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Better than nothing? Sony profits from phones again

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Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Sony’s smartphone division looks set to fight another day, having recorded a small profit in the company’s latest earnings breakdown, following some disastrous sales results in 2015. A $4 million operating income figure is the only positive though, as it’s marred by the unfortunate circumstances behind it, and by another 30 percent fall in sales over last year.

How has Sony pulled back from the edge? It lists three prime reasons: Redundancies of more than 1,000 people took place in Sony Mobile last year, a dramatic change in the range of phones available, and by ignoring international markets where its phones are expensive — driven by high exchange rates — and not very popular. This downsizing throughout the division appears to have had a moderately positive outcome.

Related: One phone maker is making the most out of a tough 2016

This year Sony’s smartphone line up consists of the Xperia Z5 and models in its new X Series range, which were first shown at Mobile World Congress in February. The Xperia X is one of the few new models on sale — and on sale in the U.S., unusually — and while we liked the size and build, it’s considerably more expensive than other comparable models. The X Performance, which was the standout at MWC, is still coming soon.

Sony has threatened in the past to leave the smartphone business behind, but its recent downsizing efforts indicate it’s likely to continue for now. However, it’s rapidly becoming a small player. Earlier this year, it estimated only 20 million phone sales for 2016 in total, half of Apple’s quarterly achievement, a figure it now expects to be more like 19 million. It’s far outside the top five manufacturers in the world.

New Sony smartphones may be revealed at the IFA show in Berlin at the beginning of September, but with others already announced but missing-in-action, we’re preparing for a long wait before they actually go on sale.