Sony Corp. on Wednesday introduced a flagship smartphone that highlights improved camera functions to help feed the global self-photography craze and has the world’s first 4K ultra high-definition display to showcase its motion picture technology.
The new Xperia Z5 series comes with three handset sizes, all with a 23-megapixel Sony image sensor and faster shutter speed, as well as beefed-up capability to take pictures in dark settings.
As it tries to differentiate itself from rivals, including Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy and Apple Inc.’s iPhone smartphones, Sony has been focusing on multimedia functions, borrowing expertise it has accumulated over time.
The largest model, Xperia Z5 Premium, is equipped with a 5.5-inch 4K display, the first adoption of the ultra high-definition screen for smartphones. Previous Sony phones were capable of recording 4K videos, but the handset wasn’t able to playback the clips with the picture quality. Previous Xperia Z series handsets had 2K-or-lower displays
Another feature of the handset, which was announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin, is a fingerprint sensor that can be used to unlock the phone. Unlike Apple’s handset, Sony’s fingerprint sensor is built in a power bottom placed on the side of the phone.
Still, it is unlikely that the new Sony handset will become a blockbuster product, like iPhones. Xperia has notable presence only in Japan, and it is difficult to find in some of the world’s largest smartphone markets.
Sony in July lowered a forecast for its global smartphone sales in the fiscal year ending next March to 27 million units from the original view at 30 million. Sony in the most-recently completed fiscal year sold 39.1 million handsets.
The company has failed to increase its market share in smartphone by adding affordable handsets because Chinese makers rapidly have taken up that segment of the market. Meanwhile, needs for high-end handsets are being satisfied by Apple’s iPhones. Faced with operating losses, Sony last year decided to focus on profitability rather than market share. And the lowered forecast for handset sales this year reflects that policy.
Sony’s chief executive Kazuo Hirai said the company remains committed to consumer electronics, but the product category is no longer an area for the group’s aggressive investment. Supporting the entertainment conglomerate are its camera image sensors that are also used in the Galaxy and the iPhone. Another cash cow is the PlayStation game network business, in addition to movies and music.
Hiroki Totoki, the head of Sony’s smartphone unit, has been saying he is confident he can turnaround the unprofitable business, but the group’s financial chief Kenichiro Yoshida has said the company won’t hesitate to sell the business should that become necessary. The electronics company last year sold its longtime loss-making Vaio PC arm to a Japanese private-equity fund.
Source: Wall Street Journal