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1 month ago

Huawei P10 Plus hands-on: Big screen, ludicrous specs and Huawei's best camera

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Huawei P10 Plus

Spec hounds and photographers, this is the P10 you'll want to buy.

The Huawei P10 looks like a promising new flagship for the Chinese firm, bringing the technology first seen in the Mate 9 to a smaller form factor, with a palette of unique colors and finishes. But if you want the very best Huawei has to offer in terms of specs, camera optics and storage capacity, the beefier P10 Plus is the one you'll want to buy.

Huawei P10 Plus

The P10 Plus is based on the same Kirin 960 platform as the smaller, version, but ups the RAM to 6GB, and bumps the internal storage all the way up to 128GB, which is expandable even further via microSD. And you'll enjoy a larger, higher-resolution display as well, with the Plus packing a 5.5-inch panel with Quad UD (2560x1440) fidelity — backed up by a bigger 3,750mAh cell. The overall design is essentially identical to the regular P10, save for the difference in size, and while it isn't quite as easy to one-hand, the ergonomic design.

And yes, we'd be lying if we said the P10 Plus didn't bear at least a passing resemblance to the iPhone 7 Plus, with its characteristic antenna band patterns.

As we've already seen from the Porsche Design Mate 9, 6GB of RAM allows Huawei's EMUI software to keep a ton of apps in memory, ensuring you'll only rarely need to reload apps from scratch. On top of the low-level enhancements Huawei has made to EMUI 5.1, it's no surprise to see the P10 Plus offering beastly performance in apps and games.

Huawei P10 Plus

But photography is where the P10 Plus really reaches above and beyond any previous Huawei phone. The core camera hardware is similar to the regular P10, which is to say it's basically the Mate 9's camera, with one crucial difference. Instead of using f/2.2 lenses for its 12-megapixel color sensor and 20-megapixel monochrome shooter, the P10 Plus boasts a brighter f/1.8 lens, meaning its low-light photo capabilities should be significantly improved. (That's what makes it a "Leica Camera 2.0 Pro Edition.")

The new 'Pro Edition' camera with f/1.8 lens is a big step up.

In our brief time with the P10 Plus so far, we've found it manages to retain more color detail with less chroma noise compared to the regular P10 and Mate 9. So signs are promising for Huawei to become really competitive in photography in the coming year. Expect further comparisons in our full review.

Huawei P10 Plus

The Huawei P10 Plus will sell for €699 in Europe. In the UK, we're told it'll be ranged on Vodafone, EE, Three and Carphone Warehouse.

More: Huawei P10 hands-on from Mobile World Congress

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1 month ago

LG G6 is simple because LG is committed to the V line

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Lessons learned will translate into two very different flagships each year from LG.

As I traveled across the web reading what everyone had to say about the LG G6 I noticed two very distinct things:

  1. Just about everyone who has touched one is pretty impressed.

  2. The majority of the comments on articles about it are filled with disappointment and loathing.

The first thing can make that second thing hard to understand. Yes, phones are polarizing and no matter how much one person likes a thing there will be people who don't. But for the hivemind of the internet-of-Android to be so aligned against a thing that really does seem done well made me think a little bit. I decided the answer is actually pretty simple — there is no rule that says LG can only make one high-end global model per year.

If you're an internet Android enthusiast, the G6 isn't made to impress you. That's what the V30 (?) will be built to do.

The G6 is beautifully simple

The LG G6 is a complete opposite fo the G5. It's simple, beautiful, and designed to be the perfect phone for people who want a really good phone. That's far removed from experimental coatings and pluggable modules.

It's obvious that LG was concerned about the display, the size, and the user experience more than anything else. Not having touched it, I'll give them the display and the size — they certainly fit what most anyone would say is the standard for a great phone in 2017. Hearing others remark on the user experience part makes it sound like they've done a good job there as well, with a refined operating system and great camera. The G6 looks to be one of those phones that you'll be able to recommend to most anyone who actually needs a recommendation.

The G6 is LG's answer to the iPhone or the Pixel and it looks like they might have pulled it off.

Even the controversial moves of limiting wireless charging and high-definition audio to certain markets was a smart play. LG's market research says that most people don't care about either, and the people who care most have access to what they might want in their perfect phone. Not adding both options to every model keeps costs down, at the expense of different SKUs to keep track of. As does the 32GB storage space which is the size the vast majority would have bought had multiple options been available.

The G6 wasn't designed to replace a computer or to carry around entire seasons of your favorite shows or full 32-bit uncompressed audio libraries. That's because most people don't want any of that, and for those who do LG will have you covered with the V series.

The niche market wants more

And yes, enthusiasts that want more than the basics are a niche market. The V20 was made for us, and expect to see an even bigger rollout for the V30 (or whatever names gets attached).

Giving power-users a model with all the bells and whistles separate from the more consumer aligned G series makes sense in a lot of ways. For starters, LG needs to build a phone that they can sell and make some money. A phone that's simple, looks good, and does a few things really well is the right way to do it. Toss experimental ideas into a phone designed for people who appreciate experimental features and move the best of them into your consumer model.

Some of us want more than a Pixel or an iPhone can offer and LG has that covered with the V series.

If that sounds familiar it's because that's exactly what Samsung has been doing for a while. Think of the G6 as a reboot of LG and a new starting point.

If research shows people love the second screen and it can be used in the G7 without taking anything away, expect to see it. Expect to see the next crazy idea from LG to be in the next V phone, so people who love crazy new ideas can use it and provide feedback. Power users are more forgiving when it comes to aesthetics and we make a great group of lab monkeys. We're also the people who want things like removable batteries and a ton of storage to keep our music library for listening on expensive audio components.

Don't get too hard on LG for making their version of the Pixel or iPhone, because there are plenty of people who want to buy it. Carving out a chunk of that market is tough enough without being weighed down by things like modules or extra screens at the top to scare people away. Instead, sit back and think of what crazy-genius idea they might have in store for another V phone later this year.

LG G6

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LG V20

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img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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1 month ago

Video: Watch LG engineers tear down an LG G6

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It's easy to forget just how much of a marvel of engineering modern smartphones are. A modern flagship like the LG G6 is the culmination of years of design engineering effort, bringing an expansive feature set and a ton of computing power into a tiny form factor.

So it's always fun to watch gadgets like these being torn apart, and seeing how everything on the inside fits together. That's exactly what we were able to witness at LG HQ in Seoul, Korea shortly ahead of the G6's announcement. Engineers involved in the creation of the phone cracked open the phone and, using nothing but a handheld screwdriver and a little ingenuity, laid bare its components. Check out our teardown video for a closer look at what's going on inside LG's latest flagship!

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1 month ago

Watch our LG G6 review video!

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The LG G6 is upon us, bringing an extra-tall 18:9 display, a classy new metal and glass design and an impressive dual camera setup with wide-angle capabilities. We've been using the G6 in Barcelona for the past several days, and we've condensed our thoughts on the phone into seven minutes of video goodness covering every aspect of the phone. LG's best-looking phone yet is also its most capable, with speedy software, water resistance and the promise of greater reliability.

Only time will tell whether the G6 will be able to compete with coming flagships like the Galaxy S8. But for the here and now, it's an excellent device.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi Mi 5c is the first phone to be powered by in-house Surge S1 SoC

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Xiaomi's first in-house chipset is now official.

In a bid to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm and MediaTek, Xiaomi has launched its in-house chipset, dubbed the Surge S1. The SoC is built on a 28nm node and offers eight Cortex A53 cores in two clusters. The first cluster sees four cores clocked at up to 2.2GHz, whereas the second cluster sees two cores at 1.4GHz. The chipset also offers a Mali T860 GPU and a 14-bit dual ISP.

The first phone to be powered by the Surge S1 is the Xiaomi 5c, a budget variant of last year's Mi 5. The phone features a 5.15-inch Full HD display, 3GB of RAM, 64GB internal storage, 12MP camera with f/2.2 lens and 1.25-micron pixels, 8MP front shooter, Wi-Fi ac, LTE with VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C, and a 2860mAh battery with fast charging (9V/2A).

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1 month ago

Here's why Huawei is launching the P10 in Canada but not the U.S.

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The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are coming to Canada, but not the U.S. Here's why.

When Huawei announced the P10 and P10 Plus at Mobile World Congress this week, we assumed, like many other members of the tech press in Barcelona, that the launch would be focused on Europe. And it was — for a while. But now we know that in addition to Europe and the UK, Huawei plans to bring its new flagships to Canada in the coming weeks.

Specifically, the P10 will be launched on Rogers, Bell, Fido and Videotron, while the larger and better-equipped P10 Plus will be a Rogers exclusive. Prices and availability aren't yet available, but based on the phones' European prices of €649 and €749 respectively, we wouldn't be surprised to see them broach $700 and $800 or higher.

So why are the phones launching on Canadian carriers but still shut out of the U.S.? In an interview with MobileSyrup, the company's vice-president of corporate affairs, Scott Bradley, said that Huawei had been pushing for a move into Canada's high-end market for several years — it's sold mid-range devices for a while, including the recent Nova series — after finding tremendous success with the Nexus 6P.

He said that the Nexus 6P was incredibly popular at Canadian carriers, and improved Huawei's brand recognition amongst regular Canadians. The Chinese company also invests a lot of money into research and development within the country, so there is a positive brand sentiment overall.

In contrast, Huawei doesn't sell any phones through U.S. carrier channels, and only recently introduced its first high-end devices in the Honor 8 and Mate 9. One impediment to getting those devices into the market was Enhanced 911 certification, which is required by both the FCC and Canada's regulator, the CRTC. It took until mid-2016 for Huawei's homegrown Kirin chips to be certified for E911, which is why Huawei kept its high-end phones out of the U.S. for so long.

The tepid response to the Honor 8 may have been the P10's downfall in the U.S.

Unfortunately, despite the Mate 9 selling well through unlocked channels, disappointing sales of the Honor 8 likely precluded Huawei from pushing forward with a go-to-market strategy for the P10 series, despite its significant improvements. Without carrier support, a mid-sized phone in the $650-700 range would easily be overshadowed by the Samsung Galaxy or LG G flagship of the day, and Huawei currently feels more comfortable competing in the less crowded phablet space — one where the Mate 9 fits nicely, especially in the absence of a Galaxy Note.

What's nice about the P10 and P10 Plus launching in Canada is that they will be optimized for North American carriers, making importing the devices a more tantalizing prospect than the equivalent Asian or European SKU, which wouldn't have the right bands.

Would you import a P10 or P10 Plus into the U.S. from Canada? Let us know in the comments!

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1 month ago

This is why Sony phones in the U.S. don't have fingerprint sensors

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Sony Xperia XZ Premium

This has crossed into 'ridiculous' territory — but we now have a better idea of why.

Another year, another Sony phone launching in the U.S. without a fingerprint sensor — despite the exact same model packing the biometric authentication process everywhere else in the world. With the announcement of the Xperia XZ Premium and XZs, Sony once again has a couple of enticing phones. And even though it seems to have made good strides in terms of cameras and a few other pain points, this one issue still plagues it. For whatever reason, Sony cannot bring a phone to the U.S. with a functioning fingerprint sensor.

The question of why this is the case has been a constant bugbear for us as we speak with Sony representatives time after time, and at MWC 2017 we got perhaps the most candid explanation of what's going on.

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1 month ago

Nokia's Android phones are coming to India in June, as well as the all-new 3310

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Nokia's Android phones will be locally manufactured in India.

Nokia unveiled its first Android phones for the global market at Mobile World Congress, and there's a lot to be excited about. The Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 are all aimed at the budget segment, but they bring Nokia's storied design as well as decent specs for the asking price.

India has always been a huge market for Nokia, and HMD Global's VP for the Indian market, Ajey Mehta, has revealed to FoneArena that the phones will be debuting in the country in the month of June.

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1 month ago

These are the alternative carriers that use AT&T's network

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Here are a list of the alternative carriers that work with AT&T's network.

Note: This article was last updated February 27, 2017.

What is an MVNO? It's a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), or an alternative carrier. They've become increasingly reliable over the years and remained the cheapest in the mobile industry. And perhaps you didn't know that some of the major operators are actually providing for those smaller carriers. These are the ones that use AT&T's network, which means that the signal should be pretty good in most parts of the U.S.

If you're curious whether your phone will work with AT&T, make sure it supports at least one (but preferably all) of the following LTE bands:

  • Band 4
  • Band 12
  • Band 2
  • Band 5

Complete List of AT&T MVNOs

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1 month ago

Moto G5 Plus with Snapdragon 625 is coming to India on Mar. 15

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The Moto G5 Plus will make its debut in India on March 15.

Motorola unveiled the Moto G5 and G5 Plus at Mobile World Congress yesterday, introducing a metal chassis and much-needed spec upgrades. With India being the largest market for the Moto G series, it's not surprising that Motorola is teasing the imminent launch of the Moto G5 Plus in the country. According to a recent tweet, the Moto G5 Plus will make its debut in India on March 15.

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1 month ago

ZTE's Blade V8 Lite and V8 Mini are two new phones meant for the youths

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Are you a young millennial? ZTE's latest mid-range devices are equipped with the hardware you'll need for living your very best life.

ZTE is launching two new Android-powered smartphone from its youth-oriented line at MWC 2017. The Blade V8 Mini and Blade V8 Lite boast plenty of "features for young people" in addition to stylish metallic chassis.

The Blade V8 Mini sports the same 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel dual-rear cameras featured on the original Blade V8 Pro. It's equipped with a refocus mode that lets you select the focus area after you've shot the photo. The Blade V8 Mini also supports 3D shooting, a manual mode, auto HDR, and a multiple camera mode. You can view all the pictures you shot on its 5-inch HD display.

Inside, the Blade V8 Mini runs on a decidedly low-end Snapdragon 435 with 2GB of RAM. It also has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, as well as an unremovable 2,800mAh battery. There's also an expansion slot if its 16GB of storage seems too meager for you. The Blade V8 Mini will run Android 7.0 out of the box.

The Blade V8 Lite is an even lower end product from ZTE. The camera on this one has been bumped down to one 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, though there's still a 5-megapixel front-facing one. The VR Lite's display is also 5-inches long, though it's only 720p. It's also packed with a MediaTek processor, 2GB of RAM, a 2,500mAh battery and 16GB of onboard storage, with the option to get more via expansion slot.

There are few launch details for the Blade V8 Mini and Blade V8 Lite. The V8 Mini's launch will be in various markets across Asia Pacific and Europe, while the V8 Lite will be marketed towards European markets, namely Italy, Spain, and Germany.

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1 month ago

Top 10 things to know about the Sony Xperia XZ Premium

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A big, beautiful new phone, but it may not be worth the price.

Sony's latest flagship is the Xperia XZ Premium, and it's really nice. It's one of those phones you don't want to touch because it's so nice to look at. You may also not want to touch it because the damn thing is incredibly shiny, exposing fingerprints as well as any mirror. And it may not be worth buying because, well, there are just better devices out there at a lower price.

Interested in this phone? Here are a few things you need to know about Sony's best phone ever.

This is the second 4K phone, and the first with HDR

Sony debuted the 4K smartphone in 2015 with the Xperia Z5 Premium, and this year's follow-up has a better, brighter 5.5-inch 4K panel with a trick up its sleeve: HDR support.

Content that supports HDR — High Dynamic Range — will look more vivid and colorful on the XZ Premium's 4K display. Let's just hope that Netflix updates its app to support the Premium's setup because we need some of that streaming goodness on here.

It may be only the second phone to launch with the Snapdragon 835

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 is one of the most anticipated updates to phone chips in a long time. Faster, more efficient, with better support for VR, high-speed LTE, and smarter cameras, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium may be only the second device to launch with the chip after the Samsung Galaxy S8.

A phone with a 4K needs a powerful SoC inside. The Xperia Z5 Premium was powered by the troubled Snapdragon 810, and while it didn't have performance problems, it also didn't upscale a lot of content. Sony says that this year's follow-up will take it upon itself to do just that, and that's mainly because the Snapdragon 835 can take the hit without affecting the battery too harshly.

The new camera isn't all new

People don't buy phones; they buy cameras that connect to the internet. Sony understands this, and has designed its devices around the camera experience for years. But as much as it's tried to outdo the likes of Samsung, LG and Apple, it continues to come up short.

Sony thinks the XZ Premium has what it takes to beat the competition in 2017 with a new "Motion Eye" camera setup that lowers the resolution from 23 megapixels to 19 while increasing the size of the individual pixels, ensuring improved low-light results. At the same time, a new connection between the camera sensor and the phone's memory allows for caching of photos — predictive capture, as it's called — five times faster than any previous Sony phone, so no frames are lost during quick-shutter action shots.

That same new setup also allows for the new 960fps slow motion mode, which looks to deliver outstanding results. I can't wait to use this.

The glass backs are reflective af

Seriously, this is the most reflective phone I've ever seen. The Luminous Chrome variant is the worst offender, offering an easily-tarnished mirror finish that shows off every fingerprint.

As long as you're not too particular, and walk around with a microfiber cloth in your bag or pocket, the Xperia XZ Premium could stay pristine, but it's likely to pick up hairline scratches pretty quickly — a problem with all phones, but exacerbated by the reflectiveness of the Gorilla Glass 5.

There's still no fingerprint sensor in the U.S.

Seriously Sony, this is getting ridiculous. While the company won't divulge the reason for the feature's continued omission in its most underserved market, we're getting a little tired. This is an essential feature, both for security and convenience, and the longer we go without it, the less likely we are to recommend phones. Especially one that's likely approaching $900.

It's water resistant and dustproof

Like most Sony phones of the last few years, the Xperia XZ Premium is IP68 water resistant and dustproof. The ratings mean you can submerge the phone in up to one meter for an extended period without incurring damage. And, of course, there are no port covers to worry about.

It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat

We may be beyond it by the time the phone is released in late spring — late May, early June — the Xperia XZ is currently certified for Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which means that it will support all the latest goodies from Google, including rounded icons, image keyboards, and more.

Sony's skin continues to be very light and very fast, and there's no question that the company has learned its lesson in deviating too far from Google's recommendations. This isn't Samsung; Sony doesn't have the customer loyalty, nor the resources, to develop great custom skins, so the more it keeps to Google's Android the better.

Indeed, the new launcher has Google Now to the left of the main home screen, a result of the deprecation of the Google Now Launcher and opening that feature up to manufacturers. Great to see Sony implementing it so quickly.

There's no price or U.S. carrier information

Right now, the Xperia XZ Premium is coming to the U.S. in "late spring," according to Sony, and it has no explicit price or U.S. carrier partners. Indeed, we've been told the phone won't be sold at U.S. carriers, but will instead be offered unlocked on Amazon. That's all well and good, but based on the smaller Xperia XZs's price of $699.99, it's easy to see this phone approaching $900. Whether people will be willing to spend that much on a large, shiny 4K phone remains to be seen.

You can capture slo-mo video at 960fps

Yup. Insane.

It may only be 720p, but think about the constrast between a regular 30fps capture and something as smooth as 960fps, slowed down to look great on this big, beautiful screen. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

You probably shouldn't buy this phone in the U.S.

And then I consider buying one. Just think about the phone market right now. It's chock full of unbelievably powerful, well-made phones delivering on promises of innovation year after year. Sony may be unveiling the Xperia XZ Premium before Samsung's Galaxy S8, but it's almost certainly going to be available well afterwards — well after Samsung has sucked up all the air in the proverbial room and convinced millions of customers to upgrade, including many Sony Xperia users.

Sony is in a tough position. It knows it makes good phones, but it also understands that its strategy of consistent iterative updates leaves some people cold; it's more akin to an annual car refresh than a big-time reveal. The Xperia XZ Premium is likely a great phone — it's certainly striking, and quite attractive — but there's no way the camera will be as good as the Galaxy S8's, nor its battery as long-lasting as the Huawei Mate 9.

With a price almost certainly approaching $900, and no fingerprint sensor in the U.S., you may want to give this one a pass.

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1 month ago

Sony Xperia XZ Premium specs: 4K display, Snapdragon 835 and 19MP camera

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Sony continues to hit so many specs in a single phone.

As is the case with each Sony release window, there's one phone that stands high above the rest. In early 2017, that's the Xperia XZ Premium, and as the name would suggest it comes with a few top-end specs inside. The XZ Premium differentiates itself internally with a 4K display, a new 19MP camera, a Snapdragon 835 processor and all of the other bells and whistles you expect from a flagship phone.

Here's the complete spec sheet for the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

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1 month ago

Sony's four new phones are beautifully made, terribly named

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Sony unveils four more phones — can you keep track of its lineup anymore?

Sony has a phone problem. It keeps announcing replacements for phones that no one bought, or couldn't buy, or refused to buy because they lack a fingerprint sensor.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Sony has added four new phones to its ecosystem, all with names that are sure to confound its eventual owners and detractors alike. One only, the Xperia XZ Premium, is truly interesting — it has a 4K display that supports HDR — while the other three, the Xperia XZs, Xperia XA 1, and Xperia XA 1 Ultra, have a few notable features inside iterative spec sheets and limited availability, especially in the U.S.

We'll start with the most interesting. The Xperia XZ Premium takes the shell of the XZ announced last September and increases the size. Its 5.5-inch display has a 4K resolution, and it's one of the nicer displays we've ever seen on a phone. In fact, this one is compatible with the latest HDR specifications, meaning that it will output supported content in more vivid colors with better dynamic range. Built with a double-anodized metal frame, both the front and back are outfitted with Gorilla Glass 5, and each of the two colors — Deep Sea Black and Luminous Chrome — shimmer off the glass back in a parade of reflectiveness. This is possibly the most mirror-like phone ever created.

To reinforce its high-end target demographic, the phone comes with a brand new Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage standard. It's IP68 water and dust resistant, and in all markets but the U.S. has a side fingerprint sensor. Basically, if you've used the Xperia Z5 Premium, this looks remarkably similar, but for the rounded top and bottom, and a nicer-looking camera array.

That camera, which Sony says is all new in the Xperia XZ Premium, is once again the art of iteration. This book could have been written two years ago. A Sony IMX300 sensor — the same one found inside that aforementioned Xperia X5 Premium — has been slightly altered for this device, lowering the megapixel count from 23 to 19, affecting the size of the pixels to offer better low-light performance.

This is possibly the most mirror-like phone ever created.

And while there's no OIS in here, Sony claims that its new 5-axis stabilization system, known as SteadyShot, should do the trick.

The other trick is "Motion Eye", a way of increasing bandwidth between the camera and the phone's memory bus by five times, allowing for a surfeit of incoming data. That allows for predictive capture — the idea of caching frames while the viewfinder is open and only capturing the four frames around the shutter button — in addition to the absolutely insane 960fps slow-motion feature, though only at 720p.

These are great features, but nothing particularly noteworthy — and we're always suspect of Sony's camera claims until we have the phone in hand; we're been burned too many times before — and Sony, because of the dearth of Snapdragon 835s in the market right now, isn't shipping the Premium until late spring, likely late May or early June.

There's no price right now, either, but based on the $699.99 price tag of the other flagship being launched this week, the Xperia XZs, we're not holding out for anything below $850.

That Xperia XZs is still a great-looking phone, but it's less interesting than then Premium model. That's because it's a minor refresh of the Xperia XZ announced just six months ago.

In his review of the Xperia XZ, Alex Dobie called it plainly:

The problem for Sony, like so many other Android manufacturers, is the fact that Samsung's absolutely crushing it this year. Sony's camera is great, but it's not the best. Same deal with its screen, its build quality and its battery life. And U.S. buyers once again get the short end of the stick, as Sony cheaps out on fingerprint security.

Oh, that's right, neither the Xperia XZ Premium nor the XZs have fingerprint sensors in then U.S. Phones sold in the rest of the world get the feature, but it's still an inexplicably omission, one that Sony refuses to justify.

The Xperia XZs looks exactly the same as its predecessor — same design, 1080p display — but comes with a slightly more robust 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage to augment the Snapdragon 820 processor. The new 19MP "Motion Eye" camera is here, too. Both it and the Xperia XZ Premium will run Android 7.1.1 at launch, with Sony's increasingly tolerable

The Xperia XZs will be available in the U.S. unlocked at Best Buy and Amazon for $699.99 starting on April 5.

Sony's two other devices announced at Mobile World Congress are less interesting but could prove considerably more popular. The Xperia XA 1 is a follow-up to the popular 5-inch device released last year, and the borderless 720p display is now powered by a MediaTek Helio P20 processor, an improvement over the P10 of the original. There's also 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, nice bumps from last year, too.

A new 23MP rear shooter has trickled down from more expensive Xperia X series devices as well, making the $299.99 Xperia XA 1 a nice upgrade when it goes on sale May 1 at Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo.

Finally, a larger version of the XA 1, affixed with Ultra, will debut in late spring. The 6-inch 1080p display is the showpiece here, and there's no question that the device is more compact for it, but this is still a big phone. The phone has the same specs as the XA 1 but for the optically stabilized 16MP front-facing camera, which also comes with an LED flash.

While it would be easy to dismiss these phones as simple evolutions on existing designs, Sony clearly understands where its strengths are these days and is heavily playing into them. The Xperia XZ Premium brings back the high-end flash of the Xperia Z5 Premium while pushing display technology forward to support HDR, while embracing the latest generation SoC from Qualcomm. The other three phones are nice upgrades, but will most likely get lost in the shuffle of a very competitive handset market.

See at Sony

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1 month ago

Sony Xperia XZs specs: 5.2-inch 1080p display, 19MP camera, 2900 mAh battery

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Sony Xperia XZs

Internally, not a whole lot has changed here.

Taking one step down the ladder from the Xperia XZ Premium, we have the Xperia XZs — a mid-cycle refresh of last year's Xperia XZ with the same type of body and a few key changes to the specs. You'll see a new camera on board here, as well as an extra gigabyte of RAM ... the rest is pretty much unchanged.

Here's the complete spec sheet for the Sony Xperia XZs.

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