Sony out-airs the iPad, water-proofs the microUSB port

With Mobile World Congress on this week, we’ve seen a few things happen, with upgrades galore and a dose of water-resistance forgotten about, at least on the part of Samsung’s newly introduced S6, which was a surprise since the S5 was all about the ruggedisation and how it was made to take outside.

Sony, however, appears to be doing some upgrades of its own, and is embracing water resistance again for its new phones.

Fresh from the IP68 dust and water rating found on the Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, and Z3 Compact Tablet, two new models are on the way that not only pack those ratings, but also include a waterproof microUSB port where there is no cap, with the whole unit easy to be submersed without needing to check if a port is in place over the port as is the case with current Sony phones, as well as Samsung’s own Galaxy S5.


That specialty port can be found in the Xperia M4 Aqua smartphone as well as a new tablet, the Xperia Z4 Tablet, both of which have dropped the magnetic proprietary ports commonly seen on Sony devices with a move to microUSB charging only.

It’s worth noting that while the microUSB charge port is now waterproof, you obviously should let the port dry before plugging it in.

The last thing you’d want to do is destroy a phone or tablet when you plug a wet one in, because while it’s waterproof and won’t die from a tussle with freshwater (if used in chlorine or saltwater, wash with freshwater when done), the principles of electricity and water are still present, and a convergence of the two will result in, well, something that isn’t good for you or the gadget.

That said, there’s more to either the M4 Aqua and the Z4 Tablet than just an updated microUSB port, with a difference in processing tech, some new screens, and obviously a different market.


For starters, the M4 Aqua appears to be focused on the middle of the market, grabbing a 5 inch high definition (1280×720) display, eight core 1.5GHz 64-bit Snapdragon processor, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and a combination of a 13 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front camera, not quite up to the strength of the 20/2 found on the Xperia Z3/Z3 Compact.

Sony is suggesting that this phone should have no problem with battery life, though, relying on a 2400mAh battery capable of delivering up to two days, while the phone itself will connect to networks using 4G LTE, and include either 8GB or 16GB of storage, with support for more via a microSD slot.


And yes, just like the Z3 and Z3 Compact from last year, the M4 Aqua will handle its own in water, a nod from the “aqua” in the name, as well as the IP68 certification it comes with, and that cap-less microUSB port.

Sony’s other major announcement this week is a new tablet that appears to take on the slew of devices out from both Apple and Samsung.


This one is the Xperia Z4 Tablet, the first of Sony’s Z4 range that will no doubt impact the mobile phone space later on when the company makes an updated Xperia Z4 handset, and possibly a Z4 Compact to go with it.

There’s no information on either of those yet, but there is with the Xperia Z4 Tablet, with Sony throwing in the eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit processor clocked at 2GHz, 3GB RAM, and up to 32GB storage with room to move via a microSD slot.


A 10 inch screen is included, though Sony has updated the technology to include one of those new-fandangled resolutions we’ve only seen on a few tablets before, relying on the 2560×1600 display resolution used on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

That said, the same resolution doesn’t mean these two tablets are the same, with Sony undercutting Samsung’s weight by over 50 grams, the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet coming in at 389g for the WiFi only model, compared to 465g for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, and even beating Apple’s iPad Air 2 which itself manages 437 grams.

Essentially, that means Sony is lighter than Air, or at least Apple’s Air 2, which could win people over due to that weight.


“Building on the success of its predecessor, we wanted to take all of the qualities that consumers loved most in Xperia Z2 Tablet and enhance them for Z4 Tablet,” says Peter McKeon, Managing Director Oceania at Sony Mobile Communications.

“Consumers appreciate innovation most when it can bring real value to their lives, so we have carefully crafted and considered every aspect of the Z4 Tablet to meet even the most demanding lifestyle. Sleek and lightweight, yet incredibly powerful, with standout entertainment and smart productivity features, Xperia Z4 Tablet is an extraordinary tablet that fits perfectly into your day-to-day life.”sony-xperia-mwc-2015-z4-tablet-08-hands-on

Testing it ourselves, it’s clear this is one light tablet with a particularly notable screen, and we’re keen to see it handle in real life, especially with its water resistance.

While we’re particularly partial to the 8 inch tablets, there’s a difference of only 100 grams or so here, making for what has to be one of the lightest devices we’ve seen, packing this into a thickness of 6.1mm, and bringing the same Xperia Z3 ability to connect to PlayStation 4 consoles making it a 10 inch tablet that can rely on a networked PS4 in a home.

Interestingly, we’re also being told it should have a pretty impressive battery life, able to survive a trip across the Pacific with a 17 hour video playback. Neato.

“I believe this is the best tablet in the marketplace,” said McKeon to a group of journalists this week.

The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet with its own keyboard, the BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet with its own keyboard, the BKB50 Bluetooth Keyboard.

Pricing and availability of this one isn’t yet known, though we expect it’ll probably replace last year’s Xperia Z2 Tablet, suggesting that $599 is the likely starting place for this tablet when it arrives in the next few months.