The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is a great device, there is no question about that. Hardware wise, it is basically a giant Nexus 5, and the GPe edition gets even closer to that description. However, as good of a device as it, it has many limitations and lacks on several aspects. For instance, despite it being part of a line of devices that is blessed with a decent CMOS camera sensor and a good flash, the device has neither. It is also very hard to get decent cases for it.
In order to solve the issue about the camera, towards the end of last year, Sony released the QX series of compact lenses. The QX10 and QX100 are NFC enabled mini-cameras basically attach to NFC capable cell phones and allow these to use it as a main source for snapping pictures. The QX cameras use higher quality optics as well as better sensors that enable the devices, such as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra to actually take decent pictures. Sony released a set of cases that hold the lenses in place for several devices, such as the Z and the Z1, but nothing for the Z Ultra. Since XDA Forum Member Style68 wanted to be able to have one, he went ahead and made it on his own.
The custom case is actually a Frankenstein-style mod, which basically is the combination of two different cases combined into one. First, you need a camera case for the Sony Xperia Z1 and you have to cut the sides of it with a knife, leaving only the back part of it. Then, you need a case hard cover for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Finally, using some super glue simply fuse them together and boom: custom made case! The process is simple and both of these cases are quite cheap on places like Amazon and eBay.
It is worth noting that Sony did release an actual case for this particular purpose, but it wasn’t until several months later, likely due to customer feedback. In either case, if you have one of these and feel like giving it a shot, this is a nice and cheap mod to try yourself. The beauty of it is that if you have a non Sony device, you could still do this mod and make a custom case for other devices as well. Happy modding! You can find more information in the original case mod thread.
We have several flavors of AOSP-based Android builds here on XDA-Developers, and each one of them brings something new to the table. It could be the originality of CyanogenMod that floats your boat, or maybe some of the advanced control features in Paranoid Android. Whatever your motivation to sail through the sea of custom ROMs on XDA, there is one thing that we are certain of, and that is that your ORD always wants more. But wanting more can sometimes make you feel a little like little Oliver Twist asking for more gruel at the orphanage–particularly if your device is not exactly the center of the developers’ universe. This is the case for Sony’s phablet, the Sony
Xperia Ultra GPe (Google Play Edition). Because of the lack of attraction to the masses, a somewhat high initial price tag, and its pure AOSP (plus gapps, of course), the Z Ultra GPe never really did see a whole lot of developer love.
There are a few unofficial builds out there for ROMs like Carbon and Slimkat, but that is it or rather I should probably say that was it. As of yesterday, XDA Senior Member Jiangyi has managed to successfully bring another contender to the AOSP scene for this device. OmniROM for this particular device is on KitKat 4.4.4, and it is an unofficial build until deemed stable enough to become “official.” Despite this, you can find all the support and relevant information, which you have come to expect from the team, which that has made this project grow since its birth last year.
The build itself is bound to have issues, particularly as the later versions of KitKat (4.4.3 and up) have been plagued with bugs due to the unlocking of the bootloader’s effect on parts of the device’s hardware, such as the camera (Sony Xperia Z1 owners might be able to tell a few stories here). Now, why would functionality of a GPe device be limited when the bootloader is unlocked… Well, that is anyone’s guess at this point. In any case, if you are feeling anxious to flash something (anything) onto your Sony Z Ultra GPe, now is your chance.
You can find more information in the original thread. If you are curious about the bugs, Jiangyi has provided a link to the official bug tracker. Please feel free to leave your feedback in the thread. Happy flashing!
June 27, 2014 By: egzthunder1
With the unveiling and release of Android L Developer Preview, Android 4.4.4 doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. While many people are quick to speculate about their carrier/OEM’s course of action with this latest variant of KitKat, many OEMs will undoubtedly skip this version altogether and go straight for L once it’s released in late Fall or early Winter.
Those eagerly waiting 4.4.4 will likely be happy to know that this OTA started rolling out on various devices earlier today–namely the Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact, and Z Ultra. It also made its way to the LG G Pad 8.3 GPe. Now, one more GPe device makes it to 4.4.4, and that’s the Sony Z Ultra Google Play edition.
As expected from the rather short list of changes in Android 4.4.4, the update comes in at a paltry 2.9 MB. But don’t let the small size fool you, as this update actually fixes some features broken by the device’s 4.4.3 update. For those who aren’t aware, the 4.4.3 update earlier this month had a nasty side effect of rendering the camera useless. This was an issue present on a deep level, as it affected functionality regardless of camera app. Now, there are reports from various users stating that the camera is indeed fixed with this update.
If you were holding off on upgrading your Z Ultra GPe, now is a good chance to do give it a try. You can find more information in the original thread. The update itself has not yet been captured and mirrored, but it’s only a matter of time once more users receive it.
June 3, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Today will undoubtedly be remembered the day of Android 4.4.3–at least among us die hard Android fans. Immediately following yesterday’s official release, we’ve seen quite a bit of Android 4.4.3-related activity. Early this morning, we saw the Android 4.4.3 OTA make its way over to the WiFi-only variant of the Google Nexus 7 (2013). Just a few hours later, we talked about all of the changes made in 4.4.3. Not too long after, Motorola began updating its “Moto” devices to 4.4.3. And finally, Google began rolling out the 4.4.3 incremental OTA to the flagship Nexus 5.
Now, we’ve just gotten word that Android 4.4.3 has started making its way out to various Google Play edition devices. The first to receive the updates are the Google Play editions of the HTC One M7, HTC One M8 (2014), Galaxy S 4, and Sony Z Ultra. For those keeping track, we’re still waiting for updates on the GPe variants of the LG G Pad 8.3 and Moto G. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if these updates surface rather quickly–especially the update for the G, in light of Motorola’s announcement earlier.
Naturally, these updates will make their way out to consumer devices via staged OTA rollouts. As such, not every device will be in the initial wave. However, XDA Recognized Contributor / “Resident Archivist-in-Chief” oldblue910 has an utterly fantastic series of stock OTA reference threads for all current GPe and Nexus devices.
Finally, HTC has gone ahead and published the GPL-mandated kernel source code for the two HTC GPe updates above.
Let’s not act too surprised at the expedient release of these updates. After all, due to the lack of OEM customizations and direct updates from Google, this is to be expected. That said, today’s a very good day for GPe device owners.
PS. Don’t forget to show your appreciation to oldblue910 for taking the time to maintain these OTA reference threads by clicking “thanks” on his thread OPs if you haven’t already!
April 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that a few days ago, Sprint jumped the gun a little bit in stating that Android 4.4.3 would be rolling out for the Google Nexus 5 in waves, starting on April 14th. Well, the 14th has come and gone, and the Nexus 5 is still without 4.4.3. And in fact, Sprint even removed mention of KTU84F from their support page recently.
Despite the temporary delay, we’re still quite confident that we will see this maintenance update’s eventual release in the relatively near future. And as if the mystery build sightings and Sprint’s support page weren’t enough, we’ve now gotten word that the Google Play edition of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra has received Bluetooth certification for its Android 4.4.3 update. The Android build number is KTU72, and the device-specific software version number is S1.3013.
Given Sprint’s retraction, as well as sightings on various Nexus and GPe devices, it’s highly likely that Google is holding off on rolling out the update until all devices in the current Nexus and GPe lineup are ready for the 4.4.3 goods. What are your thoughts, and what bug fixes are you hoping for most in this release? Let us know in the comments below!
March 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Yesterday morning, we talked about how Sony had finally begun updating its current generation flagships to Android 4.4.2. But while an official KitKat release is great news, not everyone was lucky enough to receive the update.
As stated by Sony, update availability depends both on region and carrier. And since these rollouts come in stages, not everyone even in those regions that have already received the update will be included in the initial wave. Luckily, the community has stepped up to bring the update to any Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z1 Compact device owner looking to update before his or her time.
The FTF files for the Xperia Z1 Compact comes courtesy of XDA Senior Members Jozinek, Darkimmortal, and louis0815. And so far, the extracted firmwares are available for unbranded Czech, unbranded UK, and unbranded German devices.
The goods are also available for the Xperia Z1, with many more regional variants being extracted and mirrored. These are available for commercial/journalist (Bin4ry), unbranded India (DooMLoRD), unbranded France (auras76), unbranded Brazil (RHBH), customized Malaysia (chunlianghere), customized Singapore (chunlianghere), unbranded Canada (PherChe) devices.
As expected, the firmware for all three devices comes in at version 14.3.A.0.681. So pick your poison, and head to the links above to get started.
[Many thanks to Portal Supporter Titokhan for the Z1 Compact link!]
March 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Compared to Motorola, Samsung, and even HTC, it’s not inaccurate to state that Sony’s been a tad bit slow in officially updating its devices to Android 4.4 KitKat. Motorola first updated the Moto X back in November, Samsung followed suit not too long after in January, and even HTC got its feet wet in November and subsequently finished the job yesterday.
But before we start waving around our pitchforks, let’s remember that Sony’s quite developer friendly, and they’ve done much to help aftermarket developers bring KitKat to their devices. Heck, they’ve even released unofficial alpha firmware builds from time to time. Now, however, Sony has started rolling out official Android 4.4 KitKat to its flagship Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z1 Compact.
These updates bring quite a few new features, including status bar and quick settings interface tweaks, PlayStation 4-style launch animation and live wallpaper, updated native apps, and Xperia Themes. According to Sony:
- Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
- We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
- If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and livewallpaper across the lock and home screens
- We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, MyXperia, Smart Connect, Small apps, TrackID, TrackID TV, Sony Select, Smart Social Camera and…
- Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies, with Sony Entertainment Network cloud service integration* – a more converged and full Sony entertainment experience – Sony Entertainment Network & PlayMemories integration with a more intuitive UI, better download speeds, and more!
- Our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles, and more to follow soon…
Perhaps just as exciting as today’s update, Sony laid out a timetable for its next round of updates, as they’ve now stated that the Xperia Z, ZL, ZR, and Tablet Z will also receive the KitKat goods some time in Q2. And finally, Sony also stated that KitKat will also be making its way over to the Xperia T2, E1, and M2 at some point.
Good job Sony in updating your current flagships! Head over to the comments and threads below to get in on the discussion!
Ever since December of 2013, a large number of Sony Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra owners began to experience what has been dubbed and feared as an Xperia “Brickademic.” This issue that has garnered confused, angry, and disappointed responses spanning over more than 35 pages in the discussion thread, and the cause seems to be spawning from kernel incompatibilities that result from flashing an Android 4.3 firmware on a device running certain builds of Android 4.2.2. Now that it has been festering for a couple of months already, XDA Forum Members vovanx500 and the_laser have finally come out with a solution to the bricking problem.
Vovanx500 makes it clear at the beginning of the tutorial that the fix is not for the faint of heart, with the process requiring disassembling your device, which voids your warranty, in order to access the testpoint. The tutorial lays down the necessary steps to recover your bricked device, from guiding you on what has to be done once you’ve removed the back cover of your device, to running the actual program and finally getting the device back on track. The fix would not be possible without the efforts of the_laser, who developed the program used in the process, as well as vovanx500’s Xperia Z Ultra which was used as a guinea pig to find the testpoint.
This definitely isn’t a fix that everyone may want to try due to its complexity. But if you’re willing and have the nerve, head over to the original thread for more information.
[Thanks to Senior Member zeppelinrox for the tip!]
February 1, 2014 By: Samantha
Boy, have headphones changed in the last few years. From something that was simply a black wire that split into 2 earpieces, they’ve morphed into a plethora of options and varieties with an assortment of buttons, sliders, and connections, each meant to make your music experience a little bit more convenient. And with the addition of OEMs designing and creating earphones for specific device models, compatibility issues may arise when you plug them into a new device for the first time.
For Sony Xperia Z Ultra users, XDA Forum Member Pannam offers up a potential fix for issues with headphone / device incompatibility where certain buttons do not work on some devices. The fix basically consists of a simple tweak of a system value labelled headsethook. But first, you must install the provided keytest.apk and with it, find the numerical scancode of your headset. Once that’s done, simply change the headsethook value to the scancode of your headset. You then change the headset scancode to the original headsethook value, and install a third party headset app.
Although claimed to work with only the Xperia Z Ultra, it is likely that this will also work on other Xperia devices, as well as other Android devices in general. That said, always make a backup of the original files just in case things do not work out and you need to revert back to your previous settings. To find out more, visit the original thread.
January 18, 2014 By: Samantha
One of the more attractive aspects of the new Android 4.3 update on a number of Sony Xperia devices is what Sony calls the “Smart Social Camera.” Originally exclusive to only the Xperia Z1, the camera software allows users to install additional Xperia-only camera apps for additional functions and features to enhance your photo and video experience. Such apps may include Social Live, which live streams whatever your camera lens sees straight to Facebook; or Info Eye, which brings up information on whatever your camera is pointed towards.
The thing is, though, a few Xperia devices seem to be missing a couple of camera apps after being updated to the latest Android 4.3 firmware. It turns out, none of the following apps were to be found after the firmware update:
So to remedy this predicament, XDA Recognized Contributor and Themer Rizal Lovins decided to port the Smart Social Camera software in its entirety from the Xperia Z1s to the Xperia T, TX, V, SP, Z, ZL, ZR, Z1 and the Z Ultra. This means any camera app that was not found in the original camera software of these devices will now be available for everyone who has installed the port. The Background Defocus app, however, is exclusive to only the Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra for now.
The port will only work with the aforementioned devices running the official Android 4.3 firmware, and only if they have been de-odexed. Other than that, there shouldn’t be any problems with installation, with the process simply consisting of wiping the device’s cache, flashing the provided zip file, and rebooting the device.
So if you would like to finally give some of the missing camera apps a go on your device, head over to the original thread for more information.
December 21, 2013 By: Samantha
Many Xperia users and non-users alike have been scratching their heads when Google revealed the Google Play edition (GPe) of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, also known as Sony Z Ultra, wondering why on earth Sony decided to put the much sought after pure Google experience on such a niche device. After all, a massive 6.4″ screen definitely isn’t for everyone, and it may well be an alienating factor.
Fortunately, XDA Recognized Developer DooMLoRD has ported Sony Z Ultra GPe’s Android 4.4.2 KitKat to the Xperia Z1, giving Z1 owners a taste of what the pure Google experience is all about. Not possible without the kernel sources of the Z Ultra GPe released by Sony (kudos to them), the port runs on a custom kernel that’s a modified version of the Z Ultra GPe kernel meant to work with the Xperia Z1, as both devices share the same board.
As of right now, the port is up and running, although there are still a couple crucial functions that still need to be fixed, such as the camera and WiFi. But other than that, the majority of functions seems to be working, including phone calls, audio and video playback, 3G data, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Since this is a port from another device, one who dives in must realize that there will inherently be bugs and issues that may or may not be known to others, including the developer. The port is been tested on the C6902 and C6903 variants of the Xperia Z1, and only devices with unlocked bootloaders will be able to run the port.
If you would like to give the pure Google experience a whirl on your Xperia Z1, visit the original thread for more details.
December 17, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
We first got word that 4.4.2 was being released to the Sony Z Ultra Google Play edition earlier today, when XDA Forum Member cob2004 posted a few screenshots and detailed his experiences with the update. In addition to bumping up the Android version to 4.4.2, the 444.1 MB full install OTA also fixes a few of the very annoying bugs plaguing the device including not being able to access security settings and not being able to uninstall apps.
Along with the update, Sony has also released the corresponding open source files for KOT49H. These come in at a healthy 534 MB and can be downloaded over on Sony’s Developer World.
After a very slow trickle of a few devices initially receiving the update, the signed OTA update has now been captured and mirrored thanks to XDA Forum Member sfagundes! Instead of waiting for the OTA, you can sideload it now by grabbing it from this thread and then performing the adb sideload <filename> command, with your device in recovery.
If you’re a Z Ultra GPe owner, we can only imagine how hard you’ve been lusting for this update. Now that it’s finally here, did it end up fixing all the glitches for you? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!
December 16, 2013 By: Samantha
Just a couple of days ago, we saw leaks of the third iteration of Android Jellybean for the Sony Xperia Z and ZL appear in the XDA forums. Sony’s mobile department must’ve interpreted this as a signal to start rolling out the promised updates of Android 4.3 to their devices, because that’s what’s happening right now.
Sony Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra owners will notice an available update to Android 4.3 Jellybean either now or very soon according to Sony Mobile, and with it a couple of refreshed and new features on their newly updated devices. In addition to the expected optimization of the user interface and graphics, Z Ultra device owners will also get to enjoy the new Smart Social Camera that was originally introduced exclusively with the Xperia Z1, and ported to other Xperia devices.
The update will also be updating Sony’s portfolio of native applications such as Messaging, MyXperia, and Small Apps to their latest versions, as well as improving cloud service integration with the Walkman, Album, and Movies apps with Sony’s Entertainment and Gaming services.
Another very exciting addition to the Xperia experience that will be seen with this Android 4.3 update is what Sony’s calling “Xperia Themes,” which are downloadable user interface themes. No other details have been given at this moment, but we will expect more to be revealed sooner in the future.
As for users of the other devices promised an update, no further information have been given. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing similar rollouts sooner than later.
So how many Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra owners have been notified of an update? Are you updating right now, or have you already been updated? Share your thoughts and impressions with us below.
For more information, check out Sony Mobile’s official announcement.