back to article Sony Xperia Z Ultra: The quad-core 2.2GHz MEGA SCREEN PHONDLESLAB

Two years after Samsung opened the Very Large Phone (VLP™) Pandora’s Box with the original Galaxy Note, Sony has thrown its hat into the ring with the Xperia Z Ultra: a device boasting a 6.4-inch screen and a 2.2GHz quad-core processor. Now I have a pretty wild imagination, especially after a few pints and an injudicious late- …

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  1. JDX Gold badge

    Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

    "... you tosser"

    1. JonP

      Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

      I think you'd be OK, up to the point you tried to use it as a phone. I suppose a bluetooth headset could reduce the embarrassment. Heh, maybe someone will combine a bluetooth headset & stylus - maybe standing in a bar talking to a pencil would look less ridiculous. Then again.

      1. StampedChipmunk

        Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

        Comes with an SBH-20 clip on stereo headset as I understand it. I have one with my Xperia Z and it's decent bit of kit which, using Sony NFC tech, is a doddle to set up.

      2. RockBurner

        Re:pencil stylus/headset

        Didn't Asus already do that for the PadFone Mk1?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

        Already been done by ASUS with their PadFone: http://www.ebay.com/bhp/asus-padfone-stylus

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

      You have just spent a fortune on a phone the size of a minor planet and you still have friends? Impressive...

    3. Piro

      Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

      Really? You'd think someone was a tosser just because of the phone they had? You must be the life of the party.

    4. TitterYeNot

      Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

      Looking at the size of that thing, I think the friends are more likely to duck...

    5. Levente Szileszky

      Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

      You must be one of those annoying clowns, present in every circle, who are always unable to hide their envy if they see something they cannot afford...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

        > Heh, maybe someone will combine a bluetooth headset & stylus

        Agreed.

        I won't dig through my past posts, but I've written down that idea before (I think when Samsung first announced the Galaxy Note)... I'm no visionary, it's just a sensible idea, especially if the pen/headset also has media playback controls. Infact, Sony could draw upon the style of their early 'Network Walkmans' (they didn't do MP3, FFS!) players which were cylindrical with jog controls.

        It could live in a breast pocket, and a little RGB LED pixel would alert the user to notifications etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

        What are you on about? many of these slab phones are cheaper than smaller ones.

        Of course, now we know what the hat was in the Fifth Element. It was a guy who just had his phone on his head.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nah_3vO0uhM

      3. ozmark

        Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

        It's funny how 5" screens used to be outrageous. The same negative comments were around when the Dell Streak was new, instead, it was ahead of it's time and the doubters had to catch up. Maybe the negative comments are just Apple users without an option.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

          The streak had a 800x480 resolution screen.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

      It's okay, you can hide your head behind the phone.

  2. Steven Raith

    Blimey

    I have no problem with large phones, but that in-hand pic did make me do a bit of a double take!

    Wouldn't mind a play with one of these 6" + phones - just for giggles if nothing else!

  3. Blacklight
    Megaphone

    Trigger Happy

    <Joly> "HELLO! I'M ON THE PHONE!" </Joly>

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Lamont Cranston

        @joeW

        Seems churlish to get a comically oversized phone, and then complain everytime someone points out that you've got a comically oversized phone.

  4. Chairo
    Thumb Up

    I wonder

    if it survives putting it in the rear pocket and sitting on a chair. El Reg should introduce such test for future VLP reviews. Also what about the heat generation? I could imagine it gets quite warm, seen how tightly it is sealed. Otherwise quite an impressive piece of hardware. As trade off for the waterproofing I can even even forgive the glued in battery.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I wonder

      Will it even fit in a back pocket for anyone not wearing skater jeans?

      Regarding heat, it does have a much bigger surface area for heat dissipation than other phones!

      1. Brian 59

        Re: I wonder

        Shouldn't be a problem at all, my Nexus 7 fits in all my jeans.

      2. P. Lee

        Re: I wonder

        Its the "anti-smuggle-into-prison" design.

      3. Lamont Cranston

        Re: I wonder

        I can squeeze my Nexus 7 (in flipover case) into most of my jean pockets, so I'd expect this to go in. I'd also expect unsightly bulges, and difficult walking - perhaps those belt clips, so beloved of builders, are due to make a comeback?

        1. Chairo
          Coat

          @Lamont Cranston Re: I wonder

          I'd also expect unsightly bulges, and difficult walking

          Is this your mobile phone in your pocket or...

          Ok, ok I'll get my coat...

    2. Graeme Hayes

      Re: I wonder

      I've had my Z Ultra for nearly a month now and no, it does not get over warm.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    But

    unfortunately it's a Sony, so no sale I'm afraid.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: But

      Thanks for your valuable contribution to the forum.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: But

        > Thanks for your valuable contribution to the forum.

        The gold badge looks down on the silver badge.

        I know my place.

      2. dogged

        @JDX - Oh, come on

        "But it's Windows no sale" would have got at least ten upvotes!

        Be reasonable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But

      You are right. Thanks for reminding me.

      After buying a Sony video camera ages ago and then paying double for half capacity, non-standard memory stick and then $100 for the single format usb card reader... fuck that. I shall never willingly buy another Sony product again.

      1. Piro

        Re: But

        You know the phone division of Sony has almost nothing to do with that camera, right? Because of their Ericsson connection, SE phones have long used microSD.

        This is no exception. They are by far one of the better phone vendors out there right now in terms of openness.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But

      Let's hope you didn't watch Breaking Bad then, as that would make you a hypocrite.

      #FAIL

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: But

        I've been wary of Sony in the past (proprietary formats, silliness with CDs, sometimes pricey), but always liked them for trying crazy stuff from time to time (Remind yourself here of why Samsung aren't the new Sony: http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/29/4783132/the-amazing-products-of-weird-sony )

        Also, my current phone, a Sony 2012 model) has been upgraded from Gingerbread to ICS and then to Jellybean, so I feel fairly well looked after.

        Companies can change over time, though if you feel bitten then I can't blame you for feeling shy.

  6. Ben Rosenthal

    Whip it out in a bar and all your friends are certain to go: “Oooh...”

    ..."get her!"

  7. Ebaneezer Wanktrollop

    The future of security

    I think the reason phones are becoming increasingly larger is to usher in a new era in biometric security. What with the failure of Apples fingerprint system I believe these new large screens will eventually incorporate a cutting edge device access system called SID - 'Starfish Identification Device'.

    Simply pop it down the crack of your Y-fronts, snap a pic of the sheriff's badge and you're in.

    Why else?

  8. K Silver badge

    Looks like a nice bit of kit..

    But its made by Sony.. So its high quality, but just forget about get any of the latest Firmware updates.

    1. Bodhi

      Re: Looks like a nice bit of kit..

      Sadly it isn't 2009 any more, Sony have been pretty good with updates since they took over from SE. My Z is regularly updated with new features and performance enhancements, and 4.3 is on the way soon. And of course if you want to take matters into your own hands, many custom ROM's are available, all endorsed by Sony who will quite happily unlock the bootloader for you, and contribute to AOSP and are XDA's most developer friendly manufacturer.

      1. K Silver badge

        Re: Looks like a nice bit of kit..

        Cheers Bodhi - Thats good to know, the last experience I had was with the Arc S, which never got updated. This might be just the phablet I'm after :D

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Looks like a nice bit of kit..

          Quote "experience I had with the Arc S".

          Nothing wrong with the Arc S - Sony has contributed everything you need to run a decent Android on it to Cyanogen and since this summer you have reasonably fresh (4.x - equivalent) nightlies to run on it. They also give you the unlock code straight away.

          Caveats:

          1. The Cyanogen sony load has some Wifi Problems. If you get them, enable WPA Enterprise on your AP (you need a radius server for that).

          2. You need to use fastboot to flash the kernel every time. The normal update does not flush it

        2. M Gale

          Re: Looks like a nice bit of kit..

          My Arc S started on 2.x and is now on 4.x? I wouldn't say "never updated".

          Though, it might get the Cyanogen treatment at some point.

    2. David Paul Morgan
      Thumb Up

      Re: Looks like a nice bit of kit..

      I also have to add that my S & T regularly get their updates. (my T is unbranded, my partners S is O2).

      They have customised their version of Jellybean, but it's not that far from vanilla and seems to work well and look good on all the xperia 'form factors'.

      Personally, I think the S and the T take really good pictures - the latest camera software updates have been really useful.

      I also like the fact that the music player is Walkman software, so i can say "I'm listening to this on my Walkman" and not have to use the dreaded 'i' word, which some now use to indicate a music player.

      Sony have their own design 'dress' which I find appealing and, in terms of smartphone design, have a set of products that really stand out.

      They have also done a lot of good work on getting the NFC tagging to work well.

      In terms of "i'm on the slab", Sony do their own bluetooth phone handset 'companion' and i have seen a man-from-UNCLE type bluetooth handset/slab stylus on the net, from china, which I might get. "open channel Z"

      (I also have my supply of mini-disc player/recorders plus discs. 2xplay for 2 CDs on a disc and 4xplay for talking books/radio 4 drama. The latter I used to time-shift onto MD on my (sony) music centre and listen to on the train or in the car. if only they'd popularised it with a USB version...)

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Cuddles Silver badge

    Comparison to Xperia Z?

    Seems a bit silly really. What it should be compared to is the Z1, since as far as I can tell the hardware is identical. The Ultra is just a Z1 with a big screen and a shit camera.

    Also, it's not entirely true to say it has an IP58 rating. As with the Z1, it has an IP 55/58 rating. That means it's good for long-term immersion in still water, but unlike the S4 Active it can't take the high pressure jets that an IPx6 rating can.

  11. Jah

    Is it really a phone?

    Is a Range Rover really a car? Like cars, device manufacturers are creating devices for different segments and creating sub-brands like "Note" for Samsung. The Z Ultra is really like a Personal size Filofax and the idea is that it is a smaller tablet as opposed to a bigger phone. It may fill a niche or may create a small market like the Note 1, 2 & 3.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it really a phone?

      > Is a Range Rover really a car?

      Yes (I've just checked)

  12. jestersbro
    Coat

    Bigger is not necessarily better...

    ... as I keep telling my wife. I, personally think it's a waste and is too big to handle comfortably.

    Thing is, she'd kill for more than 6 inches!

    1. M Gale

      Re: Bigger is not necessarily better...

      Thing is, up until some cock robbed it, the old first-edition Galaxy Tab 7 incher I had functioned quite nicely as a phone. Yes, it does fit in a pocket. Just not some skinny jeans pocket.

      Try it. You might like it.

    2. Johnnydub

      Re: Bigger is not necessarily better...

      Ba-Doooooom Tish..........

  13. Mage Silver badge

    12mm better

    If thicker two advantages:

    Can have strong Chassis so it won't bend and crack LCD so easily.

    Decent Battery Life.

    If screen is on at full brightness my Sony Xperia eats 79% for screen and lasts about 14 minutes. May be longer if just charged.

    I did a huge amount of testing and survey in 1988 for a "pocket notepad" information product. It was found that no advantage below 12mm. Fatter quickly objectionable. Paper back book sized approx was found to be too large, typical traditional 110 mm x 180 mm x 15 mm (W x H x D). We went for 90 mm x 140mm x 13mm approximately. Fits most suit and many coat pockets as well as hand bags. Old hardback books designed for pocket are often 98 x 146 x 13 mm. There are some paper backs in about 85 mm x 150 mm format. I think that in 11mm to 14mm thick would be a maximum phone size. As you make it thicker from 6mm thick and 90mm wide you likely need to reduce width so 14 mm thick you want 80mm wide, or if you keep the 90mm wide, round the top side edges a bit and the bottom side edges more. A 1.85:1 screen fits well. (wider than TV 16:9 which is 1.78:1, but common Cinema format).

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: 12mm better, vs 6.5

      If I read the spec correctly the Sony is approximately 92 x 180 x 6.5 mm, so by my previous testing it's about 2mm approximately too wide (call it 1/8" too wide) and about 40mm too tall (about 1.5") and half the thickness it could be.

      As the width is most critical for the hand or pocket and it's only a little excessive, the only major issue is thus the thickness. Too thin. We can ignore the extra 1.5" / 40mm height. But if it was 12mm to 14mm, then it would be likely 87 to 90 mm wide. You can experiment with blocks of wood, sanded and sprayed with a slightly inset graphic stuck on after laminating to represent the screen.

      Actually the product I was developing used a large pen shaped handset which could work as phone handset, stylus for the "notepad" or a mouse for PC (on any reasonable surface) using a 2mm optically sensed ball in the tip.

      This unrelated patent quotes my earlier 1989 - 1990 patent,

      http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6671497.html

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 12mm better

      14 minutes? You need a new battery. I just ran a video on full brightness, it took 3% out of the battery in 6 minutes. My Xperia is an old one with a piffling little battery.

      2 minutes = 1%

      14 minutes = 7%

    3. Trixr Bronze badge

      Re: 12mm better

      You're assuming that both the chassis material and the battery density are identical to your Xperia. I'm sure they aren't.

      As for your comparisons to notepads and whatever in **1988**, I don't think anyone is making the phones *thicker* these days.

  14. GuilleKnows

    SONY's, a way better phone

    The pixel density on the SONY is higher, don't forget, the Triluminos' pixels have 4 subpixels, while samsung's still use a very obsolete 3 subpixel's technology with the subsequent poor color accuracy. The SONY is simply a way better handset.

    1. silent_count
      Paris Hilton

      Re: SONY's, a way better phone

      Thank you for joining us to share your wealth of unsponsored wisdom. Would you care to enlighten us about why you think 3 subpixel display panels are merely "very obsolete" as opposed say, 'extremely obsolete'?

  15. Moosh
    Unhappy

    Conflicted

    I was hyping myself up for the Z Ultra for months, but it just felt a bit too bulky, and the shit camera and no Flash is such a major turn off.

    I have been hyping myself up for the Galaxy Note 3 instead, and in fact will probably get one on saturday.

    But... Man. I really, really want to have a reason to get this phone. But the camera is poor, there's no flash, THAT BEZEL, it's too thin for such a large device, and the Note 3 has more RAM.

    I'm also a bit annoyed that phone shops don't have any Note 3's or Z Ultras anywhere where you can have a play about with them. Here, the one with the advantage is the Note 3, because you can just fuck about with the Note 2 and extrapolate from there.

    1. Rares

      Re: Conflicted

      "I'm also a bit annoyed that phone shops don't have any Note 3's or Z Ultras anywhere where you can have a play about with them. Here, the one with the advantage is the Note 3, because you can just fuck about with the Note 2 and extrapolate from there."

      You cannot extrapolate from Note 2. I had a Note 2, sold it and bought a Note 3. In 30 mins I returned it to the online shop. Simply the build quality is worse than Note 2 and it is unpleasant to hold in the hand due to the rubberized backplate which made my hands feel dirty. The rim looks bad, feels sharp and is also unpleasant to hold. Try before you buy even if you have to wait a few more weeks.

      That 1GB of RAM is more like a buffer to absorb the bloat of TouchWiz and stylus software, don't count on it.

      But the real advantage of Xperia Z Ultra is the superb screen, which is the best ever. Go into a shop and find a Triluminos TV, there is no comparison with any other TV.

  16. RFC822
    FAIL

    Samsung were NOT the first to launch a VLP

    "Two years after Samsung opened the Very Large Phone (VLP™) Pandora’s Box with the original Galaxy Note..."

    How short some people's memories are. It was Dell, with the Streak 5, who were first into the market. Here's the review:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/23/review_phone_dell_streak_android_tablet_smartphone/?page=1

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more than £600 unlocked

    oh (shrug). Whatever (shrug)

    1. M Gale

      Re: more than £600 unlocked

      Let's see what the price is approximately a fortnight after the next Nexus release, eh?

  18. MJI Silver badge

    VLP

    Seen bigger Motorolas

    A LOT bigger

    1. Ramazan

      Re: VLP

      Seen bigger cameras, a LOT bigger and ten times heavier, and ten times more expensive.

  19. 080

    Camera

    Team it up with a QX100 and a decent Lowepro backpack and you are in business.

  20. Levente Szileszky

    It's a perfect blend of a tablet and a phone if...

    ...that's what you're after. For us, mobile productivity folks - and most likely for people hooked on continuous media consumption as well - it's a pretty well-rounded package: awesome for RDP/remote sessions, you can edit large docs, use a pen or pencil and write on it, take ti to the pool side or even into the water when you are at the hotel during a conference... no need for a tablet.

    Downside? It's big but since it's thin and rather tall than wide - it matches the width of your passport - it slips into coats and jackets just fine - though the larger screen surface means it's also a lot more susceptible of scratches...

  21. OrsonX
    Holmes

    "tighter than a duck’s bum in a downpour"

    The implicit tightness is already implied, what with ducks liking swimming.....

    ...anyway, I love my Note, but can only just hold it comfortably to make calls. The idea of going any bigger I think will meet with usability difficulties.

    The phone does look really nice. What would be REALLY great is if it folded in the middle! (2014 maybe? and then all the idiots with Dom Jolly phones [me] will look like, er, idiots!).

  22. Thorfkin

    Thank you for this review. I've been trying to decide between the Galaxy Note 3 and the Xperia Z Ultra. Your review has helped :)

  23. eszklar

    Nice review on the Z Ultra. This is actually coming to Canada on Bell around October 15th along with the Z1. $799 and $699 CDN for the Z Ultra and Z1 respectively I believe. Talked to a Sony sales person at the Eaton Centre Sony Store in Toronto and he tells me Sony Canada will have the unlocked Z Ultra @ $750 thereabouts. We'll see.

    For the next review might I suggest the Nexus 7 2013 LTE. No true "telephony" per se but with VoIP does it really matter? Will fail the lager test for sure though.

  24. returnmyjedi

    As per the gospel according to Jobs, if your thumb can't reach from one corner to the opposite one, the phone ain't magical, and people want these days is magical tech.

  25. Ramazan

    size of SIM card

    Article didn't tell anything about SIM card size - is it regular miniSIM, ridiculous microSIM or idiotic nanoSIM?

  26. Monty Burns

    WTF...

    Did you really waste all that lager? Madness.

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