To separate itself from the smartphone pack, Sony Corp. today introduced a device that has beefed-up camera capabilities and sports what the company said is the world’s first 4K ultra high-definition display. Unveiled at the IFA 2015 electronics trade show in Berlin, the new Xperia Z5 series comes in three handset sizes, each boasting a 23-megapixel Sony image sensor and faster shutter speed, as well as improved capability to take pictures in dark settings.
The largest of the three, the Xperia Z5 Premium, has a 5.5-inch 4K display, the first example of a ultra high-definition screen being used for a smartphone. Previously, Sony phones could record 4K videos, but the handsets weren't able to play back the clips with 4K picture quality.
Is a Camera Enough?
Each handset also has a built-in fingerprint sensor power button located on the side of the phone that can be used to unlock the device. The Xperia Z5 also features Sony’s new 1/2.3 Exmor RS 23MP sensor and a F2.0 G lens. Those features let the phone offer 5x clear-image zoom with minimal loss of quality.
The Xperia Z5 and the Xperia Z5 Compact are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, featuring octa-core CPUs, 64-bit capabilities and 4G LTE speeds. The Xperia Z5 Premium has a large 3430 mAh power pack inside, which Sony said will last for up to two days.
Other features aside, will the upgraded camera functionality be enough to differentiate the Xperia Z5 from a crowded field of competitors? We reached out to Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, to get the answer to that question. He said it doesn’t seem likely.
"I've yet to see a smartphone that's sold in large numbers on the basis of a great camera alone," said Dawson. "A bad camera will seriously dent sales, but a great camera alone isn't enough to sell lots of phones. It needs to be one of a number of compelling features, and it's not clear to me that Sony's new smartphones will check all the other boxes."
Sales Are Down
Sony recently revised a forecast for its global smartphone sales in the fiscal year that ends in March 2016 to 27 million units, down from its original prediction of 30 million. In its most recent fiscal year, the company sold 39.1 million handsets.
One thing that might hold back the new phone from game-changing success is that Japan is the Xperia product line's most fertile market, and the product has been difficult to find in other, larger smartphone markets. However, Sony's biggest problem in markets like the U.S. is getting carrier distribution, according to Dawson.
"U.S. carriers basically seem to have given up on Sony over the last few years, and it's virtually impossible to sell a decent number of phones in the U.S. without the carriers," he said. "Elsewhere, Sony might do OK with these phones, and it's always good to stand out a bit from the rest of the Android pack, but I don't think these cameras will be enough to boost sales significantly."