Sony Xperia Z Ultra and LG G Pad Google Play Editions launch — in the USA


Australians will wake this morning to news of a new round of Google Play Edition devices from Sony and LG, and once again won’t be able to order any of them.

Google has today supersized the GPE product line with the addition of the 6.4-inch Sony Xperia Z Ultra phone (review) and LG G Pad 8.3 tablet. Both devices are now available on the US Google Play store, the Xperia Z Ultra for US $649 and the G Pad 8.3 for US $350.

A “GPE” edition shares the same hardware specifications as its forebearer, but runs “stock” AOSP Android and receives updates to newer versions of Android faster than the OEM’s own devices, since there’s no customisation to be done. Google introduced the Nexus-like class of devices at this year’s Google I/O developer conference with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Both devices will be available in black and otherwise feature the same hardware specifications.

Australians found themselves left out – along with the rest of the world – on the original Google Play Edition hardware earlier this year as the devices have only thus far been sold in the USA. We were also discouraged from importing them as the devices featured US-spec LTE radios, incompatible with Band 3 (used by major Australian carriers).

The Z Ultra omits Band 3 LTE once more, making it a poor choice for importers. As a Wifi-only device however, the G Pad might represent a good import option for those who find the Nexus 7 too small.

We’ll be following up with Sony and LG about a local release of these devices, but we wouldn’t suggest holding your breath. Hopefully the modding community manages to make the Google Play Edition ROMs available for owners of the original hardware worldwide.

Update 12/12 : LG has advised that it has no plans to bring the LG G Pad to Australia in the short term but haven’t closed the door to the option down the track, offering us this statement :

LG Australia considers all business opportunities with our partners, though at this stage have no plans to launch in Australia in the near future

Until then, enjoy these pictures of hardware you can’t order:



Are you interested in the new Google Play Edition versions of these devices? Let us know in the comments!

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About the author

Jason hails from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane depending on his mood and how detailed a history you'd like. A web developer by day with an interest in consumer gadgets and electronics, he also enjoys reading comics and has a worryingly... (read more)

  • Brian

    Wondering why they chose the Xperia Z Ultra and not the Z1. That would’ve been a better choice I reckon. This thing is just too huge!!!!

    • GregAndo

      Nope, the size is awesome for me. Now I just need to get mine back from having it’s screen repaired and attempt a conversion process! Stoked about this ☺

    • toast

      It looks like these are the GPE partners to the Nexus 7.

      The Nexus 5 gets the HTC One and Samsung S4.
      The Nexus 7 gets the G Pad and the Z Ultra. Gives you a nice little range of sizes.

      IMHO, I think the Z1, like the HTC One, works best with it’s own software. I don’t see the benefit of GPE versions of those phones.

    • Sean Royce

      I just think that the Z1 would have been better anyway. Size isn’t an issue for me.

  • Harpersneil

    I’ve loved the idea of a Sony device running Vanilla Android for ages; this could be just the thing I’m looking for.

  • JeniSkunk

    In terms of tablets, what I’d love to see as a GPE would be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 P5220 32Gb

  • Andrew

    Damn, disappointed they aren’t available for AU. Would have definitely grabbed the LG Pad 8.3 GPE!!

    I like the Nexus 7, but there’s just so much bezel and I’d like a larger screen to fit that, the LG Pad looked like the ticket.

    In any case, hopefully those talented people at xda manage to port a GPE rom to the tab. Might grab the regular 8.3 tab in that case.

  • Duncan_J

    GPE G pad I want it

  • Kim Bridge

    I was about to get the gpad today then heard about the gpe edition which I would prefer so now not getting one just yet might import instead

  • ben barren

    Hey Jason and commenters I’m trying to figure out if Z Ultra GPE works in Australia under any carriers on 3g or 4g ? Or does one have to get the 4g 6833 model sold by kogan etc? Coming from gnex then note 2 I’m over Samsung and even nova prime launcher. Want stock nexus or gpe UI and gestures with size stylus and snapdragon 800. Any tips on getting z ultra gpe to work down under appreciated. Keep up great work ausdroid!!!
    Best Ben Barren