How's that new Google Play Edition Xperia Z Ultra? Pocket-stretchingly good, you say? The Z Ultra's massive frame might be an advantage in some regards, but it's a problem in others – Sony's QX10/QX100 lens cameras don't mount quite right. The company will be rectifying that with a new Z Ultra case that has an attachment for the lenses, so you can finally rest easy.
In addition to things like stock Android and being carrier-unlocked, one of the big features of Nexus and Google Play Edition devices that Android power users love is an easily unlockable bootloader. While OEMs and carriers often make a policy of locking their devices' bootloaders to prevent installation of unauthorized software, Google makes it very easy for us to tinker with devices bearing its brand. All you really need to unlock a Google device is a tool called "fastboot," which is made available through the Android SDK.
In case you haven't been paying attention, there has been a storm of Android 4.4.2 updates for Google Play Edition devices over the past few days. It started Friday with the HTC One and Galaxy S4, and continued yesterday with the G Pad 8.3. Now, it's time for Sony Z Ultra GPE owners to get in on the action. The OTA weighs in at hefty 444 MB and, like all other recent GPE updates, will bring the phone up to date with current Nexus devices at Android 4.4.2/KOT49H.
As soon as the first orders for the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition began arriving at users' doors, the bug reports started rolling in. While this always happen with a new handset, two of the issues quickly emerged as critical. To be more specific:
It's been a busy week or two for Sony fans. First we get a Google Play Edition of the Z Ultra, then the AOSP On Xperia project expands to the low-cost Xperia L, and now owners of Sony's high-end phones are starting to get their long-awaited Jelly Bean 4.3 updates. According to this Sony blog update, both the Xperia Z1 and the enormous Z Ultra should be getting the over-the-air update starting today, at least for unlocked versions.
Earlier this week, Google rather unexpectedly announced two brand-new Google Play Experience devices (for the US only, of course) - the LG G Pad 8.3 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. The G Pad 8.3 will set you back $350, while the Z Ultra is $650, though both devices rather undeniably fill niches in the Google device ecosystem. The G Pad acts as a mid-size tablet, a la iPad Mini, something a lot of enthusiasts have been asking Google to build for years now.
When it comes to hardware aesthetics, Sony has some of the best industrial design around. The 6.4-inch Xperia Z Ultra is undeniably attractive in its glass and metal casing. The software isn't so appealing, and not just because it's Android 4.2 - Sony's custom interface leaves a lot to be desired. If you'd like to run something closer to AOSP, not to mention a latter version of Android, the indefatigable CyanogenMod team is now offering nightly builds of CM 10.2.
Sony has announced a maintenance update for the Xperia Z1 and the Z Ultra, which are just hitting American shores today. The devices are staying on Android 4.2 for the time being, but there are a number of important improvements on the way.