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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z camera preview

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One of the Sony Xperia Z's most noteworthy features is its 13MP Exmor RS camera. The upgraded sensor and lens combo has been talked about since last summer, and Xperias Z and ZL will be the first mainstream Western phones to ship with this new camera assembly.

At CES in Las Vegas today, we took the opportunity to snap a few shots on the Xperia Z, in addition to testing its 1080p and HDR video recording capabilities. The show floor is a difficult environment for photography, but the Xperia Z seemed to hold up pretty well. Notably, the noise that affected earlier Xperia cameras in less-than-ideal lighting conditions seems to have been addressed in Sony's latest Exmor RS.

Later, we tried out the Xperia Z's 1080p recording and HDR video capabilities, capturing just under a minute of footage in the elaborate Sony CES booth. Both left a positive first impression. Regular video footage, which can be recorded at up to 1080p, is crisp and clear, and the built-in mic was sensitive enough to capture subtle background noises. In HDR mode, you lose some fine detail, and very dark areas can result in some noise becoming visible, but the overall effect is very impressive. Note the details in the light fittings above the booth that are visible in the HDR video, but not the regular one.

I's still early days, and the device we used to capture these photos and videos was far from final, so there's likely room for some improvement between now and launch day. But for a general idea of what to expect form Sony's latest smartphone camera, you can check out all our photo and video samples after the break.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia ZL hands-on

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It's no flagship, but there's plenty to like about the Xperia Z's little brother

In addition to devices we’ll be seeing in the West in coming months, CES gives us the opportunity to get some face time with devices that probably won’t see the light of day in the U.S. or Europe. One of these is the Xperia ZL, which Sony says will be making an appearance in selected markets during the first quarter of 2013.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z hands-on

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Sony's first high-end phone of 2013 brings to the table a 1080p display and a glass-backed chassis

Sony Mobile has spent much of the past couple of years struggling to reach parity with the leading Android manufacturers. Whether it was hardware or software, it seemed Sony offerings were always one step behind competing phones from HTC and Samsung. In 2011, the single-core Xperia Arc was pitted against the dual-core HTC Sensation and Galaxy S2. A year later, the story repeated itself with the Xperia S, which at launch ran a year-old Snapdragon S3 processor and a year-old version of Android. Despite some really interesting designs from Sony, the overall experience sometimes seemed lacking compared to the competition. Even the Xperia T, by all accounts a perfectly decent piece of hardware, missed out on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at launch last October.

But Sony’s still hanging in there. It recently became the number two Android OEM in the UK. And though it’s yet to make much of a dent in the U.S. market, at least it’s got devices for sale on a major national carrier, which is more than can be said for some of the smaller Android players.

So that’s where we are in the lead-up to the Xperia Z announcement. Unveiled just three months after the Xperia T launched, the Z is a device that shows Sony isn’t resting on its laurels, at least when it comes to hardware. It’s right up there with the fastest, most beautiful smartphone hardware available, and frankly, that’s a first for Sony.

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3 years ago

Jelly Bean rolling out to the HTC One X on Rogers

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HTC continues to roll out Jelly Bean to the One X across the globe, and right now folks on Rogers in Canada get their turn. You can check for the update in the settings menu (Settings > About phone > System software updates) and 635MB later you'll have Sense 4.1+ on an Android 4.1.1 base. 

As a One X user myself, I highly recommend you do this one. Google Now and project butter make this a great update to an already great phone.

Source: MobileSyrup. Thanks, Jonathan!

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3 years ago

Alcatel announces new Scribe HD LTE and 1080p Scribe X

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Following yesterdays announcement of three new Android smartphones from Alcatel, they're back again today with the announcement of another 2 -- the Scribe HD LTE and the Scribe X. 

The Scribe HD LTE looks to be the same device as the Scribe HD that was announced yesterday, but with the added bonus of 4G LTE data capabilities. It's a 5 inch device with a quad-core processor and Jelly Bean. Not bad. 

The Scribe X is a pretty interesting looking device. It's a much higher end smartphone from Alcatel, and packs some extremely competitive specifications. Like the Scribe HD LTE, the Scribe X has a 5 inch display, but this one is a full HD 1080p resolution display. It's packing a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, with a 12MP rear camera and a 720p capable front facing camera. We're also promised a bevy of creative features and accessories centered around creating movies, editing photos and wireless sharing to your TV. 

We're lacking any information on RAM, storage and battery size at this time, but on the face of what we do know, the Scribe X can potentially go toe-to-toe with the newly announced Sony Xperia Z.

Both are to be shown off for the first time during the ongoing CES 2013 show in Las Vegas, and the full press release can be found after the break. 

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z heading to three UK carriers, Phones4U releasing in March

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Following the Sony press conference at CES 2013, the announcement of the Xperia Z, the next question to ask is -- when and where can I get it? Sony is the number 2 Android smartphone OEM in the UK, after Samsung, so we had no doubts that we'd be seeing it receive a British launch. The good news is that the device itself isn't a carrier exclusive. 

O2, Vodafone and Three have all released statements of their intent to carry the new 5 inch, 1080p flagship smartphone from Sony. Dates are somewhat lacking, as is any indication of price. But, we do know that O2 will be carrying an exclusive purple version of the Xperia Z, along with the black version we saw yesterday. Vodafone intends to carry the Xperia Z "as soon as it is released in the UK," while Three simply says "in the not too distant future." 

High Street retailer Phones4U is a little more accurate with a release date though. In a press release issued by the chain, they announce their intentions to launch the handset on March 1 in store, with pre-registration beginning immediately on their website. That press release can be found after the break.

Update - We've just received word from Clove Technology that they too will be stocking the Xperia Z. They expect to offer it in the same time frame as Phones4U, and currently are taking pre-orders for SIM-free devices. The price is pretty steep at £528, but we'd expect a high price for a device of this stature. 

Sources: O2, Vodafone, Three, Clove

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3 years ago

First look at the Ubuntu OS on the Galaxy Nexus

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Here we are, finally, with our first look at the Ubuntu operating system on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It's certainly a vast departure from Android, but it is running on Android hardware, and we're all neckbeards at heart. And hacking a new OS onto an old phone is an interesting proposition in any case.

But let's face facts here: The Ubuntu OS, in its form we saw demoed tonight in Las Vegas, isn't anywhere near ready for prime time. It's not just laggy -- touch response seemed way, too, too. Hell, they wouldn't even let us touch it. That's not anywhere near fair to the developers, of course -- we know it's not ready yet. That's important to remember when the first system images are finally released, supposedly sometime in February.  But what we did see tonight was kind of intriguing, especially in the context of a potential device for emerging markets. 

As Jerry pointed out in a recent podcast, you're not going to see an Ubuntu phone in a U.S. carrier store anytime soon. Mozilla's Firefox OS is in that same state of flux, too. But we do love the idea of something different. Something to play with. And so, for now, we'll have to remain content with a brief -- and buggy -- demo.

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3 years ago

HTC One SV hands-on (Cricket Wireless)

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Ladies and gentlemen, meet the HTC One SV. One S, meet the people. What you see before you here is the second of a pair of entry-level(ish) phones from HTC in recent weeks. This one's on Cricket Wireless. Its cousin, the HTC One VX, is on AT&T. 

The One SV, while simple, is very nicely designed. It's not quite a solid piece of kit, but chances are you might not notice. While the battery cover comes off, there's no obvious notch to get a fingernail into. Pry it open, though, and you get the power source, SIM card and microSD card slot. You'll need that microSD card, as there's just 5 GB of storage available in the phone for apps and pictures and what-not. 

But, really, it's not the specs, which won't overwhelm you -- it's the no-contract pricing of $349 (which is the way you think you should buy phones), plus Cricket's data plans and Muve music that make the One SV a rather attractive device. It'll be available January 16.

We've got more pics and video after the break.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Huawei Ascend Mate

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We've just wrapped up at the Huawei press conference here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas where the Chinese OEM announced the Ascend Mate. This device has been rumored some time as the super large competitor to the likes of the Galaxy Note II and Optimus Vu, and Huawei didn't disappoint when it announced this 6.1-inch behemoth. As you would expect, the Ascend Mate is borderline when it comes to what we call a "phone," but they're positioning it as such nonetheless.

The hardware on this device is quite a departure from previous Huawei phones, stepping up to a stainless steel frame and solid plastic accents. Even the power and volume keys are stainless, and set well into the frame. The 6.1-inch screen is surprisingly manageable considering its size, thanks to very small bezels and on-screen navigation buttons, but this is far from one-handed use friendly. The panel itself is only 720x1280, although at first we thought it must be a typo because there really aren't any noticeable pixels. It's just a bit puzzling considering it's sibling the Ascend D2 has a 1080x1920 display at just 5-inches. Nevertheless, under the hood we see the same specs as the D2, with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

On the software front, Huawei has also made some big changes coming from its previous builds. This is its "Emotion UI" set of customizations, which combines many of the stock Jelly Bean features, with its own added tweaks and style. In the keynote, CEO Richard Yu noted that their software has "fixed 200 problems with Android." This is indeed Jelly Bean 4.1.2 under the hood, but it doesn't necessarily feel like it in normal navigation. Most items have received visual tweaks -- from the app icons to the settings menu -- and Huawei has even opted to remove an app drawer from its default launcher. It's something quickly fixed from a download in the Play Store, but it hurts this device's out-of-the-box appeal for some.

The Ascend Mate is expected to launch in China starting in February, with international availability thereafter. There was no pricing given, but Mr. Yu explained that the devices would be for sale to other markets online.

Be sure to stick around after the break to take a look at several pictures and a hands-on video we've got for you straight from CES.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Huawei Ascend D2

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Huawei edged into the high-end smartphone space in 2012 with its Ascend D1 series, and it's following up this year with a large-screened, high-resolution successor, the Ascend D2. Powered by a custom 1.4GHz quad-core processor, the Ascend D2. With a 5-inch 1080p screen, the D2 is aimed firmly at current competition from the better-known manufacturers, including HTC's Droid DNA.

The D2's build quality is a substantial step up from earlier Huawei handset. There's glossy plastic around the back, but the trim is constructed of stainless steel, and a video shown at Huawei's Las Vegas press conference today showed the complexities involved in crafting the frame for this device.

The star of the show is the 5-inch display, which runs at 1080p resolution and goes toe-to-toe with the screen of the Droid DNA, which we compared in our hands-on video. Being an early demo unit, it was difficult to judge the handset's overall performance, but we can offer a few thoughts on the software. On top of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the D2 runs Huawei's emotion UI. This brings a curved, MIUI-like appearance to the OS, along with a few quirks like the launcher, which lacks a traditional app drawer.

The Ascend D2 is slated to launch in China and Europe in Q1, and with the hardware inside this device, Huawei's in a strong position. However, it remains to be seen whether the smartphone-buying masses will fall in love with its unconventional Emotion UI.

Check out our hands-on video above for a quick walkthrough, and stick around after the break for even more pictures of the device (including a side-by-side with the Droid DNA.)

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3 years ago

Sony announces Xperia Z, a 5" flagship with 1080p reality display

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New Sony flagship features 1080p screen, 13MP camera, and reality display

It's been leaked and rumored over the past several weeks, but today the Sony Xperia Z is official. At its CES 2013 press conference this afternoon, the company announced a new flagship smartphone with large, high-resolution display. The Xperia Z packs a 5-inch 1080p Full HD Reality display, and runs Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU with 2GB of RAM.

Design highlights for this device include a high-level of dust and water resistance, and a an all-glass back, similar to recent efforts from LG. The Xperia Z will launch globally in Q1 2013

We're live at the Sony booth at CES 2013, and we'll be bringing you hands-on coverage of the Xperia Z very soon, so stay tuned. Go past the break for the press release and a bevy of hands-on pictures.

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3 years ago

Huawei makes Ascend Mate and Ascend D2 official

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At the Huawei press event in Vegas today, the Ascend Mate and Ascend D2 have been made official. We've seen and heard enough rumors to know they were coming, but our first real look at the phones leaves us pretty impressed. 

The Mate, billed as the Largest Screen Smartphone (at 6.1-inches nobody can argue that) is being touted as the ultimate all in one device, with a big screen that is still portable, and will replace a laptop, phone, and camera with one convergent device.

The Ascend D2 (no Quad on this one) is the Most Powerful Smartphone, and has a 5-inch 443 ppi display. A 13MP camera and giant 3000mAh battery that gives two day battery life round it out as a real super phone for 2013.  We're on site and will certainly have a closer look at these. Both press releases are after the break. Stay tuned!

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3 years ago

Intel announces new 'Lexington' platform aimed at emerging markets

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The Intel CES 2013 press conference is in full swing, and they came out of the box swinging by jumping straight into their new smartphone news. Intel debuted the Medfield platform at last year's CES, along with a reference device, and this year is no different. There's a new platform, and a new reference device, but a different aim. 

The new Atom Z2420, codenamed Lexington, is aimed at the emerging markets such as India with a view to hitting the value markets. Intel says that Lexington is a no-compromise platform, and runs an optimized version of Android in just the same way as the 2012 Medfield devices. The reference device certainly reflects the "value" proposition, containing a 3.5 inch HVGA 430x320 display, but still contains a HSPA+ 21mbps modem. 

In line with desirable features in the targeted markets, Intel has included support for FM radio and dual-SIM devices. MicroSD card support is included, as is wireless display. It supports 1.3MP and 5MP front and rear cameras respectively, and like the Medfield platform, this includes a fast shot "burst mode." Video recording at 1080p and 30fps will be supported by the rear camera. 

Initial partners for the Lexington platform include Lava, SafariCom and Acer, with details coming on the devices from each later on in Q1. 

Value wasn't all she wrote though. While Lexington is the main focus, Intel did drop a hint at what's on the horizon for their more high end offerings. Following from last year's Medfield will be the new Clover Trail+ for smartphones. The Clover Trail+ will be Intel's first dual-core processor for Android devices, based on the Atom Z2580. Intel's performance and battery life on a single-core chip is impressive, so we're looking forward to seeing how the platform advances in 2013. 

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3 years ago

Live from Huawei's CES 2013 press conference

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We're live at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, and next on today's Android-packed schedule is the Huawei press conference. The Chinese manufacturer is expected to announce new Android and Windows Phone devices, including a successor to the Ascend D1 Quad, the Ascend D2, and a ridiculous 6.1-inch phone, the Ascend Mate. On the Windows side, we're expecting Huawei's first Windows Phone 8 device, the Ascend W1.

The presentation kicks off at 1pm PT (4pm ET), and we'll be covering the event live. Check past the break for our liveblog of Huawei at CES!

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Pantech Discover on AT&T

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There's a good chance if you're reading this that the Pantech Discover is not for you. And that's cool. It's for your mom. Or your granddad. It's a first-timer device, with a first-timer price of $49 on contract with AT&T. And you know what? Pantech's done a pretty good job with it. 

Think of this as a large smartphone for someone who doesn't want, well, a Galaxy S3 or HTC One X on AT&T. But that doesn't mean it's not stylish. Start with a large, 4.8-inch 720p display. Nothing wrong with that. And Pantech blissfully diverges from the typical black-slap design, bringing some graceful curves to the textured back of the phone, with speakers tucked on either side. Haven't seen Samsung do that, have ya? (And those speakers sound pretty good, even in a crowded room.)

But the more interesting part of the Pantech Discover is the work that's gone into the custom user interface. It's built on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, and there actually are two UIs. Samsung's done this already, of course, but Pantech takes simple to a whole new level. Multiple home screens are pared down to one. The main home screen is nearly idiot-proof. Gone is the app drawer. Even the settings menu is hidden from where you'd normally expect it. And it's still pretty full of features, all things considered. It's got NFC, and AT&T's improved DriveMode is built-in, to help cut down on texting and driving. 

This one's worth a quick look in the store if you've got a first-timer looking for a phone and who doesn't want to spend a lot of dough doing it. 

We've got more pics and video of the Pantech Discover after the break.

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