Sony launches two new Android smartphones and the Xperia Z2 tablet

New Xperia Z2 smartphone pairs with Smartwear devices running on Core sensor

Sony today announced a slim, light and waterproof Android-based Xperia Z2 tablet and two new Xperia smartphones at the launch of Mobile World Congress here.

The 10.1-in. high-definition display tablet and the high-end Xperia Z2 smartphone, with a 5.2-in. display, will be available globally in March, while the Xperia M2 with a 4.8-in. display, will ship in April. Pricing was not announced, although Sony said the M2 will sell at a "mid-range" price to reach new buyers, such as those moving from feature phones to smartphones for the first time. The tablet and the Z2 run KitKat (Android 4.4), while the M2 runs Jelly Bean (Android 4.3).

Sony says its Xperia Z2 tablet is the slimmest, at .25 inches thick, and lightest, at 15 ounces, of the waterproof tablets on the market. It's also designed to be comfortable to hold in one hand. (Photo: Sony)

Also at MWC, Sony plans to reveal more details of its Core sensor for use in wearable devices such as the SmartWear product line.The SmartBand works with a new Lifelog fitness app on a smartphone, including the new Xperia Z2.

The Xperia Z2 smartphone has a 5.2-in. display and includes Sony's new noise-canceling technology.

Sony introduced its Core technology at International CES in January. A month later, Sony announced it was selling off its struggling Vaio PC business, and anticipated a $1.1 billion loss for the fiscal year ending in March.

Sony's latest forays into mobile products are seen as an attempt at a rebirth for the 60-year-old Japanese electronics giant. Wearable devices are where Sony could do best, since the market is young. Sony ranks seventh in smartphones shipments globally with a 3.8% market share, according to research firm IDC. In tablets, Sony hasn't broken into the top 15 and holds less than 1% of the market, IDC said.

Sony's "mid-range" Xperia M2 smartphone, with a 4.8-in. display, is geared toward new buyers who are ready to make the transition from a feature phone to a smartphone. (Photo: Sony)

The Xperia Z2 Tablet is described as the world's slimmest (0.25 inches thick) and lightest (15 ounces) of the waterproof tablets on the market, and is designed to be comfortable to hold in one hand. The previous Sony Xperia Tablet Z, now selling for $449, also had a 10.1-in. display and a similar look, but was slightly thicker at 0.27 inches.

The Z2 tablet has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor that's designed to lessen drain on the large 6000 mAh battery. Sony promises up to 10 hours of multimedia use on a charge. There is also an 8.1-megapixel rear camera and a 2.2 megapixel front camera. Sony said it has the world's first digital noise-canceling technology built into the tablet, which can reduce ambient noise by 98% when paired with a separate noise canceling headset.

Sony's new Z2 smartphone, which is also waterproof, has similarities to the Xperia Z1, which sells for $600 unlocked. The Z2's 5.2-in. display and a 20.7-megapixel rear camera are slightly bigger than the Z1's 5-in. display and 20-megapixel camera. (Sony also sells a 6.4-in. display, Z Ultra, among its line of devices.

The Z2 will have the same digital noise-canceling technology and the Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor available in the new tablet. The Z2 smartphone's battery is rated at 3200 mAh, however.

Sony noted that the Z2 smartphone will use near-field communications technology to connect to 154 products, including headphones and tablets, as well as SmartWear devices like the SmartBand SWR10, which provides notifications on the wrist that were received first by the smartphone.

The Z2's high-end hardware features are mostly in line with specs being rumored for the Samsung Galaxy S5, which should be unveiled later Monday at MWC, and the HTC One 2.

The lower-cost Xperia M2 smartphone will run a Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and will support 4G LTE. Its battery is rated at 2300 mAh. The rear camera is rated at 8 megapixels. Other specs weren't immediately available.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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