Unless you looked closely and knew what to look for it is quite hard to tell the difference between the Sony Xperia Z2 from 2014 and the new Sony Xperia Z4.
Key hardware specifications are shown on screen now In the UK irrespective of whether you opt for the WiFi only or 4G model the Z4 comes with the BKB50 Bluetooth keyboard in the box. Together they work functionally, but aesthetically I do believe there are smarter alternatives, they feel a bit separate,but this is in part as a result of the ability to be optionally disconnected rather than being used as one the whole time. The Z4 is slim from every angle with smooth rounded edges and a reasonably minimal design. Weighing in at 389g the tablet is well balanced in hand, with most weight focused in the centre. Add in the BKB50 keyboard and the weight increases to 754g The tablet slots in with a firm push, there are no clips to lock it into. When you want to remove, just pull the tablet firmly out of the keyboard dock. They do not easily come apart if you shake it, even upside down, we tried! IP65/68 rated the Z4 tablet (not the keyboard) can go swimming in fresh water up to a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. As an extra bit of good news, there are no fiddly covers over the microUSB or headphone jack. At 10.1” the Z4 boasts a super clear 2K resolution display. Using IPS technology the screen has a 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution that equates to a very acceptable 299 pixels per inch. It is in fact 40% brighter than the Z2 tablet. It is sadly a fingerprint magnet. Viewing angles are good and even in bright sunlight the screen was more than readable. Under intense light those marks show up and it can be a bit reflective too, but manageable. With Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, no-one can criticise Sony for being behind the curve here really. Out of the box of the 32GB of memory, around 21-22GB is available but for those who need more memory cloud storage options are available in addition to the microSD memory card expansion slot. Over and above standard Google services and apps such as Chrome, Gmail, Maps, Google+ and Play a few additions you can expect to find from Sony are. Themes for personalisation of the device . PSN & PlayStation – As a certified device you can play PlayStation games on the tablet and even connect a PS4 games controller with Remote Play. Lifelog – Pairs with a wearable from Sony such as the SmartBand or SmartWatch to log your activities be that fitness, calls, web browsing and more to display it in a useful graphic rich way. . TrackID – Find out what that music track playing in the background is easily. FM Radio – Listen to the radio on the go. Headphones required. Smart Connect – An app that automates steps based on actions. I.E Connect a set of headphones and have it automatically launch the music app. AVG Protection – Antivirus app for the tablet to pick up any threats. Polaris Office – Create, edit and share documents. Microsoft Office – The leading office software pre-installed allowing you to create and edit documents and sync with OneDrive online. Movie Creator – Automatically creates movies from photos and videos you have captured. File Commander – Easily access and manage content on the device. Phone/Messaging – The 4G enabled device allows you to make calls, send text messages and use the tablet like a phone. Hold it to your ear if you like, but a Bluetooth headset may be advisable. Built into Android is the ability to have multiple user accounts, great for a family. Facilities such as setting an answer machine on the tablet is handy along with being able to double tap the screen to wake up, change the icons you see in the notification bar, change the white balance and much more. If it was not apparent, adding accounts from Google, to Facebook to corporate exchange email is all really easy and you can be setup within minutes. During my time with it, the processor and RAM seemed to easily handle what we threw at it. Used with more business in mind, dealing with documents (in fact some of this review was written on it), watching the odd video and browsing the web was a pleasure. The keyboard has been engineered for Android and whilst not the best keyboard, I found it quite usable with enough feedback in the keys. When docked in the keyboard, the home screen changes ever so slightly to give almost a Windows esq feel with a menu available on from the bottom left corner with access to all your apps as well as a few shortcuts. Its only fair to expect every connectivity option on the Z4 and they are all available on this flagship tablet. The phone and internet connectivity via the mobile network is optional, but must be decided at time of purchase so you get a functional SIM slot. You can use the tablet without a SIM and it can be easily removed if required. Aside from this the Z4 comes with WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, DLNA, Miracast a 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD slot and microUSB connectivity for charging. This microUSB port also offers USB hosting and video out with an MHL cable or adapter. You can of course too connect up a DUALSHOCK PlayStation controller for remote gaming if you like. Sony claim with the Z4 you will ‘hear it like you’ve never heard it before’. It is a big statement, but to be fair, from a tablet the Z4 packs a real punch in volume and clarity. Using their audio expertise, the Z4 has Digital Sound Enhancement Engine and High-Res Audio. To take real advantage, using hi-res audio files and premium headphones engineered for hi-res audio help get the best experience. But even a basic mp3 does not sound half bad, especially when Clear Audio+ is switched on, you notice how the sound is enhanced. There is lots of other technology built in. The majority is software based, but all assist in configuring an enjoyable audio experience. When it comes to capturing images, I find the camera on the Z4 to be a little too far over to the edge of the device and could be inset a little more. The Z4 tablet does have a couple of fairly decent cameras and most work has gone into the front facing one, which has been beefed up to 5 megapixels with a 25mm aperture. The results from both front and rear camera are good and better than I had expected. There are countless modes and settings with Sony camera’s. From the basic point and shoot camera mode that is named ‘Superior Auto’ through to full manual and creative effect modes. Many more can be downloaded if you choose. There is no flash so night time recording and capture is pretty much out of the question unless a well lit environment. Post capture there are lots of editing options too, from tags, to location to creative effects and that is all before you pull it into apps such as Instagram. 6,000mAh may not sound like the biggest battery, but when it is stuck inside something only 6.1mm thick and capable of up to 17 hours of HD video playback it’s an impressive feat. Over the couple of weeks I had this on test the tablet was easily lasting 3+ days with a couple of hours usage each day and the size of it makes it very attractive as a business tool. I particularly like the fact it is practically sized but not too big it looks rude on a desk. Sony’s STAMINA is a tried and tested piece of software. I use it regularly when on long days away from power and the difference it makes is noticeable. When in this mode you lose an element of that ‘always-on’ feeling but the sacrifices are not that great. At the time of recording, the WiFi only Z4 Tablet retails at £499 inclusive of VAT whilst the 4G variant is £579 inclusive. By no means cheap, but equivalent to the competition. Do also remember that this includes the keyboard which has a recommended retail price of £149 from Sony, thus making the price a little more justified. There is little not to like about the Z4, it is a polished bit of kit. Several generations of phone and tablet has allowed Sony to create a refined product that looks at home on a CEO’s desk or by the side of the pool. If you need a reliable and productive tool the Sony Xperia Z4 tablet offers just this. Use it for 24 months and at less than £25 per month you could consider this somewhat of a bargain really.