Sony have been updating their flagship devices every six months with a new generation device for a number of years now. This business strategy is claimed that to keep their product portfolio fresh and current, but has important side effects for customers buying one handset as part of a two year plan and then seeing a newer device at most, some six months later. Sony’s other potential issue is that of keeping the product line up fresh because in six month upgrade cycle means reliance on component manufacturers developing and bringing to market new hardware that can be seen to be bringing new features to the customer. If a new flagship has a similar design to the old flagship, similar software and cameras, but an incremental upgrade to the processor, what is to encourage customers to buy the newer device? This is perhaps an issue facing Sony with the upgrade from the existing Z3 flagship to the new Z4: the Z4 is set to include a more modern iteration of the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor in the Z3, perhaps a bump in screen resolution and RAM, but a similar camera and software setup.
Sony Ericsson has in the past tried a different technique in order to mitigate the problems with short upgrade cycles by using a name convention that highlights that the new device is an iteration of the old. We saw this with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and the Arc S, which offered a higher performance processor as the only significant difference between the two models. And today I’m bringing you the news of a rumor that Sony’s alleged Xperia Z4 that we have been covering in recent weeks is not, in fact, the Z4 but is instead the Z3 Neo.
We understand that Sony are committed to their six month product cycle, but are also needing to change how their devices are sold owing to poor sales. Perhaps the introduction of the new Samsung Galaxy S6 has caused marketing departments to reconsider, given the far reaching changes under the skin of the S6 compared with the S5? The device that we had believed to be the Z4 is similar in design to the existing flagship Z3, but higher specification: perhaps the Z3 Neo name reflects that whilst there are improvements in the new handset, these are more a refinement of the existing device rather than wholesale changes – much like Apple with the iPhone “S” models. This may reflect that the switch from a 1080p resolution display to a QHD resolution, and from the Snapdragon 801 to the 810, gives a relatively small change in the hand
The rumor points that there is still a Xperia Z4 in the works. This new device may have more significant changes, perhaps a change in design language too. We’ll have to wait and see what Sony have up their sleeve.