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Sony Xperia Sola follows fingers, performs NFC tricks

Joining Sony's Xperia NXT lineup of Android lookers is the new Xperia Sola that features finger-free navigation plus slick NFC skills.


Sony's new Xperia NXT series of Android smartphones are distinctively styled but haven't exactly bowled me over with cutting-edge components or software. The latest handset to join the company's offerings also lacks quad-core processing and Android Ice Cream Sandwich but does promise a few wild mobile skills not found on other devices.

The Sony Xperia Sola, just announced today, may run a middling 1GHz dual-core CPU (compared with say a quad-core Tegra 3) and Android Gingerbread OS. Sony claims though that the phone uses "floating touch" technology, which lets users scroll through Web sites and other documents just by hovering fingers above the screen. Basically touching the display isn't necessary at least for simple navigation.

Sony also pushes the Xperia Sola's elaborate use of NFC (Near Field Communication) electronics. Found on other phones already such as Google's flagship Ice Cream Sandwich handset, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, along with the older Samsung Nexus S, the Xperia Sola uses NFC to enable what Sony calls SmartTags. SmartTags should leverage many of the fancy NFC tricks the industry has been touting for a while now like chatting with other NFC products for fast Bluetooth pairing or one-tap networking setup.

Sony also says the Sola will come with two SmartTags in the box, essentially a physical chip embedded on a paper sheet or sticker perhaps, which can support up to 10 commands each. It sounds odd but apparently one tag is meant for living room use and when tapped will launch a macro to switch Wi-Fi on, and fire up Google News and weather apps. The second tag is envisioned to sit in the bedroom and will quiet the Sola and make sure your alarms are activated.

Expected to ship globally, though likely not in the U.S., by the second quarter of this year, other key features of the Xperia Sola are a 3.7-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, and Sony's xLoud 3D surround-sound processing.