How does Sony's 'superphone' stack up?

The new 4G device has impressive features, but competitors aren't standing still.

By InvestorPlace Dec 23, 2011 2:53PM
Image: Businesswoman on cellphone (© Corbis)By Anthony John Agnello, Consumer and Technology Writer

Mobile technology heading into 2012 is all about the marriage of two features: the lowest price tag and the highest specifications. Look no further than Apple's (AAPL) strategy with the recently released iPhone 4S. With a two-year contract at Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T) or Sprint (S), you can get a fine iPhone that sports a voice-operated personal assistant and an 8-megapixel camera that can shoot HD video in 1080p -- all for just $200. Some fancy specifications and a nice price.

Sony (SNE), true to tradition, is pushing at least the high-end aspect with its latest mobile devices. Case in point: the company's latest Sony Ericsson Xperia phone. While Sony hasn't officially debuted the phone yet -- with pricing, release date and name all missing -- a device certification fact sheet for the phone popped up at Bluetooth SIG (a website for the not-for-profit trade association representing Bluetooth technology) on Thursday. The listing for Sony's new phone claims to bring the Xperia line into "superphone territory."

What makes the new Xperia -- its temporary name is the decidedly un-catchy catalog ID LT28at -- a "superphone"? The device is built for use on LTE 4G networks, such as the kind Verizon and AT&T currently are expanding across the country. It has a 4.55-inch, 720p HD screen, described in the certification as a "Reality Display." It also boasts a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a second front-facing HD camera. LT28at sports two microphones as well, for better noise suppression and stereo recording. As with the rest of the Sony Ericsson lineup, LT28at runs on Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.

It's an impressive array of features. How does it compare to its brethren? Right now, Sony Ericsson already is preparing what industry followers thought would be its flagship smartphone in early 2012, the Xperia Nozomi. The Nozomi, whose catalog name is LT26i, has a 4.3-inch screen, slightly smaller than the new superphone, but that screen also outputs in 720p. Nozomi also has some beefy processing power inside, at least according to November rumors at Engadget. Word is that its horsepower is comparable to Samsung's (SSNLF) Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. (This is, of course, unconfirmed.)

So the superphone's real super feature seems to be the 13-megapixel camera. Professional-grade digital cameras like Samsung's NX200 are 20-megapixel devices. The new Xperia is a significant improvement over the already impressive camera in the iPhone 4S. Still, it only makes the LT28at Xperia competitive in the high-end smartphone market. The 3G Droid MT917, a relative of the new Droid RAZR from Motorola Mobility (MMI), also has a 4.5-inch, 720p screen, as well as a 13-megapixel camera -- as does the Droid XT928.

Those are 3G devices, though, so the new Xperia could at least market itself as a 4G device with these impressive features. However, t's hard to say what the rest of the competitive landscape will look like by the time it releases (likely in the first half of 2012). HTC, Apple, Samsung and others all have new smartphones in the pipeline, so it's possible the LT28at might be less super and more Clark Kent by the time it hits the market.

As of this writing, Anthony John Agnello did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter at @ajohnagnello and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.

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Dec 24, 2011 2:05PM
Oh yes sir, we need al those cameras and apps. Where would be without them? This is said in satire. Most people do not have a need to be connected every minute of the day, do not have a need to be able to check e-mail from everywhere. And a dozen other things. But the hype says that if you are anybody, you just have to have the latest phone, smart or otherwise, to be be part of the have it crowd.. Wouldn't want to be left out or looking liek yesterdays news, that would be so embarassing. So sad, so sad.
Dec 24, 2011 12:51PM
I'm still using a can with a string attached to the bottom. Very effective and reliable.
Dec 24, 2011 1:51PM
i  had a very basic prepaid mobile phone.. but i love apps and surfing the web so i got the ipod touch and it really works out for me, I'm  paying 15 dollars a month for my phone and $0 for the touch . at this moment i don't really need a smart phone i have Wi-Fi where i work and at home so I'm saving lots of money...
Dec 24, 2011 8:16PM
Microwave? Who needs all that fancy new fangled gadgetry. I have an oven and it works just fine. You can wash your clothing down at the river like your great grand parents did. Why would you buy into the idea that you need a washing machine? It's that damned advertising. Pretty soon everyone will want indoor plumbing. Bah!
Dec 24, 2011 10:36AM

Yeah, well right now, my SmartPhone communication device: Verizon, Motorola-Droid,  Most consumers want specifications and features that actual work on demand today. For some of us, our future for us is now:  We want it to work for us, now. Do not Beta vs. VHS us again.


Furthermore, the cost we are paying for this technology, it needs to function properly today. Some features work and some work real well while others seem lack luster... Okay, so are we paying and paving a way for the future work in progress.  Just imagine, some day everyone old enough to communicate will have some kid of a SmartPhone...

Dec 24, 2011 10:23PM
The smarter the phones get, the more often I find it necessary to drive in the ditch.
Dec 24, 2011 8:21PM
So, for you Luddites, The Smartphone has been a revolutionary help to my life for several years. The ability to stay connected to my office when I am out, to make appointments that automatically connect with my secretary's calendar, and the ability to communicate when last minute changes to my schedule come up is invaluable. I remember when I was delayed and had no way to contact my next appointment - truly frustrating. I'm with you in that I don't need the camera and all the other attractions that new phones are offering, but the basic business applications are truly amazing.
Dec 24, 2011 5:18PM

Smart phones for dumb people.  What'll they think of next?

Dec 24, 2011 8:56AM
Same old Crap.  Wall Street  runs the Market up at the end of the year, then they will short it after the first.   What else is NEW       OH Yea   the lib dems want a tax break     RIGHT  LOL
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