Normally only Nexus and other first-party Google devices get a taste of an upcoming Android version before it's released, barring custom ROMs and other end user activities. But Sony has been offering experimental AOSP builds for some of its phones for some time, and today the company has surprised and delighted owners of the former flagship Xperia Z3 with a custom Android N developer preview. This is more or less the same as the preview builds for Nexus phones and tablets, and it includes the Play Store and Google Services - everything one needs for a full Android experience.

It's not clear why the Xperia Z3 was chosen over more recent Sony devices; it came out in the fall of 2014, and the Z4 and Z5 and their variants are newer. Only two very specific models are supported, the D6603 and D6653 (which only vary in their LTE band support). Check your phone's model number to see if it's compatible. The build is based on AOSP and has none of Sony's usual skins or customizations, so some of Sony's advanced camera functionality may not be included.

Unfortunately, flashing the Android N developer preview to the Xperia Z3 isn't quite as simple as it is with the new Android Beta program. Users need to download the Xperia Companion desktop app for Windows or OS X to download and flash the build. Check Sony's developer preview page for precise instructions.

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