Sony might have been one of the bigger players in the mobile scene back in the day, especially after teaming up with Ericsson for their Sony Ericsson joint venture. However in today’s smartphone market, Sony isn’t quite the juggernaut that they used to be, and it seems that odd choices for hardware, design, and omitting certain features for different markets hasn’t helped their cause either, but could the Xperia Z6 be their saving grace?
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In terms of hardware design, Sony has stuck to what they know over the years. In fact if you were to look back on the original Xperia Z and the Xperia Z5, the differences aren’t as obvious compared to the Samsung Galaxy S2 versus the Galaxy S6, or the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4S.
Based on this, we can only assume that Sony will continue to refine the design of the Xperia Z6. While the majority seem to be okay with Sony’s design choices, we suppose it wouldn’t hurt for the company to jazz things up a bit and offer something new and exciting for their customers, like what HTC is rumored to be doing with the HTC One M10.
With the Xperia Z5, Sony has stuck with a Full HD display. However with the Xperia Z5 Premium, Sony has gone and included a 4K display. There is a catch to this display and that is it isn’t always 4K. It will switch between resolutions depending on the situation at hand, which sounds good on paper but based on public opinion, not many people seemed to be thrilled about the idea.
So far QHD displays appear to be the standard and it looks like it will be sticking that way for 2016, so presumably that is what Sony will be aiming for, or at least that’s what we’re hoping for at the very least.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 will be the de facto chipset for flagships this year and we expect Sony will be using it as well. There were some rumors that Sony was planning on making their own chipsets, but this rumor has since been shot down. While other brands like MediaTek do exist, Sony has typically stuck with Qualcomm’s chipsets over the years, so we don’t see why this year will be any different.
As for RAM, the Xperia Z5 came with 3GB of RAM which is more than sufficient, but with OEMs bumping things up to 4GB, perhaps Sony will follow suit. There are rumors that some OEMs might even increase it to 6GB, but we’re not sure if Sony will following in those footsteps.
If there is one area that Sony’s smartphones excel in, it would be their cameras. This shouldn’t be surprising given that Sony’s cameras are used by many smartphone brands, so obviously they are doing something right.
2016 also seems to be the year of the dual camera setup and just earlier in February, Sony’s CFO stated that he hoped that there will be an increased adoption of dual camera setups by OEMs. We’re not sure if this means that Sony will be only selling the components, or if they have plans to include dual cameras in their phones as well.
Also Sony has announced a new camera sensor in the IMX318 which sports a 22.5MP sensor and built-in 3-axis stabilization and a hybrid AF system. Once again, Sony does provide components to other OEMs, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that they might use this sensor in the Xperia Z6 either.
Sony included a fingerprint scanner in the Xperia Z5 lineup. It was placed on the side which was a bit controversial, but not as controversial as Sony deciding to omit the feature from the US version of the phone. Based on this backlash, we can only hope that Sony has learnt from it and will include the fingerprint sensor on all versions of the phone, regardless of the market it is launching in.
The Xperia Z5 lineup consisted of the Xperia Z5 Compact, the Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Premium. Sony has released multiple variants of its flagship phones in the past, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the Xperia Z6 also came in Compact and/or Premium versions.
Pressure Sensitive Display
With Apple announcing the 3D Touch feature on its iPhone 6s/6s Plus last year, suddenly there was a scramble of rumors that suggested that many OEMs would adopt a similar feature this year. Sony is one of those companies rumored to include such a display. Of course whether or not this will happen remains to be seen, but it could be an interesting feature to have.
Pricing & Availability
The price of the Sony Xperia Z5 was set at $600 when it was launched in the US. We can only assume that this will be the price of the Xperia Z6 when it launches, or at least somewhere in that range. The Xperia Z5 Compact was priced at $500 so if there is a Compact version of the Xperia Z6, it should be priced similarly as well.
As for availability, here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Last year Sony announced the Xperia Z4 in April, a phone that was only available in Japan. It was then followed up by the Xperia Z5 in September. We’re not sure if Sony will be going down that route again, but if they are, the there is a good chance the Xperia Z6 will be launched in April.
T-Mobile Poland has also seemingly confirmed new Sony phones for Q2 2016. However Sony has sent out invites to an event that they will be hosting at MWC on the 21st of February, this coming Sunday. It is possible that we could learn more about the phone then, or alternatively, Sony could launch mid-range handsets or wearables and leave the Xperia Z6’s announcement for later.
Like we said, Sony has been making some odd and questionable choices for its smartphone launches especially in 2015 in which they announced phones that were exclusive to some markets, cancelled the launch of the Xperia Z4v, and omitted features from the US version of the Xperia Z5. If anything it has shaken the confidence that customers have in the company, but hopefully this will change with the Xperia Z6.
Unfortunately rumors about the phone remain scarce at this point in time, but hopefully Sony will reveal all this coming Sunday, but if not, we can only hope for more information to trickle in ahead of its launch. In the meantime take it with a grain of salt for now.