Sony pins hopes on 4K video to revive smartphone sales

The new Xperia XZ2 smartphone record video in 4K HDR — a quality previously only available in the top-of-the-range camcorders.
Updated 26 February 2018

Sony pins hopes on 4K video to revive smartphone sales

BARCELONA: Japan’s Sony Corporation is turning its focus to 4K high-definition video recording in its new Xperia XZ2 smartphone to differentiate itself from rivals that have caught up in camera technology.
Unwrapped at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress on Monday, the XZ2 features Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back and a longer 18:9 ratio display which reduces the size of the bezels on the front of the handset.
It will record video in 4K HDR — a quality previously only available in the top-of-the-range camcorders, senior Sony Mobile product manager Adam Marsh said.
“We have a smartphone about to come to the market that is actually giving you a better movie recording than a very high-end camcorder from Sony,” he said.
The device includes super slow-motion in 1080p high definition resolution, he said. Sony introduced super slo-mo in its XZ Premium last year ago, a first that was copied by market leader Samsung in its Galaxy 9 unveiled on Sunday.
Sony’s device can also upscale SDR video to near HDR quality video, using technology developed with engineers working on the company’s Bravia televisions, he said.
While Sony has won plaudits for technical innovations, its sales have declined and it is adrift of the top-10 vendors. It sold 4 million units in the quarter to end-December, down from 5.1 million a year ago, according to results published earlier this month.
Analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight said Sony, at last, had a competitive design to match the market leading specifications it had on previous flagship models.
“It will be ruing a missed opportunity in 2017 given it beat rivals such as Samsung by a full year when it comes to features such as super-slow-mo video capture,” he said.
“In the end, Sony was held back by a design with an uncompetitively large bezel which was out of step with rival products.”
However, he said Sony faced the same up-hill challenge as most smartphone makers in standing out in the market.
“Taking on Apple and Samsung requires eye-watering investment that rivals such as Sony, HTC, LG and others are always going to struggle with,” he said.


Huawei in early talks with US firms to license 5G platform: executive

Updated 19 October 2019

Huawei in early talks with US firms to license 5G platform: executive

  • Currently there are no US 5G providers and European rivals Ericsson and Nokia are generally more expensive
  • Huawei has spent billions to develop its 5G technology since 2009

WASHINGTON: Blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei is in early-stage talks with some US telecoms companies about licensing its 5G network technology to them, a Huawei executive told Reuters on Friday.
Vincent Pang, senior vice president and board director at the company said some firms had expressed interest in both a long-term deal or a one-off transfer, declining to name or quantify the companies.
“There are some companies talking to us, but it would take a long journey to really finalize everything,” Pang explained on a visit to Washington this week. “They have shown interest,” he added, saying conversations are only a couple of weeks old and not at a detailed level yet.
The US government, fearing Huawei equipment could be used to spy on customers, has led a campaign to convince allies to bar it from their 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly denied the claim.
Currently there are no US 5G providers and European rivals Ericsson and Nokia are generally more expensive.
In May, Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment provider, was placed on a US blacklist over national security concerns, banning it from buying American-made parts without a special license.
Washington also has brought criminal charges against the company, alleging bank fraud, violations of US sanctions against Iran, and theft of trade secrets, which Huawei denies.
Rules that were due out from the Commerce Department earlier this month are expected to effectively ban the company from the US telecoms supply chain.
The idea of a one-off fee in exchange for access to Huawei’s 5G patents, licenses, code and know-how was first floated by CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei in interviews with the New York Times and the Economist last month. But it was not previously clear whether there was any interest from US companies.
In an interview with Reuters last month, a State Department official expressed skepticism of Ren’s offer.
“It’s just not realistic that carriers would take on this equipment and then manage all of the software and hardware themselves,” the person said. “If there are software bugs that are built in to the initial software, there would be no way to necessarily tell that those are there and they could be activated at any point, even if the software code is turned over to the mobile operators,” the official added.
For his part, Pang declined to predict whether any deal might be signed. However, he warned that the research and development investment required by continuously improving the platform after a single-transfer from Huawei would be very costly for the companies.
Huawei has spent billions to develop its 5G technology since 2009.