Sony hasn’t had the best of luck with the international smartphone market recently, although they experienced strong growth in India in early 2014. From the start of 2015 we’ve seen a lot of changes at Sony, rumours that Sony could sell its mobile and TV division, statements from the CEO that an exit could not be ruled out, more statements that “they were no longer targeting sales growth for the mobile division,” restructuring and heavy losses… you get the idea.
With the market now focusing on the low-end for more market share and more growth, one would expect Sony to have responded to the challenge by coming out with great budget devices. Right now though, Sony is firmly focusing in the high-end of the smartphone market with the announcement of the Xperia Z4 via a press release in Japan.
Availability has only been specified for Japan (release in summer) right now – there is no word of an international launch.
Update: It seems that the Xperia Z4 is actually a Japan-exclusive phone for now. Instead Sony will be premiering an international flagship smartphone later this year. In a statement, the Japanese company didn’t commit to any broader international launch for the Z4, but nor has it ruled out the possibility. A Sony spokesperson told Android Central it’s “considering the feasibility in other markets.”
It seems likely that the Xperia Z4 will be marketed as the Xperia Z3+ for international markets. The launch is said to happen in May.
Of course, through the announcement we can take a proper look at the smartphone and its specifications. And they’re… on par with the flagship smartphone course in early 2015.
Sony took the Xperia Z3, slimmed it out, replaced the last generation Snapdragon 801 with the latest 64-bit Snapdragon 810, increased the storage to 32GB, increased the front facing camera’s megapixel count to 5.1MP and decreased the battery capacity from 3100mAh to 2930mAh. There you go, you have the Z4.
The above was tongue-in-cheek, of course, but it’s true nevertheless. Take a look at the full specification sheet:
- 146 x 72 x 6.9 mm and weight of 144g
- 5.2-inch FHD (1080×1920) display
- IP6X and IPX5/IPX8 certified for water and dust resistance, along with an exposed microUSB 2.0 port (a first for Sony)
- 3GB of RAM
- 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot
- Octa-core big.LITTLE Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC: 4x ARM Cortex-A57 + 4x ARM Cortex-A53, Adreno 430 GPU clocked at 600MHz
- 20.7MP 1/2.3″ rear camera with BIONZ image processor
- 5.1MP front facing camera
- 2930mAh battery
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sony’s UI
A detailed look at the features of the Z4
- Design: The Xperia Z4, for all intents and purposes, looks identical to its predecessor, the Xperia Z3. Sony followed the incremental update approach, a tradition they’re following since the launch of the original Xperia Z in 2013. Those bezels still look as objectionable as ever. However, it is thinner and lighter, and it still looks good with a metal and glass sandwich design. With the ergonomics issue solved with the Z3, apart from the bezels, we can’t find a major fault with this design, even though a fresh design would have brightened things up.
- Water resistance: Now that Samsung has removed this feature in the Galaxy S6, the fact that Sony included it in the Z4 is a differential factor, especially since they both have similar designs. And an exposed microUSB port! This should have been there since forever. Although the water resistance feature right now has niche popularity, it still matters to a certain segment.
- Display: Sony kept the size and resolution of the display same as the Xperia Z3: 5.2-inch IPS, 1080p. So no QHD then (isn’t it weird how right now we have seen no launch of a QHD Snapdragon 810 phone?), but the quality of the panel is likely to be similar to its predecessor.
- microSD card slot: You don’t say so. So Sony kept the microSD slot like HTC this generation and Samsung decided to remove it for selfish reasons? Yup. This is good. Especially since base storage has also been increased to 32GB this time around (matching the Xperia S from 2012), resulting in 32GB + microSD storage, which is great news for Android power users. Also, RAM is 3GB of the LPDDR4 variety.
- Snapdragon 810: With HTC opting not to launch the One M9 in India, with the Galaxy S6 switching to Exynos and the LG G4 rumoured to come with Snapdragon 808… we wondered if we would ever get a chance to use this chip. If the international variant also uses this chip, guess we’ll check it out then.
- 20.7MP rear camera: Sony’s issues with the camera in the flagship Z series are well known. It appears to be the same in-house Sony IMX220 sensor Sony Mobile has been using since the Xperia Z1. So, no mention of any mention of OIS, and overall a similar camera system, which is truly disappointing. Low-light is still a huge question. How about image processing – will they get it right this time around? The sensor is showing its age also in terms of speed and focus (no PDAF here). There is also supposed to be a cooking mode to take better photos of food, what? Will nobody focus on the basics?
- 5.1MP front-facing camera: To march forward with the self portrait craze, Sony has upped the megapixel count of the front camera and made it wide-angle.
- A smaller battery: Sony has decreased battery capacity. In comparison to the Xperia Z3’s 3100mAh battery, the Z4 only has a 2930mAh unit. Of course battery life isn’t solely about battery capacity – although it is a major factor. And then there’s the power-hungry Snapdragon 810. Make your conclusions…
- Android 5.0 Lollipop: It’s a pretty standard showing, along with Sony’s UI, which is just another manufacturer UI (although that’s a subjective preference).
So this is the Xperia Z4 (for Japan). Sony’s offering is competitive with the Galaxy S6 and the One M9 on paper, having strengths like water resistance, although other factors such as no OIS for low-light camera performance and poor speed of software updates could ruin it.
In conclusion: an interesting device, but not much of an upgrade from its predecessors. It does seem like with processing performance now acceptable throughout the mid-range and the flagships from last year, the Z4 and others like the One M9 are the definition of incremental updates.
The camera and the battery life are the major question marks here. I can’t even understand how the same IMX220 was even an option for them at this point.
The international flagship smartphone from Sony is still unknown. What will be its name? Are they going to change the specifications? We’ll have to see.
In any case, pricing matters a lot, because if the international variant is similar and launched at the inflated launch prices, one would get a better deal by simply purchasing the Xperia Z3. This statement may not be good news to a lot of companies, but it’s something which has to be said.
Via GSMArena | Xperia Z4 availability via Android Central
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