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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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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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