After launching a trio of flagship Xperia Z5 phones, Sony is due to update its Android tablet range. Here we'll discuss what the firm's next iPad rival might offer.
Sony Xperia Z5 Tablet UK release date rumours
As you can see below, there's something of a pattern when it comes to Sony launching a new 10in Xperia Z tablet with a new model arriving at MWC every year since 2013. The odd one out is the smaller Z3 Compact which was announced at IFA in Berlin.
• Xperia Tablet Z – MWC 2013 February
• Xperia Tablet Z2 – MWC 2014 February
• Xperia Tablet Z3 Compact – IFA 2014 September
• Xperia Tablet Z4 – MWC 2015 March
Based on this, we thought there would be a good chance we'd see a new tablet at MWC 2016. Sadly, we did not.
Sony hasn't skipped a generation number yet so there's a good chance the next Sony tablet will be the Xperia Z5 Tablet. However, having not made an appearance at MWC 2016, a new Sony tablet is more likely to arrive at IFA 2016 with the Sony Xperia Z6 line-up, and will therefore more likely be called the Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet.
The first bit of information we have from an outside source comes from a Japanese Sony store manager who suggests in a blog post that current Wi-Fi only models of the Xperia Z2, Z3 Compact and Z4 will be effectively discontinued in March. He also states a new model is 'pending' via a message received from Sony marketing.
"Three models for sale is completed in March 2016, with respect to the new product, currently pending," it says directly translated.
We'll discuss what kind of tablet the Z5 Tablet will be later in the specs section.
Sony Xperia Z5 Tablet UK price rumours
Products by Sony have historically been pretty pricey but we're hoping for a more competitive strategy from the firm this time around. The price tag for the Xperia Z4 Tablet (RRP) is a whopping £499 making it more than an iPad Air 2 which is never a good comparison.
Granted, that price includes the Bluetooth keyboard dock but not 4G. That model costs a portly £579.
Whether the Z5 Tablet is a full-size 10in tablet or a smaller Compact version (see below), will have a large impact on the price. Either way we hope that Sony can make it more affordable and at least match the equivalent iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Sony Xperia Z5 Tablet specification rumours and what we want to see
We hope that Sony will choose to launch both a 10in Xperia Z5 Tablet and a smaller 8in Xperia Z5 Tablet Compact giving consumers a better choice. However, the firm hasn't launched two Xperia Z Tablets together before so we may well be looking at just the one which would be a shame.
With no leaked information on a possible Xperia Z5 Tablet we're speculating based on our knowledge of Sony's launches over the years.
The Xperia Z5 Tablet in its theoretical 10.in form which we expect would use the same 2K (2560x1600) resolution as the current generation but there's a chance that Sony might bump it to 4K following on from the Xperia Z5 Premium. That resolution would certainly make more sense on a larger screen but we don't think it needs to go any higher than it already is.
A Xperia Z5 Tablet Compact would likely use the same 8in (1200x1920) screen from the Z3 Tablet Compact designed to be used in portrait instead of landscape. The 7in size for smaller tablets seems to be pretty much extinct with around 8in being the size of choice nowadays.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 in the Z4 Tablet, it would make sense for Sony to jump to the new Snapdragon 820 in the 2560x1600 Xperia Z5 Tablet, no matter what the screen size. The chip is set to be in a large amount of phones and tablets this year.
A Micro-SD card is pretty much a given but we hope that Sony offers more internal storage with the current model offering only 32GB. We wouldn't be surprised if the Xperia Z5 Tablet started at 32GB also but higher capacities wouldn't go amiss. Many devices are thought to come with 4GB of RAM this year and it wouldn't surprise us if this is true of the Xperia Z5 Tablet.
Design is always a big factor when it comes to Sony products and you can bet that the Xperia Z5 Tablet, whether 10- or 8in, will be nicely thin and light. The firm likes grabbing headlines for 'world's XXX tablet' (fill in the blank). Can Sony make the device much thinner with the Z4 Tablet (above) at 6.1mm? Probably not.
Waterproofing is pretty much a guarantee since it's been a feature of every Xperia Z device (phone or tablet) since the original smartphone. It's a big selling point for the range and won't be going away any time soon if you ask us.
We also don't expect the design to change too much. Looking back at the Xperia Z range over the years indicates that only small tweaks will be made. We could be wrong but that's how it looks and if we're right then those chunky bezels won't be going anywhere either. Although they don't look particularly stylish they do mean you can hold the tablet comfortably without getting in the way of the screen; plus for the 10in model smaller bezels would mean a smaller keyboard to match the size which wouldn't be ideal.
One of the key new features of the Xperia Z5 phones is the fingerprint scanner which is cleverly integrated into the flat power button on the side. It would make sense for Sony to bring this over to the tablet side but where it would be placed it tricky to guess.
It's pretty easy to predict that the Xperia Z5 Tablet will come pre-loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version. What we'd like to see is some better customisation from Sony for productivity, especially if the new model is a 10in device with a keyboard dock. Users, quite rightly, are calling out for better multi-tasking and it's something we totally agree on.
Although we're putting out money on Android, there's a small chance that Sony could make a Windows 10 tablet. We say this because of the large amounts of tablet arriving which are taking on Microsoft's Surface Pro 4. It might not be a copy with a kickstand and such like but may simply be the same as the Android version but with Windows 10 installed, again giving consumers the option. After all, Samsung recently announced the Galaxy TabPro S so Sony could respond with something similar.