Unlike a couple of years ago, when the phablet market was dominated by Samsung’s Galaxy Notes, the 5.5+ inch segment has a lot of high-end handsets you can choose from. Everybody expects the Galaxy Note 3 to extent Samsung’s domination on the segment, but there are at least two powerful handsets that will compete against the Sammy phablet: HTC One Max and Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
Since the One Max and the Xperia Z Ultra are the most powerful Note 3 rivals, we though we should put them head to head in a specs battle.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra was introduced by the Japanese company this July and it was released on the market about a month later. Z Ultra is one of the first 6+ inch smartphones to come with 1080p display and, just like the Xperia handsets launched ahead of it, it has a water and dust proof case.
After months of rumors and leaked photos, HTC finally had mercy on our souls and announced the highly-anticipated One Max. Officially introduced earlier this month, the One Max didn’t make it’s market debut yet, but it is expected to go on sale by the end of the month.
If you were with us on our previous Versus articles, you would probably know that the HTC One Max vs Sony Xperia battle will be decided in ten rounds. Each round it’s worth one point and, in the end, the smartphone that manages to score most points is declared the winner of the battle.
The ten rounds of the HTC One Max vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra are: Display, Dimensions, Memory, Connectivity, Processor, Camera, Design, Operating System, Battery Life, and Price.
Most customers are choosing to purchase a phablet because of the massive screen, that’s why I though the Display round should be the first of the battle.
HTC One Max packs a 1080 x 1920 5.9-inch Super LCD3 display with a pixel density of 373 pixels. On the other hand the Sony Xperia Z Ultra boasts about a 6.4-inch full HD Triluminos screen. While the Super LCD3 display fitted on the Taiwanese phablet brings unrivalled contrast and brightness and great color reproduction, the Triluminos unit of the Z Ultra is rather dull.
I know, the 1080p 6.4-inch Triluminos screen sounds great, but, unfortunately, it’s great only on paper. Unfortunately, the colors aren’t sharp at all and the viewing angles are almost non-existent. I dare you to go ahead and check one in a store to see I’m not insane.
The point allocated to the Display round goes to HTC One Max because it has a higher-quality display.
The phablets are usually pretty big handsets and the HTC One Max and the Xperia Z Ultra make no exception.
The Xperia Z Ultra is 179.4 mm tall, 92.2 mm wide, and only 6.5 mm thin, being one of the thinnest smartphones on the market. Moreover, even though it has a huge 6.4-inch screen it only weighs 212 grams. One Max measures 164.5 x 82.5 x 10.3 mm and weighs 212 grams.
The Z Ultra is thinner and lighter than its rival, that’s why it wins the size battle.
The storage capacity of a smartphone is important, as well, given that there are a over 1 million applications available for download in Google Play. Not to mention about Play Movies, Play Books, or Play Music.
The Xperia Z Ultra brings 16 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot that supports up to 64 GB of extra storage. The One Max is available with either 16 or 32 GB of storage and it also has microSD card expansion (up to 64 GB). It’s pretty simple, the Z Ultra has a maximum of 80 GB of storage, while Max brings up to 96 GB of storage. Both terminals bring 2 GB of RAM, so the multitasking experience will be similar on them.
Since HTC One Max packs more storage, it scores another point in the fight against Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
You can barely find a modern high-end smartphone without 4G LTE support, but there are other connectivity features that are worthy of a mentioning, too.
Besides LTE, HTC One Max features Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, IR blaster, and microUSB 2.0.
In terms of connectivity Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and microUSB 2.0.
Did you spot the difference yet? That’s right, Z Ultra doesn’t have infra red, but this isn’t enough to win the round for One Max, therefore we’ll call it a tie.
Sony Xperia Z ultra has one of the most powerful processors on the market, Qualcomm’s might Snapdragon 800 chipset with quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU.
I find it quite odd that HTC decided the One Max isn’t worthy for an upgrade from the Snapdragon 600 SoC that’s also powering the original One. Underneath the Max’s case you will find four Krait 300 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz helped by an Adreno 320 GPU.
It’s obvious that the Xperia Z Ultra brings the faster CPU, thus the Japanese 6.4 incher wins another round in the battle.
We’ll talk about the cameras next as 83% of the smartphone owners use them to take pictures at least twice a week. In the same time 72% of the statistics are made on spot.
Anyway, Xperia Z Ultra brings an 8 MP primary camera with autofocus, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, sweep panorama, and 1080p@30fps video recording. The main drawback of Ultra’s camera is that it doesn’t come with LED flash. Really, Sony?
HTC One Max packs the same 4 MP UltrPixel camera as the original One. Besides autofocus and LED flash, One Max’s camera also packs 1080p@30fps and 720p@60fps video recording, 1/3” sensor size, 2µm pixel size, simultaneous HD video and image recording, face and smile detection, and geo-tagging. For some reason Max has lost One’s image stabilization.
The 4 “UltraPixel” camera has shown us that it is capable of of taking great photos in low light condition. The lack of LED flash is decisive in this round, so the One Max wins it.
We all loved HTC One’s design when the Taiwanese phone maker introduced it in February and the great news about the One Max is that it follows the same design language as its predecessor. It has an aluminium body with curved back and impressive finishings. It’s no secret that One Max is one of the best-looking phables out there.
But so is the Xperia Z Ultra. Sony’s massive smartphone brings a flawlessly crafted glass body with an aluminium bezel around the edges. That’s what you’d call an elegant smartphone. Not to mention that it’s really thin. At only 6.5 mm it’s one of the slimmest smartphones in the wild.
Even though the One Max looks good, the Design round has to go to the Xperia Z Ultra, because it looks event better.
We are dealing with two smartphones running Android Jelly Bean so you’d might be tempted to say that there aren’t any major differences between the two. Oh, how wrong you are.
While the HTC One Max runs the latest Android version out of the box, Android 4.3, the Xperia Z Ultra ships with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. While 4.3 and 4.2.2 are quite similar, the differences come from the user interfaces developed by the manufacturers.
Z Ultra has Xperia UI applied on top of Android 4.2.2. Besides having support for both pencil or stylus input, this big screen phone lets you take notes using Notebook or Sketchbook. In fact, you can even take notes from a locked screen and during calls, which is pretty cool. It also has handwriting recognition and a pretty cool floating multitasking system that works great with the 6.4-inch screen.
The real bat thing about Xperia UI is the bloatware. You’ll find almost useless apps like Sony Music, Sony Movies, PlayStation 3, WalkMan and stuff like that, which is uncool.
On the other hand One Max runs HTC Sense 5.5 and interfaced loved by some and hated by others. It looks pretty clean and it has a lot of nice software touches. Besides BlinkFeed which will bring a constant flux of news to your screen, you’ll also get dual capture mode for the camera, fingerprint scanning for the lockscreen, HTC Zoe for sharing photos, HTC Scribble for taking notes, and Video Highlights which is ridiculously easy to use.
The OS round has to go to HTC One Max’s Sense 5.5.
If there’s one thing I could change about modern smartphones is the battery life. Well, not phablets, because they are well-known for their superior autonomy.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra sports a non-removable Li-Ion 3050 mAh battery, while the HTC One Max has a non-removable (even though the back lid is removable) Li-Po 3300 mAh battery.
When we got our hands on the Xperia Z Ultra we managed to make the Sony giant stay awake thorugh 48 hours of moderate usage on a single charge. Well, that’s pretty neat considering that the 3050 mAh battery has to keep a 6.4-inch full HD screen alive.
We could make real-life tests with the HTC One Max yet, but we approximate that it’s battery life will also be around 2 days. Even though it has a slightly bigger battery than the Z Ultra, the Snapdragon 600 chipset is less battery-friendly than the Snapdragon 800 unit squeezed inside the Sony phablet.
Two days of battery life for each smartphone? This sounds like a tie to me.
The Nexus 4 showed everybody that affordable smartphones have a great impact to the public. Well, it’s not the case for the Xperia Z Ultra or HTC One Max.
The Xperia Z Ultra is already available for purchase on the US market (Newegg.com) and it costs not less than $729.99. We don’t have an official price for the HTC One Max yet, but sources close to the Taiwanese phone maker say that it will match Note 3’s. Considering that Samsung’s phablet is priced around $750 off-contract, we should expect the One Max to have a price tag of about $700 – 750.
The price tags of Z Ultra and One Max will be similar, so here’s another round that ends as tie.
Here we are at the end of the HTC One Max vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra battle. This means that we must count the point and see which of the two devices is the winner.
We’ve had three rounds where the handsets were equally matched: Connectivity, Battery, and Price. They have similar connectivity features, battery life, and price tags, so no points for either of them here.
Sony’s Xperia Z Ultra has scored three points after winning the Dimensions, Processor, and Design rounds. Why? Because it’s thinner and lighter than One Max, because it has a faster CPU, and because it looks magnificent.
On the other had, HTC One Max has a higher-quality display, more storage, a better camera, and a more attractive user interface, that’s why it has won the Display, Memory, Camera, and Operating System rounds. That’s four points for the Taiwanese phablet.
HTC One Max wins the battle against Sony Xperia Z Ultra, but was it a fair fight? Did the referee (that’s me) made some dubious calls? Please let me know in the comments section below.