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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

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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.

Accessories

Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling king now official

‘The best just got better’

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The Sony WH-1000XM4 is now official. Sony’s best-in-class noise-cancelling over-ear headphones just got a refresh and the improvements further make shine an already polished device.

What’s new?

Multiple device pairing

This has been one of this headphones’ weaknesses and it has finally been addressed. You can now connect the Sony WH-1000XM4 to two devices simultaneously.

When a call comes in, your headphones will know which device is ringing and connect to it automatically. You’ll also be able to quickly switch your headphones to either of the two devices in a single tap.

Superior sound

Every iteration of these headphones already sound amazing. But that didn’t stop Sony from elevating the listening experience even further.

The ever-reliable QN1 is still here for noise-cancellation but it’s now paired with a new Bluetooth Audio SoC. It can sense and adjust to music and noise at over 700 times per second.

It now also has Edge-AI, DSEE Extreme which more accurately rebuilds audio lost during digital compression for a full fidelity experience. The 360 Reality Audio feature is now also making its way to these headphones. It lets listeners enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimized for each individual user.

The WH-1000XM4 also supports Google’s helpful new Fast Pair feature that lets you easily locate where you left your WH-1000XM4 by ringing them.

Speak-to-chat

Previously, you had to cover one of the ear cups to disable the noise-cancelling for a short period. Now, you only have to speak and the headphones will recognize your voice,

automatically stop your music and let in ambient sound so you can conduct a conversation without removing your headphones.

What’s been carried over?

As mentioned, the superior sound and noise-cancelling are still here but enhanced. The simple and sleek look has also been retained. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

The battery life also remains the same which is a good thing. You get up to 30 hours overall and the quick charging function gives you up to 5 hours of wireless playback from 10 minutes of charging.

The headphones also still know if you’re wearing them or not. It stops the music when you have it off and resumes playback when you put them on.

Lastly, it still has support for Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for your personal voice assistant.

Pricing and availability 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 will come in Black and Platinum Silver.

In Singapore, it will be available at selected retail shops and online stores starting August 7,2020 at a retail price of SG$ 549.

SEE ALSO: Sony WH-1000XM3 Hands-on: As good as advertised

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News

The US is offering a $10 million reward to prevent election hacking

Better be safe than sorry

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For ages, civilization has announced a bounty to get a hold of criminals. The tactic usually works because money acts as a motivating factor, prompting everyone to be on a lookout. The US is using the tried and tested method to ensure its 2020 Presidential election aren’t meddled with.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would offer a US$ 10 million reward to arrest anyone who interferes in the November elections. It includes attacks against US officials, US election infrastructure, voting machines, and also candidates and their staff.

Pompeo did not specify Russia but the US intelligence community has previously confirmed it expects another effort by Moscow as well as other US adversaries in the 2020 election.

The country is taking immense caution amid the Coronavirus pandemic to ensure fair elections. In 2016, many alleged that the elections weren’t fair since foreign entities had interfered. No substantial proof has been found yet, but it’s a widely known fact that hackers leveraged Facebook’s vulnerability to attack users psychologically.

“Such adversaries could also conduct malicious cyber operations against US political organizations or campaigns to steal confidential information and then leak that information as part of influence operations to undermine political organizations or candidates,” the State Department said.

Russian involvement has long been suspected and the US is already busy fighting a trade war with China. The hostile geopolitical scenario could be a perfect recipe for disaster if sharp vigilance isn’t maintained.

Modern warfare is pivoting towards digital offensives and the US has experience from both sides of the coin — a perpetrator as well as a victim. The US used cyberwarfare to derail Iran’s nuclear program. In retaliation, American companies are always a target, as proved by North Korea’s infiltration of Sony Pictures in 2014.

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Computers

Microsoft’s Your Phone app brings Android apps to Windows 10

This is what the future looks like

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Your Phone app will be able to run Android apps on your laptop or computer by streaming your phone’s screen. You can open an app, pin it to the taskbar, or quite literally do anything you want to. The feature will be extremely handy since it actually ports two completely different ecosystems into one.

Samsung just announced its top-tier offerings, including the Galaxy Note 20 series, Galaxy Tab 7, and the Galaxy Fold2 5G. They also announced further partnerships with Microsoft that’ll not only bundle Office apps on Samsung phones but also bring Android apps to a Windows computer.

Samsung has always marketed the Note-lineup as productivity-focused. With the Windows integration, you can complete work on-the-go with a Note 20 and quickly sync data with your primary machine.

This kind of looks like how Huawei Share works between a Huawei phone and laptop.

The more exciting part is the feature won’t be limited to the flagships. The list of compatible phones include but are not limited to the following:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
  • Samsung Galaxy A50s

The total number of supported devices stands at 33 at the moment.

There will also be new notification badges for your Android phone apps that you have kept open on the Windows machine. However, Microsoft does warn that certain apps may block this functionality considering they do limit the ability to cast screens to other devices.

This will also help you reduce app duplications. Simple apps like Spotify, WhatsApp, and Slack can be installed on one device and used seamlessly, without reaching out to another device.

The app is shipping to testers as part of the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20185 and is rolling out to Windows Insider testers at this time. With this app, Microsoft is not only advancing the experience of its own operating system but also ensuring its core products like Office are used the most on rival platforms like Android. To do so, it’s tapping Samsung’s potential as a phone maker.

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