Sony launches high-end smartphone with a TV screen on it 

  • Sony unveiled the Xperia XZ3 at the IFA consumer electronics show on Thursday.
  • It's the company's first smartphone with an OLED screen.
  • Sony's smartphone business has been struggling in the face of competition from Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

Sony launched a premium smartphone on Thursday with the latest screen technology and a bolstered camera in a bid to turn around its struggling mobile unit.

The Xperia XZ3 is the Japanese giant's first device with an organic light emitting diode or OLED display, the same kind that's on Apple's iPhone X. But Sony has used the technology that it deploys on its high-end Bravia TV line.

OLED screens are more power efficient and allow the device to display more vibrant and contrasting colors.

The Xperia XZ3 was unveiled at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany. Other key specs include:

  • 6-inch OLED display
  • 19 megapixel main camera and 13 megapixel selfie camera.

Sony will be hoping the new device can help change the fortunes of its struggling smartphone business which swung to an operating loss in the year ending March 31, from the previous fiscal year.

The company attributed the fall to declining smartphone shipments. Sony has been trying to slim down its mobile portfolio in favor of profits over volumes, but it has faced increasing competition from players like Huawei, in the mid-to-high range and Apple and Samsung in the premium end of the market. Sony had just 0.6 percent of the global smartphone market share in the second quarter of 2018, according to data from Counterpoint Research, down from 1 percent in the same period last year.

Sony has been doubling down on the fast-growing areas of its business to offset the decline in mobile such as its PlayStation gaming unit and image sensors.

With the Xperia XZ3, Sony has focused on the areas where it has typically been strong - camera and screen quality.

The camera on the handset has the ability to record video in 4K, which is four times the resolution of standard high definition. It will run the latest version of Google's Android operating system too.

To draw in the ever-growing mobile gaming audience, Sony is offering a digital download of "Call of Duty: Black Ops" for people who pre-order the device.

But analysts said the Xperia XZ3 is unlikely to boost Sony's share in the smartphone market.

"Their premium market share has plummeted as Japan is the only market where Sony sells their premium phones in volume. Japan, overall contributes to more than half of Sony's smartphone sales and more than 40 percent of the volumes. So the new flagship will be more aligned to succeed in its home market than outside of Japan," Neil Shahe, research director at Counterpoint Research told CNBC by email ahead of the launch.

"Sony has scaled down considerably in terms of operations and geographic focus, which unfortunately doesn't give their new flagship much opportunity to out compete rivals."

Correction: This story has been updated to correct an error misstating the name of the Sony Xperia XZ3.