Smartphones look set to get a lot smarter this year. Sony’s new Xperia Z, launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, is being hailed as the first of its kind: the superphone. This is the device that could seriously challenge the iPhone’s supremacy in the market. Slim, elegant, yet solid and durable, encased in tempered glass and shatterproof film, its headline-grabbing feature is its resistance to water. It will work when immersed in up to a metre for 30 minutes – apparently emerging undamaged, according to Sony – and has a special “wet finger tracking technology” that lets the screen recognise input if it’s wet. You can even wash it under the tap if it gets dirty. But there’s more to the Xperia Z than texting in the bath. This is a seriously impressive consolidation of Sony’s pedigree in music, film and photography. With a 5-inch 1080p HD display, it’s the largest-screen mobile on the market. Utilising Bravia technology, its screen resolution has a razor-sharp clarity – 443 pixels per inch (ppi), compared to the iPhone’s 326 ppi. That’s the same as a 55-inch TV. It also supports near-field communication (NFC), the smartphone manufacturers’ new obsession. This allows you to effortlessly transfer music, photos and videos, or pay for goods, by just waving the phone at an NFC touchpoint, such as a TV. Other notable specs include an app named the Walkman (a salute to its heritage) which provides access to a library of 18 million songs and more than 100,000 films and TV shows. It also has a 13-megapixel Fast Capture camera.
This won’t all take its toll on the battery either. Offering around four times longer life, it shuts down its energy-draining apps when the screen is off, then starts them up again when the screen is back on. A price and on-sale date are expected in the coming weeks.