For good or ill, the oversized smartphone trend shows no signs of abating. In fact, Sony's just taken it to the next level with the Xperia Z Ultra — a new smartphone with a simply monstrous 6.4-inch, 1080p screen. Despite the huge panel and respectable 3,000mAh battery (which it surely needs to power that massive screen), the phone is also extremely thin at only 6.5mm and weighs 212 grams. That's thinner than the iPhone 5, but also twice as heavy — we'll have to see how these dimensions feel when you're holding Sony's supersized phone. Other noteworthy features include a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage plus a microSD slot, Android 4.2, and an 8-megapixel camera.
Do we really need a phone this big?
There's no doubt this is a high-end phone through and through, and it includes a few more unconventional features in its packed spec sheet. Much like the 5-inch Xperia Z (which now sounds positively tiny), the Xperia Z Ultra is waterproof and dust-resistant. There's also a battery-saving mode on board Sony calls "Stamina mode," another feature pulled directly from the Xperia Z. The phone recognizes when you're not turning the screen on for extended periods of time and shuts down other services to conserve juice. You should still receive notifications you want, and everything comes back to life when you turn the display on. In our experience using the Xperia Z, Stamina mode worked like a charm, so we're glad to see it show up in Sony's latest phone.
Sony acknowledges that not everyone wants to hold such a gargantuan smartphone against their face and is launching a Bluetooth companion handset with the Xperia Z Ultra. The SBH52 is a Bluetooth receiver that clips onto your clothing and lets you take calls or listen to music either by holding it against your ear like a regular phone or by plugging in headphones. The receiver can quickly pair with any device using NFC and Bluetooth, and Sony says it's also splash proof for outdoor use.
Unsurprisingly for a device that'll be directly compared to Samsung's successful Galaxy Note lineup, the Xperia Z Ultra has handwriting recognition and is compatible with a capacitive stylus or any metal pen with a tip diameter of more than 1mm. While it remains to be seen how many consumers will want a smartphone that's nearly as big as many full-fledged tablets, the Xperia Z Ultra will be available globally in the 3rd quarter of this year and will come in black, white or purple. We'll have to wait for more launch details, as Sony doesn't have any pricing or regional availability info to share just yet.
Aaron Souppouris contributed to this article.