Sony rolls the dice with new top-end Xperia Z4

20 Apr 2015

Despite reports that it would cut back on its struggling mobile division, Sony’s new Z4 is targeting the premium end of smartphone users, with an upgraded Snapdragon 810 processor powering a device that comes in four colours.

As a prior user of Sony’s Xperia range – albeit at a slightly lower end than the Z series – I’d consider it a shame if the tech giant was to fully withdraw from mobile as the pros of its devices far outweigh the cons.

Generally known for exceptional battery quality, while running one of the better shaped android operating systems, Sony does bring something to the party.

Alas, reports in recent months pointed to a stark withdrawal from the mobile market, although this release could mean it is merely scaling back its lower-end models – boo – where it faces unbelievable competition (the budget Android device market is by far and away the most competitive environment in mobile), while focusing on the premium end.

This tactic is by no means guaranteed to succeed as, although at the top end Sony will avoid aggressive sellers like Xiaomi, it does come up against the biggest brand in the world (Apple), the biggest mobile operator (Samsung) and a manufacturer currently on the up (HTC).

The Z4 will be available in Sony’s home market of Japan sometime this summer, and it boasts some upgrades on its Xperia Z3 predecessor.

It’s a little less than 7mm thick, with a 5.2in display, a 20.7mpx camera and 2930mAh battery. The screen is 1080p LCD, while the 2GHz 8-core 64-bit Snapdragon 810 processor – with 3gb of RAM – powers a phone that runs on 5.0 Lollipop.

The announcement comes a little over a month since Sony released the Z4 tablet at CES.

Hiroki Totoki, president and CEO of Sony’s mobile division, said the company is now targeting the top end with a bit more emphasis than in the past.

“There’s a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around US$100 to US$1,400 at the upper end,” he said in Reuters. “We want to focus in the upper half of that.”

Reports emerged in February of the company scaling back its struggling business arms like TVs and smartphones, to focus solely on its profitable areas like its PlayStation and camera sensor businesses.

Sony instigated a strategic re-focus in order to focus on areas that actually deliver profits. CEO Kazuo Hirai said at the time that he would not rule out an exit strategy for the mobile phone and TV business units.

In March it closed its PlayStation Mobile store, after just a couple of years in existence, as part of this restructure plan, although PlayStation in general is a booming trade for the Japanese company.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic