Sony launches a vibrating phone with world’s first 4K HDR video recording

  • Sony unveiled the Xperia XZ2 at Mobile World Congress on Monday.
  • Sony said the Xperia XZ2 is the world's first smartphone to offer 4K high dynamic range (HDR) video recording.
  • The device has a 5.7-inch display and can upscale the video quality from services such as YouTube and Netflix.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 is on display in this image.
Sony
The Sony Xperia XZ2 is on display in this image.

Sony took the wraps of its latest smartphone Monday, which it claims is the world's first to offer so-called 4K high dynamic range (HDR) video recording.

The Japanese tech giant hopes its bolstered camera will help it battle smartphone giants Samsung and Apple.

Images shot in HDR essentially make the contrast between light and dark colors even more prominent, so the white highlights are even brighter. The purpose is to make the image on screen look more realistic. 4K refers to the screen resolution.

On Sony's new Xperia XZ2, users can shoot 4K HDR content. It's an impressive feat given that often larger cameras are required to do this. But Sony has played to its strengths in the image sensor and camera business to help differentiate its smartphones.

Users can film super slow motion video as well. Last year, on the Xperia XZ1, Sony launched a feature that let users capture images in 3-D. This required a person walking around an object and recording it with the camera. Sony has bolstered this ability on the XZ2, allowing users to take a selfie that then is rendered into a 3-D image of themselves.

Other key features include:

  • Ability to upscale video quality from services like Netflix and YouTube
  • 5.7-inch display
  • Fingerprint sensor on the back
  • Wireless charging

Sony has also introduced haptic feedback into the device. This means that the phone vibrates when a user is consuming content. It's similar to the mechanism in Sony PlayStation's game controllers.

The Japanese firm has struggled in the smartphone market. Under outgoing CEO Kazuo Hirai, the company has streamlined its smartphone portfolio to focus on markets where it's seeing traction. But this has led to Sony becoming a relatively small player in the smartphone market. In its December quarter, sales in Sony's mobile communications business fell 12.5 percent year-on-year.

Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, told CNBC that the Xperia XZ2 is unlikely to sell in large volumes, but it does show off their camera capabilities. Sony is a supplier of components for cameras to other smartphone makers, so the device could be used to display the company's capabilities.

"The problem Sony has is nobody really believes they will continue to grow in the smartphone market. It's a tough business, they are focusing on an ultra high-end, very niche part of the market and that is a tough market to compete against Apple and Samsung," Jeronimo told CNBC by phone ahead of the launch.

"For them, it's about the statement rather than huge gamechanger."

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