Sony Enters Phablet Fray, Debuts New SmartWatch

Sony jumped feet first into the phablet market with the Xperia Z Ultra. It also announced a second-generation SmartWatch.
Apple iWatch Vs. Smartwatches Past And Present
Apple iWatch Vs. Smartwatches Past And Present
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Sony has out-phabletted the Phablet King with its new Xperia Z Ultra smartphone, a behemoth that features a 6.44-inch high-definition screen. The company also introduced the SmartWatch 2, an update to last year's device, and a Bluetooth handset that can be used to take calls.

The Xperia Z Ultra is the new king of the phablet hill, thanks to its gorgeous design and top-of-the-line specifications. The 6.44-inch Triluminos 1080p HD display is powered by Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine and includes X-Reality technology to make for crisp images and rich colors. In addition to the screen, the other standout feature is the Z Ultra's thickness: it measures just 6.5 mm. By way of comparison, the iPhone 5 is 7.6 mm thick and the Galaxy S4 is 7.9 mm thick. The Z Ultra is water resistant, as well. It is a bit weighty, however, at 7.47 ounces -- nearly half a pound. The iPhone 5 weighs 3.95 ounces and the Galaxy S4 weighs 4.59 ounces.

The Z Ultra is one of the first devices announced with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with four cores running at 2.2-GHz each. That's a powerhouse of a processor. The device also boasts Sony's excellent Exmor RS Mobile 8-megapixel camera sensor, which is capable of recording HDR video. The Z Ultra also includes a 2-megapixel user-facing camera for HD video chats. It has a 3,000-mAh battery and Sony's Stamina mode, which can be used to improve battery life. Other features include the usual bunch of Sony software, as well as a wide range of connectivity options.

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra will go on sale in select markets during the third quarter of the year. Sony didn't say how much the Z Ultra will cost. The Z Ultra easily bests other phablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II and LG Optimus G Pro, thanks to its improved spec list and useful design.

[ Samsung also introduced a host of new devices. See Samsung Unleashes New Mobile Devices: Visual Tour. ]

Sony had more up its sleeve than just the Z Ultra Tuesday. It also debuted the SmartWatch 2. The SmartWatch 2 comes in a new design and offers features not previously available to Sony's original smartwatch.

The SmartWatch 2 has a larger and higher-resolution screen, which measures 1.6 inches and includes 220 x 176 pixels. Sony says it has improved brightness for outdoor viewing and the user interface has been reworked to more closely mimic Android. Pairing with other devices is a snap due to built in NFC and Bluetooth, and it is resistant to water and sweat so it will serve well as a workout buddy.

According to Sony, the SmartWatch 2 has an improved selection of applications. It can be used to handle calls, read previously downloaded email messages, adjust the volume and track of a smartphone's music player, and fire off a smartphone camera remotely with the Smart Camera app. It has an app called Runtastic, which can be used to track fitness activity, as well as a standard map for checking routes and directions.

Of course, it serves as a digital watch, and can be used as a flashlight, as well. It is compatible with all Android devices, including smartphones and tablets. It goes on sale in September, but Sony didn't provide pricing. The first-generation smartwatch sold for $149.

Last up, Sony announced the SBH52 Smart Bluetooth Handset. In short, it is a miniature phone that you can use instead of a device as large as the Xperia Z Ultra. It is a tiny little handset that pairs with a smartphone via Bluetooth and acts like a Bluetooth headset for making and receiving calls. In other words, you won't look like a fool when you put the Z Ultra up to your face because the SBH52 looks like a normal wireless phone. The SBH52 also has an OLED display and can be used to view the call log and text messages, as well as preview incoming calls. It also works as stereo headphones and has a built-in FM radio. It is water resistant and comes with NFC for easier pairing.

The SBH52 Smart Bluetooth Handset is coming "soon."