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MWC 2012: Sony Debuts Xperia P And Xperia U Smartphones

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Sony has announced two Android-powered smartphones for release later this year

Sony Mobile Communications, formerly Sony Ericsson, has unveiled two smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the Android powered Xperia P and Xperia U.

The devices are the latest additions to what Sony calls the Xperia NXT series, its range of “next-generation” smartphones and will be released during the second quarter of this year.

Next generation

The devices are powered by dual core 1GHz processors, and feature Reality Displays, an improved user interface and Fast Capture which allows users to access the phone’s camera with just one touch from sleep mode. Both models also have access to movies and music on the Sony Entertainment Network, evidence that Sony is committed to making the most of its media properties to improve the appeal of its smartphones.

The Xperia P’s 4 inch display is the first to make use of Sony’s WhiteMagic display which automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen according to the surroundings in an effort to improve energy efficiency.

An eight megapixel camera is capable of HD video recording and the phone boasts a full aliminum design with silver, black and red varieties available. The phone has Near Field Communication (NFC) support and 16GB of storage, with a Smartdock allowing users to access content on their televisions.

The more compact Xperia U boasts a 3.5 inch display and a transparent element in the design that illuminates to match the photos viewed in the gallery or the album art of the music track being played. The phone is available in black and white colours and has a five megapixel camera as well as 3D surround sound audio technology.

Still Gingerbread

Both devices will ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but will be updated to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich during the second quarter of 2012. This timeframe fits with Sony’s previous suggestions that select Xperia phones would be updated in March or April of this year.

Sony bought Ericsson’s stake in the Sony Ericsson joint-venture last year as it sought to refresh and rejuvenate its mobile phone offering. While there has been no evidence to suggest the existence of a Sony smartphone powered by Windows Phone, the company did announce that the Xperia S would begin shipping globally immediately.

“The launch of the Xperia P and U are the first Sony handsets in the post-Ericsson era, and they highlight a strategy to target multiple price points with a selection of distinct devices,” commented Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch. “The idea of Xperia becoming ‘the Sony smartphone’ provides a strong marketing platform, and if they can leverage the best parts of the business – from PlayStation to Bravia display technologies and their expertise in imaging – tied with the Android operating system in a single device, then the potential is huge.”

“It will be interesting to see what the impact on the mobile brand will be now it’s only Sony’s name above the door,” he added.

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