Sony has rolled out the latest in a rare breed of smartphones: a waterproof device. The Xperia ZR promises the highest level of water-resistance for capturing photos and HD videos underwater.
The Android-powered smartphone is equipped with a 4.6-inch HD Reality display, 13 megapixel fast capture camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5 GHz processor , and 4G LTE.
Since the device is IP55 and IP58 compliant, you can keep it submerged in 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes. A dedicated camera key allows you to shoot even from a locked screen.
A Niche Audience
We caught up with Roger Entner, a wireless analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his take on Sony's latest innovation. He told us waterproof phones were all the rage a year or two ago but have not become mainstream hits. The new Xperia ZR is likely to have a niche audience.
"When it comes to waterproof phones, people usually buy the phone for different reasons and then if it's waterproof they think it's cool," Entner said. "There are very few people who deliberately set out to buy a waterproof device and those are usually people who are in and around the water."
That could change with the Xperia ZR, which focuses heavily on the camera. The device dons Sony's "Exmor RS for mobile " image sensor with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for both photos and videos. That technology promises quality photos despite lightning conditions.
Meanwhile, Superior Auto mode combines Scene Recognition with high quality performance image processing technology to automatically shoot with the most optimal settings. And burst mode will shoot an unlimited number of images at 15 frames per second.
All Smartphones Waterproof?
"It's really straightforward for companies to make waterproof smartphones. I would expect that slowly and surely all devices would become waterproof," Entner said. "Usually waterproofing only requires a coating around the electronics to protect all the conductive elements."
But not all phones manufacturers are likely to decide to cater to customers who want to shoot up to 1.5 meters deep. And not all phones have Sony's Mobile BRAVIA Engine to power a super-sharp screen or an OptiContast panel designed to offer a higher quality viewing experience.
Sony is also pre-installing apps on the smartphone, including Walkman, Album and Movies. The company is hoping you'll buy its new Stereo Bluetooth Headset SBH50, an app-enabled wireless headset with built-in FM radio, OLED display and one-touch connection for wireless audio streaming.
The Xperia ZR will come to market in the second quarter. Carriers and pricing has not been announced.