Sony Xperia Z1 offers advanced Walkman music features.

A few years ago Sony Ericsson found big success with its range of Walkman feature phones, each of which was designed to make listening to music on a mobile much easier. iPods were big at the time and until the Walkman range arrived it was generally quite a pain to try and load MP3s onto a handset to replicate its capabilities.

Since the first smartphones started to hit the market, however, media playback has become universally simplified and the Walkman devices died a death. The Sony Xperia Z1, however, could be bringing the Walkman brand and related functionality back to the market, with rumours suggesting that it will have its own Walkman app and enhanced audio features that make it better for music fans than the average smartphone.

Software Enhancements

Although the Xperia Z1 remains tightly under wraps at Sony, it is possible to work out what type of audio features it will have based on existing models that are already available.

The Xperia Z, for example, is Sony’s current flagship handset and has its own Walkman app and related enhancements. This includes ClearAudio+, which is designed to undo the frequency distortion which occurs during the compression of MP3 files. This basically means that highs are made cleaner and clearer so that songs sound their best. There are other benefits too such as Clear Bass and Dynamic Equalizer, both of which should help to give HTC phones with Beats technology built in a run for their money in terms of audio fidelity.

Some of the best Xperia apps will also be bundled with the Z1, including Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming service. This is effectively in the same market as Spotify, giving you the opportunity to access high quality tracks from your favourite artists whenever you have a network connection. The Xperia i1 should present these capabilities in a slightly different way to the Z, since insiders claim that it will have a refreshed interface.

Of course serious audiophiles may want to download third party equaliser apps for Sony smartphones, but it is nice to see the Walkman software giving average users improved performance without the steep learning curve.

Speaker Hardware

Some reviewers complained that the Xperia Z is a little limited in the audio playback department due to the presence of a single speaker. Though the Z1 still pushes a single speaker, the inclusion of new Sony features have helped to enhance the sound when you are not using headphones.

HTC has got the market cornered at the moment when it comes to mobile speaker tech, particularly with the flagship One’s impressive front-facing kit. While Sony might not quite manage to topple it with the Xperia Z1, it will definitely be good to see the Walkman heritage giving a good account of itself on this new phone.