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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.

Given the Z Ultra was built with entertainment in mind, it comes as no surprise that it's not the most productive device out there. That said, I wouldn't have minded a little more than what the phone provides. The email client, for example, is extremely difficult to set up, and isn't great once you've got there mdash;buttons aren't where you'd expect to find them, and attachments aren't all that easy to access.

I found another gripe with the phone's Notes application. There's no separate voice note app, but you can take voice recordings in here. Unfortunately, the audio file doesn't show up when you're browsing through the device's folders on your computer. Your only option is to export the note to Evernote, which is itself a big faff. You're better off just using Evernote from the beginning, making the Notes app completely pointless.

I've already mentioned that it's difficult to type quickly on the Z Ultra, simply because of its size. But the keyboard doesn't help matters. Sure, it's pretty good at predicting what your next word is going to be, but you still have to press another button to access numbers and symbols. With all that on-screen real estate, why couldn't Sony just put the numbers above the letters, like on a conventional keyboard?

That said, the so-called STAMINA mode is great if you want to go for long periods without charging. Of course the non-removable 3,050 mAh battery helps, but the way this phone can manage its power is really something. You can set which apps are able to access either Wi-Fi or cellular data when the device is in sleep mode, meaning you're only using the bare essentials. It sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference to the battery life. With reasonably heavy usage, I got almost two days out of the Z Ultra on one charge.

The quality
I've always associated Sony's smartphones with iPhone levels of quality, but I'm not sure that's so true anymore. There's no metal on the outside, and the physical buttons on the side don't feel as meaty as I'd like them to.

The flipside of that, of course, is that the Z Ultra is water-proof and shock-proof. You can chuck the device across the room and it won't blink an eye, and accidental spillages are literally like water off a duck's back. Of course, you get all that from the standard Xperia Z, but it seems a little more impressive with the Z Ultra due to its size. What's more, nothing else on the market can offer such brilliant damage protection. Top marks for Sony there.


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