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A closer look at the Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Mobile phones began life as rather large devices, but the industry worked hard to miniaturise them, and after years and years of progress, managed to produce tiny, powerful phones. Now, as smartphones take over the mobile device industry, their screens are becoming larger, increasing the size of the devices once again. At the moment, this trend culminates in Sony’s recently announced Xperia Z Ultra, an enormous 6.4in smartphone.

It’s strange to think that the industry spent around a decade minimising the size of mobile phones – and even creating the flip phone so we could halve the space our phones occupy – only to be working diligently to increase the size of them once again.

This time, at least, large and pretty screens are an arguably worthwhile reason to increase our phone size, and Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra certainly supports that notion with its 6.4in 1080p Triluminos (essentially Sony’s Retina, more or less) display. Though the Ultra is certifiably enormous for something marketed as a phone, it’s still quite thin at 6.5mm, but due to its sheer size, it still weighs 212 grams, a hefty amount for a genre of device which is traditionally used with just one hand.

Regardless of how ineffective-for-a-portable-phone the size of the device might seem, it does stock some powerful components within its guttyworks, specifically Qualcomm’s 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800. Along with the top-of-the-line SoC, the Ultra comes with 16GB of on-board storage (11GB of which is available), but if that seems a bit low the phablet has a microSD slot that can house a 64GB card. The Ultra will be LTE capable – though which bands it will support we don’t yet know – and will sport a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and an 8-megapixel rear facing camera that can take HDR images and video.

The screen, aside from being large and pretty, is also able to recognise more than just a capacitive stylus, as it will accept input from a pen with a tip larger than 1mm, or any graphite pencil – though you likely won’t want to be writing on your new phablet. The phone is also dust and waterproof to a degree, with IP55 and IP58 ratings.

The original Xperia Z – the one that isn’t a result of mad phone science – suffered from poor battery life of only around three to four hours of use. The battery in that phone – which has a smaller 5in screen – has a capacity of 2,330 mAh. The Ultra upgrades the battery (as it probably should, due to the upgraded screen) capacity to 3,000 mAh, so hopefully the battery life has been extended along with it.

The Xperia Z Ultra will run the latest version of Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean, when it releases sometime toward the end of this year. Price and a more solid release date have not yet been announced, but the “phone” will initially release in white, purple, and black colours, so you can start planning your new matching wardrobe right now.

Even though phablets seem ever-present, they’re more a niche market at the moment, barely taking any ground from hand-sized smartphones, as well as tablet-sized tablets. Regardless of the practicality of a 6.4in phone, Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra does have some impressive guts under the hood. Whether it’s enough to push the phablet scene to the forefront, though, remains to be seen.