Xperia Z3 Nougat update is off, Sony says

Sony has already announced its upgrade eligibility for Android Nougat, with the two-year-old Xperia Z3 left out of the loop. Since Sony fans are quite devoted and loyal, a number of them have expressed outrage at the idea that the Xperia Z3 Nougat update is nothing but a pipe dream. Sony has finally decided to respond to the disappointment of its Z3 customers with an explanation of why the Xperia Z3 Nougat update turned to a no-go in the final analysis. Sony G+ Moderator Zingo Andersen:

We know that you all hoped for a N release and we really wanted to give you one but instead we have to tell you that we won’t be able to. The reasons are both technical and legal. If you followed the N Developer Preview program you know that we didn’t release the final DP5. That program ran into some unforeseen limitations (1) that could not be resolved. This is the reason that both concept and official won’t be upgraded to Android N (2).

The “unforeseen limitations” that can’t be resolved is the issue. This is a vague statement in and of itself, though Andersen’s G+ post does show that Sony tried to deliver the Xperia Z3 Nougat update.

It is through tech site Xperia Blog that we discover the failure of Sony to deliver the Xperia Z3 Nougat update had nothing to do with Sony and everything to do with Google and Qualcomm:

The absence of the Xperia Z3 on that Nougat list is not Sony’s fault. Devices that get upgraded to new Android versions need to pass Google’s Compatibility Test Suite (CTS). The CTS was updated during the Android N Developer Preview programme which meant that to comply with the certification requirements, Sony never released the final preview (DP5) firmware on the Xperia Z3. The last update was the ‘DP4’ firmware…it seems that Google now requires devices to have graphics that support either Vulkan or OpenGL ES 3.1. This means that any device that is now running Adreno 3XX graphics, such as the Xperia Z3’s Adreno 330 GPU as seen on all Snapdragon 800 and 801 chipsets, cannot be updated to Android 7.0. This is because the Snapdragon 800/801 only supports OpenGL ES 3.0.

Qualcomm’s graphics changed after the 800 and 801 processors were already placed in devices and released, but Google decided that anything running OpenGL ES 3.0 and below didn’t qualify for the Xperia Z3 Nougat update. As can be seen here, Google ultimately makes the call when it comes to Android — and Google decided that devices not supporting the OpenGL ES update would not see Android Nougat. Sadly, that included the Xperia Z3. Google is in charge of calling the shots when it comes to devices that will see NougatĀ and those that won’t, which is why the Xperia Z3 was axed from the list even when Sony had provided something of a Developer Preview for it. Apparently, Sony was just as disappointed to discover that after all its hard work with Android N, the Xperia Z3 would be left out in the cold.

It just goes to show that in situations like this, one can’t just look at the manufacturer of the device and blame them when something goes wrong. Android has many OEMs that make devices for it (Sony is but one example), but Google controls what does or doesn’t happen because Google owns Android. Google does what it wants to do and, though few may like the calls, that’s just the way it goes in Android. In that regard, it’s no different than Apple making calls for its OS and whether or not a given device will be updated in iOS.

Are you disappointed about Google’s OpenGL ES. 3.1 requirement that disqualifies the Xperia Z3 Nougat update from becoming reality? If so, feel free to let us know.

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