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Sony Xperia’s Reality

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It’s been a full month since the biggest tech coverage of my life to date. Having finished Legal Management in college, and then eventually making a career in Creatives, never did I think I’d be in Spain, as a journalist, covering one of the world’s biggest tech events.

But last month I made it, as part of GadgetMatch’s two-man team covering Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

There was a lot to see at MWC, where almost all the biggest names in smartphones and mobile communications came out to play. Our small team didn’t have time to be at every launch event, so we instead visited as many booths as humanly possible, spending more time at those that offered more stories worth telling. Four days was not enough.

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Low-light selfie taken with the new Sony Xperia X, printed on Instax

One of the events we completely missed while in Barcelona was the launch of Sony’s Xperia X. We spent a significant amount of time at Sony’s booth checking out their new devices, so upon returning to Manila I knew it was one that I had to watch back online.

Sony’s keynote lacked the flashy things most brands would have to make their announcements an experience on its own and highlights that would leave a lasting impression. There were no grand stages. No dramatic lighting. No mind-blowing products or moments. No surprise appearances by tech celebrities. There weren’t even any leaks or teasers to hype it up prior to the event itself.

I don’t know how I would have felt had I been there in person – underwhelmed maybe – considering that the night before I came face to face with Mark Zuckerberg and my personal hero, Pranav Mistry, at Samsung Unpacked. (Still not over it, tbh.)

But while the likes of Samsung and LG battled it out in on stage, Sony’s no non-sense, no-frills event took a step back and reminded us of what makes smartphones and technology so great.

Sans any gaudiness, Sony’s keynote was just as insightful, its simplicity allowing me to appreciate and digest its vision more.

Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai was first to take the stage. Recognizing that Barcelona was home to one of the world’s best football teams, he likened Sony to football – it is all about excitement, the joy, the wonder, about providing that feeling of wow.

He then asked, “how often do you check your smartphone during the day?”

Apparently, in the United States alone, smartphones are checked 8 billion times a day. “That’s an awful lot of checking smartphones,” he remarked.

This, he says, is why smartphones and other communication devices are so important to Sony. Also maybe part of the reason the Japanese brand hasn’t stopped making smartphones despite losses year after year.

Sony’s Dream Destination

Next on stage was Sony Mobile Communications President & CEO Hiroki Totoki.

“To bring ideas to life, we’ve been continuing our journey. A journey has a destination, which is defined in our vision” Totoki said.

Sony’s destination? A world where people are looking up at the sky, not down on screens. A world where devices don’t just provide ease and convenience, but wonder and joy. A world where people and devices interact in a more meaningful way so that we can spend more time experiencing the world around us.

With the new Xperia X lineup, Sony hopes to achieve that world, but not without a bit of confusion first.

Sony’s new Xperia X line doesn’t aim for the top, but are interesting nonetheless

For years Sony’s top of the line smartphone has been the Xperia Z – a gold standard in premium design, top of the line smartphone cameras, and the industry leader in water resistant smartphones. At MWC, Sony was abandoning Z for X, introducing a new line of smartphones, that like their launch event, wasn’t as flashy.

The decision is one that Sony can justify, “Wouldn’t you rather be a part of the things happening around you and leave the worries and tasks to your Xperia?” challenged Totoki to an unresponsive crowd.

No one really expects a brand like Sony to come out with a smartphone that’s not better than its previous flagship, unless it’s a midrange phone. Sure on paper the X Performance actually bests the Z5 Premium, but there’s something about this release that feels like concessions have been made, and while bigger and better is a mantra of this tech industry, that may not be a bad thing.

Instead of adding new features to smartphones people don’t really use, Sony’s strategy was to improve things that matter most to us ordinary folk: battery life and camera. We have yet to find out how true the promises are as the phones will not be officially released until summer. But the promise of a not so high-end, top of the line smartphone appeals to me, and should to most users.

I don’t necessarily need a processor with screaming speeds, or an ultra high definition display with more pixels than my eyes can see. But I’d love a well-balanced, reasonably-priced smartphone, with a great camera and solid battery life.

I haven’t been around this industry long enough to say whether Sony’s decision to regroup, drop the Z, and launch an all-new Xperia X lineup, is a step in the right direction. Sony also has yet to make an official statement about the big change, but after time with the phones in Barcelona, I am more than hopeful.

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The Xperia Eye

At MWC, Sony also announced a bunch of concept devices, like the Xperia Eye, a life-blogging camera that has sensors smart enough to detect faces and moments so that it captures only those that truly matter. Sure you’re still capturing the moment, which we millennials have a predisposition for, but the technology is designed to take a step back so you can enjoy and experience moments instead of trying to capture them.

It’s unsure at this point whether this camera will actually hit the shelves or just remain a concept but it reiterates Sony’s destination, where technology doesn’t distract us from the world we live in.

Reality vs Virtual Reality

While companies like Samsung try to make virtual reality more attainable to the masses, Sony chose to get in touch with a different reality – the one we live and breathe.

“We want our Xperias to help you interact and connect in a closer, more natural, more meaningful way – to understand your preferences, activities, and behaviour, and to recognize the environment around you. To predict and understand what you want to do making it hassle-free so you can enjoy and experience more of the good things in life,” said Totoki.

There’s a little bit from my humanities-heavy education that helps me appreciate where Sony is going. Earlier I talked about Pranav Mistry, whose TED Talk was a requirement in my Philosophy of the Human Person class. It’s a video that stuck with me all these years, and the technology he demonstrated then continues to amaze me to this day, despite everything I’ve seen so far.

Like Sony, I dream of a world where technology allows us to do two things: a) extend our capabilities so that we can do things that weren’t humanly possible before, and b) do things with so much ease and convenience that it allows us to be more human.

It’s always been a hit or miss for Sony at events like this, and Sony Mobile’s numbers would tell you it’s been a miss for quite some time. And it’s ironic that Sony is trying to sell me more devices, as if everything I already have is not enough, just to achieve a world where interactions are more meaningful.

But if there’s one thing I know Sony got right this time, it’s this: there’s a world in front of us that’s so much bigger and I’d happily look up and be inspired by that. Now I don’t know about you, but more than the specs of a shiny new phone, that’s what I’m more excited about.

[irp posts=”8989″ name=”7 reasons why the Sony Xperia XZ succeeds”]

Reviews

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro Unboxing & Review: About Time!

Killer specs at a reasonable price

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It seems like Google’s Pixel 5 announcement didn’t stop Xiaomi from announcing their newest Mi 10T series.

As confusing as it might be, the new Mi 10T Pro is the successor to Mi 9T Pro, last year’s popular midranger. But the thing is, Xiaomi’s newest phone isn’t a midrange device anymore.

Packed with Snapdragon 865, set of brilliant cameras, and a gaming-centric 144Hz display, the new Mi 10T Pro might just be establishing a new smartphone category with flagship-tier specs at a midranger’s price.

Curious to find out what was added and removed? Watch our review of the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro here.

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Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Unboxing and Review: Not What You Think!

Samsung’s answer to their pricey flagship smartphones

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Galaxy S10e, S10 Lite, and the Galaxy S20 FE, three phones meant for the less tech-savvy consumers. Samsung may not be consistent with naming their phones, but they’re still consistent in giving fans the best of specs.

The Galaxy S20 FE is a follow-up to Samsung’s S20 Series — packed with no-compromise specs at a reasonable price. But in order to bring down costs, they have to make adjustments for it to have a retail value just below the US$ 700 mark.

Are these cuts acceptable for it to be called as one of 2020’s “cheapest” flagship smartphones?

You can watch our Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review by clicking this link.

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Accessories

realme Buds Q: Keeping up with the ‘new normal’

Wireless is the new normal

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When this year started, I’ve already laid out most of my personal plans: do more outdoor activities, travel to different places, and slowly pick myself up from the emotional downhill I experienced last 2019.

But what do we know, the universe has much bigger plans.

The past few months of quarantine has been a wild transition for me, especially as a person who finds solace in the outdoors. Staying indoors for a long time has challenged my mental health, and it’s still an ongoing battle that I face every single day.

A total shift in my personality

During this collective isolation period, the first thing I did is try to make peace with things I can’t control. I started channeling my energy into doing what is feasible for now — both in my career and personal life.

I began doing activities that are completely opposite from my usual hobbies, starting with yoga and meditation to help me become more present.

realme Buds Q

It is also the same time I shifted to using wireless earbuds after years of using wired earphones. I have tried several brands for a while, and currently, I am using the newly released Realme Buds Q.

Light and portable device that is compatible with all my new activities

Doing yoga in the morning is easier — the Realme Buds Q fits just right and it’s light in the ears. Personally, I really prefer using earbuds rather than open-type ones. The latter hurts my ear in the long run, so the Realme Buds Q is a nice fit for me.

I can do all the poses with ease and without worrying they might slip off my ear. It has IPX4 water resistance, so I don’t bother sweating a lot during and after every session.

I also use it during my meditation, and every time I go jogging.

Buds Q is also a handy companion to all my other activities with its intelligent touch controls. Playing music and answering calls is easy with just a few taps. It’s perfect for multi-taskers like me who usually attend Zoom meetings while preparing food away from my laptop.

Wireless is the new normal

While I still keep my wired earphones, the wireless technology is totally heaven sent. It’s essentially helpful in a lot of ways especially now that we need less contact as possible.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Personally, the design is nothing too grand, just quite similar to the other earbuds I have tried before. The lightweight feeling is a plus for me — it weighs only 3.6 g, lighter than a sheet of A4 paper!

However, this newest earbuds offering is quite underwhelming in the sound department. While it’s good for upbeat songs with its dynamic bass boost, the overall sound is really not that impressive. Still, it’s a decent buy with its 40mAh battery life, which is longer compared to other brands.

SEE ALSO: realme 7 Pro review | realme 7 review


BUY THE REALME BUDS Q HERE

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