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Sony unveils smartphones with 13-megapixel front camera for selfies

The Xperia C5 Ultra and Xperia M5 include beefy megapixel cameras on both the front and back as Sony struggles in a highly competitive smartphone arena.

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Sony is trying to lure in selfie-takers with its Xperia M5 (left) and Xperia C5 Ultra (right). Sony

Sony is trying to woo selfie-taking consumers with its latest two smartphones.

Unveiled on Monday, the Xperia C5 Ultra and Xperia M5 both include 13-megapixel cameras on the front and back. That's a change of pace since typically smartphone makers reserve the better cameras for the rear since since people traditionally take pictures of what's around them. But the selfie craze of taking pictures of yourself apparently convinced Sony to adopt a hefty camera on the front as well.

Sony dubs the Xperia C5 Ultra a new "PROselfie" smartphone with its dual 13-megapixel cameras and a full-HD 6-inch display with a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels. Powered by a 1.7 gigahertz octa-core processor, the phone includes 2 gigabytes of RAM, 4G network connectivity, an aluminum frame and a battery that Sony says can run for two days on a single charge.

The Xperia M5 is the "super mid-range" cousin, according to Sony, equipped with a front-facing 13-megapixel camera but a rear-facing 21.5-megapixel camera that offers a 5x clear image zoom feature to get up close and personal to your subject. Outfitted with a 2GHz MediaTek Helio X10 octa-core processor, the M5 features a 5-inch full-HD display with a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, 3GB of RAM and a 2,600mAh battery offering up to two days of battery life.

Sony needs all the help it can get in the smartphone market. For its fiscal first quarter ended June 30, the electronics giant reported solid results for its gaming division and a few other units but a downturn in the mobile phone business with revenues falling by 16.3 percent. Beyond facing intense competition from Apple and Samsung, Sony has been a minor player in major markets such as the US where it lacks awareness among consumers. The company has been trying to generate interest in its Xperia lineup and build up relationships with US carriers. But all of that takes time.

"Most US consumers either don't know or don't care that Sony makes phones," Avi Greengart, who covers consumer electronics for Current Analysis, said in June.

Sony is clearly counting on the high-end camera and selfie angles to create buzz for its new phones. The Xperia C5 Ultra includes Sony's Exmor RS sensor designed with high-speed autofocus and a greater ability to capture fast-moving subjects, HDR (High Dynamic Range) to offer you the best image by snapping multiple photos and a present auto scene recognition mode that analyzes and tweaks your settings based on your subject. The C5 Ultra also includes a 22 millimeter wide-angle lens to squeeze more into a picture and a "Selfie Flash" to lighten up your photos in darker conditions.

The M5's camera comes with integrated autofocus and full-HD video recording. The phone's Mobile Bravia Engine 2 offers advanced sharpness and contrast capabilities. Both phones provide expandable memory with up to 200 gigabytes via an SD card. And both will be available in selected countries across emerging markets from mid August, Sony said.

"We are pleased to present two new products that highlight Sony's advances in camera technology," Tony McNulty, vice president for value category business management at Sony Mobile Communications, said in a press release. "We understand that camera capabilities are important to smartphone users, so we ensured that Sony's existing camera brilliance was once again surpassed in the new Xperia C5 Ultra and Xperia M5 without compromising on other features across design and performance."