Some of the brains behind the Xperia Z1 recently sat down with the Sony Mobile Blog to reveal some great insight into the design of the handset. A number of Sony engineers and designers gave their insight including Asuka Matsumura, Keita Hibi, Nami Katayama, Nobuyuki Matsushita, Kenichi Kamezaki, Ryoko Amano and Fumiyuki Ito.
The interview reveals some of the thought processes behind the OmniBalance design, the display and how the Xperia Z1 was the first Sony smartphone to be designed with a truly Sony integrated approach. Click through for some of the key highlights and the source link for the full interview.
On the Xperia Z1’s design process
Matsushita: “I was amazed by how fast paced the mobile design process was; with requirements changing constantly. We were able to merge the two design cultures very well, and find a way of working that allowed us to experiment, but collaborate productively within that rapid-pace environment.”
On the Xperia Z1’s OmniBalance design
Hibi: “Aluminium normally limits mobile signal, but with Xperia Z1, we were able to use the one-piece aluminium frame to act as an antenna – so we were balancing the aesthetic requirement for a seamless premium casing, with the functional necessity for a mobile antenna. With plastic parts, it’s more difficult to create single custom shapes, as many moulding processes use dyes. With an aluminium “cutting” process, we can carve the outline precisely – this allowed us to give Xperia Z1 a solid, clean-cut appearance, with four completely round edges.”
Katayama: “For colouring, we used “double alumite treatment” in the aluminium frame. Alumite treatment employs a chemical reaction to protect the surface of aluminium material against oxidization (rust) and allows precise colouring on a micron basis. Without using aluminium, it would have been impossible to create a seamless blend of distinct colours and textures, whilst keeping the colour tone sharp. The frame of the white model, which takes advantage of the aluminium’s “original” colour, underwent two different processes – sand blasting to degloss material with fine particles, and the smoothening so the material retains a gloss finish. This makes the edges of the phone different from the flat surfaces – I think we succeeded in creating a striking two-tone, two-colour finish!”
On the Xperia Z1’s display
Ito: “X-Reality for mobile” offers a great foundation for imaging but we knew from the start that the real beauty of images cannot be delivered by hardware alone. In the initial stage of development, we held a meeting attended by not just members working on Xperia but also engineers in charge of Sony’s image-related products – PlayStation, BRAVIA, and Cyber-shot. At this meeting, we discussed how the different quality adjustment technologies could be used to individually optimise certain use cases (video / gaming / camera etc…) and as a result we created a set of guidelines on image quality adjustment defining how we could approach this. Xperia Z1 is the first smartphone model developed under those guidelines.”
Ito: “X-Reality for mobile” builds on the advances made by “Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2.” This used four technologies for noise reduction, contrast enhancement, colour management, and sharpness, and the super resolution technology in X-Reality is similar. The technology analyses images frame by frame, guesses and compensates for missing information resulting from image data compression or other processing. Patterns of such image processing are stored in a database, and an optimal pattern is chosen from the database for a specific type of image, such as a movie or animation. This allows an adjusted image to be displayed on the screen instantaneously, which, if done manually, would take several days.”