Qualcomm's processor will compete with Nvidia's Tegra 4, which is the first quad-core processor to use ARM's Cortex-A15 design. The Cortex-A15 is already used in the Nexus 10 tablet, in a version with two cores.
The combination of a big high-resolution screen with a quad-core processor doesn't bode well for battery life. But, in addition to equipping their smartphones with larger batteries, Sony and Huawei have also implemented battery-saving features to extend it.
Sony's Battery Stamina mode improves standby time by automatically shutting down battery-draining apps whenever the screen is off and starting them up again when the screen is back on. The more applications a user has installed, the bigger the effect of the feature, according to Sony.
Huawei lowers battery consumption by automatically turning off the transmitter circuit when data transmission is not in use to keep the Ascend D2 going for longer, it said.
Protection against dust and water
Sony and Huawei are also hoping to convince users to pick their new models over competing products by offering protection against dust and water.
Provided that all ports and covers are firmly closed, the Xperia Z is protected against "low pressure jets of water from all practicable directions, and can be kept under 1 meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes," the company said.
The Ascend D2 has a lower level of water protection, but it can still withstand water sprayed against the device.
Sony and Huawei aren't the first vendors to add protection against dust and water. For example, Panasonic launched the Eluga smartphone at Mobile World Congress last year, in a bid to break into European market that ultimately failed. Whether dust and water protection becomes a feature that will catch on among users remains to be seen.
The new phones from Sony, Huawei and ZTE also share the same camera resolution; all three have a rear-facing camera with a 13-megapixel resolution.
The Xperia Z and Grand S also have a 2-megapixel camera on the front, which allows users to shoot video at 1080p.
As mentioned above, Sony has implemented HDR for both video and still images on its new flagship phone. With HDR, the camera captures the same image at different exposure levels and layers them to create one optimized end-result, according to Sony. The technology allows users to shoot video clips in front of a window or when the sun is directly behind the subject, the company said.
Users of the Sony smartphone can also take pictures while shooting a video, and there is a burst mode for taking 10 pictures per second at a 9-megapixel resolution, which can be continued until there is no more storage.