Sony is getting into the plus-sized phone game in a big way. Today they've officially announced the Xperia Z Ultra, a super-sized handset that follows the design principles of the original Xperia Z. Nearly all the specifications (with the exception of the camera) have been boosted over the current Sony flagship, starting with a downright massive 6.44-inch 1080p screen. Other highlights include a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2Ghz, (labeled as "the world's fastest") a super-slim 6.5mm body, and a water- and dust-resistant design.
If you like to tinker with Sony Xperia devices, things just got a little more fun (funner, if you will). Thanks to Sony's newly-released Illumination API, developers can now tweak the illumination bar settings on compatible devices, including the Xperia SP, ZL, ZR, UL, A U, L, S, SL, P, sola, ion, acro HD, go, M, and M dual.
Sony is calling the Illumination API an experimental API (the first of its kind for the company), which essentially means it will be released with limited documentation and virtually no support; basically, you're on your own with this one.
Sony Mobile is moving the Xperia ZL up to Android 4.2.2, making this the first non-Nexus handset to get updated to (instead of ship with) this particular version of Jelly Bean. The latest firmware build, version 10.3.A.0.423, also ushers in updates to Sony's Media apps, expands widget functionality on both the lock screen and the home screen, and introduces support for 64GB microSD cards. This is a big plus for users who shun cloud storage and prefer to carry their media the new-old fashioned way.
Sony's current flagship might not have the same stellar specs as the competition, but the Xperia Z has a few tricks up its sleeve. This device is slim, water and dust-resistant, and heading to T-Mobile USA later this summer.
This is the standard Xperia Z, not the slightly watered down ZL that launched a while back. This device has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 13MP camera, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 1080p screen, and LTE (if you live in one of T-Mobile's few LTE markets).
Sony wants to make sure that you remember they've got a smartwatch, what with all these Pebbles, Agents, and every other Johnny-come-lately crowding the market. They may have found the perfect vector for getting their somewhat aged Bluetooth watch back in the spotlight, at least among die-hard Android power users: custom ROMs. Sony is now officially condoning hacks and modifications to the SmartWatch, as detailed on their Developer World blog.
In their never-ending quest to bring CyanogenMod to every Android device on the face of the planet (or at least all of them with unlocked bootloaders, modern hardware, and a big user base - not all that many, in fact, forget I mentioned it) the CM team is expanding the 10.1 build to three new devices this weekend. The unlocked international LTE version of the Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505) and Cricket's branded variant both get new nightly builds of the ROM, as does the WiFi-only version of Sony's Xperia Tablet Z.
Here's a nice nugget of new for Google TV fans - we know you're out there. There have been rumors of an update to Sony's stylish NSZ-GS7 model (more colloquially known as the "Internet Player") for some time, and now they've made it official via the company blog. The NSZ-GS8 will be available for $199 starting in July, the online Sony store and the usual retail suspects. For the moment, Sony is selling the older model with a $30 discount, bringing it down to $169.99.
You have to hand it to Sony – they keep trying. The newly announced Xperia M is a budget-oriented phone that can be obtained in a variety of neat colors. It has a small-ish 4-inch screen, and it comes in black, white, purple, and yellow (depending on model). It's not gigantic, which is a rarity these days.
Sony has taken a real beating in recent years. Even after shedding the dead weight of the Ericsson joint venture, Sony has yet to find its stride. The Xperia Z smartphone was a valiant effort, but other OEMs are overshadowing that device as 2013 drags on.
The less competitive Android tablet space might be where Sony can revive the Xperia name and win the hearts of Android users. And this is the device Sony is hoping does it: the Xperia Tablet Z.
Good news for Sony fans: the company is finally starting to roll out Jelly Bean updates to some of its more notable 2012 smartphones. The former headliner Xperia S, its brother the SL, and the camera-focused SL all have Android 4.1 waiting for them. Users will need the a Windows PC and the Sony PC Companion to download and install the updated software, which includes a refreshed kernel as well.