Sony Xperia Z3+ launch highlights smartphone innovation issue

Japanese electronics giant Sony has unveiled its latest flagship smartphone – the Xperia Z3+ – and as the name implies it is pretty similar to the previous one.

The chip has been upgraded to an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, the front-facing camera has been upgraded in line with the current preoccupation with selfies, and the whole thing is yet thinner, but otherwise it seems to be pretty similar to the Xperia Z3.

The naming seems to be an overt admission that Sony hasn’t exactly pulled out all the stops to make a compelling upgrade argument, although the same phone is called the Z4 in Japan for some reason. This launch may well be in keeping with Sony’s apparent desire to limit the amount of money it throws at competing with the likes of Apple and Samsung, but it’s hardly alone in finding innovation hard.

There are a couple of new case colours: copper and aqua green, and Sony will continue to focus on durability and water resistance as USPs, but existing Z3 owners may not be in any great hurry to upgrade when it goes on global sale next month.

Rob Kerr of uSwitch was underwhelmed. “Making minor tweaks to a flagship mobile – only ever-so-slightly lighter and thinner, and no big new specs to shout about – doesn’t stir up much excitement, even though this is a thoroughly decent phone,” he said.

“Muddying the waters with different names for the same handset could lead to consumer confusion in a world where everything can be discovered online. Sony puts the name differences down to the fact it has such clout in the Japanese market, the appetite for flagship devices is ferocious. But if that’s the case, then surely no matter what it’s called in Japan it’d fly off the shelves.”

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