Chances are if you’ve been keeping tabs on Sony’s plans in the run-up to MWC you will have caught the officially-sourced Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet leaks ahead of time, but now we get to go hands-on with the real deal.
Whilst we’re still missing a Z4 smartphone, Sony’s seen fit to bring the Z4 brand to life with the new Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet instead. Arguably Sony’s star device at this year’s show, the Z4 Tablet fills the gap left after IFA at the end of last year, where the Z3 family maxed out with an 8-inch slate.
Much like Sony’s older Xperia Z2 Tablet, the Z4 Tablet is another 10.1-inch device that carries on many of the trends we’ve come to know and love from the brand. To look at it is extremely familiar; a thinly bezeled display skirted by a metal frame with an aluminium power button and a fibreglass back panel. It’s Sony’s thinnest waterproof tablet to date (IP68-certified) at 6.1mm deep and it’s exceptionally light for a 10-inch device too.
Despite its hardy waterproofing the Z4 tablet also retains an exposed headphone jack and an exposed microUSB port, which keeps the design cleaner and stands as an impressive feat of engineering too. There’s also a microSD slot although that remains covered by a waterproof flap.
Every facet of the hardware has been brought up to date, starting with a beautiful 2K (2560×1440) display, offering solid colour accuracy, contrast and excellent brightness, not to mention strong viewing angles as a result of the IPS panel Sony’s using. On the inside this is also the first Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor-laden tablet we’ve come across and as it’s married up with 3GB of RAM it is impressively snappy. We didn’t get a chance to test out 3D gaming, but it’ll no doubt be able to handle the latest titles at a buttery smooth frame rate.
Sony’s given the front-facing camera a selfie-friendly wide-angle 5.1-megapixel sensor and despite the lack of an LED flash, the rear camera utilises the company’s own 8-megapixel Exmor RS sensor which should help counter low-light environments. We’re yet to test it out properly but as imaging offerings go it looks like it’ll be more than enough for most tablet users.
On the software side, the Lollipop-toting Z4 Tablet also features a clean, tidy Sony skin and notably fewer Sony apps than some of the company’s older devices – a trend we’ve seen from the likes of Samsung and HTC this year too. It makes for a less cluttered experience with offerings like Music Unlimited replaced by Spotify. Multimedia-wise Sony’s STAMINA mode paired to a beefy battery should also offer up an impeccable 17 hours of video playback.
The company wants business users to seriously consider the Xperia Z4 tablet too, with the demo models we encountered laden with Microsoft’s freshly updated Office apps (apparently they won’t be preinstalled on retail versions). To up the productivity value, users will also be able to get their hands on a 4G model, packing faster LTE than previous Sony slates and the option of an additional hardware keyboard.
The keyboard itself (officially named the ‘BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard’ if you’re interested) features comfortable key spacing, nice travel, simple wireless pairing and a magnetised, hinged docking mechanism that even when folded closed retains a decent thickness, primarily thanks to the Z4 Tablet’s already svelte profile. There’s also a trackpad for added accuracy and an on-board battery.
After our brief encounter with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, we’re itching to put Sony’s new star slate through a proper review and we’re still waiting on pricing too, but expect it to appear on store shelves before the end of spring.