Sony launches the world’s first phone with a 4K HDR display

The Xperia Premium is the first major smartphone to pack in Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 835 processor

Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Dive into it: The Xperia XZ Premium is the first phone with a 4K HDR display.
Sony’s take on personal assistants: the Xperia Ear Open Style Concept

Last night, Samsung kicked off its launch event by talking extensively about 5G, even bringing on stage a senior exec from Verizon. Today at its press meet, Sony too focused on 5G, while roping in an EVP from Qualcomm and insisting that its upcoming phones would be the go-to devices for streaming over 5G.

This could actually turn out to be true. Sony’s empire is vast, and it has a potent advantage over Samsung and Co — a mother lode of video content that can be leveraged to sell 5G-enabled phones.

At the launch event, Hideyuki Furumi, EVP of Global Sales and Marketing at Sony Mobile Communications, imagined a world where 5G would be the backbone of “cloud entertainment systems”, with consumers effortlessly streaming high-resolution content to mobile devices — presumably, Sony-branded ones. He added that Sony as a group was focused on providing end-to-end solutions for this ecosystem.

4K on a phone

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Furumi then reached into his coat pocket and pulled out one end of the solution — the Xperia XZ Premium, the world’s first phone with a 4K HDR display. Watching videos on it, according to Furumi, will make you “feel part of the scene”. Though this is one claim we would challenge. It’s difficult to believe that a video playing on a 5.5-inch screen — no matter how amazing it looks — can make you forget the world around you.

Incidentally, the XZ Premium is Sony’s second stab at a 4K panel on a phone, and it will be interesting to see what pushing all those extra pixels and playing HDR videos does to the poor battery inside the phone — it has our sympathies. Though with the previous 4K phone, Sony cheated a bit by rendering the UI and apps at a lower resolution — the 4K bit kicked in only for select content.

Anyway, if the 4K HDR panel does not impress you, Sony is hoping the 19MP camera will. The company has come up with Motion Eye tech, that apparently has the “ability to see the unseen”. Besides, you get Predictive Capture that starts buffering images even before you have actually clicked the camera button — this should come in handy for occasions when you missed clicking an award-winning photo by a mere whisker. The camera is capable of “super slow motion” and can record at an impressive 960 frames per second.

The Xperia XA1 Ultra

The XZ Premium is among the first wave of phones leveraging Qualcomm’s new top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor. Among other features, this allows the phone to download content at speeds of up to 1Gbps. It will be available from April, and come in three colours: ice blue, warm silver and black.

Apart from the XZ Premium, Sony announced the Xperia XZ, which replaces the 4K display with a FHD one. It will also bring two mid-range models to the market: the Xperia XA1 and the XA1 Ultra. Specs and more info here.

The Sony Xperia Touch projector

Other interesting reveals from the event were the €1,499 (about Dh5,826) Xperia Touch interactive short-throw projector that morphs any flat surface into a 23-inch touchscreen; and the Xperia Ear “open-style concept”, which are smart headphones you can have conversations with — think of it as Sony’s idea of a personal assistant that whispers in your ears.