Sony shift: Xperia X and Xperia X Compact to be axed [Update]

Update 11:13pm PT: Sony has gotten back to us with responses to our questions, providing further insight into its mobile plans and confirming the company's move to two phone tiers.

"Our focus in the US market has been with flagship and mid-range devices," Don Mesa, senior director of marketing at Sony Mobile Communications, said in an email. "That said, we continue to sell and support the Xperia X and X Compact smartphones in the US. 

"The portfolio moving forward is to consolidate the range to two key areas that we have been concentrating on in this market."

Mesa said Sony "will continue to support the US market for the foreseeable future." As for those new mystery flagships, Mesa replied, "We do not comment on future products."

Original story below...

Sony is shaking up its smartphone lineup, putting an end to one tier in the hopes of boosting its overall standing in the mobile game. 

The company revealed during its 2017 Investor Day that it will no longer produce phones in the category it calls Premium Standard, reports Xperia Blog

Premium Standard phones include 2016's Xperia X and Xperia X Compact, devices with lower (but not lowest) prices and not-quite-premium, not-quite-budget specs. 

If the category sounds half-baked, the resulting phones were just that; we found in our Xperia X review the phone didn't fit into any camp and lacked key features, while we outright recommended you buy the Xperia Z5 Compact over the X Compact.

Sony's Xperia X

Sony's Xperia X

Though it's no surprise Sony is sun-setting the category, especially in the face of disappointing sales outside of Japan, the Xperia X and X Compact had some promising features that, if teased out a bit more, might have turned the 2017 editions into respectable upgrades. 

We've asked Sony for further comment on its decision to end the Premium Standard range as well as whether it plans to discontinue the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact for good. We'll update this story if we hear back.

Sony's new phone focus

With its upper mid-range tier getting the boot, Sony's concentration is falling squarely on flagship and true mid-range phones. The aim? Bring its standing in the smartphone world back to where it once was... or as close to it as possible. 

Sony's premium and mid-range models count the Xperia XZ Premium and Xperia XA1 among their ranks, phones with clearer definition in their respective categories.

According to slides from Sony's IR Day, the company plans to hone in on mobile tech unique to its skill set, namely advanced camera features, high-resolution screens (like the XZ Premium's 4K HDR display), 4K HDR content delivery and networking technologies for ultra-fast downloads.

Another slide shows Sony's Xperia portfolio for fiscal year 2017, and two mysterious flagship phones appear to be in the pipeline. We've asked Sony to confirm that these devices are coming, and chances are we'll see them unveiled at September's IFA 2017 show in Berlin. 

Image credit: Xperia Blog

Image credit: Xperia Blog

Sony's reboot effort also includes targeting markets where it already enjoys name recognition, such as Japan, East Asia, the Middle East and Europe. 

This choosier approach looks to put North America somewhat on the outs, however according to Xperia Blog, Sony isn't leaving the US for good, but rather knows it needs a bigger advertising push to gain a broader audience there.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.