You may soon have fewer Sony smartphones to choose from, as the electronics giant is reportedly shifting its smartphone strategy away from second-tier devices to focus primarily on its flagship models.
That's the word out of Sony's Investor Day this week, according to a report published by Xperia Blog. Stung by lackluster sales for phones such as the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact, Sony instead plans to turn its attention away from what's called the "Premium Standard" segment to focus more on its flagship phones and mid-tier models.
This shift in strategy wouldn't affect phones like the Xperia XZ Premium, which Sony unveiled at Mobile World Congress this February. That phone, slated for release in the U.S. later this year, promises premium features such as a camera capable of shooting super slow motion as well as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile processor.
Instead, the new strategy that Sony will reportedly follow would mean fewer phones that offer some high-profile features like longer battery life or improved camera performance while making trade-offs in other areas like processor speed.
In a sense, that would be a shame — it's always better to have more phones to choose from, after all. But Sony's so-called Premium Standard phones often failed to compete on price with mid-tier devices that offered similar features.
Take the Xperia X Compact, a phone Tom's Guide praised for its long-lasting battery, even if we were disappointed by its camera and middling design. The Xperia X Compact is one of the longest lasting smartphones we've tested, enduring for more than 11 hours on our battery test. But it also debuted with a $500 price tag. At present, half-a-dozen phones last longer on a charge while costing less than the Xperia X Compact, even with the price on Sony's phone falling to $400 at some locations.
The problem facing Sony and other phone makers is that with premium features now finding their way into phones that cost $400 and less, it's harder for devices that cost only a fraction less than iPhone or Galaxy models to stand out from the crowd.
Another section of the Xperia Blog report says that Sony will also focus smartphone efforts in markets where the company can take advantage of its brand name, such as the Far East, Europe and Middle East. It's unclear what that would mean for Sony's smartphones in the U.S., a market where phone makers not named Apple or Samsung struggle for attention.
We've asked Sony for comment on the report about its smartphone plans and what it might mean for U.S. customers and will update the story if we hear back.