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 It is unknown whether the company plans to update the OS eventually, but right now, the handset looks a bit outdated in terms of both hardware and software.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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  • vladx - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    I know the feeling, I still rock my Honor 8 even though I could afford a 10k Vertu phone. Reply
  • UtilityMax - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    Well, if you have a _high end_ 2015 smartphone, then it is still a passable daily driver for most people. What I was referring to was that in 2015, a low-end Android smartphone had four or eight A53 cores built on 28nm process. Today, two years later(!), we have the same! This is scandalous.

    Shouldn't ALL 200-300 dollar smartphones have the level of performance that's at least comparable to the Snapdragon 800 released in 2013? VAIO is saying NO! This is pure greed because there are now several smartphones at the same price point offering better performance (such as Moto G5 Plus or Huawei's Honor 6X)
    Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - link

    As long as it has a decent screen, construction, two day battery (I don't consider my phone my BFF) and can handle Gmail, Messaging, Here We Go Maps and news apps smoothly...I'm not really that bothered what SoC it uses. Reply
  • helvete - Thursday, July 20, 2017 - link

    Are people upgrading to this just to refurbish? Reply
  • beginner99 - Monday, May 8, 2017 - link

    Huge bottom bezel and on-screen buttons. They should fire all their designers... Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - link

    Agree. Reply

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