Sony Mobile has a tendency to launch a new smartphone every six months and it seems it has no intention of slowing down.
Next Sony Xperia flagship: What will it be called?
Sony's naming convention isn't the easiest to predict in comparison to other manufacturers, well not anymore anyway. The company announced the death of its Z range of smartphones at MWC 2016, the same time it launched the X Series, which it signified as its future.
Sony then announced the Xperia XZ at IFA 2016, which it claimed sat above the XA, XA Ultra, X Compact, X and X Performance models that were seen in Barcelona. The name of the next Xperia is therefore anyone's guess, but given the X series has a fair few devices under its umbrella, we wouldn't be surprised to see a move to X2.
For the sake of this feature, we will be using the Sony Xperia X2 but this could change as rumours develop.
Sony Xperia X2: Release date
- MWC launch tradition
- Rumours suggest Z5 Premium successor to be unveiled behind closed doors at MWC
Sony tends to announce new smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, or IFA in Berlin. MWC 2017 takes place from 27 February to 1 March and it will mark a year since the launch of the Xperia X range meaning an upgrade at the show would be reasonable.
It has been claimed that while the company may be considering unveiling as many as five new smartphones at the show, the Z5 Premium successor with a 4K display might not be one of them. The rumour suggests Sony might show off the new "premium flagship" in secret rooms rather than for all to see.
That's not to say there won't be another Xperia flagship or other Xperia devices unveiled at MWC though, so eyes peeled and ears to the ground. Sony's MWC press conference is scheduled for Monday 27 February at 8.30am.
Sony Xperia X2: Design
- OmniBalance design likely to remain
- Metal build expected
- USB Type-C and fingerprint sensor likely
Rumours are few and far between when it comes to the design of the next Xperia flagship, but Sony's design pattern hasn't changed as much over recent years as its naming convention has.
All the Xperia flagships feature an OminBalance design, resulting in flat slabbed phones. The Xperia X range saw the move from tempered glass rears to all metal, with most models retaining waterproofing. We'd expect the OmniBalance to remain for the future flagship, supported by a leak from Weibo, though we would like to see just one sheet of metal on the rear, rather than several elements like the Xperia XZ.
A side power button with built-in fingerprint sensor is also likely, given this has become a signature feature of Sony phones, and as the Xperia XZ has USB Type-C, we'd expect any new phones to offer the same. There has been a very blurry leak of a front panel, claimed to be the Xperia XZ (2017), showing minimal side bezels and the typical chunky top and bottom bezels, but the image doesn't give a great deal else away.
Sony Xperia X2: Display
- Rumours of 5-inch or 5.2-inch device
- Also reports of 4K 5.5-inch display
Reports suggest new Sony Xperia devices will come in a 5-inch or 5.2-inch Full HD display and a larger 5.5-inch 4K display. There have also been claims of a Quad HD display device and a HD device, suggesting a potential five new handsets incoming, as we said earlier.
Unlike its competitors, Sony has notoriously avoided the Quad HD fad, claiming users don't want to trade battery life for the extra pixels, so the suggestion of a Quad HD device is a little questionable.
The Xperia Z5 and more recent Xperia XZ offer a 5.2-inch Full HD display, while the Z5 Premium was the first smartphone to have a 4K display and is due an upgrade. As we mentioned above though, reports suggest we might be waiting a few more months for the the Z5 Premium successor, presumably in order for it to offer the Qualcomm SD835 chip.
Sony Xperia X2: Camera
- Next Xperia still likely to continue with a focus on camera
- Premium flagships said to be coming with a Sony IMX 400 sensor
The camera has always been one of Sony's main focuses when it comes to its smartphones, which isn't surprising since the company not only makes its own professional cameras but supplies other smartphone manufacturers with camera lenses too.
The Xperia XZ features a 23-megapixel snapper on the rear and a 13-megapixel camera on the front, hitting all the numbers when it comes to the spec sheet. Rumours suggest two of the five devices reported, codenamed Yoshino and BlancBright, will have the a Sony IMX 400 camera sensor, though more specifics weren't revealed in the leak.
There are three other rumoured handsets, known as Keyaki, Hinoki and Mineo. The Keyaki is said to be coming with a 23-megapixel front camera and 16-megapixel rear camera, while the Hinoki is claimed to be offering a 16-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera.
Sony Xperia X2: Hardware
- Qualcomm processor likely
- 4GB of RAM rumoured
Sony is one of Qualcomm's most loyal fans, with all its Xperia flagships featuring the latest and greatest Snapdragon chip at their time of launch. With that in mind we would expect any new Xperia flagships to follow suit.
It will depend on when the device or devices launch, but we'd expect to see either the Snapdragon 821, or the Snapdragon 835 under the hood of the next Xperia. The SD835 is said to be arriving on the Samsung Galaxy S8 first, which isn't due out until April, suggesting Sony will either have to delay launch or run on the older chip, like the LG G6 is said to be doing.
Yoshino, the codename of the device that is thought to be the next premium flagship, is reported to be coming with the SD835 and 4GB or 6GB of RAM. The BlancBright is claimed to be coming with the SD835 or the SD635 and 4GB of RAM. Other rumours have also said we can expect 4GB of RAM, but it isn't clear which device they refer to.
Other hardware specs have yet to be detailed, except for the mid-range devices also rumoured to be appearing, but an educated guess would suggest the next flagships will offer at least 32GB of internal storage, microSD support and around a 3000mAh battery.
Sony Xperia X2: Software
We'd hope that any devices launching at MWC would come with Android 7.1 Nougat from the box, though that might not be the case.
Whether Android Marshmallow or Nougat, Sony's software will no doubt sit over the top, even if we would love to see a vanilla Android experience or less bloatware. There has been a leaked hands on video of one of the rumoured mid-range devices which appears to show Nougat with Sony's software.
Sony Xperia X2: Conclusion
Rumours for the next Sony flagship are all a little confusing at the moment, with several reports for various different devices flying around.
Will we see new Sony phones at MWC 2017? Who knows. There is a very good chance we will see at least one new Xperia at MWC but whether it will be the flagship we've all been waiting for is not clear.
Watch this space as we will be updating this feature as soon as we hear any more rumours.