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Sony's next Xperia smartphone set for Sprint, SoftBank -- report

Japanese telecom giant SoftBank has never sold a product from Sony's Xperia line of smartphones and tablets, so this would be a first.

These shadowy figures could foretell what Sony has in store for IFA 2014. Sony/Screenshot by CNET

Japanese telecom giant SoftBank, which owns a majority stake in US carrier Sprint, will sell Sony's next Xperia smartphone, according to a report.

Sony is hosting a press event at the IFA tech trade show in Berlin next week. The company is expected to show off a new flagship smartphone known as the Xperia Z3. According to Reuters, which cited people with knowledge of the situation, an Xperia device is definitely coming to SoftBank's service in Japan later this year.

SoftBank is one of the most prominent carriers in the world but has yet to offer any product from Sony's Xperia line of smartphones and tablets. It's not clear why, and neither company has commented on the relationship -- or lack thereof. According to Reuters' sources, Sprint will also carry the new Xperia handset. Sony has previously only attracted T-Mobile to its product line in the US.

Several questions remain about Sony's plans for the IFA event. The company posted a teaser video earlier this week that showed three device silhouettes, causing many to predict that Sony will unveil multiple products in order to appeal to more consumers. Sony has so far remained quiet, choosing to wait until its September 3 event to show off its wares.

Sony's smartphone and tablet efforts are part of the company's three-pronged approach to rebuilding its operations. The other two key elements are gaming and imaging. While those two businesses are performing somewhat well, Sony has faced trouble attracting customers to its mobile products. The company has already lowered mobile device sales forecast by 14 percent for this fiscal year and warned that it could post a fiscal-year loss.

CNET has contacted Sony for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.