Sony announces first phablet, new smartwatch

That whole “that’s not a knife, now this is a knife” line from Crocodile Dundee is about to be useful in the world of smartphones, as Sony shows off a new smartphone that sits at a whopping 6.4 inches, and truly makes you question if it’s a phone, a tablet, or both.

Announced at Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai, the Sony Xperia Z is a new smartphone-tablet hybrid – commonly called a “phablet” – that aims to deliver much of what the company’s already talked about Xperia Z smartphone does, only in a much bigger size.

“The Xperia Z Ultra is the most exciting revolution in large-screen smartphone entertainment devices with both the slimmest and largest Full HD smartphone display in the world that is second to none,” said Calum MacDougall, Director of Xperia Marketing at Sony Mobile Communications.

Sony’s first device in the growing phablet area, the Xperia Z Ultra packs in a 6.4 inch Full HD display in the minimalistic rectangular look the company sports on both the Xperia Z and Tablet Z devices, with some of the Triluminos technology seen on both BRAVIA TVs and Sony’s VAIO Pro laptops, effectively providing strong colour gamut on the new displays.

The handset is also among the world’s thinnest, with a body measuring 6.5mm thin, but still weighing 212 grams. It is technically a tablet, so don’t expect the 100-150 gram weight most smartphones come with.

You can expect some of the nifty waterproofing we saw on the Xperia Z, though, and this handset will survive an encounter with water down to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes, making it possible to use it as a camera under water, or even watch movies where no one will bother you.

As you do. We probably won’t, but you might.

Inside the handset, the technology is all new, with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.2Ghz, 16GB storage, microSD slot, Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean,” 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, WiFi, an 8 megapixel rear camera with flash, and a 2 megapixel front camera.

All up, it seems impressive enough, and with a freakin’ huge 6.4 inch size, will be one massive phone for people to bring with them.

Another product was also announced along with the Xperia Z Ultra, and that is Sony’s latest attempt at the upcoming smartwatch part of the digital fashion accessory market.

We’ve already seen and reviewed the Pebble watch, and are using it in our day to day lives now, but Sony’s take on this is a little different. Running on Android, the Sony SmartWatch 2 is the world’s first time-keeping device to sport Near-Field Communication (NFC), and acts as a second screen for an Android smartphone.

Apps can be installed, phone calls can be taken, music can be controlled, and photos can be looked at, with all of this happening on the wrist watch in this model.

“The future of wearable devices is incredibly bright with analyst research predicting 41 million ‘smart’ watches will be sold by 2016,” said Stefan K Persson, Head of Companion Products at Sony Mobile Communications.

“We have over 200 unique apps dedicated for Sony SmartWatch with over one million downloads to date and we are continuing to work with our strong developer network to deliver ever more compelling smartwatch experiences.”

Like the Xperia Z Ultra, the SmartWatch 2 is water resistant, support microUSB, and features an interface closer to that of Android phones so as not to confuse the customer.

Unfortunately, neither of these products – the phone or the watch – have pricing details available.

As for when either are coming, Sony is suggesting the SmartWatch 2 will arrive in September, while the Xperia Z Ultra is just slated for later this year. Both have been confirmed for release in Australia, however, so if you’re interested, stay tuned.