Sony gets back in the game with the Z smartphone and tablet

copilot-sony-experia-z-satnavIt’s been a turbulent few years for Sony. After a couple of decades of consumer electronics dominance, many of their traditional markets simply changed overnight and the company was slow to keep -up. Firstly consumers switched from buying and playing their music on CDs to downloading or streaming. Then on the TV front, a division that was historically considered an industry benchmark was overtaken by faster innovation from competitors.

Meanwhile the company’s mobile phone partnership with Ericsson and focus on Symbian UIQ began to falter in the face of the iPhone and Android onslaught. As the general impression of decline increased it’s no surprise that many started to wonder whether Sony could ever recover it’s halo as the consumer tech industry’s leader.

Recently there have been some promising signs of recovery. Sony’s TV division, while still loss-making, is finally turning-out products that can compete with the likes of Samsung. Sony’s cameras are now considered to be up there with the best, and the company’s Blu-ray players, home cinema and laptops are similarly well-regarded. The Sony Playstation brand remains powerful globally, and the company’s film and music divisions control some of the most sought-after content around.

Imagine if Sony could start combining all of that innovation and expertise into a single consumer platform, coupled with some great mobile hardware?

Bring on the Sony Xperia Z smartphone – and the Xperia Tablet Z. This time it looks like they may have hit a winning formula.

Firstly there’s the Xperia Z. It’s been little over a year since Sony announced they’d be separating from Ericsson to go it alone, and the Android-based Z is a direct result. Style-wise it follows a similar design to Sony’s latest TVs – simple and uncluttered with minimal screen bezel. The 5″ screen is full HD resolution and reportedly utilizes Sony’s Bravia 2 display engine, developed by the TV division, to provide fantastic image quality. On the camera-front, the Z packs a 13megapixel camera, developed by Sony’s camera division and which is capable of great images even in low-light conditions. Despite all this, the Z is about the same thickness (or as the fanboys might say “thinness”) as an iPhone 5. It’s about the same weight too, so it still very much maintains the dimensions of a phone rather than a ‘phablet’.

Naturally the phone has in-built GPS, so it’s CoPilot-ready, and we will be working to ensure that CoPilot is ready for the Z – in particular that everything is compatible with that amazing 5″ screen. Interestingly the Z is waterproof to save the day if it ever gets heavily rained-on or (as apparently happens to a remarkable 19% of smartphone users) it gets dropped into the toilet. We reckon that this weather-proofing will go down well with motorcyclists who want to continue receiving CoPilot’s directions without having to put the phone in their jacket pocket.

And then there’s the Xperia Tablet Z. ┬áSimilar in design to the Z smartphone, the Tablet Z packs a 10″ screen to directly compete with the iPad 4. Apparently the lightest and thinnest 10″ tablet in the world, it looks on the face of it to be one of the first Android contenders that will challenge the iPad on aesthetics and build quality. We can’t wait to get our hands on one to test it out.

Whether the Z series will actually see Sony make a serious impact on the smartphone and tablet market remains to be seen, however we are seriously impressed and we wouldn’t want to bet against them.

Poll: Will you consider the Sony Z as your next smartphone?

Yes – it looks amazing

Maybe, but not sure about moving to Android

No – I’m waiting for the Galaxy S4

No – my next phone will be an iPhone

No – Windows Phone 8 for me

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