Our Community Experts have travelled to Vodafone HQ to experience the latest and best phones from Sony. But what do they make of the Xperia line up?
A couple of weeks ago we hosted a group of our Community Experts at Vodafone HQ. It’s something we’re starting to do on a regular basis to say thanks for the great work they do to help customers on our eForum, introduce them to people in the Vodafone team and give them a chance to get the inside track on all things mobile.
Among the group were some familiar faces to regular readers of Vodafone Social, namely JeffKinn, Nabs, and Tim ‘TheSoupDragon’ Jones. We arranged for them and the rest of the group to spend some time meeting and getting to know the team from Sony, giving them a chance to try out and learn about some of Sony’s latest devices.
Since then we’ve confirmed the Sony Xperia Z2 will be coming to Vodafone soon, but before that news broke we caught up with the Community Experts to find out what they thought, and how Sony in 2014 is completely different from the Sony they remember…
“My last Sony phone was probably back in 2004,” Jeff says. “I had a P800, and I would say it was my first smartphone. It was a great phone, and I had a very, very good experience with that. I think that Sony is a brand that we all know and trust – we’ve all had Walkmans or Playstations or TVs.” So what does Jeff think now that he’s spent the day looking at Sony’s latest phones in the Xperia lineup?
“It’s great to see them coming back now in a big way. I listen to the Android Central podcast, and one of the hosts of that is always praising the new Sony Xperia range so it’s great to finally get my hands on one.
Jeff’s a Samsung fan through and through, but he’s keen on what Sony has done with Android in the Xperia Z series: “What’s interesting is,” he continues, “Samsung has obviously heavily customised Android, but Sony seems to be offering a pretty vanilla Android experience, only with their own entertainment and technology added on top.” For a lot of Android users, that’s really important – it’s something Motorola’s Andrew Morley touched on in our interview last month.
“As well as that,” Jeff continues, “I thought that Sony gave me a very good account of the Sony philosophy. I’m on my third Samsung, but I do like to swap about a bit, so when the time comes I’ll definitely be looking at what Sony has to offer.
“I think Sony are very well positioned to take a high post in the chart in 2014. I think they’ve got a good product range.”
“I had the Sony Ericsson K800 in 2006,” Nabs says nostalgically, “which I got specifically because it had a 3-Megapixel camera. At the time that was amazing.” That may have been pioneering for a phone, but that’s what Sony’s all about – Nabs goes on to explain that what he thinks Sony has over any other mobile manufacturer is an arsenal of existing proprietary technology:
“I was always impressed with Sony BRAVIA TVs. I used to work in an electronics store and I always thought that the extra software processing they put into their TVs made the picture quality much better, and more customisable. Sony’s brought some of that over to the Xperia range.
“I think what Sony’s done to bring their different technologies from different platforms into one device is a great idea. Bringing great ideas like BRAVIA and Cyber-shot together? You can’t really get better than that.”
“The software is a bit of a best-of-both-worlds situation.”
And, like Jeff, Nabs likes the delicate way in which Sony has handled Android: “The software is a bit of a best-of-both-worlds situation; the version of Android you get isn’t that heavily customised, and it doesn’t seem to slow it down, but there are a lot of back end things that allow you to really enjoy the phone.”
Nabs has always been a fan of Google’s own Nexus series when it comes to Android, but is he now a Sony convert? “Sony’s only been around as Sony for a couple of years, but they’re definitely taking a fresh approach to things. The way they’re integrating all of their services, for me, is what would make me look towards them. I’d love to see how the Xperia phones work with the new Playstation – if Sony does manage to tie it to the Playstation 4 well, that’d be great.”
“My last experience with Sony was years ago with a Sony Ericsson feature phone – a WI800. Today seeing how far the company has come along,” says Tim, “is very impressive.” He tells us that for him, the design, build quality and inbuilt features are what make the Z series really stand out: “I like the square design of the new Xperia phones,” he explains.
“I think that the quality of the screen is great, but the build quality is the thing that you’ll first notice when you pick one up – the materials make it feel like a million dollars. Then when you turn it on, the brightness of the screen grabs you – it gives you that wow factor.
“Also,” he adds, “waterproofing the phone – that’s a brilliant idea that no one else has really done. And that’s Sony really looking at what people need.”
“The features that Sony has built into the Z1 are great, too. People are using their phone as a camera a lot for social media, so a phone needs to be as much a communication device as it is a media device, and I think Sony cater for that really well. You’ve got the software which enhances the display, and then the camera software which enhances the 20-Megapixel camera sensor. If I was in the market to get a phone now, I’d certainly be going into a store to look at a Sony phone. Seeing the phones working, you’d be a fool not to be considering Sony these days. They’ve got very impressive specifications, design and software.”