A step back in time…
I always think of Sony as a Media 1.0 company – from the Sony Walkman to the Sony Trinitron – the market was willing to pay a premium for the products, and the premium was worth it. Sony in turn were trying to integrate media buying and creating music and film label such as RCA Columbia.
Trouble brewed however, when Sony were busy building proprietary standalone technologies, Apple realised it was about the ecosystem – get them in easy, make it hard to leave. Steve Jobs become the Akio Morita of the noughties.
Buying up Ericsson and ditching that brand name was I thought the shrewdest move that the Sony has undertaken… to me the last market leading phone that Sony released was the Z5 back in 2000 (make note of the Z denotion); however since then they’ve been playing catchup to both Apple and Samsung in terms of build and convergence.
Sony have started to converge. The Sony Xperia Z was a valiant attempt to regain the market – and probably the most exciting phone that we’ve in the last year bringing the likes of a 1080p screen and an Exmor RS sensor to the market before any of the competition. Truth is Sony does have market leading screen and camera sensor capabilities in house… and I think they’ve started to realise these technologies need to be milked if they are to succeed.
After living with the Xperia Z for a while we thought truthfully give it a generation or 2 Sony could genuinely regain its position as Android market leader. Samsung watch out.
Stepping forth… the Sony Z1
Cue then the 2nd generation Sony Z phone, the Sony Z1 (taking the Ultra and previous generation Sony Z phones out of the equation). Sony have taken everything from the Xperia Z and made it better including:
- A Quad Core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at a staggering 2.2 supported by 2GB of ram
- A 20.7 Megapixel Exmor RS sensor and 27mm f2 Sony G Lens with Bionz processing
- 16Gb of storage supported by a Micro SD card
- With metal banding the Z1 has an even more premium feel than the old Xperia – they call it Omnibalance “durable tempered glass and solid one-piece aluminium frame”
- A Sony Triluminos taken Sony’s latest display technologies – still 5 inches and 1080p
- Available in black, white or purple
The Sony then is a great attempt at the best phone on the market. Our experience with it at the IFA was that the screen was improved and the camera certainly showed better resolution and excellent low light capability. The only issue I had being a keen photographer is that I still feel they could optimise the software using the lens and sensor combination significantly to make this a true market leader. With the excellent Nokia 1020, and of course the still superb iPhone 5 camera it still feels like a Sony can achieve a lot more with the onboard hardware especially taking into account that the iPhone uses Sony sensor technology to get its magnificent results.
Innovative camera add ons.
Most interestingly Sony are releasing a set of camera lens add-ons that operate via NFC to give a true camera experience. These include.
- The Sony Qx100: Amazingly make your phone into the equivalent of the excellent Sony RX100. There will also be the (less interesting) Sony QX10 which makes the camera into a 10x camera through another external lens.
- Smart Imaging Stand IPT-DS10M: An intelligent accessory that helps Xperia Z1 detect smiles and capture special moments without the need to hold the handset – very much like the Sony Part shot products that have been released in the past.
- Smartphone Tripod SPA-MK20M: A versatile tripod perfect for extra stability when taking pictures or capturing video
There’s no doubt that Sony do seem to be focusing on the strengths that they have in imaging for their cameras – lets hop that they manage to pull it off!
You can find the full press release on the camera accessories here
What we think…
We’re sure that when its released over the next few weeks that there’s no doubt that this will be the best Android phone in the market. There are still some questions about optimising the camera on Sony phones and I truly hope that Google builds a “Google play” edition of this phone as Sony can be a little slower developing software updates vs. the rest of the market although their devices do seem to have a longer shelf life than the rest of the market.
I’m a big believer that Sony can win the hearts of its former users back and as a thought to Sony I would suggest that releasing such excellent hardware on the Windows 8 phone platform as well as Android will help them win even more fans back and seeing such hardware on Windows Phone 8 would no doubt make it the market leader in that area. As good as Nokia phones are they don’t compare to the top Apple or Android phones and we need excellent hardware like this in the window phone arena.
An excellent phone then from Sony which will likely be the market leader for a good few months. Where Sony go from here is likely to be the most important step and decisions they’ve had to make in years…