Whatever other difficulties the Japanese electronics giant has faced in recent years, Sony's Xperia line of Android phones has earned a loyal following. And in 2016 the company has dramatically revamped its Xperia phones, doing away with the Z series and launching the new Xperia X range.
Sony's still a bit of an outlier in the U.S. smartphone market, where Xperia handsets are only available unlocked at full retail price. But high-end Xperias have enjoyed greater success in Europe, where they're widely available across many carriers. So without further ado, let's take a look at the ones you should be paying attention to.
Article updated September 2016.
Sony Xperia XZ
Released October 2016: The Xperia XZ appeared to be released only weeks after the X Performance, but in reality its release delta was just shorter than the X Performance. Featuring a new, friendlier design and a revamped camera array with — finally! — optical image stabilization, the Xperia XZ takes the best aspects of the Xperia X line and adds a considerable amount of polish.
Sony Xperia X Compact
Released October 2016: The small powerhouse in Sony's lineup, the X Compact succeeds the Xperia Z5 Compact with a new design and many of the same fundamentals as its larger XZ counterpart.
The phone has Sony's best-ever camera inside of it, but in some ways it is a regression from the Xperia Z5 Compact: it is not water resistant, and its Snapdragon 650 processor is a step down from Sony's strategy of maintaining top-shelf SoCs in its Compact line. And at $499, it's rather expensive — especially in the U.S., where it doesn't come with a fingerprint sensor.
Still, it's likely the best small phone you can buy right now.