Sony smartphones may not dominate the market, and sometimes it’s difficult to say just how enthusiastic the manufacturer is about selling them in the first place, but for users interested in getting access to cutting-edge software, Sony’s emerged as a surprisingly forward-thinking OEM. For the past few years, the company’s not been shy about making available early builds of new Android releases for a select group of handsets, and last summer we even saw that early access extend to the still-in-development Android M preview. This year Google surprised us all by releasing its Android N preview so far ahead of Google I/O, and while that means that the Nexus family (as well as a stray Android One model) got a head start on Android N exposure, we’ve seen signs suggesting that other Android OEMs would be getting involved with the preview effort themselves. Today Sony steps forward as just such a manufacturer, announcing the Android N Developer Preview for the Xperia Z3.
We know: it would be lovely to see Sony’s Android N preview available on even more hardware, and especially some of its more modern devices, but we’ll take what we can get. For the moment, that means that Xperia Z3 owners with either D6603 or D6653 hardware can participate.
Users will install the preview through Sony’s Xperia Companion software, and can similarly use the tool to roll their phones back to commercial builds if they choose to leave the preview. Sony’s committed to keeping its Xperia Z3 Android N preview up to date by releasing the same big updates that Google does (like the one we saw land last week), but for the moment we’re unclear if that’s going to involve more manual flashing, or if Sony might also support OTA preview updates.
If you’ve got a Z3 and feel like trying this out, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.
Update: Google confirms that future updates will come OTA from Sony.