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Google Gives Developers An Early Look at Android O

Yesterday, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced the first preview of Android O, the unnamed next version of its core mobile operating system. This early version of Android O brings with it a handful of new features that clearly target developers and device makers more so than end users. The primary consumer-facing function is a picture-in-picture viewer for Android phones (this feature is already available to Android tablets). Developers will be able to take advantage of a new background limiter, which can control how much power apps are allowed to consume when running in the background. Android O takes a new stab a notifications with what it calls notification channels. These will let users manage which types of notifications are allowed from individual apps, including new visual groupings that make it easier to see what's going on. The new Autofill API will let developers of apps such as password managers choose autofill defaults across keyboards. Adaptive icons for the home screen will automatically change based on system preferences so they can adapt to different phones and user interfaces. Android O adds new support for Bluetooth audio codecs, such as Sony's LDAC codec. Other features include: in-app pinning of shortcuts and widgets; support for Wi-Fi Aware; XML fonts; wide-gamut color apps; new WebView APIs; expanded accessibility options; improved support for multiple displays; and changes to the MediaPlayer, including new support for the MPEG2_TS codec for media streaming. Developers can install this first Android O preview on their Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C, and Nexus Player, but will have to do so manually via their computer. Google says Android O will see at least one more developer preview before the company releases a consumer beta of the operating system. Google didn't suggest when the final version of Android O might be ready, but it typically releases new Android operating systems in the fall.

Sony Xperia L1 to Hit North America in April

Monday, 1:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia L1, an Android smartphone that will reach American shores as soon as next month. The phone features a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor; both have an aperture of f/2.2. Other specs include support for memory cards, dual SIM cards, 2,620mAh battery with Qnovo adaptive charging, USB-C, Bluetooth, WiFi, and Cat 4 LTE. The Xperia L1 runs Android 7 Nougat. Sony said the phone will go on sale in North America in April of this year.

Jolla Ports Sailfish to Sony Xperia X, Launches China Venture

Feb 27, 2017, 6:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sailfish OS will find a new home on the Sony Xperia X smartphone. Jolla and Sony today said Jolla has created a custom version of Sailfish that can run on Xperia X handset. Jolla is taking advantage of Sony's Open Device program to make this happen. The Jolla-enabled Xperia X won't be sold to consumers, however, and is instead meant to serve more as a developer platform. It's a modern handset that's more powerful than the aging Jolla C device, allowing developers and enthusiasts to make use of newer technology in their projects. Jolla said the Sailfish Xperia X will be made available to its community members later this year. Jolla today also announced that it has formed a consortium in China. The Sailfish China consortium will develop Sailfish OS based platforms for smartphones, the automotive industry, TV, IoT, and smartwatches. Jolla says a number of companies plan to join the consortium. Jolla is run by ex-Nokia employees. Sailfish OS is based on Nokia's failed Meego/Maemo mobile Linux platform. Sailfish originally intended to sell its own phones, but was forced to reorganize. It now develops the operating system and licenses it to other companies.

Hands On with the Sony XZ Premium

Feb 27, 2017, 2:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony's luscious new phone is to die for. The 4K HDR screen is the best display you've ever seen on a mobile device and Sony wrapped it up in a serene metal-and-glass package. We spent a few moments looking at what might be Sony's finest-ever smartphone.

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Hands On with the Sony Xperia XZs

Feb 27, 2017, 2:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The XZs is a carry-over from last year. Sony took the XZs and gave it many of the amazing powers lurking under the hood of the XZ Premium, such as the camera sensor and image processor. The XZs is a better phone than last year's, even if it looks mostly the same. Here are our first thoughts.

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Hands On with the Sony Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra

Feb 27, 2017, 2:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony is betting on these two mid-range Xperia smartphones to help it find traction with U.S. buyers. They have reasonable prices, reasonable spec sheets, and that Sony design language. Here are our first impressions with Sony's XA1 and XA1 Ultra

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Sony XZ Premium Dazzles with 4K HDR Display

Feb 27, 2017, 2:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the XZ Premium, a high-end smartphone that has a 4K HDR display. The screen measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and packs 3,840 by 2,160 pixels for the ultimate in high definition. It includes Sony's TriLuminos and X-Reality technologies to improve video performance. The phone features Gorilla Glass 5 both on front and back, with an aluminum frame in between. The XZ Premium is powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor with an Adreno 540 GPU. It includes 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, with support for memory cards up to 256 GB. Sony has updated its camera and lens technology for the XZ Premium, which has a 19-megapixel sensor, optical image stabilization, and the ability to capture 960fps super slow-motion video. Other camera features include predictive focus, predictive capture, and an anti-distortion shutter. The user-facing camera captures 13-megapixel images and shoots full HD resolution video. Sony gave the phone a 3,230mAh battery with rapid charging and Qnovo adaptive charging to help lengthen the life-span of the battery over multiple charge cycles. Other specs include USB-C, IP68 for waterproofing, high-end audio processing, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and NFC. The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Sony did not announce pricing nor availability.

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Xperia XZs to Stand In As Sony's Flagship for Everyone

Feb 27, 2017, 2:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia XZs, a flagship phone that carries forward the company's design philosophy of metal-and-glass slabs. It may not be as impressive as the 4K Xperia XZ Premium, but it is still meant to compete with the likes of the iPhone 7, Galaxy S8, and G6. The XZs has a 5.5-inch full HD screen and is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with an Adreno 510 GPU, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The phone has the same 19-/13-megapixel camera combo as the XZ Premium, which includes 5-axis stabilization, 960fps super slow motion video, predictive focus, and triple-image sensing. Sony gave the phone a 2,900mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and Qnovo adaptive charging to help lengthen the life-span of the battery over multiple charge cycles. Other specs include USB-C, IP68 for waterproofing, high-end audio processing, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and NFC. The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. The phone will cost $700 when it goes on sale in early April. Sony plans to sell the phone directly to consumers unlocked.

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Sony's XA1 and XA1 Ultra Find a Home In the Middle

Feb 27, 2017, 2:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the XA1 and XA1 Ultra, two mid-range Android smartphones. These devices rely on the same design language seen on Sony's pricier handsets and share almost all internal components. The biggest difference is in screen and battery size. Where the XA1 has a 5-inch 720p screen and 2,300mAh battery, the XA1 Ultra (pictured) has a 6-inch full HD screen and a 2,700mAh battery. The XA1 series feature MediaTek octa-core Helio P20 processors with the Mali T880 GPU, 2 or 4 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The devices support microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. Each has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS camera with 24mm lens and an aperture of f/2.0. The XA1 has an 8-megapixel selfie cam, while the Ultra improves upon that with a 16-megapixel sensor and optical image stabilization. Other specs include USB-C, Qnovo adaptive charging, rapid charging, Cat 6 LTE, and Android 7 Nougat. The XA1 will go on sale April 26 for $300. The XA1 Ultra goes on sale this summer. Pricing for the larger Sony wasn't announced.

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More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Feb 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.

Sony's Latest Camera Sensor Captures 1000fps Super Slow-Mo

Feb 7, 2017, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced a new camera sensor for smartphones that will make it possible top capture incredible slow-motion video. The dual-layer CMOS sensor includes 1 GB of DRAM, which Sony says allows the sensor to capture and read images much faster. Sony claims the sensor can read 19.3-megapixel images in 1/120 of a second, which is four times faster than most of today's sensors. This has two effects. First, the sensor can snag fast-moving subjects without introducing focal plane distortion, and second, the sensor can boost video capture speeds by a factor of eight. Many of today's smartphones capture slow-motion video at 120 frames per second. Sony's new sensor can capture distortion-free, full HD slow-motion at 1000 frames per second, which will greatly expand what filmmakers can do creatively. The sensor itself captures images up to 21.2 megapixels and 4K video. Sony didn't say when the sensor might be ready for production.

Sony Pushing Nougat to Xperia XZ and X Performance

Dec 1, 2016, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it has begin distributing the Android 7 Nougat operating system to its Xperia XZ and Xperia X Performance smartphones. The platform includes multi-window support, longer battery life, more messaging options, manual camera controls, and a revised home screen experience that includes Google Now. Sony said it is rolling the update out slowly. Owners of older Sony Xperia phones will be happy to learn that the company plans to make Android 7.0, Nougat available for the Xperia Z3+, Z4 Tablet, Z5, Z5 Compact, Z5 Premium, X, XA, XA Ultra, and X Compact. Sony didn't say when these devices will receive the update.

Sony Reveals Xperia XZ and X Compact Pricing

Sep 22, 2016, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today discussed pricing and availability details for the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact (pictured) smartphones. The XZ will cost $700 and it goes on sale via Amazon and other online retailers October 2. The X Compact will cost $500 and will reach Amazon and others September 25. The XZ is a flagship handset with 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, and 23-megapixel camera, while the X Compact is a smaller sub-flagship with a 4.6-inch screen, Snapdragon 650 processor, and 23-megapixel camera. Both devices run Android 6 Marshmallow and are sold unlocked with AT&T/T-Mobile LTE compatibility.

Hands On with the Sony Xperia XZ

Sep 1, 2016, 6:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony's newest flagship-class device is the Xperia XZ. This phone builds on the design and features we saw in the Xperia X earlier this year and makes strides with the camera and video camera tools. Here are our first impressions.

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Hands On with the Sony Xperia X Compact

Sep 1, 2016, 6:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony's compact flagship manages to pack a lot of technology into its tiny frame. The most compelling feature for most potential buyers is likely to be the 23-megapixel camera. Here are Phonescoop's first impressions of the Sony Xperia X Compact.

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Sony Xperia XZ Steps Up Camera Tech

Sep 1, 2016, 6:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today showed off the Xperia XZ smartphone, a high-end follow-up to the Xperia X series devices from earlier this year. For the XZ, Sony said it concentrated on improving the camera and video camera performance, as well as further refining its design language. The XZ features what Sony calls the "loop" design, which relies on a seamless polycarbonate frame, glass display, and metal back plate. The screen measures 5.2 inches with includes 1080p full HD resolution and Gorilla Glass 4. The XZ is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 510 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS sensor with a variety of technologies added to help the phone take better pictures. It uses triple image-sensing and predictive hybrid autofocus to capture sharp images. It relies on electronic image stabilization and delivers 5x digital zoom. The video camera's SteadyShot feature measures 5-axises of movement and captures 4K video. The 13-megapixel selfie camera has an aperture of f/2.0 and a wide-angle 22mm lens. Other specs include CAT9 LTE; 2,900mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and Qnovo adaptive charging; high-resolution stereo audio capture and playback; and IP68 certification for protection against water and dust. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will come in forest blue, black, and platinum. The Sony Xperia XZ will be sold to U.S. consumers unlocked beginning October 23. Pricing was not disclosed.

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Sony's Xperia X Compact a Tiny Powerhouse

Sep 1, 2016, 6:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today revealed the Xperia X Compact, a smaller but still powerful Android handset. The X Compact is similar to the XZ in many respects, particularly the camera and design. The X Compact uses Sony's "loop" design, which relies on a seamless polycarbonate frame, glass display, and polycarbonate rear plate. The screen measures 4.6 inches with 720p HD resolution and Sony's TriLuminos processing for clarity. The X Compact is powered by a Snapdragon 650 processor with Adreno 510 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS sensor with Sony's triple image-sensing, predictive hybrid autofocus, and electronic image stabilization to capture sharp images. It delivers 5x digital zoom. The video camera's SteadyShot feature measures 5-axises of movement and captures full HD video. The 5-megapixel selfie camera has an aperture of f/2.0 and a wide-angle 22mm lens. Other specs include CAT6 LTE; 2,700mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and Qnovo adaptive charging; high-resolution stereo audio capture and playback. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and will come in mist blue, black, and white. The Sony Xperia X Compact will be sold unlocked online beginning September 25. Pricing was not disclosed.

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Sony Talks Up Plans for Android 7 Nougat

Aug 23, 2016, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today highlighted which devices it plans to update to Android 7 Nougat. Sony will make Nougat available to the: Xperia Z3+ and Z4 Tablet; Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium; and the Xperia X, XA, XA Ultra, and X Performance. Sony said it is working to bring Nougat to these devices as quickly as it can, but reminds owners that availability will vary depending on region, carrier, and other factors. Sony will provide more detailed information as it becomes available.

Google Releases Final Developer Preview of Android 7 Nougat

Jul 18, 2016, 12:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made the fifth and final preview of Android 7 Nougat available to app developers and beta testers. Google says devices that are enrolled in the beta program should be able to update to the newest preview right away. The Nougat Developer Preview is available to the Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, and Pixel C devices, as well as the Sony Xperia Z3. Google says the preview contains the latest bug fixes and optimizations across the system and in preinstalled apps. In addition to the operating system images for Nexus and other preview devices, the fifth developer preview contains an emulator for final app testing and the final Android 7 APIs. Google says it will release Android N later this summer.

Google Releases 4th Dev Preview of Android N

Jun 15, 2016, 12:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Android N Developer Preview 4 available to developers and beta testers. Google says devices that are enrolled in the beta program should be able to update to the newest preview right away. The N Developer Preview is available to the Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, and Pixel C devices, as well as the Sony Xperia Z3. In addition to releasing the preview, Google also finalized the APIs for Android N. This means developers have the complete set of tools they need in order to create apps compatible with Android N. Developers will need to download the final SDK for Android N in order to access the finished APIs. Google says it will release Android N later this summer.

Sony's Xperia X Series to Reach US In June

May 31, 2016, 7:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it plans to bring its Xperia X range of handsets to the U.S. market beginning in June. The Xperia X is available for preorder starting today from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo Video, and Reagan Wireless for $550. The phone ships June 26. Preorders for the Xperia X Performance, Xperia XA, and Xperia XA Ultra begin June 19 and ship in July. The X Performance costs $700, the XA costs $280, and the XA Ultra costs $370. Sony is offering three free Sony Pictures movies and the Sony Quick Charger with preorders for all four phones. Sony initially announced the Xperia X series at Mobile World Congress in February. The X series replaces the Z series as Sony's main line of smartphones. The X and X Performance are the high-end models, boasting 23-megapixel main cameras, 13-megapixel selfies cameras, and 5-inch full HD screens. The phones include support for some US LTE bands, but Sony has yet to specify which. People who preorder the Xperia X and X Performance will receive a 128 GB memory card.

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ITC to Investigate 8 Phone Makers Over Patent Claims

May 6, 2016, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to investigate a complaint from Creative Technology / Creative Labs that accuses eight different smartphone makers of infringing on patents. The ITC is prepared to look at phones made by BlackBerry, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE. Creative Labs says these companies are violating a patent related to media playback on mobile devices. The ITC did not say when it might make an initial ruling on the matter. Companies often use the ITC as a venue to settle trade disagreements because the ITC has the power to institute import bans.

Sony's Xperia Z3 Able to Run Android N Preview

Apr 21, 2016, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today added the Sony Xperia Z3 to the list of devices able to download and test the Android N Preview. Z3 owners can obtain the Android N Developer Preview 2 code directly from Sony, but will have to manually flash it to their device. Once this preview is flashed, the Z3 will be able to install future Android N updates over the air. The Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, 9, and Player are already compatible with the Android N Preview.

Sony Forms Business to Make PlayStation Games for Phones

Mar 24, 2016, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony is creating a new business unit with the express purpose of bringing PlayStation-branded games to smartphones and tablets. The company is changing its name from Sony Computer Entertainment to Sony Interactive Entertainment and at the same time forming ForwardWorks Corporation. ForwardWorks' goal will be to develop games, apps, and services for mobile devices. Sony says ForwardWorks will first look to release gaming titles in Japan and other markets in Asia. Sony didn't say if ForwardWorks' efforts will expand to other regions. Sony has long attempted to make gaming part of its mobile device strategy, but results have been mixed. The most direct effort was a handset called the Sony Xperia Play, which featured a slide-out set of gaming controls. The Xperia Play was sold by Verizon Wireless. Sony currently includes PlayStation apps on its Android handsets, allowing owners to connect to their gaming network to stream games and other content.

Sony's PlayStation Video App Lets Android Devices Access Movies

Mar 16, 2016, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony recently released the PlayStation Video application for Android devices. The app is essentially a portal to Sony's video content store and lets people watch movies or TV shows they've purchased or rented from Sony. PlayStation Video allows users to access their entire PS Video library and stream it to their Android phone or tablet. The PlayStation Video app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store, but movie and TV content must be purchased individually.

Sony Touts Marshmallow Upgrade for Select Phones

Mar 8, 2016, 1:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony used its official Twitter account to say Android 6.0 Marshmallow is now headed to the Xperia Z5 series handsets, as well as the Z4 Tablet and Z3+ smartphone. The update is being pushed in phases and Sony recommends Xperia owners check with their network operator. Sony hasn't said if or when Marshmallow will reach the U.S. variants of these devices.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Adds Fingerprint Scanner

Feb 24, 2016, 4:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today announced the Mi 5 during the Mobile World Congress trade show. The company's new flagship phone is a more refined product, featuring a metal frame, glass front, and ceramic rear panel. The Mi 5 has a 5.15-inch quad HD screen and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM. The phone will ship with 32, 64, or 128 GB of storage. Xiaomi gave the phone a Sony 16-megapixel main camera with four-axis optical image stabilization and dual-LED flash. The Mi 5 will ship with a 3,000mAh battery with support for Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0. The Mi will pack Cat. 12 LTE, as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC. It runs Android 6.0 with Xiaomi's MIUI 7 user interface. The Mi 5 will launch in China on March 1, with India to follow shortly thereafter. Xiaomi said the phone will reach "other global markets" later in the year, but didn't specify which. Pricing will be about $265 for the 32 GB model.

Sony Committed to US, Despite Lacking Carrier Deals

Feb 22, 2016, 5:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it plans to bring its new X Series handsets to the U.S., even if only via its own online sales channel. The company reiterated its commitment to the U.S. market, where it currently sells the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact directly to consumers online. Sony representative Don Mesa told Phonescoop that the company is always talking to wireless network operators, but will sell the X Series phones in the U.S. whether it scores a distribution deal or not. The X Series do not replace the Xperia Z series, they are simply an expansion of the Xperia product range. The X Series is meant to showcase new design language and relies on metals more than the glass surfaces of the Z Series. Sony expects the new X Performance, X, and XA to launch over the summer months. Pricing has not been revealed.

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Hands On with Sony's Xperia X Series

Feb 22, 2016, 5:24 AM   by Rich Brome

The X Series is an interesting new range of phones from Sony. Although they all look similar, the various specs cover a surprisingly wide range of the market from affordable to high-end, the models hit on a number of current trends. They look like excellent entries from Sony, but how are they in person? Read on for our impressions.

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Sony Launches Xperia X Series

Feb 22, 2016, 3:59 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 22, 2016, 4:00 AM

Today Sony announced the Xperia X series at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new phones focus on performance in two core areas: camera and battery. The first three phones in the X series are the Xperia XA, Xperia X, and Xperia X Performance. The new-generation camera in the X and X Performance sports predictive hybrid autofocus. The X series battery lasts two days and includes adaptive charging tech from Qnovo that extends battery lifespan up to 2x.

  • The Xperia X is the base model with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor and 5-inch full HD display. It also sports a 23-megapixel main camera and 13-megapixel front camera. A fingerprint sensor, memory card slot, and NFC are also included.
  • The Xperia X Performance steps up to a top-end Snapdragon 820 processor, faster LTE and a waterproof design, but it otherwise identical to the X.
  • The Xperia XA is a lower-range phone with a 5-inch display that is 720p instead of full-HD. However the XA has a bezel-free design that makes the phone exceptionally narrow. The XA runs on a MediaTek processor and its cameras are 13 megapixel, and 8 megapixel in the front. It does not have a fingerprint reader but does have NFC and a memory card slot.
All three models have similar designs using curved-edge front glass and metal back and/or side elements. The phones will ship this summer, although pricing and regions have not yet been announced.

Sony's Latest Image Sensor Boasts Hybrid Autofocus

Feb 16, 2016, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the IMX318, an Exmor RS image sensor for high-end smartphones. The sensor drops the individual pixel size to a single micron each, which Sony says reduces the size of the sensor while also improving low-light photography. Sony claims the IMX318 is the first imaging sensor to use high-speed, hybrid autofocus that can focus in 0.03 seconds for still images and in 0.017 seconds for video. The stacked CMOS sensor also includes three-axis image stabilization that can correct for camera shake and lens distortion. The sensor has 22.5 effective megapixels and can capture full-frame images even while recording 4K video. Sony expects to ship the IMX318 image sensor in May.

VAIO Trots Out A Windows 10 Handset

Feb 4, 2016, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

VAIO has unveiled a smartphone running Microsoft's Windows 10 platform for its home market of Japan. The VAIO Phone Biz is a stylish handset with aluminum unibody construction and mid-range specifications. It includes a 5.5-inch full HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 16 GB of storage, 3 GB of RAM, and a 2800mAh battery. The Phone Biz offers a 13-megapixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera. It can run Microsoft's Continuum software, which allows it to act like a full Windows 10 PC when hooked up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. VAIO will sell the phone in Japan for approximately $424 beginning in April. VAIO is Sony's former PC business, which it spun off several years ago. The VAIO Phone Biz won't be sold in the U.S., but is notable due to its design and the fact that it is the first VAIO-branded Windows smartphone. The VAIO Phone Biz isn't as capable on a spec basis as Microsoft's own Lumia 950 and 950 XL phones, but it is more stylish and less expensive.

Sony Scoops Up Altair, Merges Entertainment Businesses

Jan 26, 2016, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony has agreed to purchase Altair Semiconductor for $212 million in a move meant to help shore up its chip business. Sony has invested heavily in building production capacity to meet demand for mobile components, such as smartphone camera sensors. Altair, based in Israel, develops radios to connect small devices to mobile networks. Sony hasn't said what it will do with Altair's technology. It expects the deal to close in February. In other Sony news, the company today announced the launch of Sony Interactive Entertainment, a combination of its Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment business units. Sony Interactive will focus on the company's PlayStation gaming and media platform. The business will be based in San Mateo, Calif.

Sony Debuts News Suite App for Android Phones

Jan 18, 2016, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced News Suite, a free news app for Android handsets. The app is a dramatically overhauled version of Sony's older SocialLife app. News Suite allows users too customize preferred media outlets and subscribe to feeds from sites around the world. The two-tabbed system, says Sony, lets people view general and personalized news stories separately. Users can take advantage of key words to find and populate their feed with news about select subjects or people. This redesigned SocialLife / News Suite app strips out Twitter and YouTube browsing, but adds saved reading lists and article sharing. News Suite is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Sony Says Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact Reaching US February 7

Jan 14, 2016, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 14, 2016, 10:38 AM

Sony today announced that the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 smartphones will go on sale in the U.S. on February 7. The Z5 will cost $599.99 and the Z5 Compact (pictured) will cost $499.99. The handsets will be sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. The two high-end Android smartphones were first announced in September last year. The Z5 series features premium metal-and-glass designs, 23-megapixel cameras, and water resistance to 3 feet. Sony will sell the phones directly to consumers online via, Best Buy, and B&H Photo Video.

Nokia Gains Control of Alcatel-Lucent

Jan 4, 2016, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 4, 2016, 1:46 PM

Nokia today said it has officially taken the reigns of Alcatel-Lucent after its public exchange offer for Alcatel-Lucent was accepted by the French stock market authority. Nokia expects to merge the two companies in order to form a telecommunications powerhouse to compete against Ericsson, ZTE, and others. "We will move quickly to execute our integration plans," said Rajeev Suri, President and CEO of Nokia. "Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent will offer a combined end-to-end portfolio of the scope and scale to meet the needs of our global customers. We will have unparalleled R&D and innovation capabilities, which we will use to lead the world in creating next-generation technology and services." Nokia already divested its handset business to Microsoft and its HERE mapping business to a consortium of automakers. The telecommunications business is now Nokia's core focus.

Sony Hoping to Boost Battery Capacity By 40%

Dec 18, 2015, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony is looking at sulfur to help improve the performance of rechargeable batteries. Sony says using sulfur as an electrode material can increase the energy density from today's limit of 700Wh/L to 1,000Wh/L. This boost would give a lithium-sulfur battery 40% more capacity when compared to a lithium-ion battery of the same volume. Sony would use sulfur for the positive electrode and lithium for the negative electrode. Sulfur has low voltage, but much greater capacity potential. The company is also investigating magnesium-sulfur batteries. Sony hopes to commercialize the Li-S batteries in smartphones by 2020.

Sony Releases Messaging App for PlayStation Gamers

Dec 8, 2015, 8:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony recently made a stand-alone, mobile messaging app available to users of its PlayStation gaming console. The app, which requires a PlayStation Network account, lets gamers see which friends are online and available, send text or voice messages with photos and stickers, and swiftly access messaging groups and lists. PlayStation Messages is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store

Sony to Buy Toshiba's Camera Sensor Business

Dec 4, 2015, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony has agreed to acquire Toshiba's camera sensor business for $155 million. Under the terms of the deal, Sony and its subsidiary, Sony Semiconductor Corporation, will acquire a fabrication facility, equipment, 1,100 employees, and other assets associated with Toshiba's 300mm wafer production facility in Oita, Japan. Sony plans to use the plant to manufacture CMOS sensors, which it sells to camera, smartphone, and tablet makers. The companies expect the deal to close by March 31, 2016. Sony's camera sensor business is one of its strongest.

Unwired Planet Bests Samsung and Huawei In Patent Trial

Nov 24, 2015, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Unwired Planet landed its first courtroom victory in the U.K. this week after a judge agreed that Samsung and Huawei are violating patents owned by the company. Unwired Planet has 16 employees and 2,000 patents it purchased from Ericsson in 2013. The company filed a similar suit against Google, but Google settled the charges. The judge overseeing the Samsung/Huawei case deemed the patents "essential" to 4G communications, however, which means they must be licensed at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory rates. Unwired Planet said the ruling "goes a considerable way towards validating [our] portfolio." Samsung maintains that it is not violating the patents. Huawei didn't immediately comment on the decision. Tech companies often use patent-based litigation to win fees from competitors. Unwired Planet is a patent-holding company and doesn't make or sell telecommunications equipment or mobile phones.

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