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Sony Xperia X Hands-On

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In a surprise announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sony said goodbye to its top of the line Xperia Z smartphone, unveiling in its place a trio of new smartphones collectively referred to as Xperia X.

Specs-wise the new Xperia X line isn’t going to be the most high end smartphone release of 2016 but Sony’s left just enough for the phones to be desirable.

On the X Sony is ditching its glass for metal. All 3 phones sport the familiar boxy Xperia frame, although these phones feel curvier and rounder and better in the hands.

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

Sony’s new Xperia X line doesn’t aim for the top, but are interesting nonetheless (L-R: Xperia X Performance, Xperia X, Xperia XA)

Micro SD card and sim card slots still go on the left while the camera button, volume rocker, and power button are still on the right hand side of the device.

Instead of adding more features that you’ll hardly ever use, Sony says it added intelligence and improvements to key functions like battery and camera.

The Xperia X lineup boasts of Qnovo technology which promises reduced charging times increased battery lifespan, and smarter battery management.

It’s worth pointing out that Sony has put smaller capacity batteries onto its Xperia X line: the Xperia X Performance gets 2700 mAh, Xperia X 2620 mAh, and Xperia XA 2300 mAh. This resulted in thinner phones without sacrificing its promise of 2 days battery life. Although that’s not something we can test at the moment as the phones will not be officially released until some time between July to September.

Just like the Z5, the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance get a 23MP main camera, while the entry level Xperia XA gets a 13MP main shooter.

Sony also added a new camera feature called Predictive Hybrid Autofocus to the Xperia X and Xperia X Performance. It tracks a moving subject, locking focus even while it moves in and out of frame.

The new camera is also one of the fastest in the market today – launching and capturing moments straight from standby mode.

Front-facing cameras are also much improved now with 8MP on the XA, and 13MP on the X and X Performance. They take selfies just as good as the Samsung Galaxy S7 can, if not even better.

While specs-wise the Xperia XA is not as impressive as its big brothers, on the outside it’s actually the one that stands out with a display that’s flushed against its sides. It also looks like the leanest of the bunch because it doesn’t come with a fingerprint scanner.

sony-xperia-mwc-20160323-06

The X and X Performance have fingerprint scanners built into their power buttons just like the Z5. You unlock by pressing your thumb against the button, which Sony says is the most natural way to unlock a smartphone.

The X and X Performance also have higher resolution displays, more RAM and better processors. The XA is powered by Mediatek Helio P10, while the X is powered by last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 and the X Performance the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820.  

The X Performance being the most premium variant is sadly the only one that retains the signature feature of the Xperia Z line: waterproofing. The phone has an IP68 rating meaning it will last up to 30 minutes underwater up to depths of 1.5 meters.

Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Unboxing and Hands-On

Near-borderless with a large battery!

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It took a while, but we finally have ASUS’ first-ever near-borderless smartphone. And it’s not just a pretty face; it’s got a hefty battery and a pair of cameras at the back, too. Is there any more to the ZenFone Max Plus? Find out in our unboxing and hands-on video.

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ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Hands-on

ASUS’ first 18:9 near-borderless phone

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Phones with 18:9 displays became the norm last year, and it wasn’t a premium feature that’s exclusive to flagship devices. We’ve seen a few midrange near-borderless phones, and here’s another one from ASUS.

If you find the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus familiar, it’s because it’s virtually the same phone as the Pegasus 4S which was launched exclusively in China last November and landed in Russia shortly after.

Another factor that will make you think that you already saw the phone before is its identical design to its smaller sibling — the ZenFone 4 Max. Basically, the ZenFone Max Plus is a taller and more modern-looking variant of the ZenFone Max family.

What makes this phone modern is its 5.7-inch Full HD+ panel. This is ASUS’ first phone with an 18:9 display or Full View as ASUS calls it. While it’s not as edge-to-edge or borderless as premium phones, the taller display gives the phone a fresh trait among budget smartphones.

On the right are the physical keys of the phone: a long button for volume up/down and a shorter one for power/screen lock. Both have the concentric circle pattern for texture, but we wish the power button were more distinct.

At the bottom are the good old micro-USB port and symmetrical holes for the microphone and loudspeaker. Like its non-Plus sibling, ASUS opted not to bless the phone with the reversible and future-proofed USB-C port.

Up top are the 3.5mm headphone port and the noise-canceling microphone. It’s worth noting that the top and bottom portions of phone’s body are plastic to allow radios to pass through, while the main back panel is aluminum.

Thanks to its fantastic paint job, both materials blend well together as can be seen on the back. The phone has a dual-camera setup with an ultra wide-angle secondary camera. The phone’s fingerprint reader is also found on the back which is easily reachable by the index fingers.

Wide-angle dual-camera setup

The phone’s dual rear cameras are a combination of 16- and 8-megapixel shooters. The main shooter has an aperture of f/2.0 and shoots the usual photos like this one:

The secondary 8-megapixel camera is for taking action camera-like shots with its ultra wide-angle lens:

As with any wide-angle cameras, there’s a noticeable distortion or fish-eye effect from the camera, but that’s already expected.

To show the big difference between the main camera and wide-angle secondary camera, check out these photos:

As for selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel shooter accompanied by ASUS’ feature-rich camera app. It has multiple modes including, of course, “beauty” which boasts a number of beautification features.

There’s also portrait mode which applies an artificial bokeh effect. With a single front camera, the effect is somehow unimpressive.

We’ll be taking the phone for a full spin in the coming weeks. Check back soon for more sample shots from the dual wide-angle rear shooters and selfie camera.

Initial impressions

The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750T processor. Our model has 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but the configuration is region-dependent. Some countries have either 2GB or 3GB of memory and 16GB of storage. There’s a dedicated microSD card slot for additional storage along with two nano-SIM cards.

Android 7.0 Nougat runs on the phone with ZenUI 4.0 on top. We’re not yet sure if the phone will receive Android 8.0 since it’s not named as a member of the ZenFone 4 family, which ASUS promised would get Oreo.

As for the battery, it’s disappointing that it has a smaller 4130mAh cell versus the 5000mAh of the ZenFone 4 Max. But still, ASUS boasts long battery life and fast charging features. The phone can also act as a power bank for other devices through reverse charging with the use of a USB OTG cable. Full battery tests will appear in our review soon.

Official Philippine pricing is PhP 11,995 while in Malaysia is MYR 899.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 4 gets Android 8.0 Oreo update

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OPPO F5 6GB Hands-On

It looks absolutely stunning in red!

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The highest-end model of the OPPO F5 family is here.

This is the OPPO F5 6GB. The 6GB RAM is great for gaming and multitasking. It also has 64GB of storage so you can take more photos and selfies!

Speaking of selfies, this one still has that AI Beauty mode. Plus, it’s available in stunning red. What an eye-catcher!

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