Notebookcheck

Review Sony Xperia Z Ultra Smartphone

Daniel Schuster (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 10/19/2013

Ultra-huge. 6.4-inches, Full HD resolution and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. These are the impressive specs for the combination of a smartphone and a tablet. We are not concerned that the Xperia Ultra Z is not powerful enough to handle all upcoming tasks - but we are not so sure about the ergonomics. Operating the device with just one hand can be a real challenge.

For the original German review, see here.

Sony advertises its smartphone giant with the slogans "Big screen. Big entertainment" and "The world's largest Full HD smartphone display". The display is without a doubt huge, that is clear at a first hands-on. But what about the entertainment? A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2 GHz (MSM8974) certainly promises a lot of performance. It is also equipped with 2 GB memory and Android 4.2. The 8 MP main camera uses the Exmor RS technology and promises fast image processing and a 16x digital zoom with auto-focus. You can also expand the storage via micro SD card if the integrated flash memory (16 GB) is not sufficient - however, the battery cannot be replaced.

Case

Size comparison with the Galaxy Note 3.
Size comparison with the Galaxy Note 3.

Almost every smartphone seems to be small when you compare it to the Xperia Z Ultra. The smartphone/tablet hybrid is huge with 179 x 92 x 6.5 mm, but also very thin. The Galaxy Note 3 is considerably thicker with 8.3 mm, but also more than 40 grams lighter. The use of glass at the back should be the main reason for that additional weight since the case of the Galaxy Note 3 is once again completely made of plastic. 

The physical button for stand-by and the volume rocker can easily be reached with one hand because they are on the lower half of the device - no risk for contortions. The build quality is on a very high level and the materials can convince us - even though the glass at the back attracts fingerprints. The torsion resistance cannot quite keep up with the HTC One because of the thin profile and results in a slight point reduction.

Similar to many other Xperia devices, the Z Ultra is also certified according to the IP55 & IP58 standards. This means you can submerge the phone for 30 minutes to a depth of 1.5 meters. Even though the Ultra Z is supposed to be equipped with a back of robust glass and a protective film, we already had a few scratches after a little while.  

Connectivity

Our review unit only has two physical buttons, but the locations are very sophisticated. Both buttons are easy to reach, even with one hand - and also for left- as well as right-handers. The slots for the micro SD card and the micro SIM card are hidden behind covers; the same applies for the micro USB port. 

Left side: Docking port.
Left side: Docking port.
Speaker at the bottom.
Speaker at the bottom.
Right side: Power button, volume rocker and 3.5 mm stereo jack.
Right side: Power button, volume rocker and 3.5 mm stereo jack.
No ports at the top of the device.
No ports at the top of the device.

Software

Contrary to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Xperia Z runs Android 4.2 ex-works. We still don't know when the Android 4.3 or even the Android Kit Kat update will be available. Sony's UI launcher looks nice and provides all common functionalities like creating folders, for instance. There are also several preloaded applications like PlayStation Mobile to connect with the PlayStation Network or Reader by Sony for eBooks. Several other applications like Update Checker, Sony Select or Walkman are also included and cannot be deleted. 

Good signal, even indoors.
Good signal, even indoors.

Communication & GPS 

The integrated dual-band WLAN module supports the standards 802.11 ac/b/g/n with transfer rates of up to 6.93 Gbit/s in 2.4 and 5 GHz networks. Without a wireless network you can use the LTE module for internet on the road (band I, II, III, IV, V, VII, VIII, XX). The device also supports UMTS (850, 900, 1,700, 1,900 and 2,100 MHz) with HSPA+ (up to 42.2 Mbit/s download). Communication between devices is possible via Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and ANT+. The latter is usually used for peripherals like heart rate monitors or other health devices. 

Another communication module is the aGPS sensor (IZat Gen8B), which can also use GLONASS satellites. We cannot determine any problems with this part either. The satellite lock works indoors and is also very precise. The situation is even better outdoors and we could not determine any connection problems. 

Telephone Functions and Voice Quality

The voice quality is very good, even though it is quite tricky to use the device with one hand. The conversation partner is easy to understand and could not determine any problems at the other end of the line. A Bluetooth headset can be very useful, for example the Smart Bluetooth Headset SBH52. You will not only avoid raising any attention but it also further increases the voice quality. 

You can also activate one-hand operation to improve the handling, which will move the on-screen buttons closer to the left or right side of the device.  

Cameras & Multimedia

The case of the Ultra Z has enough space for two camera modules. The main camera at the back takes pictures with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels and videos in Full HD. Both recording modes use Sony's Exmor RS senor. Features like HDR, facial recognition or panoramas are obviously available. The front camera has a resolution of 2 megapixels and can also record videos in HD quality (1080p). 

We immediately noticed an increased brightness when we took pictures with the main camera. Compared to our reference camera, the colors deviate from the original and the pictures appear a bit pale. A bigger drawback is certainly the insufficient focus of the Exmor RS sensor. The camera of the Apple iPhone 5, for instance, also takes pictures with 8 megapixels and shows the better results in regard to the sharpness.  

Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920
Reference: Sony Alpha A57
Reference: Sony Alpha A57
Reference: Sony Alpha A57
Reference: Sony Alpha A57
Reference: Sony Alpha A57
Reference: Sony Alpha A57
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra


Accessories & Warranty

The scope of delivery includes several manuals, a modular power supply unit and an in-ear headset. You can find many accessories on the manufacturer's website, for example a case with an integrated stand (Style Cover CS10) or a handy docking station (DK30). The Xperia Z Ultra is also supposed to work with the new SmartWatch 2.

The manufacturer grants a warranty of 24 months for the device itself. The accessories and the battery are covered for 12 months. 

Input Devices & Handling

You can only use the huge display for inputs. The virtual keyboard is very big on the 6.4-inch screen and even inexperienced users should have no problems writing a message. The situation is even better in landscape mode, where the keyboard uses the whole width of the display. The capacitive panel is very precise and executes inputs without delays; the HD display can recognize up to 10 inputs simultaneously.

Around 50% of the display is occupied by the virtual keyboard.
Around 50% of the display is occupied by the virtual keyboard.
Despite the huge display, there is not much room for the actual content in landscape mode.
Despite the huge display, there is not much room for the actual content in landscape mode.

Display

Just huge: 6.4-inch display
Just huge: 6.4-inch display

As soon as you get the Z Ultra out of your pocket it will draw attention. Many people will be amused, especially when you make a call - not surprising with a display diagonal of 16.3 centimeters. Sony calls the display TRILUMINOS-Display, which is supposed to provide a pure white background illumination. This affects the available color space, especially the green areas are noticeably extended. It is on a level with the competition with its 1920x1080 resolution

Our X-Rite i1Pro 2 determines an average brightness of 441.9 cd/m². A very satisfying result, however, it could be even higher. The top of the screen is visibly darker than the lower part, a difference of almost 100 cd/m² results in a brightness distribution of just 81%. The similarly sized Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, for instance, manages 90%. The reason for the contrast ratio of 585:1 is the comparatively high black value of 0.75 cd/m². The display of the Galaxy Mega 6.3 has a black value of 0.45 cd/m² and the screen of the LG G2 even manages 0.33 cd/m². Subjectively, dark shades of gray could be more intense, but the overall quality of the TRILUMINOS-LCD is very good.  

475
cd/m²
442
cd/m²
408
cd/m²
490
cd/m²
439
cd/m²
395
cd/m²
490
cd/m²
438
cd/m²
400
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 490 cd/m²
Average: 441.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 439 cd/m²
Black: 0.75 cd/m²
Contrast: 585:1

The color accuracy of the Z Ultra is excellent, only blue colors are a bit oversaturated. A DeltaE value slightly above 10 in the AdobeRGB presentation shows one characteristic of the TRILUMINOS display. Pure white does not really hit the target value, which is also visible in the grayscale presentation. 

Color Management
Color Management
ColorChecker
ColorChecker
ColorChecker AdobeRGB
ColorChecker AdobeRGB
Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps

You can also use the screen outdoors. The high average brightness ensures the visibility of screen content, but a higher contrast ratio would improve the situation even further. You can use a matte protective film to reduce annoying fingerprints and avoid reflections. 

Good outdoor capabilities, but...
Good outdoor capabilities, but...
...the Galaxy Note 3 is even better.
...the Galaxy Note 3 is even better.

The viewing angle stability of the panel is very good and does not cause any criticism; you will only see reduced contrast and brightness with extreme viewing angles. 

Performance

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

The Xperia Z Ultra is equipped with the largest smartphone display and the most powerful SoC from Qualcomm at the time of writing. The quad-core Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974) was manufactured in a 28 nm process and all cores are clocked at 2.2 GHz. It is supported by the Adreno 330 GPU (450 MHz) that can handle videos in 2160p. You get this resolution when you double the 1080p resolution (Full HD), movies can therefore be displayed in QFHD (Quad Full High Definition). Contrary to the hardware of the iPhone 5s, the Z Ultra still uses the ARMv7 instruction set with a 32-bit architecture. The 2 GB memory (LPDDR3) is clocked at 800 MHz; Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 is currently the only smartphone with more memory.

The performance of the Z Ultra in synthetic benchmarks is excellent. Even though the clock of the SoC is 100 MHz lower than the LG G2, some results are better. The hardware of the similarly sized Galaxy Mega 6.3 does not stand a chance and even the Snapdragon 600 of the Galaxy S4 can only keep up in AndEBench. Our review unit wins the head-to-head competition with the LG G2, even though we cannot feel a difference in practice.  

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
21 fps ∼2%
LG G2
20 fps ∼2% -5%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
6.2 fps ∼1% -70%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
15 fps ∼2% -29%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
22 fps ∼6%
LG G2
21 fps ∼6% -5%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
10 fps ∼3% -55%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
15 fps ∼4% -32%
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
3670 Points ∼26%
LG G2
3963 Points ∼28% +8%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
1907 Points ∼13% -48%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
3216 Points ∼23% -12%
HTC One
2332 Points ∼16% -36%
Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100
1896 Points ∼13% -48%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1 - System (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
4465 Points ∼71%
LG G2
4010 Points ∼64% -10%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
2589 Points ∼41% -42%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
3430 Points ∼55% -23%
AndEBench
Native (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
13864 Iter./s ∼65%
LG G2
13332 Iter./s ∼63% -4%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
14007 Iter./s ∼66% +1%
Java (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
552 Iter./s ∼54%
LG G2
503 Iter./s ∼49% -9%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
581 Iter./s ∼57% +5%
Basemark X 1.0
On-Screen (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
16.776 fps ∼51%
LG G2
14.636 fps ∼45% -13%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
6.879 fps ∼21% -59%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
8.608 fps ∼26% -49%
Off-Screen (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
14.427 fps ∼68%
LG G2
13.02 fps ∼61% -10%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
3.01 fps ∼14% -79%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
8.015 fps ∼38% -44%

Legend

 
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB SSD
 
LG G2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 32 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 8930AB, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
HTC One Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 32 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100 Samsung Exynos 4412 Quad, ARM Mali-400 MP4, 16 GB SSD

The results of the browser-based tests are also very good; the competition cannot keep up with the Z Ultra in Browsermark 2.0 and Google Octane V1. Peacekeeper shows an advantage of 9% for the recently reviewed iPhone 5C and the Galaxy Mega 6.3HTC One and Galaxy S4 are slightly better in Mozilla Kraken 1.0.

Octane V1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
4105 Points ∼20%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
3014 Points ∼14% -27%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
2169 Points ∼10% -47%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2290 Points ∼11% -44%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1986 Points ∼9% -52%
Apple iPhone 5c
SGX543MP3, A6, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2817 Points ∼13% -31%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
612 Points ∼3% -85%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
828 Points ∼13%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
829 Points ∼13% 0%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
608 Points ∼10% -27%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
555 Points ∼9% -33%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
683 Points ∼11% -18%
Apple iPhone 5c
SGX543MP3, A6, 16 GB iNAND Flash
902 Points ∼15% +9%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
331 Points ∼5% -60%
Mozilla Kraken 1.0 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
14081.6 ms * ∼8%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
14333.8 ms * ∼8% -2%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
13330.3 ms * ∼8% +5%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
13779.3 ms * ∼8% +2%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
13058.6 ms * ∼8% +7%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
48417.6 ms * ∼28% -244%
Browsermark - --- (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
2989 points ∼42%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
2646 points ∼37% -11%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2502 points ∼35% -16%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
2152 points ∼30% -28%
Apple iPhone 5c
SGX543MP3, A6, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2759 points ∼38% -8%
Nokia Lumia 1020
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 32 GB SSD
597 points ∼8% -80%

* ... smaller is better

LG's G2 can take the performance crown in our last section of the hardware evaluation. No other smartphone can currently keep up with the read and write performance of the G2. However, the Z Ultra is still very fast with sequential transfer rates of 66 MB/s (read) and 17 MB/s (write, 256 KB blocks) respectively.

Because of the similar hardware equipment, the performance difference between the LG G2 and Xperia Z Ultra can only be measured with benchmarks. Subjectively, we cannot determine any differences in practice and both devices are extremely fast. The comparison with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be very interesting; Samsung's latest flagship from the Note-series is also equipped with a Snapdragon 800 SoC, but more memory (3 GB) and a USB 3.0 interface.  

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
66.14 MB/s ∼37%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
111.49 MB/s ∼62% +69%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
49.79 MB/s ∼28% -25%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
75.1 MB/s ∼42% +14%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
58.75 MB/s ∼33% -11%
Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
29.66 MB/s ∼17% -55%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
17.22 MB/s ∼30%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
17.42 MB/s ∼30% +1%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
7.48 MB/s ∼13% -57%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
13.11 MB/s ∼23% -24%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
16.37 MB/s ∼28% -5%
Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
7.32 MB/s ∼13% -57%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
13.37 MB/s ∼64%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
16.65 MB/s ∼79% +25%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
9.3 MB/s ∼44% -30%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
12.28 MB/s ∼59% -8%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
11.83 MB/s ∼56% -12%
Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
7.74 MB/s ∼37% -42%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
1.1 MB/s ∼35%
LG G2
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
1.34 MB/s ∼43% +22%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
Adreno 305, 400 8930AB, 8 GB SSD
0.38 MB/s ∼12% -65%
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1.13 MB/s ∼36% +3%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1.19 MB/s ∼38% +8%
Samsung Galaxy Note II GT-N7100
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
0.56 MB/s ∼18% -49%

Videos & Games

There are obviously no problems in this section - quite the contrary. The large display is perfect for games and video playback. Full HD trailers are no problem for the device and the maximum bit rate of 6,100 kbps was no big challenge for the SoC. Since the SoC can also decode QFHD videos (Quad Full High Definition), we also tested this feature with according trailers. The resolution is four times higher than the Full HD resolution. Playback of the GTA V trailer (around 21,000 kbps) was very smooth with Sony's preloaded video player.    

Currently there are no games in the Play Store that could really stress the hardware. Especially not 2D games like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope or Fruit Ninja.

Ultra HD trailers and games are...
Ultra HD trailers and games are...
...no problem for the Z Ultra.
...no problem for the Z Ultra.

Temperature

The heat development of the thin smartphone is reasonable. Load for the Snapdragon 800 results in a maximum temperature of around 43.3 °C at the front. Average surface temperatures are 38.5 °C at the front and 43.2 °C at the back; temperatures drop below 30 °C during idle. Both scenarios are not problematic at all and can be compared with other devices. The temperature profile of the LG G2, for instance, is very similar. The temperatures are not high enough to be inconvenient during handling. 

Max. Load
 41.9 °C37.0 °C35.1 °C 
 43.4 °C38.2 °C36.0 °C 
 41.0 °C37.0 °C35.1 °C 
Maximum: 43.4 °C
Average: 38.3 °C
30.0 °C33.7 °C33.3 °C
32.5 °C35.2 °C39.7 °C
32.0 °C34.2 °C37.4 °C
Maximum: 39.7 °C
Average: 34.2 °C
Power Supply (max.)  41.4 °C | Room Temperature 22.0 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speaker

The mono speaker at the bottom of the Z Ultra reaches a good maximum volume without any distortions. The whole sound experience emphasizes treble, but the overall quality is sufficient for the occasional music playback. External speakers can be attached via 3.5 mm stereo jack or Bluetooth.  

Energy Management

Power Consumption

A direct comparison with the LG G2 shows that the Xperia Z Ultra consumes more energy in every situation: Our review unit pulls between 5.4 and 6.1 Watts from the battery under load; the LG G2 is more frugal with values between 3.8 and 4.8 Watts. A reason for this is certainly the 1-inch smaller display. The Xperia Z consumes between 0.8 and 2.5 Watts during idle - that is nearly twice as much as the Galaxy S4 and slightly more than the Galaxy Mega 6.3

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 0.8 / 1.9 / 2.5 Watt
Load 5.4 / 6.1 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

The non-removable battery has a capacity of 3,000 mAh (11.6 Wh) and is therefore smaller than the counterpart in the Galaxy Note 3 (3,200 mAh), but identical with the reviewed LG G2. We could determine excellent runtimes for the competitor from LG - but the Z Ultra cannot compete with this impressive performance. Our review unit manages a runtime just shy of 3 hours under maximum load; it is therefore no problem watching a long Ultra HD movie. Our more realistic battery test uses a script to refresh webpages with around 65% of the maximum display brightness (150 cd/m²). The result is a runtime of 11 hours and 24 minutes and the battery was empty after 16 hours (with activated display) during idle. Not a bad result for a 6.4-inch display and a Snapdragon 800. 

A complete recharge takes 2 hours and 50 minutes when the smartphone is turned on.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
16h 04min
WiFi Surfing
11h 24min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 01min

Verdict

A very good result in our review: The Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
A very good result in our review: The Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

Sony delivers on its Big entertainment claim. The huge display is ideal to watch movies, browse the web or play games. All these activities are no problem for the high performance of the Z Ultra - the Snapdragon 800 can even decode Ultra HD videos (QFHD), and they are stunning on the 6.4-inch display. A clock of 2.2 GHz and 2 GB memory are future-proof. Sony also certified the Z Ultra according to the IP55 & IP58 standards (dustproof & waterproof). One small drawback is the camera. The Exmor RE sensor cannot really convince us: Pictures are overexposed and slightly out of focus. The display is very bright and well suited for outdoor use but the brightness distribution is just 81% and the black value could be lower. Our direct comparison shows that viewing angle stability and color reproduction are better on the Galaxy Note 3. The expandable storage is an advantage for the Z Ultra but the non-removable battery is a big drawback. The temperature development is very convenient and the energy consumption is also decent. Our battery tests showed that the combination of a smartphone and a tablet is quite enduring with more than 10 hours of web browsing. 

With all these possibilities, you can easily forget that this is a phone and you have to carry it around all day. This is not easy because of the sheer size, and operating the device with just one hand is a challenge, not everybody has large hands. If 5-inch smartphones are too small and you were already interested in the Galaxy Mega 6.3, we can fully recommend the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. It is currently available for around 600 Euros (~$821), which is significantly less expensive than the smaller Galaxy Note 3 (669 Euros, ~$915).

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In Review: Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Courtesy of: Sony Germany
In Review: Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Courtesy of: Sony Germany

Specifications

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

:: Processor
:: Memory
2048 MB
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
6.44 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive, TRILUMINOS-Display , Bravia-LCD, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
16 GB SSD, 16 GB , 13.6 GB free
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, Card Reader: micro SD slot up to 64 GB, Sensors: Proximity sensor, digital compass, position sensor, brightness sensor, aGPS (incl. GLONASS),
:: Networking
802.11a/ac/b/g/n (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth, UMTS (850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz), LTE (Band I, II, III, IV, V, VII, VIII, XX)
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.5 x 179 x 92
:: Weight
0.212 kg Power Supply: 0.054 kg
:: Battery
11.6 Wh Lithium-Ion, 3,000 mAh, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 16 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 820 h
:: Price
799 Euro
:: Operating System
Android 4.2
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear: 8 MP, Front: 2 MP, Speakers: Mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
In-depth review of the Xperia Z Ultra at notebookcheck.net
In-depth review of the Xperia Z Ultra at notebookcheck.net
The huge 6.4-inch display is the characteristic feature of the smartphone...
The huge 6.4-inch display is the characteristic feature of the smartphone...
...and could completely convince us, if...
...and could completely convince us, if...
...it would not reduce the usability so much.
...it would not reduce the usability so much.
Using the device with a small hand is a real challenge.
Using the device with a small hand is a real challenge.
However, the display is perfect for games and videos.
However, the display is perfect for games and videos.
The thin device is also protected against unfavorable conditions (IP55 & IP58 certified).
The thin device is also protected against unfavorable conditions (IP55 & IP58 certified).
Micro SD and micro SIM slot are hidden...
Micro SD and micro SIM slot are hidden...
...behind rubberized covers.
...behind rubberized covers.
The LCD is very bright and can also...
The LCD is very bright and can also...
...be used outdoors.
...be used outdoors.
Our review unit is considerably bigger than the Galaxy Note 3.
Our review unit is considerably bigger than the Galaxy Note 3.
And the 5.7-inch Note 3...
And the 5.7-inch Note 3...
...is not small by any means.
...is not small by any means.
A comparison of the viewing angle stability between Note 3 and Z Ultra...
A comparison of the viewing angle stability between Note 3 and Z Ultra...
...shows a clear winner: the Note 3.
...shows a clear winner: the Note 3.
Sony's home screen is very clear...
Sony's home screen is very clear...
...and can also be used in landscape mode.
...and can also be used in landscape mode.
The Snapdragon 800 is very powerful.
The Snapdragon 800 is very powerful.
You can activate the option X-Reality in the display settings.
You can activate the option X-Reality in the display settings.
Besides the Walkman,...
Besides the Walkman,...
...there are other preloaded apps from Sony.
...there are other preloaded apps from Sony.
For example PlayStation Network.
For example PlayStation Network.
You can easily expand the 16 GB flash memory.
You can easily expand the 16 GB flash memory.
Operating system is Android 4.2.
Operating system is Android 4.2.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra can convince us completely, especially because of its size.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra can convince us completely, especially because of its size.
Even though it can also be a problem when you make a call.
Even though it can also be a problem when you make a call.

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Pro

+High performance
+Bright display
+Thickness of the device
+Build quality
+Port variety
+Expandable storage
 

Cons

-Price
-Operation with one hand can be difficult
-Black value is too high
-Non-removable battery

Shortcut

What we like

The performance and the overall impression are excellent. Working with the Z Ultra is a joy, although handling the device with one hand can be tricky.

What we miss

Pictures of the 8 MP camera could be sharper and Sony could improve the brightness distribution.

What surprises us

The huge display is perfect for multimedia applications and web browsing. 

The competition

LG G2

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

HTC One

Nokia Lumia 1020

Apple iPhone 5C

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Rating

Sony Xperia Z Ultra
10/14/2013 v3
Daniel Schuster

Chassis
88%
Keyboard
66%
Pointing Device
96%
Connectivity
42%
Weight
100%
Battery
97%
Display
80%
Games Performance
53%
Application Performance
73%
Temperature
80%
Noise
100%
Add Points
92%
Average
81%
90%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Sony Xperia Z Ultra Smartphone
Author: Daniel Schuster, 2013-10-19 (Update: 2013-10-20)