Sony is one of these smartphone manufactures which launch public beta programs for new operating systems. This is very good practice which can bring a lot of benefits for the manufacturer. Of course, this practice is applied also by Apple. This is the reason why new iOS is so stable and polished. Every public beta program provides huge (almost free) feedback from the community to developers.
Of course, the company has to process reports from users who are not professional testers, but this is still very cost-effective testing solution. In my opinion, manufacturer is not able to test their product on huge scale without public beta programs. This is the only way to provide high quality software which is expected to work on different configurations.
Sony has just launched new beta program for Xperia X Performance to test upcoming Android 7 Nougat.
They did the same with Android 6 Marshmallow. Of course, users should not expect extreme performance and fancy stable features during the initial phases of the program. Sony claims that their new beta program is not only for test upcoming Android Nougat, but it will also open new channel between users and developers. Therefore, Sony will decide when to rollout Nougat commercially on the basis of reports from beta program users.
Currently, new beta program is available only in some European countries.
Unfortunately, you can not try Android 7 Nougat on your Sony smartphone, even if you have the best-specced mobile, i.e. Xperia X Performance. The program is available for users from Finland, Danemark, Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Netherland. I hope that Sony will allow users from the whole world to join their new beta program. However, it is hard to predict if Android Nougat beta version will be released also for other Sony smartphones. The previous Android 6 Marshmallow beta program was available only for Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact smartphones owners.