Sony to be the Apple of Android smartphones, do away with entry-level handsets?

by: Chris SmithJanuary 12, 2013


Since companies such as Samsung, LG and Motorola – to name just a few of the Android device makers we expect hot new products this year – decided not to announce any new Android smartphone and/or tablet this past week, Sony had a chance to shine at CES 2013.

The company unveiled its new flagship device, the Xperia Z, and its cheaper alter ego, the Xperia ZL, and these products are expected to hit stores in the coming months, well ahead of every other 2013 flagship handset from Sony’s main competitors.

The Japanese company seems more and more determined to catch up companies and Samsung and Apple that control the mobile business when it comes to marketshare (the former) and profits (the latter), and one way of achieving its goal seems to be moving away from cheap Android devices.

Stephen Sneeden, the company’s Xperia product marketing manager, told CNET Asia that Sony wants to get closer to Samsung and Apple in the following couple of years, with help of its high-end devices:

“We’re ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the ‘Sonyness’. And it’s where you cannot implement some of these wonderful things from Sony at such a low cost, we might leave the very entry tier to some other manufacturers,” Sneeden said.


But mid-rangers will not be left out of Sony’s future device portfolio, as they can still be very appealing to potential buyers:

“Maybe it’s not the flagship product, but I can still aspire to this other phone that has a number of these same characteristics.”

The Xperia Z (our hands-on here) proves that Sony wants to offer its Android device buyers a particular smartphone experience by including certain proprietary technologies such as its Mobile Bravia Engine 2 for displays, the Exmor RS technology for cameras or the Battery Stamina feature. After all, in an Android environment where OEMs release basically similar hardware powered by more-or-less the same Android OS experience, such features can become important for consumers.

But such exclusive features may be too expensive to include in entry-level devices, so we can’t really blame Sony for trying a different approach.

Is Sony trying to become the Apple of the Android ecosystem by focusing its efforts on providing devices only to a segment of the potential buyers? Furthermore, will such a strategy work considering that the bulk of purchased Android handsets are not high-end models, especially in developing markets? We’ll certainly keep close tabs on the company and its mobile business in the following years.

On a different note, Sneeden revealed that future Sony handsets will have the power button placed on the side, just like it’s found on the Xperia Z.

Are you buying a Sony smartphone in the following months?

  • Audacious move from Sony. Android may benefit from it in the long run.

  • If you look back Apple is today what Sony was 15 years ago.

    • Lowry Brooks

      Definitely as far as brand recognition and hip goes, Sony ruled consumer electronics. But Apple is a bit different than Sony even though they are similar in some ways.

    • Polaris

      Yeah … and Sony is becoming the Samsung 10 yrs ago trying to catch up with the big boys.

      • Polaris

        So Samsung is the new Sony!

        • Adam Eldin

          So Sony should have the next nexus. Then Nokia!

  • e54ty54ry4

    Sony has always had the sexiest smartphones but the only problem was the battery. I think this device is just perfect and the battery lasts longer.

    • never, you can kill yourself with the sharp corners they have,….

    • HDR video is the killer application! I also expect single shot native HDR (multiple signal streams from the sensor) which means you will have some amazing and otherwise impossible shots.

  • I used to always buy Sony Ericsson phones from the P900 right up to the C902. Hopefully they will re-invent cool phones again.

  • Robert Mahon

    Upgraded version of the CMD-Z5 please Sony! You were almost there with your first mini-android phones.

  • pepe

    rely don’t like style of sony phones, it’s like they are all same , and sony android ui is rely awful, better to use pure android ui .

    • the xperia s lags like hell even with 4.1.1 cm10

  • kail san

    i would totally buy the xperia z but i own a nexus and when you go nexus you never go back :D i hope sony will make a nexus in the future.. that would be awsome, I love their design!!

    • Lowry Brooks

      Yep. I went nexus. Won’t go back unless another tablet/phone blows my mind.

  • Dr Nemmo

    As long as they don’t force you to use exclusive Sony storage (Memory Stick comes to mind), DMR on your mp3 files or they tie you to some kind of stupid Sony store.

    • fiae

      whatt? are you living like 5 years behind in time? I think its been long that sony is done away with MemoryStick and their other prosperity stuff..
      or you are just trolling

      • Otoha

        The PSVITA has propriety memory cards so I think it’s a legitimate belief that sony might try to bring propriety cables and such back if they become a big enough player in the phone industry.

  • They should make all kind of devices like Samsung. Focus on everyone.

  • SonyFan

    Definitly going to get the Xperia Z

    • happy lagging!!!

      • SonyFan

        thanks…and happy trying to make a home screen and rooting and flashin custom Roms on your Rom

        • the fuck is wrong with you? why the fuck would i be reading about a android device? if i was a apple fanboy? no, i own 3 android smartphones. suck it sony boy, all sony products lag

          • SonyFan

            didn’t now that you have android…sorry…

            because there are lot of AppleFanboys in Android Blogs…sorry again…

            what you’ve said in last sentence is wrong

          • No prob, but my experience with Sony phones has been nothing but lag, lag and lag. But hey, you’re a Sony fan xD you’ll do anything to protect them :P

      • The Xperia Z is not out yet, but based on the YouTube videos I’ve seen there seems to be no lagging. It has a quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM.

        • random

          I have an Xperia U and a person I know has an Xperia P. Both have dual-core 1GHz processors, Mali400 GPU, mine has 512 MB RAM and the P has 1 GB. Both of them lag as hell everywhere in the system. Even when moving between almost empty homescreens. Don’t trust Sony in this. Their software is pure shit.

          • Dan

            I have Xperia P on ICS and my girlfriend has Xperia U on ICS. My phone runs flawlessly and hers is very laggy and glitchy. Hers ran fine on Gingerbread but pretty much any phone that’s Dual-Core with 1GB RAM will run perfectly on any current OS. If it doesn’t then it’s probably because you’ve raped the RAM. clear the cache and make sure less than 20 apps are running in the background constantly and it’ll run fine. I see no physical performance difference between my Xperia P on 4.0 and my Nexus 7 on 4.2 – though I’m probably wasting my time telling you this because you’re probably one of those Sony hating bullshiters that will post any random “Xperias are gay” crap you can post because unfortunately people are sad.

      • From your reply, I can see that either you are still a kid or you have been hiding in a cave all these years.

        • MasterMuffin

          Either of those are true, he’s just really big Samsung fanboy (or so it seems based on the comments he has written).

          • you can call me a fanboy, but i just buy the best products!!

          • MasterMuffin

            That wasn’t an insult, Samsung FTW! :D

        • i have used some sony phones, xperia ray, xperia s and the ARC s, they all had crazy amounts of lag.

          • MasterMuffin

            I haven’t owned any Sony phones (because those duckers don’t sell their phones in Finland), but based on review videos of Sony’s flagships, they often lag a lot! Maybe it’s the skin or bravia engine?

          • i don’t know, but what i know is that they also lag like crazy on CM10! my older s1 runs it fine. it’s just something to do with the phone

          • MasterMuffin


          • everyone has a different experience with products. In my case i can’t use any other phone apart from a Samsung one! and nexus’s! i don’t like sense, or sony’s skin, LG skins, and the rest! they just aren’t as smooth as touchwiz!

          • MasterMuffin

            And they’re ugly! Only thing I don’t like in touchwiz is the heaviness but they have reduced it a lot and now it’s pretty good, can’t wait to see if there’s new HD touchwiz in sgs4!

          • ahahaha me too.

    • MasterMuffin

      Of course, SonyFan…

  • nebsif

    Good, leave the dirt cheap devices to Chinese manufacturers. Same for HTC, god knows how many 2011 spec phones HTC and Sony spammed in 2012.
    All those Desires and small Xperias make me feel no sympathy for the companies’ shrinking profits.

  • micron

    I like both Xperia Z and ZL,

    but I’ll wait for review & battery test first, because my experience with sony phone often get bad battery life and slow UI..

  • Sony should make another Ray, where we can get ‘almost’ all high end technology of the flagship into one very compact phone. Nowadays most flagship device are in 5″ realm which leave us with only mid range devices in 4″ to 4.3″ segment.

  • Cedrik Portugues

    Love the phone hate the skin they use but at the same time I do enjoy Sony services. It seems as though Sony is trying to find a median as far as software goes they want to be able to deliver updates seamless and not have to sacrifice their services. My my opinion is they should just stay stock until they can develop a deeper app portfolio for their skin similar to the likes of Sammy. Hopefully they expand on the PS mobile app would like to see more integration with their biggest market second to their camera division.

  • I do agree that the phone design is really sleek and beautiful. But beside having nice hardware and design, the software support is also very important. If this flag ships is not having fast response from Sony regarding OS updates, I bet it will be very sad that the phones are still running on 4.1 while other rivals flag ships are already on latest OS versions.

  • Ali Bijani

    sony needs to use the stock android interface or improve its current interface
    one of the things that i hate about sony android phones is their interface

  • Mehdi Solamannejad

    Well, Their Xperia E is a total low-end. Its running on a S1 SoC and it’s a part of ther 2013 lineup.

  • I’m a bit keen on the ZL, it seems to have a dedicated camera button. Like the Sony Ericsson K-series did.

  • Friedrich

    i will always buy sony because i kinda know where my money is spent on.. i wont pay for apple, because i dislike their strategy.. just watch at youtube, search for “has apple ever invented anything”. You will see a lot of the things apple says it has invented, was invented by others.. also the iphone was inspired by sony phones, just google for steve job´s affection to sony. Apple a lot of times said it invented sth, but ,most times it only bought the license and copy rights. And samsung is korean.. and i will always choose a japanese product above an korean.. japan is the mots important trading partner for the us in east asia (if you exclude china). And also sony has a traditional worth.