×

Check out the ‘world’s first’ 4K smartphone

Sony's new range of smartphones includes a device it is calling the world's first 4K – or ultra-ultra-high definition – handset, as the Japanese technology giant focuses on its strengths in a bid to better compete with competitors.

The Xperia Z5 series, which was unveiled at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Wednesday, consists of three phones: the Compact with a 4.6 inch screen, the mid-sized Z5 phone with a 5.2 inch screen, and the Z5 Premium with a 5.5 inch 4K display.

Sony claims that this last model is the first ever 4K smartphone. 4K refers to a display resolution which is even higher than ultra-high definition – a technology that a number of companies are focusing on for next generation TVs.


Camera, 4K focus

It comes as Sony struggles to compete in what is an incredibly tough -- and slowing market -- for device makers.

Earlier this month, HTC reported a second-quarter net loss after tax of 8 billion new Taiwan dollars ($253 million) due to weak smartphone sales. Worldwide, smartphone shipments are expected to grow 10.4 percent in 2015 to 1.44 billion units—a big drop from the 27.5 percent growth recorded last year, according to IDC.

And Sony's mobile communications division has been struggling for some time. The unit reported a 22.9 billion yen ($189 million) operating lost for the three months ending June 30 and said at the time that it was pursuing profitability rather than unit sales.


Its new phones reveal a focus on the more profitable areas of its business: image sensors and gaming, with both featuring prominently in the new series of smartphones. The Z5, for instance, has a 23 megapixel camera and marks the first time Sony has included a new sensor in its smartphones since the Z1 was released in 2013.

"They are truly focusing on the camera, on the display, and to make the first 4K smartphone is interesting. Even if they don't sell huge volumes on the Z5 Premium, at least it raises awareness of the quality of devices," Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, told CNBC by phone.


"They are trying to become a player that plays in the premium segment in the regions where they can make profits. There is no point trying to compete with low-end Chinese brands and Apple at the high-end. This is the right strategy in the end."

While the Japanese titan is unlikely to dislodge the dominance of Samsung and Apple, analysts said that the new smartphones could bring some stability to its devices division.

"Even if the smartphone business is smaller than competitors at least it is profitable. If it isn't profitable they won't survive in this space," Jeronimo added.

The Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact will be rolled out globally from October 2015 and will be priced at the "premium" end of the scale, Sony said. The Z5 Premium will be available globally from November with a "super-premium" price tag.