Not even Christmas and the imminent New Year’s Eve can contain the rumor bonanza surrounding possibly the most highly anticipated Sony smartphone ever, whose international launch may well happen by the end of the week.

Sony Xperia Z1 mini International Sony Xperia Z1s/Z1 mini gets new legit looking photo and January 3 ETA

You’ve probably heard that a couple of times before, as deadlines and ETAs have been moved back and forth for the past few months, however the evidence seems to be overwhelming this time around. Besides, the “international” version of the so far Japan-exclusive Sony Xperia Z1 f, aka the diminutive Z1, can’t be kept under wraps much longer.

But why this week? Maybe it has something to do with CES looming large on the horizon. In any case, Sony’s official Chinese branch is brewing some sort of glitzy press event, which will go down on January 3, i.e. this Friday.

There’s no direct indication the Z1s/Z1 mini is to be the star of the happening, though no other suspect/unannounced high-profile Sony-made gadget comes to mind.

Adding fuel to the fire, an unusually clear photo of a top-shelf Sony handheld has surfaced, showing off just the sexy back of an apparent Xperia Z1 doppelganger. Any chance this is in fact the 5-inch Z1? Not really, since it fits very nicely in the hand of the lucky guy holding it, so it’s probably a 4.3 or 4.5-incher.

Sony January 3 International Sony Xperia Z1s/Z1 mini gets new legit looking photo and January 3 ETA

It’s not the NTT DoCoMo Z1 f either, as the SO-02F model number is nowhere in sight, so that leaves but one possibility. Let’s just hope a Las Vegas unveiling on or around January 7 is to follow the probable Chinese launch.

Remember, the “mini me” Z1 variant will take things down a notch in the screen real estate and resolution departments while keeping the bar sky high in raw performance with a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2 GB RAM and 20.7 MP rear-facing camera.

Pricing should also remain rather prohibitive, but hey, cutting-edge technology comes at a cost. Now if only we’d get that naming debate settled once and for all.

Sources: Phone Arena, Digi-Wo, G for Games