Sony is hoping the world's smartphone users place a premium on photography and perhaps have a problem keeping their phones dry.
The Xperia Z1, unveiled on Wednesday at the IFA electronics show in Berlin, is the company's new flagship model for the year-end sales period and, in addition to being waterproof, offers photography features that are high-end for a smartphone.
It will go up against new smartphones from Samsung, one of which is also due to be launched at IFA, and a likely refresh of Apple's iPhone 5 that is expected to be announced next week. There are also many new models from other phone makers.
On the camera side, the phone will deliver "the same level of quality and performance as a conventional compact digital camera," according to Sony.
It packs a 27-millimeter "G lens," one of Sony's high-performance camera lenses, with a Sony-designed 20.7-megapixel Exmor-RS image sensor that works well in low light and one of the company's Bionz image processing chips, said Kaz Hirai, Sony CEO, during a news conference.
Hirai and his predecessor, Howard Stringer , have worked for years to get Sony's once disparate divisions to work together on products and that's evident in the Z1, Hirai said.
"The Xperia Z1 is the absolute embodiment of that 'One Sony' ethos," Hirai said. "We designed Xperia Z1 to deliver Sony's compact digital camera image quality in a smartphone with technologies and expertise directly from our digital imaging team."
The phone can be submerged in water and is waterproof to IPX5 and IPX8 standards, Sony said.
It has a 5-inch screen with full high-definition resolution and is based around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with a 2.2GHz quad-core CPU. It also supports the 4G LTE cellular data standard, currently being launched or built in many countries.
The phone measures 144mm by 74mm by 8.5mm and weighs 169 grams.
Battery life is quoted as up to 14 hours of talk time, 40 hours of music playback and 5.5 hours of video playback.
The Z1 will be available in major markets from this month. The phone is already being offered by Sony online in the U.K. for £599 (US$935).
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is [email protected]