Archive for category Sony

Just $35, these open box Sony headphones deliver 8 hours battery life

When it comes to headphones today, the space is an exaggeration of riches. Whether it’s in-ear, on-ear, over-the-ear, around the neck, or something else, there’s no shortage of selection. But, with that also comes a bunch of high-priced options that are just a little more costly than we like.

If you’re looking for an affordable, quality set of headphones without all the extras, we’ve got just the thing. Right now you can pick up a pair of Sony ZX220BT wireless headphones for just $35.

With up to eight hours of continuous playback, they pair via Bluetooth or NFC and provide a comfortable listening experience. Not just for music, they’ve got a built-in microphone for calls and voice commands.

  • Bluetooth connectivity: Pair your device via Bluetooth & enjoy your music or control playlists, volume, and calls right from your device
  • NFC One-Touch: Simply touch your NFC-enabled device to the on-body N-mark for quick, seamless connection
  • 1.18″ drivers: Listen to your jam in clear, dynamic audio
  • Built-in mic: Take calls & issue voice commands even w/ your phone secure in your pocket or bag
  • Swivel folding design: Slip these headphones easily into a suitcase or bag
  • 8-hour playback: Keep your tunes playing throughout the day

What’s the catch? Well, while the headphones are in new condition, they’re technically considered “New Open Box” items. That essentially means they’ve come from excess inventory from store shelves and may have been exposed to customer contact. The packaging may show some wear and tear, or have assorted retail stickers on it.

Nevertheless, these headphones have gone through verification and have been put in clean packaging. You’ll get a 15-day return policy and a 90 days parts and labor warranty, too.

Get Yours Today!

Normally priced around $80 for a brand new pair, you can get yours for just $35 today. That’s more than half off and a terrific price for something that has a potentially worn box.

Best Sellers

Earn Credits!

For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.

First Time Buying?

If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.

Free Stuff

Not looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

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These open box Sony headphones are more than half off

When it comes to headphones today, the space is an exaggeration of riches. Whether it’s in-ear, on-ear, over-the-ear, around the neck, or something else, there’s no shortage of selection. But, with that also comes a bunch of high-priced options that are just a little more costly than we like.

If you’re looking for an affordable, quality set of headphones without all the extras, we’ve got just the thing. Right now you can pick up a pair of Sony MDR-XB650BT Extra Bass wireless headphones for just $60.

With up to 30 hours of continuous playback, they pair via Bluetooth or NFC and provide a deep, punchy sound with boosted bass. They’re comfortable as hell and come with a two year warranty.

  • Connect & stream music easily w/ Bluetooth & NFC
  • Enjoy full, deep, resonating sound w/ the Extra Bass technology
  • Get up to 30 hours of continuous playback
  • Experience long-lasting comfort w/ the self-adjusting headband & soft, cushioned earcups
  • Switch easily between songs & calls using the built-in button & mic

We can hear you now: What’s the catch? Well, while the headphones are in new condition, they’re technically considered “New Open Box” items. That essentially means they’ve come from excess inventory from store shelves and may have been exposed to customer contact. The packaging may show some wear and tear, or have assorted retail stickers on it.

Nevertheless, these headphones have gone through verification and have been put in clean packaging. You’ll get a 15-day return policy and a two year warranty from Sony, too.

Get Yours Today!

Normally priced around $130 for a brand new pair, you can get yours for just $60 today. That’s more than half off and a terrific price for something that has a potentially worn box.

Best Sellers

Earn Credits!

For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.

First Time Buying?

If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.

Free Stuff

Not looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

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Sony refreshes Xperia 1 with 5G, wireless charging

Sony this week introduced a refreshed take on its Xperia 1 smartphone, giving the handset a punch-up that makes it relevant for 2020.

The Sony Xperia 1 II (Mark two) picks up a number of new features which make it more appealing to buyers of flagship phones. Among those added for 2020 are support for sub-6 5G, wireless charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Sony Xperia 1 II is also the first Sony phone to have Zeiss optics, a feature that was exclusive to Nokia-branded devices.

Speaking of which, the Xperia 1 II has a triple-rear camera array with a standard (f/1.7, 82º), wide (124º), and telephoto (34º) lenses, all of which are 12-megapixels each. According to Sony, its auto-focus system can focus up to 60 times per second.

Other details in the Xperia 1 II include a 6.5-inch OLED display 4K (3,840 x 1,644 pixel resolutions) with HDR, and IP68 water resistance.

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, the phone packs 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, and a 4,000mAh battery. Not only does it support USB-PD fast charging, but it also allows for wireless charging, too.

As of today, Sony has only announced a version for European markets and 5G networks, but it includes 4G LTE support for bands used by most of the US carriers.

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Best of CES 2020

CES 2020 has come and gone, leaving a whole slew of new and interesting technology in its wake. While most of what was announced this week will make its way to retail and homes later in the coming weeks, some are more conceptual and prototypical in nature. In other words, they’re not due until some time later in the year (if ever!) and are subject to change.

Having kept a close eye on the things that we think matter most to our audience, we’ve gathered up some of our favorites. These “Best of CES” products are what we think will help shape the coming year.

Whereas some of these are iterations of existing products, others are completely new. And where most of them are related to mobile and connected home, some color just outside of the lines. Nevertheless, these are ten of the most exciting things to come out of Las Vegas this year.

CookingPal Julia

We’re a few years into smart kitchen appliances and they’re starting to hit their stride. It’s not hard to find an all-in-one device that sits on your counter, replacing multiple products.

The Julia takes things to a whole new level. Due later this year, it handles all sorts of tasks, be it hop, mix, blend, whisk, grind, boil, or something else. Moreover, it can walk you through the a recipe, prompting you to do things it cannot. It can also help you find a recipe based on items in your kitchen; it also includes a nutrition database and integrated grocery shopping assistance.

Read the full announcement


Withings ScanWatch

The ScanWatch monitors and tracks all of your standard activities, and looks plenty fashionable. Its extra sensors, however, make it stand out from the pack. One is able to detect arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats while the other can detect sleep apnea. The sleep disorder can increase one’s risk of various potentially fatal outcomes, including heart attack and stroke.

It’s one thing to keep an eye on things and record them for historical purpose. It’s something entirely different if you’re able to detect and potentially prevent something unhealthy from happening. Truly smart stuff.

Read the full announcement


Coolpad Legacy 5G

As we enter 2020, the various wireless service providers are busy deploying their 5G networks. And while the coverage varies from one company to the next, there’s one thing that remains certain – 5G phones are expensive. Coolpad’s newest phone comes in under $400, making it the most affordable 5G experience thus far.

Powered by Android 10, the new Coolpad Legacy 5G will offer up a massive 6.53-inch display and a 4,000mAh battery. Around back is a pair of (48-megapixel and 8-megapixel) cameras while the front has a 16-megapixel selfie shooter. With a reported 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and microSD expansion, it’s right in line with today’s consumer’s needs.

Read the full announcement


Jabra Elite Active 75t

The new earbuds are the fitness and active variant of the recently launched, and incredibly well-received Elite 75t. They come with IP57 protective rating which means dust and sweat resistance and waterproof protection.

Battery life is rated up to 7.5 hours per charge with the carrying case extending that time up to 28 hours. The earbuds provide passive noise reduction but give listeners the option to let sound in through Jabra’s HearThrough technology. On top of all of these great features, the Elite Active 75t are backed by a two-year warranty.

Read the full announcement


TCL SOCL500TWS

TCL’s SOCL500TWS ties the line between a comfortable, ergonomic fit and respectable audio and battery. Paired via Bluetooth 5.0, the earbuds take advantage of the natural curve that comes with your inner ear. Rather than relying on the canal itself, this ensures you don’t end up with ear fatigue halfway into a playlist.

Sold in four stylish colors, these sweat and water resistant earbuds provide up to 26 hours play time via the carrying case. We’ve become increasingly fond of the TCL brand and its various efforts and think they among the best at bang for buck.

Read the full announcement


Hisense H65G

This new series of TVs deliver a wallet-friendly 4K, Dolby Vision-capable TV with Android TV running the show. Available in a variety of sizes (43-inches up to 85-inches), it’s damn near impossible to beat the feature set at these prices.

These TVs include a voice remote as well as a dedicated Game Mode that disables processing for ultra-fast response times. Also present are DTS Virtual: X, Motion Rate Technology, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Read the full announcement


Roborock H6

After having been in the works for nearly three years, Roborock shows up with the H6, its first vacuum with a stick design and a host of accessories. Features include a first-of-its-kind Lithium-Ion Polymer 3,160mAh battery, a 420W motor, and 140 AW (air watts) of suction power.

Drawing on its track record of solid robot vacuums, the Roborock H6 can automatically detect when it’s on carpet. As such, suction power is increased to the tune of nearly 4000RPM. On hard floors it hums along at 1100RPM with a soft floor brush roller lifting dust and debris.The H6 weighs in at a just three pounds which means it’s also designed for cars, beds, furniture and other hard-to-reach spots.

Read the full announcement


Vizio Elevate Sound Bar

If you haven’t been paying close attention, you might assume that Vizio only cares about building high-end TVs with affordable price tags. Nope, it’s been getting increasingly more involved in home theater audio options, too. Its sound bar lineup gets a refresh for 2020, including one which complements its forthcoming OLED TVs.

The Elevate Sound Bar features a unique design that allows it sit independently or dock with the new OLED TV. The system includes two-way left, center, and right front speakers that utilize a separate tweeter, as well as dual-midbass drivers, and passive radiators.

Additionally, it has a booming wireless 8-inch subwoofer and two satellite surround speakers. The system supports DTS Virtual:X, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X audio and can automatically rotate itself based on content.

Read the full announcement


Plugable TBT3-UDZ Docking Station

Plugable’s new dock offers 14 physical ports. If you’re looking to maximize space in an office, or go all-out with devices, you’ll love what’s in store. We’re talking seven USB plugs, microSD and SD readers, and 100W PD to host. Yeah, plug whatever you want into it.

Thanks to the Titan Ridge platform, users can add two external displays to a single Thunderbolt port (4K, 60Hz). For USB-C it supports two 4K monitors at 30Hz each.

Read the full announcement


Sony Z8H

While many of us are busy catching up with 4K televisions, Sony is already a step ahead with its second 8K set. Set to launch in 75-inch and 85-inch options, its Z8H is packed to the hilt with a whole array of visual and audio goodies.

A new feature makes it so that the entire frame of the TV is used as a tweeter that vibrates the frame. Audio appears to come directly from the screen. And the Sound-From-Picture Reality feature aligns sound to objects, making things feel even more realistic.

The Z8H runs Android TV with Google Assistant, Google Play Store, and built-in Chromecast. Sony does put its own interface menus and voice controls on top.

The idea of an 85-inch TV is appealing on its own, but when you add in an Android TV experience it gets even better. Then, topping it off with 8K resolution and support for all sorts of wonderful voice assistance? Does it get any better?

Read the full announcement

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Sony at CES 2020: An 85-inch 8K, a 48-inch 4K OLED, and Android TV

Sony has unveiled its first TVs of the new year, and among them is a gigantic 8K LCD unit and a 48-inch 4K OLED unit. And there’s also a bunch of stuff that fits in between, too. Here’s a quick look at what’s in store for Sony TVs in 2020.

Z8H (75″, 85″)

Starting at the top of the lineup we find the Z8H which will be available in 75-inch and 85-inch sizes. Touting a mindbogglingly high 7,680-by-4,320 (8K) resolution, it promises incredibly deep blacks, sharp images, and support for Dolby Vision/Atmos.

An “Ambient Optimization” feature promises to optimize the picture and sound quality based on where the viewer is sitting and the lighting in the room.

Other notable details include CalMAN auto-calibration software and a Netflix Calibrated Mode which preserves the vision that was intended by those who create Netflix original content.

Even though it’s a TV, the experience isn’t just about what’s seen. Indeed, a new feature makes it so that the entire frame of the Z8H is used as a tweeter. This vibrates the frame of the TV to emit audio that appears to come directly from the screen.

A Sound-From-Picture Reality feature also tries to align sound to objects, making things feel even more real and to provide a sense of space.

Like others in its portfolio, the Z8H runs Android TV with Google Assistant, Google Play Store, and built-in Chromecast. Sony does put its own interface menus and voice controls on top.

As one might expect from a bleeding-edge TV, it can be controlled by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home devices. Moreover, they can be connected to AirPlay 2 and HomeKit-supported speakers or accessories.

The idea of an 85-inch TV is appealing on its own, but when you add in an Android TV experience it gets even better. Then, topping it off with 8K resolution and support for all sorts of wonderful voice assistance? Does it get any better?

Master Series A9S (48″)

The new Master Series A9S comes in at 48-inches, which is the smallest OLED 4K TV from Sony. It utilizes X-Motion Clarity for a high refresh rate and clearer image during fast-moving scenes and gaming while TRILUMINOS tech and the X1 processor produce colors that are more natural and precise.

This one also runs Android TV with support for Amazon Alexa, AirPlay 2, and Apple HomeKit. Rounding things out are Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, X-Motion Clarity, and Ambient Optimization.

A8H OLED (55″, 65″)

  • Utilizes Picture Processor X1 Ultimate to provide crisp, high-contrast and true-to-life picture
  • Offers Pixel Contrast Booster, which enriches colors at high brightness
  • X-Motion Clarity technology will now be available for OLED, refining action on the screen in real time with brighter and clearer picture than ever before
  • Two subwoofers improve and enhance Acoustic Surface Audio
  • Now supports Dolby Atmos, in addition to Dolby Vision
  • New Ambient Optimization optimizes picture and sound quality in any customer environment
  • TRILUMINOS Display reproduces the subtle nuances of color, light and gradation from video lens to living room
  • Works with Smart Speakers, including Google Home and Amazon Alexa enabled devices
  • Easy connectivity to most devices, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Quick access to an array of content and services with Android TV
  • Custom Mode, along with Sony’s other calibrated viewing modes, provides various viewing options to suit customers’ tastes while faithfully preserving the creator’s intent

X950H 4K LED (49″, 55″, 65″, 75″, 85″)

  • Offers Sony’s best-ever picture and sound quality for 4K LED TVs
  • Utilizes Picture Processor X1 Ultimate to provide crisp, high contrast
  • Full Array LED brings more realistic peaks of brightness, more accurate shadow detail and deeper blacks than standard LED TVs
  • X-Wide Angle technology, which provides vivid real-world colors from any angle while retaining more color and brightness, will be expanded to 55″ and 65″ for this model
  • Features improved Acoustic Multi-Audio, Sound-from-Picture Reality concept with bi-amp system, which controls main speaker and invisible tweeter separately, and X-Balanced Speaker, a new shaped speaker unit that pairs slim design with sound clarity
  • Flush Surface design offers sleek, bezel-less look
  • New Ambient Optimization optimizes picture and sound quality in any environment
  • TRILUMINOS Display reproduces the subtle nuances of color, light and gradation from video lens to living room
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
  • Features hands-free capabilities
  • Works with Smart Speakers, including Google Home and Amazon Alexa enabled devices
  • Easy connectivity to most devices, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Quick access to an array of content and services with Android TV
  • Custom Mode, along with Sony’s other calibrated viewing modes, provides various viewing options to suit customers’ tastes while faithfully preserving the creator’s intent

X900H 4K LED (55″, 65″, 75″, 85″)

  • New mid-range Full Array LED model
  • Offers Acoustic Multi-Audio with X-Balanced Speaker
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
  • Diamond cut bezel for slim design
  • TRILUMINOS Display reproduces the subtle nuances of color, light and gradation from video lens to living room
  • Works with Smart Speakers, including Google Home and Amazon Alexa enabled devices
  • Easy connectivity to most devices, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Quick access to an array of content and services with Android TV
  • Custom Mode, along with Sony’s other calibrated viewing modes, provides various viewing options to suit customers’ tastes while faithfully preserving the creator’s intent
  • 4K 120fps compatible
  • NEXTGEN TV compatible

Availability

Sony has not detailed pricing or availability for its new TVs but we suspect we’ll learn more in the coming weeks.

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Sony Xperia XZ3 Review: Great with a few compromises

So we have spent a little more than a month with the Sony Xperia XZ3 and feel that we’ve experienced everything possible to formulate a review. So without further adieu, here’s the AndroidGuys review of the Xperia XZ3.

Read More: Sony Xperia XZ3 First Impressions

As we stated in our First Impressions, the Xperia XZ3 packs just about everything you would expect in 2018. However, there are a few surprising omissions which left us scratching our heads.

Spec Breakdown

  • Display: 6-inch OLED 1440 x 2880
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB expandable via microSD card
  • Front camera: 13MP
  • Rear camera: single 19MP
  • Battery: 3,300mAh
  • Software: Android 9.0 Pie

Hardware and Design

If you have become accustomed to smaller or lighter devices over the last year or so, you will struggle a bit. The Xperia XZ3 feels like a brick when you take it out of the box for the first time.

Curves for days

Sony finally got the memo that hard edges and corners are a thing of the past. The Xperia XZ3 is curved basically everywhere, with smooth edges that melt the display into the frame.

The rear of the handset is also curved, which helps keep it in your hands during usage. It’s a much more comfortable feeling than a device with just a simple, flat, rear-casing.

Camera or fingerprint scanner?

Also mounted on the rear is the single rear camera sensor, with the flash and the fingerprint scanner below. We’ll touch on the camera a bit later, but the fingerprint scanner became a point of frustration during my usage.

Sony Xperia XZ3 2Even with a case with separate cutouts for the camera and scanner, I still found myself reaching for the camera. For whatever reason, the scanner on the Xperia XZ3 is a bit too low and it feels like Sony could have positioned it higher.

This isn’t a deal-breaking issue in the same way that the Note 8’s scanner was stupidly placed. However, it was still frustrating enough to make me want to point it out.

One-sided buttons

When you look at just about every other smartphone nowadays, the volume buttons and power button are placed on opposite frames. However, Sony decided to slap both on the same side, along with an extra button closer to the bottom.

This tertiary button acts as a quick-access and shutter button for the camera. Pressing and holding the button will quickly bring up your camera, and then you can press the button again to snap a picture.

Personally, I don’t think we need a dedicated camera hardware button anymore. I would have liked to see better Google Assistant integration with this button or something similar.

Software

The mention of Google Assistant brings into the software-side of the Xperia XZ3. Sony was one of the first OEM’s other than Google to launch a device with Android Pie on board.

Read More: Android 9 Pie Review

Needless to say, if Sony launched a phone in the 2nd half of 2018 without the latest version of Android, I would have quite a few qualms with that. However, I’m happy to report that’s not the case here, and Android Pie shines on the Xperia XZ3.

It’s almost stock

Instead of throwing some gaudy and ugly overlay on the XZ3, Sony kept it simple. The handset almost feels like stock Android, including the Settings app, launcher, and notification shade.

You even get the Google Feed when swiping left on the home screen. This is a wonderful addition and something that more OEM’s should take note of.

Is there really any bloatware?

Since the Xperia XZ3 is not available through any carriers, you don’t really have to worry about dumb bloatware. However, Sony does package a few of its own apps, along with a few others.

The list includes the following:

  • Facebook
  • Google News
  • Netflix
  • 3D Creator
  • Xperia Lounge
  • PlayStation App

Other than the apps listed above, Sony also included some of its own apps for Email, Music, and the Gallery. Even after throwing an AT&T SIM card in the device, there were no extra apps installed, making me a very happy man.

The inclusion of Facebook is frustrating, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Is Edge Touch useful?

In years past, we have seen HTC and Google integrate extra features into the frame of their devices. Sony wanted to jump on this train, but did so in a different manner.

Sony Xperia XZ3 6Instead of providing “squeezable” gestures, Sony integrated special touch areas, which it calls active Edge Touch. When activated, you are provided with some of your most-used apps and quick toggles.

Read more: Sony Xperia XZ3 Tips and Tricks

This was a blessing and a curse in my experience. For some reason, it would activate when it wasn’t intended to be, and wouldn’t activate when I was trying to get things to work.

When everything worked as advertised, then it was a great experience. Edge Touch definitely came in handy a few times, but this feels more like a gimmick than something that people will use on a regular basis.

Overall, the software felt very fluid, and did not really stutter unless I was trying to do too much multi-tasking at once. Sony gets an A+ in the software department here.

Camera

In 2018, there’s been one major trend: moar cameras. Sony and Google have decided to say “screw that” and stick with a single primary shooter.

The single 19MP camera on the Xperia XZ3 performs admirably, even if it doesn’t stand up against the Pixel 3 or Galaxy Note 9. Instead, you’ll be looking more in the LG G7 range (for the primary camera), without the luxuries of a secondary telephoto lens.

As for the camera software, Sony has simplified the camera app. This almost feels barebones, other than the toolbar at the top and the MODE button which lets you get more creating.

Modes for days

Speaking of those different modes, Sony has included quite a few in its camera app.

  • Portrait Selfie
  • Google Lens
  • Bokeh
  • Slow Motion
  • AR Effect
  • Manual
  • Creative effect
  • Panorama
  • Sound Photo

First things first, we want to say how awesome it is that Google Lens is built directly into the camera app now. This inclusion makes it really easy to take advantage of Google’s latest push in the camera department.

Manual mode was also a welcome addition, as our smartphones are becoming better than other cameras anyways. Being able to adjust the necessary settings to get the perfect shot is something that simply cannot be overlooked.

There are some extra gimmicks included, such as AR Effect, Creative effect, and Sound Photo. But, Sony figured it should have some fun with the camera, other than just keeping things simple.

How good is the camera?

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the camera on the XZ3. My daily driver is the iPhone X, and even though it is a year old, it still has been my de-facto camera choice, regardless of what I’m reviewing.

However, with the Xperia XZ3, my opinion was finally changed, kind of. I really wish that Sony would have included a secondary camera sensor here. Especially considering just how big the single camera module is.

Sony Xperia XZ3 Camera Samples

If I want a picture with a lot of Bokeh, I can use the included camera mode on the XZ3. But I HATE using digital zoom on any device, regardless of who makes it.

There is always a loss in image quality, and the same rings true with the XZ3. For standard shots, it will perform just fine, but if you need to zoom in for any reason, you may end up being a bit disappointed.

Check out our gallery above and let us know what you think about the XZ3’s camera capabilities.

Battery Usage

We’ve talked about the software and camera, but we haven’t really touched on the battery. Sony packed a 3,300mAh battery into the Xperia XZ3, which is “par for the course” in 2018.

It’s not too big, it’s not too small, and it’s more than adequate to get you through the day. What is nice is that we have fast-charging on board, along with Qi wireless charging. This means that you can keep it charged up throughout the day, regardless of your favorite charging methods.

In our usage, we were able to get through the entire day, even with using the hotspot for an hour every day. This is also in addition to being in a building with spotty network coverage on a daily basis.

All-in-all, you will be pleasantly surprised with the battery life, even if RAM management can be frustrating at times. The inclusion of 4GB of RAM is rather annoying, as we would have liked to see 6GB included since its 2018.

Conclusion

If you are a fan of Sony’s new design language or want to see what the hype is about the Xperia XZ3 is the best of the best. At least in Sony’s world.

The biggest issue for folks will be the price tag, which comes in at $899. Plus, you won’t be able to use it on Verizon or Sprint, and won’t find the XZ3 in your local carrier store.

Instead, you’ll have to settle for using Best Buy or Amazon to pick up the device. If you don’t care about the price tag, you may want to check out this bundle on Amazon. It includes the Xperia XZ3 and the new Xperia Ear Duo wireless earbuds.

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New OnePlus 6 features, Google’s new Emoji movement, and more news you need to know

Welcome to In Brief, the AndroidGuys tech briefing. Today is Tuesday, October 30, and we’re taking a look at all the tech news you need to know. In this post, we want you to learn about the news the way you want to learn. We’ve embedded a podcast version of all this news below. If you don’t want to listen, you can read just like you normally would.

In today’s edition, we’ll tell you what OnePlus 6T features are now available on the OnePlus 6, how bad things look for Sony Mobile, and a security flaw that Google says isn’t that big of a deal.

We’d love feedback on this post, so please let us know what you think in the comments. If we can improve in some way, we’d love to know!

Open Beta 6 brings new features to the OnePlus 6 ahead of 6T launch

There’s quite a bit of excitement around OnePlus right now. Not only did it just announce its brand new flagship phone, but it also made waves by signing its first carrier agreement in the United States. Yes, if you’re a T-Mobile customer, you can go pick up the OnePlus 6T on Thursday.

But, what if you’re holding onto your current OnePlus 6? The 6T isn’t a massive upgrade so we expect plenty of people to continue rocking their phones for a while. Well, you’re all in for some good news as the brand new OnePlus 6 beta is bringing some brand new features to your phone.

In Open Beta 6, the OnePlus 6 now gains access to new features like Nightscape. Nightscape is a feature that uses computer learning to brighten up darker photos without adding distortion to the photos.

The OnePlus 6 now also has a new gesture system, improved UI for About phone, better options for screenshots, and the November security update. If you’re already enrolled in the beta program, you should see the update soon. If you’re not and would like to sign up, you can head to downloads.oneplus.com and sign up.

Gboard lets you customize emojis

Emojis are an important part of life. Now, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter, but its true. People use emojis more and more every day and now Google is giving users of its Gboard keyboard some customization options.

Starting in its newest beta, Gboard allows users to create “Emoji Minis” which are emoji-sized stickers that look like you. Now instead of sending a random winking face, you can send yourself winking. Not creepy at all, right?

Google stated in a recent blog that, “Emoji Minis are designed for those who may have stared into the eyes of emoji and not seen yourself staring back. These sticker versions of the emoji you use every day are customizable so you can make them look just like you.

Your customized emoji can have different colored hair, piercings, hats, head coverings, glasses and more. If you’d like to up your emoji game, head over to the Play Store listing for Gboard, then opt into the beta for the update.

Sony Mobile could be in trouble

Sony Xperia XZ3 1Sony is a well-known name, but its mobile division could be facing some bleak times. The company released its recent financial results and the numbers reveal that Sony only shipped 1.6 devices in the last three months — a record low.

On the back of the results, Sony reduced its full-year shipment expectations to 7 million, a third consecutive downgrade.

So, what’s the cause? It looks like Sony lost its momentum in Europe. The company makes several popular mid-tier devices that it sells in European and Asian markets, but sales are down and it’s not pretty.

Sony recently adopted a new design language that is very “love-it-or-hate-it.” It seems like more potential customers are on the “hate it” train and Sony knows it. The company’s Chief Financial Officer recently stated that “The competition is fierce and our products have not been attractive enough.”

Is the Google Home Hub secure?

Google’s new Home Hub is a cool little gadget. It puts a face to the voice of Google Assistant and displays relevant information. When it’s not displaying the weather, a recipe, or a YouTube video, it can play a slideshow of your Google Photos library. Pretty nifty.

But now security researchers are ringing the bell about the device. One researcher is claiming that the smart display is “beyond dismal”, a harsh rebuke of Google’s efforts. For Google’s part, it’s denying the claims.

Jerry Gamblin, the security researcher causing waves, says he spent a couple nights poking around with the Home Hub. What he found was that the Hub allows full remote unauthenticated control by an undocumented API.

Speaking to Android Authority, Google says the claim about security on the Home Hub is inaccurate. “The APIs mentioned in this claim are used by mobile apps to configure the device and are only accessible when those apps and the Google Home device are on the same WiFi network. Despite what’s been claimed, there is no evidence that user information is at risk.”

Huawei Watch and Watch 2 get an update that brings better performance

The Huawei Watch and Watch 2 are two of the most popular Wear OS watches on the market today. Despite their introduction the better part of three years ago, the watches remain as solid options until a new breed of watches come out later this year and early 2019.

Much to the surprise of everyone, the watches are still being updated. They recently were updated to Wear OS 2.0 which brought a new interface and features. Now, with version 2.17, the watches are getting even more improvements.

The update brings new swipe gestures, the latest Wear OS interface, and Google Assistant and Fit shortcuts. Users are also reporting that performance has received a boost too. We’ll be keeping an eye on this update to see if battery life gets better too, but it’s too early to tell right now.

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Sony Xperia XZ3 Tips and Tricks

When it comes to smartphones in 2018, there are a lot of different features offered by each device. Some of these are available on flagship Android devices, but there are others that are specific to the device.

The Sony Xperia XZ3 is no different, and now that we have had some time with the device, we wanted to share some of the best. This is not the “end-all-be-all” list of tips and tricks, but there are some that you may not have known about.

How to disable the all apps button

Even though it’s obvious that gestures are the way of the future, some folks still like having buttons. One button that keeps returning is the App Drawer icon, and it’s here on the Xperia XZ3.

However, you can actually bring back the swipe-up gesture on your home screen. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Press and hold on the home screen
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Toggle Enable swipe up

This will remove the app drawer icon, and allow you to just swipe up to see all of your apps. This can then be turned off by following the steps and toggle the Enable swipe up switch to “off”.

Customize Home Screen

Unlike other handsets where you will want to immediately install Lawnchair or Nova Launcher, you may want to think twice with the Xperia XZ3. The included Xperia Home Launcher is actually quite robust and extremely customizable.

Here’s a breakdown of the options given when pressing and holding down on the home screen:

  • Widgets
  • Wallpapers
  • Shortcuts
  • Transitions
  • Grid
  • Settings

You can turn things up a notch if you want, by heading into the launcher settings itself. From here, you are greeted with a bunch of different toggles, including the option to have a Google feed on the home screen.

You can also change the icon size, icon appearance, icon background, and much more from here. This really is one of the best built-in launchers we’ve used in quite some time, and hopefully,x Sony will continue to improve it.

Disable bloatware/unwanted apps

Out of the box, Sony doesn’t actually install too many “extra” applications, and you won’t find carrier bloatware. This is because none of the four major US carriers are actually carrying the Xperia XZ3, but it’s refreshing to see just a little bit of bloatware.

One app that is frustratingly pre-installed is Facebook, but we also have Google News, Netflix, and Sony’s suite of apps. If any of these don’t really tickle your fancy and you want to get rid of them, the process is simple.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap Apps & notifications
  3. Select See all ** apps

From there, you can see all the apps that are currently installed on your Xperia XZ3. In order to disable or delete the apps you don’t want, you can follow these steps:

  1. Scroll and find the app you want to remove or disable
  2. Tap the application
  3. Select Uninstall/Disable

We do want to note that if you are disabling one of Sony’s own applications, you may run into issues. This is primarily for apps like Movie Creator or 3D Creator, but many of the pre-installed apps can be uninstalled.

Don’t forget to accessorize

What’s the point of getting a new phone if you don’t get some accessories to go with them? Here are a few of the best accessories to consider for your new Xperia XZ3.

Cases

Wireless Chargers

Storage

Portable Chargers

Sony Dynamic Vibration

For some reason, Sony opted to only stick a single speaker in the Xperia XZ3. You may think that this is not a great move, but the speaker sounds surprisingly good.

Sony also packed a new feature called “Dynamic Vibration”, which aims to improve media playback. The way that this works is that your device will actually vibrate, hoping to create a more immersive experience.

In order to enable Dynamic Vibration, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Scroll down and select Sound
  3. Locate and toggle Dynamic Vibration

Sony does state that this functionality will not work with every application that plays media. However, for the ones that it does, the included vibration is pretty nifty, especially if you want to pump up the bass a bit.

Customize Sony Edge Touch features

There are only so many features you can add to the hardware side of a device. That means that OEM’s are turning to the software more and more to bring new functionality and make life a bit easier for users.

The Xperia XZ3 is no different, as Sony has included its Edge Touch features. This brings up an array of suggested applications based on your usage, along with a few key toggles.

In order to activate this, you’ll want to tap on the frame of your device twice. Then, the menu will appear, offering some of your most used applications. For example, my list includes the Camera, ESPN Fantasy, Hangouts, and others. As for the toggles, we have Wi-Fi, DND, One-handed mode, and others.

There are sensors built into the frame of the device, which will activate Side Sense when you’re ready. In the Settings panel for this feature, there are a slew of different options:

  • Side Sense Menu
  • Sensor sensitivity
  • Sensor enabled on
  • Navigate back
  • Apps with Side sense enabled

At first glance, this may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but it has come in handy a few times. But be prepared for some accidental activations from time-to-time.

What is 3D creator?

We told you that Sony was trying to include a bunch of new software to enhance your experience. Another one of these features is the 3D Creator.

This application allows you to scan various objects in 3D, while offering 5 different modes:

  • Selfie Scan
  • Face Scan
  • Head Scan
  • Food Scan
  • Freeform Scan

Before you can even get started, you are forced to calibrate the applications. This makes it possible for more accurate scannings without having to jump through hoops.

After you have finished, you can begin scanning whichever subject or object you want. You will want to follow the instructions on the screen to make the scanning become reality.

Ambient Display

One way that phone manufacturers are trying to combat battery usage is with the help of an Ambient Display feature. The reason this is helpful is that you can just glance at your screen when locked, and see what’s going on. Doing this, eliminates the need to turn the display on and off for no reason.

Sony has included its own version of Ambient Display with the Xperia XZ3. This is not as robust as the option provided by Google, but is still rather useful in its own way.

Without customizing any features, you are provided with a clock, the battery remaining, and any notifications that arrive. These notifications are displayed with a simple icon, but then can be expanded if you want to see what’s goign on.

In order to adjust the Ambent Display settings, here are the steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Scroll down and select Lock Screen & Security
  3. Tap Lock Screen Preferences
  4. Select Ambient Display

This will provide you with all of the different settings you need to make Ambient Display yours.

Super Slow Motion

It was interesting to see the Xperia XZ3 launched with just a single camera, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some awesome features. Just as was the case with the XZ2, the XZ3 is capable of shooting in Super Slow Motion.

When recording, you can shoot super slow motion video at 960fps in Full HD. Sony states that this is done by letting you “capture the action 32 times slower than in a regular movie”.

If you want to jump in on this fun, here’s how to activate Super Slow Motion:

  1. Open the Camera app
  2. Swipe to access video recording
  3. Tap the Super Slow Motion clip button
  4. Tap Record
  5. Tap the Super Slow Motion button again to record a 0.18-second clip

After you record the slow motion video, the button will be disabled for 2 seconds. This is to allow the camera to properly store the data for later consumption.

Conclusion

As we stated before, this is not the “definitive” list of tips and tricks for the Xperia XZ3. However, these are some of our favorites, and we hope that you learned more about your new device.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you! Let us know some of your favorite tips and tricks for the Xperia XZ3!

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First Impressions: What does the Sony Xperia XZ3 offer in 2018

Before getting started, it’s important to note that I have never owned or used a Sony smartphone for more than just a few minutes. Those times have been limited to seeing the display units in my local Best Buy and putting around with those for just a few moments before moving on.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the Sony Xperia XZ3. This is just our first impressions of the device, as we have had it for just less than a week.

Sony Xperia XZ3 Specs

As a precursor, let’s give everyone a quick breakdown of the specs for the XZ3:

  • 6-inch 18:9 QHD+ (2880 x 1440) Display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB of Expandable Storage
  • 13MP wide-angle selfie camera
  • 19MP Motion Eye Camera
  • 3,330mAh Battery

So as you can see, Sony has pretty much packed all of the expected specs into the XZ3. There’s not too much that is really surprising or head-turning, at least at first glance.

Hardware

When I took the XZ3 out of the box, I was instantly surprised. While the handset felt great in the hand in terms of materials, I also felt like I had just picked up a brick.

Sony Xperia XZ3 3

Sony’s website state that the device weighs in at 6.8 ounces. Considering that I was coming from a combination of the iPhone X and LG G7 ThinQ, the weight was immediately a concern.

In fact, it was such a concern that I was worried about dropping the device. I ended up quickly ordering a case from Amazon just to avoid any accidental drops that could occur.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the design itself. Gone are the days of the squared, box-like smartphone and now we have rounded edges and a smooth build.

The back is curved quite nicely so that it fits better in your hand. But there is major quirk that I am continuing to struggle with – fingerprint scanner placement.

Sony Xperia XZ3 2

Before the case arrived I was still using the XZ3, just extremely carefully. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is placed just slightly above the middle of the device.

Since the camera module rests vertically and quite low, I found myself touching the camera instead of the scanner. I would brush my finger across the lens and then wonder why the XZ3 didn’t unlock.

Now that I have the case, it’s a bit easier, but there still have been some times where I miss the target. You will get used to it, but it’s going to be an annoyance in the beginning.

There are no more sharp edges to worry about digging into your hand as the display just melts into the frame.

Speaking of that display, Sony knocked it out of the park here in our early testing. Admittedly, I’m not someone who is overly-critical of displays, but the Xperia XZ3’s OLED HDR display pops much more than others.

Sony Xperia XZ3 4

There are some software adjustments that can be made in the Settings panel, but I haven’t touched any of those. Instead, I just switched the “Display Size” and “Font Size” to get more information on the screen.

We have not had enough time to put the camera through its paces and pushed it to its limits. However, we have taken a few quick shots and things seem to be doing quite fine for the most part.

While LG and Samsung have added additional hardware buttons for digital assistants, Sony added one for the camera. On the right frame, near the bottom, there is a camera button that allows you to quickly take pictures.

There is a bit of a feeling of using an old point and shoot, which is a nice feeling. Plus, the button is placed low enough where accidental presses aren’t really a thing.

Software

Whenever a new version of Android is announced, there’s usually a party or two. The first is to celebrate the final release, while the second is for the first OEM to launch a device with the latest version.

Well, Sony didn’t really get to have a great party despite being the first phone from 2018 to be released with Android Pie on board. Of course, Pixel, Essential Phone, and OnePlus owners had this already, but those are devices with last year’s hardware.

Starting off with the launcher, Sony has done a pretty good job emulating a near-stock experience. You have your shortcuts that appear with a long-press of the app icon.

Sony Xperia XZ3 6

Sony also included the Google News Feed when swiping to the right from your home screen. Plus, the on-screen navigation buttons are also “borrowed” from the Pixel devices which is a nice touch.

We have noticed a few smaller features here and there that we will cover in the full review. So stay tuned for that.

Bottom Line

In our limited time with the Xperia XZ3, there are some great features that improve the experience. And I, for one, am excited to continue this adventure and get even more acclimated with Sony’s latest and greatest.

Despite its heft, the XZ3 is definitely a sleek handset and will turn some heads thanks to its gorgeous display. If you have any questions about the device, please sound off in the comments below and we’ll try to cover them in the review.

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In brief: Mobile news worth knowing (9/19/18)

Welcome to In Brief, the AndroidGuys tech briefing. Today is Monday, September 17 and we’re taking a look at all the tech news you need to know. In this post, we want you to learn about the news the way you want to learn. We’ve embedded a podcast version of all this news below. If you don’t want to listen, you can read just like you normally would.

Today we’re taking a look at the allegedly official pictures of the Pixel 3, an opportunity to play Fortnite with streaming legend Ninja, and more.

We’d love feedback on this post, so please let us know what you think in the comments. If we can improve in some way, we’d love to know!

Podcast coming soon…

Get your first look at the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL

Excited about Google’s Pixel 3 making a debut on October 9? We feel you. Well, it’s not long before the new Pixels will go live, but if you feel like you can’t wait any longer, we have a juicy, new leak for you.

The alleged first official press renders showing the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL has just popped up online. The images confirm the fact that the larger Pixel 3 will indeed come sporting a hefty notch on the front, while the smaller Pixel 3 will be sticking to the classic design.

The devices are shown with an official Google fabric case on, so their backs are not fully visible. Even so, we can spot the single camera lens and the rear fingerprint scanners on both models.

While Google launched the first and second Pixel devices in San Francisco, the search giant decided to host the launch event for the Pixel 3 in New York this time around. Don’t forget to tune in on October 9 if you want to know the whole story.  — Alexandra Arici

Samsung wants to team you up with Ninja to play some Fortnite

Want to game with Ninja? Well, now you have a chance. Samsung and the ultra-popular e-sports star are teaming up for a special promotion.

Contestants have the chance to win a grand prize which includes a spot in Ninja’s squad, a 65-inch QLED television, a 49-inch QLED gaming monitor, and a pair of premium AKG noise-canceling headphones.

Three runners-up will also win the gaming pack and one hundred third prize winners will take home a pair of AKG noise-canceling headphones.

So, how do you win? Post your coolest photos or videos from you playing Fornite in the exclusive Galaxy skin with the hashtags #NinjaGalaxySuad and #contest on Twitter or Instagram. The contest runs until September 30, and Samsung will announce the winners in early October. — Matt Adams

Google signs a massive auto partnership for Maps and more

Car makers have long been criticized for their pitiful mapping and infotainment systems. Now, one these companies is stepping up to do something about it.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, the largest automaker in the world, has signed a deal with Google to include Android Automotive in its cars starting in 2021.

This is a massive deal for Google who is generally looked at as the consumer mapping king. Most people know and love Google Maps for a reason and now they will have a chance to use a baked-in version of the mapping and turn-by-turn direction system in their cars.

But, it’s more than just Maps. The Google Play Store is coming too. This will give users the opportunity to download and use automotive-optimized apps instead of relying on Android Auto integration from their phones.

Each of the auto manufacturers will have the ability to apply a skin to the operating system. This gives us some pause initially, but it has been explained that the manufacturers want to match the interface to their existing vehicles and features like Google Assistant will still work just the same. — Matt Adams

Google’s new Rewards program rolls out in Japan, but where next?

Google’s previously rumored loyalty program called Google Play Points just went official today. Although, there’s one catch. Its only available in Japan for the time being.

The program aims to reward users based on the funds spent in the Play Store when buying apps and games. The system features five different tires including bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond.

Users will be awarded a point for each $0.90 spent (100 yen). However, as one progresses through the levels, you’ll have the chance to receive more points based on your purchases. For example, at the Diamond level, you receive two points for $0.90 spent.

The points can be exchanged for Google Play credit or you can directly spend them on apps and games in store. Alternatively, you can use them to discount certain items in the store.  — Alexandra Arici

Sony’s new flagship is available at Amazon in the US

Sony introduced the Xperia XZ3 during IFA 2018 in Berlin and this week the flagship went up for pre-order in the US. The official release date is set for September 24, so that’s when you can expect the product to start shipping out to customers.

But are you willing to shed $899.99? Because that’s how much the Xperia XZ3 costs in the US. The phone will be sold unlocked and it will be compatible with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. Unfortunately, subscribers of Sprint and Verizon will have to look somewhere else.

If you order now, Sony is also throwing a pair of free Xperia Ear Duo. The flagship comes boasting a notch-less QHD OLED display and packs a Snapdragon 845 processor, backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

It also features a single camera on the back that’s capable of capturing 960fps slow-motion video. It’s the first phone to become commercially available with Android 9.0 Pie pre-installed. You can place your pre-orders at Amazon. — Alexandra Arici

Buy the Sony Xperia XZ3

Fitbit announces a new connected platform

Fitbit today has announced a new platform called Fitbit are that connects users to coaches. Known mostly for its fitness trackers, the company is now offering a personalized service to make it easier for those who want to get into shape to track their fitness goals, lose weight and manage chronic diseases.

To access these features, users will have to download a special app called Fitbit Plus, that pulls health info from whatever Fitbit trackers they might have laying around the house, or from other sources like a blood pressure monitor.

Interestingly, Fitbit is actually targeting the business sector with its new service. For example, Health insurer Humana has already started enrolling people into Fitbit Care.

Fitbit’s goals for Fitbit Care are quite ambitious. The company hopes the new tool will help tackle some of the most complex problems of modern medicine. Like getting people to change their behavior and lowering the costs of health-care. — Alexandra Arici

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