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Sony ditches the flagship (for now) to focus on creating a standout tablet*

*Also, it announced a mid-range smartphone, the M4 Aqua, to keep that business ticking along.

Image: Sony

IF YOU’RE EXPECTING another flagship Xperia smartphone from Sony this time, you’re going to be left disappointed.

In its place comes the launch of the Xperia Z4, a 10.1-inch tablet which takes some inspiration from Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

We got to play around with for a brief period of time, and from first impressions, it’s incredibly light and thin (392g and 6.1mm to be exact) to the point where you don’t really feel you’re holding something. It’s a little scary how this feels when you realise that a relatively clumsy person could easily drop it without realising it.

When it launches in June, it will come with a bluetooth keyboard which has a slot for the Xperia Z4 to sit into.

The idea is the main focus is a traditional tablet, mainly for entertainment, but when it combines with the keyboard, it becomes a work device similar to a traditional laptop. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Surface Pro (and to a lesser extent the Nexus 9) follows this same train of thought.

When you connect the two, the interface changes from traditional Android into one that resembles Chromebook quite a bit. The interface is straightforward though, and doesn’t take too long to get used to as long as you don’t expect the same range of features a traditional laptop has.

This ties into the corporate strategy Sony has, splitting up your apps into clear personal and work identities if your work requires you to use your own devices.

There are two potential problems with it though. The first is the bluetooth connection which is going to be a drain on the battery, how much of an impact it will have isn’t clear.

Sony claims the tablet can last up to 17 hours with continuous video playback, which is an impressive figure if it lives up to it but bluetooth is notorious for being a battery drain so the length of time it will last with normal use could be shorter.

Also, the trackpad doesn’t seem to be the most responsive, using the same two-finger gestures to navigate didn’t quite give the results we were expecting, but for now, we have to put that down to the limited amount of time we had using it.

Yet the 2K screen is incredibly sharp (and bright), and you could definitely see yourself watching movies or playing games on it.

Source: Sony Xperia/YouTube

The other device revealed was a new mid-range phone called the M4 Aqua. Using Android Lollipop, it looks like it will continue the good run of form the Xperia Z3 Compact demonstrated when it was released. It’s effectively a watered down version of its flagship Xperia Z3, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s pretty light and the software, from first glance anyway, appears to be quick and responsive. Sony claims that the device has two days of battery life in it so it doesn’t give up on you. It supports 4G and comes with a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera.

Source: Sony Xperia/YouTube

So what else is there to say about either device? Well, the camera boots up extremely fast (less than a second) and takes even less time to focus and adjust for both and they use Android 5.0 Lollipop.

However, the best part about these devices is their link to another Sony product, the Playstation 4. Owners will likely be aware of Remote Play – it allows you to play Playstation 4 games through smartphone/tablet so long as you’re using the same WiFi connection – and both the Z4 and the M4 Aqua will support this.

This becomes a tantalising prospect when you consider the sharpness of the Z4′s screen and it could easily become a home away from home for PS4 users.

Xperia_Z4_Tablet_Lifestyle_2 Source: Sony

As for those expecting a flagship device from Sony, there’s always IFA which will happen in September. That’s not exactly a guarantee that one will appear, but since Sony is focusing on key areas – and its smartphone division has been taking hits in recent times – it’s probably not a bad idea to focus more on the mid-range market for now.

Also, a low-range device, the Xperia E4g, was announced last week and runs on KitKat. Like the M4 Aqua, it’s a 4G device and has a 5MP camera.

Quinton O’Reilly is at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona all this week. Follow all the goings-on at @TheJournalTech.

Read: Samsung has put all its rivals on the back foot with just one event >

Read: HTC moves into VR and it has the perfect partner to help it succeed >

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Quinton O'Reilly

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