We’ve seen the new Sony Xperia XZ up close at IFA 2016 in Berlin, where it was first revealed in September. Since then, the Android flagship has made its way to the U.S, Europe, India, Japan, and other parts of the world. And now, it’s making its way to the Philippines in time for the holidays.
The Xperia XZ, Sony says, combines the best technologies of Sony’s Xperia X and Z range of premium devices, particularly in the camera department, where it hopes to stand out. According to Sony, consumers want a great camera on their phone so the Japanese tech firm set out to deliver what they want by jamming as much tech as possible into a moderately sized and angular device that’s a joy to hold.
It’s also great that most of the exterior makes use of “alkaleido” metal, which gives the phone a shiny-but-not-too-shiny surface. In the hand, it feels a tad slippery, though, so we think it’s best to pair it with a durable aftermarket case.
The Xperia XZ combines the best technologies of Sony’s Xperia X and Z range of premium devices, particularly in the camera department.
There’s a fingerprint scanner embedded right into the physical home button on the right-hand side of the body. The placement may be ideal for the majority because the button sits where the thumb of a right-handed person would naturally land. Sorry, left-handed folks. Positioning the volume rocker too far below the power key isn’t something we’re happy about. Mobile photographers, meanwhile, will appreciate the convenience of the hardware shutter key on the side.
And this being a proper Sony flagship model, the phone is IP68-rated, so prolonged exposure to liquids shouldn’t be a problem. But do keep in mind that Sony’s fine print says not to dunk the XZ in water and not to expose it to pool or salt water. It also has two front-facing speakers that are satisfyingly clear and loud. Their placement is a boon for those who love playing games on their mobile device.
As for the engine room, expect to see a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (for the version that will be sold in the Philippines). And while it’s unfortunate that Sony didn’t bump up the memory of its latest top-end handset — and it hasn’t since the days of the Xperia Z2 — the XZ never felt sluggish while we were poking around on the interface.
Sony has opted for the USB-C standard for the XZ, as well as a 2,900mAh battery with adaptive, fast-charging technology, which the company claims will prolong the life of the battery — and by extension, the phone.
This being a proper Sony flagship model, it’s IP68-rated, so prolonged exposure to liquids shouldn’t be a problem.
Still, the biggest attraction by far is the 23-megapixel rear camera on the XZ. It comprises three key elements: an image sensor for capturing fast-moving subjects; lasers for measuring distance and improving autofocus speeds; and an RGBC sensor for true-to-life colors. The XZ is also capable of shooting 4K video at 30 frames per second, except without the benefits of optical image stabilization.
In our brief time with a test unit, we found the main camera to be a solid performer, though we prefer the color reproduction of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and iPhone 7 Plus. The 13-megapixel selfie camera takes great selfies and has a wide-angle lens to fit more people in one shot.
In the Philippines, the XZ will be offered in three color options — blue, black, and silver — for P37,990 ($790) and will be available from November 18.
As a quick aside: Don’t hold your breath for an Xperia X Compact release locally; Sony won’t be bringing it to the Philippines this year or anytime soon. We’re told the market goes for bigger phones, as opposed to smaller ones that cost just as much.
ASUS ZenBook Pro 15: Is the ScreenPad worth it?
Two screens for double the fun
At first glance, the new ZenBook Pro 15 (UX580GE) may look like an ordinary laptop. There’s nothing out of the ordinary on its solid chassis, and both the keyboard layout and screen are as plain as can be.
On the inside, my unit has some of the best specs around: an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD storage, and a mouthwatering 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen — but those still aren’t this notebook’s coolest feature.
It’s only when you turn on the device and press a button on the keyboard’s top row when the magic happens.
You can go from this…
… to this!
Yup, the touchpad is a touchscreen called ScreenPad
Besides being able to choose whatever wallpaper you want for it…
You may also play music on it
Check your calendar for upcoming events
Turn it into a handy virtual numpad
Use it as a full-fledged calculator at any time
And add any other function you might need
It even comes with its very own settings menu
Not impressed yet? Let’s try Extension Display mode
Now you can treat it as a secondary screen!
Perfect for watching videos while “working” 😉
Or simply trying to be more productive
Here I am viewing photos while editing on Photoshop
And choosing the next clip to edit on Premiere Pro
It can even handle Photoshop and Premiere Pro at the same time!
Here’s my favorite trick: watching a YouTube walkthrough while playing games
There are a lot more things you can do with the ScreenPad, but these were the most useful ones in my own workflow. ASUS is opening up the magical touchpad to other apps, so the possibilities here are endless and it’ll only get better through time.
So, is the ScreenPad actually worth it? To be honest, I usually left it on wallpaper mode with my favorite pictures to add style to my workspace; I even turned it off completely while the laptop was unplugged to save on battery power.
It’s one of those things you never knew you needed until you got it. The ScreenPad is an evolution for laptops which have been becoming stale in the past couple of years, but not something you can’t live without.
Do I want a ScreenPad on all future laptops? Yes, definitely! Who wouldn’t want two screens at once?
If you want to learn more about the ZenBook Pro 15 and watch it in action, check out our hands-on video:
OPPO drops the F9, Motorola copy-pastes: Weekend Rewind
Why innovate when you can recreate, right?
Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.
1. OPPO F9 (water)drops!
We were getting teasers of this phone two weeks ago and now it’s finally here! The OPPO F9 is official and it comes with a notch that the company is essentially calling a “waterdrop.” That aside, it’s looking like a lean, mean, midrange machine with its 6GB RAM and 64GB of storage, an AI-enhanced 16MP main shooter with a secondary 2MP depth sensor for portraits, and a 3500 mAh battery.
Our hands-on and unboxing is up on YouTube so make sure you watch it!
Notches and gradients are all the rage in 2019, so we guess it makes sense that Motorola opted to fuse both the iPhone X and the Huawei P20 Pro. The result is the Motorola P30 because Moto probably couldn’t be bothered to think of another name. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 636 chip with 6GB memory. It will come in both a 64GB and a 128GB variant. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery they say. Moto must really want to butter up Apple and Huawei.
Xiaomi’s been cooking something but since this is the Internet and tech leaks are totally a thing, we already know what it is. Coming our way officially next week is the Pocophone F1. A leaked video pretty much already told us a lot of what we want to know: 5.99-inch display, Snapdragon 845, and 6GB of memory.
We’ll have our own video on this soon so definitely stay tuned for it.
Google is being generous in handing out pies. Android Go, a less data-hungry version of the mobile operating system, will also get Android Pie. The Go edition of the newest Android OS only needs half the storage space and can run fluidly, even with just a gigabyte of memory.
Not ready for the responsibility of raising a child? There’s an app for that! The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved Natural Cycles. It’s the very first app to be marketed as a method of contraception. It determines whether a woman is fertile or not then advises which days you should “abstain” or “use protection.”
However, the FDA warns that “no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”
Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.
7 best affordable flagship smartphones of 2018
Best specs, lower prices
Putting the words “affordable” and “flagship” seems like an oxymoron at first, but manufacturers have reached a point wherein this magical combination is actually possible.
Yes, affordable flagships are a thing now, and they’re taking away some of the premium segment’s long-standing thunder. Why wouldn’t you want the best specs and features in a cheaper package?
This year has been kind to us with all the affordable flagships launched thus far. Here are the best ones to date:
Let’s begin with the brand that started it all. Originally called the “flagship killer,” the OnePlus line is synonymous with high-end power without the extravagant pricing. The OnePlus 6 is the latest entry, and it’s an absolute stunner from its gorgeous display to the fluid Android interface.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
This is the one time Xiaomi likes to go a little more premium, and we support it a hundred percent. The Mi Mix 2S combines a ceramic body with a massive, notch-free display and incredible hardware for the price. Each generation improves on the predecessor — this is no exception.
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