Sony Mobile today launched their new flagship Android superphone, the Xperia Z at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas today. Concurrently, they also featured two new NFC-enabled headsets, the Stereo Bluetooth Headset SBH20 and Wireless Headset DR-BTN200M.
Hardware for Xperia Z
The Sony Xperia Z encompasses the best of Sony in TV, imaging (camera), music, film and gaming innovations and is their new flagship Android device. Powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, the Xperia Z is also equipped with 2GB of RAM and a 2,330mAh battery. Images look particularly rich with colours on its 5-inch 1080p full HD display. Just imagine, taking the number of pixels same as that of a 46″ LCD/LED TV and compressing into a 5″ display size. The new screen is really the star here, with an improved resolution of over 50% compared to existing screens. It’s like holding one of Sony Bravia TVs in the palm of your hand. A 13-megapixel camera with an Exmor RS sensor captures images relatively fast, and high dynamic range imaging (HDR) is introduced for the first time on its video recording function. 4G LTE and NFC rounds it up for connectivity. The Sony Xperia Z focuses on durability, and is advertised to be dust and water resistant able to survive a dip in the pool or toilet bowl for a duration of about half an hour. This is coupled with tempered glass and an anti-shatter film for the phone’s front and back. With it targeting the younger and hipper crowd, a series of colour options are available and there are 3 on offer at launch, white, black and magenta.
Its NFC feature allows one-touch function to wirelessly connect to the Wireless Headset DR-BTN200M and the new Sony Mini To Go portable speaker, also announced today. One-touch functions are also available with Sony’s new Bravia TV introduced today. This feature utilises NFC and shares content by touching the phone to the device. For example, if you are watching a video clip on the Xperia Z, tapping it on the remote of the Bravia TV will cast the content on the big screen. Similarly, music can be played off the Sony Mini To Go portable speakers and Wireless Headset DR-BTN200M with just a tap. I must admit that Sony has upped its game and the Xperia Z is a very attractive handset. It is rumoured that the Xperia XL (similar specs) would also be equipped with an Infrared blaster, so that you could replicate remote controls such as that for your TV or Blu-Ray palyer.
Software for Xperia Z
On the software side, the Xperia Z runs Android 4.1 Jellybean, which is a slight disappointment since Android 4.2 is already available. Sony UI has received positive comments from most online reviews and well, less is more with Sony focusing on simplicity. Other notable features is Battery STAMINA mode, which reportedly extends battery life by as much as four times. This is achieved by blocking cellular communications and program access for programs that sync-ed in the background. Specific apps like email, whatsapp can still be whitelisted and enabled.
It will be interesting to see how well the hardware and software of the Xperia Z comes together. With it being the first next generation phones that come to the market, it might be able to secure initial market share prior to the competitors from HTC or Samsung emerge.
Pricing & Availability of Xperia Z in Singapore
We are still waiting for Sony Singapore to provide more launch details but if we were to look at the Xperia V, Sony priced it at a very competitive price in the sub-S$700 price range. More often that not, SingTel (SingTelShop) have frequently maintained a competitive price point for the Sony mobile list of phones and we are hoping that the Xperia Z would follow a similar mechanism and be priced at the same price point as like the Samsung S3 LTE. Largely, this could be due to extensive competition for the Android scene and for the need for Sony Singapore to quickly re-establish themselves. With such a focus on hardware specifications and user-friendliness, it seems like Sony would feature rather prominently in 2013.
The SBH20 and DR-BTN200M are wireless stereo headsets for clear calling and promises impressive audio that function over bluetooth technology. Sony have added NFC functionality to them and would work well with the newer range of phones. However, NFC itself has not seen much adoption yet and even Apple has not incorporated it into the iPhones. Though 2013 might see that change. Together with consumer giant LG, Sony has paid greater attention to the use of NFC and we should see more consumer level devices launched with NFC capability. It makes for easy pairing of devices and to trigger specific commands.