Sony culling ‘Premium Standard’ smartphones, blames poor sales

Sony has vowed to kill off ‘Premium Standard phones, the company’s line of affordable near-flagship smartphones.

During the company’s 2017 Investor Day, Sony pledged to eventually discontinue the ‘Premium Standard’ smartphone range following an uninspiring sales performance.

Examples of these handsets include 2016’s Sony Xperia X and Sony Xperia X Compact. Both featured relatively premium specs, but were priced more affordably to entice users who didn’t want to spend big bucks on a fully-fledged flagship phone.

According to Sony’s own figures, the company managed to hit 85% of its volume targets for the year with this range. However, outside of Japan, Sony achieved just 31% of its targeted volumes.

Sony Xperia X Compact review

The new strategy for Sony is to focus only on flagship and mid-range models. For instance, Sony is pinning high hopes on the new Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which was announced earlier this year and runs on Qualcomm’s latest and most powerful mobile chip, the Snapdragon 835.

Sony Mobile has struggled to secure a dominant proportion of market share in recent years. This is partly due to the persistently strong mobile offerings from premium brands like Apple and Samsung, as well as dominant Asia-focused players like Xiaomi and Huawei.

There’s also the issue that Sony’s smartphone design has stayed true to the ‘Omnibalance’ aesthetic for many years, leaving most of its phones looking near-identical. Also, Sony has a very broad mobile portfolio that lacks a clear naming strategy, which may confuse the average high street consumer.

One of the smartphones facing the chop, the Xperia X, received a 3/5 score in our review last year, with Mobile Editor Max Parker bemoaning the phone’s “boring design, unreliable camera, awful button placement” and the apparent poor value for money.

Similarly, the Xperia X Compact also received a 3/5 score, and was slammed for its “ugly design, slow and unreliable camera” and the expensive price.

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Do you think Sony is right to discontinue ‘Premium Standard’ smartphones? Let us know in the comments.