Sony's Xperia Z Ultra Phone Is... Nah, That's Not a Phone

Illustration for article titled Sony's Xperia Z Ultra Phone Is... Nah, That's Not a Phone

And here we face a conundrum. On the one hand, Sony's Xperia Z Ultra has salivation-worthy guts. On the other hand, the screen on this thing is 6.4 freaking inches! That's not a phone, that's a tablet you talk into.

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Ignoring that for a moment, this thing sounds awesome. It'll come running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) on Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at an absurd 2.2GHz. It has an 8MP camera with the Exmor RS for mobile sensor, LTE, NFC, micro SD card slot, and 2GB of RAM.

There's some very impressive design going on with the body, too. At 6.5 millimeters (0.26 inches) it's one of the thinnest smartphones in the world (although thicker than the recently announced Huawei Ascend P6). For comparison, the iPhone 5 is 7.6 millimeters (0.30 inches). It's also dust-proof and waterproof (IP55 and IP58), so you should be able to drop it into a few feet of water and leave it for a half hour with no problem. We tested that recently with the Xperia Tablet Z, and it worked as advertised. You can use any pencil (and a lot of pens) as a stylus, which would make us nervous about screen scratching, but sure, why not. Speaking of the screen, it's 1080p, which gives it a very solid pixel density of 350 PPI, and it uses Sony's new TRILUMINOS technology, which may or may not mean something.

But let's address the elephant in the room. The elephant being the device itself, because they are roughly the same size. Samsung's Galaxy S4, with its 5-inch screen, is a phone. The Galaxy Note II, with its 5.5-inch screen, is what has become known as a "phablet" (weep for the English language). The Nexus 7, however, with its 7-inch screen, is a tablet. Sony's Xperia Z Ultra has a 6.4 inch screen. Now, let's do some simple math. The Ultra is 0.9 inches bigger than the Note II phablet, but it's only 0.6 inches smaller than the Nexus 7 tablet. Thus, it's more tablet than phone (or phablet, even). Just look at this thing in a normal person's hand!

Yes, sure, it does possess other characteristics of a phone, like an ear speaker and radio bandwidths for voice communication, but come on. There is no way it's going to fit comfortably into your pants pocket and there's no way you'll be able to do anything but read with it one-handed. We'd love to see these same guts in a smaller, more wieldy package, but it remains to be seen when such a day will come.

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The Xperia Z Ultra launches globally in Q3 of this year. We look forward to going hands-on with it then. We anticipate needing both.

DISCUSSION

What's the deal with badmouthing options? This thing might be too big for your hands or your pockets, but there's a niche that is craving EXACTLY this huge phone, just as there is a niche who is craving tiny 4 inch phones. Having more phones of varying sizes won't do anything but make more people happy. If you like having a smaller phone, you'll still be able to. It's not as if fans of the Ford F150 made the auto manufacturer cease production on the Taurus. And it's not like the El Camino caused all of the companies to stop making both cars and trucks. Everyone can still pick out a car or truck or whatever of whatever type they want from a myriad of manufacturers. Just like manufacturers of smartphones who also make tablets, phablets, and small tablets.

Different people want different functionality and features in their hardware. There's no sense in belittling the choices of others.