Reviews

Sony Xperia XZ2 Review: Flexing more camera muscles

Offering features never seen on a smartphone before

Published

on

Sony once again updates its flagship smartphone and this year, it seems like the Japanese handset maker wants to shake things up a bit.

We first saw the Xperia XZ2 at Mobile World Congress earlier this year and with its launch is the introduction of new and improved features. You’ve seen its curvy design, heard of its Snapdragon 845 processor, and witnessed its capability to shoot 4K HDR video.


So for this review, we tell you how these features helped us and how they worked together to provide the demands of everyday tasks.

Let’s start with the design…

Boxy no more

As you can probably already tell, the XZ2 breaks from the uniformity of Xperia handsets that has been going on for years now. Many have actually grown tired of its old OmniBalance form factor with sharp corners and large top and bottom bezels.

And in this time of bezel-less phones and curved designs, we really couldn’t blame them.

There’s still a bit of chin and forehead going on for the XZ2 but compared to its previous design, we’re not complaining. It’s significantly heavier, though, compared to its predecessor and you can really feel its heft when you hold the handset with one hand.

The new form factor is a welcome change. We now see a curved back made of glass which adds a premium feel when slapped on a phone. There’s a trade-off, however, by going for an all-glass design. The phone provides no grip and easily slides out of a loose pocket.

Its finish is so slippery that it sometimes struggles to lay still on a flat surface. The curved back also doesn’t help when you operate it while on a table. Although I personally am not a fan of phone cases, I think most users would rather have the XZ2 in one to add grip and protect its glossy surface as well.

All the buttons are tucked at the right side including the camera shutter, power/lock, and volume rocker. We have the hybrid dual-SIM tray up top and the USB-C port below. Nope, no 3.5mm audio jack here.

The Xperia XZ2 boasts dual front-firing speakers but they’re not easily seen. And while the earpiece acts as a loudspeaker, the second speaker is squeezed between the display and chassis at the bottom. Sneaky — and we like it.

Turn it around and you’ll see nothing but circles. From the sensors and LED flash, down to the single camera and finally the fingerprint scanner.

We’re just not big fans of the new placement of its fingerprint scanner. It feels too low and takes quite a bit of awareness to reach or you’ll end up smudging your rear camera.

Multimedia made more immersive

Not coming as a surprise, Sony has packed lots of multimedia goodness into the XZ2. It’s equipped with a 5.7-inch Full HD+ HDR display and enjoys features like X-Reality and HDR up-conversion found in the company’s latest televisions.

Audio has also been given attention to — because this is Sony we’re talking about. The aforementioned dual front speakers provide above-average volume and have more oomph for a phone speaker. The handset also supports hi-res audio so listening to your favorite artists in high quality is possible even through wireless headphones.

As an attempt to further enhance the experience while consuming content, Sony is introducing the Dynamic Vibration System to the XZ2. Similar to the haptic engine on a PlayStation’s DualShock controller, the feature can be turned on to feel synced vibrations while watching a video or listening to music.

Pressing the volume button will reveal the slider with four levels of intensity. Although a pretty cool feature to show off to friends, I could go on throughout the day without using it, so I consider it more of a gimmick and not as effective as the DualShock controller. Plus, it consumes more battery with all the vibration while you watch or play music.

Camera on steroids

If there’s one thing I was super excited about during the XZ2’s announcement, it was the camera. The new Sony flagship is the world’s first smartphone that can shoot 4K HDR video and capture super slow-mo Full HD videos at 960fps.

These were achieved through the phone’s new 19-megapixel Motion Eye camera that the company claims produces lifelike images. And with those in mind, we eagerly put the device to the test.

4K HDR video recording has good color and tonality. I found it easy to color correct during post-production thanks to its manageable dynamic range. Sony’s SteadyShot also works well for stabilizing video.

To capture things in super slow-motion, the handset shoots 960 frames per second just like on the XZ Premium (and later on the Galaxy S9+ and P20 Pro). Thing is, those phones all max out at 720p or HD, and it’s only the XZ2 that shoots the same frame rate at 1080p Full HD.

Again, there’s a trade-off for this. The length of the slow-mo video in Full HD is cut in half compared to when shot in HD. It’s a bit of a downer and it makes timing the action a bit of a challenge. Although with patience and a few practice shots, it could still achieve impressive shots.

Low-light shots for the rear camera are impressive, which wasn’t the case for its predecessor and even the XZ Premium. Its maximum ISO of 12800 is behind this feat. Meanwhile, its 5-megapixel front camera takes decent selfies. It comes with a 23mm wide-angle lens to accommodate more people in a selfie.

Beefy under the hood, too

Inside, the Xperia XZ2 carries a top-shelf Snapdragon 845 and is partnered with 4GB of RAM. This means it can handle heavy processing and even multitasking like any other premium flagship smartphone.

Indeed, while playing graphics-intensive games like Asphalt Xtreme and Tekken, it was able to render graphics effortlessly and multiplayer titles like PUBG Mobile ran smoothly. It does get warm after a few minutes of playing but nothing too alarming.

The XZ2 runs on Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box and has 64GB worth of internal storage. If you run out, there’s still an option to expand the capacity through an additional microSD. You’ll just have to sacrifice the second SIM slot.

Other notable features

Apart from all that, Sony has given the XZ2 the usual bells and whistles we’ve seen on their previous phones. It still has a water and dust resistance rating of IP68, which means you don’t have to worry about getting it drenched in rain.

The handset also features NFC for wireless pairing and 3D Creator that lets you scan objects, heads, and faces, and turn them into AR models or 3D print them.

It’s interesting to note that you can finally do a 3D scan using the selfie camera — a feature which wasn’t available previously. It wasn’t easy to perform though and needs some practice to perfect before you can produce a pleasing render of yourself.

Wired or wireless

With a 3180mAh battery, the Xperia XZ2 could easily last me a day on a single charge with casual usage. Although, shooting super slow-mo and 4K video will exhaust the battery a lot sooner which is totally understandable.

Though not as fast as when it’s plugged in, the handset already supports Qi wireless charging which is always nice to have when you’re at home most of the time. Through wired charging, it takes exactly one hour from four percent to reach 71 percent.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

This is not your usual selfie phone with basic features. Sony has made a serious contender with the Xperia XZ2 by giving it pioneering features, a redesigned appearance, and an engine that can take on the demands of everyday users.

With its camera and multimedia capabilities, we see its appeal toward those who are into creating and consuming content on the go.

Not everything is a hit. We find its new design super slippery and a bit on the heavy side. There’s no audio jack, the position of fingerprint scanner takes a while to get used to, and its Dynamic Vibration System could be done without.

It’s what it does best that makes me stick up for it as a video guy. 4K HDR recording is something I always want to have access to and slowing random things down is always pure joy.

Pricing was initially revealed in Singapore at SG$ 998 (US$ 760) followed by the United States at US$ 799. It was also launched yesterday in the Philippines for PhP 43,990 which converts to about US$ 840 and the most expensive so far.

Sony has made the XZ2 a pioneer in aspects of mobile videography and of course, it comes at a price. So if you want to be one of the firsts to experience these new capabilities, then this is your GadgetMatch of 2018.

India

Realme X review: Bang for the buck

Very little compromises

Published

on

The Realme X is the phone that half of India has been talking about. The other half? They’re preoccupied by its competitor, Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, but that’s a topic for another day.

This phone from Realme is a lot of things. It’s the most premium smartphone they’ve made so far. There’s an OLED notchless 6.53” FullHD+ display, with a popup selfie cam tucked into the top frame. There’s also an in-display fingerprint sensor, a 48MP camera on the back, and more premium specs that are usually well out of this price range.


Gorgeous design

Despite its plastic back and frame, the Realme X is gorgeous. It’s not a small phone but it’s still pretty compact and comfortable enough to hold, though there’s no way you’ll be able to reach all corners of that gorgeous screen one-handed.

It comes also in two colors: Space Blue and Polar White, which is the same color as the limited Spider-Man edition we unboxed.

It’s one of the nicest displays in this price range, both outdoors and indoors. Because it’s an OLED screen, it boasts deep blacks with punchy saturated colors and as you’d expect, you can tweak it to be warmer or colder in the settings menu.

There is a bit of a chin but it’s not something that would bother anyone. It does help with an area to rest your thumb, with a slightly higher point to initiate those navigation gestures. So while it’s not truly bezel-less, it is still pretty darn gorgeous.

The back panel makes an S-shape reflection depending on how light hits it, similar to what we’ve seen on higher end OPPO phones. This little detail helps it look way more expensive a device than it actually is.

High end features for not much money

The Realme X an under-display optical fingerprint scanner. It works and it’s fast. The scanner is placed a comfortable distance above the bottom of the display, and there’s a “lift to activate” feature that works well enough that the sensor is always ready for you when you pick up the phone. The phone unlocks quick enough, so no complaints here.

It’s worth mentioning that you can also set up face unlock instead of the fingerprint scanning, but I would advise against this. It’s fast but that would mean the pop-up selfie camera will have to keep popping up. The screen lights up to help in dim conditions, and you can set it to require your eyes to be open for the phone to unlock.

The pop-up camera module used to be exclusive to more expensive smartphones so it’s refreshing to see this feature in a phone of this price range. The module pops up whenever you open the camera app or trigger face unlock, and it is promised to be good for at least 200,000 actuations. Realme says the selfie camera is covered with sapphire glass as well for better durability.

The entire module will automatically retract when a fall is detected or if it senses you’re trying to manually push it in. 

The Realme X has a much appreciated headphone jack, next to a USB-C port, a speaker grill for the loudspeaker, and a microphone. The down-firing speaker sounds decent but just as any phone with a similar placement you have to be careful not to block it when holding the phone. Sound output out of the headphone jack is also actually really, really good.

The Realme X is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, and comes in either 4GB, 6GB, or 8GB RAM variants, with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. For those who need more than that, there is unfortunately no microSD card slot.

The Realme X runs OPPO’s latest ColorOS 6.0 on top of Android 9.0 Pie. There are a few pre-installed apps out of the box, but you can uninstall them all if you don’t need them.

ColorOS 6.0 is similar to a lot of other skins we’ve seen, with an ever-changing magazine-type lockscreen, that you can disable to a normal lockscreen instead. Unlike previous versions, it also has a much-appreciated app drawer. The split-screen multi-tasking also gets an update: you can now swipe in from the side, and hold to switch between your two recently opened apps, which is a cool new gesture.

Realme X’s 3765 mAh battery can survive a day’s worth of medium-to-heavy usage. It also supports 20W VOOC 3.0, which charges the phone up to 50 percent in 30 minutes, or full in about an hour and 20.

Pretty good cameras

The main camera of the Realme X gives you a bunch of shooting modes to choose from. There’s expert mode which is manual settings, as well as slo-mo, nightscape for low light shots, timelapse, and pano, for panoramic shots.

Nightscape works pretty well and is a long-exposure handheld mode for night photos, similar to Pixel’s Night Sight. 

The phone shoots photos at 12MP by default, but you can switch to 48MP in the settings menu. This will give you finer details, but I’d only advice doing this in good lighting.

There’s also AI scene recognition, which adjusts camera settings depending on what you’re taking a photo of — blue skies get bluer, plants and trees get greener.

Realme also gives you the option to toggle 2x zoom, but this essentially crops your photo since there’s no telephoto lens on the phone.

Another thing to note is the Chroma Boost toggle on one end of the viewfinder, next to flash and HDR settings. It’s an advanced HDR mode that takes a combination of images and offers further improvements in dynamic range and color reproduction.

Daytime photos taken with the Realme X can do no wrong, with a nice wide dynamic range, vivid colors, and high contrasts as well. Images retain a lot of detail, but I mostly left Chroma Boost and HDR modes switched off. The AI mode also does a good job detecting scenes and adjusting settings.

Take a look at these samples:

I wish I could say the same thing when it comes to low light performance. The phone tends to underexpose images every so often, but with nightscape, highlights and shadows become more manageable. This is, of course, understandable for a phone in this price range.

Portrait mode, however, is a different story. Realme X takes excellent portraits. Subject detection is one of the best in the price range, with subjects isolated with great precision, for very pleasing and impressive results overall.

Selfies taken on the Realme X are pretty good, although dimmer lighting results to a drop in sharpness and aggressive noise reduction. Even though the selfie camera has no depth sensor like the rear setup, it still does a good job isolating the subject and blurring the background. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Its competition includes the Vivo V15 Pro which has an ultrawide angle camera but costs more. And then there’s Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, but that phone has pros and cons of its own and is also priced a little higher than the Realme X. Realme also recently announced the Realme XT, which is equally equipped at the same price. 

There are a lot of reasons the Realme X is one of the most talked about phones this year — a really nice notch-less display, solid battery life, and good cameras. The USB-C and audio ports are definitely a plus, too. With very little compromises starting at INR 16,999, this is simply one of the best value-for-money phones you can buy today. 

Continue Reading

Reviews

Xiaomi Mi A3 Review: The no-frills master

An all-rounder powered by stock Android

Published

on

It’s no secret, Xiaomi and Realme have been fighting the whole year and it’s impossible to declare a winner just yet. The two are constantly trying to undercut each other and this has been a huge boon for the end-user. We’re seeing a new phone launch every other month. Like they say, the more, the merrier!

Xiaomi and its love for the Snapdragon 625 processor is well documented, and this year the brand has a love affair with the 48-megapixel sensor. But while the Redmi series already has a few options to choose from, Xiaomi hasn’t given up on the A-lineup. With the Mi A3, the brand intends to bring its hardware expertise to a vanilla Android experience.


The Mi A2 received mixed response. Will Xiaomi be able to cover-up lost ground with the Mi A3? The Redmi Note 7 Pro is comparatively old now, can this phone take the weight of fighting-off the Realme 5 series? And most importantly, Is this your GadgetMatch?

A rare to find AMOLED display in this segment

Ultra-premium Gorilla Glass design

The rear sports a triple camera setup

USB-C port and the speaker grill on the bottom

Unmatchable design that screams premium

For the price, we’re used to seeing phones with a polycarbonate body. Brands have managed to incorporate gradient or reflective patterns, but plastic has a hollow feel that’ll always feel clumsy. Xiaomi just hit a home run with the Mi A3’s design and it screams premium. In fact, I’d go on to call this my favorite part about the phone.

The glass sandwich is surrounded by a metal railing and the construction feels sturdy. In fact, the slightly curved glass is very comfortable to hold and the reflective patterns have their own vibe. The phone is available in three colors, each suitable for every taste. We have the Not Grey unit that looks sober and a perfect fit for business meetings. The More Than White option looks very classy while the Not Just Blue is the most eye-catching.

The back consists of a triple camera array and company branding. The power button and volume rockers are located on the right while the SIM tray is on the left. A USB-C port is located on the bottom, along with two speaker grills. But, there’s just a mono speaker situated in the right grill and the left is a dummy, just like on the iPhone.

The headphone jack is making a comeback due to high demand and Xiaomi has also slapped an IR blaster on the top for added convenience. Weight is properly distributed and yes, the back is a fingerprint magnet. Smudges are easily visible and thanks to the glass, the phone is slightly slippery. I’d recommend slapping a case as soon as possible.

The front gets a 6-inch AMOLED display that houses a tiny water-drop notch on top. It’s an HD panel (720p), but before you jump to conclusions, consider the screen quality first. The color reproduction is on point with near-perfect saturation and decent sharpness. The panel sucks less power and also houses an in-display fingerprint scanner.

I won’t consider a 720p screen to be a drawback because the experience remains unhindered. Especially when it delivers top-notch quality by compromising a mere marketing tactic. Though, I wish maximum brightness was a tad bit higher.

The fingerprint scanner is a disappointment. I liked it in the beginning, but with day-to-day usage, it’s annoyingly slow. You need to press your finger onto it for quite some time and please don’t move around because reliability is poor. Phone makers should just stick to a physical sensor in these cases.

Whatever you need, it’ll get it done

The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 665 processor and comes with 4GB RAM in the base variant. Our device has 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Obviously, storage is expandable via a microSD card, but it’s not hybrid.

Thanks to the 720p display, the processor is able to sail through everything. In the period I used the phone, there have been no lags or stutters while moving around multiple apps or sifting through multiple browser tabs. In fact, the RAM was able to accommodate Uber, Google Maps, WhatsApp, Paytm, and Spotify all at once without a glitch.

It also features UFS 2.1 memory storage, translating into a faster user experience. PUBG was ultra-smooth on the maximum selection based on specs. Frame drops are negligible and the overall experience is satisfying. The processor doesn’t heat up considerably and longer periods of gaming saw no change in performance. So, if you’re looking forward to playing a game every now and then, this phone should be your first choice.

Backing these internals is a beefier 4000mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging. The in-box charger is rated for 10W and can charge the phone completely within two hours. With super-heavy usage, the phone lasted me almost 20 hours. I’d have to charge it once in 36 hours otherwise. Improving in this department was a smart move by Xiaomi.

Star of the show: Stock Android

Lastly, the key highlight of the phone is its software — pure Android. In partnership with Google’s Android One project, the phone is promised to receive timely security and feature updates. If you’re someone like me who prefers a clean UI with no fancy shenanigans, the Mi A3 should be your GadgetMatch.

However, the no-shenanigans approach isn’t for everyone. Skins like MIUI and ColorOS offer a host of additional features like gesture support, a higher level of customization, and mini-applications. The software is a very subjective topic and you’ll be the best judge here.

Triple camera setup for the third iteration

The rear gets a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Obviously, a standard picture is shot at 12-megapixel and a dedicated mode will trigger the full capabilities of the primary lens. Addition of a wide-angle lens is extremely important because you’re able to leverage a new perspective, without compromising on primary abilities.

The first thing you’ll notice about the output is, the colors don’t look natural. But, its enjoyable and a few colors are emphasized to look different. I’ve got no qualms against the AI-driven approach because it was able to properly reproduce vivid pictures every single time. The primary lens gets the job done perfectly and in well-lit areas, it often outperforms phones with double the price tag.

Focusing on a nearby object does tend to get a little over-exposed, you’d have to manually tone it down. On the flip side, autofocus is super fast and always gets it right. Switching to Night Mode, the results are a mixed bag. Sometimes, the camera gets a perfect shot. Otherwise, it lacks sharpness. But, considering the price, I’d give some leeway. Same goes for the portrait mode because it often fails to detect object borders.

Videos can be shot at 4K with 30fps and I’ve found the electronic stabilization to be above average. Gentle movement will be easily covered up while running will get a little shaky. Overall, the video sharpness is sufficient and the camera can quickly change exposure when moving from a well-lit area to a low-light zone.

For selfies, the notch houses a 32-megapixel sensor and it’s just how’d you expect it to be. Images are pretty sharp, color production is programmed to match the skin, and additional features like a beauty mode are always handy.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I call this a no-frills master because Xiaomi focused on improving the end experience and ignored non-essential waggery. The design is premium, the display is vibrant, performance is snappy, cameras are average, and the battery is huge. Quite a lot of high-end features like an IR blaster, wide-angle lens, and in-display fingerprint scanner make it a lucrative deal.

Nokia-branded phones are your only other option and they pale in comparison. With the same software, hardware becomes the only differentiating factor. The Samsung Galaxy M30 can be a worthy competitor, but will you be fine with OneUI?

The phone is just a notch lower than the Redmi Note 7 Pro and with a starting price of INR 12,999 (US$ 180, PhP 11,990), I’d say it’s on par now. For a straightforward hassle-free experience and peace of mind, this should be your GadgetMatch.

Continue Reading

Accessories

Sony XB900N Review: All about that bass

And then some

Published

on

In case you’ve been keeping a watch on the whole Noise Cancelling headphones scene, you’ve probably heard the news — Sony makes some of the best Noise Cancelling headphones in the business.

Nowadays if you ask most tech people — what’s a good pair of noise canceling headphones? The answer will almost always be — The Bose Quiet Comfort series or, more recently, the Sony 1000XM3.


Now, the 1000XM series are Sony’s flagship noise canceling headphones. And flagship headphones tend to cost a premium, which they’re totally worth for sure, but not everyone can afford super premium headphones!

That’s why I was happy to see Sony announce the new XB-900N recently. The Sony XB-900N, or the 900N as we’ll call it for the rest of this review, are a much more approachable pair of noise canceling headphones.

So while they probably won’t have the same level of noise-canceling power as the 1000XM3, there’s still a lot to like here, especially at this price point.

Expensive looking without being THAT expensive

The 900N shares a lot of design similarities as the more premium XM3, which is a good thing because that means these headphones look expensive.

The exterior is mostly hard plastic, and the headband has a nice foam padding on the underside. There’s also a tiny NFC logo on the left side which you can just tap a compatible Android phone against, to pair it with these headphones, which is super convenient.

Apart from that, there’s Sony branding on both earcups as well, and you’ll notice bass vents present which look pretty cool.

On the left earcup, you’ll find two buttons and ports present, along with one of the two microphones. One button is for power and the other button can be set to trigger your phone’s voice assistant but I’ll talk about that a bit later.

On the right earcup you’ll see the second microphone, along with an entire flat surface which is touch-sensitive.

Just like the XM3, the flat outside of the right earcup has touch-enabled pads. It’s one large solid piece though, so there’s no separate sections with different features like on the XM3.

Easy navigation and control

You can swipe up or down vertically to increase or decrease your audio volume. Swipe sideways to skip tracks, and double tap in the center to pause music. You can also tap the center of the earcups to answer or end a phone call.

But my favorite feature has to be the “quick attention mode.” It automatically and instantly lowers the volume of whatever you’re listening to, in case you need to speak to someone in front of you, or listen to something going on around you. All you have to do is cover the right earcup with the palm of your hand.

This feature is really handy, especially if you’re like me and like to wear your headphones in the office, or in a cafe, and some random human comes up to you and says something.

These gestures take a little getting used to, and you’ll either find them super useful or super frustrating. Either way it’s still cool to have.

Support for a virtual assistant

Speaking of frustrating, like I mentioned earlier, Sony allows you to choose between Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa for a dedicated button on the 900N. But if you choose to have a digital assistant then you’ll lose the ability to use that button to cycle between noise canceling modes.

Not that there’s too many Noise cancellation modes on the 900N, there’s two – an ambient mode where the noise cancellation is less aggressive and you can hear what’s happening around you, or the full-on noise cancellation mode.

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of digital assistants on phones. I use Google Assistant all the time on my Google Home, likewise for Alexa on my Echo, but on my phone I just never find them quick enough. So while I might not find this particular feature very useful, I understand that some of y’all out there might really like it, so here you go.

Just FYI, you can turn off the noise cancelling on these phones as well, but I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to, since it doesn’t really affect the audio quality TOO much. And while these are primarily marketed as wireless headphones, you can use them wired as well. Which will help get even more battery life out of these headphones, if necessary.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the headphones also fold up for easy storage when not in use. It comes with a nice carrying case too which makes it much easier to carry around when you’re not using it.

Something you can wear for hours 

Sony has done SUCH a great job on nailing comfort on the XB900N. Just like the more premium 1000XM3, there’s a cushy headband (with very prominent Sony branding), and super soft, sturdy earpads that have an around-the-ear fit.

The headband in particular has a good enough tension with the headphones feeling nice and secure around your ears. This helps give a good amount of noise isolation to help with the noise cancellation.

The headphones weigh a very light 254 grams so even after wearing them straight for a few hours, I never felt like it was pinching my brain too much.

That being said, I will mention though, that it’s been a little too humid where I live for the last few weeks and as a result if you’re in a really humid environment, there can be quite a bit of moisture built up between your eyes and the earpads so you’d want to take a break every hour or so.

But essentially the Sony XB900N is meant to be used for travel. Your daily commute to work, or a flight, or long bus or subway ride, and in these scenarios you could comfortably wear these headphones for hours.

More codec options for a better listening experience

The Sony WH-XB900N headphones are powered by 40mm dynamic drivers, with a frequency response range of 20-40,000Hz when used with Sony’s own high-quality LDAC codec at 990kbps.

They connect over Bluetooth 4.2, but there’s also support for a whole bunch of bluetooth codecs, which is something Sony does that most other headphone companies do not. There’s support for AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC codecs.

If you’re only going to use these headphones with an iPhone or an iPad, then it’ll stick to the AAC codec.

BUT if you’re using it with an Android phone, or anything with better source equipment, you’ll get to try out the additional codec support which definitely helps with a better listening experience.

Like for example, if you’re using it with the OnePlus 7 Pro, you’ll be able to use the LDAC or aptX HD codecs.

But let’s talk about how good the noise cancellation is.

No QN1 chip but still gets the job done 

The Sony XB900N does not have their new QN1 noise-cancelling chip that’s used on the flagship XM3. Like most other headphones, the DAC (digital-to-analog converter) has to handle noise cancellation duties as well. It won’t be as impressive as the XM3, which also customizes the ANC for atmospheric pressure when you’re on a plane, but it still does a really good job.

Once you switch on that noise cancellation, all those annoying sounds in the background around you just fade away. Granted it’s not as silencing as the XM3, but it’s definitely one of the best at this price range.

All about that bass

Now I’m not sure if you noticed this, but the “XB” in “XB900N” stands for “Extra Bass.” The very prominent branding on the box mentally prepares you for this. As a result, the XB900N is more suited for bass-heavy music styles that have a lot more thump. If you’re a fan of EDM, Hip-hop, or bass heavy POP tracks then you’ll love the audio quality.

But if you don’t listen to a lot of bass-pounding tracks then you might find the audio quality a little exhausting. Thankfully, in this case, you can use Sony’s “Headphones Connect” app to change the default, bass heavy equalizer to a different soundstage.

The Sony Headphones Connect app also allows you to tweak more settings for the headphones, including the equalizer I mentioned, adaptive sound control, ambient sound control, Sony’s DSEE sound enhancement system, and more. You can also use them to answer phone calls, and the microphone quality is superb.

Overall though, I’m quite a fan of the audio tuning, but then I’m all about that bass. Vocals are crisp, and that thumpy bass is tight, and resonates inside those earcups. There’s clear, clean audio coming through across the frequency range. And for softer, instrumental, or acoustic genres of music, you could just tweak things in Sony’s headphones app.

Superb battery life

The Sony XB900N boasts 30 hours of battery life with Noise Cancellation switched on. Not only is this just like the more expensive 1000XM3, but it’s pretty much very accurate.

I used these during writing and video editing sessions in cafes for about three to four hours each day for about an entire week before I even got a low battery alert. That’s just freakin’ awesome.

When it comes to charging the headphones, the first positive surprise is that it charges over a USB Type-C port!

It’s really great to see Sony adopt this incredibly convenient standard, especially if you only have type-c cables around like I do.

I mean come on, it’s 2019.

Coming to charging specifically, a ten minute charge will give you about an hour worth of battery life, but a full charge can take about three to four hours depending on the charger you’re using. It’s not great but it’s not too bad either considering the kind of battery life you’re getting.

Is the Sony XB900N your GadgetMatch? 

At US$ 250, the Sony XB900N is worth every penny.

It has sound quality that rivals headphones that cost a lot more. That, combined with the solid noise cancellation, make it a really great buy at the price point.

Now, remember, the audio tuning tends to be a little bass-heavy so if you like that you’re set, but if you don’t then you will have to make equalizer tweaks to handle that. But then again if you want THE BEST audio, you’ll have to spend a bit more and get the Sony WH-1000XM3.

But at the price point it sells at, there’s just no beating the Sony XB900N as an all-around package. There’s great battery life, good audio drivers and, support for a whole bunch of bluetooth audio codecs. Sony has another winner on their hands.

Definitely recommended. This is going to be THE pair of headphones I recommend in this price range for a while.

SEE ALSO: Sony WF-1000XM3: Masterclass in noise cancellation

Continue Reading

Trending