September 5, 2019
Sony has used the IFA 2019 technology show to reveal the new Sony Xperia 5 smartphone, plus a somewhat unexpected 2019 revival of the Sony Walkman music player.
When Sony took to the stage early this morning at IFA, Europe's largest tech show, it was clearly out to remind people of its long history and place in consumer tech. It was also out to show what its future will look like, with new cameras, headphones and smartphones, all on display.
The highlight for many will undoubtedly be the Sony Xperia 5, a more compact alternative to the company's flagship Xperia 1. The there was the latest in its camera line up, with new additions to the companies Alpha APS-C range of mirrorless cameras. Audiophiles were catered for with the WI-1000Xm2 wirelesss headphones, and an update to the Walkman range.
We take a closer look at the announcements, as well as expected prices and dates.
Sony Xperia 5
If you like the look of the Xperia 1, with its 6.5-inch 4K ‘Cinema Wide' screen, but don't quite have room in your pocket, then fear not. Today, Sony announced the Xperia 1, which the company is framing as a ‘compact' phone, which tells us a lot about how big smartphones have got these days.
While it is smaller than the Xperia 1, the display has only shrunk from 6.5-inches to 6.1, so we're hardly talking diminishing dimensions here. Still, it is 14 grams lighter too, and while we'd struggled to describe it as ‘compact', yes, it is certainly smaller.
Concessions made to shrink the phone down mean ditching the 4K screen, which was undoubtedly one of Sony's main selling points for the Xperia 1. Instead its been given a Full HD+ display, with a resolution of 2,520 x 1,080 pixels, so we're expecting the clarity will still impress, even up close. It also retains the 21:9 ‘Cinema Wide' screen too, so you can catch up with movies in their intended format.
The 21:9 format had its drawbacks, we felt, when reviewing the Sony Xperia 10 phone. For example, we found ourselves having to shuffle our fingers along the screen awkwardly to get to the volume controls, and the phone could be tricky to use one-handed. It will be interesting to see if Sony has made any adjustments with its Xperia 5 design to improve ease-of-use.
Elsewhere, the battery has had a small downgrade from 3,330 mAh to 3,140 mAh. It remains to be seen what effect this has in real terms, but the smaller screen might mitigate some of the difference.
Three rear cameras provide regular, super-wide and telescopic options, and a new feature for the Xperia 5, ‘Photography advice' helps avoid traps like a finger on the lens or your subject closing their eyes at the wrong moment.
The Xperia 5 will be available in the Fall, with prices yet to be announced, but naturally we're assuming it will be a cheaper option than the Xperia 1.
Check out our guide to the best Sony Phones of 2019
Sony WI-1000XM2 Headphones
Sony has added to its headphones line up with the WI-1000XM2. These differ slightly from the other models in the range – the headband WH-1000XM3, and the in-ear WF-1000XM3 – by providing a neck band to keep them secure.
The headphones boast the same noise-cancelling tech as the WH-1000XM3, and, like the rest of the range, are Bluetooth.
Sony states that the battery life is around ten hours between charges. It also says that the rechargeable battery offers a quick charge option, which can see users gain 80 minutes of playback with just 10 minutes charging.
Also added to the mix are Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.
Sony Walkman NW-ZX500
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the humble Sony Walkman, so it's only fair that the company should update its range of music players. The NW-ZX500 is what will replace 2017's ZX300.
The Bluetooth and NFC-enabled Android-based device weighs in at 164g, and is 14.8mm thick, with a 3.6-inch touch screen. This makes it smaller, but thicker than the average smartphone.
Sony claims that the battery will see you through 20 hours of MP3s, of 18 hours of FLAC playback, with a USB-C port handling charging.
If you prefer your tech tactile, then you'll be pleased with the physical buttons down the side of the device, which handle playback and volume.
When it comes to storage, there's 64GB internal memory. But, an SD card slot means that you can create more room for your library.
The NW-ZX500 will go on sale in November, and is expected to cost around $800. Niche? Maybe, but Sony are clearly confident enough in the customer base that doesn't want to listen to music on an iPhone, so will keep pumping out these pricey Walkmans.
Sony Alpha 6600 and 6100 Cameras
The latest in Sony's Alpha range of mirrorless cameras (smaller alternatives to a DSLR), the Alpha 6600 and 6100 models were actually unveiled at the end of August. But, Sony was keen to mention them on stage at IFA today.
Specs wise, these models have a 24.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor, and an autofocus time of a considerably snappy 0.02 seconds. They can also both shoot 4K video and are WiFi and Bluetooth compatible.
So what's the difference? Well, the Alpha 6600 has a few features that you won't find on the 6100, such as an alloy design, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 5 axis stabilization system. The 6100 is more geared at still images, while the 6600 is focused on video.
Both will be available in October, and will cost around $750 (6100) and $1400 (6600).
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