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Sony set to launch Xperia Z3 smartphone

NEW YORK — Sony is launching its new Xperia Z3 waterproof smartphone through Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier, as well as T-Mobile.

The phones are hitting U.S. stores on the heels of their unveiling last month at a trade show in Berlin, as Sony ramps up efforts to expand its tiny market share by getting to the American market faster.

The Verizon phone comes out Oct. 23, just a month after Apple's new iPhones and a week after the Oct. 17 release of Samsung's new Galaxy Note 4. A release date for the T-Mobile version hasn't been announced.

T-Mobile is carrying the standard version. For the Verizon model, dubbed Z3v, Sony is adding the ability to charge the phone wirelessly with an optional accessory, without needing to plug in a traditional USB cable. It's a capability coming to many smartphones, but often requires buying a special back cover on top of the charging accessory. The screens on each model measures 5.2 inches diagonally.

Both versions let people play Sony PlayStation 4 games through the phone while on the porch or in another room from the TV. The phones are waterproof and have 20.7 megapixel cameras.

The Verizon version will sell for $200 with a two-year contract. Other pricing hasn't been announced yet.

Sony has had a tough time breaking through the highly competitive smartphone market. Sony's market share doesn't even rank in IDC's lists of top 5 smartphone makers. In the trend-setting U.S. market, Sony has suffered further from late releases.

It took time for Sony to figure out what customers and carriers want, says Ravi Nookala, president of Sony Mobile Communications' U.S. business.

Nookala says target customers for its new phones in the U.S. include owners of Sony TVs, headphones, cameras and PlayStation game consoles.