The one Nexus-style smartphone that's even bigger than the N6 is getting its Android 5.0 update today. At least a few owners of Sony's Z Ultra (nee Xperia) Google Play Edition are getting over-the-air updates to Lollipop, as evidenced by this XDA thread. Conveniently, one of those fine folks has found the link to OTA ZIP file, so you can download and flash it manually to your own phone if you don't want to wait for the rollout.
Google officially pulled the HTC One M7, Galaxy S4, Xperia Z Ultra, and LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition devices from the Play Store not too long ago. Since then we've seen a couple of them pop up on sale across various distributors. When an eBay seller offered the Galaxy S4 for $499 ($150 off) last month, we considered that a deal. Before that, Expansys USA offered the Z Ultra for the low price of $349, $100 less than what Google last asked for it.
Google officially pulled the Xperia Z Ultra GPE from the Play Store a few days ago, but it looks like stock wasn't completely gone. The device has shown up on Expansys USA for just $349.99. That's $100 less than Google's last price for it. We don't know how long it's going to last, but Expansys says it has more then 100 in stock right now.
Last month, we reported that the Xperia Z Ultra, LG G Pad 8.3, HTC One M7, and Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition devices were all appearing as out of stock on the Play Store for several weeks. Today, Google officially removed the Z Ultra, G Pad, and M7 from the Play Store, and they no longer appear under the Google Play Edition devices section.
The remaining three phones are the One M8, Moto G, and Galaxy S4.
Outside of Google, it looks like Sony is the first company to start pushing 4.4.4 to its devices, beginning with the Z1, Z1 Compact, and Z Ultra. While it's only a very minor update, it still says something about Sony's drive to push timely updates that it's the first to get 4.4.4 out the door to consumer devices.
Included in this software
There are many improvements in this upgrade for your Xperia™ smartphone, some examples are:
- Android 4.4.4 including the latest enhancements and security updates from Google
- Updated and improved camera experience
- Improvements when using Google voice, Contacts, Music streaming and Google+
- The latest versions of our Sony apps for you to enjoy
- All of our latest bug fixes, optimisations & improvements
The update is currently only rolling out in Europe, but it will likely follow in other regions fairly soon.
The Xperia Z Ultra is an odd proposal from a hardware perspective. The huge 6.4" 1080p screen, Snapdragon 800 processor, and 2GB of RAM say "high end," while the 8MP rear camera lacking a flash seems a bit down-market. Perhaps that has something to do with possibly tepid sales at the phone's $679 price point... and also Sony's decision to lower it. XperiaBlog reports that the price for the phone has been dropped to $449.99.
Sony has been doing an admirable job keeping its Android hardware on the latest releases, and today they're bringing KitKat to three of the newest phones in their lineup. The flagship Xperia Z1, the slightly smaller Xperia Z1 Compact, and the super-sized Xperia Z Ultra all get an Android 4.4 upgrade starting now, according to this Sony Mobile blog post.
We haven't actually seen any updated devices from tipsters, and Sony makes the usual disclaimer that the rollout may vary by location and carrier.
Sony hardware fans, you've now got at least two more options when it comes to Android-based software. The current Sony flagship, the Xperia Z1, is now officially supported by the CyanogenMod ROM. The first CM 11 (Android 4.4) nightly build was posted to the CyanogenMod download page last night. There's also a new version of CM 11 built specifically for the Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition, the AOSP version of Sony's monster phablet on sale in the Play Store.