Update: Sony didn't launch a new flagship tablet in 2016, but with MWC 2017 on the way we could soon see one.
Sony released the Xperia Z5 at the tail end of 2015, but its last slate was the Xperia Z4 Tablet a whole generation earlier, and more recently Sony has shown little interest in either tablets or the Xperia Z range, with new Xperia X and Xperia XZ handsets launching instead.
So we've been due a new slate for quite some time.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet was a great attempt, topping our list of the best Android slates, at least until the Google Pixel C and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 arrived. But there's plenty that Sony can do better, especially with so much time having passed, so we've made a check list of what we'd like to see to help them out.
But first we've collected what few rumors there are about the release date, specs and features of the Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet.
- Everything you need to know about the Sony Xperia Z6
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Sony's next flagship tablet
- When is it out? Maybe a September announcement, possibly IFA 2017
- What will it cost? Likely around $700/£600/AU$1000
Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet release date
We thought that Sony would be revealing a new tablet at MWC 2016, but instead we saw the Xperia X range as well as a few concept devices.
The Z6 Tablet was also a no-show at IFA 2016, and with no release date rumors in sight our best guess is one of the 2017 trade shows. That means we may see it at MWC 2017 in late February, though if it is arriving that soon Sony has done a good job of keeping it quiet.
Perhaps more likely is a launch at IFA 2017 in September. Though if and when it does arrive don't count on it being called the Xperia Z6 Tablet. With Sony moving on to X and XZ handsets it could be called the Xperia X Tablet, Xperia XZ Tablet or something else altogether.
Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet specs and rumors
Not much is known about the Xperia Z6 Tablet. The Xperia Z4 Tablet was packed full of high-end specs for the time but the rumors have been few and far between here.
If it launches soon it may borrow some specs from the Xperia XZ, which has a quad-core Snapdragon 820 chipset and 3GB of RAM. Then again, it's entirely possible that the Z6 Tablet will use something even newer, such as the Snapdragon 835 chip.
It's likely to have a 10.1-inch screen though, as previous tablets in the range were that size. The resolution may not change either, as at 2560 x 1600 the Xperia Z4 Tablet is already higher resolution than most slates.
There's also a fair chance that it will feature a design inspired by Sony's latest flagship phones, including a metal back, water resistance and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Sony is likely to make a keyboard for its next slate as well, since not only does the Xperia Z4 Tablet have one, but Apple's also offering them with its latest slates like the iPad Pro.
Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet price
Android tablets aren't always expensive, but when Sony makes one it usually comes in at the higher end of the market.
We'd expect a high-end product from Sony for the Xperia Z6 Tablet, so it's likely to have an expensive price tag attached, possibly coming in at around $700/£600/AU$1000.
Now here’s what we want to see from the Sony Xperia Z6 Tablet.
1. A premium design
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is thin, light and water resistant, but it just doesn't have the same premium appeal as the likes of the iPad Pro 9.7 or the Google Pixel C.
Hopefully for the Xperia Z6 Tablet Sony will replace the polycarbonate back with a metal or glass finish, so the Z6 Tablet looks and feels as high-end as it is.
Of course materials are only half the battle. Ideally we'd like a well thought-out, stylish design too, that has more to shout about than just its premium construction.
2. More storage
Tablets live or die on their media capabilities and a big part of that is actually being able to store a large number of films, apps and songs.
Yet the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet has just 32GB of storage, which, while not a tiny amount, is definitely on the limiting side.
Sure, there's a microSD card slot too, but getting a card adds an extra expense into the mix and built in storage is typically faster and more reliable. So we want at least a 64GB option on the Xperia Z6 Tablet and ideally even more.
3. An improved UI
Sony’s UI was one of our biggest complaints about the Xperia Z4 Tablet. It’s functional but bland and worst of all it’s full of bloat, like Sony’s Lifelog and Xperia Lounge apps, which will go unused by many and can’t be deleted.
What we’d really love is just to get a pure, unadulterated version of Android on the Xperia Z6 Tablet, but that’s not likely to happen, so hopefully Sony will at least cut down on the clutter.
4. A more competitive price
Sony's latest flagship tablet launched for £499.99 (about $785, AUS$980) and that's without 4G, making it pricier at the time than even the iPad Air 2 (which was Apple's flagship slate back then).
It's somewhat understandable that it would command a premium price. It is, after all, a high-end, feature-packed tablet, but if Sony's next slate is going to reach the top of the tablet table it could do with being a little more affordable.
5. A brighter screen
The Z4 Tablet has a gloriously sharp 2K screen, which is both bigger and crisper than the iPad Pro 9.7's display, but what it lacks is brightness.
Indoors this isn't such an issue, but take it outside, especially on a sunny day, and it can be very hard to see much of anything. Hopefully Sony will sort that for the Xperia Z6 Tablet, giving us a screen that's as bright as it is sharp.
6. Smaller bezels
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is slim and light but it’s got some mammoth bezels. A certain amount of bezel is handy, as it means you can hold the tablet without obscuring the screen, but the Z4 Tablet takes it too far.
Hopefully Sony will slim them down for the Xperia Z6 Tablet, giving us the same size screen with a smaller footprint.
7. A more robust build
A big selling point of the Xperia Z4 Tablet is its dust and water resistance, but that conjures an image of a durable slate and in reality the Z4 Tablet looks anything but.
If Sony can make the Xperia Z6 Tablet more rugged without compromising the design too much that would be a big win. Perhaps it can take a leaf out of the Moto Z Force's book?
8. A more versatile keyboard
Sony upped the productivity potential of the Xperia Z4 Tablet by shipping it with a detachable keyboard. It’s a great addition, with well-spaced keys. But the keyboard dock only goes into one position, so you can’t prop the slate up at loads of weird and wonderful angles.
It’s also not waterproof, which seems like a bit of an oversight when the Z4 Tablet itself is, so hopefully the Z6 Tablet will have a more refined keyboard.
9. Fast charging
The Z4 Tablet has a long-lasting battery and it's a good thing too, because it takes an age to charge.
There's no excuse for that any more, not when many devices support fast charging, so we want to see the Xperia Z6 Tablet support that too. Adding wireless charging into the mix would be a nice bonus as well.
10. A fingerprint scanner
Sony finally got into the fingerprint scanning game with the Xperia Z5 and beyond, so we're hopeful that the Xperia Z6 Tablet will have one too.
If it does it should be good, as Sony's scanners are fast and accurate, giving you a convenient way to secure your device.