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.
[irp posts=”4287″ name=”IFA 2016: Sony launches flagship Xperia XZ, adds smaller X Compact”]
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.
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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.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?
Huawei outdoes itself again
In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.
In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?
Price isn’t the only factor
Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.
One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.
The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.
In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.
Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.
Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.
A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.
Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.
There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom
As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.
Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.
Pricing and colors
This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.
Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.
In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.
Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card
Could this become a trend?
Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.
It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?
The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.
In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.
As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.
It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.
Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.
The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.
It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.
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