At least in the US and other major markets, Sony’s Xperia phones have so far failed to secure a foothold. Even after its fairly laudable efforts to reinvent its line with a focus on AI and changing its design language. But for a certain group of Android users, Sony remains the only trustworthy option when it comes to developer-friendly devices. The company has proven that again with the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ3, now open ROM developers and modders alike.
Of all the major OEMs in the market, Sony is the only one with a track record of actually helping developers develop custom ROMs and software for its phones. While there are some OEMs that do offer a smidgen of that, Sony’s Open Devices roster continues to grow even when it faces tough times in the market.
Even better, that membership list isn’t limited to old or deprecated phones. In fact, Sony continually adds its latest flagships to the list year after year after year. Proof of that is the addition of the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ3, premium phones both launched only this year.
With its Open Devices program, Sony provides tools and methods to unlock phones’ bootloaders to get the ball rolling. It also has guides for building the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version that ROM makers use for creating their custom experiences. It is also because of this that Jolla is able to sell a “Sailfish X” ROM that puts its own Linux-based OS on Sony devices.
That said, it’s not always a win. Despite giving users and developers that freedom, Sony is still bound by contracts and laws, specifically over DRM’d software. But for some, having lower quality photos or missing out on some features are acceptable sacrifices in the name of getting more open devices.