Sony has announced the new Xperia Sola smartphone, which debuts the company's new "floating touch" technology, allowing control of the phone without touching its screen.

The Sony Xperia Sola can be controlled by hovering a finger over the screen without actually touching it; the Sola also features Sony's new NFC SmartTags and runs on Android 4.0, better known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

Sony Xperia Sola
The Xperia Sola can be controlled without quite touching the screen. (Sony)

Sony said that the "unique floating touch lets consumers navigate the web by hovering their finger above the screen so it acts like a moving curser, without actually having to touch the screen. Once the desired link is found it can be highlighted and a simple tap will load the page. Floating touch will evolve with new user functionality and applications through software updates and engagement with developers."

The Xperia Sola has a 3.7in Reality display powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, with a 5 megapixel camera on the rear featuring auto-focus and 720p recording functionality.

The Xperia Sola also features Sony's new SmartTags. Debuted at Mobile World Congress in February, the SmartTags use near field communication (NFC) technology to send instructions to the phone when touched.

These instruction can be, for example, to disable Bluetooth, silence the ringer and turn on Wi-Fi; such a tag could be placed on the user's desk at work, for example.

Sony has said that the Xperia Sola will be available globally in black, white and red in the second quarter of this year.