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Sony Xperia sola: a pint-sized Android handset with floating touch (hands-on)

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Sometimes getting lost in the maze-like sprawl of the Messe can turn up unexpected surprises. In this case, we chanced upon Sony's Xperia sola hiding in plain sight at Sparhandy's booth. The petite Android handset, formerly codenamed "Pepper", was officially announced earlier this spring and even crept up in FCC filings. But until now, we'd never had quality hands-on time with the 3.7-inch Gingerbread device. For its diminutive size, the wee phone sports a 854 x 480 LCD display powered by Mobile BRAVIA Engine, a dual-core CPU clocked at 1GHz, 5-megapixel rear shooter and NFC functionality for Smart Tag use.

As you might expect, the sola fits quite nicely into the palm of your hand, though its tiny screen can pose an issue for those with larger digits. And speaking of touch navigation, this Sony phone separates itself from the rest of the Xperia pack with the inclusion of floating touch technology -- much like the Galaxy Note 2. What's that? Well, turns out this device can detect your finger's presence up to 20mm away from the screen, allowing users to highlight links, but only from within the browser. Apart from that neat touch, which in practice, is a bit awkward to properly use, the phone functions exactly as it should for the low-to-mid range it occupies. Performance is appreciably quick and pages loaded up in the browser in just about 30 seconds time.

There's still no word on whether the sola will ever make it stateside, but if you're keen to see that hovering functionality in action, head past the break for a video demo and check out our gallery below.

Gallery: Sony Xperia Sola hands-on | 13 Photos

Mat Smith contributed to this report.

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