Sony Expands Verizon Partnership With Smartphone

Returns to carrier's lineup after three-year absence
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New York – The Sony brand will return to Verizon’s smartphone lineup after an absence of three years, joining connected Sony accessories and a Sony 4G LTE tablet launched during the summer.

Verizon plans future Sony mobile devices and connected accessories, Verizon marketing VP Jeff Dietel told TWICE after a press conference here.

Verizon will become the first carrier later this month to offer Sony’s Smart Watch 3, an Android Wear-OS device also unveiled at Berlin’s IFA show, the carried noted.

In the U.S., Sony currently sells only to T-Mobile among the national carriers, nor are Sony phones available through regional carriers, said Ravi Nookala, president of Sony Mobile Communications North America. The partnership with Verizon “reflects our commitment to building the business in the U.S.,” he said.

The company will focus in the U.S. on the premium segment for smartphones and tablets as part of a global refocusing on the segment, he noted.

The Verizon-dedicated Sony phone is the high-end Xperia Z3v, a variant of the Android 4.4 KitKat Z3 phone unveiled at IFA and coming to the U.S. sometime this year through T-Mobile. The Z3v will be available at $199 with two-year contract on Oct. 23 through Verizon stores and national retailers. The no-contract up-front price is $599, but Edge installment-payment plans will be available to pay off the phone over time.

Promotional plans include $200 off a bundled purchase of the Z3v and the Z2 tablet.

The Z3v variant will feature such enhancements over the Z3 as wireless charging, 3200mAh battery instead of 3100mAh battery, and Verizon’s dual-band XLT LTE service, said Nookala. Wireless charging will be exclusive to Verizon, Nookala added.

In addition, Verizon will offer black and white Z3v phones, while T-Mobile plans a black Z3.

Both the Z3 and Z3v feature 5.2-inch 1920x1080 display, 2.5GHz quad-core processor, 3GB RAM, and 20.7-megapixel main camera with 4K video capture, IS0 12,800 sensitivity, and 25mm lens. It also features high-resolution audio playback, compressed-music restorer, and 2.2-megapixel front camera.

The phones are also IP65- and IP68- rated for complete protection against dust and for immersion in up to 4.9 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Another key feature is PlayStation4 remote play, which enables either phone to be mounted onto the PS4’s wireless game controller in landscape mode to display game play via Wi-Fi connection to the PS4. The feature frees up a TV for TV and movie watching. Almost every PS4 game is remote-play compatible.

Remote play is already available with the handheld PlayStation Vita and will be available with the PlayStation Vita TV, which is due soon.

Other new features include ability to pause and resume video recording like a standalone camcorder so users don’t have to shoot multiple clips during an event.

Two other new camera features are Face In and Multicamera. The former lets users take a picture simultaneously from the front and back cameras to create a split-screen photo or superimpose one image in an oval on the other.

Multicamera lets up to three Xperia devices or Sony-family cameras take pictures and videos of the same event, then integrates the separate images and videos into a single split-screen photo or video. Devices must be paired via NFC and connected via Wi-Fi Direct.

Verizon didn’t price Sony’s third-generation smart watch, which is priced in Europe at 229 Euros.

Smart Watch 3 adopts Google’s Android Wear OS and features 1.6-inch 320 by 320 transreflective display. The new model also adds GPS and the water-proof and dustproof rating of the Z3.

It also features Lifelog technology, which is used in Sony’s smart band to communicate via Bluetooth with an Android Lifelog app that offers fitness tracking. The smartphone-installed app also lets users log places visited, music played, games played and books read for presentation on a visual interface. The app also helps users set activity goals.

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