Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:04 AM ET
To say Xperia Z is "waterproof" may be pushing it: You can't take it scuba diving. But you can dump an entire bottle of water on it, and I'd lay odds it would do better than any iPhone when falling into a toilet for a second or two.
And that's not the most impressive thing about the new flagship Android phone from Sony. With a 13-megapixel camera, and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, and a 5-inch full-1080p "reality" display, yeah, it's got a lot to brag about. Not to mention the fact that it's only 7.9 millimeters thick, and made of two slabs of sturdy, tempered glass. It's quite the machine.
I played around with one tonight, and it really moves fast. Its photo album can fly through month after month, year after year, at a blinding pace, and when you shoot, it uses intelligent-auto settings, along with facial-recognition, for nice sharp pictures on the fly. I especially liked how using the flash would create an image that doesn't look like your subject is being strobe tortured. I also liked that the high dynamic range was always on for more balanced shots in weird lighting conditions — unless you turn it off.
In addition to that water resistance, it also resists dust. It will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (but not Android 4.2 Jelly Bean). I'm a little nervous about the unreported battery life, though the press release does mention a "stamina" mode that "can improve standby time by four times or more by automatically shutting down battery-draining apps whenever the screen is off and starting them up again when the screen is back on." Good news there, maybe.
Perhaps its crowning charm is its use of near-field communication — of late, a technology generally associated with mobile payments — to send music to speakers, photos to hard drives, and video to TVs, with a simple, wireless, magical little tap. It's a neat touch.
So what's wrong with it? No carrier. No price. No specific U.S. release date announced — just a global launch promised in the first quarter of 2013. Something tells me it may be a while before this phone turns up on Verizon's doorstep, let alone yours.
Wilson Rothman is the Technology & Science editor at NBC News Digital. He'll be at the Consumer Electronics Show through Friday in Las Vegas, so feel free to tweet him up at @wjrothman, and join our conversation on Facebook.