Can Sony's 2014 flagship smartphone (Sirius) challenge Samsung's Galaxy S5 when it comes to sales?

Can Sony's 2014 flagship smartphone (Sirius) challenge Samsung's Galaxy S5 when it comes to sales?
Earlier today, Samsung’s VP of mobile business confirmed that the company would release its next flagship Android smartphone - likely called Galaxy S5 - around March or April. So an announcement at MWC 2014 seems very unlikely now. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that MWC will be devoid of flagship Android handsets.

Enter Sony, the Japanese company that greatly improved its smartphone offering lately. Its 2013 Xperia Z and Xperia Z1 flagships were well received and praised by most reviewers (with the newer Z1 having lots of pluses compared to the Z). Still, sales-wise, Sony’s flagships remained far behind Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note III, as the Japanese vendor didn’t make it to top 5 smartphone manufacturers throughout 2013.

According to a report from earlier this week, Sony is seemingly preparing a new flagship - currently codenamed Sirius. This might be announced at MWC next month, possibly featuring a quad-core Snapdragon MSM8974-AB processor and a 5.2-inch display. The display resolution is not known at the moment. Nevertheless, it’s said that Samsung already started mass-producing 5.25 Quad HD AMOLED panels for the S5, thus Sony may want to go the Quad HD (1440 x 2560) way, too.

Can this alleged Sony Sirius steal some of Samsung’s potential Galaxy S5 buyers? Well, it might, assuming it’ll be released immediately after its announcement - thus a month or two before the S5. But Sony must pay attention to every little detail, from the color reproduction and viewing angles of the display to the skin on top of Android, from the photo and video capabilities of the camera to battery life and storage options. Everything must be at its best. Sony could also ponder on new gimmicks like fingerprint recognition and eye recognition (both rumored to be included in Samsung’s Galaxy S5).  

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What Sony can offer - and other manufacturers seemingly can’t for now - is a beautiful waterproof smartphone body. Yes, Samsung also has a waterproof version of the Galaxy S4, called Active, but its design (with those capacitive buttons à la 2010) is uninspired - and that was probably one of the reasons why sales didn’t go too great. Sony, on the other hand, proved that it can make all its flagships waterproof without compromising on design. We must mention, however, that we'd like to see a thinner bezel - really! When it announced the Xperia Z in early 2013, Sony also introduced the Xperia ZL - this wasn't waterproof, but had a smaller case while keeping the same screen estate (5 inches). Hopefully, Sony took cues from the ZL when designing the Sirius.

Naturally, in the battle with the Galaxy S5, pricing will matter a lot. Sony’s current Z1 flagship costs $649 (unlocked), and we think that a good strategy for the Japanese company would be to try and sell its next flagship for even less. A high-end, waterproof smartphone with an attractive design at under $600 could be a great deal for many customers.

What do you think? Is 2014 the year when Samsung will really feel the threat of other Android vendors (including Sony)? Or is the South Korean giant still going to march triumphantly, with everyone else struggling way behind for the remaining Android market share?

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