Sony announces the Xperia Z1, a waterproof smartphone with a 20.7-megapixel camera

Though it wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret, Sony(s sne) on Wednesday took the wraps off of its next-generation Xperia Z1 smartphone. A sequel of sorts to this year’s Xperia Z, the Xperia Z1 combines a sleek, waterproof body with a whopping 20.7-megapixel camera sensor.

The Xperia Z1 features a 5-inch 1080p TFT display, powered by Sony’s Triluminos technology. A 2.2GHz Qulacomm(s qcom) Snapdragon 800 processor and Adreno 330 graphics should keep things moving along nicely. And 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (along with a microSD card slot) and a 3,000mAh battery round out the spec list.

The most interesting new feature here is the camera, which Sony claims is the “world’s leading camera in a smartphone,” and has apparently confirmed as much through “independent testing.” I can’t be sure of that yet, but on paper the features are promising. Sony is using a 1/2.3-inch 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS sensor, as well as Sony’s 27mm f/2.0 G Lens and Bionz image processing engine. Sony is also mobilizing a fleet of Xperia camera apps with the phone.

While the Xperia Z1 looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the phone is rated IP58, which makes it waterproof, as opposed to just water resistant.

Running on Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), the Xperia Z1 will be available in black, purple or white. The handset will go on sale later this month, so Sony is certainly making good on its promise to shorten product lead times. So far price and carrier availability have not been announced.

Of course, the Xperia Z1 is compatible with other recently announced Sony accessories, like the QX10 and QX100 lens cameras, but so are plenty of other phones.

I’m reporting live from the Sony event and hope to get my hands on an Xperia Z1 shortly so I can put that camera to the test. Check back soon for my thoughts and impressions.