At the MWC 2016 we had a one-on-one chat with Sony representatives and had a chance to ask them the hard questions.
We started with the new Xperia X family that Sony unveiled yesterday. We - and plenty of our readers - were disheartened with the reveal that the Xperia X Performance won't launch in the US and Europe.
Except that turns out to not be true - it's heading to the Netherlands at least. Sony says that the Performance is definitely launching in Asia first, but there will be units sold in Europe at the same time. It's just that the decision which countries get it hasn't been made yet.
We asked about benchmarks of the new Snapdragon 820 chipset, but Sony said "no" and clarified they are interested in real life performance rather than synthetic benchmarks.
From the top dog, we moved to the Sony Xperia XA. Yesterday it impressed us with its narrow bezels. Apparently, the other two Xs have thicker bezels because of the metal frame and because the side-mounted fingerprint reader needs extra room.
And the XA has neither of these things. Sony was adamant that the best place for a fingerprint reader is on the side, at least without it the engineers could slim down the bezels.
The improvements to the Xperia X and X Performance camera are mainly in the speed and accuracy of the tracking autofocus. So don't expect better quality in static shots, but there will be fewer shots (and videos) ruined by people moving around.
We also asked why is it that other manufacturers sometimes achieve better image quality by using Sony IMX sensors than Sony itself does.
The official answer is that Sony cameras are optimized for "performance." Performance meaning how photos and videos from the camera look great both on the phone's screen and on a computer screen. The selfie camera, in particular, has been tuned to view on large screens.
We're not terribly satisfied with this canned response - how else would you view a digital photo except on a screen (small or large)!?
Finally, we got a chance to ask questions about the 4K screen on the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. Sony is happy with how it performs and says it gets the job done for people who need 4K resolution. There are no plans to add 4K support to more of the Z5 Premium interface and app package.
The questions & answers portion was over, but before we left we got to fondle a few cases for the X-series (these particular cases we handled were for the Xperia X Performance).
The transparent case is the most interesting one - it covers the screen, but still allows you to operate the phone without opening it. Unfortunately, this case didn't work but not because of a hardware issue.
No, the issue turned out to be a software one - the app needed to make the case work wasn't available. That's right, cases need apps now. The case has built-in NFC to automatically trigger the app, so we think it's just an issue of disabling pocket mode (not unlocking the phone if the proximity sensor detects something) and turning on glove mode.
Anyway, the other cases are standard flip cases without all the magic of the translucent one (but with all the protection).