Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review - lighter than Air
Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Screen size: 10.1in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,600, Rear camera: 8.1-megapixels, Storage: 32GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 254x167x6.1mm, Weight: 389g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2
Just when you thought tablets couldn't get any more desirable than the iPad Air 2, Sony goes and announces the Xperia Z4 Tablet, the world's thinnest, lightest 10in Android tablet. Tipping the scales at just 389g, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is a real featherweight, beating Apple's iPad Air 2 by 48g (or 44g if you opt for the 393g LTE model). It's just as slim, too, measuring a mere 6.1mm thick, making it one of the most comfortable-to-hold big-screen tablets we've encountered.
Available in both black and white, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is a truly stunning piece of kit. The tablet's soft, textured chassis feels just as luxurious as those of its metallic rivals, and its reinforced nylon corners (to help prevent drop damage) fit snugly in your palm. It's also rated as IP65/68 water and dust-proof, so you'll be able to submerge it in a metre of water for up to thirty minutes without doing any harm.
^ The Xperia Z4 Tablet is as thin as an iPad Air 2, but weighs 45g less, making it the world's lightest 10in tablet
Even better, Sony's new capless USB port is now also water-resistant, so you won't need to worry about sealing it off with a fiddly plastic flap before you take it in the bath, for example. This is a long-overdue addition in our eyes, as we always found the waterproofing flaps tended to detract from the overall design and premium feel of previous Z tablets. There's still a flap covering the microSD card slot (and SIM card if you go for the 4G model), but at least you no longer need to dig in your fingernails into the frame every time you want to charge the tablet.
The real highlight of the Xperia Z4 Tablet, though, is its 10.1in screen with its massive 2,560x1,600 resolution. This gives the Xperia Z4 Tablet a pixel density of 299 pixels per inch, which surpasses the pixel densities of both the iPad Air 2 (264ppi) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (265ppi) by quite a large margin, so everything from your films and photos should look razor-sharp on its 16:10 display. It's a gorgeous-looking IPS panel that delivers bright, rich and vibrant colours.
^ Waterproofing makes a welcome return on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, but now you never have to worry about sealing off the USB port again thanks to its capless USB port
Sony's so confident about the quality of its display that it says it should hit 130% of the sRGB colour gamut. Our test results were quite that high, but our score of 98.3% is still the best score we've seen from an LCD display. The only screens that provide even richer colours are Samsung's Galaxy Super AMOLED panels, as found on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and S 10.5.
However, on a subjective level, we think the Xperia Z4 Tablet has the superior display, as images on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 had a noticeable orange colour cast when we compared them side by side with the Z4. Sony's display is also brighter, with a massive 463.01cd/m2 maximum brightness, which really helps colours pop out of the screen and helps deliver more balanced, natural-looking images. Whites are also very clean, and the screen's contrast level of 1,007:1 led to plenty of detail.
However, the screen's high brightness levels did have a tendency to make blacks look a little grey, and this was backed up with a less impressive 0.45cd/m2 black level. Still, on balance this is still the best tablet display we've seen, and we much prefer it to both the iPad Air 2 and Galaxy Tab S 10.5's screens.
Unfortunately, as our review sample was an early production model, we weren't able to run any of our normal performance benchmarks on the Z4 Tablet at the time of going to press. However, its octa-core 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor is the same chipset that you'll find in most flagship smartphones this year such as the HTC One M9, so it certainly won't be lacking for speed. For instance, Android 5.0 Lollipop felt lightning-fast as we swiped through its various home and menu screens, and apps loaded in an instant.
Luckily, we were able to run our BrowserMark and BaseMark X 1.1 benchmarks to assess its web browsing and graphics performance. In BrowserMark, the tablet scored a huge 2,044, which is just behind the Google Nexus 9. In practice, though, we could barely tell the difference when scrolling up and down web pages, as both tablets felt equally smooth and responsive.
Google's tablet was also ahead in our BaseMark X 1.1 tests, but the Xperia Z4 Tablet's score of 32,659 (which averaged out as 34fps in the Dunes test and 35.8fps in the Hangar test) is still pretty impressive considering the GPU inside the Nexus 9's Nvidia Tegra K1 processor is arguably the most advanced mobile chip currently available. Otherwise, the next tablet that even comes close to matching the Z4 Tablet's gaming performance is the iPad Air 2, which only scored 26,285 overall in the same test.
As with the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, the Z4 supports PS4 Remote Play, allowing you to use your Z4 as a portable display for playing PS4 games if someone else wants to use the TV. You'll need to make sure both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, but it effectively transforms your PS4 into a portable console inside your home, which will no doubt prove a very attractive feature for PS4 owners.
The Z4 Tablet is more flexible than the iPad Air 2, as it has 32GB of onboard storage (of which 20GB is available to the user) and a microSD card slot to expand it further up to 128GB.
Crammed inside the Z4's tiny chassis is a huge 6,000mAh battery. Sony says this should last for up to 17 hours of video playback when using its Stamina energy saving profile, but even with this disabled, we managed an astonishing 19h 48m with the screen set to our standard 170cd/m2 brightness. This is incredible for such a slim tablet, and it's by far and away the best battery score we've ever seen from any tablet, regardless of size, making it the ultimate companion for work and play alike.