Bonnie Cha

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Sony’s Latest Xperia Phones, SmartWatch 2 Launch in U.S.; No Carrier Announcements Yet

After making the rounds in Europe and Asia, Sony announced today the U.S. availability of its Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1 smartphones, and the SmartWatch 2. But a word of caution: If you’re eyeing one of these phones, it’s going to cost you.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Introduced earlier this summer at the Mobile Asia Expo, the Xperia Z Ultra is the company’s latest Android phablet, and features a 6.4-inch HD touchscreen and handwriting-recognition software, so you can take notes using a stylus (not included). It’s also waterproof in up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes, and has a quad-core processor from Qualcomm.

But, without the backing of a U.S. carrier, the 3G version of the Xperia Z Ultra costs $650, and the LTE version goes for $680. Both will work with AT&T or T-Mobile SIM cards.

The Xperia Z1’s hallmark feature is its 20.7-megapixel camera. It’s also waterproof and has a quad-core processor, but has a smaller (compared to the Xperia Z Ultra, that is) five-inch HD touchscreen.

Sony is only selling an HSPA+ version of the Xperia Z1, which costs $670, but there is the potential for a subsidized model.

Though Sony wouldn’t comment about possible carrier partners today, the Z1 is rumored to be headed to T-Mobile, which isn’t too far-fetched an idea. Evleaks, which has a good track record of scoping out upcoming devices before they’re announced, posted this image of a T-Mobile-branded Xperia Z1 a few days ago. Also, Sony’s previous flagship device, the Xperia Z, was a T-Mobile exclusive.

The $200 SmartWatch 2 improves on its predecessor by including a larger screen, NFC technology for one-tap pairing with compatible devices, longer battery life and other enhancements. It remains to be seen whether the company has fixed some of the interface and usability issues that plagued the previous model.

All three products are available now from Sony’s online store, at select Sony retail stores, and at other electronic retailers, like NewEgg.

Though Sony’s presence in the U.S. mobile market remains small, its recent handsets have helped the company regain some ground. In August, Sony reported a $35 million profit during its first-quarter earnings, and attributed part of its turnaround to smartphone sales. In that first quarter, Sony sold 9.6 million smartphones — up from 7.4 million from the previous year.

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