First Samsung and then HTC decided to offer their flagship phones with a pure build of Android. Who’s next to bring their handset with a “Google Experience” to the Play Store? Sony with its Xperia Z smartphone, says Android Central. The enthusiast site claims that sources have confirmed Sony is working on a stock Android edition of its flagship device.
The Sony Xperia Z is the newer, bigger brother to the Xperia ZL I’m currently reviewing. The two are very similar but the Xperia Z is more comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One, which it would share shelf space with in the Play Store.
The 5-inch, full HD display has on-screen software buttons, which are ideal for a pure Android device. The Nexus 4, for example has no hardware buttons on the front face of the phone as the latest version of Android works with software buttons.
Stock Android should run nicely on the Xperia Z, which uses a Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip with 2 GB of memory. The base model also includes 16 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card. Sony’s Exmor camera sensor tops out at 13 megapixels on this particular device.
My gut tells me that Sony, Samsung and HTC didn’t decide to offer these Google Experience devices on their own. This is a Google-directed initiative, in my opinion. It won’t replace the Nexus program — Google has said the Nexus line will continue — but instead will supplement it. The best-designed flagship phones will come with stock Android at full price, roughly $599 and up.
I suspect Nexus devices will be almost cutting-edge handsets: a slightly downgraded component here or there will keep them from being true flagships. This will let Google price them lower than the Google Experience phones — the Nexus 4 currently sells for $299 to $349, for example — so that people can get pure Android without spending $600 or more for a contract-free handset.