News

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”]

Gaming

Zelda sequel Tears of the Kingdom has a release date

Priced at $70

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Barely more than a month into the new year, 2023 already looks like a phenomenal year for gamers. A lot of upcoming games are looking like exciting additions to everyone’s to-play list. Though we already knew the title is coming this year, Nintendo officially announced the release date of Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

After revealing a flurry of games, Nintendo capped off their recent Direct with the fresh trailer of the upcoming sequel to Breath of the Wild. As was showcased in previous teasers and trailers, Tears of the Kingdom is a much darker vision set in the same world as Breath of the Wild. Ganon (or what looks like a zombified version of the villain) is back to terrorize Hyrule. This time, however, the iconic villain has a voice!

Plus, Tears of the Kingdom adds a lot of verticality by introducing floating terrain and more aerial movement. While the world looks similar to Breath of the Wild, the sequel still has a lot to show players.

Finally, the trailer caps off with the release date. Tears of the Kingdom will launch on May 12. Preorders have already begun for the title. Additionally, dedicated fans can also get a Collector’s Edition which includes a SteelBook, a poster, an art book, and a pin set. The release also coincides with the launch of a new Amiibo to commemorate the launch.

Priced a bit higher, Tears of the Kingdom will sell for US$ 69.99.

SEE ALSO: Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel trailer breakdown

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Gaming

Nintendo adds Game Boy titles to Switch Online

And Game Boy Advance

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Nintendo Switch Online is the gift that keeps on giving. More than giving players the ability to play online, the subscription service also offers subscribers a gallery of classic games from bygone eras. The feature remains one of the most convenient ways to play old titles from the NES and the N64. Now, the service is adding Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles.

Announced during the most recent Direct, Nintendo has announced that several titles from the Game Boy and the Game Boy Advance are now playable through the subscription service. While all subscribers will have access to the Game Boy titles, Game Boy Advance titles will come only with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscriptions.

The starting lineup of Game Boy titles include Tetris, the original Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX and Kirby’s Dream Land. Meanwhile, Game Boy Advance titles will include Super Mario Bros. 3, Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgame$. Games included will come with local and online multiplayer, if applicable.

Nintendo will continue to add more titles to the roster throughout the year. Since the Game Boy generation is one of the company’s biggest, expect a ton of announcements as the roster fills up. (We’re still holding out hope for the classic Pokémon games.)

SEE ALSO: Nintendo Switch is now third-bestselling console in history

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Apps

Twitter expands character limit to 4,000 characters

But not for everyone

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Despite the traditional limitations, the platform’s users have always found a way to express themselves beyond Twitter’s character limits. Whether broken through extensive threads or third-party sites, strict limitations don’t exist anymore. Now, Twitter is essentially getting rid of the character limit by introducing its biggest expansion to date.

Announced today, Twitter will allow users to post tweets with up to 4,000 characters. That’s a gigantic leap from the original 140-character limit and the expanded 280-character limit in 2017. But, of course, some good things come with a price.

Not everyone will have access to the new feature. Currently, only Twitter Blue subscribers in the United States can create tweets of up to 4,000 characters. Besides original tweets, subscribers can also quote tweet with the same expanded limit.

Thankfully, the new feature will not inundate everyone’s feeds with an ocean of text. Any tweets going beyond 280 characters will be cut off with a “show more” prompt.

Through the past few months, the platform has changed a few fundamental elements before Musk took over. Most importantly, Twitter Blue, the platform’s paid subscription service is now much more expansive. Among other things, subscribers now get the coveted blue checkmark attached to their profiles. Now, they also get a massive boost in capabilities when it comes to tweeting.

SEE ALSO: Twitter is teasing an ad-free subscription tier

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