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Sony has today announced their latest smartphone, the Xperia XR. The phone will be released in the second quarter of this year and is designed to be the budget version of the popular Sony Xperia Z.

The phone comes witha 4.55″ screen, which is a little smaller than the 5″ screen of the Sony Xperia Z. The pixel count also goes down, from full 1080p HD to standard 720p HD. As the screen is also smaller the affect on pixel density isn’t as great, going down from 441ppi to 322ppi according to our calculations – almost the same as the iPhone 5.

The major feature Sony is advertising on their flagship Xperia Z smartphone to differentiate it from other premium Android smartphones is it’s water resistance. The Xperia XR follows it’s big brothers lead in offering this and actually offers slightly better protection being IP55 and IP58 compliant, while the Xperia Z is IP55 and IP57 compliant. Effectively this means you can submerge the phone in 5 feet of water for half an hour – despite the water resistance we still wouldn’t recommend trying this on the beach though as it only applies to fresh water.

The phone’s tech specs all look good. A 1.5GHz quad-core processor of the Qualcomm Snapdragon variety is similar to many smartphones and packs the punch. It’s the same power as the Xperia Z so no downsizing going on in the CPU department. There’s also 2GB RAM, again the same as the Xperia Z, and a 13 megapixel camera which again matches the spec of the phone’s larger cousin.

And to focus on the camera for a second, it’s going to be a great shooter with a Exmor RS sensor which is great for HDR photos. It also shoots in full 1080p HD and can be used underwater, as Sony’s advert for the phone shows.

The phone will apparently come with Android 4.1, which isn’t the latest version, although there’s a chance that if Android 5 is announced shortly at Google I/O the phone will shift to this operating system before launch.

Those taking advantage of the 4G networks launching in the UK right now will be pleased to hear the phone comes with LTE support. It’s also got an NFC chip which hopefully will become useful soon for making payments. NFC can also be used for other devices such as a connecting to headphones and televisions, which Sony promise they’ll produce so the phone should have plenty of accessories available.

So apart from the screen size and resolution how does this differ from the Xperia Z? Well your internal storage is significantly lower at just 8GB, which after the space taken up by the Android operating system doesn’t give you much room to play with. Still there’s a microSD slot to add capacity. The front facing camera on the device also isn’t quite as good as the Xperia Z.

The phone will be available in either black or white, but we don’t yet have a precise availability date or price but expect it to be first available within the next few months and priced slightly under the Xperia Z.

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