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July 25, 2015

Could an Xperia “Made for Bond” signal a major Z5 redesign?

by John_A

There is a new James Bond film coming out this year, and unless you want things spoiled it’s best to exercise caution when uncovering the super spy’s spoiler-filled trailers. Sony however, is quite eager to start the hype train running on a mysterious new product that will apparently appear in the film:

20_2000_550 digi-wo

Given that this pair of images do not come directly from Sony, there is ultimately no way to guarantee their authenticity; given the relative simplicity it would be quite easy to fake them. Assuming they are real however, it asks the question of just what is being teased.

The Number 5

The presence of the number “5” would immediately suggest the device will be the Xperia Z5, a product that would make sense given Japan’s semi-annual product refresh cycle. It is all but assured the Z5 will release, though how Sony might rebrand it for the outside world is another story given the existence of the Z3+.

The Z5 would also be the most likely product for the simple reason that James Bond is a big franchise and Sony has always made it a point to have key product placement in the movies with branding prominently visible. It could be used for its intended purpose as a communications device, or perhaps even as a futuristic prototype developed by Q.


“Built for Bond”

In considering what it actually means to be “Built for Bond”, one might think of the most advanced R&D imaginable: the Mach 5 of mobiles. Perhaps most relevant of all however, is a leaked email from last year that openly stated neither Spectre’s Director, Sam Mendes, or Bond himself, Daniel Craig, actually see the Xperia brand as fitting for 007 to use:

BEYOND the $$ factor, there is, as you may know, a CREATIVE factor whereby…[Mendes] and [Craig] don’t like the Sony phone for the film (the thinking, subjectively/objectively is that James Bond only uses the “best,” and in their minds, the Sony phone is not the “best”).”

This admission, along with the alleged $5,000,000 Sony had to pay Daniel Craig to use the phone would certainly suggest they want to get their money’s worth, and in doing that it definitely needs to make a big impact device. Given that the Z4 proved to be little more than what Sony truly branded it as globally, a Z3+, there were certainly a fare share of disappointed fans. Many were expecting it to be a radically redesigned flagship that would truly allow Sony to play with the “big boys” on the mass market radar. 

Perhaps lending more credibility to this theory, there are two additional issues to consider:

Earlier this year, pictures of a phone that was believed to be the (then) upcoming Z4 were leaked that showed a slightly modified design. The images, said to have originated from a pitch Sony made for the Bond movie, show a phone, “The Elemental” which looked to have had a metal frame. The power button however, still looked true to the Xperia Z design language.

sony concept 1

Additionally, a second leaked picture was revealed along with the aforementioned emails that contained Mendes’ rather unfavorable opinion of the “Sony phone”. This product’s intentions were even less clear; it could have been a prototype mockup, it could have been a working model, it could have been nothing more than just a design render. Still, the look is even more drastically different than “The Elemental” has.

sony concept

Ultimately the question is just what Sony plans to do with this pair of products, if anything at all. It’s possible they were nothing more than ideas for what became the Z4/Z3+. It’s also possible they were deliberately held off for consideration with Spectre tie-in promotion and release this creating the less inspired Z4 that actually released.

Ironically there is another question asked as well, namely just how receptive the public would be of these phones should they ever materialize. “The Elemental” actually looks rather similar to the current Z-series, and in some ways, the second phone looks almost like a step back in terms of design language; almost too Samsung Galaxy Tab 4-esque with the sliver of chrome (plastic?) that rings around the frame’s perimeter. Do either of them look cool enough for the mainstream customer to use, let alone James Bond himself?

Sony Style

In light of Sony Mobile’s optimistic views of the future and assurance it’s not going anywhere, there could potentially be some big success for the Z5 if it can come packing heat. The Xperia Z4v (pictured below) is actually a good place to start thanks to the souped up internals it has, namely a QHD display – the first ever to be used on a Sony smartphone. The design is another element that many want to see altered, given that the previous four models are relatively unchanged compared to say, the differences between the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6.

Sony Xperia Z4v 2

The Xperia Z4v has some extra points of interest going for it, but is ultimately still similar to the past 3 models.

Still, we caution readers not to get too optimistic. Even if Sony were to have made the pictures, there could technically be any letter proceeding the number 5. It could be the E5 for example, or even the M5 to reference the famous motorway from where James Bond calls home. It could also be an all-together product, perhaps an Xperia “X5″, though if said device was going to launch a new series of products it would be best to eliminate a numeral entirely less it be seen as in the same vein as the current existing lines.

Please also keep in mind that this entire piece is ultimately just speculation based on likely or potential possibilities. Considering that Sony actually used an Xperia T-series in Skyfall, there really is no telling just what it might actually be planning.

At the very least we can hope that this potential product will usher in a new era for Sony Mobile, one that finally gives it the very oomph and appeal needed to stabilize its situation and start earning market share in countries other than its own, where it comes in second only to the iPhone.

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