Sony has had a busy start to 2014, launching both the Xperia Z1 Compact and the Xperia Z1S at CES in January. It looks set to follow these up with a new flagship Android smartphone currently known under the codename Sirius. The device has been leaked several times over the past few weeks, and a relatively comprehensive picture of its specs has built up. If the rumors come true, we’re looking at a very exciting phone.
Updated on 02-17-2014 by Andy: A leaked video may have given us a look at the Sirius in action, including a detailed demonstration of the Android 4.4 KitKat OS and its Sony tweaks.
‘Siriusly’ what’s it going to be called?
The Sirius codename was leaked just before the new year along with talk of another Sony smartphone named the Canopus. Since then, the model number D6503 has been attached to it, and many have tentatively given it the release name of the Xperia Z2.
While it’s inevitable Sony will launch a sequel to the Xperia Z1 in the future, the Z1 only went on sale in September 2013. It’s still a new device, and hardly in need of replacement. Will the Sirius be another spinoff of the Z1? This said, Sony launched the Z1 seven months after the Xperia Z went on sale, so it’s not afraid of cranking out new models on a very regular basis.
How about the design?
In mid-January, a member of the XDADevelopers forum posted a series of photos said to show the D6503 Sirius. The phone clearly uses Sony’s now familiar Omni-Balance design language, which refers to the softened, symmetrical edges, and plate glass surface introduced on the Xperia Z. Like the Xperia Z1 and Z1S, the ports are hidden behind flip out panels. A view of the phone’s rear panel shows the camera is mounted in the same place as the Xperia Z1.
On closer examination of the pictures, it appears the Sirius will have stereo speakers, one mounted at the top of the phone above the notification light, and the other along the base of the device. Additionally, there are three holes on the base of the phone, which could be for a noise-canceling microphone.
Sony D6503 demoed on video
A 12-minute video has been posted to YouTube, which claims to show the Sony D6503 in action. The footage shows someone navigating around the Android 4.4.2 operating system installed on the phone, complete with an overhauled version of Sony’s own user interface. There are also several shots of the phone’s exterior, although it’s hard to tell it apart from other Xperia Z devices, aside from a set of thin bezels either side of the screen. It does look quite large though, so a 5-inch-plus screen size seems likely.
Thanks to a detailed leak of the Sirius’ specs by XperiaBlog.net, we have been given a solid idea of what to expect from the device. First, the screen will be slightly enlarged over the Z1 to 5.2-inches, although judging by the leaked images, the bezel has been slimmed down, ensuring the phone remains a similar size.
The resolution is up for debate. XperiaBlog says it will be 1080p – the same as the Xperia Z, Z1, Z1S, and the Z1 Ultra. Other sources have stated the phone will have a 1440p resolution display. Smartphones with 2560 x 1440 pixel screens are expected to dominate the high-end of the market during 2014, and should Sony stick with 1080p, the Sirius may not be worthy of the Z2 name, and flagship status.
Another of Sony’s 20.7-megapixel cameras should sit on the back, while a simple 2.1-megapixel camera is expected to take care of the selfies. Anyone hoping for a fancy new Snapdragon 805 inside the Sirius may be disappointed, as a Qualcomm MSM8974 chip has been suggested in the leaks, which is better known as the Snapdragon 800. The chip, along with the screen size, has also been leaked through the @evleaks Twitter account. It could be backed up by 3GB of RAM, just like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
If the 1440p resolution and Snapdragon 805 were listed as highly likely features, we’d feel more confident the Sirius was going to become the Xperia Z2.
Android 4.4 and a few special features
The Sirius will run Android, and although it has been spotted using 4.3 Jelly Bean, the launch device should be running Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Another leak by the XperiaBlog reveals some of the possible bonus features. A few of the more notable additions include a gloved hand mode (just like various Lumia phones), and a smart backlight, which operates like Samsung’s Smart Stay feature to keep the screen activated when you’re looking at it.
There’s mention of the stereo speaker option and the introduction of Sony’s S Force surround sound technology, previously seen on the Xperia Tablet Z and various home theater products. The list of new features continues with a double tap gesture to wake up the screen, a simple home screen option, gestures for taking or rejecting calls, and a way to customize which apps deliver notifications.
A 4K video camera?
A leaked menu screen indicates the Sirius will be able to record 4K video through its 20.7-megapixel camera. This was rumored for inclusion on the Xperia Z1, but it never made it through to production. 4K video recording eventually made its debut on the Acer Liquid S2. At its CES 2014 press conference, Sony made a very big deal about 4K content, so it’s no surprise to hear it’s possibly coming to a Sony phone.
The screenshot also shows a Timeshift option, which will record at a high frame rate and then apply a slow motion effect, the option to blur the background of a shot after it has been taken, and various other tweaks.
When is it going on sale?
The Sirius was previously rumored for arrival at CES 2014, but this obviously didn’t happen, so it may end up being one of Sony’s new launches at MWC 2014. The level of detail in the leaks certainly suggests it’s getting close to being made official, but we’re not convinced it’ll be billed as the Xperia Z2. If it does come soon, then the real Z2 could turn up in September, judging by Sony’s current rate of releasing new hardware.
We’ll be updating you with more on the Sirius as it’s revealed, so make sure you check back.