Sony unveils Xperia Z4 flagship phone, but is mum about availability outside Japan

With little fanfare, Sony unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z4, but in a sign of the company's more limited mobile ambitions Sony did not announce any details on international availability for the Z4 outside of Japan.

Sony said the new phone will be available in Japan around mid-year, though it did not provide a launch date or details on carrier partners or price, Reuters said.

As Phone Scoop notes, the Android-based Z4 sports a 5.2-inch full HD Triluminos display and runs an octa-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 810 processor. The main camera uses Sony's 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS sensor, while the front camera offers a 5.1-megapixel Exmor sensor. The phone also has 3 GB of memory, 32 GB of internal storage and supports dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, Near Field Communications and LTE.

sony xperia z4
Sony Xperia Z4

Hiroki Totoki, who was appointed last year to try to turn around sales and profitability in the Sony Mobile Communications unit, said Sony is targeting the high end of the smartphone market with the phone. That segment of the market is largely dominated by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung Electronics. Other companies, such as Huawei, are trying to muscle into that territory as well.

"There's a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around $100 to $1,400 at the upper end," Totoki told a news conference, according to Reuters. "We want to focus in the upper half of that."

That is the strategy Sony has tried to execute on for the past few years, with middling results. According to research firm Gartner, Sony was the No. 10 global smartphone player in 2014, with 37.8 million smartphones sold, figures that were roughly flat compared with 2013.

In the U.S. market, the company has struggled to gain traction. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) had been a relatively stalwart supporter of Sony and its Xperia line. However, earlier this month T-Mobile abruptly stopped selling the Z3, Sony's last flagship phone, a little more than five months after it started to sell the phone. It's unclear why T-Mobile discontinued sales of the Z3; a T-Mobile spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sony confirmed earlier this year it would cut another 1,100 employees from its Mobile Communications business, on top of the 1,000 job cuts it had already announced in that unit. Sony plans to trim the mobile division down to 5,000 employees by March 2016.

However, Sony is launching a new brand campaign aimed at showing what Sony's phones can enable customers to do. Some examples of Sony's new message include "I can see in the dark," "I can survive underwater," "I can see through walls," "I can shape tomorrow," "I can silence crowds," and "I can stay awake for days." Those statements refer to the phones' waterproofing, battery and other features.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Verge article
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this Forbes article 

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