While Sony did not have a new flagship smartphone to unveil at the Mobile World Congress, it certainly turned heads with the new Xperia Z4, its latest Android tablet that is so far out from its predecessor, the Xperia Z2, that Sony had to jump one number.

At 10.1 inches, the Z4 is slightly larger than Apple's iPad Air 2, the gold standard in tablet-making. However, it is smaller than Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. While the iPad Air 2 is widely considered the perfect standard by which all other tablets are gauged, the Z4 is actually more similar to the Surface Pro 3 in purpose since it has a detachable keyboard accessory, priced separately, that converts it into a small, ultra-portable laptop by demand.

The Z4 is extremely portable. It has a 6.1 mm profile that keeps it at the same thinness as the iPad Air 2, whose distinguishing feature from its predecessor is mainly the thinner design. It is also lighter than the iPad Air 2, which is 437g for the Wi-Fi model and 444g for the LTE version, compared to the 389g of the Z4's Wi-Fi version and the 393g of the LTE version. The difference in weight, however, is attributed to Apple's high-end all-metal design, while the Z4 touts a plastic body with a metal frame. On the other hand, the Surface Pro 3 is far heavier than both tablets at 798g, but again, it's intended more as a laptop replacement than a general-purpose slate.

Performance-wise, it seems like the Z4 will be able to stand up to its toughest competition, although real-world testing is needed first before we can make conclusions. Sony seems to have intended the Z4 to be a mobile device first and laptop second, as can be seen in the latest Snapdragon 810 processor from Qualcomm crammed with 3 GB of RAM. Third-party benchmarking tests show the 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 810 is slightly better than the iPad Air 2's A8X processor, although we wager most users won't feel the difference in everyday tablet tasks such as browsing, emailing, and watching videos. In contrast, the Surface Pro 3 uses the faster 1.9 GHz Intel Core i5 PC processor.

On battery life, the Z4 easily outlives both the iPad Air 2 and Surface Pro 3. While the Microsoft 2-in-1 lasts more than seven hours and the Apple slate can take 10 hours of video playback, the new Sony tablet has a 6,000 mAh battery that Sony claims can last 17 hours of continuous video playback. For users whose biggest deciding factor is the battery life, this alone makes the Z4 the undisputable choice among the three.

Like the Surface Pro 3, the Z4 will also come with a Bluetooth keyboard accessory equipped with a touchpad and docking station for the tablet. Sony hasn't made announcements as to how much the keyboard will cost, but if it's any indication, Microsoft's keyboard cover, widely believed to be the wow factor in the Surface Pro 3, is $130. That would make the Z4 the first device with the ability to become an Android PC, and with Microsoft's Office 365 pro suite for Android set to arrive soon, working on an Android laptop is an idea worth giving a shot.

Other standout features include a waterproof design that can withstand being submerged in up to 1.5 meters of fresh water for half an hour and the ability to stream PlayStation 4 games via Remote Play. The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, has its TouchID fingerprint scanner and Apple Pay, while the Surface Pro 3 has, well, a great keyboard.

The Z4 will come with 32 GB of built-in memory with a microSD slot for expansion up to 128 GB. On the other hand, there are no options for expansion on the iPad Air 2, which starts at 16 GB for the entry-level model and 128 GB for the most expensive model. The Surface Pro 3, meanwhile, offers 128 GB at a minimum, with models for 256 GB and 512 GB available at higher prices.

Pricing has not been announced yet, although it's safe to say that Sony will likely price the high-end Z4 at the same ranges as its premium-priced competitors when it launches in June.

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