Sony unveils new Xperia phone even as it retrenches in mobile

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Sony Corp on Monday unveiled a new -end Xperia handset featuring an aluminium frame and a 5.2-inch screen, showing it is still in the smartphone race even as it scales down its struggling mobile operations.

The launch the new flagship model comes amid a painful restructuring at the Japanese consumer electronics giant which has thrown the future its smartphone division into doubt, with executives saying an exit cannot be ruled out.

But as the company focuses on cutting costs rather than growing its mobile market, the division still needs investment in new and marketing to maintain Sony’s brand and hold off a more rapid deterioration.

Sony said the Xperia Z4 would be available in around the middle the year, though it did not provide a launch date, details on carrier partners or price. The handset would be available in four colours and was slightly thinner than the previous Z3.

Hiroki Totoki, who was last year to turn around the mobile unit, said Sony was targeting the upper end the market where rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Inc dominate.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]

“There’s a broad variety in the prices of smartphones, from around $100 to $1,400 at the upper end,” he told a news conference. “We to focus in the upper half of that.”

Sony’s mobile division has fallen far behind -end rivals such as Samsung and , while at the low end it is battling pricing pressure from Asian manufacturers such as China’s Xiaomi Inc.

The company whose Walkman and Trinitron TV once played a critical role in the entertainment industry has struggled in recent years to come with trend-setting gadgets.

Sony announced in February that it would scale down its weaker operations such as TVs and mobile phones to focus instead on more successful such as video games and camera sensors.

Executive Kazuo Hirai has not ruled out an exit from weak operations, amid a restructuring that has so far seen the company sell off its personal computer division and spin off the TV business.

In February, he said the Japanese consumer electronics firm would no longer pursue sales growth in smartphones.(Reuters)