Sony is really trying to make a go of this Xperia thing. Overall, we've been generally impressed with Sony's high-end-ish smartphone line. As the Xperia name has taken hold, the company has decided to further expand (ore perhaps dilute) the brand with a trio of new midrange pivots.
First up: The dual-SIM Xperia E1 is a 4-inch display'd handset that carries some respectably middling specs including a 800 x 480 display, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage.
The company is pushing the E1 primarily as a media consumption device, with the promise to deliver 100 decibles of sound (it should be noted that should this device be pushed in European markets, the EU limits devices to 85 decibels) and a 30-day trial of Sony's unremarkably-named music streaming service, Music Unlimited.
No concrete pricing or availability has been announced, however the PR release has classified the E1's class as being less than €175 (around $240).
Sony also announced the Xperia T2 Ultra in both single and dual-SIM varieties. The T2 Ultra is a 6-inch display'd phones explicitly aimed at the developing markets in "China, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific Rim" (thus they may never hit US shores).
Once again, no specific price or availability has been made available, however the phone class is being less than €400 (around $550).
These supersized phones can be seen as lite versions of the Xperia Z Ultra and come with some perfectly-acceptable midrange specs including a 720p display (thus satisfying the lowest threshold of the HD spectrum), 1.4Ghz Snapdragon Quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 14 MP shooter.
Shock and awe branding
The expansion of the Xperia line is part of a larger trend of real-time market research in which OEMs release various pivots of a marquee brand and see what sticks.
Samsung, for example, has had a hell of a run in the smartphone space over the last few years. Part of this success is attributable to meeting consumer desire for larger smartphone screens than Apple was producing. The other part was a carpet-bombing branding campaign in which the company launched a plethora of Galaxy devices in a wide spectrum of form factors and saw which ones stuck.
We've seen Galaxy-branded gigantor phones, bendable phones, Aquaman phones, and phones that are actually cameras, just to name a few. In the end, consumers were happy with the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series--time will tell what, if anything else will land.
My guess is that this unfortunate--and confusing--carpet-bombing trend will continue as phone-makers battle it out for the highly desirable developing market. For every bleeding-edge phone making its way to developed markets, expect a flurry of midrange pivots and mini-me versions to follow in their wake.