Sony Mobile unveils SmartWatch 2, Xperia Z Ultra smartphone

The third-generation smartwatch and the 6.4-in., quad-core phone will run Android and be available globally this year

Sony Mobile today announced an Android-based SmartWatch 2 with NFC wireless and a large-screen 6.44-in. HD smartphone called the Xperia Z Ultra.

Sony SmartWatch 2
The Sony SmartWatch 2 is water-resistant.

The announcement was made at the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai. A U.S.-based Sony spokeswoman said there would be no information on U.S. availability or pricing at this time.

However, the SmartWatch 2 SW2 (its full name) is expected to be available worldwide in September, with the Ultra launching globally in the third quarter, with timing to vary by market.

The SmartWatch 2 comes with a 1.6-in., 220 x 176 pixel color LCD display with touch and swipe capabilities. It is easy to read in sunlight and battery time is three to four days with typical use, Sony said. The Android version for the SmartWatch is listed by Sony as "4.0 and later."

NFC wireless makes it the first smart watch with NFC, an update from the original Sony SmartWatch. Bluetooth 3.0 allows for easy one-touch wireless pairing to an Android phone, like the Xperia Z Ultra. When not paired to a phone, it works as a standalone digital watch where users can read previously received notifications or emails.

When paired, the SmartWatch 2 allows the taking of calls and snapping of photos by a touch of the wrist. It can be used as a second screen for an Android smartphone, as an app interface to control a presentation remotely, or to monitor a mapping app. And it can also be paired with a music player to adjust volume and select tracks.

Sony's head of companion products, Stefan Persson, said that Sony introduced its first Bluetooth watch in 2007. "Competitors are only now launching first-generation devices, while we are already launching third-generation devices with the insight gained from over half a million customers, combined with Sony's wealth of technology expertise to create the best ever smartphone experience," he said.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra has a 6.4-inch full HD screen.

Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are all reported to be making smart watches for release in the coming year.

Persson said there are already 200 unique SmartWatch apps with 1 million downloads to date. He said that analysts have predicted 41 million smart watches will be sold by 2016.

The watch itself is made of aluminum and plastic and is splash-proof, but is not suitable for showering and bathing. It comes with a black metallic wristband. The watch itself is almost square and about one-third of an inch thick. Exactly, it measures 1.638 x 1.618 x 0.354 inches. It weighs less than an ounce (0.828), or 23.5 grams. Other specs were not available.

The Xperia Z Ultra runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and will come in black, white and purple. It features a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor rated at 2.2GHz, which Sony said makes it the world's fastest smartphone.

The Ultra has 16GB of internal storage, expandable with up to a 64GB microSD card.

The biggest feature of the Ultra, however, is the large 6.44-in. touchscreen display rated at 1920 x 1080 pixels and 16.7 million colors. Sony used its Bravia TV experience to enhance colors in what it calls a Triluminos display. The technology analyzes an image and reproduces pixels that are missing to optimize video quality.

At 0.46 pounds (212 grams) and just 0.25-in. thick (6.5 mm), Sony claimed it is world's slimmest full HD smartphone and world's only waterproof full HD smartphone.

Ultra allows users to sketch with any pencil, stylus or pen with a tip diameter over 1 millimeter. Face Unlock and Gesture Input are supported. It has an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera. Ultra also supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and LTE. A large 3000 mAh hour battery is rated for up to 11 hours of talk time. Overall dimensions are 7.06 x 3.63 x .25 inches, weighing 7.4 ounces.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

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