Sony's 'watershed' moment with waterproof phone?

Sony has unveiled its latest smartphone, which has a 5-inch display and waterproof exterior, as the Japanese tech giant ramps ups efforts to take on rivals Samsung and Apple.

The Japanese tech giant hopes the Xperia Z1's 20.7 megapixel camera and 27-millimeter wide angle lens will attract new customers to Sony, as well as bridge the gap between digital cameras and mobile phones.

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Speaking on Wednesday from the global innovations show, IFA, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said the phone "included the very best of Sony's camera expertise" and marked a "watershed moment" for the company,

Sony has long lagged behind market leaders Samsung, Apple and Nokia in the mobile phone market. Data released last month suggested that Sony Mobile held only 2.2 percent of the global mobile phone market in the second quarter of 2013. Samsung took the top spot -with 24.7 percent of the market-and was followed by Nokia with 14 percent of market share, and Apple with 7.3 percent.

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In a statement accompanying the Xperia Z1's launch, Sony said the smartphone, which uses Google's Android operating system, set "a new standard in premium smartphones". It is due to be launched globally later this month, and will also work in accompaniment with Sony's Smartwatch.

The Sony press conference came just hours ahead of Samsung's, at which the South Korean giant is expected to unveil its much-anticipated smartwatch , thought to be called Galaxy Gear.

Sony shares closed around 1.2 percent higher on the day, after the conference, and 3.5 percent up on the week.

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image: © Jamie McCall