Size matters with Sony's new waterproof smartphone

  • Sony

The smartphone wars continue to escalate. No sooner had Chinese upstarts Huawei unveiled the world's slimmest smartphone than Japanese giants Sony announced the world's biggest, thinnest smartphone that, guess what, is waterproof, so there.

Correctly guessing that early adopter tech fiends are also likely to be the kind of idiots who like to update their Facebook status in the bath, Sony has made it possible to submerge their new Xperia Z Ultra phone in five feet of freshwater for up to half an hour. For those who like to surf and surf, forget it: salt water is a killer.

Not quite as paper-thin as the Huawei, the Xperia Z Ultra is pitched at the fat-fingered user, with a 6.4 inch screen making it possible to write with a pencil or pen rather than a tiny stylus.

Sony is attempting to muscle in on territory previously dominated by Samsung. Samsung had around 70 percent of the market for large-screen smartphones in 2012 (the industry terms are "superphone" and "phablet", but they are so ugly we can only hope they don't catch on). Samsung's Galaxy Mega has a 6.3 inch screen so Sony is obviously hoping to steal a march with that extra tenth of an inch.

Calum MacDougall, the director of Xperia marketing, admitted to the BBC that Sony had Samsung in its sights. "In the large-screen segment at the moment most consumers are looking at the Galaxy Note," he said. "Now we can offer something that is really distinct: a stronger screen, greater portability, waterproofing and something different around the stylus and the pen."

Huawei, Asus and Acer are also moving into the large-screen market, with smartphones that are likely to be highly-competitive on price. Sony, whose electronics division has struggled in recent years, plans to emphasise the premium aspects of the phone (that waterproof function in effect) rather than be drawn into a price war.

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