The Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact continue the lineage of waterproof Sony phones. But how has the waterproofing process evolved? And what's coming next?
The Sony Xperia Z3 is available now at Vodafone UK, and it’s one of the best looking phones of the year. But as well as being slim and stylish, it’s also one of the few phones on offer to be completely waterproof.
The Xperia range has been championing waterproofing in its devices for years now, making Sony the experts in the field. So how does it work, how has the process evolved, and what’s coming next? We’ve been speaking to Sony Mobile’s Joao Seabra to find out.
Making ‘consumer-driven’ innovation
First thing’s first: with Sony pushing waterproofing harder than any other smartphone manufacturer, we were keen to ask Joao why making Xperias durable is such a priority. The answer? Because we want it to be…
“We have been listening to consumers,” says Joao. “Waterproofing is consumer-driven innovation. We’ve been listening to what people want and what their needs are, and we’ve been delivering according to that.
“Waterproofing allows people to make those accidental drops, or to do things like take calls when it’s wet. We’re creating new use cases for smartphones, like taking pictures or shooting videos underwater. These are real needs people have, and that’s why we’re developing this kind of technology.”
So how does the waterproofing on the Z3 differ from that of the original Xperia Z?
“It’s the same kind of technology,” Joao explains, “so you still need to cover the micro-USB ports, but it has evolved since the beginning of the series. We now have an open audio jack which is still fully waterproof, and we’ve also improved the dust-resistance. The Z3 is fully dust-tight, with a rating of IP68. It can go underwater in fresh water for a period of 30 minutes at a maximum of 1.5 metres, too, but because it’s rated both IP68 and IP65, it’s also fully protected from high pressure water jets too.
“Other manufacturers are making water-resistant phones, but we are waterproof – that’s the main difference. Achieving that is a very technical process. What we do is to internally seal each mechanical part of the smartphone.”
Tougher, thinner, better
With the Z3 being able to hold its breath much longer than the most experienced human divers around, we were keen to find out what effect making a handset waterproof has on the design. Does it add bulk?
“If you look at the Z3, in terms of the overall footprint, you’ll see that not only is it pretty much in line with our competitors’ products, but it’s also slimmer than a lot of them. So my answer would be that waterproofing doesn’t affect the design or size much at all,” says Joao. “So not only can we make it fully waterproof, but we can do it in an ultra-slim smartphone that’s only 7.3mm thick, with premium materials and a beautiful design. We’re using an aluminium frame, and glass front and back.”
“We’re the only company with those premium materials in a phone that’s this resistant.
“And even though it’s very slim, we’ve still managed to have a battery that lasts up to two days – again, we know that that’s one of the main concerns people have, so we’ve addressed that pain point with best in class technologies,” says Joao.
“There is always extra thought that we need to take into consideration when developing waterproof products. There are invisible hardware components integral to the process, but what’s important is that our years of expertise allow us to incorporate them without impacting on the thickness.”
“We can now do things that were completely impossible in the past.”
With the Xperia Z3 being as thin and light as it is, is there any scope to improve the design and make future phones even more durable, or to do so without needing to cover things like the micro USB port? Joao remained tight-lipped, but did tell us that Sony is always on the lookout for ways to improve its smartphone tech:
“I can’t comment on future products or technologies,” he said, “but we are listening to consumers, so if we see people demanding that kind of solutions, of course we’re going to look into it. We will keep trying to understand what our customers want and how we can improve their smartphone experience.
“People can now take calls when it’s raining, and it’s safe to drop the phone into the bath or the pool. We can now do things that were completely impossible in the past. That’s great, but we’ll always keep listening, and keep innovating.”