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Here is the Sony Ericsson VAIO phone that never was

It looked and acted like a tiny laptop.

Published onNovember 2, 2020

  • A prototype VAIO-branded Sony Ericsson phone has emerged from 2010.
  • The Android device had a full, slide-out keyboard and was meant to be used like a laptop.
  • It’s not clear why the phone was cancelled.

Do you remember Engadget‘s 2010 rumor that Sony Ericsson was working on a VAIO-branded Android phone that never came to market? It turns out this was real — and we now have a much better look at the handset. XDA has obtained high-quality photos of Sony’s VAIO prototype that both confirm its existence and show what you might have experienced if the phone had reached store shelves.

True to reports, the VAIO phone has a tall 5.5-inch screen (unusual for the time) with a hinged, slide-out QWERTY keyboard reminiscent of the HTCSwift. It has the Android navigation buttons you’d expect on a phone from the period, but it was clearly meant to be used more like a laptop — hence the VAIO branding. Sony’s phone prototype is reportedly a delight to type on between its “comfortable spacing” and “great travel,” not to mention Android keys at the bottom left.

There’s also a single rear camera (this wasn’t meant for an era of video meetings). The device shown here is running Android 2.1 Eclair.

Related: Are there still phones with a physical QWERTY keyboard?

It’s not certain why Sony axed the device, although it may have fallen prey to factors that sank niche devices like the Xperia Play. Most importantly, it may have been premature — mobile computing power and the Android platform weren’t nearly as powerful in 2010, limiting its appeal as a laptop replacement. It’s now relatively easy to handle PC-like duties with a phone or tablet if you’re truly determined.

You’re unlikely to see Sony return to this form factor. The company offloaded its VAIO division years later, and Sony’s mobile unit isn’t as powerful as it once was even with capable phones like the Xperia 5 II in its roster. Don’t despair, though. Companies like Fxtec and Planet Computers offer laptop-like phones if you’re still inclined, and they’re more capable than Sony’s cancelled product could ever have been.

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