While there are quite a few good Android tablets around, many of them lean towards the budget-friendly, and therefore, mid-range side of things. As good as some of these devices may be, it’s been some time since we’ve gotten our hands on a truly compelling Android tablet. Sony is attempting to change all that with their latest high-end tablet offering, the Xperia Z4 Tablet. This device certainly seems to check all the right boxes on paper, but does it manage to meet, or even go beyond, our expectations? We find out, in this comprehensive Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review!
One of the highlights of the high-end Sony tablet line has always been how sleek and light these devices are, and that is something that continues with the latest addition to the series. With a thickness of just 6.1 mm and weighing 393 grams, the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is an absolute pleasure to hold, and you almost forget that this is actually a rather large device. While featuring a plastic construction, the build quality certainly doesn’t feel cheap, and the textured matte finish of the back panel allows for plenty of grip as well.
The rectangular shape, silver trim, and somewhat angular design, with signature elements like the large silver power button, are all very true to Sony, but its overall simplicity can understandably be mistaken as being bland, rather than elegant. The bezels up front may also not be the most aesthetically pleasing design element, giving the tablet the look of a picture frame when looking at it head on. It does serve a purpose functionally though, as the large bezels make for great resting points for your thumbs when holding on to the device.
When holding the device in the landscape orientation, the power button and volume rocker are found on the left side within easy reach. This placement that makes complete sense, given that a large tablet such as this is primary designed for use in this manner, and it is actually quite surprising that not a lot of tablet manufacturers do this when it comes to their large tablet offerings.
The remaining ports are in their typical positions, with the microUSB port on the right, the headphone jack up top, next to a large plastic flap that covers the microSD card slot and the SIM card slot, of course, with the latter available with the 4G LTE-enabled version of the device. Up front are the usual sensors, a front-facing camera, and a multi-colored notification LED, but of note is the dual front-facing speaker setup, denoted by tiny slits that are very inconspicuous to maintain the simplistic elegance of the Xperia Z4 Tablet.
The display of the Xperia Z4 Tablet is one of the main attractions of the device, with the 10.1-inch IPS LCD screen (2560 x 1600 and a pixel density of 299 ppi) being an extremely sharp display that provides everything you’d expect from a device of this caliber. The display is bright, vivid, with great viewing angles, and good color saturation, allowing for a fantastic experience regardless of what you are using the display for, be it web browsing, reading, keeping up with social networks, gaming, or watching videos.
Given that this is a Sony device, you can also take advantage of Sony’s X-Reality engine for clearer, sharper, and more natural images, and there is also a Vivid mode that really increases the saturation for a more vibrant image with photos and video. More granular controls are also available, allowing users to make adjustments to the white balance, but it has to be mentioned that the default white balance and color temperature are already quite accurate, so you likely won’t have to make a lot of changes in this regard.
Under the hood, the Xperia Z4 Tablet packs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, clocked at 2 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 430 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. This processing package, despite some well-documented issues, is still one of the best out there, and that is easily seen when it comes to the performance of this tablet. The overall experience has been very fluid, with hardly any instances of lag or stutters. Opening, closing, and switching apps, multi-tasking, and navigating around the various elements of the UI have all been extremely smooth, and gaming on the Xperia Z4 Tablet is of no concern either.
Of course, the big question that will be on everyone’s mind is with regards to the known overheating issues that come up with the Snapdragon 810, but fortunately, this problem hasn’t come up with this device thus far. Given that tasks that usually generate a lot of heat, such as gaming and watching videos for a while, is what this tablet was primarily used for, the Xperia Z4 Tablet has done surprisingly well with keeping its cool.
The Sony Xperia Z4 comes with 32 GB of on-board storage, which is further expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB, and comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, including the availability of a 4G LTE-enabled version. Everything is kept protected from the elements as well, courtesy of its IP68 rating from dust and water resistance, which means that the device can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for as long as 30 minutes without a negative impact on performance and usability.
There is also a big emphasis on audio with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, with device featuring built-in Hi-Res audio support for reduced distortion digital noise cancelling technology, that is capable of reducing exterior noise by up to 98%, when paired with DNC headphones. The Xperia Z4 Tablet can also optimize audio specifically for your ears, no matter what pair of headphones or earbuds you use, and all of this does make for a fantastic audio experience. The audio enhancements are applied automatically, but you do have the option to play around with the manual equalizer controls and surround sound effects to cater the listening experience exactly to your liking.
The great audio features continue with the dual front-facing speakers that the Xperia Z4 Tablet rocks. While you aren’t able to take advantage of any of Sony’s audio enhancements through these speakers, the quality even without it is still quite good, and significantly adds to the media-consumption experience. The speakers get loud, and everything remains crisp and clear throughout, with no signs of distortion even at the highest volume. This is easily one of the best speaker setups you can get a tablet right now, and this is one aspect where Sony, with its Xperia Z4 Tablet, is far ahead of the competition.
The Xperia Z4 Tablet features a large 6,000 mAh battery that has allowed for some quite impressive battery life. Using the tablet primarily for playing games and watching videos, the tablet still managed up to 6 hours of screen-on time in the 24 or 30 hours since being taken off the charger. The usage is significantly heavy in this case of course, and more casual use will provide a drastic increase in these numbers, so battery life is another area which should be of no concern to users.
Cameras have historically never been a standout feature of a tablet, and have always sort of felt like an afterthought, especially when compared to the cameras available with smartphones. The Xperia Z4 Tablet doesn’t do much to change the status quo, but does pack a decent camera package, with its 8 MP rear camera, and a 5 MP front-facing shooter.
The camera software is as you would expect from Sony, with its minimalist and user-friendly interface. Apart from standard modes like Superior Auto and Manual, there is also a bunch of novelty shooting modes included, like face in picture, sweep panorama, multi-camera, and AR effect. The usefulness of some of these modes is questionable, but they can be a lot of fun if you do choose to use them.
The picture quality, however, is exactly what you would expect from a tablet camera. Some decent shots are possible, and this camera should do fine in a pinch, but you’re in for some disappointment if you’re hoping to be able to replace your primary mobile photography device, be it a point and shoot camera or your smartphone. Lighting conditions play a big role in this case, with the best shots possible in well-lit environments, and with the level noise and loss of detail increasing as the lighting situation worsens.
On the software side of things, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with Sony’s Xperia UI on top, which remains one of the best Android skins out there. While there are some noticeable differences from stock Android, such as the color scheme and the customizable application drawer, a lot of Material Design elements are intact, and together makes for a smooth and snappy software experience.
Many of Sony’s staple software add-ons are available here as well, such as Small Apps that allows for easier multi-tasking, and is a lot more useful on the large screen of a tablet with the additional real estate available, rather than on a much smaller smartphone. The Lifelog application is also included, which is great not only for tracking your fitness data, but also your general overall lifestyle, to see how much time you’ve dedicated to certain activities, like sleeping or listening to music, throughout your daily routine.
Like many other Sony mobile product, the Xperia Z4 Tablet also comes with PlayStation integration, allowing users to remotely play PS4 games directly on the tablet. This is definitely a huge selling point for PS4 owners, and is something that is very unique to Sony, which gives this device a huge leg up in the gaming department when compared to other tablets.
10.1-inch IPS LCD display
2560 x 1600 resolution, 299 ppi
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS + GLONASS
microUSB 2.0 (MHL 3.0 TV output)
Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
254 x 167 x 6.1 mm
389 grams (Wi-Fi only)
393 grams (LTE)
Pricing and Final Thoughts
The official availability of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet in the US is yet to be announced, but the device is available via Amazon, with the price points currently at $699 for the Wi-Fi-only version, $729 for the 4G LTE version, along with another option that comes with an included Bluetooth keyboard, priced at $759, but keep in mind that these prices do tend to fluctuate.
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet! Sony manages to once again tick off all the important boxes, with the device featuring a large beautiful display, thin and light design, fast performance, excellent software experience, Hi-Res audio, and PlayStation integration. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect product, but Sony does come close with the Xperia Z4 Tablet. As mentioned, it has been a while since we’ve seen a truly compelling Android tablet in the market, but this device manages to go even beyond our expectations, which is very exciting. Granted, the price is towards the higher-end of the spectrum, but the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is certainly worth it.