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Sony to launch phablet phone

Sony has developed a supersized super-minimalist handset that could give consumers a valid alternative to Samsung's range of phablet devices.

gadgets Updated: Jan 01, 2013 12:38 IST

Sony has developed a supersized super-minimalist handset that could give consumers a valid alternative to Samsung's range of phablet devices.

The company is set to unveil a monster five-inch HD display smartphone codenamed the ‘Yuga' but believed to be called the Xperia Z as early as January 2013. News of the phone started as a rumor with supporting images on Swiss technology site Android Schweiz back in November and the story was subsequently removed, but as the year draws to a close more and more information, images and most importantly specifications have been leaked.

These specifications, first reported on Mobile Review, include global LTE support, which will make the handset the first smartphone that can use a 4G network anywhere in the world. Though 4G is clearly one of the next big things in mobile, bringing fixed-line broadband speeds to smartphone and tablet owners on the move, unlike 3G, the technology and connectivity standards differ significantly from country to country. As a result, a US LTE smartphone cannot connect to a European 4G network and vice versa.

Other specs include a 5-inch 1080p full HD touchscreen display, a quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and a very impressive 12MP rear camera with flash that can also capture video in HDR. It will also have a micro SD expansion slot, support NFC and run Android 4.1.2 Jellybean out of the box.

Based on the same minimalist design principles of its existing Xperia range of smartphones that have helped to propel Sony into the smartphone top three for the first time since 2006 (the company managed to ship 8.8 million handsets in Q3 2012, giving it a 5.1% market share), the Xperia Z is expected to be officially unveiled at February's Mobile World Congress -- although a recent interview with Dennis Van Schie, the head of Sony Mobile's sales and marketing in Germany, suggests that it could actually make its debut in Las Vegas at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in January.

Speaking to the German language version of the Financial Times in November, he said, "We will create in the near future a flagship Sony model that can compete with Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S III." In the interview, Van Schie also accepted that until now, the company didn't have a worthy competitor to the market leaders but promised it was about to change. An unamed Sony spokeswoman is also quoted in the article as suggesting this new top model "would be at the CES show in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona."

Van Schie also claimed to be keeping a close eye on the development of Windows Phone 8, stating that Sony would not be "caught off guard" if the platform gains significant market share.