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Android Headliner: With Sony’s “Z” Series Gone What Does It Mean For The Xperia Line?

March 2, 2016 - Written By Justin Diaz

Sony is a far cry from being one of the most popular smartphone manufacturers in the mobile industry, but they are a household name and they’re recognizable as they have been around in the consumer electronics space for decades. Even though Sony commands a much smaller share of the smartphone market than other brands like LG, Motorola, and Samsung, they still produce an excellent quality handset that any user should be proud to own. The cream of the crop for Sony of course is the Xperia Z series, their flagship device line, which typically sports a very high-quality camera and other great specifications all wrapped up into a sleek design with premium materials. That ship is sailing however, as Sony recently revealed the Xperia Z line this past week at Mobile World Congress, and although it wasn’t immediately revealed as they at first stated there simply wouldn’t be an Xperia Z6, they eventually confirmed that the Xperia Z line is no more, essentially moving out of the way and making room for the Xperia X series of devices.

With Xperia Z out of the way and no longer a part of Sony’s future device launches (presumably, of course, as Sony could always change their minds) what does it mean for Sony’s Xperia flagship endeavors down the road? For years the Xperia Z has always been known as Sony’s top of the line offering, not only looking the best of all of their smartphone options but also using the best hardware. Sony is at a point of transition though, coming to a realization that they needed to make some changes to their product offerings in the mobile space. Although many thought Sony would simply bow out of the smartphone market following many rumors over the last couple of years thanks to dipping sales and profits in the Sony Mobile division, Sony has all but left the mobile space, instead choosing to try and reinvent their mobile products with a more refined user experience each time. This has led them to now with the introduction of the Xperia X lineup of devices, which is where Sony is now putting all of their focus going forward for at last this year. While the Xperia Z series has always been a more premium feeling offering with a compelling experience for users, Sony is trying to focus more on delivering what consumers want out of the smartphone experience.

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Part of how Sony will reach more consumers is with marketing. It’s no secret that Sony markets their smartphone offerings quite a bit less than other top brands, like Samsung for example, but with Xperia X things just might be different as Sony is now more committed than ever to having a presence in the U.S., a large market which they typically don’t focus on very heavily. Aside from marketing, Sony is also starting to highlight benefits of the new Xperia X series of devices with a nicely timed infographic that points out 3 ways the Xperia X series of devices is smarter than your average smartphone. Sony will have to do quite a bit more than post an infographic to get the attention of consumers in regions where they don’t command a large marketshare, but it’s a start, and especially when you consider the announcements for the phones in the Xperia X lineup was just last week at Mobile World Congress, which displays that they’re jumping on things quickly and looking to launch the new lineup of phones as fast as possible, something which they aren’t usually known to do.

One of these new benefits or, smart features, if you will, is something called smart battery management. This particular concept is nothing to the world of smartphones, but Sony’s devices have never really introduced anything that managed a user’s battery for them, much less in the most intelligent way possible. Sony’s devices have always been marketed with great 2-day battery life though, and with Xperia X Sony is taking things a step further by developing the smart battery management to help users get the most out of their device they possibly can, because we all know that devices and all of their cool features will be useless the moment the battery dies. The batteries are still being rated at two days, but the software features inside of these new phones should help users actually reach that point more often now.

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So, with all of this heavy focus on the Xperia X line, posing as somewhat of a fresh start for Sony in the smartphone business, a way to move forward, what does this mean for Xperia Z? Well, Sony already confirmed last week that Xperia Z devices are no more. They are looking ahead to a new standard with a clear mind and a renewed interest in reaching as many consumers as they can in meaningful ways with meaningful features and experiences. aimed at battery, software/hardware design, and camera. Sony understands that people’s lives shift and adapt to the world and events happening around them, and Xperia X is all about adapting with those people whereas Xperia Z, in Sony’s words, was all about bringing the best of their technology to the consumer with each iteration. So, Xperia Z is gone, and while this seems like it might be a sad moment for fans of the flagship lineup, the good news is that Xperia X seems ready to take over with much enthusiasm, and with confidence that it’s ready to offer a better user experience than before.

For those that have been loyal Xperia Z customers and users, this might be a hard pill to swallow, as the Xperia Z has been, in many eyes, the pinnacle of a premium Android smartphone for years. Sony puts it best though by stating that Xperia Z has “reached its culmination” which is why they are looking towards a new direction with a fresh idea and a new series of smartphones to usher them into a new era for the mobile division. It will be some time before Xperia Z devices completely fade of course, as there are still a number of older generation Xperia Z smartphones still available for purchase with a number of users already owning one, and Sony’s more recently launched Xperia Z5 series is still very much available as well. New generations however, are no more. Despite this though, Sony is continuing to deliver a similar design approach to the outside style of their handsets. While the Sony Xperia X series of phones is all about a new message and a new mission, it still takes on elements of design from the Xperia Z family and is still very much “noticeably Sony.”

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It’s this particular detail that will (hopefully) keep them recognizable to the public that were at least aware Sony made smartphones. For the rest of consumers, so long as Sony does what they can to reach them and make people aware that their products exist, the design will serve as an ever stylish and sleek device, simply with a new approach to how it performs and what it offers. The Xperia Z series of devices has always been a set of great phones, whether they be in compact form or the main flagship, but they were always about the “best of the best,” and this clearly didn’t work for Sony on the scale that they wanted. With Xperia X, Sony will be able to offer something that perhaps will capture the attention of customers in a more meaningful way instead of simply throwing out a collection of high-end specs. Xperia Z may be dead, but Sony’s mobile division is not and nor is their willingness to snag more users. In fact, this might be the first time in a long time that Sony is actually doing their utmost to shift their presence among other top smartphone vendors. Time will tell, of course, but a renewed approach might be just what Sony needed, and if you think about it, the Xperia Z line will technically live on inside of the Xperia X in spirit in one way or another.