In case you haven't heard yet, there's this thing in Berlin next week. It's called IFA. It's a bit of a big deal, been going for about 90 years now. And between now and then, every single major manufacturer is going to remind you that they have new stuff to show off in Germany. Today it's Sony, teasing what appears to be the Xperia Honami (AKA the Xperia i1), the successor to the Xperia Z, in a short but sweet sizzle reel.
After a few months of testing, Sony has announced its my Xperia service will be hitting all regions in the next few weeks. This system will provide remote management of 2012 and 2013 Xperia devices. Smartphones are expensive – it's nice of Sony to help you keep track of it.
Once it is deployed in your country, my Xperia will come in the form of a new app that can be enabled in settings.
Sony Mobile is moving the Xperia ZL up to Android 4.2.2, making this the first non-Nexus handset to get updated to (instead of ship with) this particular version of Jelly Bean. The latest firmware build, version 10.3.A.0.423, also ushers in updates to Sony's Media apps, expands widget functionality on both the lock screen and the home screen, and introduces support for 64GB microSD cards. This is a big plus for users who shun cloud storage and prefer to carry their media the new-old fashioned way.
The Xperia Z is a pretty spiffy flagship phone, and tough as well, thanks to its IP55/IP57 Ingress Protection rating. But now there's a more specialized model coming, the Xperia ZR, designed specifically for waterproof functioning in even wetter environments. The new phone is manufactured to the higher IP55/IP58 standard, meaning that it can be safely submersed in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
The Xperia ZR roughly follows the Z's design, getting rid of some of the slim lines and premium materials for the sake of its more waterproof chassis.
Sony's Xperia Tablet Z, the tablet first announced for Japan about three months ago, and spotted again at MWC, is finally up for pre-order for those customers awaiting the device's US launch.
When we saw the Tablet Z in person at Mobile World Congress, its super thin, super light water/dust-resistant frame impressed. Its 1920x1200 10.1" display, S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM and promised Android 4.2 base also sounded good on paper, but we concluded it could still be held back by two things: a 6000mAh battery, and a $500 price point for the 16GB model.
There are a few surefire ways to get straight to a consumer's heart, and one of them is nostalgia. People love to be reminded of the good old days, and Sony has done just that, uploading a new Xperia Z spot that will take viewers back to the moon mission, the Berlin wall, roller skating on the beach, and playing video games, all with Sony products.
The ad then continues with a young couple joining in a Holi celebration using the Xperia Z, showing that Sony hasn't abandoned its iconic role in capturing or enhancing your most memorable moments.
I suppose you have to give Sony credit for at least keeping its customers informed. Today, the manufacturer announced an update to its plans for bringing its phones up to Jelly Bean. If you're rocking the Xperia T, Xperia TX, or Xperia V, you should see Android 4.1 "during February and March." Of course, this will depend on what market you're in or which variant you own.
Following those flagships, the Xperia P, Xperia J and Xperia go will start to receive their upgrades starting around the end of March.
It's no secret that Sony has been a long-time supporter of the custom ROM community, but now the company has released a tool that lets owners of bootloader unlocked Xperia devices easily return back to stock firmware from a custom ROM. According to Sony's blog post, this tool has been oft-requested by the community, so it's good to see Sony deliver on that.
As mentioned, use of this tool requires the bootloader to be unlocked on supported Xperia devices, but past that, it seems pretty simple and intuitive to use.
Sometimes, it can be a bit arguable what counts as a "low end" phone these days. Even cheap phones are so powerful that calling them anything lower than mid-range can seem insulting. This one, however, makes us pretty comfortable with the moniker. With a 1GHz Snapdragon S1 processor, a 320x480 TFT display, and a 3.2MP rear camera, the Xperia E fills out Sony's budget line just fine.
Optionally, the Xperia E Dual has the option for dual SIM card slots, which is great for business users, and those who need to work with multiple networks.
Straight from the horse's mouth is always the best way to hear about updates, even if it's less-than-stellar news. Today, Sony confirmed its schedule for Jelly Bean updates on its line of phones. For starters, the recently-launched Xperia T and Xperia TX will be upgraded "from mid-Q1 2013." This will put the latest and greatest from Sony a solid six months behind Android 4.1's initial launch and, if our guess is correct, at least a few months behind the possible release of Android 4.2.