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Product Design Director, Jun Katsunuma on the Design of the Xperia Z Ultra

June 26, 2013 - Written By Briley Kenney

The Xperia Z Ultra launch event debuted in Shanghai and London, officially kicking off the handset. At the event, Engadget had a chance to discuss the design with Sony’s Product Design Director, Jun Katsunuma. This wasn’t Jun’s first rodeo however, he’s been designing and producing handsets for Sony ever since the Xperia S. It was his idea to outfit the Xperia Z Ultra with a double glass exterior.

“The frame [of the Xperia Z] is made of plastic, then we picked a PMMA (a transparent thermoplastic) for the plate. But this time we use aluminum in the side plates, which means it’s totally different, then we could realize this super thinness [on the Xperia Z Ultra].”

In addition, the Xperia Z Ultra doesn’t have the same flashy finish as the Xperia Z- there’s no glitter on the Ultra. This is because Jun says the device looks better with just a regular finish, specifically the solid purple paint looks much better under the glass panel.

Unfortunately, the Z Ultra is not protected by Gorilla Glass, but Jun says that the material used is just as strong. It also includes support for pen and pencil input, which is great, because with a device that size it just seems right to use a stylus.

Jun Xperia Z Ultra

The real kicker is that Jun designed the Z Ultra to be about as thin as a passport. Since regular travelers are used to carrying something of this size in their jacket, the Z Ultra shouldn’t be much of a stretch. Jun also says that most of them are probably carrying a pen or pencil which can be used with the device instead of a dedicated stylus. That’s right, you can use any regular ol’ pen or pencil with the handset. Pretty neat, huh?

“The point of this Xperia Z Ultra is how we could let the users bring this one into their travel and daily life. That’s why we chose aluminium to realize our product’s proposition.”

Jun also pointed out that he knows Sony has nearly exhausted the design of their handsets, especially since many of them look so familiar.

“At Sony, we need to bring some of that message with consistency. The Xperia Z, the Xperia Tablet Z and the Xperia Z Ultra are very strong in consistency, but of course, they have different propositions. So that’s how we decide to use some different materials, different pigmentation and sometimes construction. Based on this product and based on our one design language, we really do some differentiation but with high consistency.”

Jun went further to say that the smartphone market is changing, and discussed what Sony is doing in regards to that fact.

“The use case of the smartphone is changing, so we need to consider how we can express the differentiation in any use case in any product. So we create our designs based on this high-level concept.”

What do you think about Jun’s inspiration for the design of the handset? Do you like the way the Xperia Z Ultra looks?