VAIO has launched its new Google Android-based smartphone in Japan. The VAIO Phone A handset uses the same hardware platform as the company’s VAIO Phone Biz launched last year, but uses Google's more popular operating system. VAIO is selling the Cortex-A53 based mid-range phone for less than $250, which is very low for a phone made of machined aluminum.

VAIO, the former PC division of Sony and now an independent PC vendor from Japan, entered the smartphone market with its VAIO Phone Biz handset about a year ago targeting primarily business users. Since VAIO’s PCs run Windows 10, it was logical for the company to launch a Windows 10 Mobile-based handset supporting the Continuum technology and all the features that Microsoft’s platform has to offer. Apart from the OS, the key selling point of the VAIO Phone Biz was its aluminum unibody, which promised to be very durable. VAIO has never commented on just how well the Phone Biz has sold over its lifetime, but a year after the release of the product VAIO is re-launching it with Google Android.

Just like VAIO’s first smartphone, the Phone A (VPA 0511 S) is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 system-on-chip (eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.50 GHz, Adreno 405 graphics core) and features a 5.5” FHD display. The handset comes equipped with 3 GB of LPDDR3 memory, 16 GB of NAND flash storage (and a microSD card slot for expansion), 13 MP rear and 5 MP front cameras, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, a micro USB 2.0 connector, various sensors, a 2800 mAh battery, and so on. Just like its Windows 10-based brother, the new unit also supports two SIM cards (a nano SIM and a micro SIM) and is compatible with 3G/LTE bands 1, 3, 6, 8, 11, 19 and 21 with carrier aggregation (so, not suitable for the U.S.). Finally, the weight and thickness of the product remained the same as before: 8.3 mm and 167 grams.

Despite the fact that the Snapdragon 617 is supported by Android 7, VAIO ships its Phone A with vanilla Android 6.0. It is unknown whether the company plans to update the OS eventually, but right now, the handset looks a bit outdated in terms of both hardware and software.

Computers and phones supplied by VAIO are developed by the company’s engineers and are made by various contract manufacturers. Meanwhile, the final quality checks and assembly of the hardware is performed at the Nagano Technology Site (Azumino City, Nagano Prefecture), the former hub of Sony’s PC operations. Due to that and materials used, VAIO has a reason to claim that its products feature a higher quality than competing offerings from its rivals, which is especially true when it comes to inexpensive Android handsets.

The VAIO Phone A is now available from the company’s online store exclusively in Japan; though like the Phone Biz, this phone is likely to show make its way to foreign third-party retailers as well. The company charges ¥26,784 ($237) per unit, which is uncommonly cheap for a smartphone featuring a durable, machined aluminum unibody, even taking the hardware and software into consideration. On the other hand, given the cutthroat competition on the Android market, a low price point is a way to drive sales.

Sources: VAIO, K-Tai Watch.

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  • UtilityMax - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    The Moto G5 Plus is using SD625
  • sonicmerlin - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link

    Buying a phone with only Cortex A53 is basically dooming yourself to 2013 smartphone performance.
  • Diji1 - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link

    Yes, you'll be doomed as you run all your apps at the same speed as 2013 provided you don't play games. Completely and utterly doomed.
  • Glock24 - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link

    The SD617 is already old, and if I remember correctly, we prone to overheating.

    Besides that the design of the phone is boring, and for that price there are better alternatives.

    On a side note, I did not know Vaio was no longer a Sony brand. Never liked their laptops though.
  • Tams80 - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    "On a side note, I did not know Vaio was no longer a Sony brand. Never liked their laptops though."

    That's a strange thing to say, as Vaio are/were one of the few able to offer laptops with complete control over the whole product. It's how they managed to put full voltage mobile CPUs in very thing chassis. Hell, the Vaio Z Canvas, which was made after Vaio left full Sony control, was a marvel of engineering.
  • mr_tawan - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    I agreed. My Vaio S remains one of the best laptops to date. I was really sad when they part ways. I wish Vaio relies on Sony on distribution internationally, as I don't live in the US nor Japan.
  • eek2121 - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link

    The US cell phone market is in a very sad state of affairs. I wish we could see both high and mid-range offerings that work with all US carriers and don't have a ton of bloatware installed. Just stock android, a decent price (I don't mind paying $600-$800 for a device I'll use daily for the next 2-3 years), and decent specs.

    Right now you can't really find decent offerings in the US that work on all carriers. Just cheap pieces of crap that have bad cameras, abysmal displays, etc.
  • nwrigley - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link


    Really missing the Nexus branded phones for offering good phones at targeted price points with stock android. I don't feel like we're asking for too much.
  • trivor - Saturday, May 6, 2017 - link

    The current Moto G (5th Gen) is every bit as capable as the Nexus 4 was at launch with the G having a better camera. It is also as good as the Nexus 5. So, I don't understand exactly what you're looking for. Also, if you're not on CDMA, then phones like the One Plus 3T are outstanding value at $399.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    Have you used a G5? I have. It's slow. It might match the Nexus 5 but that's not saying much; the Nexus 5X is far faster.

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