By Anick Jesdanun
One of the reasons Android phones have become popular is the choice they offer: Want a big screen? There’s a phone for you. Want cheap? There’s that one, too.
New phones from Sony and LG continue that trend. Although I personally find their distinctive features unnecessary, consumers looking for specific attributes will welcome them.
Sony’s Xperia Z1s is a waterproof phone with a high-megapixel camera, while LG’s G Flex has a curved screen that offers a better fit for phone calls.
Here’s a look:
• Xperia Z1s, Sony Corp. ($528, contract-free, through T-Mobile only):
The 5-inch Z1s stands out in two ways: It’s waterproof, meaning you can dunk it in water up to 4.5 feet deep for a half-hour. And the camera’s 20.7-megapixel resolution is higher than most phones, which means sharper photos when blown up or printed.
Sony also packs the phone with several camera apps that can be useful — when they work.
The waterproofing should give you some comfort using the phone in the rain or taking a selfie in the pool, as long as you keep the ports covered with the attached plastic seals.
Just don’t expect extensive operations underwater, as the touch screen doesn’t work when wet. You can continue video and music you already have going, but you can’t start new ones. Same with voice calls. Sound quality through the external speaker suffers.
Fortunately, you can use headphones. Sony’s water-resistant Xperia Z phone last summer had a headphone jack that needed to stay covered. There’s no need to cover that in the Z1s, so you’re protected even when you use headphones. Your headphones might not survive, though.
At the recent U.S. figure skating championships in Boston, photos of skaters from my nose-bleed seats came out average for a phone. I noticed more details in some of the banners across the arena, but a larger factor was how much my hand was shaking when I snapped. In a few of those shots, colors were completely off.
The camera’s Social Live app lets you stream 10-minute video clips live on Facebook. You can choose who can view them, though it doesn’t recognize groups you have curated on Facebook, such as “close friends” or “family.”
• G Flex, LG Electronics Inc. (Price not yet announced, available soon through AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile):
The 6-inch G Flex is much like a bigger version of LG’s 5.2-inch G2 phone from last summer. The power button and volume controls are on the back, which LG believes will be easier to access and result in fewer dropped phones.
Where the G Flex differs: The screen has a slight curve inward from top to bottom, giving it a better fit around your head when making calls. It feels a bit like those old flip phones.
However, I don’t make many calls to begin with, and I haven’t noticed much difference in call quality or comfort.
LG hasn’t announced U.S. pricing yet, but the phone goes for more than $900 in South Korea. Part of that high price goes toward the display’s size: The G Flex is even larger than Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 and HTC’s 5.9-inch One Max. Samsung also has a curved phone, but hasn’t announced U.S. plans yet.