Originally posted on Gigaom:
A trio of Sony Mobile’s(s sne) newest Xperia smartphones are now available in the U.S., but you won’t find them in carrier stores. Instead, the company is selling the phones directly to consumers through Sony Stores, and various web retailers. That means these are unlocked, contract-free phones with non-subsidized prices, making them a hard sell in the U.S. where carriers still control much of the mobile hardware market.
None the models — known as the Xperia S, P and U — support fast LTE networks, which may be why there’s no carrier support. All three work on AT&T’s(s t) GSM and HSPA networks while the carrier is the midst of expanding its LTE coverage nationally. The three phones also launch with Android 2.3(s goog) at a time when new devices are arriving with Android 4.0 out of the box. Sony Mobile says that all three are upgradable to the newer operating system; without a carrier acting as a middleman, perhaps buyers will see that update faster than from a phone sold directly by a carrier.
Here’s a basic rundown of what Sony Mobile is offering direct with the new phones, all of which use Sony’s Mobile Bravia engine for the display: