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First look: ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser, ZenFone 3 Max

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While the world awaits the arrival of the ZenFone 3, in Vietnam, two new ASUS budget phones were made official as the company continues its 2016 makeover of popular smartphone spin-offs.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max join the ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Ultra, and ZenFone 3 Deluxe announced in its native Taiwan last May 2016.

And just like their higher-end cousins, the 2016 Laser and Max feature polished metal unibody designs that look identical and feel better in the hand—not to mention they’re thinner and lighter than their predecessors’. It’s obvious they share the same DNA, but there are different selling points for each phone: a more capable camera for the Laser; a long-lasting battery for the Max.

The designs don’t match the premium aesthetic of the other ZenFone 3 models—we’re not entirely convinced the cases are entirely made of metal—but that can be forgiven.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the platform of choice for these latest ZenFones, and this time around, the software nuances that layer the interface are prettier and less intrusive and don’t seem to impact responsiveness too much. Of course, they come with (mostly) upgraded internals as well, which is expected of smartphone successors.

The one thing you won’t find on most budget phones, however, is a fingerprint scanner present on the back of both devices. It’s fast and reliable, though it bears noting the Laser unlocks faster. Neither is as good as the one on the ZenFone 3 or ZenFone 3 Deluxe. For what it’s worth, the scanner on the Laser is oblong in shape; the Max’s has a squarish design with rounded edges.

zenfone-3-laser-camera

Of the two, the ZenFone 3 Laser takes photography more seriously, with a camera bump to show for it. The device sports a 13-megpixel rear camera that takes better photos than the 13-megapixel shooter on the Max, and works well enough to allow for some background blur. There’s also an improved laser autofocus system around the back (which the Max doesn’t have) for quick, crisp shooting.

A 5.5-inch, full-resolution display with curved corners dominates the front of the device, while an octa-core Qualcomm 430 chip backed by 4GB of RAM powers the entire assembly.

The ZenFone 3 Max, meanwhile, is better equipped to handle the rigors of daily use, with its moderately sized 5.2-inch display and 4,100mAh battery and ability to charge other phones or devices.

Zenfones old and new. From left to right Zenfone 3 Max, Zenfone Max, Zenfone 3 Laser, Zenfone 2 Laser

ASUS ZenFones old and new. From left to right: ZenFone 3 Max, ZenFone Max, ZenFone 3 Laser, ZenFone 2 Laser

But although the high-capacity cell is something all road warriors will appreciate, we can’t help but question ASUS’ choice to include a smaller battery than that of the original Max. We suppose a compromise had to be made to come up with a sleeker phone, but time will tell if consumers embrace the decision. Nevertheless, the 3GB of RAM inside the new Max should be plenty for multitasking.

Anyway, you get the idea. Different phones for different types of users—ASUS followed the same formula last year to great success. The company shipped 20.5 million ZenFones in 2015; this year, it has set a grander goal: 25 million units sold globally.

The ZenFone 3 Laser and ZenFone 3 Max are priced at 5,990,000 (around $270) and 4,490,000 ($200) Vietnamese dong, respectively. They’ll soon be available in Vietnam, and a wider rollout is expected in the future. The Philippines might see them hit stores in August at the earliest; India and the rest of the world might have to wait until the third quarter of 2016.

[irp posts=”7939″ name=”ASUS ZenFone 3 Max 5.5-inch review”]

News

The OnePlus 8T is coming on October 14

‘Ultra Stops At Nothing’

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File photo: OnePlus 8 Pro

We knew it was coming and now we know exactly when. OnePlus has announced that the OnePlus 8T will be revealed on October 14.

It comes with the tagline: Ultra Stops At Nothing. We don’t know yet what that exactly means but we’re very much looking forward to finding out.

In the meantime, here’s everything we know so far about the OnePlus 8T based on previous rumors, leaks, and reports:

Android Central reported that the upcoming phone will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+. This chipset brings improvement on the CPU and GPU front compared to the Snapdragon 865, so users can expect better performance on the OnePlus 8T.

Furthermore, the phone will gain a 120Hz panel, which is a huge jump over OnePlus 8’s 90Hz panel. The size of OnePlus 8T’s display is pegged at 6.55-inch.

Android Central also claims that the phone is getting a quad-camera setup in the form of 48MP primary + 16MP wide-angle +5MP macro + 2MP portrait lens setup.  They also claim that the primary camera is getting a better imaging sensor this time around.

Meanwhile, the folks at XDA-Developers found the render hidden in the Settings app. From the looks of it, OnePlus 8T is set to ditch the curved display upfront. However, OnePlus is retaining the display cut-out housing the single selfie camera.  As a matter of fact, not much has changed from the OnePlus 8 itself.

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Gaming

Could we be getting a Sony Xperia Play 2?

Why did they cancel it?

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Xperia Play

Sony never launched a successor to the Xperia Play. However, we’re in for a shot of nostalgia. User JerryYin shared a few pictures of an Xperia Play 2 prototype with the XDA Developers team. According to him, the unit is a prototype and he has put it up for sale on a Chinese marketplace.

The Xperia Play was a gaming phone running Android and was released in 2011. Back then, the company was called Sony Ericcson. Unlike today’s all-touch phones, it featured a D-pad, two touchpads as a joystick, and PlayStation buttons. Today, the design looks relatable to a Nintendo Switch.

Gaming phones have taken over the market and every brand is trying to offer maximum gaming-oriented features. Pretty much all of them have also created dedicated gaming phones to cater to the rapidly growing demand. But, did you know gaming phones aren’t a new concept and have existed for a decade?

It also sports a 3D button that suggests the company considered porting 3D technology. Back then, 3D movies and games were available on the PS3 and the glass-free application has been seen on Nintendo 3DS as well as HTC Evo 3D.

The authenticity of the phone cannot be verified right now, hence these pictures should be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s possible that this may be a fake, but the amount of detail visible helps in building some confidence.

If we consider the Nintendo Switch sales, it can be assumed that this form factor hasn’t gone out of fashion. When the Xperia Play was launched, mobile gaming was in a nascent stage and limited to smaller games like Angry Birds. The development of larger games with new genres like battle royale has widely increased the capability of mobile gaming.

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India

realme launches narzo 20 Pro with Helio G95, 65W fast charging

Xiaomi should be worried

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realme started the narzo series earlier this year and it’s all set to launch a successor. The narzo 20 series consists of the narzo 20A, narzo 20, and narzo 20 Pro. These phones are made for the affordable segment and will be directly competing against the Redmi Note 9 series and POCO X2.

The phone features a reflective design that creates a multi-layer downward arrow pattern. Continuing realme’s design language, it features a vertical quad-camera setup with the narzo branding in focus. The fingerprint scanner is located on the side.

On the front is a 6.5-inch LCD display with Full HD+ resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, Gorilla Glass protection, and a punch-hole cut-out for the front camera.

Powering the phone is an octa-core MediaTek Helio G95 processor with Mali-G76 MC4 GPU. Storage is expandable via a dedicated microSD card slot. It has a new carbon fiber cooling system that ensures consistent performance during extended usage.

The rear features a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. On the front is a 16-megapixel camera for selfies. The software supports night filters, AI enhancement, and improved low-light performance.

Backing these internal is a 4500mAh battery that supports 65W fast charging. realme claims it can fully charge the battery in 38 minutes. Lastly, the phone ships with realme IU out-of-the-box.

The narzo 20 Pro costs INR 14,999 for 6GB+64GB and INR 16,999 for 8GB+128GB. It’ll be available in Black Ninja and White Knight color options and shall go on sale from September 25 via Flipkart, realme.com, and offline stores.

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