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Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Tom Paye | Aug. 28, 2013
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is like a big, dumb dog -- it's great to play around with, but you wouldn't necessarily want to live with it every day.

Okay, you can live with that. But what becomes really frustrating to live with is the cumbersome nature of the phone in general. The display itself might be 6.4 inches, but from top to bottom, the phone measures 179 millimetres. It's also 92 milliemetres wide, making it difficult to hold even with two hands.

You can forget about typing out messages quickly, because it's all too easy for your grip to slip, causing you to press keys unintentionally. You can also forget about fitting the device into your trouser pocket -- only the baggiest trousers will house this phone.

Before lending me the device, Sony's team said to me that they figured women would be most interested in this phone, because they'll have handbags to put it in. And you really do need a bag to put it in, which I think kind of spoils the point of a personal device.

What's more, if the focus of the Z Ultra is entertainment — viewing content on such a large screen mdash; then I would have thought more heed be paid to the on-board speakers. On full volume, they're nowhere near loud enough. This is annoying, because if you press the device up to your ear, you can hear the quality of the speakers -- base notes are punchy and you get a nice mix of mid to high notes. But at these volumes, you'll either have to connect to some Bluetooth speakers or use the accompanying earphones. In credit to Sony, the stock earphones are very good —much better than what some manufacturers will give you (*cough* HTC *cough*).

The size issues I have with the Z Ultra aren't limited to this device, however. The Galaxy Ultra 6.3 suffers from the same problems, so perhaps I'm just not someone who wants a really big phone. That said, the Galaxy Ultra has better speakers, and the keyboard is nicer to use.

Despite my complaints, however, the Z Ultra as a whole isn't entirely horrible to use. The 2.2 GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor runs like a dream. And because you get 2 GB of RAM, you can have a dozen apps open and the device won't even flinch. This, coupled with that large screen, makes gaming great fun. And the Galaxy Ultra certainly can't match the experience.

Sony's skin on top Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is nice enough to use, and Sony promises big plans regarding connecting the Z Ultra to the PlayStation 4. You also get a handy TV mirroring app that will connect with any Sony Smart TV. NFC works brilliantly with a range of Sony devices, too -- after initially setting up, you just need to tap once and you're away. I can see this device working well with a smartwatch -- if the phone's in your bag and the watch alerts you to any notifications, it could be much easier to live with it.


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