Since I have decried the dearth of weather-resistant smartphones, it's only fair that I take a moment to recognize Sony's Xperia ZR. Announced today, this smartphone combines all the elements you'd expect from a high-end handset—a 720p display, a quad-core Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 Pro processor, 4G connectivity, and a 13MP camera—inside a waterproof body that can be submerged in five feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Sony even hypes the Xperia's ability to capture underwater stills and HD videos in the promo video below.
Before taking the plunge, you'll need to make sure that "all ports and covers are firmly closed." The Xperia is otherwise suitable for swimming, though. It can also survive being sprayed from all angles by low-pressure water jets, and the sealed chassis resists dust ingress.
Unlike ruggedized smartphones with similar water-proof characteristics, the Xperia ZR looks like a normal handset. At 5.2" x 2.6" x 0.4", it's not that much bigger than the iPhone 5. The Xperia isn't much heavier, either, and its 4.6" screen has a comparable pixel density. The Sony display uses shatter-proof, scratch-resistant glass, of course. You can read more about the Xperia's specifications here.
The Xperia ZR is due to arrive this quarter, and it won't be alone. Sony's slimmer Xperia Z is out now and can be submerged to a depth of about three feet. Samsung is reportedly prepping a water-proof version of its Galaxy S4, and Motorola's upcoming handsets are expected to be similarly pool-friendly.
I don't need my smartphone to film pool parties, but fear of water damage does make me hesitant to pull out my handset in the rain. We get enough rain here that I'll be shopping for a water-proof handset the next time my carrier contract is up. By then, it looks like there will be plenty of premium options on the market.