Sony and T-Mobile are getting the band back together for another gig. But whether it will be a hit or not is another question.
Today as part of its CES announcements, Sony revealed that it will offer the Xperia Z1s exclusively through T-Mobile starting Jan. 22. Customers can pre-order the Android smartphone beginning Jan. 13. The cost is $0 down and 24 equal monthly payments of $22 with the carrier’s Simple Choice plan.
As the follow-up to the Xperia Z, which also launched as a T-Mobile exclusive last summer, the Xperia Z1s offers a handful of improvements and upgrades. For one, the phone is now waterproof in up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes (an increase from three feet). The addition of a dedicated camera key also makes it easy to take pictures and video underwater.
Aside from water shots, photos taken with the phone’s 20.7-megapixel camera can be enhanced with various effects and shooting modes with new Xperia Camera apps. This includes Background Defocus where you can blur the background for an artsy effect, and Social Live, which allows you to broadcast live video from the phone to Facebook.
While the screen size and resolution remain the same at five inches and 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, it now borrows technology from Sony’s Bravia TVs for more natural colors.
My colleague Ina Friend and I met with Sony a few weeks before CES to get a sneak peek at the phone. It wasn’t that much of a surprise as the Xperia Z1s has actually been available for a few months in other parts of the world under the Xperia Z1 name.
Still, I had fun playing with the underwater shooting capabilities and various effects. The lack of a dedicated camera key was one of my biggest gripes about the Xperia Z, so I’m glad Sony added it on this version.
Curiously, though, while the smartphone is slightly larger than the Xperia Z, Sony chose not to increase the display size and the company didn’t offer a good explanation when we asked them about it.
Sony has been trying to get a foothold in the U.S. smartphone market for some time now, and its partnership with T-Mobile certainly helps. But too few phones and too few carriers isn’t aiding its cause.
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