Phablets, which tried to
bridge the gap between a smartphone and tablet, were as expensive
as flagship devices once upon a time. Slowly and steadily, at least in
India, phablets piqued the interest of buyers and created inroads into
the market. This rise prompted manufacturers to shed some features and make their products more budget friendly. Many companies latched on to this opportunity early on, but Sony has joined this bandwagon only recently.
top-end phablet, the Xperia Z Ultra, now has a cheaper alternative in the
form of the Xperia T2 Ultra. It is smaller, sleeker, accepts two SIMs,
and has stripped down features. More importantly, this six-inch budget phablet faces the mammoth task of
proving itself against the competition in a fairly crowded price band. Our review will help us find out
if it manages that feat.
Look and Feel
philosophy for smartphones underwent a change when the company parted
ways with Ericsson. The primary reference for this is last year's
flagship, the Xperia Z. A lot of critics praised the design and
Sony seems to be going with the 'why fix something if it isn't broken'
strategy. This unassuming black slab with clean lines is now typical of the style adopted for all recent smartphone and tablet releases.
The T2 Ultra Dual is available in three colours: black,
white and purple. We reviewed the black one. All the colour options look
quite classy and the choice will boil down to personal preference. The
top and bottom edges of the device are bare. The right edge is
crowded with buttons for power, volume and camera (kudos to Sony for including that). The placement of these buttons at the lower
half of the right edge takes some getting used to, but the ease of use is
unparalleled. The 3.5mm jack and two SIM slots can be found at the top of the right edge. The left edge has the microSD card slot and Micro-USB port for charging and data transfer. Right above the screen is
the 1.1-megapixel front-facing camera, and below it is the microphone. The back
has the really long speaker grille, rear camera and flash.
entire device is glossy and attracts fingerprints very easily. The back,
made of plastic, picked up quite a few scratches during our review so
we'd suggest using a cover. The device feels sturdy despite being being fairly slim at 7.7mm, and thanks to the rubberised edges, the grip
feels solid. Still, those with dainty hands will find the T2 Ultra Dual unwieldy due to its sheer size.
Features and Specifications
The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra Dual has
decidedly mid-range specifications. Under the hood is a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core SoC clocked at 1.4Ghz, with Adreno
305 graphics. Out of the 8GB of internal storage, only
4.68GB is available to users. Thankfully, you can increase the
storage of the device up to 32GB using a microSD card. Sony
also bundles 50GB of free Box storage for life, provided users register
by 31 December 2014, though surprisingly, the Box app isn't preloaded. The 13-megapixel rear camera can shoot videos at 1080p resolution.
Users who love to use the front camera to capture selfies might be
disappointed with the 1.1-megapixel resolution.
The dual-SIM variant of the
T2 Ultra accepts two Micro-SIM cards and works in dual standby mode. Both SIMs can connect to the 850/900/1800/1900/2100MHz GSM bands. The phone also has Bluetooth 4.0
with A2DP support along with a range of different sensors including an
accelerometer, gyro and proximity sensor.
The 6-inch screen has a
resolution of 1280x720. The screen springs to life with Sony's
proprietary Triluminous display technology. Colour reproduction is
fantastic and the contrast is great too. There is a catch, however - the
legibility of the screen takes a hit when viewed under bright sunlight.
T2 Ultra runs a skinned version of Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) with an
update to Kitkat promised by Sony in the near future. Sony's skin keeps
Android largely untouched, which is great for users who appreciate a vanilla
Android experience. The lock screen features a unique swipe animation that replicates a window blind.
The T2 Ultra
gives users six home screens to customise. A very interesting addition, which
helps with single-handed operation of the large phablet, is that when users
double-tap the Home button, the notification slider drops down with
all the shortcuts moved to the bottom. Ingenious, we say! Additionally,
the app drawer features a sliding panel which pops up when users swipe in from the left of the first screen. This panel has a direct access to the Play
Store and Sony Select apart from a few options to rearrange app icons.
Hitting the Recents key brings up (apart
from apps that are open) a 'favourites bar' which lets you add what
Sony calls 'small apps' which can be used as movable widgets to make use
of the screen space. Along with the regular set of apps, you'll find McAfee Security, Garmin Navigation (trial edition), Neo
reader, OfficeSuite, Pixlr Express, Reader by Sony, Playstation Mobile,
Sketch, Smart Connect, Socialife News, Sony Select, Support and TrackID.
TrackID is similar to Shazam and Soundhound, and works reasonably well. One
thing that irked us beyond measure was the sensitivity of the haptic
vibration feedback, so much so that we had to switch it off very shortly after we started using
The camera software is fairly limited,
with respect to options, when compared to Samsung's and LG's.
There are some really pointless modes such as AR Effect, which is extremely
silly, with animations that remind us of Chota Bheem's artwork. The Picture Effects mode has some really garish effects. The background
defocus mode, when it works, takes two pictures - one of the background
and the other of the foreground - and looks great, provided users
have the patience. Panorama stitching is flawless and the effect works really
As far as cameras on smartphones go, the T2 Ultra is a
great example of why megapixels do not matter. The 13-megapixel shooter on this phablet has problems focusing subjects and captures images which
are filled with noise. This is not to say the camera is completely bad.
There are a few redeeming aspects, but this is not what we expected from
Sony, which is famous for making great sensors.
Details were muted
even in daylight shots, but the natural colours are a plus. The white
balance in some pictures was not right. The T2 Ultra takes some good macros,
though. The camera tested our patience when shooting in low light, and
we found the resulting photographs to not be worth the time taken. The less we talk about
the 1.1-megapixel front-facing camera, the better. Those who love taking selfies would be
well advised to look elsewhere.
(Click to see full size)
Video performance was equally underwhelming, with very little detail captured. Fortunately, there is no skipping of frames.
Overall, the camera is an underperformer.
we get to the benchmark scores, our experience of using the device
in day-to-day situations was filled with niggling issues. Using the default Chrome browser
caused the screen to flicker intermittently. The app drawer
would freeze from time to time. When it worked well, the T2 Ultra was an adequately fast performer, which is reflected in the scores.
and Quadrant returned scores of 19,358 and 9,138,
respectively. In the graphics department, the Adreno 305 lags behind
with GFXbench peaking at 10.9 fps. The less intensive 3DMark Ice Storm
returned a moderate score of 5,632 points.
Another surprise was the fact
that the T2 Ultra had low sound output levels even when tested with reference
earphones. We were disappointed by the terrible
audio quality of the bundled earphones - Sony seems to have cut corners in
another area that is usually considered its strong suit.
Ultra's default video player didn't play 1080p videos, but got through the rest of our sample clips without any hiccups. In our looping video battery
test, it managed to last for 8 hours, 22 minutes. This
should translate to a real-life performance of one day. Voice
quality during calls suffered slightly in low network areas, and there was a unique crackling sound at the
receiver's end, though this could have been an
issue with the service provider.
With Sony faltering in areas that are generally considered its strong suit -
camera and sound - the Xperia T2 Ultra Dual, priced at Rs. 24,990, is a
difficult device to recommend. There is strong competition in this segment from
the feature-rich Moto X and the Gionee Elife E7, with its great camera.
But if the requirement is a 6-inch screen and nothing less, the T2 Ultra
is the best bet at the moment. In short, Sony gets one
thing absolutely right - the price.
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra in pictures