Trying to regain some relevance in the market, Sony is super-sizing its latest high-end Xperia Z, the dunkable Android, with a 6.4" full HD display. Is this, and its associated new SmartWatch 2, now a truly desirable device or the last stylings of a dying breed?
Dancing in the Rain?
Sony is a company in all kinds of trouble. Massive losses, bleeding cash on HDTVs, seeing its PlayStation consoles suffer in a world of casual gaming and under pressure to restructure from investors. Yet, the company persists in churning out smartphones and tablets while skirting with the bottom of the market share tables.
The recently refined Xperia line-up is certainly one that could challenge Samsung and Apple in the looks, power and price stakes, but is the Sony brand still strong enough to sell them? And is waterproofing a sufficient differentiator to actually make any difference to the buyer? We'll find out in a couple of months when the Xperia Z Ultra goes on-sale.
Still, you can't blame the company for trying and its new large-screen, full HD 1920*1080 screen should certainly set a few hearts and wallets fluttering. Billed as the world’s fastest, slimmest Full HD smartphone, the Xperia Z Ultra has been whittled down to a 6.5mm thick body that weighs 212 grams. With a front and rear made of tempered glass, and a solid metal frame, it will be available in black, white or purple colour finishes.
Androids Under the Waves
The ability to actually shoot video underwater is a pretty intriguing idea, for those times when you're on a Mediterranean or Caribbean holiday perhaps, but as a practical feature? Packed with Sony Bravia screen technology, an 8-megapixel Exmor RS sensor and bags of clever photo features, there's lots of extra technology alongside the hardware that is driven by a SnapDragon 2.2GHz 800 processor and 4G LTE, claimed to be the fastest processor currently in a smartphone.
So, with many Apple and Samsung customers coming to the end of their 4S or Galaxy SIII contracts, there are other phones out there for the next upgrade. The Xperia Z Ultra, powered by Android 4.2, certainly has the screen real estate, processor chops and features to appear high on most shopping lists.
Sony has also launched SmartWatch 2, a slightly improved wearable display with improved app compatibility that functions with more Android devices, and an SDK on the way. It could be an indication of how low Sony has sunk, that it has a good-looking SmartWatch out on the market, yet no one seems that excited, until Apple decides to do one.
The only problem is the brand inertia that sees the Apple (who may suffered from teething troubles moving to a new chip maker) and Samsung camps easily dominating the market. Perhaps the next big-selling device won't be one that has some clever hardware features, but one that can "automagically" transfer whatever song and video media, and apps you've invested on your previous phone's service without the emotional turmoil of the cross-over phase.