Sony is serious about becoming a heavy weight smartphone player. While most companies are content with releasing one flagship each year, Sony has started bringing a new one out every six months or so.

As the Sony Xperia Z2 hit shop shelves early this year we're already looking ahead to what Sony will launch next, namely the Sony Xperia Z3 (or we're guessing that's what it will be called anyway) and we might not have long to wait for it either.

The Sony Xperia Z3 has apparently been spotted several times, with handsets holding the Sony D6633 and D6603 monikers appearing on a site in Russia alongside the Sony D5803, which is being touted as the Xperia Z3 Compact.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The successor to the Sony Xperia Z2
  • When is it out? Launch is expected in September
  • What will it cost? Around £550 / $943 / AU$1006 we reckon

Sony Xperia Z3 release date

The Sony Xperia Z3 could be with us as soon, although the August release date claim by IT168 looks to be wide of the mark.

It's far more likely that it will be announced at IFA 2014 in early September, as the 2013 show was when the Xperia Z1 was announced and an invite to Sony's press conference at the show hints at new smartphone hardware.

There's other evidence for a September launch too. DooMLoRD claimed on his Twitter feed that we'll see it in September, while a competition held by the German branch of Vodafone runs till the end of September and involves buying an Xperia Z3, suggesting that it will be launched before the end of September.

Sony Xperia Z3 price

Nothing has yet been whispered regarding the price of the Sony Xperia Z3, but with most recent flagships retailing for around £550 / $943 / AU$1006 SIM free at launch, we'd imagine the Xperia Z3 would be priced at around that too.

Sony Xperia Z3 display

It's not looking like much is going to change on the display front. Early rumors from IT168 suggest that the Xperia Z3 will be getting a 1080p screen and DooMLoRD agrees. That would be the same as the Xperia Z2 and most other flagships out there, but a fair bit lower resolution than the QHD LG G3.

Since then Xperia Blog has leaked a screenshot supposedly snapped on an Xperia Z3 and it has a 1080p resolution, again pointing to a full-but-not-quad HD screen.

Z3

We can't be too harsh on it, as many other phones still have 1080p screens, but we're expecting the next wave of flagships to largely be equipped with QHD displays, so it's a bit disappointing.

As for the size of the screen, judging by the images we've seen it's probably going to be around 5 inches.

It's unlikely to be smaller than the 5.2-inch Xperia Z2, but it may not be much if any bigger either. That's ok though, having the screen size increase with each generation could get highly impractical very quickly.

Sony Xperia Z3 chassis

It seems like the Sony Xperia Z3 might look a lot like its predecessor, the Xperia Z2, which wouldn't exactly be surprising given that the Z2, Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z all look a lot alike too.

We first got a proper look at it, or at least at something that's supposedly the Z3, at the beginning of July, when an image of it popped up on Digi-wo side-by-side with another phone, believed to be the Xperia Z3 Compact.

The phone in the image is certainly reminiscent of the Xperia Z2, though the position of the earpiece actually makes it look more like the Sony Xperia T3.

Xperia Z3

Since then we've got some slightly clearer images of what's apparently the Z3, including some with the screen on, from Weibo.

It's in a different colour this time, suggesting that the handset might be available in both black and white, but otherwise it seems to match the previous image.

Xperia Z3

Digi-wo gave us a look at the side and back of the handset, revealing a slim build and what appears to be a glass back and rounded metal frame. The Xperia Z2 isn't quite as rounded as this looks, so that's one possible design difference.

However the image of the back of the phone also reveals a 20.7 megapixel camera lens, which is the same as the Z2 and Xperia Z1 before it had.

Z3

It also looks like the speaker has been moved to the left of the handset and what appears to be an NFC symbol is adorning the back, not that there was much doubt we'd get NFC.

We've also seen a photo of it next to a Samsung Galaxy Note, courtesy of Xperia Blog. As you can see it appears to be around the same length as the 146.9mm Note, but quite a lot thinner than Samsung's handset, which comes in at 83mm across.

Xperia Z3

Xperia Blog has also got hold of another image showing what seems to be a notification light on the top left of the handset.

Z3

We've also now seen an image supposedly showing the rear of the phone on a production line, courtesy of Nowhereelse.fr. Not only does this suggest that Sony has started mass producing the thing, but it gives us one of our clearest looks yet at the back, showing a glossy finish and a very familiar design.

Z3

But before all these images flooded in we saw a photo that was purportedly of the Z3's metal frame. In and of itself it didn't reveal much, beyond the fact that it's seemingly very slim, which is looking increasingly likely to be true, as Twitter tipster DooMLoRD claims that it's just 7mm thick.

But IT168, the site that shared the image, also revealed that it will apparently have a PVD coating, which could give it a mirrored, stainless steel look.

Z3 frame

That's not the only advantage of PVD either, as it would also make the Xperia Z3 more environmentally friendly, corrosion resistant and resilient to scratches, as well as giving it improved impact resistance.

So there are a whole lot of benefits to it and while we haven't heard anything yet we would assume that the Z3 will be dust and water resistant like its predecessor, which in combination with a PVD coating could make it one of the more durable phones around.

The only thing which doesn't quite match up so far is that DooMLoRD claims the Xperia Z3 will have a new design, yet everything we've seen so far looks similar, albeit not identical to the Xperia Z2.

He could be wrong or overstating the changes or it could be that the images we've seen so far are fake, right now anything is possible, but we'd be surprised if it looked radically different to the Xperia Z2, given that Sony has used variations on that design a number of times.