Sony admits 'retail disadvantage' with Gingerbread Android phones

New Sony Xperia P, Xperia U smartphones run Gingerbread Android software

No Ice Cream Sandwich for you, yet: Sony's new Xperia P smartphone

No Ice Cream Sandwich for you, yet: Sony's new Xperia P smartphone

Sony Mobile has admitted it will be disadvantaged by retailers when releasing new smartphones running older versions of Google's Android operating system in Australia.

Speaking at a media launch in Sydney to unveil its new Xperia P and Xperia U smartphones, both running the older 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android operating system, Sony admitted the new phones will be disadvantaged by retail staff who will usually recommend "the latest and greatest."

"The main disadvantage [of running Gingerbread software] is the perception from retail staff, said Sean Coulson, Marketing Manager, Sony Mobile. "When they are recommending phones they always recommend you the latest and greatest."

While acknowledging the retail perception, Coulson stressed that the older software is not a real issue from a consumer point of view.

"From a consumer perspective I don't think it's a huge disadvantage. It's something that we are working really hard to address as quickly as possible," he explained.

"We would never deliberately launch not on the latest version of Android but it comes down to a choice between delaying the launch or going to market with an older version. We've made a really public commitment to ensure it is upgradeable."

The latest version of Google's Android operating system, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, adds some new features but mainly improves the user experience of smartphone and tablet devices. Sony has promised all of its current range of Xperia phones will be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich "by the end of July", though carefully stated that the timeframe is dependant on the carrier in most cases.

The Xperia P and the Xperia U will become the third and fourth Sony branded smartphones to release in Australia since Sony paid Ericsson US$1.45 billion to buy out its share of the Sony Ericsson joint venture in October 2011. The flagship Xperia S went on sale in Australia in March through Optus and Vodafone, and the Xperia Sola hit the market as an outright sale through Harvey Norman retail stores last month.

Sony is aiming to keep consistency in its smartphone releases. Both the Xperia P and Xperia U models are part of the 'NXT' range, short for next generation. The new smartphones feature a square, block-style design and a transparent band below the screen that houses three touch-sensitive shortcut keys.

The Xperia P, available first through Telstra, is a mid-range model constructed from unibody aluminium. It has a 4in "WhiteMagic" display that claims to be one of the brightest smartphone screens on the market. It also promises increased visibility in direct sunlight, includes an 8-megapixel camera with Sony's Exmor R image sensor and comes with NFC (Near Field Communication) built in.

The Xperia U is an entry level model targeted at pre-paid users. It's constructed from plastic rather than unibody aluminium and has a smaller 3.5in screen in order to keep down the price. It omits NFC, a HDMI-out port and the WhiteMagic display, all standard features on the Xperia P.

Coulson said the Xperia P is not exclusive to Telstra and stressed that Sony Mobile prefers not to do exclusive deals with telco partners.

"It's not an exclusive [the Xperia P], Telstra's just the only network operator that's ranged it," he explained. "We generally are trying not to do exclusives, we want customers to have the option of buying a handset outright or on a network and we really feel that the outright sales are growing at a faster rate than the contracts."

The Sony Xperia P is available through Telstra from 26 June for $0 on the $49 Freedom Plan over 24 months. It is also available outright through Sony Centres from "mid-June" for $449 and through Dick Smith Stores from 14 July for $447.

The Sony Xperia U will be available through Crazy Johns from 22 July for $0 on the $15 value plan. It will also be sold outright through Sony Centres ("mid-June", $299) and Dick Smith Stores (July, $289).

Related content

Sony Xperia S review
Sony Xperia P preview
Sony Xperia U preview
Sony Xperia Sola review

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?