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Sony Xperia Z Ultra vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

By

June 25, 2013

Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of the Xperia Z Ultra and Galaxy Note 2.

Gizmag compares the specs (and other features) of the Xperia Z Ultra and Galaxy Note 2.

Image Gallery (14 images)

Just a few years ago, 4.3-inch smartphones were considered to be big. My, how things change. Somewhere along the way, having the biggest screen became a selling point, and thus began the great screen size arms race. Now we're to the point where we can have a gigantic phablet like the Galaxy Note 2 completely dwarfed by the upcoming Xperia Z Ultra. Are they bigger and better, or just out of control? Let's take a look, as we compare the two gigantophones from Sony and Samsung.

Size

Wow ... just wow

Let's get this out of the way: the Xperia Z Ultra is a ridiculously large phone. Don't believe me? Look at the Note 2 next to the iPhone 5, then look at it again here next to the Ultra. Sony's device is basically a small tablet that happens to have cellular connectivity.

What's that, want percentages? Okay then: the Ultra is 19 percent taller than the Note 2. It's 14 percent wider.

Depth is the one area where the Ultra isn't gigantic. Quite the opposite, actually. The Xperia Z Ultra is incredibly thin, measuring only 6.5 mm thick. That's 31 percent thinner than the Note 2, and 14 percent thinner than the svelte iPhone 5.

Weight

The Ultra is 18 percent heavier

All of that surface area in the Xperia Z Ultra is naturally going to register on the scale. It's 18 percent heavier than the Note 2.

Build

Glass or plastic?

Like its progenitors, the Xperias Z and ZL, the Ultra has a backside made of glass. The Galaxy Note 2 is made of Samsung's favorite material, plastic.

Display

Add an extra 0.6' of diagonally-measured screen to the Ultra, and you have a Nexus 7

Here's another example of the Ultra's utter insanity. If you've ever used a Galaxy Note 2, you know that its screen is pretty huge. Well, it's only 74 percent as big as the Ultra's screen. Again, Sony's "phone" is basically a tablet that makes calls.

If you can live with a display that big in your pocket (if it even fits there), then the Xperia will reward you with sharper resolution. The Note 2 only gives you 44 percent as many pixels as the Ultra does.

Stylus support

Sony says you can use a pencil on the Ultra's screen

Samsung's original Galaxy Note (re)popularized stylus use in mobile devices. But the Ultra takes that a step further, letting you use a pencil or pen to scratch notes on your screen. According to Sony, you can use any pencil, along with pens and styluses that have a tip diameter of over 1 mm. Can't say we've seen that before.

The Note's S Pen is included, but no styluses, pens, or pencils are included with the Xperia Z Ultra.

Processor

The Xperia Z Ultra wins the processor battle

The Xperia Z Ultra should win this one hands-down. As one of the first handsets to run the Snapdragon 800, it will have a much newer and faster processor.

In the Note's defense, it's been on the market for close to a year now. The fairer comparison will be with the (as yet unannounced) Galaxy Note 3.

RAM

RAM is even

We're all even in the RAM department, with 2 GB a pop.

Storage

The lack of larger storage options for the Ultra could scare off some customers

The Xperia Z Ultra will only be sold in one 16 GB model (Sony estimates that you'll have about 11 GB of usable storage). You can expand it (up to 64 GB) with a microSD card, but since Android no longer lets you install apps on SD cards, this could be too cramped for some people.

Wireless

Both devices will use LTE, provided your carrier provides it

No surprise here with both devices supporting speedy LTE networks, as long as your carrier lives up to its end of the bargain.

Battery

Battery capacities are pretty close

Battery capacity is pretty close, but there are too many other factors involved to jump to conclusions about the Ultra's battery life. The Note 2, a much more known quantity, will generally give you terrific uptimes.

Cameras

Pixel counts are close too, but they aren't enough to jump to conclusions about image qual...

Pixel counts don't begin to tell you the full story of picture quality, but here they are nonetheless.

We haven't taken any pictures with the Xperia Z Ultra yet, but it should be an interesting experience. We're imagining something akin to snapping photos with a skateboard.

Water- and dust-resistance

The Xperia Z Ultra is water- and dust- resistant

We're guessing this is going to be more of a nice bonus than a selling feature for most. But IP55/IP58 water- and dust-proofing in the Xperia Z Ultra could spare you some grief in an unfortunate accident.

Software

The Xperia has the newer version of Android ... for now

The Galaxy Note 2 is supposed to get an Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update at some point. But until that elusive day comes, you could easily say the Ultra has the slight advantage here.

Wrap-up

It's quite possible that neither of these "phones" is for you. We wouldn't blame you for passing on these Andre the Giant phones and opting for a big-but-not-enormous phone like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One, or perhaps a much smaller handset like the iPhone 5.

But if you are shopping for a plus-sized smartphone, these two – along with the LG Optimus G Pro – are some of your best options. And there's also that 800 lb gorilla in the room known as the Galaxy Note 3. Rumors are pointing to a Q3 announcement and a late Q3 or early Q4 release. If you can wait, it might be worth waiting to see what Samsung offers on that front.

For more on the Note 2, you can check out our full review.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
10 Comments

Seems a nice phone. I have the Note 2 but this is hands down at least on par. I only wish it had bigger battery.

DaveBG
25th June, 2013 @ 11:56 pm PDT

Great to see the latest incarnations here on gizmag where Will keeps us on the edge. My un-rooted HTC Desire remains adequate...a phone with certain computer characteristics doing what Android does. One day I'll upgrade to last year's best, and no place to find it next year but here. Sorry, I'm not a target audience, but a sub-target audience.

Threesixty
26th June, 2013 @ 01:15 am PDT

Well done, Sony, at last a truly readable device for web pages and ebooks, with phone functions, and still portable, which for us blokes means a jacket side pocket or inside pocket. But still not close enough. For perfection, please, the same format but with Win8 (not Win Phone), so probably a bay trail atom, plus integrated stylus, plus probably a bigger battery to cope with the wonderful screen. Come on, you can do it, somebody please do it.

Axel
26th June, 2013 @ 03:16 am PDT

That phone size is ridiculous, the camera is less than is smaller counterpart (the Xperia Z has a 13 MP camera) and comes without a flash, and for that screen, a 3,000 mAh battery might not be enough...but DAMN I want it! I'm constantly praying for something to come Verizon's way, but these latest Sony phones may be the ones to steer me away from the big red.

Kevin Jones
26th June, 2013 @ 06:55 am PDT

I think a good question to answer is WHY some of us seek out larger phones - font size. Having to put on reading glasses to see a phone number or text is difficult. I want a phone that's easy for me to use without my glasses.

Does anyone rate phones by how big the font can get?

jsm1031
26th June, 2013 @ 03:03 pm PDT

GPS is again not mentioned. Too bad. For many of us that is very important, and not just "does it have a GPS?" but a good evaluation as to sensitivity and accuracy WAAS.

Richard Barrett
26th June, 2013 @ 06:14 pm PDT

I'm glad to see some SERIOUS competition coming along now iPhone has dropped out of the competition. Once my Galaxy S3 and Note-8 start falling behind I want to have a choice! And with Sony, HTC and LG putting in their best efforts I reckon that we (the customers) will be the real winners! I'm still waiting for ANY OS to make a real challenge to Android. Not that I'm unhappy with Android (on the contrary!), but it's REAL competition that keeps developers on their toes.

Unlike Apple, who rather spend their money in the various court rooms around the world rather than on development. In my opinion ANY patent shouldn't have a 'life' of more than 12 months... otherwise it will just stop progress.

willemco
26th June, 2013 @ 08:43 pm PDT

I always thought the Note 2 was gargantuan until I actually held one the other day. As a GS3 user, I can say that the Note 2 is actually very approachable. I'm curious to see what the 3 will bring.

Suspicious Chihuahua
27th June, 2013 @ 06:32 am PDT

z ultra is very close to perfect { for me at least..) . Improvements ?? Bigger camera { 15 mp and 15 optical zoom with a REAL lens like S4 zoom ) , actual GPS and not A-GPS , longer battery life { 4.000 ah } and belt clip case ...here is the real challenge SONY ,dare to take the leap

Alexandros Koulouris
29th June, 2013 @ 12:04 pm PDT

Every time I use my Note II I realize I got the right sized phone. Every time I put it in my front pocket, it's too big. When I sit down with the Note II in my pocket it wants to separate my leg bone from my pelvis. Cargo pants would seem to be the solution but as yet they have not enlarged their easy-access tech pockets beyond the Samsung Galaxy size.

dchall8
30th June, 2013 @ 10:34 am PDT
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