In a move that has surprised the whole industry, Google has joined hands with Sony to release the Japanese manufacturer’s first Google Play Edition device. Not one leak had escaped Sony and Google HQs, which is certainly an impressive thing, considering every device to be released is usually completely leaked with weeks to go for its release. With HTC and Samsung already carrying Google Play Edition devices of their flagships, and LG producing the much praised Nexus 5, Sony is the last major manufacturer to join forces with Google. It does come as a little disappointment though, that the device given the Google Play treatment is not Sony’s flagship Xperia Z1, but one will not be complaining about a Google Play Edition of Sony’s class-leading Xperia Z Ultra phablet.
What this means is that Android purists have finally got a chance to experience a sweet spot in between the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. With a screen size of 6.44 inches diagonally, the Xperia Z Ultra falls firmly into the phablet category. Sony fans will also get to officially experience a pure Android experience on the Xperia Z Ultra.
With its brilliant Full HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon S800 processor (2.2 GHz), 2 GB of RAM, LTE and NFC radios, a 3000 mAh battery, 16 GB storage and a micro-SD card slot, the Z Ultra has already made a big impression in its standard form. This is also partly due to the fact that Sony is the only major manufacturer who follows Google’s design guidelines religiously, making their skinned Xperia UI the closest to stock Android. The only differences in specs to Sony’s flagship Z1 are the screen size, and camera, which has been downgraded to 8 MP on the Z Ultra. That is no matter though, for the camera still performs well enough (and frankly, how many photos are you going to take with a phablet?).
Combining the Z Ultra’s angular design and impossibly thin frame (6.5 mm) with a pure, fresh Android 4.4 KitKat screams beautiful in every way. That is not all however. With Sony’s top-end Z-line, you get a feature that no one else has been successfully able to replicate, and a feature that is actually practical – dust and waterproofing.
Perhaps the only sore point about this device is its steep price – $649 (USD) on the Play Store. It still is not outrageous when taking into account that the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition devices also retail for the same price. Yes, Google’s Nexus 7 (2013) retails for just $229 (16 GB) and $279 (32 GB), but you have to take into account that it lacks expandable storage and uses a two-generation old chipset (as well as other performance shortcomings).
What do you think about Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra in Google Play Edition form? Will this be your next holiday purchase? Leave your comments below!