Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition announced in the US; runs Android 4.4 KitKat

by XB on 10th December 2013

in Videos, Xperia Z Ultra

Sony Z Ultra Google Play EditionOut of nowhere Sony has just announced the “Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition.” Yep, you read that right, this is the first Sony Xperia device to get a close to Nexus-like experience with Android updates directly from Google. Notice the absence of the ‘Xperia’ brand in the naming though, which seems like an odd decision. Perhaps this was taken to avoid confusion with the normal Xperia Z Ultra, although the words ‘Google Play Edition’ should have been enough to differentiate the two.

The Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition is in stock right now but is only available to those in the United States for $649 with free shipping. The Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition supports a number of LTE bands (Bands I, II, IV, V, VII, VIII, XVII).

As you would expect of a ‘Google Play Edition’ device, the Sony Z Ultra ships with Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box – no need to wait for an indefinite date in the future for a promised update. If you think you’re forgoing some of the special features from Sony firmware builds, then you’d be wrong. The software includes BRAVIA, TRILUMINOS display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile picture engine and an Exmor RS sensor.

Now that the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition has been unveiled, we can only wonder what future collaborations are in store between Sony and Google. Of course, we’d love to see a Sony Xperia Nexus device at some point, but we certainly won’t complain with more Google Play Edition devices from Sony.

Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition_2

Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition

Via Sony Developer World and Sony Mobile Blog.

Thanks to all that sent this in!

  • xD

    Ahhh..too late..

  • Mike Gonzalez

    how come it has no transparent bars!?? isnt it supposed to run 4.4 KitKat?!

  • Wat


  • That comes with the GEL launcher which is ‘exclusive’ for the G Nexus 5
    you can get the GEL from xda now if you want to

  • Nathan

    Because it doesn’t come with the Google Experience Launcher.

  • Chaturanaga Manchanayake

    I know right, My jaw dropped tooo,

  • Babylonbwoy

    Did they find a way to penetrate US market ?

  • There’s nothing odd to me.

    The Xperia logo means the phone provides “Xperia xperience”, if you will. Basically, “no Walkman and other jazz? Not an Xperia” is what Sony means.

  • jmaxim917

    No, they just found another way of remaining relevant.

  • Guest

    Could have but wrong device. That’s Sony and their decisions in the US. Honestly, Sony seems scared of the US market.

  • Guest


  • @atWidget

    In the video we see X-Reality… WTF… GPE have all the bootloader unlocked, and we all know in that unlock the bootloader kills the X-Reality (and camera on Z1) … Weird

  • jag

    Woah.. That’s something!!! ^^ maybe we ultra users can switch to this vanilla android os? Right?

  • AMG38

    This is only good for people, who don’t like the usual Nexus Phones (Hardware, Design, Camera and so on) – but for me, Stock Android is boring, very boring.

  • Raj Singh

    Pretty cool to see 4.4 on Xperia Z Ultra so soon.
    Hopefully it’ll be 4.4.2 pretty soon…

  • zeee

    I dont see the reason why most people in the us like that “Stock Android” experience…for me its very boring(UI look) and defeats the factor of getting a smartphone for its “said” Identity…hence the dropping of the xperia label on this smartphone….

    Sony (still Dubbed as Timescape) UI for me is a tastefully designed UI…Unlike that cluttered Touchwiz and Sense that just screams “hey Im all colorful and vibrant, which makes my AMOLED or IPS screen stand out more”

    Maybe the better thought of this would be the google updates which are a must have for others.

    But still a goodmove for Sony in the US market. Gives more of an option to get a Sony, minus the Sony experience…

  • Moe

    i wish it was the z1

  • sreenamboothiri

    Wow!! they just found an excellent way to shut the mouth of people begging for updates in the second week of android announcement :D

  • Ben Lim

    once of the reasons I love XPERIA is their UI,

  • gunboat_d

    my question is a matter of widgets. the email preview widget on the Z family is incredibly useful for peering into Exchange subfolders. but would the Google Play edition have that?

  • Titanicology

    What is the model number of this GPE? Will the ROM run on the C6833?

  • Naman SOni

    Yes Sony’s UI is awesome..

  • Tech Gospel

    Z1 mini Google Play Edition please! :D

  • hans

    in ZU newest firmware, unlocjed bootloader still have x reality enabled. only track id is a goner.

  • APai

    there are a lot of fans who like updates over a skinned experience. especially , developers and people who love to tinker with their phone. there’s a huge crowd stateside. Sony has made a good move with this one.

    personally, i like the sony UI, but on my XT, I find it slower than Nova or apex. the sony Ui is very elegant, but… I somehow find the sony launcher slower than nova or other launchers out there

  • American Horror Story

    Another iphuck fan (rolls eyes) Americans, always think that their ‘stuffs’ are superior (rolls eyes again) LOL~

  • Guest

    And they are correct.

  • zorg

    hmmm.. penetrate.. giggity

  • Vhan Modders

    Vanilla android UI is boring.. Really

  • Uchiha Dare Nial

    Out of nowhere I received this news

    say wat

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  • Utsav Shah

  • Frode P. Bergsager

    My wallet would not like that, as I would have to buy it as soon as it is available…

  • fisk

    Sony haven’t used the Timescape name for the UI since the X10… The last I heard, was that they call it Xperia UI…


    Don’t want 4.4 :P it’s OK :P

  • Micro

    I agree.

    The idea of making this one is somehow understandable, should satisfy some nerds and developers buying their phones one after another just to have this “latest android” or constantly flashing them for a week only to make some of their new icon on status bar work or to install some ugly font on the bar (I’m simplifying this, but this is “linux-like” type of people – having an OS to work on it to make it work, not to just let the OS work for them).

    But for some (like me) this one is a great phone, but castrated by google out of the box. Xperia (the UI, the taste it is made with, and yeah, even Walkman..) is something that makes me love my phones (S, Z1..), I would never switch to vanilla/pure google. I can wait a month to have the OS polished, beautiful and innovative, with Xperia apps, camera app, …

    BTW I guess this is where some damaged Z Ultra units end up – with back screen protector replaced to “just plain sony” ;P (explains the idea of putting logos on the protectors, not glass :D) and with castrated google’s OS installed – kinda smart move in times of recycling haha – why throw away, just upcycle! ;)

  • LocalPatriot


  • Berg

    Sincerely doubt it. If it’s a Sony specific app, it wont be in a GPE device

  • Rob

    What the… A Sony announcement without a billion leaks months in advance?!

    I’m impressed!

  • KiK

    PSVita UI is much better than Xperia UI and Google UI

  • Daniel Dorestant

    If they ever used it for a smartphone OS I would murder my xperia z as a sacrifice to the Sony gods

  • I don’t care much about the UI myself. I don’t mind the stock Android experience. But the only reason I’d prefer the normal Xperia, is the small apps.

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  • Ziich

    i would have preferred the z1

  • Red Salmon

    That’s a very bad photoshop.

  • gunboat_d

    i did some looking in the video above and if you pause it when they show the widgets, you can see the email widget above the gmail widget.
    i guess i have to decide whether KitKat is better than Walkman and Stamina mode whether it’s worth the price premium of $150 just to have timely OS updates. probably not.

  • gunboat_d

    by ‘huge crowd’ you mean thousands of geeks, right? 70 million americans have android smartphones. out of the 70 million, how many do you think root their phones? let’s separate consumers from enthusiasts as well. even among android enthusiasts, i bet the number of people who root is less than 1 percent (if there were a way to judge who’s an enthusiast).

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  • adri4nu5

    I assume I can buy and ultra and flash this firmware? can someone confirm? Definitely interesting if I can do that

  • APai

    CyanogenMod has over 9 million unique installs recorded. add to it a number of more ROMs out there. I’d imagine a big chunk of it would be in the states. anything even remotely close to a million is huge.

    Also, sony/ lg/ samsung/ htc, already know that google experience phones have a limited market – so i really don’t have to explain much I suppose.

  • Jesus Gandhi

    Lol, what has the world come to…

  • 3rdflyleaf

    Omg me too. Sony’s small apps is one of the cleverest thing that happened to Android!

  • 3rdflyleaf

    Sony’s small apps is one of the cleverest thing that happened to Android!
    I know other brands have their own multi-tasking app trick, like Samsung’s multi-screen, mini apps and LG’s mini apps. but Sony’s small apps is just cleverly done.
    I use it a lot and I think it’s really useful on tablet or big screen.

    I wish Sony think of other name for it and or patent it.

  • 3rdflyleaf

    Exactly my thought. Other brands’ UI is part of their marketing and I think it’s very effective.
    Touchwiz and LG’s UI (which is a copy of TW) is killing me, everytime I use their device. Cluttered and screams like “I have this feature, I have so many feature!” “I’m colorful!”.

  • wee

    nah a chunk of those are scattered worldwide. in xda alone most members i meet are either from europe, india or southeast asia.

  • APai

    of course they are from all over the world, but i’m willing to wager that a good chunk of it (meaning 10%, or around a million as i had mentioned earlier, of it might be from the states. given how many apps are developed stateside, i wouldnt be surprised to see round about a million in the US alone)

  • Micro

    yeah, I use it too every day, can’t imagine my phone without this anymore – I especially love the ability of making a custom small app from a widget – pretty useful to make a small app from a bank account balance indicator, I really like to see the current balance but I do not necessarily want to make it visible to everyone right on my home screen. Small app does the trick perfectly, and it’s so easy to use!

    No, I would never give it up :)
    GPE on itself simply means loosing all the cool things of Xperia and it doesn’t have anything to offer back, but earlier updates. Phew ;P

  • Farai Chiwandire

    I am in love with this phone and am stoked especially now it will have STOCK. While I like Sony’s UI, for me it takes up way too much space and has too much bloat. I am getting an unlocked Z Ultra for Xmas and will root and install stock Kit Kat as soon as I get it (especilly if this ROM gets pulled and made into a custom ROM like they did with the GS4 GPE). Just wish these GPE phones were available in Europe too.

  • Guest007

    *Rolls Eyes* They are superior in being obese, rage, and lazy… oh and taking things for granted. So yeah… they are correct.

  • Guest

    Yeah, and you are all thin, docile, workaholics and want a visa.

  • SomeoneFromCrowd

    Believe me, Xperia UI for Z Ultra is much better then vanilla, especially Keyboard, and everything is much more compact then KK.

  • raj

    SONY launcher is the lightest among it all… anyday i would prefer the Google launcher…. But comparing Samsung’s TouchWiz, LG and HTC Sense, SONY is definitely better

    Light launcher with minimal gimmicks

    You know !!

  • raj

    I’m loving this news. Now I love my Xperia Z Ultra, even more. SONY launcher is the lightest among it all… anyday i would prefer the Google launcher…. But comparing Samsung’s TouchWiz, LG and HTC Sense, SONY is definitely better

    Light launcher with minimal gimmicks

    You know !!

  • adri4nu5

    I love Sony, but I use (paid) Swiftkey keyboard, MX Player for video, (paid)Poweramp for music layer, I use them for all my devices because they are better than anything that comes from Samsung, Sony, or HTC. There are some others like me so for us we don’t really care at the standard application, for us they are just bloatware.

  • gunboat_d

    370 million android users in the world, i think. 70 million in the US. we’re talking percentages of hundreds of millions so even 1% is 1 million. is the CM downloads broken down by region?

  • APai

    unfortunately, not much info about region specific downloads. but 10 million is a great number! (even for worldwide stats)

  • gunboat_d

    i wish there was a way to differentiate between individuals who are active modders, those who develop and have downloaded multiple ROMs to multiple machines, kids who are just playing around, and people who end up bricking their phone.

  • APai

    valid point, I’d bet there are a million kids who’d root and slap a new rom every 15 days just to show that they are geeks with cred :P

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  • Danny Berry

    You know you can buy the Sony skinned version unlocked for LTE for only 30 more dollars than this (679.99) straight off of Sony’s website. Don’t really see what all the bitching is about!!!

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