the magnetic charging cable/dock will be an optional extra and not included in the box.
You can pick up the XL39H Magnetic Charging Cable for Xperia Ultra Z from AliExpress – here.
Price & Availability
The Xperia Z Ultra will be available in Sony stores, Sony centres, Xperia concept stores, authorised retail outlets as well as all telco operators from 05 September 2013 onwards at a recommended retail price of S$1,038 without contract.
The links are not Live yet, and I have not activated the hyperlinks, but it should be up soon.
In addition, customers who pre-order the Xperia Z Ultra will receive the following complimentary exclusives, valued at a total of S$288:
• NFC-enabled Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52
• Stylish leather case cover
• Xperia Z Ultra Official Guidebook
The Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52 is a great add on to the phone. It is a dual-function wireless audio accessory, allowing you to use it as a normal hands free kit, or to connect it with a set of headphones to listen to stereo music. Like the phone itself, this clip on accessory is also splashproof and comes with FM radio, a headphone jack plus a small OLED display to show caller ID and text messages. Believe there’s also NFC, so it would be easy to pair it to the Xperia Z Ultra, just like the NFC speakers featured early this year.
More information will be available on the Sony Mobile Singapore Facebook page from 23 August 2013 onwards.