This comparison takes us back a ways to the Sony Xperia Z Ultra-close to a year old, but still spec’d fairly close in display resolution, processor and battery size, it should make for an interesting battle. If you recall, Sony came out with the Xperia Z model with a 5-inch display, but wanted to up the specifications and size a bit, so they came out with the Xperia Z Ultra- which mostly means ‘Ultra’ in size with its 6.4-inch display and jump in dimensions and weight. Even at its age, it’s an interesting comparison to the OnePlus One, due to arrive in the mobile world within the month. Both devices use the Qualcomm Snapdragon for its processor – the OnePlus One, as you would suspect, has the latest 801 quad-core model clocked at 2.5GHz, while the Xperia Z Ultra uses the 800 quad-core model clocked at 2.2GHz. The both come in 16GB internal storage models, although the OnePlus One does offer a 64GB model and the Xperia Z Ultra offers a microSD card slot for expanding the memory up to an additional 64GB. Both devices are running Android 4.4 KitKat – with the One using CyanogenMod 11S and the Z Ultra using Sony’s Xperia UI, which is fairly close to pure Android. They both use a very similar sized battery with the One coming in at 3100mAh and the Z Ultra at 3050mAh.
Please take a look at the detailed specifications listed below, then jump down to the individual listings where we go into more detail about their differences and then go on to pick a winner in this comparison.
The OnePlus One is the first device from a new China upstart company, OnePlus. They vowed to give the user a premium device for the price of a mid-range, and in that department they most certainly were successful. The One uses the same Full HD display of its competitor – meaning 1920x1080p – however, the One comes in at a much ‘smaller’ 5.5-inch screen size (if you can call that small) with 401 pixels-per-inch (PPI) versus the Z Ultra’s huge 6.4-inch display with 344 PPI. The One does use the slightly faster Snapdragon 801 processor and hooks it up with 3GB of RAM versus the 2GB found in the Z Ultra. The camera is a ‘curious’ area that we will discuss in greater detail under the Z Ultra write-up, but needless to say, the OnePlus One uses Sony lenses and sensors and does pack the superior camera in this comparison. It has a 6-lens affair and dual LED Flash that should take excellent pictures. The One is much smaller and should be easier to handle for most people. The One also has an excellent dual speaker system mounted on the bottom of the device. The One is priced below that of Google’s own Nexus 5 smartphone and is still cheaper than the Z Ultra-which has been heavily discounted. For $349, you can get the 64GB model, or if you are really watching your budget, $299 will get you a 16GB model.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is sometimes exciting and other times very disappointing-the device itself has a premium look and feel and is surprisingly thin at only 6.5mm. The display is big and beautiful, the processor and 2GB of RAM give it a snappy feel and you can even write on the display with a standard pencil-not the touch sensitivity found on Samsung’s Note series, but it does allow the ability to use a stylus. The battery is a deceit size, but could be a little larger considering the size of the device – the price you pay for a slim design. One very glaring problem with the Z Ultra is the camera – Sony lowered the 13MP shooter on the Z to only 8MP on the Z Ultra and took away its flash, which makes no sense at all. The single speaker was placed on the lower edge of the device, but the placement is such that your finger will cover it up when you hold the device in the landscape position – such as watching a movie or video. Sony did improve the Z Ultra to be better at water resistance than the Z. The price of the Z Ultra has dropped over the past few months, but is still hovering between $400 – $450 for off-contract.
…and the Winner is…
It is not so much the age of the Sony Z Ultra that gives way to the OnePlus One-the screen, processor and water resistance makes for a competitive device, but the One takes over in the details. First and foremost, the 5.5-inch display is large by any standard-the 6.4-inch display of the Z Ultra is almost a turn-off to most people, but the One has a better placement and better designed, dual speaker system. It has 3GB of RAM hooked into the fastest processor available, and a better main camera with dual LED flash, not to mention a huge 5MP wide-angle front facing camera for great video chatting and even better selfies. The software and features it offers, such as ‘touch and go’ on-screen gestures, add a lot to the One’s usefulness. Here, it is really not about the age of the Sony Xperia Ultra Z falling short – it’s about letting us down in the details.
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