If you thought the explosion of Android smartphone screen sizes had finally hit the ceiling, think again. Sony just pulled back the curtain on the Xperia Z Ultra, a phone with a cutting-edge processor, an incredibly-thin design, and waterproof capabilities. The only catch? You'll have to lug around a device that's closer in size to a Kindle Fire than it is to an iPhone.
To call the Xperia Z Ultra a phablet would almost be deceiving. This thing is basically a small tablet with cellular connectivity. This puppy has an absurd 6.4-inch display. That's 35 percent extra real estate over the screen of the already-huge Galaxy Note 2. Hell, it's only 21 percent less screen area than the Nexus 7.
So for any of the Z Ultra's other features to matter, you're going to have to get past that enormous size. Fortunately, if you're comfortable pocketing a "phone" that would make Zach Morris blush, the Z Ultra has some nice goodies. For starters, that huge screen is full HD (1920 x 1080), which gives you a nice 344 pixels per inch.
Then there's the processor. It will be one of the first phones to pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor, which gets a performance boost over the Snapdragon 600 found in the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One (here the quad-core CPU maxes out at 2.2 GHz). It's probably a safe bet to expect some off-the-wall benchmarks and lag-free real world performance.
The Xperia Z Ultra is also one of the thinnest smartphones you'll see this year. At only 6.5 mm thick, it's 14 percent thinner than the iPhone 5, and 18 percent thinner than the Galaxy S4. It's far from the lightest phone around (7.5 oz/212 g), but, considering its size, Sony could have done much worse in that department.
Like its progenitor, the Xperia Z, the Z Ultra is water- and dust-resistant (with an IP55/IP58 rating, if you follow those sorts of things). The device also totes a 3,000 mAh battery and an 8-megapixel camera, and will ship running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The Xperia Z Ultra is compatible with a variety of styluses, but unlike the Note, doesn't include one. Curiously, Sony says that it also works with any pencil or pen (with a tip diameter of over 1 mm).
ReleaseSony is going to stagger the Ultra's global rollout, but it will start shipping in Q3 of this year. Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy Note 3 at around that time, so the Ultra should have some stiff competition. It will likely also be one of the few "phones" that actually makes the Note 3 (rumored to have a 6-inch screen) look small in comparison.