Xperia XZ Premium As Much About Selling Sony As Selling Phones


Sony went wild with new smartphones at MWC today, announcing four of the five devices that had been rumoured in various pre-show leaks. Most notable was the new Xperia XZ Premium, which managed to put itself at the front of the smartphone race on specs, even if Sony's sometimes haphazard execution may mean it falls short of the top of the pile when it actually arrives around June.

The XZ Premium packs perhaps the most impressive screen ever to find its way onto a smartphone. Matching the Z5 Premium in resolution - that is, a full 4K hit - and adding HDR to the mix as well. This technology is relatively new in the living room, so to find it on a smartphone already, well that's impressive.

The big hits don't end there. Sony's Motion Eye camera makes its official debut on the XZ Premium and its stablemate, the XZs. The camera is revolutionary as it packs fast DRAM onto the sensor itself, allowing the phone to shoot video at a theoretical 960fps. Theoretical, because the DRAM is only large enough to hold 180 shots, or about a fifth of a second's worth of video.

Still, get your timing right and this is going to provide mind blowing (albeit short) slow-motion video of the type that used to be the preserve of the professionals.

That memory is also used for a new version of Sony's Timeshift Burst feature, which saves the images a second before and after you hit the shutter (so long as there is movement in frame). Predictive outdoes the older version as well as Apple and Nokia's versions by virtue of the performance that speedy memory allows.

The wows don't stop there. First phone with the new Qualcomm 835? Sort of. It's likely that Samsung will get the GS8 to customers first, but Sony was the first to announce at least.

So the Xperia XZ Premium catapults Sony to the front of the smartphone line, but for a manufacturer struggling well outside the top ten by sales volume and capturing less than 0.5% of the smartphone market, it seems a big gamble to sign off on the manufacture of what will undoubtedly be a super-premium phone.

I suspect there will be very limited numbers of the XZ Premium because it isn't a phone that's about selling in any kind of numbers. Its about acting as a halo device for the Xperia range, but more importantly a halo device for Sony itself.

The Xperia XZ Premium is mostly about showcasing the technology Sony's component divisions can deliver. The main reason for it to exist is to show off the camera technology to potential buyers at Apple, Samsung and a host of Chinese OEMs looking to boost their brand credibility.

In the end the Xperia XZ Premium is likely to be a top notch smartphone, but an even better sales window.

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