Sony Xperia Ear Priced in Japan But Apple AirPods Make It Problematic

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For those unfamiliar, the Xperia Ear is Sony’s latest foray into expanding their mobile line beyond smartphones and tablets into more general mobile-centric devices. Under the Xperia brand, Sony will also be introducing the Xperia Projector, a Tony Stark-like device and Xperia Agent, an Amazon Echo-like home assistant. As for the Xperia Ear, it does what the Agent would do, except that it sits in your ear like a Bluetooth headset. Now Sony has given the in-ear AI-driven headset a price and it’s a bit of a problem.

As Xperia Blog writes:

 The Xperia Ear (XEA10) is due to launch in Japan on 18 November at a recommended price point of 19,880 Yen (£150, €170, $190) excluding tax. 

So far so good. And when it comes to specs:

 Sony has also included a number of sensors (integrated proximity sensor, gyroscope and accelerometer) to employ an element of motion control – simply nod to confirm a command. Our only worry is that it may flag you as some crazed person talking and nodding to seemingly no-one on the train home from work.

These sensors will also be able to figure out if you are in the ear or sat inside the charging case. Once the Xperia Ear is placed in the ear, it will automatically turn on to deliver the latest updates.

The Xperia Ear (XEA10) has a 65mAh battery, which Sony says is good for around 4 hours of talk time. It also comes with a charging case (300mAh battery) that will add around 12 hours to your talk time. The Xperia Ear comes with Bluetooth 4.1 and can be charged via micro USB. 

And this is where the problem truly lies. I’ve never been a fan of comparing one product versus another via specs as they hardly ever tell the full picture. However, there is some things worth pointing out here. The Xperia Ear was shown off well over 6 months ago to the public and still isn’t launching till November (US included). And when it does launch, it’s going to cost just shy of $200. If Sony was able to get this device out months ago, they would have been first to market with such a device. Now I don’t believe that being first would have suddenly meant they’d capture some huge sales boost, but at least their product would be out.

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On the other hand, in early September, Apple announced the AirPods and not only do they do a whole lot more, but they’re coming out sooner and are cheaper. Priced at $159, AirPods will launch some in October (likely late) and include a bevy of additional features, starting out with the most striking feature of them all – that they’re stereo. Unlike the Xperia Ear which is mono and frankly only good for making calls and talking to the virtual assistant it hosts, the AirPods are full stereo, meaning you can jam away at music until with a single tap, you invoke Siri.

When listening to music, AirPods offer 5hrs of music playback versus 4hrs of talk time found on Xperia Ear. As for the case they both provide which offers additional battery, the AirPods once again come out ahead with 24hrs of additional charge time, versus the 12hrs Xperia Ear offers. Beyond that, there is a whole host of functionality that sets them apart that I won’t get into but the one that I will mention is that with AirPods, you get Siri, with Xperia Ear, you get just the functionality that Sony baked in as it’s not invoking any set of services from Google.

In a bubble, the Xperia Ear is a cool product, albeit a limited one but in the context of the grander mobile space, it’s functionality is severely lacking that makes paying $190 a tough sell. Don’t get me wrong, Sony needs to absolutely play in this space – where mobile devices set the battlegrounds in the last decade, AI and virtual assistant driven devices will set the next. But is Xperia Ear the answer? I’m not sure it is.

Discuss:

Do you think the Xperia Ear is priced too high now that there is a product like the Apple AirPods?

  • Talos the Robot

    Xperia Ear is more suitable for professionals who make a lot of calls.

  • How so?

  • Talos the Robot

    They can use the device without even touching the phone.

  • Same with AirPods. You tap the side of the headset and it activates Siri.