Mobile World Congress (MWC) starts next weekend and it will play host to the unveiling of the next Sony flagship. Having ditched the Xperia Z naming, Sony has moved to the XZ name for its top line of phones. We're expecting some action in the XZ family VERY soon.

Currently we have the XZ PremiumXZ1 and XZ1 Compact which really sit in the flagship space. And at CES 2018 we got the mid-range Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra and L2.

We're expecting two incoming Sony Mobile devices - one with a 4K display - so here we're picking apart the rumours to bring you the details on what we expect next in the Xperia flagship space.

Check out the Sony pre-MWC teaser

  • 26 February certainty
  • Will there be two devices? 

We've had confirmation that Sony will be holding a press conference on the Monday morning of Mobile World Congress - that's next Monday 26 February - at 8.30am CET or 7.30am GMT. 

That launch date means we'd expect the new Xperia flagship release date to be March 2018. 

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With Sony's naming convention changing drastically in the last few years, it's difficult to pick apart exactly where its smartphone naming might go next. The current rumours are pointing toward there being two phones announced - the Sony Xperia XZ Pro (supposedly model number H8541) and XZ2 (model number H8216).

The Xperia XZ Premium appeared in early-2017 as a loose replacement for the Z5 Premium, defined by the 4K display and otherwise flagship specs. It wasn't until August 2017 that the Xperia XZ1 appeared, sitting in Sony's conventional flagship space, with a Full HD display and again offering Flagship specs.

The next Sony phone launch might be a new Premium device which would technically be due for an update and that would fit with the XZ Pro name.

The XZ1 may also be updated to the XZ2 even though it is only 6-months old - that hasn't stopped Sony before.

At the time of writing there are a lot of Sony Mobile devices that might potentially appear, all disclosed by UAProf (user-agent profiles), with some spec sheets appearing carrying Sony product numbers, but no indicator to real product names - but it looks like there's a new Premium model in the works. 

  • Sony wants to change the design
  • Slimmer bezels expected
  • Increased screen-to-body ratio
  • IP65/68 expected

Sony Mobile has been using the OmniBalance design since the launch of the original Xperia Z and through into the X family. It has changed incrementally over the years, but on the whole, Xperia brand design has been fairly consistent with the occasional change to devices like the Sony Xperia XA with its really slim bezels.

An image purporting to be a prototype model of the Xperia XZ2 Compact has appeared online on Xperia Blog, from a user called 'Grisha'. The image puts the XZ2 Compact side-by-side with an Xperia Z5 Compact and it clearly shows a change in design.

Last September, The Indian Express reported that Sony Mobile plans to change the design, quoting Sony India's managing director Kenichiro Hibi saying: "…we are planning to launch new generation of products and you can expect a complete new design from the devices."

Exactly how "new" this design will be remains to be seen, but leaked specs that have appeared so far don't seem to suggest a move to an 18:9 display, even if a purported design leak does.

There's little else that suggests this change, but while the entire display appears to be dark, it might be that the bottom section isn't active display and is just there's the touch controls sit. Looking at the Xperia XZ1, there's a lot in common, however, especially around the right-hand buttons.

It does, however, look like the XZ Pro won't have a headphone jack. That's according to a filing with the US communications regulator, the FCC which shows the handset having a dongle inserted within the USB-C connector. 

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Elsewhere, the appearance of a device called H8541 with a spec sheet, however, suggests a big screen phone with a body that's smaller than the XZ Premium, which might represent this change in design.

Reddit user Piastavgo created some mockups of this potential layout, picked up by XperiaBlog, to show what it might look like, based on leaked dimensions.

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Leaked specs have mentioned IP65/68, so we'd expect waterproofing, which any self-respecting 2018 flagship phone should have.

Reliable leaks are rather scarce at the moment, but we suspect we'll soon start seeing much more appearing in the rumour mill.

  • H8541: 5.7-inch 4K OLED display mentioned
  • H8216: 5.48-inch Full HD IPS display mentioned

We've mentioned that leaked specs don't seem to reflect a shift to an 18:9 display and that's because reported resolutions stick to a 16:9 aspect instead.

One of the first leaks was for a H8116, which reported a 3,840 x 2,160 pixels for the display, or 4K. That would make it an Xperia Premium model, but we've heard little else about this model. It should also be OLED. 

There's also the H8541, again with a 3,840 x 2,160 display, but with a complete spec sheet attached - as we mentioned above - reporting a 5.7-inch display.

That's pretty big for a 16:9 device, growing larger than the XZ Premium, which might work with a slimmed down body. 

Sony Mobile's head of UX planning in Europe, Hitoshi Osawa, recently told Russian website ferra.ru that 4K OLED panels will appear in phones"very soon" and that Sony is investing in the technology.

We also have a reported device known as H8216 again with a spec sheet attached, returning to 1920 x 1080 pixels and with a 5.48-inch design. This phone is interesting, because the specs suggest that display is crammed into a body similar in size to the current Xperia XZ1, suggesting a bit of a design revision again, as detailed above.

In all cases, we'd expect HDR, as in the XZ Premium and XZ1.

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  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 devices reported

With the positioning of future Xperia handsets not being entirely clear at the moment, there's a mixture of specs being touted. With lots of model numbers in isolation with few other details, the strongest leads we currently have are for that H8541 (the Premium update - XZ Pro) and H8216 (an XZ1 update - the XZ2).

The H8541 appeared with a leaked spec sheet suggesting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM, 64GB of storage. There's USB Type-C, a 3420mAh battery mentioned, with Quick Charge 3. We've also seen the sheet below which boasts 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage.

This screen also suggests that it's a Snapdragon 845 rather than 835. 

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For a new phone, it's perhaps surprising that it might be running on 2017's flagship hardware, with Snapdragon 845 expected to appear in phones in early 2018.

The next device is the H8216. The leaked spec sheet suggests a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage with microSD. There's mention of Quick Charge and a 3130mAh battery.

In mid-February a handset popped up on benchmark testing site AnTuTu - cited as being the H8266. Obviously that's different from the codenumbers we've mengtioned above. This handset runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor - the same processor expected to be in the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S9. It is also said to have Adreno 630 graphics, which is set to accompany the 845 in 2018 flagships.

Both devices will surely have Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. Again, the screen above suggests this. 

Again, there's very little information to go on at the moment, so this is far from final.

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With things not being very clear so far on Sony's plans - and exactly how these two devices align - there's something a lot more interesting lurking in the leaked specs for that cameras.

Starting with that big screen 4K phone, there are no details shared about what camera it might be equipped with.

So we'll move on to that H8216. The camera details here are a lot more specific, suggesting twin 12-megapixel rear cameras and a 15-megapixel front camera.

Of course, the source of this information is in Chinese, so there's every chance that it's the other way around. We're sure there will be a lot more chatter, but we could be looking at Sony's first dual-camera smartphone for 2018.

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