Time sure flies in the smartphone world. It was just this past February that Sony unveiled the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact, and now the rumour mill suggests that we're just days away from seeing the Xperia XZ3.
Could that possibly be true? Turnover after six months seems mad, but while the Xperia XZ2 was a fine flagship, it didn't set the market on fire – and it didn't stand out as a complete package compared to the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9, or even the lower-priced OnePlus 6.
Leaks and rumours suggest a more refined package with some big perks in the mix, and maybe it'll be enough to turn the tide in favour of Sony again. Curious? Here's everything we've heard so far.
When will the Sony Xperia XZ3 be out?
It seems wild, but rumours point to an IFA 2018 unveiling on 30 August. If true, that would be just six months after the XZ2 (shown) showed up at MWC in February.
Should that pan out, then we expect that the phone would release sometime in September or October. It's a rough time to try to launch a new flagship, however, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 just releasing and Apple's new iPhones and Google's Pixel 3 set to debut in quick succession.
All the buzz points to IFA 2018. We're surprised, but maybe Sony sees an opportunity to get a jump on the competition via speedier revisions.
How much will the Sony Xperia XZ3 cost?
In mid-July, accessories site Mobile Fun felt so strongly about its Xperia XZ3 information that it put the phone up for pre-order at a price of £749.99.
That listing is no longer on the site, but it's our first hint at a potential price point for the handset. Given the £699 starting point for the Xperia XZ2 and some new tweaks to the formula, we think it sounds absolutely spot-on.
Launching right around £750 makes sense given Sony's previous pricing and what we're expecting from this next handset.
What will the Sony Xperia XZ3 look like?
The Xperia XZ2 brought a welcome reinvention to Sony's smartphone line, which had long been bogged down with a boxy, bulky demeanor.
It wasn't perfect: the Xperia XZ2 still felt larger than it needed to be, and could've used some further refinement to hang with the top-end competition. Well, it looks like that's exactly what is happening with the XZ3.
Leaked specifications suggest a build with a very similar footprint to that of the XZ2, unsurprisingly, albeit with a bit less bulk. Those purported specifications show the exact same height and width, albeit with a thickness of 10.1mm instead of 11.1mm. It's a small difference, but probably one you'll feel while gripping the thing.
And now we have what seem to be legitimate leaked renders (via MySmartPrice), which show a phone that is a dead ringer for Sony's pricey Xperia XZ2 Premium and comes in a few different colours. It has a more curvaceous approach along the lines of the Galaxy S9, and it's certainly a more alluring build than the standard Xperia XZ2.
Six months isn't enough time for a revolution in Sony land, but slicing off a smidge of bulk and adding some nice curves could make a nice difference.
What about the Sony Xperia XZ3's screen?
Sony opted not to put a Quad HD panel on the Xperia XZ2, and rumours suggest that won't change in time for its successor.
In fact, the leaks specs claim that we'll get essentially the same 5.7in 2160x1080 LCD panel. Barring any under-the-hood tweaks, it ought to be another pretty good display, with solid detail and contrast – albeit one that lags behind OLED leaders like the Galaxy S9. Mobile HDR is nice, though.
Sony doesn't seem to be keen on QHD smartphone panels, so sticking with Full HD+ wouldn't surprise us at all. But the Xperia XZ2 certainly doesn't have one of the best screens on the market.
How much power will the Sony Xperia XZ3 pack?
The Xperia XZ2, like some other top-end Android phones this year, used the current octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-a-chip. Unsurprisingly, the XZ3 will reportedly do the same.
It may be another six months before the Snapdragon 845's successor starts popping up in finished handsets, and it's the best Android option outside of Samsung's own Exynos chips. It was also plenty speedy in our testing, so we have no complaints here.
Leaked specs suggest 6GB of RAM, however, which is more than the plenty-capable 4GB tally seen in the Xperia XZ2. More RAM should ensure fewer hiccups, although again, everything was pretty smooth on the XZ2 for us.
Adding a bit more RAM might help Sony's value proposition here, although with the same chip we're not expecting any significant difference in performance.
What kind of cameras will the Sony Xperia XZ3 have?
Many smartphones have embraced two or even three back cameras for added effects and zooming capabilities, but Sony stuck with a single 19-megapixel shooter on the Xperia XZ2. And it was pretty good.
Not great, mind you – it didn't quite pack the consistency or sharpness of top-tier options, but that's more about the sensor than the number of cameras onboard. Will Sony have a better offering in store with the Xperia XZ3?
Possibly. Leaked specs suggest another 19MP main camera on the back, albeit this time flanked by a 12MP secondary sensor. It's seemingly the same setup as the Xperia XZ2 Premium, which uses a f/1.8 (that's wider than on the standard XZ2) 19MP camera with a f/1.6 monochrome camera.
If that really is what's on the Xperia XZ3, then it sounds plenty promising. But will it be strong enough to hang with the Huawei P20 Pro, or perhaps the incoming Google Pixel 3 – the successor to last year's best camera-phone?
On the other hand, a more recent leak suggests a single 48-megapixel back camera instead, and it matches up with the new IMX586 mobile sensor that Sony just recently announced. That seems like a massive leap in quality for a phone that's just £50 more than the last, however.
The OnLeaks renders - based on leaked CAD specifications - seen on this page show just one back camera, but don't put too much stock into that detail. Seems like it could go either way at this point.
The dual-camera setup seems more plausible to us than a single 48MP shooter, but either way, we're hopeful that the Xperia XZ3 will take better shots than its predecessor.
Is there anything else I should know about the Sony Xperia XZ3?
Just a few things. The leaked specs suggest models with 64GB or 128GB internal storage, with microSD card support up to 400GB for expandable storage.
The specs also show a 3,240mAh battery pack, which is just a tiny bit more than see in the Xperia XZ2 (3,180mAh). That should make a negligible difference in uptime, and the XZ2 was already pretty impressive in daily usage.
The unofficial renders show a back fingerprint sensor in roughly the same spot as before, so we shouldn't see any major changes there – and no in-display sensor for this phone.
Lastly, the leaked specs mention Android Oreo 8.1 rather than Android 9.0 P, which will launch its final version sometime in the coming months. Still, even if it doesn't have Android 9 out of the box, we'd hope to see it hit the Xperia XZ3 at some point.
All told, the rumoured Xperia XZ3 sounds like a modestly enhanced version of the phone we first saw a few months back, which means a quick upgrade seems unnecessary, yet it could prove more appealing to anyone on the hunt for a new flagship.
We'll see if the official reveal comes as expected at the end of August.