Sony has announced its new flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z – a device that it hopes will help keep the company relevant among the emerging leaders of the high-end smartphone market: Apple and Samsung.

The Xperia Z sports a strikingly similar large form factor that defines the current Samsung Galaxy S3, and indeed the forthcoming Galaxy S4 – which is rumoured to have an even larger screen than its predecessor at 4.9-inches. The Xperia Z has a massive 5-inch full HD 1080p Reality (what?) Display, which, to be fair, looks really good.

Inside you’ll find a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, slightly less than the Galaxy S4’s rumoured 2.0GHz processor, but acceptable all the same. It’s also the same processor used in Google’s popular Nexus 4 device.

The Xperia Z has 2GB of memory, which exactly matches that of the Galaxy S4’s rumoured RAM specifications. Sony’s new smartphone also has 16GB internal flash memory and a welcome microSD slot to expand its storage capacity further.

Perhaps the Xperia Z’s most exciting feature can be found in its camera, an area that Sony has arguably more experience in than any other smartphone manufacturer. It has a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera – again the same rumoured specifications of the Galaxy S4.

The Xperia Z sets itself apart from the competition with its “world first” Exmor RS stacked CMOS image sensor. The sensor has a HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode that takes multiple images at varying levels of exposure and then combines them so even the lightest and darkest areas of an image are captured correctly.

The phone, of course, runs Android, but you’ll have to make do with 4.1 on launch. An update to Android 4.2 is promised shortly after though.

The device has a confirmed going-on-sale date of March 1 in the UK and will be available at least one or two months before the Galaxy S4, which enthusiasts are hoping will arrive in April or May.

Oh, and you can take it with you to the shower – it’s waterproof to a certain degree.

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