Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
The Sony Xperia T2 Ultra is one of those devices that some have decided to attribute the silly "phablet" name to.
That's because the 6 inch screen falls between the phone and tablet niches, apparently, and is no doubt the sort of thing that will attract buyers who want phone functionality in a large device approaching the size of a small tablet.
Now a popular size!
Once a rarity, Apple having decided years ago that 4 inches was big enough for all of us, there are plenty of other devices of a similar size around these days, with Nokia having two such devices in their range, the flagship Lumia 1520 and the Lumia 1320 which has a similar specification level to the Xperia T2 Ultra.
The new Asus Zenfone 6 and upcoming Motorola-made Google Nexus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 all have 6 inch screens, with the Mega 2 probably being Sony's closest competitor.
It's still a giant smartphone
The Japanese manufacturers have dubbed this an "easy to carry, 6 inch HD smartphone" but there is no getting away from the fact that this is a beast of a phone - and here at 1st Mobile we do consider it to be a big phone rather than a small tablet - and you are not going to be able to slip this 172 gram handset, which measures 165 x 84mm, into a pocket and forget about it. However it is nice and slim at 7.7mm, and relatively easy to hold as a result but it's still going to need two hands to use it.
The upshot of course is that huge 6 inch screen is perfect for just about everything. It comes into it's own while watching video of course, while surfing the internet is also enjoyable with websites still being easily readable after scaling to the screen size. Typing text is also so much easier thanks to the extra width and larger keyboard keys.
Excellent screen but not Full HD
The screen is only 720p HD though rather than full HD, with 720 x 1280 pixels offering a 245 pixel per inch density. This is reasonable enough as the T2 Ultra is positioned as a midrange handset, and the Triluminous display using Sony's Bravia 2 engine gives you a crisp and clear viewing experience that actually appears to be a higher resolution than it actually is. Colours looks natural and bright while the IPS type display ensures good clarity in bright sunlight and at wide viewing angles.
Fantastic camera oozes Sony quality
Sony have included an excellent 13 megapixel camera with a wealth of features and enhancements. An LED flash, autofocus and touch to focus are all included here, as is face detection, sweep panorama and HDR modes.
Best of all is Sony's Intelligent Auto mode which automatically uses the best settings for every shot. Sony use the exact same components and technology in their compact cameras, and as a Sony compact camera owner I can tell you confidently that it works extremely well and pictures are simply exceptional, even in difficult lighting conditions.
The T2 Ultra also includes the famed Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor, and some exclusive to Sony features include their AR Effect mode, allowing you to have a dabble with augmented reality, and Portrait Retouch, with which you could even make me look beautiful - OK perhaps not quite. Images and videos can also be shared live on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Video recording with sound comes in at 1080p Full HD at 30 frames per second while the front facing 'selfie' camera also records video at 720p HD. Recording in HDR mode is also available, which enhances subjects where there is a strong backlight, thus getting rid of the unwanted silhouette effect.
Lots of power and string battery performance
Power is provided by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.4 GHz processor, and while this might seem a little slow compared with most flagship models today the lack of pixels to power means it is more than sufficient, as is the 1GB of RAM memory.
Each processor core runs independently so you are never using more power than you need to. This significantly helps battery life and the Stamina mode can also extend the life of the battery up to 4 times by shutting down unwanted apps in the background.
The generous 3000 mAh battery is built in to the all plastic glossy casing but all this power means you should be good to talk for up to 30 hours, with a huge 1000 hour plus standby time - that's over 6 WEEKS under optimal conditions.
Connect to everything, everywhere
Connectivity is almost endless, with Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth and DLNA on board as well as Miracast also being supported. You can connect your Smart TV, wireless headphones or home theatre system to your phone and wirelessly stream your music, transfer your photos and files or simply view your phone's screen on your TV. Wi-Fi Hotspot and Wi-Fi direct ensure you can connect easily anywhere there is a signal, while superfast downloads are possible via a 4G signal, which will cover most of the country by the end of 2014.
On board memory is set at 8GB but you also get 50GB free lifetime online storage with Box, and if that isn't enough for you then you can add a memory card with up to 64GB additional memory, giving you a potential total of 122GB of memory space.
Who needs sat nav when you've got sat nav?
One particular useful aspect of the T2 Ultra is assisted GPS. As well as being useful for geo-tagging, automatically adding the location via satellite to your photos and videos, the 6 inch screen also makes this phone perfect for satellite navigation.
Assisted mode means the location of satellites is remembered for faster startup, and access to the Russian GLONASS system is also available to increase accuracy. That's pretty impressive when a sat nav unit for your car with a similar sized screen and resolution would cost you well over £100 alone, and you may have to pay extra for map upgrades or an annual subscription
It's practically impossible to buy any Sony branded smartphone that doesn't impress, and the Xperia T2 Ultra is no exception. The trademark Sony styling seen across the current range is present here which means you get style along with the substance, and you get a lot of phone for your money.
Those with deep pockets seeking pixel perfection might not put this at the top of their list but the electronics do a great job of uprating the screen display and a much higher res screen would have meant a much higher price, and poorer battery life. As it is Sony have just about got the balance right, and for you that means a big phone for relatively little money.