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Sony tries pure Android on Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition

Sony is the latest smartphone maker to get the pure Android treatment, with the Xperia Z Ultra phablet available in the US Google Play store with Android 4.4 KitKat.

Sony is the latest smartphone maker to get the pure Android treatment, with the Xperia Z Ultra phablet available in the US Google Play store with Android 4.4 KitKat.

(Credit: Sony)

Sony's Xperia Z Ultra is the third handset in recent months to get the Google Play Edition treatment. Joining the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Z Ultra Google Play Edition loses the Xperia moniker in its transition to running the unadulterated Android 4.4 firmware.

Android 4.4 KitKat brings performance improvements and new features to any smartphone that uses it. More importantly, though, a pure version of Android means the Z Ultra Google Play Edition will receive future updates, like the future Android 4.5 or 5.0 firmware, soon after it's released, alongside Google's Nexus family, instead of waiting for weeks or months for manufacturers like Sony to integrate their own software and test its compatibility.

The Z Ultra will be by far the largest mobile phone to be available with a pure version of Android; at 6.44 inches, it has nearly as much screen real estate as the Nexus 7 tablet. It's also the most powerful Google Play Edition yet, with a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor running at 2.2GHz and 2GB of RAM. It only has 16GB of internal storage, but an external microSDXC slot means that a high-capacity microSD card can be installed as well. It's also one of few phones on the market to support the high-speed 802.11AC Wi-Fi standard.

The Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition isn't available from the Australian Google Play store yet, and it's unlikely it ever will be; previous Google Play Edition handsets have only been sold in limited numbers through Google's US store. If you're especially keen on it, the device is available for US$649.