Sony Now Selling Unlocked Xperia Advance Rugged Smartphone

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Staying true to its word, Sony has started taking pre-orders for an unlocked version of the water and dust-resistant Xperia Advance in the U.S., giving smartphone users a rugged alternative to the delicate devices that currently flood the market.

Sony Xperia AdvanceWhile this handset certainly isn’t as powerful as high-end models like the Galaxy S III or the iPhone 5, it does provide the active, or clumsy, user with a durable and suitable alternative. Identical to the internationally-sold Xperia Go, the Advance boasts the same IP67 certification as its global brethren, qualifying it to withstand exposure to fine dust particles and submersion in water, specifically up to 39 inches for 30 minutes.

The latest from Sony houses a 1GHz dual-core NovaThor processor and 512MB of RAM, which falls short when compared to its James Bond-endorsed cousin, the Xperia TL (though for an unlocked device, these specs aren’t too shabby). The smartphone also sports a 3.5-inch 320 x 480 touchscreen and features a 5 megapixel camera capable of recording video in 720p HD resolution.

Powered by Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), the handset is said to get a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich in the future, though users will never see the high-speed connectivity that true 4G LTE brings, as the GSM device only runs on UTMS HSPA for 4G data. The Xperia Advance ships with a 1,300 mAh battery and 8GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 32GB thanks to a microSD card.

Sony is taking pre-orders for the unlocked smartphone at $300, yet commitment-shy consumers can grab an Xperia Advance for $50 less on NewEgg or Amazon. While the phone isn’t compatible with Verizon or Sprint’s networks, it runs on AT&T’s HSPA offering, as well as T-Mobile’s 2G service (with the former being more preferable).

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