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Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review

Watch out, Galaxy Note – Sony’s coming for you. Whether you call them superphones or phablets, an increasing number of mobiles are coming out with huge screens, all attempting to follow the breakaway success of the Galaxy Note. Thus far, most of these pretenders to the Note’s throne have been smaller Asian manufacturers or manufacturers with little pedigree in mobile, with devices from Lenovo, Huawei and Asus unlikely to have worried Samsung. Now though Sony has just launched the Xperia Z Ultra, a 6.4inch HD screened smartphone, in most of the South East Asian markets that are the homeland of the super-sized mobile.
This marks an all out onslaught on the Note from a competitor with both the financial muscle and technical know how to seriously challenge Samsung. At first glance the Ultra certainly is impressive, being a slim, lightweight rectangle of glass and plastic that’s available in black, white and purple. Despite being such a large device, it feels comfortable in the hand and has a real feeling of quality. On raw power and tech specs, the Xperia Z’s big brother also scores highly, being the first mobile to use QualComm’s SnapDragon 800 quad-core processor which, having been clocked at 2.2 Ghz, is comfortably the fastest processsor to have ever been put in a mobile.
One can’t help but feel that it’s a bit of waste having all this power and then only running Android Jelly Bean 4.2. Of course, maintaining Android compatibility is paramount for many users, but it would have nice to see Sony create an OS that truly used the power of its processor. After all, the release of BlackBerry 10 proved that there is still significant room for innovation in mobile OS, with BlackBerry creating its own operating system that was entirely based on gesture control, rather than just slavishly following Android or iOS’s lead.
Throughout the Xperia Z Ultra, the focus seems to be on technical prowess and power, rather than the light-hearted show-off features that so many love on their smartphone. Instead, Sony are promoting Xpixel, which will apparently upscale video to something close to HD levels; exciting sure, but only really for true techheads. Ranking even higher on the geek scale is the TRILUMINOUS display, which gives more authentic colours than ever before.
Of course, some of the flagship features of the Xperia Z are here, too; the Ultra is also dustproof and even more waterproof, able go below the normal Xperia Z’s one metre limit. There’s no integrated stylus, but Sony claims its screen is so advanced that you can simply use a normal pencil or a pen, and no doubt watching films will be great on the super-sized screen. However, by focusing on power, technical specifications and features that are likely to only be comprehensible by the tech-fluent, Sony runs a real risk of creating something that only overgrown adolescents will want, a true boys’ toy that seems pointless to everyone else. The Note succeeded by breaking out of this niche, positioning itself as an ideal business device and most importantly, showing all the ways you could have fun with your super-sized phone. Sony’s sober monolith may struggle in comparison.

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