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MWC: Sony XZ premium brings slow-mo to mobile

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Sony Mobile has announced the Xperia XZ Premium, promising “a camera so advanced it captures motion that the human eye can’t see”. 

The Xperia XZ Premium incorporates imaging know-how embedded on Sony ‘α’ and Cyber-shot cameras to create the new Motion Eye camera system.   The first smartphone to feature a memory stacked Exmor RS sensor usually only found on premium compact cameras, it provides 5 x faster image scanning and data transfer. This means users can produce creative videos from everyday moments by recording in 960 frames per second, providing Super slow motion video playback that is four times slower than other smartphones. Predictive Capture automatically starts buffering images when it detects motion even before you press the button, so the user  can find a moment the eye may just have missed from a selection of four shots taken a second before the click. A new 19MP high resolution sensor has 19% larger pixels to capture more light and provides exceptional detail and sharp images even in low-light and backlit conditions. Additional improvements have been made inside Motion Eye to the Bionz for mobile processing engine meaning sharper motion images without noise.

Sony Mobile provided the following information:

For the first time ever in a smartphone, Xperia XZ Premium features a 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range, 2160 x 3840) 5.5” display. A truly unique Sony experience, it uses Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology to give you an immersive 4K HDR viewing experience in the palm of your hand, removing the constraints of your sofa. Astonishing brightness, colour, clarity and contrast are realised to create levels of realism you almost feel part of the scene. The sharp, vivid quality of the display is enriched by Sony’s native technologies TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer.

Xperia XZ Premium is powered by the cutting edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform, making it one of the very first smartphones capable of Gigabit Class LTE (up to 1Gbps). This is possible because of the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which has the potential to transform how customers use their mobile devices by delivering fibre optic speeds on the go. The Snapdragon 835 platform also supports stunning graphics, superior performance and enhanced battery efficiency. File transfers are also super-charged thanks to the USB 3.1 connection which is 10 times quicker than USB 2.0 with a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps. And with the USB Type-C socket, plugging in is easy because the connector is always the right way up.

With so many advanced technologies working in harmony, it is only fitting that the Xperia XZ Premium has a harmonious design to match, making it beautiful on the inside and out. The exterior has an exquisite glass loop surface which when turned over reveals a luxurious mirrored effect on the back. Every aspect of the XZ Premium is unified, from its seamless flowing lines and intuitive finger-print sensor power button to the new live wallpaper which moves the elegant lops as you swipe, to the colours you see on screen which are matched to the beautiful colours of the exterior.

Rain is one less thing to think about when you’re out and about with the Xperia XZ Premium. It’s water resistant, dust-proof and reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of the handset, taking beauty and durability to new heights.

Taking intelligence to the next level Xperia XZ learns how you use your phone and adapts and makes recommendations to give you our most smartest and personal experience yet. The battery is maximised with Smart Stamina which uses the Xperia learning engine to accurately estimate how long your current battery will last based on your normal usage. It even warns you if it detects you’re going to run out of power later that day and prompts you to activate Stamina mode. Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging are also included to protect your battery and keep it healthy up to twice as long.

Xperia Tips and new Xperia Actions offer you handy advice about the features you’re using and even suggests map downloads based on your location, all aimed at making life that little bit easier.

The Sony experience is continued through to the audio and gaming capabilities. High Resolution Audio playback allows you to hear every nuance and detail in a track as if you’re right there with the artist. Sony’s native DSEE HX™ technology even up-scales streamed tracks or MP3s to near High-res quality and if you connect with wireless speakers or headphones, LDAC ensures you don’t lose a drop of sound quality by transferring three times more audio data than normal Bluetooth. Working with your PlayStation 4 console, you can play the latest cutting-edge games on your Xperia XZ Premium. Its advanced processing and fast memory access means gameplay is always smooth and responsive, plus the 4K screen and powerful stereo speakers make it feel like you’re actually in the game.

Availability, RRP and colours for the Xperia XZ Premium in South Africa is yet to be confirmed.

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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