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Sony Adds High-End Android Phone

Atlanta – Sony Mobile Communications is launching a 5-inch Android smartphone that offers many of the same features as the flagship Xperia Z unveiled at International CES.

But the new Xperia ZL is slightly thicker, lacks the Z’s water- and dust-resistance, and boasts a higher screen-size to front-panel ratio.

The ZL will be available only as an unlocked model through Sony’s online store and through other select online retailers, the company said. The HSPA+ version will retail for $719, and the LTE/HSPA+ version will retail for $759. Both will be available in black, red or white. The handset is already available for presale at the Sony Store, which cites an expected shipping date of April 8.

The Z’s U.S. availability date hasn’t been announced, although a spokesperson promised the device would come to the U.S. The Z is already available in other global markets.

Sony is promoting the ZL as offering the highest screen-size to phone-size ratio (75.84 percent) of any phone announced as of Feb. 4, based on an analysis of the specs of 884 smartphones. Sony calculated screen area based on display size and aspect ratio, and it calculated phone size by multiplying the phone’s height and width.  Most smartphones, Sony said, have screen ratios of 60 and 68 percent.

Compared to the Z, promoted as the company’s thinnest phone to date at 7.9mm, the ZL is a little thicker at 9.8mm. The ZL also lacks the Z’s water- and dust-resistance. The Z can be submerged in 10 feet of water for up to 30 minutes without damage.

Like the Z, however, the ZL offers Android 4.1 OS, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 5-inch FullHD 1,080 by 1920 display with 443 ppi, DLNA, and battery stamina mode, which improves standby time by four times or more by shutting down battery-draining apps whenever the screen is off and starting them up again when the screen is back on.

Both phones also feature 13-megapixel camera with proprietary Exmor RS image sensor, said to be the world’s first image sensor with HDR (High Dynamic Range) video for smartphones. HDR lightens up objects or people in situations with strong backlighting.

And both phones also feature nearfield communication (NFC) technology to enable tap-to-pair sharing of music, photos and videos with such NFC-enabled Sony devices as speakers, headphones and TVs.

With the latest Bravia TVs, users can tap the Xperia ZL to the TV’s remote control to share content with the TV via Wi-Fi. Music is streamed to speakers via Bluetooth.

Both models also feature Mobile Bravia Engine 2 technology, used in Bravia TVs, to optimize color, contrast and clarity, the company said.

The HSPA+ version of the newly unveiled Xperia ZL operates in HSPA+ mode in foreign bands and in the U.S. 850/1900MHz and AWS bands. The HSPA+/LTE version operates in those HSPA+ bands and, in LTE mode, in foreign bands and in the U.S. 850/1900MHz and AWS bands.