Sony sold its Vaio computer brand off to Japanese Industrial Partners last year, so it could better concentrate on its mobile, gaming, and entertainment divisions. Now, in the wake of announcing a pair of new laptops, the new owners have launched a Vaio-branded smartphone – something Sony never did. It’s called the Vaio Phone, and is being sold by Japanese network b-mobile.
To many casual observers, the design is reminiscent of the Nexus 4, thanks to an all glass rear panel with the Vaio logo emblazoned across the top, and a soft-touch body shell. But to those who follow manufacturers releasing hardware in Asia, it’s an almost exact, rebranded copy of the Panasonic Eluga U2. The Panasonic phone is apparently only sold in Taiwan, but produced by the same factory as the Vaio Phone.
The operating system is Android 5.0, and from the early images of the phone, it looks relatively untouched – so no annoying custom user interface to ruin all that Material Design goodness. A 5-inch, 720p screen is on the front (weirdly, the Panasonic phone has a 1080p resolution), an unnamed 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM provides the power, and there’s a 13-megapixel camera on the rear. The spec list continues with a 5-megapixel selfie camera, 16GB of internal memory, a MicroSD card slot, and a 2500mAh battery.
The Vaio phone is being sold unlocked for around $400, but is available with a contract for less. However, at the moment the phone’s only being advertised in Japan, and Japanese Industrial Partners said its laptops would probably never be sold outside the country, making a similar fate likely for the Vaio Phone.