Sony Xperia Z4, Z4 Compact & Z4 Ultra rumor round-up: design, specs, performance, price and release date
For better or worse, the Sony Xperia Z4, Z4 Compact, and Z4 Ultra are yet to leak in credible pictures. What we we have to entertain our imagination with are two convincing concept renders, and the Xperia Z3 devices, of course, whose design DNA will surely carry over. We can safely assume Sony has found ways to make its best smartphones slimmer and lighter, while reducing the "empty space" around the display by minimizing the top, bottom, and side bezels. The build materials will most probably be metal and tempered glass - a high-end combination Sony has a proven ability to handle. Thus, expect metal power and volume buttons thrusting out of a finely sculpted metal frame.
1440p or 1080p resolution? Why not both? According to the latest rumors, Sony plans to sell two versions with the two different resolutions in specific markets. The display size is debatable as well. A leaked internal presentation, along with a few other tips, has put it at 5.2 inches by diagonal, while previous rumors have pointed towards 5.4 or 5.5 inches - take your pick!
Given the Sony Xperia Z3 has a 5.2-inch diagonal, and Sony's strategy is one of improving its designs without changing them significantly, we're keen to bet on 5.2 inches. If that's the case, then the Xperia Z4 screen's pixel density will stand tall in both the 1080p (423ppi) and 1440p (565ppi) scenarios.
On the lesser side of things, the Xperia Z4 Compact is shaping up with the familiar 4.7-inch diagonal, 1080p resolution configuration, while the Xperia Z4 Ultra's broad 6.44-inch display could have its resolution set at Quad HD (1440x2560). Thus, at least on paper, both screens will have their pixel densities through the roof at 468ppi for the Z4 Compact's and 456ppi for the Z4 Ultra's.
When it comes to the Sony Xperia Z4's processor, the rumor mill is torn between the 32-bit Snapdragon 805 processor and the 64-bit Snapdragon 810 SoC, both by Qualcomm. The former is sufficiently powerful and readily available to Sony, but it lacks the future proofing of the latter - which won't make it to manufacturers until the second quarter of 2015. Knowing this, and that Sony might be introducing the Xperia Z4 device lineup at CES 2015 (Jan 6-9), we're placing our bets on the Snapdragon 805.
Sony's Xperia Z4 lineup will run on Android 5.0 Lollipop topped off with the fit Xperia UI. Sony's vision for it is about delivering entertainment and productivity in a simple package, so it's safe to say it will spare the feature bloat. Instead, there are many smaller nuggets of useful functionality. Double tap to wake; an options panel, which can be revealed at any time by doing a swipe gesture from the left edge of the screen; Sony's Small Apps multitasking suite, which pins windowed calculator, browser, notes and other apps on top of anything else; built-in screen recording functionality, and more goodies. In addition, the pleasant and understated design is consistent and melds with the user experience of recent Sony smart devices you may have in your household - such as the PS VITA, the PS4, or a TV set.
With its Xperia smartphones, Sony is in the awkward position of peddling the industry's best-selling Exmor RS camera sensor to its direct competitors, while inexplicably failing to make it stand out in its own products. Don't get us wrong, Sony smartphones take decent photos, but you won't see the Xperia Z3 in our selection of 2014's best cameraphones - even though it should have qualified for it with its potent 20.7-megapixel CMOS sensor and extensive camera app. The Xperia Z4 lineup is Sony's next chance to redeem itself, and for that, the company has prepared a new camera sensor.
Storage and connectivity
We don't expect Sony to pull any surprises or surprise punches here. We can count on either 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and why not 128GB of built-in storage in the Xperia Z4, Z4 Compact, and Z4 Ultra's different models. LTE, fast Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and popular standards for connecting phone and Smart TV or monitor together are a given.
Release date, price, and carriers
As mentioned above, we expect Sony to unveil the Sony Xperia Z4 (and possibly, the Z4 Tablet) at MWC 2015 in early March. The Xperia Z4 Compact and Z4 Ultra will follow later, almost certainly in the second quarter of the year. However, pricing and carrier availability in the USA are totally different questions. If you don't plan on buying unlocked, maybe you could look for the Xperia Z4 at Verizon and T-Mobile - the only US carriers that sold the Xperia Z3 on a contract. Meanwhile, the Z3 Compact and the original Xperia Z Ultra were never sold with a plan - you have to get them at stores. Whether the Z4 Compact and Z4 Ultra will face the same fate, or not, it remains to be seen.
Price, you asked? Well, Sony's high-end smartphones don't come cheap! We expect Sony will charge anywhere between $600-$800 for the Xperia Z4 unlocked, between $500-$700 for the Z4 Compact, and $700 for the Xperia Z4 Ultra. But this is only some educated speculation on our part.