Sony Xperia Sola Android phone (preview)

Sony Xperia Sola preview: Sony's Xperia Sola introduces a "floating touch" feature

Sony's Xperia Sola is the fourth device the company has announced since it took full control of the Sony Ericsson joint venture last October. The Xperia Sola is a low to mid-range Android phone that follows the same design principles of the Xperia S, Xperia P and Xperia U but introduces a new feature called floating touch.

According to Sony, the Xperia Sola's floating touch feature allows users to browse the Web without actually touching the screen. It works by hovering your finger above (up to 20mm) the screen of the phone as if it was a moving cursor. The feature appears to be best used when browsing through links on a web page which can sometimes be difficult to select. Once your finger is positioned over the intended link it is highlighted where you can then tap to select it.

The floating touch feature is initially implemented in the Xperia Sola's Web browser only. Sony plans to extend it to further applications in the future when it upgrades the phone to the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. Once this software upgrade is completed Sony says that third-party developers will be able to utilise floating touch technology in their own apps using a Google API.

Aside from the floating touch feature, the Xperia Sola keeps the design consistency from Sony's other "NXT" series devices, short for next generation. The phone features a square, block style design with sharp edges and has a thin LED notification strip below the screen. In a unique touch, the screen appears as though it's an individual element that sits on top of the base.

The Sony Xperia Sola has a 3.7in Reality Display and Sony's Mobile Bravia engine, which claims to enhance sharpness, contrast and colour saturation of photos and videos while also minimising digital image noise. The screen has a resolution of 480x854 and a pixel density of 265 ppi, which is reasonable for a display of this size.

The Xperia Sola has a 5-megapixel camera but it still uses Sony's Exmor R image sensor. This claims to offer higher sensitivity and less image noise in low light areas than traditional mobile phone cameras. Unfortunately, the Xperia Sola doesn't have a front facing camera for video calling.

The Sony Xperia Sola includes an NFC (Near Field Communications) chip and is therefore compatible with Xperia SmartTags. Once configured, tapping your phone against a SmartTag can enable it to activate various settings, for example turning your phone on silent when you get into the office, or turning on Bluetooth when you get into your car.

The Sony Xperia Sola is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, has 512MB of RAM, and 8GB of internal memory. There is also a microSD card slot for extra storage. Disappointingly, the Xperia Sola will originally ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Sony says the phone will be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming months.

The Sony Xperia Sola is available in Australia through retailer Harvey Norman for $486 outright.

Sony launches Xperia Sola through Harvey Norman stores
Sony Xperia S review
Sony Xperia P preview
Sony Xperia U preview

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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