Maybe there’s a market for the ill-named “phablets” after all. Sony(s sne) must think so since it launched a 6.4-inch smartphone, the Xperia Z Ultra, on Tuesday. The large-screened, waterproof and dustproof device is part phone and part tablet, offering those with big pockets the chance to carry just a single device instead of two.
Similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, the Xperia Z Ultra supports stylus input but it doesn’t require a special pen like Samsung’s product does. Sony says the new device has “handwriting recognition which is compatible with any pencil and selected stylus or pen (capacitive stylus or metal pen with tip diameter over 1 mm).”
I’m not sure I’d want to write on my mobile device with a pencil, but I have to believe that the screen is protected from scratches and such. At least I hope so because 1920 x 1080 resolution on a 6.4-inch display should look fantastic and I’d hate to ruin the device.
It’s sure to be a solid performer as well, given that Sony chose Qualcomm’s(s qcom) top-of-the-line Snapdragon 800 chip to power the Xperia Z Ultra. This uses four 2.2 GHz cores and an Adreno 330 GPU for graphics, making the handset a potential powerhouse to run Google Android.(s GOOG) The handset supports LTE connectivity and uses an 8 megapixel Sony Exmor RS sensor. Oddly, Sony couldn’t find space in the large device to fit a camera flash.
Sony also claims this the thinnest full-HD handset on the market thanks to its 6.5-millimeter body. And although it’s a large device, it doesn’t weigh too much: 212 grams. Being light and thin helps, but make no mistake: this is a large handset, which could put some off.
I actually prefer a large-screened phone as well as 7-inch slates, so this might be the sweet spot for me and replace my Note 2. At this size, however, I’d likely opt for hands-free and Bluetooth phone calls. My pen-shaped Bluetooth “phone” might be just the partner for this device; something I purchased because I think small tablets could take the place of smartphones. I have time to consider that though: Sony says the Xperia Ultra Z won’t launch globally until the third quarter.