Netflix has granted three newer phones the ability to stream HDR video. The latest devices include the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the Huawei P20 Pro, and the Sony Xperia XZ2. HDR content has more contrast than standard content, creating deeper blacks and brighter brights for a richer viewing experience. Other devices already able to access HDR playback on Netflix include the LG G6 and V30, Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 8, and the Razor Phone.
Sony fans can bring the Xperia XZ2 Compact to Verizon, according to the company. The XZ2 Compact has passed device certification at Verizon, which means it will function properly on Big Red's network. Verizon customers can buy the Xperia XZ2 Compact unlocked from Best Buy and bring it to their local Verizon store for BYOD activation. The XZ2 Compact may be small, but it has nearly all the features of the larger XZ2, including a Snapdragon 845 processor, 2:1 full-HD display, 19-megapixel camera, fingerprint reader, NFC, and memory card slot.
Google today released the first public beta of Android P. For the first time, Google is offering the beta to non-Google branded phones. While it is available to the Google Pixel phones, Android P Beta is also available today on the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. People interested in testing Android P will need to register with the Android beta program, which is free to do.
Google today made several changes to its Google Lens visual search tool. First and foremost, it is adding Google Lens directly to the camera app of Pixel phones. Several other phone makers, including LG, Motorola, Nokia, Xiaomi, Asus, and Sony, will add Lens to their camera apps in the near future. With Lens, Google is relying on machine learning to help power Google searches based on what the camera sees. Google is baking more searching and shopping tools to Lens, making it easy for people to discover where they can buy items such as clothing with a function called Style Match. A feature called real-time results provides instant search results as people move their camera over items. It scans text, images, and other data points to search things such as concert posters, books, and such. The results offer links to more information, videos, images, as well as the ability to make purchases. Google says this update will reach Google Lens on the Pixel in the next few weeks. Google's partner OEMs have not specified exactly when they'll update their own camera apps with Lens.
Sony Mobile said U.S. consumers can preorder its Xperia Ear Duo wireless headphones beginning today for $280. The wireless ear buds ship May 25. The Ear Duo are not traditional headphones and employ an open design that allows people to hear their surroundings and their music at the same time. The Xperia Ear Duo rely on a spatial acoustic conductor to push sound directly to the inner ear while leaving the ear canal open. Sound is generated by a unit that sits behind the owner's ear. Sony says the Xperia Ear Duo automatically adjust to environmental sounds to counter background noise. The Xperia Ear Duo support Bluetooth 4.2 are compatible with Android and iOS devices. Touch surfaces and voice commands allow owners to interact with Android Assistant and Siri. The headphones include a Daily Assist function on Android, which will read incoming notifications, offer calendar reminders, as well as listen for voice commands. Owners can nod or shake their head, respectively, to accept or reject incoming calls. The Ear Duo includes four microphones and beamforming to ensure proper noise reduction and voice capture. The headphones offer 4 hours of music listening or 2.5 hours of talk time per charge. The included charging case can recharge the Ear Duo up to three times for music and talk totals of 10 and 4 hours, respectively. The Xperia Ear Duo comes in black and gold and is available for preorder from Amazon.com.
Sony today announced the Xperia XZ2 Premium, a high-end Android phone that boasts some of the most advanced imaging features available in a mobile device. The XZ2 Premium has a 5.8-inch 4K HDR display (16:9 aspect ratio) that Sony says is 30% brighter than its previous mobile 4K screen. The phone relies on Sony's Bravia TV and X-Reality mobile technologies to help improve contrast and up-convert standard content to near HDR quality. The XZ2 Premium includes a new Motion Eye Dual camera from Sony, which puts two Exmor RS sensors to work: one 19-megapixel for full color capture and a second 12-megapixel for black-and-white capture with contrast info. Sony says the data from both sensors is combined by its AUBE fusion image signal processor to reduce noise. The Motion Eye Dual camera is capable of capturing ISO 51,200 for photos and ISO 12,800 during video — which means the XZ2 Premium is ultra sensitive to light and can deliver more detail in nighttime pictures. The camera supports selectable bokeh, 4K HDR video capture, and 960fps super slow motion in either 720p or 1080p HD. The user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with display-based flash. In addition to the high-quality audio capture and on-display playback, the XZ2 Premium includes S-Force Front Surround speakers and a Dynamic Vibration System so owners can "feel the action" in their hands. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 6 GB of RAM and an X20 LTE modem for (theoretical) speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. The phone relies on a 3,540mAh battery with Sony's Stamina mode and Qnovo Adaptive charging, in addition to Qi wireless charging. Other features include NFC, USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD, 64 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 400 GB. The XZ2 Premium has a glass-and-metal design similar to the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact with Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back. It boasts IP68 for protection against splashes and spills. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium will go on sale later this summer with Android 8 Oreo. Pricing wasn't revealed. Sony said some features, such as Bokeh, will arrive during the third quarter via software update.
Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.
Sony has indicated that its Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact handsets will soon be available to U.S. consumers. The company lists both as "coming soon" on its U.S. web site, and U.S. retailers Amazon and B&H Photo Video also list the devices as arriving shortly. Best Buy will begin taking preorders for the phones on April 13, with shipments starting as soon as April 20. The in-store date for Best Buy brich-and-mortar retail locations is listed as May 6, with other retailers to follow May 20. The smaller XZ2 Compact (5-inch screen) will be priced at $649, while the larger XZ2 (5.7-inch screen) will be $799. The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact represents a change in direction for Sony as far as design is concerned. The devices adopt 2:1 screens and eliminate the bezels for which Sony handset have become known. Other features include 19-megapixel cameras, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processors, and IP68 protection against water and dust.
Sony's new flagship phones for 2018 pack all the bells and whistles into a curvy new glass design. Both phones include top-end features like a Snapdragon 845 processor, 2:1 ratio display, stereo speakers, HDR video capture and viewing, water resistance, and advanced cameras. The larger XZ2 sports an advanced haptic engine and fast wireless charging. The smaller XZ2 Compact continues to be one of the only truly small Android phones available with top-end specs. Here are our first impressions checking them out in person.
Sony today announced the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact smartphones, two devices that take on a brand new design aesthetic the company calls Ambient Flow. The phones feature a metal frame and deeply curved rear panels. The XZ2's rear panel is glass made by Corning, while the XZ2 Compact's rear panel is made from polycarbonate. The XZ2 has a 5.7-inch display in the 18:9 aspect ratio with full HD+ (2,160 by 1,080 pixels) resolution. The XZ2 Compact's screen shrinks down to 5 inches, but maintains the same resolution. The phones share nearly all specs other than size. Sony opted for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 premium processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The phones rely on Sony's imaging sensor with embedded DRAM. The main camera captures 19-megapixel images at up to ISO 12,800 and can snag 4K video, or 960fps slow-motion video in full HD. The user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with Sony's 3D Creator software for mapping 3D scans of people's faces. Sony said it has improved the software, which now produces more details images. Sony gave the phones S-Force stereo speakers and the larger XZ2 has a Dynamic Vibration System haptic-driven subwoofer. The phones support Cat 18 LTE with 4x4 MIMO and 5-channel carrier aggregation for theoretical download speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. The XZ2 includes a 3,180mAh battery with wireless and rapid charging. Other specs include NFC, fingerprint reader, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, USB-C, and support for memory cards up to 400 GB. The phones will ship in the late spring unlocked with Android 8.0 Oreo. Pricing will be revealed at a later date.
Google today made ARCore 1.0 available to developers and the public, bringing augmented reality to some 100 million smartphones around the world. Handsets compatible with ARCore include Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL; Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+, Note8, S7, and S7 edge; LGE’s V30 and V30+; Asus’s Zenfone AR; and OnePlus’s OnePlus 5. More devices from Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Asus, Xiaomi, HMD/Nokia, ZTE, Sony Mobile, and Vivo will be compatible with ARCore later this year. The 1.0 release gives developers an updated set of tools to create virtual content. For example, it features improved environmental understanding that lets people put virtual objects on surfaces like posters, furniture, toy boxes, books, cans, and more. The refreshed Android Studio Beta supports ARCore in the Emulator, so developers can get to work right away. Some of the first brands to offer ARCore content include Porsche, FC Barcelona, and Sotheby's. Google says it is expanding the availability of the Google Lens Preview, which lets you take a picture and gather information about what's in the image. Google says Lens will hit all Google Photos English-language users over the coming weeks. Further, Google is going to add Google Lens to its Google Assistant on select Android flagship devices. Lens lets people create contacts from business cards, recognize plants and animals, and add events to their calendar by taking photos.
Google says its Android Messages app is on the upswing thanks to new RCS-based tools and growing support from phone makers and wireless network operators. To start, brands now have more power to interact with consumers thanks to RCS business messaging. Google says brands can "send more useful and interactive messages" to their customers with photos, videos, and links for purchasing. A number of companies have been testing RCS business messaging via Google's Early Access Program. Some include 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway — all on Sprint in the U.S. Google says more businesses will be deploying richer messaging via the Android Messages app over the coming months. The Android Messages app has gained a lot of traction with phone makers and carriers, and more support is on the way. Moving forward, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Transsion, Blu, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential will all preload Android Messages as the default SMS/messaging app. A number of phone makers already offer Android Messages, including Huawei, LG, HMD Global, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Sony, and ZTE. The app has a growing footprint with carriers, as well. Google says America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company, and Telefonica have joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint, and Telenor in their commitment to launch RCS messaging. Sprint is the lone U.S. carrier to go all-in with Google's RCS and Android Messages. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own RCS-based messaging client for Android handsets. Google believes this new momentum for RCS and Android Messages will eventually mean a better messaging experience between people, brands, and more.
Google today said the Google Assistant is prepared to grow in a number of significant ways. First, the voice-activated tool is picking up some new languages. Google says Assistant will speak Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai on Android phones and iPhones in the next few months, with more languages on the way. Google expects Assistant to understand as many as 30 languages by the end of the year. Further, Google Assistant will be able to understand multiple languages at a time, meaning people can speak both English and German to their Assistant without changing settings. This feature will first be available between English, French, and German, with other languages to follow. Google also noted that it is working more directly from carriers and phone makers to improve Assistant. For example, LG, Sony, and Xiaomi are all prepared to rollout device-specific commands and features based on Google Assistant. Moreover, carriers Sprint, Koodo, Telus, and Vodafone are developing integrations with Assistant. Between the phone makers and carriers, Google expects Assistant to support individual device features, customer service queries, and more. Last, Google Assistant is adding two new tools to help people manage their day. Routines let people issue one command and set off a chain of actions. For example, say "Hey Google, I’m home" and the Assistant on Google Home or phone can turn on the lights, share any home reminders, play your favorite music, and more. Location-based reminders have now expanded to Google Home speakers. People can tell Assistant on their speaker to set reminders for specific locations, such as to get milk when at the store, and the alert will popup when appropriate. Google expects to bring even more features to Assistant throughout the year.
Google today announced the Android Enterprise Recommended program and an initial batch of handsets that meet the qualifications. Google says the Android Enterprise Recommended program “establishes best practices and common requirements for devices and services, backed by a thorough testing process conducted by Google.” In order to qualify, devices have to meet a number of specifications concerning their hardware, deployment, security updates, and user help programs. For example, devices approved must run at least Android 7 Nougat, and receive security updates no later than 90 days from their release from Google. Further, device makers must commit to offering security patches to unlocked devices for a minimum of three years. Some of the initial devices that meet the requirements — and are thus recommended for business users — include the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL; the BlackBerry KEYone and Motion; the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro; the LG V30 and G6; the Motorola X4 and Z2 ; the Nokia 8; and the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ Premium, XA2, and XA2 Ultra. Google says it will update the requirements with each new Android platform release to “raise the bar to ensure we are delivering the best experience for our enterprise customers.”
Sony today said it plans to make changes to its corporate leadership later this year. Current President and CEO Kazuo Hirai, largely seen as responsible for turning around the company's fortunes, will stand down from his leadership role on April 1. He will transition to the Chairman of Sony's board of directors. "I have stated that my mission is to ensure Sony continues to be a company that provides customers with kando — to move them emotionally — and inspires and fulfills their curiosity," said Hirai. "To this end, I have dedicated myself to transforming the company and enhancing its profitability, and am very proud that now." Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony's current CFO, will assume Hirai's responsibilities as President and CEO on April 1. The bulk of Sony's fortunes come from its PlayStation business. Sony continues to make mobile devices, most recently the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra. Sony may announce more phones at the forthcoming Mobile Word Congress trade show alter this month. Sony reported profits of $3.2 billion for its fiscal third quarter, its highest earnings ever during that period.
CES is the world's big consumer tech show. Every year we head out to Vegas to check out everything in person. We honor the standouts with our Best of CES awards. This year, five products really caught our eye.
Sony debuted several new smartphones at CES this week in Las Vegas, including the Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra, and L2. The XA2 and XA2 Ultra share nearly every feature other than screen size and battery capacity. Here is an early look at the latest from Sony.
Qualcomm today said a number of leading handset makers have adopted its radio frequency front-end. Some of the OEMs include Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile. This means these smartphone manufacturers will rely on Qualcomm's hardware to ensure their devices can talk to wireless networks. This is particularly important for T-Mobile, as the RF front end provides comprehensive 600 MHz band (B71) support. T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its 600 MHz spectrum now and plans to use it for 5G service down the road. The RF front end includes a modem-to-antenna system using the new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide-based power amplifier module. The module contains duplexers, envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches, and discrete and integrated filter modules. Qualcomm says its RF front end supports features such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced today, and will evolve to handle 5G technologies in 2019.
Sony Mobile today unveiled the Xperia XA2 and Xperia XA2 Ultra handsets, dramatically improved sequels to last year's phones. The XA2 and XA2 Ultra (pictured) have metal frames, new aluminum back panels, and 2.5D curved glass on front that Sony says is more refined than the previous generation. The full HD panels measure 5.2 inches on the XA2 and 6 inches on the XA2 Ultra. Fingerprint readers adorn the rear panel of the handsets. Both phones move from the Snapdragon 400 series to the Snapdragon 630 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The devices share the same 23-megapixel Sony Exmor RS image sensor with hybrid autofocus, SteadyShot stabilization, and ISO speeds up to 12,800 for low-light photography. They have an all-new 8-megapixel camera on front that includes a 120-degree field of view and SteadyShot for cleaner self videos. The larger XA2 Ultra packs a second user-facing camera with a 16-megapxiel sensor, optical image stabilization, and display-based flash. Both phones gain bigger batteries when compared to last year's handsets. The XA2 has a 3,300mAh power cell and the XA2 Ultra improves even more to 3,580mAh. The batteries include Stamina Mode and Qnovo for adaptive charging. Other features include Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX, GPS, WiFi, NFC, USB-C, and memory card slot (up to 256 GB). The phones run Android 8 Oreo. Sony says the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra will go on sale in late January. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
Sony Mobile today announced the Xperia L2, an affordable Android smartphone that makes some significant upgrades compared to its predecessor. To start, the phone has a metal frame and glass front. The L2 includes a 5.5-inch 720p display and it is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The phone now packs a rear-mounted fingerprint reader — a must-have in today's market — and a larger 3,300mAh battery with Stamina Mode. The main camera boasts a 13-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 120-degree, wide-angle, 8-megapixel sensor. Other features include Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX, GPS, WiFi, NFC, USB-C, and memory card slot. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. Sony says the Xperia L2 will reach the U.S. in black, gold, and pink in late January. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
Sony has begun updating its Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with Android 8 Oreo. Android 8 includes a handful of new features for smartphones, including notification dots, better app management, and picture-in-picture. Sony is taking things a step further. Sony is giving the XZ Premium one of the best features of the new XZ1 and XZ1 Compact handsets, the 3D Creator tool. With 3D Creator, people can create 3D scans of real-world objects such as faces, heads, and food. The update also gives the XZ Premium predictive (smile) capture, autofocus burst, improved sound quality, and app shortcuts. Sony says the update is being pushed out in phases.
Jolla, developer of the Sailfish operating system, today said the platform is now available to owners of Sony Xperia X devices. Jolla first announced this effort in February. Jolla put Sony's Open Device program to work in order to make this happen. The Sailfish-enabled Xperia X is meant to serve mostly as a developer platform, though Jolla says the platform will also be available to fans. The Xperia X is 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. People interested in Sailfish will need their own Xperia X handset. Jolla is offering Sailfish as a download across the EU for 50 Euro. Developers and fans alike will be responsible for installing the OS on their hardware. Jolla was formed by former Nokia employees who resurrected bits and pieces of the defunct Moblin and Maemo Linux platforms.
Netflix recently added the Samsung Galaxy Note8, Sony Xperia XZ1, and the LG V30 to the short list of those able to play back high-definition video in HDR. High-dynamic range content offers better contrast than standard content. The only other handsets capable of supporting Netflix HDR are the LG G6 and Xperia XZ Premium, which have the needed HDR displays. In order to view HDR content on these handsets, owners have to subscribe to the $12 premium Netflix plan (streaming on four screens and ultra HD resolution). They'll also have to ensure the latest version of the app is installed on their phone, and select "high definition" for video playback quality.
Sony today announced the XA1 Plus, a handset that finds some middle ground between the XA1 and XA1 Ultra. It's a mid-range handset that leans heavily on Sony's tired design language. The price point is more attractive than the hardware itself. Here are our initial thoughts on Sony's latest Android smartphone.
Sony's latest flagship smartphone is the Xperia XZ1. The phone largely carries over the design we saw on last year's XZ handset, but manages to stuff the chassis with a slew of new and exciting camera tricks that make a compelling case for the XZ1. Here are our initial impressions.
The Xperia XZ1 Compact is a true miniaturized version of the larger XZ1 flagship handset. It includes nearly every single feature offered by its bigger brother, but stuffs them into a more compact and usable piece of hardware. Here are Phonescoop's first impressions of the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact.
Sony today announced the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact smartphones, two metal-clad flagships that pair novel features with classic Sony looks. The phones share nearly all specs and capabilities, with the XZ1 Compact downgrading only a few components due to its smaller size. Both phones are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. The most important feature offered by the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact is the camera, which is a 19-megapixel Exmor RS memory stacked image sensor, the same one found on the XZ Premium from earlier this year. It is able to capture slow-motion video at 960 frames per second and includes a predictive capture mode, autofocus burst, anti-distortion shutter, predictive hybrid autofocus, and 5-axis optical image stabilization. The front camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture and a wide-angle lens. The XZ1 and XZ1 Compact include Sony's new 3D Creator app, which lets people scan objects using the devices' cameras. The software runs in four modes: face, head, food, or freeform, allowing you to capture 360-degree views of just about anything. The resulting 3D images can be shared via most messaging platforms and users can enhance them with stickers, use them as avatars, or even send them to 3D printers for printing. Other shared features between the phones include support for LDAC, digital noise cancellation, stereo speakers with front surround recording, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, and WiFi. Both phones include a 2,700mAh battery with Qnovo Adaptive Charging and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. They rely on Qualcomm's X16 modem and support wireless data speeds up to 1 Gbps. The phones are rated IP68 for protection against water and dust. The XZ1 features Sony's loop metal design language and has a 5.2-inch HDR display with the Sony Bravia Engine and full HD resolution. It goes on sale September 19 for $700. The XZ1 Compact relies on Sony's blocky compact design made from glass fiber and has a 4.6-inch 720p display. It goes on sale October 4 for $600. Sony says the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be the first phones to ship with Android 8 Oreo.
Sony today announced the Xperia XA1 Plus, an update to last year's XA1. This media-focused phone features a metal build with a 5.5-inch full HD display. It is powered by a MediaTek Helio P10 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. Sony gave the XA1 Plus a 23-megapixel Exmor RS main camera with an f/2.0 aperture and Hybrid Autofocus. The lens has a wide-angle of view and supports HDR photo/video capture, video stabilization, and 5x zoom. The selfie camera has an 8-megapixel Exmor RS image sensor at f/2.0. It also includes HDR image capture, anti-shaking tools, and Sony's gesture shutter. Sony was sure to give the XA1 Plus its SmartAmp technology for wired headphones, as well as ClearAudio+ and stereo recording. The phone has a large 3,430mAh battery with Qnovo Adaptive Charging for better battery health, as well as Sony's Pump Express+ 2.0 for rapid power ups. The XA1 Plus ships with Android 7 Nougat and a bundle of Sony-branded apps and services. The phone supports the LTE networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. Sony says the Xperia XA1 Plus goes on sale October 20 for $380. It will be available unlocked online from Amazon.com.
Google today announced the final release of Android 8.0, and also named this version "Oreo". Members of the Android Beta program will receive an update to the final version today. Nexus and Pixel users will receive the update "rolling out in phases over the next several weeks". Google has been working with all of its partners to enable updates for other phones. In the coming weeks and months, other manufacturers will roll out the update to many recent phones. By the end of the year, phones from Essential, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sharp and Sony will have Android 8.0 Oreo. The update includes some minor new features, such as picture-in-picture and improved auto-fill, plus many important improvements for developers and overall performance.
Netflix recently added the Sony Xperia XZ smartphone to the short list of those able to play back high-definition video in HDR. High-dynamic range content offers better contrast than standard content. The only other handset capable of supporting Netflix HDR is the LG G6. Both the G6 and Xperia XZ have the needed HDR displays. In order to view HDR content on either phone, owners have to subscribe to the $12 premium Netflix plan (streaming on four screens and ultra HD resolution). They'll also have to ensure the latest version of the app is installed on their phone, and select "high definition" for video playback quality.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.
AT&T today said it and partner Ericsson have reached LTE-LAA download speeds in excess of 650 Mbps in live field trials. The trials were conducted in downtown San Francisco. LTE-LAA is an advanced wireless technology that combines licensed and unlicensed spectrum via carrier aggregation. It will play a key role in bridging today's 4G networks with the 5G networks of the future. AT&T expects its LTE-LAA technology to reach speeds near 1 Gbps and it will deploy the tech in some small cells by the end of the year.
Sony today said it will make its flagship Xperia XZ Premium smartphone available unlocked to U.S. buyers in June. Pre-orders kick off June 12 and the device is expected to ship starting June 19. The Xperia XZ Premium costs $800. It will be sold online by Amazon, BestBuy and Fry's. The XZ Premium has a 5.5-inch 4K HDR display with Sony's TriLuminos and X-Reality technologies to improve video performance. Other specs include a Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno GPU, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. It boasts a 19-megapixel main camera with predictive focus, a 13-megapixel selfie camera, and a 3,230mAh battery with rapid charging. It's waterproof and ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Sony also today said its mid-range Xperia XA1 Ultra handset, with a 6-inch screen, will be available for preorder June 12 with a June 21 ship date. Last, the Xperia Touch display, which is a short-throw projector, goes on sale June 16 for $1700.
Eastman Kodak and Bullitt Group this week launched the Ektra smartphone in the U.S. The handset was first announced in October 2016. Bullitt Group, which manufactures the Ektra, is the company behind other brand-name handsets, such as CAT. The Kodak Ektra is a camera-first smartphone and features a retro design. The Ektra has a 21-megapixel Sony IMX230 sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and dual LED flash. It includes optical image stabilization, phase-detection autofocus, and can capture 4K video. The front-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor. The phone includes a 5-inch full HD screen, MediaTek Helio X20 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and a 3,000mAh battery. Kodak and Bullitt have improved the phone since it was first announced, particularly where the camera is concerned. The phone now includes support for RAW image capture, and has improved auto-focus, white balance, and color performance. Perhaps more importantly, Kodak and Bullitt have reduced the price significantly. In January, the companies said the phone would go on sale in April for $549. This week, the phone reached Kodak's web site for just $399, which makes it a much more compelling and affordable option. The Kodak Ektra is sold unlocked with support for the LTE networks of AT&T, T-Mobile, and their prepaid brands.
Sony recently made the Xperia L1, an inexpensive Android smartphone, available unlocked through Amazon.com. The phone was first announced in March. The L1 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. It's available in black, white, or pink.
Sony today announced the XA1 will be available to purchase online starting May 1. Internet retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, BrandsMart, Fry’s, and others will offer the phone unlocked for $299.99. The XA1, announced earlier this year, has a 5-inch 720p screen and 2,300mAh battery. It is powered by a MediaTek octa-core Helio P20 processor with the Mali T880 GPU accompanied by 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The device supports microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. It has a 23-megapixel Exmor RS main camera with a 24mm lens and an aperture of f/2.0, and an 8-megapixel selfie cam. Other specs include USB-C, Qnovo adaptive charging, rapid charging, Cat 6 LTE, and Android 7 Nougat. It is being offered in white, black, pink, or gold.
Sony today made the Xperia XZs smartphone available for preorder from Amazon, Best Buy, and other online retailers. The phone, announced earlier this year, will begin to ship April 5. The XZs has a 5.2-inch full HD screen, a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 256 GB. The phone has a 19-megapixel main camera with 5-axis stabilization, 960fps super slow motion video, predictive focus, and triple-image sensing. The user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor. 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 costs $699 and is sold unlocked. It is compatible with the networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile.
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 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.
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.