News

Sony announces the Xperia 1 II, their newest flagship smartphone

A major improvement over the Xperia 1

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Image by GadgetMatch

It’s been a year since the announcement of Xperia 1 during MWC 2019. Although GSMA surprised everyone in the tech world with the cancellation of MWC 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, it hasn’t stopped Sony from announcing their latest devices.

Even if there are a lot of smartphones coming, the Japan-based company is ahead of the game by announcing three new smartphones: the flagship-grade Xperia 1 II, the midrange Xperia 10 II, and a professionally-targeted Xperia Pro that’s currently in development. The new “Mark II” naming scheme even reminds us of Sony’s Alpha mirrorless cameras.

What’s changed

With the debut of Snapdragon 865 chipset last December, Sony decided to equip their newest flagship with the latest chipset. This means there are improvements in performance over last year’s Snapdragon 855.

What’s groundbreaking is the support for 5G, something the Xperia 1 doesn’t have. To be specific, it uses the sub-6GHz spectrum instead of the mmWave. You can read this article to know all the hullabaloos of 5G connectivity.

Image by GadgetMatch

Sony is generous by giving more memory, bumping up from 6GB to 8GB. Instead of offering 64 and 128GB options, internal storage is only 256GB. Don’t worry, storage expandability isn’t limited to dual-SIM models anymore. Expect more battery life with its 4000mAh battery (which is a step up over last year’s 3330mAh).

There’s also a minor cosmetic change on the Xperia 1 II. The camera bump can now be found at the upper left portion instead of the center, making the design language similar to the Xperia 5.

As expected, it will run on the latest Android 10 out of the box.

What remains

Image by GadgetMatch

Just like the Xperia 1, it’s the same type of monolithic slab that’s sandwiched by two Gorilla Glass 6. Although it has a faster 90Hz refresh rate, it’s still the similar 6.5-inch 4K OLED Display with a cinematic 21:9 Aspect Ratio.

The camera system is still a triple 12-megapixel setup but it now has larger sensors and ZEISS optics. The cameras are also calibrated by ZEISS and the lens have a special ZEISS T* anti-reflective coating on them (something you can only find on professional lenses before). Optical zoom is one-step further with three times magnification instead of two.

Although 8K video recording isn’t there, 4K recording now has a 60p option. There’s even an additional 3D ToF sensor for sensing objects and faster focusing. The Eye AF tracking now works in animals too. It can even do 20fps burst shots with AF tracking. Selfie camera is still rated at 8 megapixels though.

Image by GadgetMatch

The Cinema Pro app still exists for professionally-inclined smartphone videography. An added bonus is the touch focus instead of the fixed focus found on previous versions. In addition to that is the new Camera Pro app which does the same job for photographs taken with the Xperia 1 II.

Front-facing stereo speakers also remain. The IP65/68 rating is still present which helps in keeping the device functioning even in harsher environments. Fingerprint reader is still side-mounted instead of an under-display scanner.

Audio jack resurrected

Image by GadgetMatch

Not totally a headlining feature, but for audiophiles, they know that the 3.5mm audio jack was missing last year. Sony has decided to bring it back with the Xperia 1 II. It’s a clever move considering this smartphone is a multimedia powerhouse. This also indicates that Sony still listens to its loyal fanbase.

Pricing and availability

Image by GadgetMatch

As stated earlier, the Xperia 1 II only comes in one configuration: 8GB RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. It will be available in Europe with a retail price of EUR 1199 (approximately US$ 1299). The Xperia 1 II only has two color options: black and purple.

Availability is uncertain. A French press release stated it will be available by “spring” or around March. Meanwhile, Dutch and Bulgarian press releases suggest “end of spring”, which is around May.

Pricing and availability in other regions have yet to be announced.

News

PLDT Home extends Speedboost and Double Data offers

Until June 30

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When people were forced to stay at and work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PLDT stepped in to make sure Internet access was sufficient (debatable, we know). The speedboost they promised for the duration of the lockdown has now been extended.

The nationwide speedboost supposedly gave everyone a minimum of 25 Mbps. If you felt this boost, congratulations! You get to experience it for a little while longer.

If you’d rather go prepaid that options is on offer as well. You can get the PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid at just PhP 995 which comes with free 10GB worth of data valid for seven days and enjoy twice more data for all sites and apps.

If that doesn’t quite cut it for you there are other PLDT Home Wifi Prepaid options:

  • FamLoad package: FamLoad 199 now has 24GB of data for seven days
  • FamLoad 599 comes with 80GB of data for 15 days
  • FamLoad 999 has 130GB of data for 30 days
  • FamLoad 1499 gives you a whopping 200GB of data for 30 days.

To find out more, you can always visit the PLDT Website. Just cross your fingers that it never gets hacked like their Twitter account.

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Apps

Nickelodeon Pixel Town: Another game to play while on lockdown

They’ve got adorable pixel art!

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Nickelodeon is serving up a new mobile game for us: Nickelodeon Pixel Town. A mobile game we can all sink our teeth into as we try to cope with everything that 2020 has been throwing at us so far.
So, what is it exactly? Nickelodeon Pixel Town is a city building game. The name of the game is building your own Nickelodeon city where you can collect characters, costumes, iconic buildings, and items from different Nickelodeon series. The most charming bit? It’s all drawn in highly stylistic retro pixel art.

For your city inhabitants, you get to collect characters from SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Invader Zim, CatDog, The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, Rugrats, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Rocko’s Modern Life, Hey Arnold! and The Wild Thornberrys.

Honestly, if you don’t have a Switch and have been gritting your teeth through the lockdown while people have been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this is a decent mobile game to bring back some nostalgia. Because with all the hellish news lately, don’t we all just want to curl up into a ball and go back to a time when times seemed so much simpler? Not any better of a place and time perse, sure. But, just a time when we were too young to know any better.

Want to give this game a go?

Nickelodeon has an official launch celebration for the Pixel Town.  You can use the code PIXELTOWNHL to redeem 500 Gems for free! To redeem it, you can go to their website, click redemption, and fill up the necessary info.

If you want to build up a reason to disconnect and play like me, you can. The freebies are valid until 30 June 2020, 11:59PM (GMT+8). That’s a pretty good amount of time to be rally up enough pent up emotions to need some time away to hop back fiercer. Nickelodeon Pixel Town is available in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia on Google Play and Apple App Store.

SEE ALSO: 10 offline free-to-play mobile games

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Apps

GrabPay Card launches for hassle-free online payments

In partnership with MasterCard

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The ongoing health crisis has made cashless payments a necessity. After expanding their payment portfolio, Grab is now launching GrabPay Card to offer even more ways to handle cashless transactions.

Grab partnered with MasterCard to make this happen. MasterCard’s research showed that in April 2020, 40% of Filipinos resorted to contactless payments. Hardly surprising given the health crisis, but important information to act on nevertheless.

Which brings us now to the GrabPay Card. So what exactly does it do? Its aim is simple: to bring financial inclusion to the millions of underbanked and unbanked in Southeast Asia.

What does it do?

  • Pay for everything online. The GrabPay digital card vastly expands Grab’s online merchant ecosystem, allowing users, regardless of whether they have a bank account, to transact securely and easily online at nearly 53 million merchants worldwide that accept Mastercard cards.
  • Safe and secure cashless payments. As a digital-first card, its details are stored securely within the Grab app. It has an in-app card lock function enabled by Face ID and fingerprint biometric security, and PIN-protection that allow users to instantly suspend payments in case of lost cards or suspicious transactions.
  • More ways to earn GrabRewards. Whether you are using it to purchase an item online, pay for digital subscriptions, or transact locally and globally, users can earn GrabRewards points for transactions made in millions of merchant-partners that accept Mastercard.
  • Unique benefits for users. GrabPay Card users get Mobile protection insurance allowing them to pay for mobile postpaid phone bills using the GrabPay Card and receive protection against accidental damage or theft. The card is also equipped with E-commerce protection that allows users to receive coverage for online transactions in the event that a wrong and/or defective item is delivered, and incomplete or non-delivery of the item.

Worried about security? GrabPay Card is regulated by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or BSP. It comes with a 24/7 fraud detection engine so you can sleep soundly knowing your transactions are encrypted and protected.

How to get the Card

To use the GrabPay Card, you first need to upgrade the GrabPay wallet by following the in-app verification process. After verification, follow these steps:

    1. Tap ‘Payment’ icon at the bottom of your Grab homescreen
    2. Ensure you have activated and upgraded your GrabPay Wallet
    3. Tap ‘Get your GrabPay Card now’ to access your card details
    4. Enter your PIN to secure your card
    5. Start using your digital card details for your online transactions

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