TechSummit Rewind 159: Sony at MWC 2017

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Sony at MWC 2017.

Xperia XZ Premium

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Sony hopes to bounce back from a lackluster 2016 with the introduction of the 5.5-inch Xperia XZ Premium with a number of world firsts.

The XZ Premium has the world’s first 4K HDR (2160×3840) display in a smartphone.

Besides the display, the phone also has the new Motion Eye camera system. Sony has embedded fast memory right into the camera stack, allowing it to produce super-slow motion of 960fps at 720p resolution. The rapid burst only lasts for 0.18 seconds however, so you’re technically only capturing something closer to 180 frames.

The addition of the extra memory also helps Sony start buffering shots as soon as the camera detects motion in the frame – so that there’s absolutely no lag when you press the shutter button, the camera just pulls the image it was already taking at that moment. This is the sort of system that’ll rely on good autofocus, and Sony is bringing back the triple-sensor system from the Xperia XZ: there’s laser AF, an RGBC infrared sensor for adjusting white balance on the fly, and an updated ExmorRS image sensor. The latter now has 19 percent larger pixels, stepping its resolution down to 19 megapixels. Sony’s Bionz image processing engine has also been updated with better motion detection and noise reduction.

Both colors (luminous chrome or deepsea black) are fingerprint magnets with Gorilla Glass 5 layered around the front and back, with metal antennas at the top and bottom of the device.

In terms of specs, Sony touts the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and won’t launch until the late spring or early summer because of it.

Other notable features include IP65 and IP68 water resistance, a thinner 7.9mm profile, and microSD card support. The phone’s battery is reasonable at 3,230mAh, and there’s the usual fingerprint sensor baked into the side-mounted power button.

Mid-range Xperias

Sony also unveiled three mid-range phones. The first and most interesting is the Xperia XZs, which features the exact same Motion Eye camera system as the XZ Premium.

However, the screen is bumped down to a 5.2-inch 1080p screen (with 2.5D curved glass running over the top). Instead of glass on both sides, the XZs has a metal back that saves you from the fingerprints and smudges on the XZ Premium.

It’s outfitted with a Snapdragon 820, and other Sony signatures like water resistance. The XZs will launch beginning in April.

Rounding out the lineup are the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra. Both are powered by Mediatek Helio P20 processors and feature edge-to-edge displays (with sizable top and bottom bezels). The XA1 has a five-inch 720p screen, while the Ultra has a six-inch 1080p display. Both devices have a 23-megapixel f/2 rear camera lens, with differing selfie cameras. The XA1 has an 8-megapixel front camera, while the Ultra increases that to 16 megapixels and adds optical image stabilization for vloggers.

Both phones include Xperia Actions, a new software feature that Sony claims can learn user habits and automatically manage apps accordingly.

“When you go to bed, your Xperia can learn your bedtime routine and automatically adjust the screen brightness and call volume.”

-Sony, in a press release

The XA1 and XA1 Ultra will launch this spring in white, black, pink, and gold.

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