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Hands on: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Can a tablet be too light? Sony's featherweight Xperia Z4 almost made us wonder

Sony’s premium Xperia Z4 Tablet is quite simply the best large Android tablet on the market.

The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is sublimely slim, ferociously fast, and offers a cutting edge Android 5.0 Lollipop experience. As an entertainment device, the large screen and enhanced sound make it ideal, and there’s a keyboard attachment for the business crowd. It’s also waterproof, and it has great battery life. This is as close as you get to an iPad on Android.

Hands on video

Sony’s classic industrial design has been polished in the last few iterations of the Xperia line. The hard edges are rounded, but the premium materials remain. The first thing that strikes you about the Xperia Z4 Tablet is just how thin and light it is. At 6.1mm, it can go toe to toe with Apple’s iPad Air 2, but it’s significantly lighter at 389 grams; the iPad Air 2 is 437 grams.

Picking it up one-handed doesn’t represent a challenge, and the light weight is going to make it good for reading, gaming, and watching movies on. But you could almost argue it’s too light. I wouldn’t like to try, but it feels as though you could bend it in half if you took the notion.

The Z4 runs the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop, and Sony exercises a light touch with its user interface. It has also mercifully avoided overloading the tablet with apps. Navigation is smooth, and the 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 64-bit octa-core processor backed by 3GB of RAM clearly offers enough raw power.

Sony’s classic industrial design has been polished in the last few iterations of the Xperia line.

Sony really wants to sell this as an entertainment device, and to that end you’ll find a 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. It looks great, but it’s difficult to get a sense of how it will perform outdoors, or in the confines of a quiet, dark room when you’re holding it in the bright booth environment of MWC.

There are all sorts of proprietary sound enhancements designed to boost the audio quality of any source and cut out superfluous noise. You’re not going to want to listen to music on it without headphones, but it’s easily good enough for a movie.

Sony is also hoping to court the business audience. It has been working on app partnerships and security, so Microsoft Office for Android is pre-installed, and there’s also a keyboard attachment. Fueling the quality of the experience for business or pleasure is the whopping 6,000mAh battery, which Sony promises will deliver 17 hours of video playback. There’s no scrimping on the storage either. You’ll find 32GB on board, 27GB free out of the box, and there’s a microSD card slot that can take cards up to 128GB in size.

One area Sony hasn’t really improved is the main camera, which is 8.1 megapixels, but the front-facing camera has been bumped up to 5.1 megapixels and it has a wide-angle lens for group selfies. There are all sorts of augmented-reality effects that let you, for example, swap faces or find out how you would look as a cat. It’s undeniably gimmicky, but it can be fun.

Thankfully Sony has retained the waterproofing with an IP65 and IP68 rating. It’s a unique selling point for this tablet, and it’s great if you like to lounge in the bath with something to watch.

As usual, there’s a Wi-Fi-only or an LTE version, but Sony hasn’t released pricing just yet. It would be safe to assume this won’t be cheap.

Conclusion

The Xperia Z4 Tablet could be the best large Android tablet on the market, but that’s partly because it really doesn’t have a lot of strong competition. We’ll bring you a more in-depth look when we get a review unit in.

Highs

  • Super svelte
  • Lightning fast
  • Long battery life
  • Waterproof

Lows

  • Too light