When Samsung debuted the GALAXY Note and introduced the ‘phablet’ segment, everyone thought it was nuts. Lo and behold, the phablet space is alive and thriving with major manufacturers having a phablet of in their portfolio. Needless to say, competition is keen as it is exciting. The GALAXY Note 3, in its current form, is still the undisputed king-of-the-hill, with other products like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, HTC One max and Nokia Lumia 1520 holding their own. The mid-range device segment, as you may have noticed, is a dog-eat-dog race to who’s better spec-ed and lightest on the wallet. With that in mind, Sony has the Xperia T2 Ultra (D5303) up its sleeve – a 6-inch phablet that’s nicely packaged, and at a reasonable price.
Design and build
The current Xperia range has an unmistakable design language: OmniBalance – clean, balanced, elegant. If you’ve drooled over the Xperia Z2 and Z Ultra, then you’ll be pleased that the T2 Ultra carries the same DNA. It’s ultrathin, measuring 165 x 83.8 and just 7.65mm in depth and weighs a scant 172g. Build quality and finish is great, and there’s little to fault. The glossy polycarbonate is a little of a fingerprint magnet though. It would have been better with a matt finish although in terms of looks, it’s a matter of preference.
Down the left you have the micro USB port and a covered microSD slot. On the opposite is the 3.5mm audio jack, covered micro-SIM slot, power button, volume rocker and dedicated camera button. The top and bottom are kept clean. On the reverse side is the 13MP rear-facing camera with LED flash and a speaker grill at the bottom.
On the front side, naturally is the 6-inch HD display and front camera above, with speaker grills on opposite ends.
Overall, a sleek and very pleasing design that also feels great in the hands. Because of its lightness and thinness, you’d tend to forget that it’s a gargantuan device.
[box]More images of the Xperia T2 Ultra on Flickr.com[/box]
Specs at a glance
- 6” HD display (720p @ 245PPI) with TRILUMINOS and Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 for mobile
- 13MP camera with Exmor RS for mobile
- 1.1MP front facing camera with Exmor
- Access to Sony’s “one-touch” ecosystem of 132 NFC connected accessories
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (MSM8928) quad-core 1.4 GHz processor with 1GB of RAM
- 8GB of on board storage (Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB)
- Large 3000 mAh embedded battery with Battery STAMINA Mode
- 4G LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi, DLNA-capable
The T2 Ultra’s 6-inch HD LCD is surprisingly good despite its low pixel density – bright, sharp with good reproduction of colour as well as viewing angle. It’s not as sharp nor as saturated as the Z Ultra of course, but still great for web browsing, reading, videos and games.
Packed with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 mated to an Adreno 305 GPU, a natural choice in the mid-range, the T2 Ultra isn’t going to win speed races. Having said that, it has little problem coping with what’s thrown at it whether in gaming, multitasking or getting into productive mode. With a meagre 1GB of RAM, perhaps Sony could have thrown in a little bit more memory to help it handle more simultaneous applications and overall snappiness.
Running passive benchmarks like AnTuTu, Quadrant and 3DMark revealed expected numbers with AnTuTu returning a commendable 19,225, which rates just slightly lower than the previous generation GALAXY Note 2. In Quadrant, the mid-range phablet scored 8,889. For comparison’s sake, the HTC One max hits around 12,000+.
The T2 Ultra was also put through the paces with 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited test, where it scored 4,687 points, earning it a none-too-shabby three stars.
Overall, you’ll find the T2 Ultra adequately snappy without choppiness and lag.
The T2 Ultra runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with a lightly customised Xperia UI layer. Sony hasn’t reinvented the wheel nor tried to do too much with the skinning of Android, definitely not to the extent of HTC Sense or Samsung’s TouchWIZ. And I think it’s a good thing.
As a whole, it’s pretty no-frills aside for a stable of Sony branded apps like Walkman, Sony Select, Sketch, PlayMemories, TrackID and and PlayStation.
A handful of interface tweaks though, improves the user experience of the phablet. There’s a one-handed operation mode where you can double-tap on the Home icon to slide the notification panel down.
[button link=”/2014/06/review-sony-xperia-t2-ultra-lte-phablet-on-a-budget/2/” ]Next: Camera[/button]