Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Sony Mobile is once again shifting its strategy. Just a few years back, the company had an ambitious goal of becoming the world’s third largest smartphone maker, leaving only Apple and Samsung ahead of them. With that plan not working, Sony announced a major shift in July 2016 which would see them defocus on India, USA, China, and Brazil.
That of course didn’t quite work for them either, with sales declining dramatically, so Sony is once again going target more emerging markets with the likes of the Xperia L1, a budget smartphone. Ultimately, the plan is to leverage the brand in Japan, East Asia, APAC, the Middle East, and Europe with the hopes of differentiating their phones
with technologies that only Sony can deliver,
whatever that means. So the plan is to have more moderately priced phones to increase sales then, right? That’s why the Xperia L1 exists? Nope. Sony is also killing their mid-tier premium phones, which are not to be confused with mid-tier phones.
Looking to get a Xperia XZ Premium, but worried about the new hybrid SIM tray trend? Fear not as the XZ Premium Dual offers a dedicated SD card slot. XperiaBlog:
Sony Xperia France has confirmed that the dual SIM version of the Xperia XZ Premium (as well as the XA1 and XA1 Ultra) will be able to combine two SIM cards and a SD card simultaneously.
For those unfamiliar:
Without a doubt, one of the biggest issues Sony faces in the US is a lack of carrier support which why their sales are nonexistent here. In recent years, that’s only gotten worse with Sony phones being mostly found on Amazon or Best Buy (just the online store) in unlocked variants, something US consumers aren’t accustomed to. According to a tipster, this could change and Sony Mobile could be partnering up with their old carrier, AT&T. Details are scarce at best and as always, take news like this with a grain salt. After all, Sony built a a custom model, the Xperia Z4v, for Verizon, which was canceled mere weeks before its release.
Verizon will no longer be launching Xperia Z4v, however we are committed to supporting Sony Mobile’s product portfolio and will support existing products. Sony is a strategic partner as we continue having ongoing discussions together as part of our future portfolio.
Somehow I missed the Xperia Ear Open-Style CONCEPT (why are we yelling?) being unveiled at MWC 2017. As the name loudly suggests, it’s still a concept product but it’s meant to be another iteration of the Xperia Ear, which is already in production and was met with less than stellar reviews. Here’s Billy Steele from Engadget with a general overview:
This new version of Xperia Ear uses “open-ear” audio tech Sony developed inside it’s Future Lab incubator program. Essentially, the wireless earbuds let noise from the outside world in while you’re wearing them. This probably sounds like a bad idea to most, but the feature will help keep you safe on a run or allow you to hear colleagues while listening to music and receiving app notifications in the office.
Details are scarce on the internals for now, but we do know that the combination of two spacial acoustic conductors and driver units beam sound directly in your ear canal. The earbud’s speaker is circular with an open center to allow those environmental sounds to come through. It will be interesting to see how well this new design stays in place as the controls components are housed in a casing that wraps under your ear and sits behind it. Like the previous version, this Open-style Concept will feature Sony’s Agent virtual assistant that’s capable of recognizing both voice cues and head gestures to lend a hand with activities.
Sony, for its part, describes it as
More ammo for the narrative that Sony was extremely smart to pull out of the wearable market years before its competitors. Chaim Gartenberg from The Verge:
Asus is reportedly ending development on its ZenWatch line of Android Wear smartwatches, according to a report today from Digitimes that cited sources in Taiwan’s supply chain.
As Chaim notes, Asus was at best able to sell between 5,000 to 6,000 units a month which surely doesn’t justify the product’s R&D, let alone all the other costs which are associated with bringing such a product to market. This goes to show that if these are the best numbers Asus could muster up, Sony’s numbers likely were much worse as they never promoted their lineup in the same way.
If you’ve got a rooted Xperia tablet or phone and you’ve noticed Netflix isn’t working for you anymore, it’s not you. The streaming giant has announced a policy shift which makes their app inoperable on rooted Android devices. Jon Fingas from Engadget:
Netflix has confirmed that its app is no longer visible on Google Play to anyone with a device that is “not Google-certified or [has] been altered.” A spokesperson tells Android Police that it’s all about a shift in copy protection. Version 5.0 of the Netflix app now leans entirely on Google’s Widevine digital rights management to prevent piracy, so it has to treat those modified devices as incompatible. The crackdown isn’t completely shocking, but it does create some issues.
There’s certainly an incentive for the shift in strategy: now that you can download shows, piracy is more of a concern than ever. In theory, it’s a bit easier to strip the copy protection from the downloaded copy of a Netflix series than it is to rip the stream. And when you root a device to gain more control over the operating system, you potentially have a better chance of circumventing that DRM than you would otherwise.
Man, if Sony keeps this up, it almost won’t be newsworthy anymore. Less than halfway into the month and Sony already has the May 2017 Android security update available for a handful of phones. From XperiaBlog:
Xperia XZ and Xperia X Performance have seen their build numbers move from 41.2.A.2.199 to version 41.2.A.2.223 in this new software.
While, at the same time, the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact have seen their build numbers move from 34.2.A.2.47 to version 34.2.A.2.69. The Xperia X and X Compact remain on Android 7.0 for now. No other changes have been noted so far.
If you have friends who are willing to dance for you in a pond or have a lot of paint dust sitting around, the Xperia XZ Premium is going to be a hoot. That’s because one of the biggest features of the flagship phone is an all new 19-megapixel rear-camera dubbed The Motion Eye camera that
records 960 frames per second for Super slow motion playback, revealing life’s hidden magic. The footage is four times slower than videos from other smartphones1, so all the drama and detail is uncovered.
To show off what the camera is capable of, Sony invited a host of guests and had them wear lab coats and shoot a series of videos which you can see below:
Remember that surprise Xperia L1 which was announced back in March? Well the phone is about as real as it gets now with a $200 price tag and it’s available to buy starting today on Amazon. Offered in black, white, and pink, the entry level phone has a few noteworthy specs going for it like:
Canadian readers, this is just for you! Though this piece is also for general fans of Canada, Sony Mobile, and Quebec regional carrier, Vidéotron, who will be carrying the Xperia XA1. Via MobileSyrup:
Announced at Mobile World Congress, the XA1 features a 5-inch 720p display, MediaTek Helio P20 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, USB-C connectivity, 23-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8-megapixel front-facing camera and 2,300mAh battery.
Freedom Mobile also plans to carry the Band 4 and 66 LTE compatible handset. It will be available at Freedom this Friday.
When the Xperia XZ Premium finally arrives next month, it’s going to offer Sony’s best camera to date. The basics of the camera we’ve known for some time, like its new 960fps slow-mo camera which can also be found on the Xperia XZs. But things that are unique to it include an all new 19-megapixel camera sensor with 19% bigger pixels and a redesigned G Lens.
Hey, does the Amazon Echo Show look sorta familiar to you? No, it’s not just a chubby tablet but a near identical product to the Sony Dash which debuted at CES 2010 and ran Chumby OS. For those unaware, the Dash was a touchscreen and portable device which was meant to sit on your nightstand or kitchen counter and play music and videos for you via various apps like iHeartRadio and YouTube.
Of course voice wasn’t really a thing back then and the device, which I actually quite liked despite its numerous problems, sure seems like what would have been the first iteration to an eventual product that the Echo Show is now.
Many Sony fans, including yours truly, thought Sony was uniquely positioned to create a smartwatch unlike others. While any device running Android Wear is mostly tied to an identical OS experience, making differentiating one from another in that aspect near impossible, hardware and design is open season.
This meant that Sony could design their hardware, the aesthetics, and the bands however way they saw fit which played into the company’s strength. Even with a stellar product, there still would have been numerous obstacles standing in front of Sony and any form of large market success, but the seeds for it were there. Unfortunately this vision never came to be with Sony quietly ceasing any development of future wearables that fell under SmartWatch and SmartBand as well as SmartTalk products.
It’s earnings time again, which means good and bad news for Sony. The good news is that Mobile is profitable. From Android Authority, according to Sony:
Mobile Communications division had generated an operating income of 10.2 billion yen, or about $91 million. This was compared to an operating loss of 61.4 billion yen, or about $550 million, in the previous fiscal year.
And that’s really the extent of the good news, which, at first, isn’t bad at all. Reversing your fortunes and going from a $550 million loss to a $91 million profit is most certainly noteworthy. But, and here’s the big but:
Sony’s sales revenue for the last fiscal year came in at 759.1 billion yen, or $6.778 billion, which was down over 32 percent from the previous year.
Why the steep drop in revenue? Because Sony hasn’t been able to convince anyone to buy their phones, which means the financial recovery has actually very little to do with Xperia phones sold.
Looking to flash your own version of Android N on Xperia XZs? Lucky for you, Sony is making the process a bit easier and safer by enrolling the Xperia XZs in their Open Device Program. According to the Xperia maker: