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 It is unknown whether the company plans to update the OS eventually, but right now, the handset looks a bit outdated in terms of both hardware and software.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 - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    Oneplus phones still offer the same value, though their updates are not as speedy.
  • Tams80 - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    Well, it's partly 'your' fault for still using CDMA.
  • jabber - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    Shhh you have to realise the USA is a 'developing nation'. They will catch up eventually.
  • UtilityMax - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    There are still some options:

    Google Pixel
    OnePlus 3T
    The Moto smartphones.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    OnePlus 3T fits your bill.
  • UtilityMax - Sunday, May 7, 2017 - link

    The phones with A53 cores built on 28nm process should die already. This is no longer 2015 folks.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    Indeed -- though I understand 28 nm is a very cheap process, with a steep price bump to smaller ones :-/.
  • vladx - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    The process doesn't matter as long as they get the desired performance for this section of the market.
  • jabber - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    I was going to say I use a 2105 phone and it does everything I want nice and fast. I just don't game on my phone. Not all of us are 18 years old or want to spend $700 every 10 months.
  • jabber - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    Grrr 2015 phone. It would be nice if this comments section was updated to at least 2008 spec.

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