Sony’s 2012 smartphones to include aluminium, NFC

While Sony gave us a hint of its 2012 line-up earlier in the year, the electronics giant has shown its hand as it consolidates the “Sony Ericsson” brand and readies two more Xperia phones for release later this year.

The first phones to drop the old branding were shown at CES earlier this year, with the Ion and Xperia S detailed a month ago, but now we’ve been shown more, with two other handsets detailed.

Sony's aluminium Xperia P

First up there’s the Xperia P, a handset offering an aluminium one-piece design and a new 4 inch qHD (960×540) screen with Sony’s “WhiteMagic” technology aimed at making the screen readable in direct sunlight while automatically adjusting brightness to save battery life. A 1GHz dual-core processor will also be found here, as will 16GB storage, scratch-resistant glass, 8 megapixel camera, HDMI, DLNA, and support for Near-Field Communication technology (NFC).

From what we’re seeing, Sony hopes to differentiate the Xperia P by having it do more than just regular smartphone fare with the SmartDock. This accessory is exactly what it sounds like – a dock for your Xperia smartphone – with the added bonus of being able to interact with your home theatre setup and control it with your TV remote.

It’s more than just watching movies from your phone, though, with USB support on the dock useful for plugging in a keyboard and writing emails or surfing the web, effectively making your smartphone the very thing to turn your TV into a Smart TV.

Next is the Sony Xperia U, a compact smartphone featuring a 3.5 inch screen with 854×480 resolution, 1GHz dual-core processor, 5 megapixel camera, and the ability to change the colour of the bottom caps for the phone. With specs like these, we’re getting a vibe here that the Xperia U may be a follow-up to last year’s compact Xperia Ray.

The bottom section of the Sony Xperia U is replaceable, allowing you to change the colour of your phone. Sort of.

Both handsets will feature what Sony calls its “transparent element”, a strip that surrounds the handset and sits near the bottom, lighting up when notifications are received and changing colour to match on-screen photos at the time, similar to how the Philips Aurea TVs work.

Neither of these handsets will be released with Android’s latest version – Ice Cream Sandwich – launching instead with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with updates to the most recent Android release to come later in the year.

Like most news coming out of Mobile World Congress this year, Sony doesn’t have an official date for the Australian release of either of these handsets, but suggests Q2 2012 for release, so look for these within the next few months.