Sony quietly announced a new smartphone for the Japanese NTT Docomo network called the Xperia A4. The smartphone carries a 20.7MP camera, much like the company's higher-end Z-series models.
Because of its SO-04G model number, the device could be called the Xperia Z4 Compact, internationally. A previous successor called the Xperia A2 with the model number SO-04F was eventually renamed as the Xperia Z3 Compact, globally. NTT Docomo's website also showed the Xperia Z4 alongside the new Xperia A4, which gives credence to that belief.
The Xperia A4 comes with a 4.6" Triluminos (quantum dots) display with 720p resolution (much like the Xperia Z3 Compact), a Snapdragon 801 processor (also like the Xperia Z3 Compact), 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and a 2,600 mAh battery. As mentioned, the camera is 20.7MP, and it looks to be the same one found in the Xperia Z1 Compact. The device has a 2.2MP camera on the front.
For all intents and purposes it looks like the Xperia A4 is largely the same phone we've seen before in the Xperia Z3 Compact. Sony seems to be doing the same with its larger brother, the Xperia Z4, by mostly rehashing an existing phone.
This strategy may arise from Sony's financial troubles in the smartphone market, as it can't afford to create a completely brand new device every year. It's also the problem HTC has had this year with the HTC One M9. However, this was probably not the best year for this strategy, because Samsung drastically refreshed its product line, which may help increase its leadership over other Android manufacturers such as Sony and HTC.
The Xperia A4 device does come with the newer Android 5.0 version out of the box, so at least that means it should get more updates than the older Xperia Z3 Compact, which is likely to be at the end of its lifecycle in terms of updates.
This is also a worrying trend as manufacturers prefer to release new devices that are more or less the same as the old ones, with the main difference being a more recent version of Android on board. Companies should instead update their devices on time and for as long as most people keep their phones (which should be at least two years).
The Xperia A4 is now available for pre-order on NTT Docomo and will start shipping in mid-June. The available colors are white, black, blue and pink.