Launching at MWC 2018, the Sony Xperia XZ2 is a good phone, but the Xperia XZ2 Premium was then announced, casting something of a shadow over the new flagship. Why launch a phone and then, a month later, launch something with a better camera?
The Sony Xperia XZ3 may well right this wrong and give everyone the phone they've been waiting for.
Sony Xperia XZ3 design
- Loop Design
- 153 x 72 x 10.1mm, 183g
- 18:9 display
With the Xperia XZ2 introducing Loop Design, with a curved glass back, there's every belief that the Xperia XZ3 will keep this design, but evolve it. A leaked spec sheet for the forthcoming phone suggest that the measurements will see it getting slimmer - the footprint is the same, but it's 1mm thinner at 10.1mm. It's also lighter, if these specs are indeed true.
We've not yet seen the phone in any leaked images, so there's no way to verify if there will be any changes in appearance, but to us it seems unlikely. What it does say on the leaked document is that it's IP68, continuing Sony's trend of waterproof phones.
And, we also see that 18:9 aspect display like the XZ2, rather than 16:9 of the XZ2 Premium. So let's talk about display.
Sony Xperia XZ3 display
- 18:9 aspect, 5.7-inch LCD display
- 2160 x 1080 pixels, 423ppi
- X-Reality and HDR
There's every reason to believe that the display on the Sony Xperia XZ3 will be the same as the display on the Xperia XZ2. We actually really like that display, so we'd encourage Sony to stick to it.
That means we're likely to get a 5.7-inch LCD display with a 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution for 423ppi. It's not the sharpest resolution in the flagship box, with Sony avoiding Quad HD like the plague, but at this size, it's detailed, well balanced and performs well.
It's also HDR compatible on the XZ2, and we'd expect the same on the Xperia XZ3. The leaked specs we have suggest that these details are correct.
Sony Xperia XZ3 hardware and specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6GB RAM, 64/128GB + microSD
- 3240mAh battery, USB C with Quick Charge 3.0
On the hardware front there perhaps aren't too many surprises. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 generally performing well in flagship phones and not due for replacement until 2019, we'd expect to find it in the Xperia XZ3.
Again, that's confirmed by leaked specs, along with 6GB of RAM a step-up from the 4GB in the Xperiz XZ2. That's likely to be needed to power the more advanced camera; indeed, the Xperia XZ2 Premium has 6GB RAM too, so it all makes sense.
Turning to the battery and we have a leaked figure of 3240mAh. This is a slight increase over the Xperia XZ2 (at 3180mAh), but smaller than the XZ2 Premium (at 3540mAh). The downside of the XZ2 Premium is that it's some 11.9mm thick, so we suspect the Xperia XZ3 will have that 3240mAh battery neatly packed to bring that reduction in overall thickness.
Certainly, battery is one of the changes in this phone from the two existing models.
Sony Xperia XZ3 cameras
- Rear 19-megapixel f/1.8 Motion Eye and 12-megapixel f/1.6 mono camera
The Xperia XZ2 has a single rear Motion Eye camera. That's Sony's 19-megapixel sensor, but in the phone that's already launched it has an f/2.0 lens. It does offer 960fps slow-motion at 1080p and HDR video capture, but it struggles in low light.
The Xperia XZ2 Premium took the Motion Eye camera and give it an f/1.8 lens - better for low light - and combined it with a second 12-megapixel f/1.6 monochrome camera, which should add a lot of low light prowess. It's basically the technique that Huawei is using, with data from the monochrome sensor giving the camera the information it needs to evaluate and produce low light scenes.
Again, these details come from the leaks specs that we've seen, but completely corroborate with the phone that Sony Mobile has already launched. We've also seen a demo of the camera module and it looked really impressive.
Sony Xperia XZ3 release date and price
- IFA 2018 suggested
- 30 August a likely launch date
Sony has a history of using IFA, the annual technology showcase in Berlin, to launch devices. It often schedules a press conference for 12:00GMT on Thursday before the show opens when a lot of the press conferences are held. That suggests the announcement would be on 30 August 2018.
It's usually about 2-4 weeks before the phone is then available to buy.
We've no idea about the price yet: the Xperia XZ2 is £699, so this is the price to watch. If this drops, then the new phone would likely come in at £699 too; but with a more enhanced camera, Sony might jack it up to £749 or £799. Currently, it's too soon to tell.
Sony Xperia XZ3 conclusions
So why would Sony make this move? It's already recognised and admitted that it has been too slow to move in mobile in the past - and having a great camera that no one has access to makes no sense at all.
Sony Mobile likes to launch a lot of phones and with the Xperia XZ2 Premium not slated to come to the UK, it's in a strange situation - who wants a new phone (the XZ2) when you know that there's something better?
It looks like August 2018 is the date to watch. We will of course update as more information get revealed.