Sony Xperia Z Ultra – The new phablet taking on Samsung

sony xperia z launchSony’s new Xperia range, with its smartphone and tablet, has already been well received by critics and consumers alike.

Now the Japanese multinational is expanding its Xperia gizmos even further – this time aiming to unseat Samsung’s strong grip on the phablet market.

The new Sony Xperia Z Ultra is slightly bigger than the gadget it is aiming its guns at – Samsung’s 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega handset, which was announced earlier this month. But Sony is promising its new 6.4-inch gizmo will be the world’s slimmest bigger handset.

A recent study by Transparency Market Research found that, in 2012, Samsung sales made up 70% of what it called the superphone and phablet market. But with its new Ultra, Sony is hoping to take a slice of that pie.

In Europe, we’ll have to wait a little while to see if that strategy works as Sony has plans to first make the Ultra available in Asian regions next month. It will then be brought to the UK and the rest of Europe in September.

Calum MacDougall, director of Xperia marketing, said it was a key decision because the large-screen market was particularly strong in Asia. “Southeast Asia is the key market for the product because the trend towards large-screened smartphone devices is stronger there,” he said. “But we also see the trend in Europe as well.”

Like its smaller sibling, the Xperia Z, one of the Ultra’s unique selling points is the fact that it’s waterproof. But Sony has gone one step further with the Ultra. While the original Z relies on users to plug its headphone socket to protect it from water, the Ultra is more robust and can be submerged in deeper water for up to 30 minutes.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra imageIt also has a 1080p resolution screen with clever in-built software which has the capability to upgrade lower definition videos or images. There’s 16 gigabytes of internal storage, which can be upgraded with a microSD card, an eight-megapixel camera at the rear, and an impressive battery life with up to 11 hours talk time.

Sony believes its new superphone will help to persuade consumers to look away from the Galaxy Note towards what the firm describes as “something that is really distinct: a stronger screen, greater portability, waterproofing and something different around the stylus and the pen.”

But, Sony certainly isn’t the only one trying to wrestle market share from Samsung. In just the last few months, Huawei has announced its new 6.1-inch Ascend Mate while rival ZTE has revealed the 5.7-inch Liquid S1. Asus has its 6-inch FonePad Note and Lenovo’s version is the 5.5-inch Ideaphone K900.

Sony, however, has no intention of trying to compete against cheaper rivals on price point. Instead, Sony will be pushing the premium features of its Z Ultra.

No price has been announced yet, but with more than 150 million giant Android phones sold during 2012 in a market which is predicted to soar to 400 million within the next five years, Sony will be hoping consumers think its new Z Ultra is worth it.