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Opinion 156 Shares 10 comments

Could Sony's best phone also be its last?

The Xperia Z5 is a great phone – it has a cool new fingerprint scanner in a convenient location, an overhauled Xperia UI and rock-solid hardware that shows no sign of overheating. In almost every conceivable way, it's actually Sony's best phone. But it might also be Sony's last.

We really liked the Xperia Z5 when it came out, but we all knew it was too little too late. It's the phone that Sony should have released instead of the ill-fated Xperia Z3+ (also known as the Xperia Z4v or just plain Xperia Z4 in Japan). The Z3+ was a hot mess – literally – and caused so many problems that Verizon decided to drop it entirely.

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Overheating and camera crashes caused huge problems for Sony in 2015. / © ANDROIDPIT

A problematic release cycle

Following the disaster of the Z3+, Sony rushed the Xperia Z5 out in an attempt to get things back on track. In many ways it succeeded. Objectively speaking it's a great phone, but it probably isn't enough to win back an American public that has been put off by Sony's bad track record. Consumers may have even half-forgotten Sony makes phones, considering its complete absence from the market in the second half of 2015.

We don't know yet if Verizon is willing to go anywhere near the Xperia Z5 for the US market, but even if it does, the phone will be so old by the time it hits shelves the Xperia Z6 will already be here. This is one reason why Sony's six-monthly release cycle can be problematic: by the time a phone hits all markets, the successor is already out in other places.

A case in point: the Xperia Z3+ has finally been confirmed for an official US release, complete with US warranty. The Sony Mobile page lists B&H Photo Video as the official retailer, and the phone will cost US$479.99. The only problem is that you can already get the Xperia Z5 imported, albeit without a US warranty.

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Despite being great phones, the Z5 devices came out at the worst possible time. / © ANDROIDPIT

Growth areas vs cutting losses

Sony has publicly admitted that it doesn't expect to see much growth in mobile in the near future, although it has assured us that it is not going to sell its mobile division. Nevertheless, it is clearly looking to other areas for growth potential, including commercial drone services to make more profitable use of its imaging and mobile technologies.

We think it's unlikely that the Xperia Z5 will be the last Xperia smartphone to be released in the US, but by the time the Xperia Z6 comes around there might not be a US carrier willing to take it on. Considering the problems Sony has faced this year it's hard to imagine the company will want to continue its six-monthly release cycle either, or even that it can afford to do so.

There will always be a market for Sony devices and there will always be ways to buy phones when they're not released in your home market. But there comes a time in every business when you have to weigh up potential against problems and cut your losses if the scales tip the wrong way, and that time is getting dangerously close for Sony Mobile in the US.

Are you an Xperia fan? What do you think Sony needs to do to turn it around? Share your views in the comments.


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  • I disappointed with night mode flash :( its ridiculous. ..

  • Mutaz O. 11 months ago Link to comment

    Sony's six-monthly release cycle need to be reviewed, it's some kind of disappointing, they should know how an old release holder feel when a new one quickly launched, another thing, is Sony suffers a lack of innovators? of course NO, then why is this step by step slow new features, that is just ifeature. also, Sony UI need more attractive interfacing.

  • Sony makes very good phones, but just need to release just one of each category a year? Definitely get there marketing strategy sorted out, then they might start doing better?

  • 5URV1V0R 11 months ago Link to comment

    Both Sony and HTC seem to have lost their tracks, and been releasing quick updates for their hardware without a clear roadmap of what they want to be. They have good hardware and software but miss having a clear identity or positioning. The delays in listing the new phones only makes things tougher.
    Hope 2016 will see them back on track...

  • Sony needs to make a new design or try different smartphone series alongside the Z and try to see which one sells the most. Then get customer surveys and opinions of what the best feature in each series is and take all the best features and combine it into a single unrivalled smartphone with excellent hardware and software.

  • Sony's aggressive use of DRM on everything (including image processing software) put me off all Sony a while ago. They still make excellent devices and they used to be my go-to brand for anything but no more.

  • Kari Melby 11 months ago Link to comment

    Sony is the best phone ever, but I wait for update to marshmallows 6.0.
    Enybody who know the time for update

  • Art Tappan 11 months ago Link to comment

    Yes, I agree with the author.

    Unfortunately for SONY, the Z5 is probably too little too late, and it was nothing more than a warmed-over iteration in a long line of warmed-over iterations of the same phone.

    Furthermore, it was never released in the USA...not even on SONY's own website, let alone any of the major carriers. The USA is the biggest and most important and most affluent marketplace in the world, but SONY has pretty much dumped on us here in the USA. Instead, SONY wants to focus their marketing resources in places like India and Southeast Asia, where most people can hardly afford to buy a loaf of bread, much less an $800 smartphone. What the hell is SONY thinking?

    If SONY wants to run with the big dogs, they need to act like a big dog, and quit jerking around with phones that are just "good enough" because "good enough" is no longer good enough in today's world. And they need to make fewer models and release their Flagship only once a year.

    Going forward, SONY needs to make sure the Z6 is clearly and absolutely the world's very best smartphone. It should be an amazing phone (not just a "pretty good" phone); it must have the best and fastest camera to compete with Apple; it must have at least 4GB of RAM, Gorilla glass, and the SD820 SoC with no overheating or stuttering issues. SONY should continue with waterproofing and their signature beautiful Omni-balance design, but add the chrome color choice to the line-up. SONY could drop the Play Station control feature because it's not relevant and useless, and they should increase resolution on the Compact model to 1080p and increase RAM to 4GB to insure it's solid place in the marketplace.

    The Z6 may be SONY's last chance to prove it can make a brilliant phone, so it had better be brilliant. They need to wait until September to release it to make sure they get everything right and test it thoroughly, then release it everywhere, especially in the USA and on their own website with full warranty, advertise the hell out of it on TV and print media, price it to sell (SONY phones are over-priced for what they are), and then back-up their products with world-class customer service and support, like Apple. (Why the hell did SONY close all their mall stores in the USA? Where are we supposed to go to see, touch and ask questions about their products? And what do we do if we need service and repairs? SONY needs to take a lesson in customer support from Apple.)

    I hope SONY makes the Z6 a truly uncompromised phone and makes it available to everyone this time. Good luck, SONY! This may be your last hurrah in the smartphone business. I hope not.

    • I absolutely 100% agree. Sony needs agressive marketing and they need to make an Apple style store in New York to gain significant attention and traction. Sony needs to put up displays in Times Square in New York. They need to advertise in Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major cities in the US to regain their lost brand image and popularity. Sony needs to make the Z6 perfect or else there is no chance left for any profit or true success. Let them take their time. I'd rather see a Sony device that is built with time and perfection instead of one that's rushed to the market, lacks a good design, and becomes outdated in 6 months. Sony clearly should've skipped the Z3+ or made the Z3+ run an 808 to avoid the overheating and run more sales. If they updated the processor, camera, and display inside the Z3 to get the Z3+, they could've delayed the Z5 to January 2016 and put a Snapdragon 820 to gain more sales. Sony needs to get its act together and move the business much faster.

  • oscar 11 months ago Link to comment

    Sony xperia is still the best platfom ever for me,jiwe juu ya jiwe

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