Most helpful critical review
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Great attempt by Sony but still has its flaws
on October 9, 2013
I recently switched from Nokia to Sony due to the vast improvements to their Xperia line up this year. I will mention that I also own an Xperia Z and a Nokia Lumia 920. I bought the Ultra Z to replace my tablet and Xperia Z as an all in one for school since I'm a college student. I will also mention I'm over 6 feet and have big hands so this review may contradict what you have read in media reviews. I will go over aspects of the phone most people are interested in.
Yes this phone is big, but I can operate it comfortably due to my big hands. It also doesn't look as funny when I'm making a call due to my height. It fits nicely in my front pants pocket as well. What amazed me is how thin this phone is!! Yet the shape of the phone is a hindrance in holding it comfortably for long periods due to its sharp corners. To sum it up, this phone is for big people. I highly recommend a headset to use with this phone such as the SBH50 or SBH52.
It has a very solid build and the metal edges are a big improvement over the Xperia Z. I even dropped it accidentally on a tile floor a few times and not one ding surfaced. However the screen is sensitive and I did get a few scratches on it. A screen protector is highly recommended. Unfortunately the Xperia Z would get dinged up even if you bumped it against drywall.
The screen is a huge improvement over the washed out screen of the Xperia Z. The colors are richer and the viewing angles are much better. I don't understand why people say the viewing angles on the Xperia Z were fine, but when you compare it to the Ultra Z, its just horrible. Sadly, the screen on my Lumia 920 has better color richness and viewing angles compared to the Xperia Z Ultra. The interface on the Lumia 920 pops out more, but where the Xperia Z Ultra has an advantage is viewing movies and games. Movies look awesome on it and decent on the Lumia 920. But I did notice photos looked much better on the Lumia 920 then the Xperia Z Ultra. Strange.
After reading all the media hype from Sony about X Reality, I was impressed but experiencing it really let me down. I feel the XReality engine is a gimmick and didn't see a significant improvement over the Bravia 2 engine. Actually, the Ultra Z came installed with Bravia 2 before the X Reality update. Low grade You Tube videos and movies still looked bad but with saturated colors that made it appear unnatural. Photos on the Lumia 920 still looked much better compared to the XReality processed photos of the Ultra Z.
Another downfall of the screen is the sensitivity. Its just too much. Even getting a few drops of water on the screen causes the phone to behave erratically. I don't understand some claims that this phone can take photos underwater. The phone will not operate properly if there's water on the screen!!! I will give a thumbs up to the Xperia Z since it can still be operated with the screen wet.
Viewing this device in sunlight is adequate. Its not as great as some media sources claim it to be. (I live in Hawaii where's it bright and constantly sunny)
Connectivity and Interface:
I will gladly mention this phone is extremely fast. Whether using Wifi, playing games, watching movies, or multitasking with numerous apps, there was never any lag or freezing. Opening web pages and interacting with the GUI was smooth and very efficient. I was very surprised at Sony's decision of using the new Snapdragon 800 and feel it's the best part of this phone.
Internal storage is extremely limited since its only 16GB and I quickly consumed 90% of it. An external SD card is highly recommended. Its too bad games cant be saved to the external drive since this will alleviate the small internal storage capacity.
Yes, the phone still suffers from overheating, but it takes about an hour or more of web browsing or gaming to notice it. But this is the fault of a powerful processor in a thin body next to a large battery. Not much can be done about it.
The battery drains quickly as well due to the processor and screen.(Even when its turned down to its lowest setting) With constant web browsing and playing games, I can get the battery level down to 10% within a few hours. However, stamina mode is a big place and is very efficient in extending the battery life.
External sound is okay but due to the waterproofing of the speaker, it doesn't get very loud. Internal audio through headphones is crisp and clear and having an equalizer is great for fine tuning the sound.
The front and rear camera is another weak point on the phone. Lack of flash and problems with sharpness and color are the major gripes I have. However I wasn't satisfied with the Xperia Z's camera performance either since I used the Lumia 920 before it. (Excellent low light and brightly lit daytime photos.)For both Xperia's I noticed photos had blurry edges, sometimes washed out in low light, and the colors were unnatural when viewed on my PC. However, photos were decent on bright days for both Xperias. The camera interface may be a bit overwhelming for some people due to the plethora of options. But I must say I lean more towards the Lumia 920's camera due to its simplistic interface, dedicated camera button and excellent low light shots and am being biased about the Xperia Z Ultra's camera.
Is the Xperia Z Ultra for the average smartphone user? In my opinion, no. Its more of a niche product for those interested in replacing their phone and tablet with an all in one device. If you spend more time viewing media, gaming and web interfacing and little time on phone calls, this is the perfect device for you. It is also too big for most people to handle comfortably as a phone, but does a fine job functioning as a mini tablet. I may have seem biased by comparing it to the Lumia 920, but Ive read too many reviews and comments which seem to exaggerate various aspects of the Ultra Z and don't represent what I have experienced. There are much better smartphones out there for the money, and unless your a die hard fan of Sony, I cant recommend this for the majority of smartphone users.