Mobile technology giants Sony and Nokia renewed the battle over the smartphone market, announcing new devices at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today.
Japanese handset maker Sony unveiled its Xperia Z2 smartphone and tablet range, which will introduce 4K high-resolution video technology to the mobile market for the first time. The Z2's 20.7 megapixel camera will offer four times the detail of a HD camera and will be the world's first waterproof smartphone and tablet, according to the company.
The new device will also feature digital noise cancelling technology and is the slimmest and lightest phone and tablet, say Sony. The Z2 will go on global sale from March 2014.
"With Xperia Z2 we have taken our premium Z series to the next level, delivering unique experiences that only Sony can offer," said Kunimasa Suzuki, president and chief executive, Sony Mobile Communications.
"We have redefined the smartphone once again through our camera. Xperia Z2 offers an innovative experience that captures memories in stunning detail through 4K video shooting, or offers new ways to use the camera with our unique Xperia camera apps."
Sony also announced details of its mid-range Xperia M2 smartphone, featuring waterproof technology and powered by Android. The M2 will go on global release from April 2014.
The new devices emphasise Sony's commitment to hardware improvements as the company aims to consolidate its position behind Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market.
Finnish company Nokia also announced the release of its first ever Android smartphones aimed at consumers in emerging markets.
The Nokia X, X+ and XL will use Google's Android operating system, as seen in Sony devices, rather than Microsoft's Windows Phone technology featured in Nokia's Lumia range.
However, the low-cost Nokia X devices will not feature many of the Google services that come with Android, and instead emphasise Microsoft services such as Bing, Skype and Outlook.The X range will also feature the resizeable home-screen tiles, resembling those on Windows Phone.
Microsoft is buying Nokia's phone business and patent rights in a 5.4 billion euro (£4.5 billion) deal expected to be completed next month.
The cheapest device in the new range, the Nokia X, has a 4 inch screen and will retail at 89 euro (£73). It will be available in bright green, bright red, cyan, yellow, black and white.
The Finnish company, which is committed to connecting the "next billion" to the internet, also launched a further two low-cost devices, the Nokia Asha 230, priced at 45 euro (£37) and the Nokia 220, priced at 29 euro (£24).
Stephen Elop, executive vice president of Nokia said: "Nokia has connected billions of people around the world, and today we demonstrated how our portfolio is designed to connect the next billion people to great experiences."
"Our deliberate approach is to offer four tiers of products including our affordable entry-level devices like the new Nokia 220; our entry-level Asha touch phones like the new Nokia Asha 230; our new Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL smartphones primarily for growth economies; and our Lumia portfolio, which is where we introduce the greatest innovation and provide full compatibility with the Microsoft experience."
Commenting on the launch, David McQueen, principal analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media said: "This may be a few years too late, but it is a much needed move by Nokia to recapture a share of the smartphone market by becoming part of the Android ecosystem."
"By using a number of key elements that have been highly successful in the smartphone industry over the past few years and overlaying it with some of its own significant attributes, Nokia has bridged the gap to its Lumia smartphones by creating a truly irresistible product offering for the affordable segment."
South Korean company LG announced its foray into the nascent wearable technology market, revealing plans to launch its first smart wristwatch later this year, according to Park Jong-Seok, chief executive of LG Electronics' mobile unit.
Mr Jong-Seok said early smartwatches had failed to demonstrate why consumers should buy them and like other smartwatches, the LG watch will be paired with a smartphone. He made his comments during a pre-announcement briefing last week.
LG - the world's fourth-largest smartphone maker - has not yet entered the market for wearable devices, currently dominated by firms like Samsung, Sony and Pebble.
Samsung unveiled two new smartwatches on the eve of the Mobile World Congress yesterday. Both are powered by lesser-known operating system called Tizen, developed jointly by Samsung and Intel Corp.
Wearable devices were also part of Sony's new releases showcased at the Mobile World Congress, as it unveiled its SmartBand SWR10 which provides users with a track of everything they do.
Sony's SmartBand is partnered with the Lifelog Android smartphone application that allows wearers to log all of their activities, including the places they have visited, music listened to and books read. The waterproof wristband is priced at £79.99 and will be available to buy worldwide from next month.
"At CES 2014, I introduced SmartWear Experience as representing emotion as well as motion - moving, and being moved," added Mr Suzuki of Sony Mobile Communications.
"Now we can reveal exactly what this means, as we bring our first products to market this spring - SmartBand and its innovative core extend beyond fitness tracking, to add colourful, fun entertainment experiences to users' lives. Entertainment is a part of Sony's ethos - it's our culture." Device maker BlackBerry announced it would be making its BBM instant messaging service available to Windows Phone customers to download this summer, and the newly announced Nokia X, when it launches later this year.
The Waterloo, Ontario based company opened its BBM platform to iPhone and Android devices last year in order to compete with services such as WhatsApp. The move seeks to extend the reach of BBM which currently has around 80 million active monthly users compared to WhatsApp's 450 million. "BBM continues to grow in popularity as millions of people use our mobile platform for chatting and connecting with friends or colleagues, and we are very excited that we will soon welcome Windows Phone and Nokia X users to the BBM community," said John Sims, president, Global Enterprise Solutions at BlackBerry.