At this year’s CES, Sony revealed two new entries into their smartphone lineup– the Sony Xperia™ Z & ZL. They are placing an emphasis on the precision engineering that has gone into the devices and boy does it show.
The Z comes in at 5-inches, comes equipped with a nice 1080p HD display and is powered by the Qualcomm S4 Pro quad-core processor clocking in at 1.5GHz. The unit comes with 2GB of Ram and 16GB of internal storage that can also expandable via a microSD slot. You’ll also be happy to know that the Z is also dust and water resistant up to three feet for 30 minutes, and get this, the touchscreen works when its wet (but not fully submerged). The phone packs a very welcoming 13MP camera that utilizes Sony’s Exmor RS image sensor, the first chip to shoot full 1080P HDR video. As for OS, the phone ships with the latest 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and is skinned by Sony’s elegant Experience Flow UI.
The Z is fitted with a 2330 mAh battery and is accompanied by Sony’s “Stamina mode”, which is essentially a custom power saving feature that shuts down all the running apps’ data connections when the screen is turned off; data connections are resumed as soon as the screen is turned back on.
The ZL specs are almost identical to the Z. Same processor, same RAM, same camera (although the ZL sports a dedicated camera button), and same storage. The ZL is slightly thicker, coming in at 0.39 inches as opposed to 0.31 inches. However, the device, dimension wise, comes in a little smaller then its cousin, due largely from the fact that there is a much smaller bezel around the screen.
Also, the ZL doesn’t gain the same finishing treatment as it lacks the dust and waterproof feature of the Z. The phone comes equipped with an IR blaster so it can be used as a remote control for your other devices and is packed with a larger 2370mAh battery.
Both devices are set for a global Q1 release. Pricing for the US has not been officially announced, but we have an idea from a post by Sony Mobile AU:
Photo: Xperia Blog
New phone announcements are fine and dandy, however, this particular announcement may be the beginning of the end for Sony’s involvement in the cheaper, low-end smartphone market. According to an interview conducted by CNET Asia, one of Sony’s execs, Stephen Sneeden, hints at this new stance:
“We’re ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the ‘Sonyness’. And it’s where you cannot implement some of these wonderful things from Sony at such a low cost, we might leave the very entry tier to some other manufacturers,” Sneeden said.
In the interview, Sneeden also mentions how trying to keep the cost down for lower-tier devices would force them to “compromise on the experience that the company is trying to show to the customer”.
Their new direction reminds me of Sony’s “Sony Style” days where their products once represented the pinnacle of consumer electronics. They were essentially perceived, then, how Apple is today and it will be nice to see how they move forward with this newly revitalized strategy.