Sony Xperia Z Ultra
The original Xperia Z is an impressive bit of kit, but if the large 5 inch display doesn't quite do it for you then the Sony Xperia Z Ultra takes most of those same features and puts them in a smartphone with a colossal 6.44" full HD display.
There aren't many smartphones (or "phablets") in this sort of size range, and the immediately obvious comparison seems to be the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, but the Mega can't meet the fairly epic specifications of the Xperia Z Ultra.
It would seem that the most obvious place to start is the display - a full HD display with 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution incorporating all sorts of clever technology derived from Sony's experience with BRAVIA TVs, including exotic features with exciting sounding names such as TRILUMINOS* and X-Reality. The display can be used with a stylus, like the Samsung Galaxy Note range.
On the back is an 8 megapixel camera enhanced with Sony's Exmor RS technology. While it's not the 13 megapixel one in the smaller Xperia Z it should still be pretty good and is capable of 1080p HD video capture. But why not put a 13 megapixel unit in Sony Xperia Z Ultra the Z Ultra instead? It's probably for the same reason that there isn't one in the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, which is reported to be down to the simple fact that there's a shortage of 13 megapixel sensors at the moment. On the front is a 2 megapixel camera for video calling and self portraits, and the whole camera experience is enhanced with the usual long list of Sony improvements.
Inside is 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU which must make the Xperia Z Ultra one of the fastest things on the market, coupled with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage plus a microSD slot. Sony say that the Xperia Z Ultra is the world's thinnest smartphone at just 6.5mm thick despite housing a 3000 mAh battery, but the forthcoming Huawei Ascend P6 is actually 6.2mm thick. Slim doesn't necessarily mean light though, and the Xperia Z Ultra comes in at a hefty 212 grams, 13 grams heavier than the Samsung. The Xperia Z Ultra has a footprint of 179 x 92mm, 69% bigger than the standard Xperia Z. One very unusual feature is that the Xperia Z Ultra is dust and water resistant to IP55/IP58 standards.
The is an LTE capable device with NFC support, plus the usual features of WiFi, 3.5G, Bluetooth 4.0, USB connectivity plus an FM radio, GPS and GLONASS positioning systems, MHL cable support (for outputting to an HDTV) and a range of accessories including the new SmartWatch 2, a charging dock, a Bluetooth "mini phone" called the SBH52 plus NFC tags forming a whole ecosystem for you to spend your money on.
The operating system is Android 4.2 plus the usual Sony enhancements in the music, gaming and entertainment arena. With the processor as fast as it is plus the large HD display, we can imagine that this combination will be a lot of fun.. if your pockets are big enough.
In design terms, the Xperia Z Ultra follows Sony's "omnibalance" philosophy.. in other words, it's a massive black (or white, or purple) slab which manages to look quite smart but a little dull at the same time.
We don't know how much the Xperia Z Ultra will be, but the standard Xperia Z costs €500, so the Ultra is going to be a fair bit more than that (our guess is €700). The less powerful Samsung Mega 6.3 retails for just under €500, and the bargain ASUS Fonepad does many of the same things for a wallet-friendly €230. When fully accessorised we can't imagine that you'd get much change out of a thousand euro, but if you're looking for a class-leading device with a bigger screen than the Galaxy S4 or HTC One then this looks like an interesting choice. Sony say that the Xperia Z Ultra should be available during Q3 2013.
* Not triluminary
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
UMTS 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
LTE (various bands)
GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSPA+ +
LTE + WiFi
6.44" 1080 x 1920 pixels
8 megapixels (main)
2 megapixels (sub)
Very large smartphone
179 x 92 x 6.5mm / 212 grams
Yes (plus GLONASS)
14 hours talk / 22 days standby (3G)
3000 mAh cell