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In this video, we unbox Sony’s new flagship, the Xperia XZ2!

Launched at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, Sony’s new flagship features a curvier design and smaller top and bottom bezels to the dismay of die-hard Sony fans.

Sony finally gave up on their signature OmniBalance philosophy which made Xperia smartphones stand out from a sea of similarly designed Android smartphones in recent years.

With the more recent unveiling of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, it’s looking like the new Ambient Flow design is here to stay.

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Android 9 Pie update now available for Xiaomi Mi A1

The perks of Android One

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After the Mi A2, it’s now Mi A1’s turn to get a taste of Google’s latest software. Being under the Android One program, the Mi A1 will finally get a clean version of Android 9 Pie.

The Android Pie update for the Mi A1 may have come a bit late, but it’s still sooner compared to most Android phones out there. The new firmware weighs more than 1GB to download, so be sure to have a solid connection when updating.

It brings all the benefits of Android Pie plus support for FM radio which wasn’t available before. The change log also mentions new navigation options, but the Mi A1 already has capacitive keys.

The update is already confirmed to be available in South Asia and it’ll soon roll out to all markets. The Mi A1 was launched with Android Nougat and it received the Oreo update. Android Pie is the second major update for the phone.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Mi A1, you may watch our review below. It’s still available at a discounted price in select stores, making it a great budget-friendly phone.

SEE ALSO: 24 Hours in Busan with the Xiaomi Mi A1

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Apple will not change its design next year, report says

Will keep the notch until 2019

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For the longest time, the smartphone market has been defined by technology’s ten-year old rule. Typified by Apple and Samsung, companies initially launch revolutionary phone designs, followed by incremental upgrades for the next year. For example, the Galaxy S8 and S9 have similar designs; the iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max have near-identical looks. Both Samsung and Apple have two-year cycles. It’s a time-honored tradition.

Now, the rule is finally winding down. According to Nomura Securities Analyst Anne Lee, Apple will not follow that trend next year. Instead, the 2019 iPhones will “likely have the same form factors… as the 2H18 iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, with some added AR-related features.”

Last year, Apple introduced the polarizing iPhone X form factor. Among others, the design standard popularized the camera notch. Since then, Android-reliant companies have also adopted the design, resulting in a lot of wacky iterations. If Lee’s report is true, the notch still has one year left in its tank. “We think 2019 could be the last year the iPhone uses the iPhone X design architecture,” she said.

Potentially, the move coincides with the company’s strides to adopt 5G technology, which will make its Apple debut in 2020. With that, Apple will likely debut a new design after a working 5G prototype.

Of course, Apple’s defensive approach also hints at the company’s struggles this past year. Notably, the company has been consistently disappointed by its sales columns this year. Apple has even decided to withhold its sales figures for upcoming quarters. On global distribution charts, Huawei has already overtaken Apple for the number two spot.

With the new report, Apple is noticeably doubling down on riskier strategies for the upcoming year. The company already expects to sell fewer units in 2019. On paper, Apple looks like it’s on a downward spiral.

SEE ALSO: Apple iPad Pro (2018) Review: Not just a laptop replacement

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C is the key: Explaining USB Type-C

What really makes this new standard special

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For years, people have grown accustomed to using USB ports for almost all of their devices. Whether you need to charge your phone using your computer or use a controller to play games, you can always count on a USB port to be readily available for you. But 2018 was the year of change and innovation, and the USB port you know and love welcomed change in a big way.

Introducing: USB Type-C, the newest port added to the family. Its round shape brought many new uses and functionalities to your ports. But, how different is it from its much older brothers? How have companies revolutionized its use in mainstream devices?

What is this USB Type-C port?

The USB Type-C (USB-C) port is a not-so-recent discovery in the world of tech. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) developed this USB port back in 2013, and launched it into mass production the following year. The connector is a reversible oval shape, much different from the usual rectangular shape of the previous generation. Its reversibility allows any orientation of the cable for transferring files or charging your device.

USB-IF developed USB-C following the USB 3.1 standard. Such a standard was particularly used because of its faster transfer speeds and charging capabilities. With a USB-C port, you can transfer an hour-long movie in less than 30 seconds, provided you have the appropriate connector for it.

Computer and smartphone manufacturers have incorporated the USB-C port in most of their devices. One of the early adopters of the new technology was Apple, with their redesigned 12-inch MacBook in 2015. Other computer manufacturers followed in the later years, especially with the release of the Thunderbolt 3 technology used for gaming machines.

It’s the younger, faster and more all-around sibling

USB-C has been around for the past four years, and it has gradually developed into an all-around port for users. Alongside Thunderbolt 3, the USB-C port posts the highest data transfer speed across all the available USB connections in existence. Not only that, USB-C ports these days can now connect your devices to external GPUs and displays, and charge your devices. Most USB-C ports even support fast charging for smartphones.

While the technology behind it is supported by a USB 3.1 standard, it’s still very much different from other USB ports that use the USB 3.1 protocol. For starters, the USB 3.1 standard found in USB-C ports are USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, which offer twice as much performance in data transfer as USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. Most of the Gen 1 ports also use an older USB Type-A standard, which works for most of your gadgets and peripherals today. However, you would need more adapters for other functionalities, like displaying to a monitor.

But the USB-C port is a far cry from the old USB 2.0 and 3.0 protocols, which have been in existence for 14 years (and counting). Data transfer speeds for those two protocols are significantly slower compared to the USB-C port. An hour-long movie would ideally take around one to two minutes on a USB 2.0 port. Also, older USB protocols don’t really allow you to power up devices that need more electricity. So, charging devices on them might not be as fast.

Supercharged with Thunderbolt 3

So, you’re probably wondering what really makes a USB-C port just that fast. It’s not so much that it’s round, or that it’s new; rather, it’s the technology inside it. Late 2015 saw the arrival of the new Thunderbolt 3 standard specifically for USB-C ports. It first started out in most Windows laptops before making it to the 2016 MacBook Pro and several gaming motherboards.

What Thunderbolt 3 does for USB-C ports is to significantly increase its capacity and capabilities by a mile. We’re talking faster file transfer, heightened gaming experiences, and being able to plug in 4K displays for clearer images. Thunderbolt 3 also allows much bigger devices to be charged at a controlled rate. This is mostly evident with the MacBook Pro, several high-end Ultrabooks, and most recently, the 2018 iPad Pro.

The charging capacity brought about by Thunderbolt 3 deals with a tweak to how USB power delivery works. USB power delivery standards state that each USB standard has specific conditions that must be met to power up devices. Early versions of USB ports only allow a small amount of electricity (2.5W) for delivery, while USB-C allows for the full 100W.  Basically, you went from just powering up your mouse and keyboard to charging your entire laptop.

What’s to come for USB-C?

At this point in time, you’re already living in the future that the USB-C port hopes to achieve. Suddenly, you can simply bring a USB-C cable around, plug it into a powerbank, and you can already charge your expensive MacBook. More and more devices are starting to adopt USB-C because of its potential to enhance your tech experience as a whole.

However, people still find it difficult to switch to USB-C, and for good reason. Most devices continue to use a USB Type-A or micro-USB connector, especially gaming controllers and peripherals. Also, they can argue that the old ports are more accessible. In a not-so-distant future, using a USB-C port could potentially replace a phone’s headphone jack.

The future of USB-C is still uncertain. Companies will iron out the new technology more so it can become mainstream for the future. Let’s just hope that by the time that happens, there won’t be a USB Type-D yet.

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