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Sony Xperia Z Ultra review

Michael Sawh



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Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
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  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
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Our Score:



  • Colourful screen
  • Powerful CPU performance
  • Sleek, slim design


  • Too big to use as a phone
  • Pen input not perfect
  • Battery drops off quickly
  • No camera flash

Key Features

  • 6.44 inch Full-HD screen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz processor
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £600.00

What is the Sony Xperia Z Ultra?

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a big ol' phone. It’s huge in fact. After the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega, Sony is pushing the limits of what is acceptable to carry in your pocket with this giant 6.4-inch Android smartphone.

It has a Full HD display, is almost as thin as the world’s slimmest phone the Huawei Ascend P6, and runs on the same powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core CPU that impressed so much on the Sony Xperia Z1. It has all the ingredients to make it a hugely desirable phone. There’s just one rather large problem - did we mention it's massive?

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Sony Xperia Z Ultra - Design

Sony has found a look for its Xperia range. It's something very different to what Apple, HTC and Samsung are currently doing. The Xperia Z Ultra sandwiches front and back glass panels between an aluminium frame - Sony calls it the ‘Omni-Balance’ design.

The Xperia Z Ultra has an anti-scratch plastic film on both sides to protect it from your keys and coins like the Xperia Z. And it's available in white, black and purple.

The corners are subtly curved and don’t press into the palm when holding. Compared to the Galaxy Mega 6.3 this feels like a phone you can be proud to show off, until people realise it’s not a tablet, that is.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra product 10

Like the Xperia Z1, the Z Ultra is dust-proof and IP8-certified so when the rubber-sealed latches on its sides are closed it is waterproof at five feet depth for 30 minutes. The original Z can only be dunked down to three feet.

It's great that there’s an improvement in waterproof-ness in the Xperia Z Ultra, but the lack of a camera trigger button makes the water resistance far less useful, unless you have a habit of dropping your phone in the bath or swimming pool.

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is amazingly thin - just 6.5mm thick. In comparison, the Mega 6.3 is 8mm and the world’s slimmest smartphone, the Huawei Ascend is 6.2mm.

At 212g, the Z Ultra it is slightly heavier than the Mega 6.3 (199g), but considering the more premium materials used, it's not really a surprise.

If there is one thing most Samsung and Sony phones share these days, it’s the lack of consistency of button, port and speaker placement. The aluminium on/off button and volume rocker stay put and are now joined by microSD and microSIM card slots. The microUSB port is still over on the left with the 3.5mm headphone jack opposite it on the right.

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The most frustrating change is the decision to move the Xperia Z Ultra's speaker to the bottom of the phone so in landscape mode you regularly block the speaker with your hand and drown out the sound. The good news is that the latches across the card slots are far more robust than on previous Xperia smartphones leaving us confident they will withstand a bit more punishment.

As for single-handed operation, it’s literally a tall order. Even the biggest-handed folk will struggle to get to grips with the Xperia Z Ultra. It's a stretch to reach a thumb to the centre of the screen never, mind the top of it.

Holding in landscape the weight does start to become a slight issue too. Once you hold it in two hands everything changes. It’s a reason to think of the Z Ultra more as a tablet than a phone.

Unlike most tablets, the Xperia Z Ultra fits in a pocket, but doesn't leave much room for anything else. You wouldn't want to bend down too far with the thing in there. It can fit into the back pocket as well if you want but you are probably asking for it to get nicked.

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Sony Xperia Z Ultra - Screen Quality

Where the Z Ultra wipes the floor with the Mega 6.3 is the screen. Sony taken tech from its TV business and bunged it into this phone.

The Z Ultra has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution TFT display with Sony’s Bravia Engine 2 and Triluminos display tech. The aim is to offer exceptionally natural colours and sharper images.The screen improves massively on the Xperia Z and the ‘sensor on lens’ technology clearly helps to improve the viewing angles.

The range and depth of colours is where the Z Ultra really impresses. It offers rich, vibrant surroundings for HD video and photos. Where it does lack slightly is sharpness. Despite the vivid colours, the 344 pixels per inch density doesn’t entirely hold up on the big Z Ultra screen - in part thanks to the less-than-amazing contrast.

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Sony’s capacitive screen supports 10-point multitouch and more interestingly offers pen input. It doesn’t come with its own stylus like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 but you can use a normal pencil, ballpoint pen or even a coin to interact with the screen.

It does work, but with varying results. Picking up a pencil first, the screen struggles to even register the interaction. It's the same with a ballpoint pen, trying to apply the correct amount of pressure and angle to register a response. We actually had more luck using a coin, opening up the app launcher, swiping through homescreens and drawing in the Sketch application.

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As you can imagine, it’s quite difficult trying to write with a 5p coin and the slimness of the Ultra Z makes it difficult to rest your palm like you can on the Galaxy Note 8.0, for instance, to get a comfortable writing position. Samsung clearly doesn't have anything to immediately worry about in this department just yet.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


October 8, 2013, 9:16 pm

I've been using this phone for just over a month (bought in HK for close to 200 less SIM free than in the UK) ... Following on from 18 months with a Note 1 it is a revelation. Reliable (barely a reboot in a month), fast, amazing screen and my go to device for work, browsing and actually making calls. The slimness makes it glide in and out of your pocket, and whilst big phones are normal in HK (using a 'normal phone' after my Note died (reason I choose a waterproof phone) made me realise bigger is actually better) I will get stick when back in the UK. The camera is pretty terrible, but size, function and battery life, and I am sure positive user reaction will ensure a Ultra 2 will happen. At 6"4 tall it is proof your phone should match your height (having said that there are plenty of tiny Chinese girls with these phones stuck to their ears). 9 out of 10 for me.

Matthew Bunton

October 17, 2013, 10:56 pm

I was seriously considering this phone until I read about all the screen scratching issues. Sony have used a shatter proof cover over the screen which unfortunately scratches really easily.

Matthew Bunton

October 17, 2013, 10:58 pm

At 6.4 it probably seems just right for you then. It is a lovely looking phone and for me is ideal as it also replaces the need for a tablet.


October 31, 2013, 7:51 pm

the reboots become more regular if my experience is to go by, start at one or two per month, normally when you are most in need of the phone and slowly increasing as it seems to burn itself out. Camera oddly was the thing I found strongest. Just posted a updated review above, I would recommend insurance.

Best John


October 31, 2013, 8:00 pm

Do not put this phone on your Christmas wish list! I commented
on this website regarding my Sony Experia Z a few weeks after I got it back in
April. Free as part of my 24 month
Vodafone contract upgrade, I agree it has a sleek look and fantastic camera but
do not be fooled, this is a terrible terrible phone. I create live outdoor events; it was the claim of waterproof that attracted me not how it looked. I have not tested the waterproof but the trim is made of poor quality plastic that damages easy.

Sony know they have a pony here and are praying their updates will solve many of the issues, but they have not and mine has finally died today. Constant crashing, to find a mobile signal never mind internet, very slow in most functions, big updates via the awful ‘Bridge for Mac’ solves some issues, overheating and going into on/off loops for example, only to create new issues. It is too big as a phone and burns your ear often, long calls are near impossible without putting on load speaker.

Sony is a Japanese company so will not make any admission, but this post and my previous post, as well as other user feedback elsewhere will expose a poor product. Vodafone wanted £10 per month insurance, way above it appears other insurances for similar phones, Vodafone was probably aware it is going to fail once people
began using it, thus discouraging insurance take up. Having been with Vodafone for years you become savvy to their many practices.

£600? Wow, you will need to be pretty flush to burn that sum on what will prove to be a false dawn for Sony in the phone market.

Do not be seduced by the camera or look.


January 9, 2014, 7:38 am

It is the best phone in the world. I am 250% happy with this great beauty


January 30, 2014, 11:53 am

Is there a problem with the flaps on the sides ? Do they come off ?


September 29, 2015, 1:28 pm

This phone has been amazing for me. Admittedly I got it used for just $50CDN. It already had Android 5.0.2 on it. Recently updated to 5.1.1 and running smooth as silk. I also got a great deal on the official Sony case/battery CP12 for it. Using the CP12 doubles the size and effective runtime of the phone. Display is bright and clear. I end up using this phone more often than my Samsung Note 4. Especially because the Sony skin is far less obtrusive than Samsung's awful Touchwiz.

Aggrey Ingutia

December 8, 2015, 2:42 pm

I can't find words to describe how this phone makes everything easier at my fingertips.No phone in modern times can match the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.I love it,I like it.

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