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New Xperia phones include fitness model with Ant+ networking

Jun 22, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Sony Ericsson announced two compact Android 2.3 phones, including a 1GHz, 3.0-inch Xperia Active, which offers features such as water resistance and Ant+ wireless networking — aimed at personal fitness and health monitoring. The company also announced a 1GHz, 3.3-inch Xperia Ray phone without the fitness extras, but featuring a healthy 8.1-megapixel camera and a front videocam.

The Xperia Active and Ray were announced at the CommunicAsia conference on June 22 in Singapore, where Sony Ericsson also announced that 100 game titles are now certified on its Xperia Play Android-based gaming phone. In addition, the company is expanding the Play into Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand in the third quarter, and is introducing two accessories for all its Android devices — a LiveDock multimedia station and a LiveSound headset.

Xperia Active

(Click to enlarge)

The rollout of the Xperia Active and Ray follows the debut of the Xperia Mini Pro and Xperia Mini last month. Those models also run Android 2.3 and like the Active and Ray, feature 1GHz processors and fairly small, scratch-resistant "Sony Reality" displays.

Xperia Active

The Xperia Active offers a 1GHz processor, and runs the latest Android 2.3 release, but might otherwise be passed over due to its small, three-inch, 480 x 320 screen. Yet it stands out by integrating Dynastream Innovations' Ant+ technology, allowing users to monitor their heart rates onscreen while working out.

Ant+ is a 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless networking protocol for applications such as health monitoring and home automation. The technology has been supported in wireless chips from Texas Instruments, but is now facing strong competition from Bluetooth 4.0. Mobile phones are set to play a huge role in allowing health-care workers to monitor patients' health remotely, particularly with chronic conditions such as hypertension and heart conditions.

Xperia Active, front and back
(Click on either to enlarge)

In another nod toward fitness, the 3.3-inch capacitive Sony Reality display features "wet finger tracking," according to Sony Ericsson. This is said to make the device immune to users manipulating the display or texting with fingers sweaty from exercise. The screen is also dust-proof and scratch-resistant, and the design features a hook for attaching to clothes or exercise gear, says the company.

Weighing about four ounces, the Xperia Active offers built-in aGPS, plus a barometer and compass. These features are supported with apps that allow runners to map their training routes, according to Sony Ericsson.

The Xperia Active ships with up to 320MB user-available RAM, as well as a 2GB microSD card in a slot that can hold up to 32GB, says the company. Other features are said to include a five-megapixel camera, plus Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB 2.0, and various sensors.

The phone will ship with several sports apps pre-installed. Meanwhile, Sony Ericsson's TimeScape interface can organize emails, text messages, and social media alerts using a stacked deck of cards metaphor.

With a clear focus on active lifestyle users, the Xperia Active has the potential for selling well, according to Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technology Associates. "The feature set aims at a clear target market, which is good," Kay wrote in an email to eWEEK. "Assuming it's priced right, this phone should do well."

Stated Fredrik Mansson, global product marketing manager for Sony Ericsson, "Xperia Active is the ultimate smartphone for an active life."

Xperia Ray

Sony Ericsson also launched a more advanced Xperia Ray smartphone, but without the Active's health-oriented tricks. Like the Xperia Active, the Xperia Ray features Android 2.3 running on an undisclosed 1GHz processor. However it moves up to a 3.3-inch, 854 x 480 display and an 8.1-megapixel camera with 16x digital zoom. User-available memory runs to 300MB, and a 4GB microSD card is available, says Sony Ericsson.

Xperia Ray, front and back
(Click on either to enlarge)

The 3.53-ounce, 100-gram phone measures only 0.37 inches (9.4mm) thick. The phone offers a 1500mAh battery. I/O and other features appear to be similar to that of the Active. A front-facing VGA camera is also said to be available.

Stated Daniel Sandblom, Global Product Marketing Manager, Sony Ericsson, "We expect Xperia ray to appeal to consumers who are looking for a combination of beautiful design and a rich feature set. We are able to uniquely deliver this with a combination of premium materials and multimedia features provided by Sony."


The Xperia Active will be available globally in select markets from Q3, 2011, says Sony Ericsson. The Xperia Ray will be available globally in select markets, including Japan, from Q3. To date, Sony Ericsson hadn't disclosed pricing or which carriers would be involved.

More information on the Active, including a detailed spec sheet, may be found in Sony Ericsson's Xperia Active announcement. More information on the Ray may be found in this Xperia Ray announcement.

Brian Horowitz is a writer for eWEEK. Eric Brown also contributed to this story.

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