Sony Mobile announced the “Xperia Beta” a month back, which was a chance for a selected number of users to test a pre-release version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. At the time, Sony was taking registrations for the programme, which was restricted to Xperia Z3, Z2 and Z3 Compact owners in Italy, Spain and Netherlands.
Well the first firmware release started to roll for those in the Xperia Beta programme over the last few days, updating handsets to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow via build number 23.5.A.0.486. Just to avoid confusion, this Marshmallow Beta is a different strand of software to the Marshmallow Concept. The former is pre-release software that will eventually hit all handsets, whilst the latter is a form of experimental software to test out new ideas.
The beta updates handsets to Android 6.0.1, a slightly higher version than that seen in the Xperia Z3+/Z5 series (Android 6.0). However, the security patches in the beta are from December 2015, rather than the latest February 2016 patch as seen in the Z3+/Z5 update.
It is great to see that Xperia Z2/Z3 owners will get the new Camera 2.0.0 user interface, as initially seen in the Xperia Z5 models. This means you can now swipe between different camera modes such as video or manual. There are also sliders, allowing you to adjust factors such as brightness in real time.
The beta also includes the latest home launcher (version 10.0.A.0.10), which brings a search option into the app tray. The main feature removed, as compared to the Concept home launcher (10.0.A.0.5), are the home screen layout options i.e. there is no option to choose between ‘Classic’ and ‘Modern’, the latter of which places all installed apps onto the home screen.
As with the Xperia Z3+/Z5 Marshmallow update, STAMINA mode has been removed and there is no option for adoptable storage.
We have only had very limited time with the beta , but already we have noticed the software is very responsive and smooth. We can’t comment on battery life right now, given our limited testing, but given our experiences on the Concept Marshmallow software we have high hopes. Overall, it looks like Xperia Z2/Z3 owners have a worthwhile update to look forward to.