Xperia Z

Sony Mobile will partner with Google to release a ‘Nexus user experience’ version of its flagship Xperia Z phone, Android Central can confirm

First came the Samsung Galaxy S4 "Google Edition." Then last week brought news of the HTC One "with Nexus user experience." In the past couple of days, rumors have been circulating that Sony will join the "Google Edition" club and release a vanilla Android phone of its own, with Romanian site AndroidGeeks breaking the story. Today we can confirm through our own sources that the Japanese manufacturer is indeed preparing a "Google Edition" of its flagship Xperia Z handset.

The "Google Edition" Sony Xperia Z should be sold in the U.S. through the Google Play Store later in the year, just like the two other Google Edition handsets. Being a "Nexus user experience" phone it’s very likely this new Xperia Z will benefit from speedier system updates, though we weren’t able to specifically confirm this point. (Nor could we nail down any details on possible international availability -- though we’re not holding our breath.)

The Xperia Z is Sony’s leading international handset, and it comes with an impressive spec sheet. There’s a 5-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, microSD expandability, a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor RS rear camera and IP57-rated water and dust-resistance credentials. Like all modern Sony phones the Xperia Z features on-screen keys, which makes it an ideal candidate for Googlification. (By comparison, the Galaxy S4 and HTC One have their own unique physical/capacitive button setups that stray a little further from the Android design guidelines.)

It’s unclear which software capabilities from the Sony Xperia Z will be making their way over to Google version. For instance, Sony’s own firmware includes features such as the mobile Bravia Engine, which reduces noise and boosts contrast in photos and video. And the manufacturer’s camera software incorporates an impressive "Superior Auto" shooting mode that’ll probably be absent from the barebones Android camera app in the Google variant.

Historically, Sony has been a strong supporter of the Android Open Source Project, sharing code back to the open-source repository and even releasing AOSP-based software for certain devices, including the Xperia Z. The release of a "Google Edition" Xperia Z seems a natural next step for the Japanese manufacturer, considering rivals Samsung and HTC are already getting in on the vanilla Android action.

So we’re now looking at at least three "Nexus user experience" versions of popular Android phones this summer. On the consumer side, a Xperia Z "Google Edition" means more choice for those wanting to pick up a vanilla Android phone direct from Google. For Sony, it’s another opportunity to actually sell some phones in the United States. Neither the Xperia Z nor its smaller cousin the Xperia ZL are sold on U.S. carriers at present -- though the ZL is available to buy outright through the Sony online store, and the Z is rumored to be headed to T-Mobile. Working on a shared device would also strengthen the partnership between Google and Sony.

Would you pick up a "Nexus user experience" version of the Sony Xperia Z? Shout out in the comments -- and if you want a recap of our thoughts on the Sony version, be sure to check our full review from earlier in the year.


Reader comments

'Google Edition' Sony Xperia Z coming soon


Funny like last year we were hearing a rumour about multiple manufacturers producing multiple nexus devices. It's not technically a Nexus but it's pretty close to it.

More on topic, I would gladly pick it up if I could (only apps and games in my Play store). My hope is that Sony will provide a way to nexify the devices that were already sold. I would actually prefer the Xperia ZL to the Z because of the form factor

If you really want it to get funny, the rumor was about 5 nexus devices.

So the Nexus 4, Galaxy S4, One, Xperia Z and ..... ?

Moto X.
I doubt very much Nokia will get in on the action. Nor is Blackberry, or Apple.
If not Motorola, could possibly be a LG Optimus, or Huawei.

I wouldn't count on it. A phone the size of the Note series relies really heavily on manufacturer skinning and added features. A Note with a stock ROM would be pretty unwieldy.

Since these companies are only putting these Google Editions out in the US PlayStore, and the devices are only going to be GSM, they need to make sure these devices have T-Mobile and AT&T compatible LTE.

Whichever device has T-Mobile LTE compatibility will most likely dominate the Google Edition sales.

I would also like the device to support T-Mobiles AWS spectrum as well. I don't know how long it will take them to turn on LTE for the areas I travel.

You can access the hardware section of play from a pc. Not sure why Google doesn't show the hardware on android devices.

This really spreads the 'Google experience' around the world, manufacturer-wise. South Korea (with the S4 and of course the Nexus 4), Taiwan (HTC One), and now Japan are in on the action. Maybe we'll see an American made Google edition of the new Motorola XFon?

It is interesting to see all of the different interpretations of "plain vanilla" coming along. It's a good time to be an Android user!

Well done Sony, spot on! Soft keys make this phone the only real Nexus replacement option if you need a good build quality, water resistant, 5" form factor and 1080p display phone. Did I mention water resistant?! I'm buying!

I might be regretting my One purchase now legitimately. I always liked the Z but backed out of getting it because the CPU was already outdated when it launched. The nexification of it though might fix my worries of performance via both overclocking and non-existence of bloatware.


This is the only phone I've seen so far to tempt me away from my Nexus 4
The water resistance is a huge thing and that 1080p small bezel screen is gorgeous

I am very intrigued by this phone, I have never held a Flagship Android device made by Sony. I have always been I big fan of their (overpriced) electronics.

Now if only these "Google editions" would get outside of USA... They make big noise about them but that's all it currently is, offerings to single market.

Interested, and the best candidate thus far for Nexus experience. still liking the Nexus 4, wish it had a better camera. I'll likely wait for Nexus 5.

Unfortunately these phones don't mean anything to Verizon customers :(

Leaving all the recent news aside.

I switched from my Gnex to a GS3 temporarily until the fall to see if there is anything else coming out.

Many of my friends on AT&T (including myself) were very disappointed we haven't seen a true Nexus experience subsidized like many of the other US carriers. This definitely makes up for it though. More choices is a good thing.

Well at least on AT&T you can use Nexus and Android Experience devices. And not locked into the walled garden called CDMA.

The problem with these phones is that 650 is just too much to spend on a phone. Not to mention they are gsm unlocked only. That means about half of the US won't even be able to use them. These phones will not sell well. Not when you can buy a subsidized phone and put vanilla on it fairly easily

Yeah, these Google Experience phones will not be big sellers. If I was on a GSM carrier, I would sign for an iPhone or GS4 and sell it to buy one of these. I am sure flashing the Google Experience ROM would also be an option on CDMA as well as GSM.

Maybe not the Sony Nexus I've been waiting for but somehow more compelling than the S4 or the One with stock android. Definitely on the list of candidates when I do need a new phone.

Now this is tempting. A truer nexus experience compared to HTC and Samsung's offerings. Plus water resistance? Priced right and we may have ourselves a winner here folks.

This is as thin as S4 yet slimmer on the width so ideally should be easier to handle with one hand than the S4. I'm thinking it still should come at $600 due to the less GHz processor.

My partner has the Xperia Z and it's a beautiful phone but the Sony UI is very overly complicated. Vanilla Android would make this my favourite phone out at the moment. Saying that I do love my Nexus 4.

One important factoid that's missing is what bands is it going to support. I would assume full hspa and lte support for att and T-Mobile but I could be incorrect.

Sounds great,except, I've been waiting to see an Xperia Z of "any experience" make it to the US. T-Mobile's version of the Z was FCC approved at least a month ago and still nothing. In US presence Sony makes HTC look like Samsung.

Just gonna wait it out for the next real Nexus whenever that may be in which my Nexus 4 is serving me well till then however, the more stock versions of Android in the world the better I say!

I think I'll pass on all Sony phones. Yesterday I was just reading about how all of them come with this Anti-Shatter film on top of the screen and those get scratched up extremely easily and if you take it off you void your warranty. It just seems silly to have to get a screen protector to protect the "screen protector".

Market wise, they'd clean up if they offered 32 and 64GB options, too bad they don't have a twitter to hurl this important information at, it's a bit of a futile thing to do, but would've been worth a try.
You can't respect a public company that doesn't have a twitter, it's mandatory in letting everyone know you're a serious and professional operation, even if the messages posted are few and far between.

This will likely be the same hardware wise as the Xperia Z now offered on the Sony Store for $630, support for TMobile HSPA+ bands but no LTE, same as the Nexus 4. I wonder if it'll be the same price.

I think I'd rather buy from Sony if I were in the market for one.

No doubt the Z has a sense of styling but to be honest, outside of its weatherproofing or whatever they call it, its no match for similar Experince devices from HTC and Samsung.

This is stupid -- just cut the crap with the bloatware, focus on hardware and releases for carriers. ALL manufacturers should do this. The money comes from their hardware, not their damn bloat. This whole "release bloat-infested phones to carriers and 'Google Experience' in the Google Store that nobody buys from" is stupid.

I wasn't calling them stupid. You missed my point. What I was calling stupid is the companies releasing bloated products on carriers and then "Google Experiences" full price on the Google Store. Why can't they just focus on making awesome hardware and stick with vanilla Android? They should let their hardware speak, not their shoddy customized software.

UI overlays, are a USP for each OEM. There's not much value in them changing that.

Not to mention the fact that outside of tech forums, vanilla android isn't that popular.

Hopefully this will not cost significantly more than the announced alternatives. I like the on screen buttons, water resistance, and potential of the camera. But I will probably still go with HTC for front facing speakers and more internal storage. I know this has SD but with 16GB and SD I still run out of internal space for apps and data that apps insist on saving to internal location.

Nice, need to know bands. So far Samsung has the best bands for T-Mobile.

Already rolling with my Nexus 4 though and this has the same processor so I'm not sure I'd go for this one either. I do think of the 3 announced this makes the best Nexus experience replacement. Love these new options though, even though you have to pay full price.

Ugh. What I wouldn't give for GSM to be a viable option where I live. I'm in a predominantly rural area, and Verizon/US Cellular are the only ones that get any kind of consistent service, except, ironically, for a national quiet zone where GSM has good signal. If Google released a Nexus phone, even the Nexus 4, for CDMA/Verizon, I would be all over that like white on rice.

"Would you pick up a "Nexus user experience" version of the Sony Xperia Z?"

Considering the history of Sony's absolutely horrible update policy, this should be a no brainer.

Since establishing the Xperia range as Sony, both my S & T have received updates. The S went from Gingerbread to ICS to (this week) JB. My T went to JB soon after purchase. Had a patch release only yesterday! Plus, we love having Walkman back.

Correction: The ZL is offered by Cincinnati Bell, a US carrier.

I'm currently using the C6602 on T-Mobile but obviously don't get LTE. I'm loving this phone thus far and would definitely purchase the XZ GE if it supports T-Mobile's LTE and comes in purple. If not, I'll probably wait for the Honami release.

I would rock one of these for sure. I love Sony's phone cameras as they seem to be far superior to most other mobile phone cameras. It would be neat if they offer their camera firmware as a standalone application so you could install it and make it the default camera despite running vanilla Android. That seems like the most logical course of action in my opinion since most people I have spoken to who have owned or are interested in owning a Sony phone cite the camera as being one of the primary selling points.

O.M.G. Last year when there was the whole multiple nexus maker rumor, I was laughed at and told I was living in a dream world when I said it would be awesome if the big 5 all had a Nexus (okay so these are only nexus experience devices.) Phone released and allowed people to choose which phone they wanted based on form factor and specs. But who's laughing now? Me! 'Cause it's happening, all that is left to see is what the new Motorola has to offer.

The Xperia Z is just too big & expensive for me.

Give me a Nexus version of the Xperia ZR & I'll snap it up in a second.

BTW, hey, Sony, what's your replacement for the Xperia Ray?

I would love to have this phone. My two choices for phones were this or the One, but sadly neither are coming to Big Red. I have heard rumor on this very site that a variant of the One may come to Verizon under a new name with perhaps a slightly different look, but it was rumor, not verified, and no speculation for when, just later??? Anyway, I am hoping that Verizon gets something that will compete with the specs of these beautiful devices I keep seeing popping up on these other carriers.

[quote]Would you pick up a "Nexus user experience" version of the Sony Xperia Z? [/quote]

Never. On "Nexus" branded device, lack of external storage is usually implied, and that seals it right there.

I from what I've seen on a few "Vanilla" devices, both phone and tablet, there is nothing there to impress me. Manufacturer's UIs, though vilified be a certain crowd are actually a good thing.

They help make better use of a device and allows for custom hardware. Case in point: My Xperia ZL sports an universal, programmable IR remote control. The oft-mentioned camera software is another. Sony's "Throw" widget is another golden little gem.

Changing devices can be daunting because we are creatures of habit, and tend to resist change, but keeping the will to adapt when good things show up is part of "staying with the times", so to speak. Vanilla is just another interface, and it probably is the blandest of them all. Nothing can please everybody, and "Cyanogen Mod" is a prime example of this; A universal mod from a non manufacturer...

No vanilla for me, I like when things are improved upon. Though all different, of all the various flavors of Android I've used, the plainest all seem to have let me down. Sony's custom UI and gear is what has most impressed me so far, trumping a 10" Asus tablet, amongst others.

Absolutley disappointing that google is just selling them in usa. I'd buy one of them, if I could do that in germany.