BARCELONA, Spain — At Mobile World Congress 12 months ago, Sony made its first concession that it’s six-month upgrade cycle for its premium Xperia Z smartphone range wasn’t working and the Japanese company was going to alter its approach.
In Barcelona on Monday, Sony revealed that new approach, a completely new range of smartphones called Xperia X. The new range — the Xperia X, Xperia X Performance and Xperia XA — will sit alongside the premium Xperia Z range rather than replace it.
The company is playing up three aspects of the new phones. The first is battery life, with the three devices featuring Sony’s smart battery management system promising up to two days of battery life. Sony has also incorporated Qnovo’s Adaptive Charging technology to extend the lifespan of the battery should users decide they don’t want to upgrade any time soon.
The second focus is on imaging, with the two higher specs models in the X series featuring Predictive Hybrid Autofocus which claims to help you shoot moving objects by predicting where to focus. “It lets you choose your subject and then predicts its motion, so you can capture the action in perfect focus, free from blur.”
The final focus for Sony is design, with the X range continuing the same industrial look as the Xperia Z range, though with the angular look of the premium models toned down somewhat. Each X series smartphone features a curved glass display within a rounded, continuous frame which Sony says will give “a familiar form that feels comfortable in your hand.”
Sony has struggled to compete in the smartphone market in recent years despite its smartphones impressive industrial design and class-leading cameras. Last year, Sony suffered as a result of the under-performing Snapdragon 810 chipset from Qualcomm in its flagship Xperia Z4 smartphone.
The decision to go after profitability rather than volume was announced 12 months ago, but despite this refocused effort, many questions remain. “The big question for Sony is fundamentally, will they stay in the smartphone market?” Ian Fogg, mobile analyst with IHS told International Business Times.
“They have clearly been buffeted by competition,” Fogg said. “And they have chosen to try and reinvigorate their business by going after profitability.”
Fogg said it is possible Sony could go down the same route it did with its Vaio laptop operation and spin off its smartphone operation, but there are inherent dangers in a move like that. “I think if they want to be a consumer electronics company, to withdraw from the smartphone market would be courageous because most of the innovation has been happening there. If they pull out it will hurt their other device businesses,” Fogg said.