Sony's relationship with "pure" Android is an interesting one. As a company they generally make it easy to root or otherwise modify their phones or tablets, with a few notable qualifiers. The AOSP for Xperia project, which provides the basic tools for building standard Android ROMs on popular devices, is also one way that Sony stays relevant for those who buy phones with the intent to add aftermarket software. Today it gets two new flagship options, the older Xperia Z1 and Z2.
You can find the binaries for both new phones on the SonyXperiaDev GitHub. They're classified by codename: "Honami" is the Xperia Z1 while "Sirius" is the Z2.
Android 5.0 has only been official for about 24 hours now, and already OEMs are lining up to explain their upgrade paths. Yesterday was Motorola, and today Sony is laying its cards on the table. Sony has a lot of cards. The company has confirmed that all its Z series devices will get Android Lollipop. That's a whole mess of phones.
Sony's latest and greatest has been expected on T-Mobile for a few weeks, but now it's official. The Xperia Z3 will be available from T-Mobile on October 29th in stores. However, there's an online-only pre-sale kicking off on October 15th, meaning you can get the phone shipped before it's in stores.
The Xperia Z3 has the same 20.7MP camera most of Sony's recent phones have used, but the other specs are a bit improved with a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, 3100mAh battery, Snapdragon 801, and 3GB of RAM. It's IP68 dust and water-resistant too. You'll also be happy to know this appears to be the standard Z3 design, not like that fake Z2-ish one Verizon is selling.
Sony releases a new flagship smartphone roughly every other month. That's a complete estimate. Sony isn't on my radar much because its phones often don't usually come to US carriers, and when they do, it's months late. Such is not the case with the new Xperia Z3, which is coming to Verizon as the Z3v later this month.
When Google first pulled the lever on Chromecast's screen casting, the functionality was limited to a select number of devices. Well, it still is, but the list is slowly growing, and we've noticed that the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact have made their presence known towards the bottom. This puts them in the same exclusive club as a number of Nexus, Galaxy, One, and G devices (boy is it awkward to say these names without the manufacturer attached).
The Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact are the only two devices on the list that come to us from Sony.
You know those scary warnings that show up whenever you unlock the bootloader on a phone? "We can't be held responsible... blah blah... reduced functionality... blah... fiery death... blah blah blah." Sometimes they aren't kidding. Users who have unlocked the new Xperia Z3 Compact have found that low-light camera performance drops considerably. It turns out to be because of DRM in Sony's image signal processing.
You'll have to excuse me, I'm a little out of it. After a few short sessions with Entwined Challenge, going back to a boring writing window is kind of like dunking your head in ice water. This abstract casual game comes from developer Pixelopus, the maker of the full Entwined game on the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita. Now you can get a bite-sized version of the experience on your Android device, Sony or not, in the Play Store. Entwined Challenge is $1 with no in-app purchases.
In Entwined, you control one character with either thumb: an orange fish on the left and a blue bird on the right.
Recently there's been arumor that Sony is planning on releasing stock AOSP ROMs (clean, Nexus-style builds of Android) for some of its high-end phones and tablets. It's easy to understand why Sony in particular might attract that kind of attention: the company has better support for aftermarket development than most, promptly releasing binaries and source code on the company's own GitHub and even some developer-grade AOSP builds. But as for consumer-ready, finished and fully supported AOSP ROMs? Yeah, that's not happening.
At least not yet. While this blog post says that some of the members of Sony's development team love the community that's grown up around its open source Android releases, there are no current plans to support retail Sony Xperia hardware with full AOSP ROMs.
With a new Sony smartphone comes a new Sony ad campaign, and the Z3's has just been released in the form of (so far) eight videos published on the company's Xperia YouTube channel. While seven of the spots are actually one and the same product storyline edited differently to showcase various features, one of the ads really did strike me as genuinely good, which is pasted below.
It's 3 minutes or so long, so it's a bit of a lengthy video as an ad, but I think Sony really nails the "product as hero" thing here with just the right mix of emotion (eg, not going overboard) and real human interest story.
It made its exit from the Play Store device section a few months ago, but there are still some Google Play Edition Sony Xperia Z Ultras floating around out there. Expansys has the device in stock for just $269.99, but it's not exactly new.