At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Sony Mobile announced two new smartphones to its flagship range, the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact.
Sony says the devices are “built around the concept of bringing you the most immersive entertainment experiences yet”.
The flagship Xperia XZ2 has an extended 5.7” HDR Full HD+ 18:9 display. Viewers can watch existing HDR content, using Sony’s Bravia TV technology, X-reality for mobile, which will up-convert content to near High Dynamic Range (HDR).
The XZ2 incorporates a new haptic experience, adding the perceptual sense of touch so users can feel the viewing experience. It uses Sony’s new Dynamic Vibration System, which analyses audio data and lets users feel the action in their hands, bringing movies, games and videos to life. Videos can also be shared with friends, thanks to the XZ2’s powerful front facing stereo speakers. Featuring S-Force Front Surround, they’re the loudest Xperia speakers yet.
High quality audio is also provided, using Sony’s audio expertise with Hi-Resolution Audio together with DSEE HX technology for upscaling.
The Motion Eye camera gets a ground-breaking upgrade with the world’s first 4K HDR Movie recording in a smartphone. usersu can now capture video with greater contrast, detail and true-to-life colour and share or upload to a compatible HDR TV or YouTube. Super slow motion video recording is also upgraded, with 960fps now possible in Full HD. Motion Eye camera uses intelligent control features such as Predictive Capture with motion and smile detection, Autofocus burst and Predictive Autofocus, and Quick Launch and Capture.
The 3D Creator application launched last year is now available with greater flexibility for 3D scanning. Users can you create 3D scans of objects or faces in less than a minute using the main camera, as well as 3D selfies using the front camera. Post-processing is now available to achieve greater quality of 3D scans. The 3D scan or selfie can now be posted directly to a Facebook timeline within 3D Creator.
A new design expression, with a fluid 3D glass surface that creates a seamless form, is contrasted with a tough exterior, built with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and metal frame to add extra durability and a premium feel. Its four different finishes offer a reflection and shine from every angle, thanks to the glass and flow of light, available in Liquid Silver, Liquid Black, Deep Green and Ash Pink. Certified IP65/IP68, XZ2 is designed to withstand splashes and spills.
Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform with X20 LTE, XZ2 will provide immersive user experiences at connection speeds up to 1.2Gbps, with the second generation Gigabit LTE solution.
The XZ2 carries a large 3180mAh battery and power efficient control thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform. Xperia’s useful battery features are also included, such as Smart Stamina, STAMINA mode, Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology, which help the battery stay healthy for a longer lifespan. It supports a wireless charging dock (WCH20), and other compatible Qi chargers.
Xperia XZ2 Compact
The premium compact version of the phone, the XZ2 Compact, offers similar features in a smaller form factor, with a 5” HDR Full HD+ 18:9 extended display, intended to be “the ultimate compact entertainment device”.
It features many of premium updates found in its big brother, such as all the Motion Eye 2018 upgrades, including 3D Creator for selfie and Full HD Super slow motio. It also uses Sony’s audio enhancing technologies, such as Hi-Res Audio and front facing stereo speakers, and is also powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform.
Its curved body offers comfort in the hand, while durability is ensured with a tough exterior, including Corning Gorilla Glass 5, anti-scratch hard-grade polycarbonate, IP65/IP68 and metal frame. It is finished in four colours with a smooth frosted finish: White Silver, Black, Moss Green and Coral Pink.
A range of supporting accessories will be available, including covers Style Cover Touch and Style Cover Stand in corresponding colours for both models. Also available are charging accessories, the Wireless Charging Dock (WCH20) and Quick Charger. The new 2-way Style USB Audio and Bluetooth Headset (SBH90C) allows users to enjoy music and talk wirelessly in high quality as well as via a wired USB Type-C Cable option that offers Hi-Res Audio with direct USB digital output.
The Open-ear Stereo Headset (STH40D) offers lightweight and comfortable dual listening, and Xperia Ear Duo utilises Sony’s acoustics leadership to deliver wireless ‘open-ear’ stereo headphones, so that one can listen or communicate while simultaneously hearing sounds around one. A USB Type-C 2-in-1 Cable (EC270) is also available for enjoying audio with non-Bluetooth headphones and simultaneously charging the phone.
Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart
Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.
As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page
KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching.
The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter.
The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style.
The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button.
The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on.
In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode.
Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.
Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.
Find them on Kickstarter here.
Taxify enters Google Maps
A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.
People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.
Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.
Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.
If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.
This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.
“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.
Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.