Sony has been firing out top quality devices at pace this year. Here we look back at 2014, asking Sony about its successes, and to hint at what's next...

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Sony’s had a busy year. In the first quarter of 2014 we got the Xperia Z1 Compact and the Xperia Z2, and recently we’ve seen the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact land, each garnering great reviews across the board.

But what does Sony make of it all? And what do this year’s devices say about what’s coming next? To find out, we’ve been speaking to Sony Mobile’s European President Pierre Perron. Read on for a look at the year according to Sony…

2014: Four flagships, two tablets

pierre“When we look back it’s been a very, very exciting year,” says Pierre. “First of all, in terms of product launches, we’ve introduced four flagship phones in the year, and two tablets. And with our Compact series we’ve brought the same experience available on their big screen counterparts in a smaller form. This is one of the key new areas for us,” he explains.

“When we introduced our Compact range there was no other similar product in the market that was offering the same feature set as its bigger-screened version. Other companies opt to have smaller models of their flagships which are really just stripped-down imitations.

“The Z3 Compact, meanwhile, has the same specs as the Z3 – the best camera with 4K video recording, the best stamina – with our ‘two day battery’ being really welcomed by people – and hi-resolution audio. Both devices now also have PS4 Remote Play, which brings the best gaming experience in mobile to the Xperia range. And all these products offer the best possible experience all wrapped in our famous waterproof functionality.”

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But that’s not just Pierre’s opinion; the Z3 range has rightly been celebrated by critics and consumers alike:

“We’ve been very pleased with the reaction to the Z3 range,” he tells us. “The Z3 has already won several awards and both devices have been well received by both media and consumers. I think the key feedback we have is that people love the hardware – we use premium materials with metal and glass. But people also love the quality of the entertainment that comes with Sony handsets too.”

“We’ve had a year based on innovation,” He adds. And that’s clearly paid off: “According to external surveys, we have now become the number three manufacturer in the UK.”

We asked Pierre what he thinks the biggest trend in mobile has been in 2014, but he believes it’s not easy to identify just one:

“We’ve seen in all of our consumer feedback that people want manufacturers to improve the basic functionalities of a smartphone…”

“I would summarise the trends of the year in three points,” he tells us. “The first would be a focus on ‘back to basics’ – the features like battery life, which are right at the forefront of consumers’ minds. We’ve seen in all of our consumer feedback that people want manufacturers to improve the basic functionalities of a smartphone, because it’s meaningless to provide a rich entertainment experience if you can’t make a call in the meantime. That’s why we’ve worked really hard to give the Xperia Z3 range its two day battery life; it’s about the features of a phone that really make life easier.

“The second one is increasing access to great entertainment, in all its forms.” And by that, Pierre means entertainment in all its forms, and in every possible scenario: “The flexibility of the smartphone experience is really important. If you’re taking a shot, you expect the phone to be able to take the best picture possible. If you’re on a plane you want it to have the best graphics and play the best games.

“And last but not least, is the experience beyond the smartphone. The smart wearables market is something that we at Sony feel very strongly about, and we’ve been introducing different hardware solutions there for several years. That’s a major trend,” and, as he reveals, it’s something that’s only going to grow in the year to come…

2015: Wearables, entertainment and updates

So that’s 2014 done, but what can we expect to see from Sony over the next 12 months? It’s all about merging the great content you get on a smartphone with a seamless design and UI:

“We want to continue to bring the best entertainment and the best hardware experience together,” Pierre says. “Sony is uniquely placed in this area because of the access we have as a company to music, movies and games. And hardware and software improvements go hand in hand with an evolution of the quality of the network with things like Vodafone 4G. That’s alongside the added entertainment on offer with Vodafone, which gives people the choice of Spotify, Sky Sports or NOW TV Entertainment.”

And it’s easy to see that entertainment is a real focus for Sony: in the month that the Z3 and Z3 Compact launched, we partnered with Sony to dish out 2000 tickets to an exclusive live London gig with the Script. You can read all about that here.

“In 2015, smart wearables will be a big part of our plan – we’re working very hard on our wearable tech portfolio to make it useful and entertaining, and to make sure it helps people move their life in the direction they want.”

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But on top of brand new hardware, tech fans will be pleased to hear that a big part of Sony’s 2015 involves bringing some of its older devices up to date when it comes to software:

“We want to provide new experiences on new devices, but we never forget the consumers who have trusted us in the past. So we try, as much as possible, to also update the software on our legacy devices to make sure that those consumers can still enjoy all those experiences. For example,” he says, “all Z series models will be able to enjoy the new version of Android (Lollipop) in 2015. And more recently we’ve announced that we’re also bringing PS4 Remote play to Z2 and Z2 tablet Vodafone consumers.

“We’re adamant that these experiences are rolled out across our older devices, provided that the platform enables it.”

More from Sony… If you’re keen to find out how Sony’s waterproofing tech works, and what the next evolution will be, you can check out our exclusive interview with the man in the know here. You can order your Xperia Z3 or Z3 Compact from Vodafone here.