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30
Nov

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: News and rumors


Sony has offered some great phones in its Xperia range for quite some time now, with water resistance, gorgeous screens, and a design unlike any other phone on the planet. Sony has been continuing to release good phones throughout 2017, but as we noted in our Xperia XZ1 review, the Omnibalance design has aged badly and is desperately in need of a reboot.

Thankfully, it looks as if the Xperia range will be getting a design update in 2018, and thanks to a leaked specification sheet on Reddit, it’s fair to assume it’ll start with the phone code-named “H8541” — most likely the Xperia XZ2 Premium, or Xperia XZ Premium 2. While these leaks are heavily unverified, and come from an unfamailiar source, the specifications may ring true. Here are all the rumors we’ve heard about the Xperia XZ2 Premium.

Release date and availability

Details on a possible release date are sparse, as you might expect. The leaked spec sheet from Reddit only mentions a 2018 date, but a forum post from September 2017 alleges that the reveal of Sony’s new “mirai” (future) design will happen at MWC (Mobile World Conference) 2018 in Barcelona. Since the XZ Premium was previously revealed at MWC 2017, we expect that Sony will keep to this trend and reveal the Xperia XZ2 Premium at MWC 2018. There are no rumors about a release date just yet, but we’d be willing to bet that a June 2018 release is likely, to match with the previous phone.

Design

Here’s where the big changes are expected. We’d previously reported the Xperia range was expecting a design change in 2018, and the indications given by the leaked spec sheets has solidified that rumor.

The first big change is the shrinking of the phone’s footprint — if Reddit’s spec sheet is to be believed, then the XZ2 Premium is set to reduce down to 149 x 74 x 7.5mm. By contrast, the XZ Premium weighed in at a monolithic 156 x 77 x 7.9mm, so the reduction between the two phones is significant. If true, these measurements would put the XZ2 Premium at slightly taller and wider than the Samsung Galaxy S8.

The mention of the Galaxy S8 was on purpose — like the Galaxy S8, the Xperia XZ2 Premium looks to be Sony’s first foray into an edge-to-edge display. Rumors are circulating of a 5.7-inch 4K HDR display, which when paired with a smaller overall size, can only really mean a bezel-less design similar to the designs on the Galaxy S8, LG V30, and iPhone X. Based on the previous measurements, Sony are likely shooting for an 18.5:9 screen, similar to the Galaxy S8. Since the phone is slightly wider than the S8 and the screen is slightly smaller, we’re likely to still see some bezel on the sides of the phone, but they’ll be much reduced from the 2017 Xperia design.

The 4K on the display is also significant, and that indicates to us this phone will indeed be an entry into the Xperia Premium line; only the Premium lines usually include a 4K resolution, while the Xperia XZ1 sported a 1080p resolution, and the XZ1 Compact a 720p display. However, this is still speculation, and those rules could all change come 2018.

Aside from the display, we likely can expect the usual IP65/68 water and dust-resistance on the XZ2 Premium, as well as Gorilla Glass 5.

/u/CUSALE / Reddit

Specs

Unlike the design, there’s not too much to get excited about on the specifications, if Reddit’s spec sheet is to be believed. The XZ2 Premium will be using the same Snapdragon 835 we saw on this year’s flagships, and in the previous XZ Premium model. While it’s a powerful chip, we would have expected the next generation of Sony Xperia to have really pushed the boundaries with a new processing chip, and the lack of any upgrade does throw some doubt on the veracity of the leak.

It’s the same story with the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage — again unchanged from the XZ Premium. If these leaks are true, then Sony may be looking to sell the new Xperia based purely on its looks, rather than new specs, and that would seem to be an odd move given how late to the party they are.

That’s all we’ve got on the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium at the moment. Time will tell on the leaked Reddit specs list, but if Sony really is looking to update the looks, that can only be a good thing.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The $600 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact gets an October 4 launch date
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact review
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 review
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 vs. Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact: Is bigger necessarily better?
  • Samsung Galaxy S9: News and rumors




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30
Nov

Verizon gets serious about 5G, plans to launch in homes in 2018


At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, AT&T announced it would begin testing fixed residential 5G in Austin, Texas, during the first half of 2017. Not to be outdone, Verizon said in February it expects to launch “pre-commercial” 5G service for homes and offices in 11 cities over the next four months. And now, nine months later, it looks like Verizon is charging ahead, announcing plans to roll out 5G wireless residential broadband services in three to five U.S. markets next year.

Said to be the first application of 5G wireless, the new services will employ radio signals in place of copper or fiber cables in order to bring fast internet speeds to customers. This speed, Verizon says, could soon provide the necessary bandwidth and low latency for 3D and virtual reality applications.

The carrier first laid out its goals for 5G deployment at last year’s Mobile World Congress, and subsequently announced trials in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; DallasDenver; HoustonMiamiSacramento, California; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. These trials were modeled on the specifications determined by Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum.

The latter point is important to note, because a universal 5G standard does not exist yet. AT&T said it expected to reach download speeds of 400Mbps initially with its implementation, improving to 1Gbps by the end of 2017. The carrier reported that it achieved 14Gbps in a test in early 2016, the equivalent of downloading a 15GB file in nine seconds.

Verizon, on the other hand, did not state what speeds users could expect, and has said only that it “successfully trialed 5G residential applications.” Previously, the company noted it was closely working with its Technical Forum partners Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, and Samsung, as well as peers in the telecommunications industry in Canada, Japan, and South Korea, to work toward a global standard.

In any case, Verizon hopes to reach 30 million households across the U.S. with its new services. “This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality,” Hans Vestberg, Verizon president of Global Networks and Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement. “We appreciate our strong ecosystem partners for their passion and technological support in helping us drive forward with 5G industry standards, for both fixed and mobile applications. The targeted initial launches we are announcing today will provide a strong framework for accelerating 5G’s future deployment on the global standards.”

Update: Verizon to launch 5G residential services in 2018. 

Editors’ Recommendations

  • T-Mobile is faster than Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, according to Oookla Speedtest
  • Apple vs. Qualcomm: Everything you need to know
  • Qualcomm executive confident the first 5G phones will be here in 2019
  • 16 annoying LG G5 problems, and how to fix them
  • Qualcomm unveils a new chipset and 5G reference design at an event in Hong Kong




30
Nov

Microsoft Edge officially launches on Android


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Following weeks of testing, Microsoft has officially launched its Microsoft Edge mobile apps for iOS and Android.

We recently saw the Microsoft Edge app quietly drop its beta tag on Android, and now Microsoft is making it official. The browser is now out of preview on both iOS and Android, launching in full for everyone.

Microsoft initially launched Edge on iOS and Android in preview in October as a way for Edge desktop users a way to easily sync their passwords, favorites, and reading list between devices. You can also quickly pick up where you left off with a “Continue on PC” feature, which opens the page your looking at on your phone on your PC. While the app still very much looks like Edge, it runs on the required WebKit rendering engine on iOS and the Blink rendering engine on Android, rather than Microsoft’s own EdgeHTML engine.

Microsoft says that, at launch, Microsoft Edge for iOS is available in the U.S., China, France, and the UK. Edge for Android is available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, India, and the UK. Additional markets will be added over time.

If you want to dive in, you can grab the latest versions of Edge for iOS and Android at the App Store and Google Play now.

See at the App Store See at Google Play

30
Nov

Android 8.0 Oreo now available for unlocked HTC U11 Life


The Oreo love heads to HTC’s latest budget handset.

Alongside the translucent and powerful U11+ that was announced in early November, HTC also introduced its latest budget handset in the form of the U11 Life. The U11 Life is an incredibly stylish phone with a great build and solid display, but one of its pain points lied with its lack of Android Oreo out of the box.

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Thankfully, according to an announcement from HTC’s Vice President of Product Management, Mo Versi, the unlocked version of the U11 Life is now being updated to 8.0 Oreo.

As per usual with Oreo updates, this means the U11 Life now has access to picture-in-picture, notification dots, Google’s Autofill API, etc.

This update comes just days after HTC pushed out Oreo to the regular U11, and following these devices, we should see the HTC 10 and U Ultra get similar treatment sometime soon.

Android Oreo

  • Android Oreo review!
  • Everything new in Android Oreo
  • How to get Android Oreo on your Pixel or Nexus
  • Oreo will make you love notifications again
  • Will my phone get Android Oreo?
  • Join the Discussion

30
Nov

With the Mate 10 Pro, Huawei comes close to greatness


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The Mate 10 Pro is one of the fastest and most seductive phones on the market, but its software lets it down where it counts.

Here in North America, there are the phone companies you know about, and the ones you need to know about. Huawei is in the latter category, despite broaching fame in early 2017 with the U.S. release of its flagship Mate 9.

With that phone’s sequel, the company divided the line into two distinct models: the regular Mate 10, which looks a lot like its predecessor, and the Mate 10 Pro, which is taller and sleeker and goes forward in a more modern, future-proof direction. That latter version is coming to the U.S. in early 2018 (though the company won’t say exactly when, or if it’s partnering with a carrier this time around), and there’s a lot to look forward to.

I’ve been using the Mate 10 Pro for a few weeks now in both the U.S. and Canada, and though you can’t buy it yet, there’s lots to look forward to when it becomes available next year. (Or if you’re so inclined, you can import it from Europe, but that’s for the truly desperate.)

Huawei Mate 10 Pro review: Best Android flagship for battery life

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Huawei Mate 10 What you’ll love

There’s a lot to like about the Mate 10’s hardware. You should take a look at Alex’s review because it gives an excellent overview of the way Huawei has migrated, as other companies have, away from metal to a warmer glass-back design. The racing stripe along the back gives what would be an otherwise bland-looking device a bit of personality, too, which is a nice touch.

  • Display: 6 inches, 2160×1080 pixels (2:1 aspect)
  • OS: EMUI 8.0 (Android 8.0 Oreo)
  • Price: €699 (EUR) / TBD (US)
  • Processor: Kirin 970
  • RAM: 4GB / 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB / 128GB
  • Camera (front): 8MP ƒ2.0
  • Cameras (rear): 12MP (main) | 20MP (secondary)
  • Weight: 178 grams
  • Size: 152.2 x 74.5 x 7.9mm
  • Wireless: LTE 1.2Gbps
  • Sensors: Rear fingerprint
  • Battery: 4000mAh
  • Water resistance: IP67
  • Colors: Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray, Mocha Brown, Pink Gold

Holding the Mate 10’s all-glass chassis is often treacherous given its size and weight — it’s over 6 inches tall and weighs 173 grams, but as an object, the phone is stunning to look at. The AMOLED screen, despite not matching up in resolution to much of the competition (and, oddly, to its own LCD-sporting Mate 10 counterpart) is vivid and accurate, without a hint of the unsightly blue tint that has afflicted the LG V30 and Google Pixel 2 XL.

Like the Mate 9, the Mate 10 Pro does away with most of the bezels around the screen, though that effect is less pronounced this year for a number of reasons: there are many phones that look almost identical (the front is a dead ringer for the OnePlus 5T); and the AMOLED screen blends nicely with the black bezels.

This is one of the fastest phones on the market, and the Kirin 970 is to thank for that.

The phone is also very fast — the Kirin 970 processor inside the Mate 10 Pro matches or outperforms the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in most synthetic benchmarks I’ve used, and the phone feels incredibly snappy. While I’m no fan of Huawei’s software — EMUI 8.0 is still a mess in many places — there’s no question that using the company’s latest flagship feels like there is plenty of headroom (I’ve been using the model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Other nice touches: Huawei’s fingerprint sensor is incredibly fast and wonderfully placed. On a phone this tall, I never had a problem getting to the home screen. (That’s a good thing, too, because the phone lacks any form of gesture to wake the screen with a double-tap.) It’s water-resistant, rated IP67, which is good for one meter of submersion for 30 minutes.

Given that this is the first in the Mate line with such a pedigree, it’s a timely addition, as the feature feels like table stakes for a release in late 2017. There is no headphone jack, nor wireless charging; oddly, I’m less bummed about the former than the latter.

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The camera is outstanding on here. Huawei has always done a great job with its optics, partnering with Leica in the past, and the collaboration bears even juicier fruit with the Mate 10 series than it did on the P10 and P10 Plus from earlier in 2017.

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The Mate 10 Pro’s camera has decent dynamic range in difficult shooting situations. This is without HDR.

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Colors are vivid and pleasing.

The big change is in low light performance: the secondary 20MP monochrome sensor is now paired with an ƒ/1.6 lens, and the results are truly special. I still think it’s nuts that Huawei’s otherwise-excellent camera app still doesn’t support Auto HDR, but shooting photos and video is an otherwise sublime experience. I’d buy this phone for the monochrome sensor alone.

If you’re a camera junky — especially a fan of monochrome photography — this is the phone to get. It takes beautiful photos.

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Battery life from the 4000mAh battery is astoundingly good. I know, that’s a big adverb, but it’s worth the hyperbole. I only had to charge the Mate 10 Pro once every two days, and that’s with using it as I would any other phone. Yes, battery life has improved across the board on high-end Android phones this year — the 10nm manufacturing process of chips like the Kirin 970 and Snapdragon 835 have facilitated that — but this takes things to a whole new level.

Elsewhere, I had no problem using the phone to make calls and connect to both AT&T’s and TELUS’s LTE networks in the U.S. and Canada, respectively, and though I couldn’t take advantage of the purported 1.2Gbps potential network speeds, I did notice the phone’s LTE connection was always solid, even in remote areas. The stereo speakers, too, are very good.

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Huawei Mate 10 What you’ll hate

I said it earlier, and I’ll strongly reiterate it here: I do not like EMUI. Even with its modern retrofit, running Android 8.0 Oreo behind the scenes, Huawei still doesn’t understand what makes Android so singularly decent. It strips away the logical changes Google brings to the fore, opting to hide behind years of legacy behavior that offers almost no value to the user.

If you’re a Pixel software fan, this is as far from that as you’ll find.

The most striking example to me is the most simple: it’s not possible to expand notifications on the lock screen. It appears you can, but tapping the arrow that on other Android phones offers the entirety of a message does nothing here. The phone just prompts you to tap again to go directly into the app. That’s the exact opposite of the behavior I want.

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Next is the insistence on theming the phone like it’s a character in a space opera. Everything is chrome and textured and ugly. That the phone makes it difficult to change one’s default launcher doesn’t help matters, but I wouldn’t mind if the one that ships with it was any good. Of course, the default version lacks an app drawer, but that’s relatively fixable. What isn’t is finding a theme — and there are around a dozen pre-installed — that doesn’t offend my eyes. I couldn’t install Action Launcher and AdaptivePack quickly enough.

Thankfully, once those issues were dealt with, the software experience was akin to any other Oreo-based phone. EMUI 8.0 is not a drastic change from 5.0, which shipped on the Mate 9.

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Huawei insists that its machine learning algorithms will keep the phone running quickly well into its expected two-year lifespan, but in my few weeks with the Mate 10 Pro I haven’t noticed any substantive difference.

There’s a lot of potential inside Huawei’s NPU, but it will rely on the ingenuity of developers to make it useful.

Moreover, Huawei’s Neural Processing Unit, a vector-based chip that offloads a bulk of the machine learning processing from the main Kirin processor, doesn’t seem to have a real-world impact on performance or even experience at this point. The main use case, identifying various subjects and changing the camera settings accordingly, is nice in theory, but applying additional saturation to my food subjects isn’t impressive.

I am encouraged by what the NPU is capable of, and I expect Qualcomm to double down on AI-based silicon optimizations in upcoming versions of its platforms, but for now, the NPU is waiting for a killer app. (And no, the pre-installed version of Microsoft Translate that speeds up on-device translation doesn’t count as a killer app.)

I also had a hell of time getting Bluetooth headphones — multiple headsets — to maintain solid connections to the Mate 10 Pro. I’m sure this is a software bug, but it basically precludes me from using the phone to listen to music, as its lack of a headphone jack puts me in dongle territory, and I hate being in dongle territory.

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Huawei Mate 10 Pro Should you buy it?

My visceral reaction to the Mate 10’s few software quirks is likely not going to mirrored by the vast majority of people. I prefer Android when it gets out of my way and just does things intuitively — Pixel 2, OnePlus 5T, even Galaxy Note 8 — and when I use the Mate 10 Pro, I always feel like I’m fighting the software. But I felt that way about the Mate 9 before Huawei released a massive update weeks after its release to fix some nagging bugs, so I’m hopeful of the same thing here.

At the same time, this is classic Huawei hardware: substantial and practical, if a little derivative. The Mate 10 Pro is a good-looking phone indeed, but it’s the hardware inside that’s most impressive. No company packs its phones so full of specs like Huawei.

If you’re not a fan of the Pixels, the Mate 10 Pro offers a camera experience that’s far more feature-filled, with day- and low-light shots that come out nearly as well. If you’re a photo fanatic, this is one great companion.

We don’t yet know specific U.S. release details, but I’d bet that the Mate 10 Pro will undercut the vast majority of flagships available today, and that will make it a hell of a good deal.

See at Huawei

30
Nov

Nokia 2 now available for purchase in U.S. for $99


You can buy the Nokia 2 from Amazon and Best Buy starting today.

The Nokia brand has been rather prominent in the Android space this year, and this has resulted from the release of the Nokia 8, 6, 5, and 2. The Nokia 6 was the first of these phones to launch in the United States this past July, and that’s now being followed by the more affordable Nokia 2.

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You’ll be able to purchase the Nokia 2 from Amazon and Best Buy starting today, November 30, and it’ll cost you just $99. For that price, you’re getting a 5-inch 1280 x 720 LCD display, Snapdragon 212 processor, 8MP rear camera, and a huge 4,100 mAh battery that Nokia says allows for two days of use on a single charge.

Other specs include 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, 5MP front-facing camera, and a microUSB port for charging. The Nokia 2 ships with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and while we’d expect an Oreo update soon, an ETA for this has yet to be announced.

See at Amazon

30
Nov

Google reported to absorb Nest into its own hardware division


Google’s pretty serious about this smart home stuff.

Nest is one of the biggest names in the smart home space, and in 2014, was purchased by Google. This lead the two companies to work very close with one another, but they were then distanced following the launch of Alphabet in 2015. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is interested in acquiring Nest once again and merging the company directly into its own hardware division.

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Nest’s latest product, the Thermostat E.

The reason for this merger is reportedly due to overlap that currently takes place between the two companies, ranging from product development, the manufacturing process, and even the final retail distribution.

Google’s been pushing further and further into the smart home space since 2016 with the likes of Google Home and Google Wi-Fi, and this push is continuing with the Home Mini and Home Max. Along with this, there’s already a level of integration between the companies’ products with Google Assistant and Home support available for a wide array of Nest gadgets.

Should this merger take place, Nest’s entire workforce of 1,000+ employees would join Google and start developing smart products under its name. This would be a huge win for Google in its constant battle with Amazon for the smart home space, but at this time, neither Google or Nest has commented on whether or not this might actually take place.

How to connect Google Home to your Nest thermostat

30
Nov

Control Hulu with your voice on Amazon’s Fire TV devices


Back in September, Amazon announced that its Video Skills Kit would open the doors to Alexa support for third-party video apps. Now, Hulu has announced that the video streaming app now works with Alexa voice commands.

Starting today, users who have a Fire TV device can call up their favorite shows with a simple voice command — “Alexa, watch The Handmaid’s Tale.” If you have a Live TV subscription, you can also ask Alexa to switch to a certain TV channel (“Alexa, watch ESPN.”) It’s nice to see Amazon give competing video apps the same perks as its own Prime Video through the use of the Video Skills Kit.

30
Nov

SiriusXM Radio Now Works With Apple CarPlay


SiriusXM subscribers will be pleased to know that the iOS app was today updated with support for CarPlay, allowing the music service to be used with Apple’s in-car platform.

With CarPlay integration, the SiriusXM app will show up directly within the CarPlay interface, allowing for easier access to the SiriusXM app while in the car.

What’s New in Version 4.2.0
– We now support Apple CarPlay! Connect your phone in your car and tune to channels, on demand episodes, favorites, and more right from your built-in display.
– Swipe to tune channels up and down

SiriusXM is a service that allows customers to stream radio online or in the car, offering 150+ streaming music channels along with news, sports, and talk radio. SiriusXM is natively supported by many in-car infotainment systems, and it is priced starting at $10.99 per month.

There are, however, a range of different packages offering access to different content at higher price points. The All Access package, for example, costs $20.99 per month and offers all sports channels.

The SiriusXM app is required on an iOS device for it to work with CarPlay. The app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: CarPlay
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30
Nov

Google faces UK lawsuit over illegal data collection


Today, a UK-based group called “Google You Owe Us” brought a class-action suit against Google, alleging that it illegally gathered information on users from June 2011 to February 2012. The group is seeking compensation for the 5.4 million Brits who used an iPhone during this period, according to The Guardian.

Google took advantage of a loophole within the iPhone’s Safari browser during this period to collect information on users, including Internet browsing history. The company then sold this information to advertisers. The iPhone’s default privacy settings block sites from tracking your activity through cookies unless you specifically interact with the website (filling out a form, etc.) Google was able to bypass this through its (now defunct) Google+. If you were logged in to Google+, Google sent an “invisible” form to Apple on the user’s behalf (and without their consent) that allowed for cookie tracking.

This isn’t the first time that Google has been in trouble over this issue. Back in 2013, the company was forced to pay $17 million in a suit brought by 37 states and the District of Columbia. That was after it was slapped with a $22.5 million fine from the FTC in 2012. The UK doesn’t have the history of suing large companies that other countries do. Richard Lloyd, the leader of the group, said to The Guardian, “This is . . . the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company for misusing our valuable personal data.” It’s not clear what will happen with the case, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as it progresses, as it could have important ramifications in Britain.

Via: The Verge

Source: The Guardian

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