When we saw the Xperia Z last year, we were concerned. Not because it was a bad device; quite the opposite. No, we worried because it was going to be impossible to follow it up with something as impressive. Turns out our fears couldn't have been more unfounded. Meet the Sony Xperia Z Ultra: the best Sony product this side of 2013.
We knew the Xperia Z Ultra was coming, and that despite an uninspiring name, it packs a powerful punch. More: Sony Xperia Z Ultra Can Turn Anything Into A Stylus: Even Knives (Video)
Design-wise, it's the spiritual child of the Xperia Tablet Z and the Xperia Z smartphone: souped up design with the best of Sony on-board, all packed into a tiny , tiny footprint. Honestly, there are supermodels that dream of being this thin and sexy.
It's packing a 6.4-inch 1080x1920 display at 342ppi, featuring TRILUMINOUS Display technology, an X-Reality for Mobile engine and an OptiContrast panel — the same algorithms, colour maths and software Sony uses in its 4K TVs for brilliant colours.
Under the hood you'll find a knockout Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of on-board storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facer. It's all kept alive by a massive 3000mAh battery crammed into a tiny 6.5mm thick body.
Seriously, you don't understand how much all this beauty and power really means until you see the almost non-existent body Sony has crammed it into. This thing might as well be just a screen for all the body is worth on the Z Ultra. It's seriously impressive hardware.
It's worth noting that traditionally, this would be recognised as a "phablet", but it just feels so beyond being another big-screened phone. Sony has really done something special here.
To top it off, the Z Ultra is waterproof and dustproof as the Xperia Z was, plus you can NFC-pair a bunch of nifty Bluetooth gadgets to it as well.
One of the bespoke Xperia X1 Ultra's accessories is a little Bluetooth relay that connects wirelessly to the phone and is used as a remote for your calls and music. Either use it as a speaker or throw a pair of headphones at it and clip it on your shirt, and you've found a way to use a Bluetooth headset without looking like a douche. You can even just go the whole hog and hold it up to your ear rather than a giant 6.4-inch smartphone.
The experience you get when using it is just as impressive as the feeling you get looking at it. It's fast, fluid and gorgeous to use.
There are only two problems we could find from a brief hands-on: the camera is pretty rubbish in low-light (i.e.: the Sony booth), and there doesn't look to be a place where the stylus — which is unusably tiny — to live in the device. Looks like you're carrying that with you.
All in all, the Xperia Z Ultra is probably one of the most exciting products that we've seen at IFA 2013.
Xperia Z Ultra Pricing And Availability
Those wishing to purchase the Xperia Z Ultra outright can now pre-order from Norman and Dick Smith Electronics.
The first 250 to pre-order their Xperia Z Ultra outright will receive a CP12 protective cover with integrated battery valued at $250.
Update: Optus has also confirmed it will carry the Z Ultra, but not when. Sign up to Optus smartphone alerts.