Which should you buy?
Joining the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a giant phone that comes brandishing a tablet-sized display and a spec list that could see it provide stiff competition for Samsung’s big-selling Note device.
We’ve had some Sony Xperia Z Ultra hands-on time, but as we wait to spend a little longer with it, we square it up against the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to see how its specs and features match up in the battle of the giant phones
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Design
Xperia Z Ultra – 212g, 6.5mm thick
Galaxy Note 2 – 177g, 9.4mm thick
Like a super-sized version of the Xperia Z, the Xperia Z Ultra maintains many of that phone's design traits including the glass front and back, with rubber flaps protecting the microSD and SIM card slots.
The bezel is also nice and narrow, leaving plenty of room for the big display. Its waterproof credentials mean you can film underwater with it.
Weighing in at 212g, it’s unsurprisingly heavier than the Xperia Z. But at 6.5mm thick this is one of the slimmest smartphones out there.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 takes clear design inspiration from the Samsung Galaxy S3, with curvaceous and not-so-premium-feeling plastic body that hides the advanced S-Pen in a compartment just below the screen. Although slimmer than the original Note at 8.6mm, it is considerably thicker than the Xperia Z Ultra but does weigh less at 177g.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Screen
Xperia Z Ultra – 6.4-inch 1080p LCD
Galaxy Note 2 - 5.5-inch 1,280 x 720 Super AMOLED
The Xperia Z Ultra has a mammoth 6.4-inch 1920x1080 full HD TRILUMINOS display. It features the OptiContrast and X-Reality screen tech used in Sony's TVs - but this is their mobile debut.
With a 344 ppi pixel density it doesn’t quite match the 441 pixel density of the Xperia Z, but should offer impressive clarity levels.
The Galaxy Note 2 sports a smaller 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display and comes with Gorilla Glass to add a layer of durability. The Note 2 does suffer a drop in display resolution from the previous Note going from 1,280 x 800 to 1,280 x 720 pixels, but still offers a vibrant, colourful place to watch videos and browse the web. The 267 ppi pixel density means the Note 2 is significantly less sharp than the Xperia Z Ultra.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Stylus support
Xperia Z Ultra – Capacitive stylus support
Galaxy Note 2 - Wacom digitiser
The Xperia Z Ultra doesn’t come with its own dedicated S-Pen-style device but does support the use of pencil and certain styluses, specifically capacitive stylus and metal pens with tip diameter over 1mm. Basic capacitive styluses do not offer pressure sensitivity - they're relatively dumb sticks and little more.
The S-Pen which comes packed with the Note 2 is arguably the best example of a stylus that achieves the type of precision you can get writing on a piece of a paper. With the Note 2 capable of sensing 1,024 levels of pressure, Samsung has added a rubberised nib which means handwriting also feels more natural. There’s a handful of apps pre-installed optimized for the S-Pen with more that can be found In the Google Play Store.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Camera
Xperia Z Ultra – 8-megapixel main sensor
Galaxy Note 2 - 8-megapixem main sensor, LED flash
While it doesn’t match the Xperia Z for megapixels, the Xperia Z Ultra still serves up an 8-megapixel rear camera with a 16x digital zoom and plenty of other features to improve your photos. As well as auto-focus there’s face detection, continuous burst mode, HDR for both picture and 1080p video recording, while up front there’s a 2-megapixel full HD 1080p camera.
Adopting the same snapping specs as the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Note 2 features an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash and auto focus and access to many of the picture editing features found on the S3. That includes face detection and Best Photo. Up front there’s a 1.9-megapixel front-facing which is down from 2-megapixels on the original Note.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - Software
Xperia Z Ultra – Android 4.2 with custom interface
Galaxy Note 2 - Android 4.1 with TouchWiz interface
The Xperia Z Ultra like the Xperia Z will run on a skinned version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. This means as well as benefiting from key Android features such as Google Now, you can expect a strong presence of Sony’s own software including its Movies, Albums and impressive Walkman application.
The Note 2 now comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box with Samsung’s customary TouchWiz UI overlaid on top adding more homescreens than the standard version of 4.1. It also means that Samsung’s native applications take centre stage including S-Suggest and S-Planner.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Processor
Xperia Z Ultra – Quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU
Galaxy Note 2 -
Beneath the hulking 6.4-inch display of the Xperia Z Ultra lies a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with a 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU, which makes it significantly more powerful than the Xperia Z. It also comes with HD voice that, in combination with Sony’s ClearAudio, should deliver exceptional voice and audio clarity.
Jumping from a dual-core to a 1.6GHZ quad-core processor CPU, the Note 2 had a significant ramp up in the power department with 2GB of RAM helping to take care of Samsung’s multitasking features like Multi-View with ease. The Mali-400MP GPU also means it’s capable of running graphically demanding games relatively without any real issues.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Connectivity and storage
Xperia Z Ultra – 16GB internal memory, microSD card slot
Galaxy Note 2 - 16/32/64GB memory, microSD card slot
The Ultra Z is 4G-enabled so you can expect a speedy browsing performance on the move. NFC support means can transfer content like music to Sony speakers, TVs and will of course be compatible with the Sony SmartWatch 2. Other notable connectivity support includes Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, microUSB, Smart Connect and screen mirroring.
In terms of storage, the Xperia Z Ultra has 16GB of internal memory and microSD card support which can be expanded up to 64GB.
Since its launch last year, super-fast 4G LTE support has been added to the Samsung phablet which means benefitting from speedier mobile data connections and seamless streaming. 4G aside, there’s Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and Samsung’s AllShare, which connects Samsung products together wirelessly whether it’s tablets, smartphones or TVs.
Available in 16, 32, and 64GB storage models, the Note 2 can also expand memory via microSD cards up to 64GB.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - Battery life
Xperia Z Ultra – 3,000mAh battery
Galaxy Note 2 - 3,100mAh battery
Keeping the Xperia Z Ultra juiced is a 3,000mAh battery, which should deliver up to 11 hours talk time and up to 510 hours standby time on LTE. Like the Xperia Z, there’s also power-saving Sony’s Battery STAMINA Mode to call upon when the reserves are running low and you can’t get near to a charger.
The Galaxy Note 2 jumps from 2,500mAh to a 3,100mAh battery which is up a full 600mAh. When we put it to the test it lasted just under 12 hours which should comfortably get you through an average day or a long-haul flight.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – Verdict
Having only spent a small amount of time with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, it’s clear that there are plenty of Sony features to talk about aside from its big, BRAVIA-inspired screen and Xperia-Z looks. From the quad-core power to the 8-megapixel main camera it has all the potential to be a rival for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
A lot could depend on whether prospective owners expect to have the same kind of stylus capabilities as there is on the Note 2 and whether they value creativity over screen resolution. It’s also worth mentioning that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is tipped to launch later this year and could well be a more worthy opponent for the Xperia Z Ultra when it goes on sale.
As the specs show, there is not much between the two phablets but if you value creativity over a multimedia-friendly device the Note 2 is probably still the one for you.
Next, read our top 50 Galaxy Note 2 tips and tricks