Sony Mobile goes premium: What it means for Indian consumers

Sony aims to market itself as a premium phone maker by launching products with features that “only Sony can deliver.”

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Sony Mobile’s recent decision to cut the flab and concentrate only on premium smartphones in the future has received thumbs up from experts and industry watchers around the globe. Despite having launched several competitive phones in the last decade, the company was surely and effectively forced out of the ten top smartphone sellers around the globe by other Korean and Chinese phone-makers who offered better pricing and upgrade cycles.

When Sony Mobile decided to junk the Z-series and replace it with new X-series phones, people saw it as an attempt by the company to consolidate the product lines and offer cheaper smartphones with lower production costs. At the same time, the company continued to invest in some ‘Premium Standard’ and premium flagship smartphones which took on other flagship products launched by the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei and OnePlus. The strategy worked, for Sony Mobile posted a profit of $94 million in 2016 compared to a net loss of $550 million in 2015.

The company’s recent announcement isn’t really news for Indian smartphone buyers. According to Firstpost, Sony’s intent to sell only premium smartphones in India was first announced as early as in the middle of 2016. However, the company’s website continued to feature both entry-level as well as mid-range phones which are priced between Rs 11,990 and Rs 27,990 and includes the likes of Xperia T3, Xperia C4 Dual and Xperia C5 Ultra.

For Indian buyers, these phones may be well priced, but there are always cheaper alternatives which boast similar specifications, cameras and screen sizes. Products launched by the likes of Huawei, Micromax, Lenovo and Xiaomi have virtually relegated Sony Mobile into becoming a near non-entity, and this may have forced the company to change tact quickly and decisively.

For those willing to spend in excess of Rs 40,000 to buy premium smartphones, Sony Mobile offers a number of options which are far more competitive than their cheaper siblings. The top-end Xperia XZ Premium runs the latest Android OS version, is powered by the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, features a 3,230 mAh battery, a 4K HDR display with Dynamic Contrast Enhancer and protected by a Gorilla Glass 5 screen, 19-MP and 13-MP rear and front cameras and offers IP68 protection from water and dust.

The Xperia XZs (Rs 51,990) features the same cameras, RAM and water-protection as the Xperia XZ Premium as well as top specs and features like Dual SIM support, a Snapdragon 820 processor, a 2,900 mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and a TRILUMINOS display. It is also available in good-looking colours like Ice Blue, Warm Silver and Black. By paying Rs 41,990, you can also buy an Xperia XZ which will offer you 23-MP and 13-MP cameras, high water-resistance, a Snapdragon 820 processor, 64GB of internal storage, 3GB of RAM, a 2,900 mAh battery, a fingerprint sensor and a TRILUMINOS display with Dynamic Contrast Enhancement.

With prices starting from Rs 57,900 and Rs 64,900, Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are much pricier, and so is the LG G6 which costs upwards of Rs 55,000. As far as premium specifications are concerned, Sony’s XZ series faces stiff competition not only from HTC’s U Ultra but also from the likes of OnePlus 3T and Huawei P10 which are competitively priced as well.

If you are a Xperia fan, you will have more reasons to rejoice in the coming days. Not only will Sony Mobile discard cheaper phones which aren’t competitive enough, the company also aims to market itself as a premium phone maker by launching products with features that “only Sony can deliver.” Future premium phones from the company are thus expected to arrive with features like the advanced Motion-eye camera system capable of shooting slow-mo videos at 1000 fps, 4K HDR display which can be used to view 4K content available in Amazon Prime Video as well as ‘unique antenna and RF technologies’ that will enable download speeds up to 1Gbps.