In early 2011 I attended a secret meeting with Sony Ericsson. They were revealing their new Xperia Android handsets and I was able to
play with them learn about their new features. At the time, HTC and Samsung were preparing their ’11 flagships and we knew they’d have dual core processors. None of the Sony Ericsson handsets could match the HTC or Samsung specification, but when I handled the Xperia Arc you’d think the representative had just given me a box of kittens: I was smitten. The Arc was thin, had an interesting design, an amazing camera, beautiful screen and clean interface. It was the first Android ‘phone that I would hold in my hand and admire.
In late 2011, Sony bought out the Ericsson share of Sony Ericsson and began to reimagine themselves as just Sony. 2012 saw the first of the Sony-branded products emerge using NXT design language, the Xperia S, but Sony had the excuse that it was made together with Sony Ericsson. I couldn’t argue with the Xperia S on paper but it didn’t feel as nice to handle as my cherished Xperia Arc. Sony and James Bond released the Xperia T six months later, which had design elements borrowed from the Arc plus it was one of the first handsets with a high speed 3G DC-HSPA radio. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same character. I bought one and my Uncle inherited it. He loves it!
Things started to turn around with the Xperia Z, released in early 2013. Here was a thin, flat slab of water-resistant smartphone with fine internals. The Xperia Z Tablet appeared, a beautifully made thin glass slate. We also saw one of my favourite 2013 devices, the Sony Z Ultra. Six months later the Xperia Z1 appeared with a similar design but boosted internals, followed by the Z1 Compact and Z1 Tablet. And six months later, the Xperia Z2 smartphone and Xperia Z2 Tablet appeared. Sony are on a roll with their aggressive six month flagship refresh policy.
IFA is right around the corner. Sony are announcing new products and are teasing the media too. Odds on are that we’ll see a new Xperia Z3, perhaps a Z3 Compact and a Z3 Tablet Compact. The teaser image below was Tweeted asking us to guess the final dimension of a new product. That thickness of 6.4mm matches the Z2 Tablet, so logically we’re going to see another amazingly thin tablet from Sony, right? Perhaps the smart money is going for the Z3 Tablet Compact, which is rumoured to be an 8-inch screen. The trouble with this is that 124mm is a little on the short size: the original Nexus 7 was 120mm wide and although the bezels weren’t the thinnest, it’s difficult to imagine how an 8-inch tablet is going to fit.
Maybe Sony will surprise us. Perhaps we’ll be seeing a newer version of the Z Ultra?