Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review – finally a worthy successor to the Xperia Z2 Tablet
While Sony skipped the Xperia Z3 Tablet and introduced Xperia Z3 Compact Tablet instead, the company finally released a successor to the Xperia Z2 Tablet. This time, however, unlike the smartphone lineup, the company has made a successor that really makes the difference between the two generations. In every way, the device is “better” and “more” than the Xperia Z2 Tablet. It’s thinner, it’s lighter, it’s more powerful, but the real question remains – does it have what it takes to stay ahead of its competitors and make a profit in a plummeting tablet market.
Surely the Xperia Z4 Tablet cannot be missed when looking for a new high-end tablet. It has all the great specs that a flagship device can offer – from premium design and excellent build quality to beastly Snapdragon 810 SoC. Speaking of which, we are really curious what temperatures will the back of the tablet reach. Our interest on the matter grew larger after we saw every other Snapdragon 810 smartphone going hotter than usual. We hope that the form factor will affect the heat in a good way, but we will know for sure our review below.
Xperia Z4 Tablet comes in a modest white box containing the usual user manuals, USB cable, AC adapter and the tablet itself.
Design and construction
The devices from the Sony Xperia Z lineup have been offering roughly the same design language for years with small changes making them sometimes hard to distinguish from one another. This, however, doesn’t mean that the build quality and sleek appearance have changed over the generations. The Xperia Z Tablet lineup, on the other hand, keeps the same design language but takes a sharp turn when it comes to the materials used.
Starting with the back of the device we see that the company is sticking to the matte plastic that we saw in the Xperia Z2 Tablet. Sony has made the right decision in replacing the glass back panel with a soft-touch matte plastic one due to several reasons. One, for sure, is the more firm grip that the material provides on the contrary to the glass. The second one is the “fingerprint magnet” problem. The matte plastic back still attracts some nasty smudges that are difficult to clean but not as much as the glass panel. Also, polycarbonate can take a lot more beating than glass which would be a major issue when managing a big device. A big device is always harder to handle compared to a small smartphone. Nonetheless, the back accommodates only the 8.1MP camera and Sony Xperia logos.
Going around the front we see a noticeable change – the bezels. They have been trimmed a bit from the last generation – 12 mm less for the long and 5 mm on the short side. While it doesn’t sound a lot, in reality the change is significant. It’s important to note that hold the sides of the tablet with one thumb is not a problem or at least for most. Users with bigger thumbs might touch the screen sometimes when holding the device in portrait mode. Furthermore, the usual 5.1MP front-facing camera and ambient light sensor are at hand. Curious thing about the stereo loudspeakers, though. They are placed on the sides, but slightly lower (not in the center) and our guess is that such placement is preferable as you can easily muffle them while holding the device if they are centered.
And here is the show stealer – the ridiculously thin profile measuring 6.1 mm which is comparable to the iPad Air 2 (that also stops at 6.1 mm). The sides are again matte plastic but feel hard to touch compared to the back panel. Moreover, the edges are not sharp like last generation and obviously feature a different material. Sony claims that the improved OmniBalance design of the new Xperia devices prevents serious damage on the corners after a big drop. The left side features the power button and volume rocker placed appropriately for your thumb while the right side contains the micro USB port. The top holds the 3.5 mm jack near the left corner and a small cap keeps the micro SD card and SIM card slot dry and clean from water and dust as the device is IP68 certified. This is a great advantage over its rivals.
All and all we are again satisfied from the design and build quality of the device. This is what we expect from a high-end tablet with a few bonuses like being extremely thin (6.1 mm) and light (389g). We can also easily say that this is the most lightweight and most portable device on the market up to date. It keeps the 10.1-inch screen while being significantly smaller than other 10.1-inch tablets. In addition, the IP68 certificate for water and dust resistance make the Xperia Z4 Tablet even more lucrative. There’s nothing to add or complain about the device, to be honest, leaving us with nothing to be desired.
Display and sound
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet’s display features multi-touch IPS panel with QHD (2560×1600) resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) and 10.1-inch diagonal. Thus, the display has 299 PPI density and pixel pitch of 0.85 x 0.85 mm. The screen can be considered “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 30 cm.
No image distortion when viewed from 45-degree angle.
The maximum recorded brightness is 493 cd/m2 with color temperature 10500K – cold daylight type while the optimal one is 6500K(D65). The contrast ratio is 1000:1. However, these tests were performed without the “Image enhancement” option. You can tune your display with custom presets for color temperature. We made one of our own with the help from a color meter and our goal was optimal color temperature (6500K).
To put things into perspective, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. Starting with the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that has been used by millions of people in HDTV and the Web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used by professional cameras, monitors and etc. used for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy.
The yellow triangle represents the area which Xperia Z4 Tablet’s display covers. In our case, it’s 99% of the sRGB and 82% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. But at the same time the triangle is a little distorted and it covers more than 130% of the sRGB, but in practice the actual percentage is 99. This means that some colors may feel a bit unreal.
The image below is practically the same but with the recorded results – the one on the left before calibration and the one on the right after. Color circles represent the reference colors and white circles being the result. You can see mainly additional colors with 100% and 50% saturation inside the sRGB gamut.
With the help of 24 commonly used colors we checked the color accuracy of the panel. Colors that we used represent skin tone, grass, blue sky, orange and etc. The average DeltaE 2000=2.47. Lower score is desirable.
The gamma curve illustrates well-distributed levels of brightness.
Pulse-width modulation (Screen flickering, PWM)
All in all, the Xperia Z4 Tablet’s display did well in this test. Screen flickering occurs only from 67% and below or in other words below 140 cd/m2.
Gaming capabilites (Response time)
We recorded the refresh time of the pixels from black to white and white to black for 10 to 90%. So we were able to measure Fall Time + Rise Time = 18.1 ms
The tablet’s display delivers more than you’d hope for except for some small details. We are talking about excellent maximum brightness, high contrast ratio, high resolution. Nonetheless, the maximum brightness affects the white balance so you should choose one of them. In addition, the panel appears to have PWM, but with normal usage user’s won’t feel the pulsating light, that’s around 9.5 kHz. Overall, it’s user-friendly.
The stereo loudspeakers do their job delivering clear and vibrant sound at high, low and mid-range frequencies.
|Operating system||Android 5.0 (Lollipop) + Xperia UI|
|CPU||Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 (8-core, 4x 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57)|
|Storage||32GB flash memory + microSD card up to 128GB|
|Display||10.1-inch Triluminos IPS LCD with QHD resolution (2560×1600)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, LE, NFC|
|Cameras||8.1MP main camera with outofocus + 5.1MP front-facing|
|Dimensions (W/H/D)||254 x 167 x 6.1 mm (10.0 x 6.57 x 0.24 inches)|
|Weight||393 g (13.86 oz)|
Xperia Z4 Tablet runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with Xperia UX overhaul out of the box with good integration of the Material Design signature from the latest mobile OS from Google. However, if you are familiar with the Xperia UI, you will get easily adapt. The same features from previous generation Xperia Z tablets and phones are present in this one as well. We already talked about the option of tuning the device’s display with custom presets for color temperature and white balance.
Another feature worth mentioning, though, is the battery saving feature we are already familiar with. STAMINA mode and other custom modes will keep the device running for longer periods of time.
Battery capacity remains the same from last generation – 6000 mAh with trimming down the profile to 6.1 mm. This is a rather nice upgrade to the Xperia Z4 Tablet, but how will that affect real-life performance? The SoC should be more energy-efficient, but the display will surely drain more battery life. In comparison, the Xperia Z2 Tablet featured Full HD (1920×1200) panel while the Xperia Z4 Tablet has a lot more pixels to run – QHD (2560×1600). We hope that our battery tests will indicate better if not the same battery life as we saw in the previous generation.
Web surfing – Wi-Fi
We run our Web surfing test with a custom-made script, which browses through 70 popular web pages.
For this test we use a looping 720p movie.
In order to simulate 3D gaming, we use Epic Citadel cycles at High Quality setting.
The tablet is equipped with top-tier SoC from Qualcomm that we already saw in several other flagship smartphones – the Snapdragon 810. The CPU features 8 cores with 4 of them being energy-efficient with lower base clock and 4 additional that are used for more demanding applications. Furthermore, the chip integrates LITTLE.big architecture with 4x Cortex-A53 ticking at 1.5 GHz and 4x Cortex-A57 working at 2.0 GHz. The GPU inside the SoC, of course, is the Adreno 430 and the operating memory is 3GB for fluent multitasking. As we expected, from a user’s standpoint the CPU performs blazingly fast without any hangs, lags or delays. However, we ran the usual benchmark tests and compared the performance of the SoC to other top-tier models from other brands as well as last year’s Xperia Z2 Tablet.
Despite the device being a tablet, Sony still likes to put a strong emphasis on the camera department. The sensor used here is a 8MP one with basically most of the options and modes that are available on the Xperia Z smartphone series.
We measure the resolution of the camera with the ISO 12233 table you can see below and the results are recorded in lph (lines per high).
Xperia Z4’s resolution goes up to 1850 lph with this result being comparable to other normal 8MP smartphones, but for a tablet – the result is excellent.
Using our test composition, we can gain a subjective but fairly accurate view of the resolution, sharpness, color noise and chromatic aberrations.
You can easily read the text and the traces from the JPG compression are negligible.
Low-light parts of the image are well-processed with low amount of noise.
No chromatic aberration.
Colors appear to be fairly accurate.
Our score is 6.6/10.
You can see the results on the color map below.
The tablet is capable of recording 1080p video at 30 fps.
Xperia Z4 Tablet’s camera again lives up to our expectations and handles low-light scenes fairly well with overall good color reproduction and low noise. Well at least for a tablet, but it’s good to know that Sony keeps strong emphasis on the camera. On the other hand, a simple LED flash would have been appreciated.
This tablet is a worthy successor to last year’s Xperia Z2 Tablet. We are again happy with the build quality and design – thin bezels, thin profile, good grip, large screen. On top of that, it’s water-resistant with IP68 certification. We are also presented with brilliant screen delivering superb image quality with almost nothing left to be desired. We are referring to the PWM (screen flickering) until 67% screen brightness and inaccurate color temperature.
Carrying these beastly specs like Snapdragon 810 and 3GB of RAM don’t come at a price like overheating, though. This is really important to consider, because other Snapdragon 810 devices are having overheating issues. Luckily, this does not apply in our case. Along with that, we are delighted with the camera quality as well, but the same cannot be said about the battery life. This will remain the main issue of this model and drags way behind its predecessor Xperia Z2 Tablet. And judging by the specs and result difference, can conclude that the QHD screen isn’t the main hardware draining the battery. Snapdragon 810 doesn’t appear to be energy-efficient as Qualcomm claims.
- Great design and build quality
- Super screen quality
- Excellent sound
- Water and dust resistant
- Camera quality is way above average for a tablet
- Doesn’t have the overheating issue other Snapdragon 810 devices have
- PWM below 67% screen brightness
- Mediocre battery life