Sony Xperia sola introduces Floating Touch navigation

Sony has launched its latest Android smartphone, the Xperia sola, a 3.7-inch handset with a 1GHz NovaThor dualcore chipset, NFC and a 5-megapixel, 720p HD capable camera. Running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade tipped for this summer, the Xperia sola uses Sony's Reality Display screen technology with the firm's Mobile BRAVIA Engine powering the 854 x 480 LCD TFT panel, and has quadband UMTS/WCDMA and 8GB of internal storage. It also debuts Sony's "floating touch" navigation system.

Floating touch allows users to navigate webpages by hovering their finger over the display, with links highlighting as if hovered over by a mouse pointer. For the moment that's all it does, but Sony reckons we can expect "new user functionality and applications" of its own devising as well as third-part developer support.

There's also WiFi, Bluetooth, aGPS, DLNA and USB tethering support, along with an FM radio with RDS and a 3.5mm headphone socket. RAM is 512MB, paired with the STE U8500 processor, and the whole thing measures in at 116 x 59 x 9.9 mm and 107g.

Sony is pushing its NFC SmartTags, small wireless labels that can be used to trip the Xperia sola into different modes such as silencing its ring or launching its finger-friendly car interface. Battery life is tipped at up to 6hrs talktime or 475hrs standby, or alternatively up to 40hrs music playback or 6hrs video playback.

We criticized Sony for launching the Xperia S with an old version of Android in our review of the new flagship, and we have to level the same complaint at the Xperia sola. The sola will arrive in Europe in Q2 2012, pricing tbc.