Sony introduced the Xperia Z1 Compact at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 6. The phone is a petite follow-up to the Xperia Z1 it introduced at IFA in Berlin Sept. 4, 2013, and the Xperia Z it first showed off at CES last year.
Sony promises that the Z1 Compact offers a smaller form factor for those who prefer one-handed use, but squeezes out none of the premium features of the Z1. It boasts a 4.3-inch Triluminos HD display with X-Reality technology and 1,280 by 720 pixels, a dust-resistant and waterproof design, a 2.2GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor that Sony calls "the fastest," and a 20.7-megapixel camera with Sony's Exmore RS mobile image sensor and a "Bionz for mobile" image processing engine.
Put in other terms, if you own an Xperia you can take crazy-sharp photos underwater (and not freak out when you spill coffee).
The Z1 Compact measures 5 by 2.6 by 0.37 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces. (For context, the iPhone 5S, which has a 4-inch display, measures 4.9 by 2.3 by 0.30 inches and weighs 4 ounces.)
The Xperia Z1 also received a CES shout-out, with Sony announcing that T-Mobile will exclusively sell the smartphone in the United States, starting Jan. 22. Consumers who register online now, however, can be part of a Jan. 13 pre-sale.
In addition to featuring a 5-inch display, a 20.7-megapixel camera with the Bionz for mobile image processing engine, "G Lens" and CMOS image sensor, the Z1 is the "gamer's ultimate handheld companion," per Sony. It's the first smartphone to come preloaded with a PlayStation App, which enables phones to interact with Sony's PlayStation 4.
Every Xperia 1 also comes with the opportunity to download six movies, including the Sony Pictures film "Captain Philips," on the day of its release, 10 PlayStation Mobile games and a 60-day free trial of Music Unlimited.
While a minor contender in the current smartphone market, Sony has enjoyed relative success with its Xperia line. In November 2103, the Financial Times pointed out that Sony is the last Japanese company standing in a highly competitive smartphone market, and in a Jan. 7 report, research firm Kantar Worldpanel gave the brand a nod for its role in helping to slow, if even only so slightly, Apple's aggressive growth.
"Resurgent performances from LG, Sony and Nokia have made making year-on-year share gains increasingly challenging for Apple," wrote Strategic Insight Director Dominic Sunnebo.
Sony also used CES to reaffirm its commitment to the wearables space, announcing its new "SmartWear Experience vision," an upcoming portfolio of products, as well as a Lifelog application and a new SmartBand bracelet.
Sony explained on its site: "SmartWear lets you stay on top of things that matter. It interacts with your smartphone or tablet and lets you see your life as you live it. A fun and animated Android app records your physical, social and entertainment activities. For any given day, you can see how active you were, where you went, what pictures you took and how you have been communicating with your world."
SmartWear is waterproof, the battery lasts five days (and it looks basically like a FitBit). It has a removable core and comes in black, white, purple, pink or lime.
Offering a reminder that it's no newcomer to the space, Sony noted in its Jan. 6 announcements that its SmartWatch 2 can now be used with more than 300 compatible applications.
Sony CEO and President Kazuo Hirai, during a Jan. 7 keynote at CES, said it's "not just the functional value [of products] that people value but the more elusive emotional value." In Japanese culture, he continued, the idea of moving people emotionally is translated to "kando."
(A quick Google search found kando to be also a key tenet of the corporate philosophy at Yamaha.)
Given a Western bent, kando might be translated as the "wow factor."
"I expect all Sony employees to put wow at the center of their efforts," said Hirai, laughingly adding, "even the corporate lawyers and finance professionals."
Touching quickly on the Xperia Z1, Hirai told the audience, "The elegance of the packaging belies the robust capabilities within, making the Z1 a distinctly Sony design. A wow design."