With the Xperia ZR, Sony claims to have the first smartphone that can snap photos and take HD video under water.
The Xperia ZR can soak in up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. It's actually a bit more waterproof than Sony's flagship Xperia Z, which can withstand only a one-meter swim. (Keep in mind that neither phone is equipped to handle salt water.) Both phones are dustproof as well.
The big difference between the Xperia ZR and the Z, at least as far as underwater photography goes, is that the ZR has a dedicated camera button. Because neither phone's touchscreen works underwater, you need the ZR's hardware camera button to snap photos and video when submerged, whereas you'd have to start recording on the surface with the Z.
Waterproofing is starting to become a more common feature in high-end smartphones. In addition to Sony's handsets, Huawei's flagship Ascend D2 touts water and dust resistance, and Motorola's Razr series of Android phones include a "splash guard" to protect against accidental damage. Motorola and Google may also be planning a water-resistant flagship phone, dubbed the X Phone, according to rumors.
In terms of tech specs, the Xperia ZR is no slouch. It has a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, Adreno 320 GPU, 2 GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear camera, VGA front-facing camera, 8 GB of storage, a microSD card slot, and NFC support. The screen is a 4.6-inch, 720p panel with Android buttons built in, so it'll likely be more manageable for one-handed use than the 5-inch Xperia Z.
Sony says the Xperia ZR will be launch "in various global markets" starting in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Sony hasn't revealed any launch plans for the United States, where the company doesn't have much of a smartphone presence. Sony's Xperia Z isn't available on any major wireless carriers in the United States, although Sony now sells the phone directly through its Website for an unsubsidized price of $630.