Sony made waves last September byintroducing the Xperia Z5 Premium with its 5.5-inch 4K resolution screen. On Thursday, the company announced U.S. availability of the similar Z5 and Z5 Compact phones but it's not bringing the larger, 4K model here at this time.
Instead, U.S. buyers can choose either the Xperia Z5 with 5.2-inch 1080p screen for $599 or the Xperia Z5 Compact with 720p 4.6-inch display for $499. Both models will be sold directly to consumers starting February 7 through Amazon, Best Buy and B&H Photo in unlocked GSM versions.
Other than the smaller and lower-resolution screens, the Z5 and Z5 Compact share many of the same features of their larger, pixel-popping brethren.
Both are IPS65 and IPS68 rated for being dust- and waterproof, for example. The two phones also use the same 23 megapixel rear camera sensor with a 5 megapixel camera on the front. Each has a microSD card slot for up to 200 GB of additional memory; internal storage is capped at 32 GB. And the two phones also run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 chip.
The smaller Z5 Compact comes with 2 GB of memory while the larger Z5 has 3 GB. Aside from that, and the different screen size / resolution between the two, these are essentially the same phones. Sony hasn't announced any news or availability on the larger, 4K model.
Although Sony makes some of the most well-regarded Android handsets, it has struggled in the U.S.
Part of the issue is that carriers aren't lining up to sell the Sony Xperia line so Sony has to use the direct sales route and market the phones on its own.
Additionally, while the price may be worth it for some features - the camera, high-resolution audio support and waterproof properties - Sony's handsets often appear overpriced when compared to the competition.
Look only to Google's latest handsets for some perspective. The Nexus 5X that I recently bought with 32 GB of storage can be had $399. It uses a comparable Snapdragon 808 chip, has an excellent camera and a 5.2-inch 1080p display. No, there's no memory card slot or waterproof protection but is that worth an extra $100 to $200?
For some, it is. Unfortunately, there may not be enough people who feel that way, which doesn't help Sony gain further inroads here.
That's a shame because the company builds excellent mobile device hardware.