A set of impressively clear leaked images has possibly given the world a glimpse of the next Sony Xperia flagship smartphone. The distinctly premium looking device – reportedly carrying the model number "F8331" – confirms several new features for the handset, while also indicating a number of design changes from the usual Xperia line.
Chief among the changes are the fully curved side edges, which resemble the form factor of the Lumia 1020, with the flat top and bottom also reminiscent of Nokia's 2013 phone. This may seem like a minor change on the surface, but would represent a significant shift in the Xperia design language, which has traditionally stuck to sharp and defined edges on all sides.
On the rear – which appears to have a brushed metal finish judging by the sheen – a new camera layout can be spotted including a typical camera module, a dual-LED flash and an extra gap that could leave room for some kind of laser or infrared autofocus feature.
On the front, a set of dual, front-facing speakers can be seen, while the device's home buttons also appear on screen in usual Xperia fashion. According to the source who delivered the images to GSMArena, the screen follows the suit of the Xperia X range, opting for a 1080p display rather than the de facto Quad HD standard adopted by other OEMs such as Samsung, LG and HTC.
A 3.5mm headphone jack and an NFC antenna indicator indicate that certain features are here to stay, although the USB Type-C port on the base would be a first for the Xperia brand. The same power button (including a fingerprint sensor?) and volume rocker layout also appears to be returning from the Xperia X handsets – with a dedicated physical camera button at the bottom right as well.
All in all, the Xperia F8331 is an interesting prospect that provides subtle alterations to the Xperia formula without making wholesale changes. Whether or not it can change Sony's smartphone fortunes is another matter entirely.
Despite retiring the Xperia Z range, the Xperia X was something of a missed opportunity for Sony, especially considering it had the chance to rebrand its ailing smartphone family amid falling sales. While not a terrible smartphone, IBTimes UK gave the Xperia X a two-star rating, citing the mediocre camera, overall lack of processing power and a design that was overly-familiar. At over £400 we expected slightly better.