Sony Xperia Z Ultra review: Thinking big

Thinking big

GSMArena team, 03 September 2013.

Best phablet display

We've kept the best of the hardware tour till last. The Xperia Z Ultra comes with a 6.4" 1080p Triluminos display, backed up by the company's X-Reality engine. Sony are keen to show that there's nothing holding the screen back this time around.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Sony Xperia Z Ultra display under a microscope

The pixel density breaks down to 344ppi, which isn't quite as good as 1080p on a 5" diagonal that became the flagship standard this year, but it's still sharper than the iPhone 5's Retina display. You'd need to look from way closer than comfortable to spot the sharpness difference between the Xperia Z Ultra and the Xperia Z.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra
The Triluminos display is quite impressive

What you will notice far more easily is the improvement in viewing angles, which have been the Achilles' heel of the Sony smartphone screens lately. This time the viewing angles are quite wide, with color shift and contrast loss only spotted at extreme tilt. It's not quite as perfect as the HTC One LCD panel for example, but at this point the difference is only marginal. Great job!

The native contrast of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra display is great with colors nicely rendered. If you'd like a bit of extra punch to your images and videos you should enable the X-Reality engine, which is the successor of the Mobile Bravia Engine. It aims to improve sharpness, reduce noise, while also boosting contrast and saturation and it does a pretty decent job of it.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia Z Ultra - - - 0.47 467 1001
Sony Xperia Z - - - 0.70 492 705
Huawei Ascend Mate 0.23 222 982 0.67 711 1053
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 0.12 160 1364 0.32 440 1379
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
HTC Butterfly S 0.15 165 1117 0.43 451 1044
HTC Butterfly 0.14 173 1200 0.45 501 1104
HTC One 0.13 205 1580 0.42 647 1541
Oppo Find 5 0.17 176 1123 0.51 565 1107
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

Unfortunately, the Xperia Z Ultra's screen is fairly reflective, so it only managed an average score in our dedicated sunlight legibility test. The phablet is decently usable in bright sun, but it's not the best experience.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.270
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

All things considered, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra certainly has the best screen on a phablet at this point. The sheer size and the resolution advantage, combined with the decent to great performance in all other important aspects, see the Z Ultra inch ahead of the LG Optimus G Pro.

Battery life

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is impressively thin at 6.5mm but such vanity usually comes at the expense of the battery. Still, a 3,050mAh doesn't sound too bad, especially when you consider that the Snapdragon 800 is supposed to improve overall power efficiency compared to the Snapdragon 600. There's still that massive 6.4" screen to power up though.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

When it's off, the Xperia Z Ultra easily comes close to the top of our talk test chart with about 24 and a half hours. However, web browsing was dismal at about 5 and a half hours and video playback was just okay at a just under 9 hours.

That's not so good as we guess the Z Ultra will be used a lot more for web browsing and watching videos than talking. Still, we gave an even weight to all three disciplines and came up with a rated battery life of 52h, given you use the phone for one hour of talking, one hour of web browsing and one hour of video playback per day and leaving the phone in standby for the rest of the time.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

Why would the display turn off during calls? This singular fact rubbished whatever advantage the Z Ultra possesses. secondly the screen cracked at the slightest provocation. For me, durability is zero. No one want to buy and expensive item and...

  • AnonD-615282

How I use jio 4g sim in my sony xperia z c6802

  • AnonD-275228

I've got a Samsung s7 edge and it's a damn good device.. but you'd have to prize my Z ultra from my cold dead fingers before I'd part with it.