EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SONY XPERIA Z6
Looking for all the latest on the Sony Xperia Z6? Here’s what we know about the expected Xperia Z6 release date, new Xperia Z6 features, and the latest Xperia Z6 specs info.
Update (22 July 2016): We’ve just finished our review of the Sony Xperia XA, the de facto replacement for the Sony Xperia Z6. We scored the handset 6/10 – you can find out why in our full review.
You’ve found this page, which means you’re probably looking for for information about the Sony Xperia Z6. Well we’ve got bad news: it appears Sony has no plans to launch a new Xperia Z-series device. Boo!
Everybody – us included – was under the impression that Sony would finally lift the lid on the Xperia Z6 at MWC 2016, but instead the company launched a brand new range of handsets under fresh name – X-series.
It’s also worth noting that the Sony Xperia X is now available for pre-order in the UK. Check out the latest Sony Xperia X deals here.
But if you’d like to reminisce about times gone by, or you’re just a big fan of the Xperia Z phones, you’ll find the original rumour roundup piece below.
The Sony Xperia Z6 is already in our sights and, despite the very recent launch of the Sony Xperia Z5, there’s a good chance the handset will arrive during today’s Mobile World Congress press conference.
What’s more, Sony operates a supersonic launch cycle that sees new flagship smartphones released every six months.
As such, it’s expected that the Xperia Z6 will launch in the first half of 2016 – and probably this weekend – so we’ve rounded-up the latest Xperia Z6 news, rumours, and leaks – plus a bit of educated guesswork.
The most recent rumours are that the Xperia Z6 display will be pressure-sensitive, just like the iPhone 6S, and run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It’s also tipped that there will be five different Xperia Z6 variants.
The next opportunity for a smartphone launch is MWC 2016, one of the year’s biggest technology tradeshows, assured to host a number of high-profile product launches. But will the Sony Xperia Z6 launch at MWC? It’s hard to say right now, but the rumour mill is heavily favouring an imminent release.
Here’s the latest:
When is the Xperia Z6 coming out? Feb-April 2016, maybe MWC
What’s new about the Xperia Z6? Snapdragon 820, Marshmallow
How much will the Xperia Z6 cost? £500/$75-550/825
Sony Xperia Z6 Release Date UK & US – When does the Xperia Z6 come out?
Sony isn’t one for surprises when it comes to release dates; it’s adhered to a clear pattern for core Xperia Z releases.
What’s notable about Sony however, it that it runs on a 6-month release cycle, which is why we’re already looking towards the Xperia Z6 so soon after the launch of the Xperia Z5.
In the past, Sony has launched smartphones around March and September – the former in line with Mobile World Congress, and the latter in line with Berlin’s IFA tradeshow.
It looks set to be no different this year, with Sony widely tipped to show off its next flagship at Barcelona’s MWC in February.
The convention will run from February 22 to February 25, although handsets are often unveiled on February 21, one day before proceedings really kick off.
But if the Sony Xperia Z6 skips MWC, we’d still expect to see the handset launch in the surrounding weeks. And the company is running out of time, as the Z6-free Sony CES 2016 press conference is now well behind us.
At the very least, it’s likely that a Sony smartphone will arrive in the first half of the year. That’s supported by a recent leak from T-Mobile Poland that pointed to two new Sony Xperia smartphones coming in the second quarter of 2016.
Xperia Z6 Features – What’s new about the Xperia Z6?
The previous generation of Sony Xperia smartphones were the first to come in three core size variants – Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium. We’ve still had no word on whether this trend will continue with the Xperia Z6.
While most things will remain the same – design, screen resolution, storage – we are expecting a few changes.
Firstly, there’s Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 chip, which is poised to offer significant performance improvements over previous models. It’s widely expected that the 820 will feature on the Xperia Z6.
We’ve also heard talk of a pressure-sensitive display appearing on the Sony Xperia Z6, following Apple’s suit with the iPhone’s 3D Touch panel.
Unfortunately, we won’t really know what Sony is plotting until the official launch, so stay tuned.
Should I wait for the Sony Xperia Z6?
Sony Xperia smartphones are easy to predict, and launch frequently. That makes it easy to work out whether you’ll want to wait for the next one.
If you’ve just bought the Sony Xperia Z5, skip the Xperia Z6; there won’t be enough of an upgrade. Older models like the Xperia Z3 could be worth a trade-up, however.
You also have to weigh up which rival handsets will be available at launch. The first half of 2016 is likely to see the release of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5, both of which may be formidable handsets.
However, Apple probably won’t have unveiled a new iPhone by the time the Xperia Z6 lands, so you’ve got plenty of time to work out whether the iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus are for you.
To help with that, check out our iOS 9 vs Android 6.0 Marshmallow guide.
IN-DEPTH: XPERIA Z6 SPECS & FEATURES EXPLAINED
Xperia Z6 variants
Sony has never been shy about releasing several versions of the same handset, but it could be about to take a leaf out of prolific rival Samsung’s book.
The Sony Xperia Z6 will be available in five – yes, five – different variants, according to a new report from China-based social media site Weibo.
The models will allegedly arrive in the following formats:
- Sony Xperia Z6 Mini – 4-inch
- Sony Xperia Z6 Compact – 4.7-inch
- Sony Xperia Z6 – 5.2-inch
- Sony Xperia Z6 Plus – 5.8-inch
- Sony Xperia Z6 Ultra – 6.4-inch
Sony Mobile has been struggling to turn a profit in recent years, and it’s not clear exactly how fragmenting its flagship series even further will help.
Fortunately, there’s no hard evidence that this product roadmap is real, so take this report with a pinch of salt.
Xperia Z6 display
The debate is still raging over whether the Sony Xperia Z6 will use a Full HD (1080p), QHD, or UHD display. Similarly, will we see 4.7-inch, 5.2-inch, or 5.5-inch panels?
The company has struggled to settle on an optimal screen resolution in recent years, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see several different variants of the Xperia Z6, each with different displays.
Perhaps the panel we’re least excited for is 4K, because it’s presence was notably underwhelming on the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.
The most likely scenario is either a Full HD or QHD display; they’re big enough for a smartphone form factor, and don’t cause too sizable a drain on battery life. And similarly, we’ll probably see a 5.2-inch or 5.5-inch screen.
Xperia Z6 design
When it comes to Sony Xperia devices, there are generally very few design surprises.
That’s because Sony maintains its OmniBalance aesthetic across its entire Xperia smartphone and tablet line-up.
Here’s how Sony describes OmniBalance, which first debuted on the Xperia Z:
“Omni means ‘all’ or ‘everywhere’ – it represents the omnipresence and the multitude of smartphone uses. This principle of OmniBalance is embodied in the design execution – a minimalistic form where only the essentials remain, with balance and symmetry throughout. It is essentially a plate of glass that has the edges and corners softened and strengthened in an encasing frame.”
As such, we’re expecting to see the usual flat, rectangular shape, plenty of glass, and the chic minimalism Sony is used to.
While reception to OmniBalance has largely been positive, some argue that the design of Xperia phones is beginning to grow tired.
With Sony’s history in mind, you’re probably also wondering: will the Xperia Z6 be waterproof? The truth is that we’re not sure, but it seems likely.
However, do note that Sony has recently shied away from the “waterproof” branding, seemingly due to the customer service difficulties that arise from marketing a phone as such.
Nevertheless, it still seems probable that the phone will boast an IP67 certification, even if Sony isn’t so blatant about the Xperia Z6’s aquatic credentials.
Xperia Z6 camera
Sony Xperia smartphones have always shipped with good cameras, and with good reason: Sony is one of the biggest smartphone image sensor manufacturers in the world.
The company may have announced a splitting-off for the image sensor business earlier this year, but it’s likely that Sony Mobile will still hold a good relationship with the brand.
Recent flagship Sony Xperia handsets have shipped with either a 21.7-megapixel sensor, or a 23-megapixel sensor. Both are more than large enough for smartphone photography.
Upgrades to smartphone cameras are slow however, so we’d expect to see a similar imaging module appear on the Xperia Z6.
Xperia Z6 specs
Since we have a good idea about when the Sony Xperia Z6 will launch, we can also take a solid guess at the processor we’ll see featured too.
The likeliest candidate to appear is the Snapdragon 820, Qualcomm’s latest mobile system-on-a-chip.
The Snapdragon 820 was unveiled earlier this year, and is already sampling with a number of manufacturers – Qualcomm claims it already has 60+ design wins.
The Sony Xperia Z5 used the ill-fated Snapdragon 810, plagued by rumours of overheating. Qualcomm reckons any such issues with the Snapdragon 820 are non-existent.
So what’s new with the Snapdragon 820? First up, it uses Qualcomm’s first custom-designed 64-bit quad-core CPU – the Kryo.
According to Qualcomm, the Kryo processor is twice as fast as the Krait; that’s the processor used in both the Snapdragon 801 and Snapdragon 805.
The Snapdragon 820 also uses a new GPU, dubbed the Adreno 530. It’s tipped to be 40% faster – and 40% less power-hungry – than the old Adreno 430.
Qualcomm’s X12 LTE modem also features, which supports seriously nippyLTE speeds. That provides theoretical speeds of up to 600Mbps downlink, and 150Mbps uplink.
There’s a chance Sony could still use the Snapdragon 810 in the Xperia Z6, but it seems unlikely given the chip’s age and reputation.
It’s also possible that Sony may switch vendors, and use an alternative chip manufacturer like MediaTek. However, the company’s smartphone history suggests such a move isn’t likely.
- RAM, Storage, and microSD
The Sony Xperia Z5 shipped with 3GB of RAM on board, so it’s entirely feasible that the Xperia Z6 would follow suit.
However, recent rumours suggest Sony may be eyeing an upgrade to 4GB of RAM, particularly as the Snapdragon 820 supports that amount of memory.
Unfortunately, manufacturers can be fickle when it comes to storage, which means it’s a tough metric to guess.
The Sony Xperia Z5 boasted 32GB of storage, which is hardly generous. While we’d like to see 64GB – or even 128GB – ship as standard, our money is a repeat of the 32GB.
Fortunately, it’s rumoured that Sony will once again attempt to soften the blow by including a microSD card slot.
Xperia Z6 software
The most recent batch of Sony Xperia smartphones all ran on Android 5.0 Lollipop – but that OS is old news now.
It looks far more likely that the Sony Xperia Z6 will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google’s latest mobile operating system.
That looks even more likely now that Sony Mobile has revealed a host of existing Xperia devices will receive the Android 6.0 Marshmallow in March. As such, it would seem odd for a brand new Sony handset to launch with a comparatively outdated OS.
But what’s changed with the new OS? In terms of actual design, not a lot – most of the sweeping aesthetic changes launched with Lollipop’s introduction of ‘material design’.
The real changes are in the back-end; there’s a new memory manager, a battery-saving ‘Doze’ mode, fingerprint scanner support, improvements to app permissions, and USB-C support.
Google has also overhauled its Google Now digital assistant to make it smarter and better at handling contextual requests.
Of course, there’s a lot more to Marshmallow, so check out our Android 6.0 features guide for a full view of the new OS.
Xperia Z6 features
- Pressure-sensitive screen
The Sony Xperia Z6 will feature a pressure-sensitive display, as reported by Mobipicker.
The article suggests the handset will incorporate “its own version” of Apple’s 3D Touch technology, as featured on the iPhone 6S. Similar technology also appeared on the 12-inch Apple MacBook and the Apple Watch.
A pressure-sensitive display allows users to tap harder on a screen to effect new gestures.
The source of the rumour is alleged to be “closely associated with the distribution network of Sony Mobile Communications”.
A similar report emerged back in October claimed that Samsung would also use such a screen on its next flagship.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is expected to make use of Synaptics’ ClearForce technology, a 3D Touch alternative.
ClearForce is already available for manufacture sampling, and will give Android OEMs a chance to catch up with Apple on pressure-sensitive displays.
Google’s Android Marshmallow reveal created lots of hype about USB Type C.
USB-C is a burgeoning USB standard that looks set to feature of many upcoming smartphone releases, and is supported as standard in Android 6.0.
It’s a growing alternative to Micro USB that can offer faster data transfer. It also features a reversible tip a la Apple’s Lightning cable.
There’s been no rumours about USB-C on the Sony Xperia Z6 as yet, but the Xperia Z5 was hotly tipped to feature the technology.
What’s more, the Xperia Z6 is expected to run on Android 6.0, so the software infrastructure for USB-C will already exist on the phone.
Xperia Z6 price
There have been zero rumours on Sony Xperia Z6 price in the UK and US.
As such, we’ll have to look at previous product launches to gauge possible cost.
- Sony Xperia Z2 – £569/$853,5
- Sony Xperia Z3 – £525/$787,5
- Sony Xperia Z3+ – £499/$748,5
- Sony Xperia Z5 – £549/$823,5
The price reduced progressively from last year’s Xperia Z2, but then rose again with the Xperia Z5.
We’d be surprised if Sony topped the Xperia Z2’s hefty pricing with the Xperia Z6 however, so our best guess would be an R.R.P of between £500/$750 and 550/$825.