Sony adds option to buy Xperia Z Ultra as a Wi-Fi-only 'tablet'

Sporting the same massive 6.4-inch 1080P display, what Sony now calls a tablet is largely unchanged from its smartphone roots.

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Sony's waterproof Xperia Z Ultra smartphone is getting a Wi-Fi-only tablet cousin. CNET

Sony officially has morphed its Xperia Z Ultra smartphone into a tablet.

Sporting a massive 6.4-inch 1080P display, slightly smaller than 7-inch tablets marketed by companies such as Apple and Samsung, the phablet more closely resembles a tablet than smartphone. Apparently aware of the appeal inherent in using the device without paying monthly wireless network fees, Sony announced Wednesday it will launch a Wi-Fi-only version of the Xperia Z Ultra.

If there was any doubt as to Sony's intention, the company referred to the new model as a "tablet" in the press release announcing its availability. But except for the loss of the baseband radio processor that allows cellular calls, the new model appears unchanged from its smartphone specifications, including the same 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 8MP camera in a waterproof metallic frame.

The new Xperia Z Ultra tablet goes on sale in Japan this week for about $499, a bit pricier than similar-size offerings from Amazon, Apple, and Samsung. Availability outside of the US was not announced.

Watch this: Sony Xperia Z Ultra hands-on