Hands On with the Sony Xperia XA1 Plus

Sony today announced the XA1 Plus, a handset that finds some middle ground between the XA1 and XA1 Ultra. It’s a mid-range handset that leans heavily on Sony’s tired design language. The price point is more attractive than the hardware itself. Here are our initial thoughts on Sony’s latest Android smartphone.

Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

Cellphone Networks Have Weathered Harvey — So Far

Roads, refineries and other infrastructure have taken a beating in the Texas and Louisiana regions hit by Harvey — but cellphone networks so far remain largely functional.

One reason: Big carriers brought in supplemental equipment and backup power and turned to drones to diagnose problems.

Four Gulf Coast counties northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, had more than half of their cell towers knocked out earlier in the week, but crews have been able to restore many of them. As of Wednesday, Aransas County had the heaviest outages, with 47 percent of its 19 towers out. That’s down from 95 percent right after the weekend’s storm, according to data from the Federal Communications Commission.

Throughout the affected region, just 4 percent of cell towers were out. It was just slightly higher at 5 percent in Houston’s Harris County.

While cellphone services fared well, hundreds of thousands of people lost landline or other wired phone services, according to the FCC. Some 911 centers had to transfer calls to neighboring centers, while three television stations lost broadcast capabilities.

Here’s a look at communications in the affected regions.

Cellphone Services

All told, the devastating storm knocked out fewer than 400 of the 7,804 cell towers in the affected counties; just 329 were down as of Wednesday. By contrast, Hurricane Katrina disabled more than 1,000 cell towers in 2005.

Cell towers typically have backup batteries and generators so they can keep operating in a power outage. The problem comes when generators run out of fuel. Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schulz said crews prepared by topping off all generators ahead of the storm. The company also bought spare fuel and had refueling trucks on standby at key locations.

In a few cases, there’s damage to the fiber lines that connect cell towers to communications centers. In such cases, it might be possible to get a signal,…
Source: Mobile Tech Today

Sony at IFA 2017

This morning I just made it to the Sony Press Conference with Peter Holden of Talk Android. Another event, another incremental series of product launches, or was there more? Read on here on Coolsmartphone.com to find the answer to this existential question…

Sony at IFA 2017

We came in as a German chap was sitting in a faux-aeroplane made out of wood telling the crowd at the Sony booth about cabin pressurisation, noise cancelling headphones and how they functioned. Sony was in full “We do audio better than anyone else”-mode, and their expensive high quality audio players (which look like bricks) were on display in many colours. To be honest I wasn’t too interested in this bit, my “Dirty Dancing Original Soundtrack”, “Jennifer Paige” and “Best Hits of the 90s” music on Google Play Music sound fine to me from whatever player.

Sony at IFA 2017

Things then got all corporate again with Hideyuki Furumi coming onto stage to announce the Sony Xperia XZ1 and Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. Snapdragon 835, waterproofing, yada yada yada, Android 8.0 Oreo and 3D Creator.

Sony at IFA 2017

Android Oreo! Woo hoo! Finally a manufacturer from the Open Handset Alliance launching with the two week-old Android version. Oh, and 3D Creator, a Google Tango-like 3D scanning app on Xperia devices which can help you make a 3D digital avatar of yourself. Avatars and memes will never be the same. Excited? No, neither were we.

Sony at IFA 2017
Sony at IFA 2017
Sony at IFA 2017
Sony at IFA 2017
Sony at IFA 2017
Sony at IFA 2017

The Keynote wrapped up and we then went to go and get some hands-on time with the Sony product portfolio. The XZ1 area was rammed, as you would expect, so I headed to a quieter XZ1 stand. This is the one where the – at the time unannounced –
XZ1 Plus and XZ1 Ultra were. What are these devices? Smartphones that look like the XZ1 and XZ Premium but with MediaTek innards. The XZ1 Plus has a 5.5″ FHD screen with a Helio P20 chipset, and the XZ1 Ultra is the same with a 6″ FHD screen and a front facing flash. Other brands would call these devices “Lite”, Sony chose the contextually meaningless words “Plus” and “Ultra”. They are OK devices, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not paying the SONY tax (an extra 10% for each letter in their logo) for a device where I can get the equivalent of on AliExpress for £75.

The Sony Xperia XZ1. #sony #xperia #ifa2017 #android #ShotOnAndroid

A post shared by Matteo Doni (@todoleo) on Aug 31, 2017 at 5:05am PDT

I then moved on to the actual XZ1 and XZ1 Compact. Nice devices, but uninspiring and mostly irrelevant in today’s smartphone market. Sony still cater to Sony fans from the 80s and that’s it.

Sony's Xperia XZ1 Compact. #sony #ifa2017 #android #ShotOnAndroid

A post shared by Matteo Doni (@todoleo) on Aug 31, 2017 at 5:00am PDT

We then realised we had missed a bit about smart digital assistant speakers powered by Google Assistant. The catchily named LS-S50G speaker is a Sony version of Google Home.

Sony at IFA 2017

Sony LS-S50G with Google Assistant – Spooky face not included…

Feature-wise it adds an LED clock, an Amazon Echo-like volume light ring and proximity gesture sensors (on the top). It’s waterproof too. Here is a video of a German hipster demonstrating the device, in a Sony home ecosystem with an Sony Android TV with Google Assistant built in too.

What do you think of these product announcements from Sony? Are they still relevant or is this another slip on the slippery slope to irrelevance? Let us know on Twitter @coolsmartphone.

The post Sony at IFA 2017 is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.

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    Source: CoolSmartPhone.com News

  • SanDisk Debuts 400 GB MicroSD Memory Card for Phones

    SanDisk today introduced a microSD card with a capacity of 400 GB. It has more storage than any other mobile memory card, according to SanDisk. Any device capable of supporting 2 TB cards can handle the new option from SanDisk. The card is capable of containing more than 40 hours of full HD video and it features fast transfer speeds of up to 100 Mbps. The card meets the A1 App Performance Class spec, which means Android device owners can store and run large applications, such as games, from the card without worrying about performance. At the same time, SanDisk updated tis Memory Zone mobile app, which people can use to manage their device and memory card storage. The 400 GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC UHS-I memory card is available online from SanDisk and Amazon.com for $250.

    Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

    Apple Joins Bain in Bid for Toshiba's Chip Business

    Apple has joined a consortium of companies led by the investment firm Bain Capital in a revised [$18 billion] last-ditch offer for Toshiba’s chip unit.

    Toshiba is the world’s second largest producer of Nand memory chips, which are used in smartphones and computers. A deal may be crucial for Apple in keeping down prices of components for its iPhone, as well as reducing its dependence on market leader Samsung.

    According to reports by Reuters, Apple has been brought in to help bolster the bid, as Toshiba and drive manufacturer Western Digital struggle to strike a deal, despite the two partnering on the joint venture chip business.

    “Apple is so big they need to multisource,” said Frank Gillett, an analyst with market research firm Forrester. He said Apple needed to keep as many chip suppliers as possible in the market to keep prices competitive.

    A successful Toshiba bid could also provide an important source of chips for Apple, reducing its dependence on Samsung, its chief rival in the smartphone market. Samsung produces some of the company’s A-series processors alongside other chips for the iPhone, iPad and other devices.

    Alternatively, a combined Toshiba and Western Digital business could be almost as large as Samsung’s memory unit, giving it more negotiating leverage against Apple.

    Toshiba has been scrambling to sell its flash memory unit to cover billions in losses at its bankrupt US nuclear business, Westinghouse. Toshiba’s relationship with US-based Western Digital has been rocky throughout the auction process, to the point that other bidders were favoured first. Western Digital has also initiated legal action that threatens to derail any deal that does not have its consent.

    The revised offer from Apple, Bain and others is worth 2tn yen (£14bn). Bain and South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix will be responsible for 1.1tn yen, while Apple will provide up to 400bn…
    Source: Mobile Tech Today

    Latest Cat Phones Pack Humongous Batteries

    Cat Phones today announced the S41 and S31 smartphones, updates to models from last year. Cat handsets are actually manufactured by Bullitt Group, which licenses the Cat brand. Like most Cat Phones, the S41 and S31 are fully ruggedized mil-spec 810G handsets and more or less impervious to damage from drops, shock, moisture, dust, altitude temperature extremes, and similar dangers. Each is rated IP68 for protection against water and dust. The phones include programmable PTT buttons and run Android 7 Nougat. Each handset has varying degrees of support for U.S. LTE bands, but for the most part they are compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile.

    • Cat S41: The S41 is the more well-spec’d of the two handsets. It has as 5-inch full HD display with Gorilla Glass 5 and wet finger tracking. The S41 is powered by a 2.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash and PDAF, while the selfie camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. Both cameras can operate when the phone is under water. The battery measures in at 5,000mAh and provides up to 44 days of standby time or 38 hours of talk time. The phone can be used to power up other devices. The S41 costs about $475 and will go on sale in Europe beginning August 31.
    • S31: This handset is slightly smaller than the S41 thanks to its 4.7-inch screen at 720p resolution with Gorilla Glass 3 and wet finger tracking. It relies on a quad-core 1.3 GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The S31 has a 4,000mAh battery. It goes on sale later this year for about $355.

    Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

    Take That, Amazon: Macy's, Best Buy Expand Same-Day Delivery

    Macy’s and Best Buy are expanding their same-day delivery offers as they try to be more competitive with online leader Amazon.

    The nation’s largest consumer electronics chain, Best Buy, says it will expand to 27 metropolitan markets from 13 starting next week. That number should reach nearly 40 cities by the winter holidays. In a separate announcement, Macy’s Inc. says it will offer same-day delivery in 15 additional markets for a total of 33 areas.

    Macy’s is working with Menlo Park, California-based startup Deliv, backed by United Parcel Service, while Best Buy is now working with two companies including its original partner Deliv to handle the deliveries. Best Buy declined to name the new partner since it’s still finalizing the deal. Macy’s fee for the service is $8, while Best Buy has cut its fee to $5.99 per order from $14.99.

    “We have always wanted to help our customers get their purchases from Best Buy how and when they want them,” said Allison Peterson, president of bestbuy.com, in a company blog post.

    Amazon offers members of its $99-a-year Prime program same-day and faster shipping options. It says members in more than 5,000 cities and towns can get their orders the same day or the next, depending on the item and location. Through Prime Now, members in more than 30 major cities can get tens of thousands of items in an hour or two.

    Walmart has also jumped into the same-day delivery game, having said it’s expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber to two more markets — Dallas and Orlando, Florida. The world’s largest retailer had launched a pilot grocery service with Uber last year in Phoenix and then Tampa, Florida, earlier this year. The delivery charge is $9.95. It’s also testing same-day delivery service with Deliv at Sam’s Club in Miami.

    With Deliv…
    Source: Mobile Tech Today

    LG V30 First to Support T-Mobile's 600 MHz Spectrum

    LG and T-Mobile today said the new V30 flagship smartphone will be the first device capable of operating on T-Mobile’s brand new 600 MHz spectrum, or Band 71. T-Mobile kicked off 600 MHz service in Cheyenne, Wyo., two weeks ago and today added Scarborough, Maine. T-Mobile is using the spectrum to provide LTE coverage to rural markets first, though it will also eventually deploy 5G technologies on that spectrum. T-Mobile’s 600 MHz spectrum holdings give it nationwide coverage. The LG V30 is slated to reach T-Mobile later this year.

    Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

    GBoard for Android Gains Stickers and Bitmoji

    Google today updated its GBoard mobile keyboard application for Android devices and added a handful of new, interactive features. Chiefly, the app gains support for stickers, which you can now slap into messages. Users will need to download sticker packs from the Play Store, which are then accessed by tapping the emoji key on the keyboard. Google says it worked with a handful of content partners, including Mickey Mouse, NBAmoji, Google Allo selfie stickers, Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, Garfield, Power Rangers, and Star Wars, to ensure that free stickers are available. GBoard also adds support for Bitmoji, which needs to be installed separately in order to be accessed via GBoard. Gboard is free to download from the Google Play Store.

    Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

    New UK network, SMARTY, hopes not to be pants.

    Two UK networks have both announced new offerings today. Three and Vodafone. First, it’s Three…. well, actually it’s a new network called “SMARTY” – and yes, that’s all in capitals. They piggyback off the Three 4G network and they tell us that they are going to be the “simplest and most flexible mobile network around”.

    New UK network, SMARTY, hopes not to be pants.

    You may already know that other networks – such as MVNO Sky Mobile, let you roll-over unused data at the end of the month. Here SMARTY will offer a refund on any data you don’t use. The cash value of unused data is auto-deducted from your plan next month.

    If you go over (instead of under) your allowance, SMARTY have a blanket price of £1.25 per GB of data that you use. They promise that “out of plan pricing the same as in plan”. So hopefully no hugely nasty surprises if you download a bit too much.

    So, they have three plans and, to make things simple, all come with unlimited calls and texts. They are as follows…

      Small (£7.50 for 2GB UK data)
      Medium (£10 for 4GB UK data)
      Large (£15 for 8GB UK data)

    They’ve not got roaming available just yet and you can’t call abroad either, so this is currently a UK-only solution in many ways, but they are said to be working on this.

    This SIM-only network seems to be keeping things simple, but you still get the grunt of the Three 4G network for no extra cost. If you’re interested in taking a look, head to Smarty.co.uk, where you can also check the coverage.

    Oh, and who exactly are they? Well, we had a dig down into their Terms and Conditions and they appear to have an office address of Star House 20, Grenfell Road in Maidenhead. The very same address of UK network Three…

    … and they’re cheaper..

    SIMPLEST AND MOST HONEST MOBILE NETWORK EVER LAUNCHES
    – New mobile network SMARTY promises to be the most honest and flexible ever –

    To paraphrase a clever chap called Albert Einstein: everything should be made as simple as possible. It’s hard to argue with Albert. In a world where we insist on making things complicated, simplicity is in short supply.

    For some people this speaks to their experiences of mobile networks. The sheer number of plans on the market can be confusing, while the plans themselves can seem complicated and inflexible, with some feeling that they don’t have control over their mobile plans and how much they are spending toward them. What’s more, there are many consumers that simply dislike mobile contracts and the commitment they call for.

    So for those that crave the a simple, transparent and easy mobile life, say hello to SMARTY: the simplest, most honest mobile network ever made, and it launches today: www.smarty.co.uk

    Honesty reigns supreme on SMARTY, with customers only paying for the data they use, and not the data they don’t. In what is a UK mobile market first, the network will automatically deduct the monetary value of any unused data a customer has at the end of each month from the following month’s plan, meaning there’s potential for pounds to land back in your pocket monthly. It’s a unique new type of perk that is unlike anything that’s come before it.

    With SMARTY, there are no contracts – just three simple monthly plans. Standard UK calls and texts are unlimited and there is a £5 monthly service charge. Out of plan pricing is also the same as in plan, meaning no nasty surprises when it comes to topping up. There are no strings, no small print and definitely no asterisks.

    SMARTY is a SIM-only mobile network operating on the Three network with 4G offered at no extra cost. It has been designed to give customers the freedom and flexibility to manage mobile the way they want and to provide unrivalled value.

    The three SMARTY plans are as follows (all of which come with unlimited calls and texts):

    · Small (£7.50 for 2GB UK data)

    · Medium (£10 for 4GB UK data)

    · Large (£15 for 8GB UK data)

    In what is another UK mobile market first, SMARTY will employ a blanket price of £1.25 per GB of data you use each month, no matter what plan you’re on, reflecting the network’s dedication to honesty and fairness throughout. The data discount – again available on all three plans – will also be valued at £1.25 per each unused GB of data, with absolutely no catches to speak of.

    Behind the simplicity of SMARTY is digital technology that offers customers great value, fairness and ease of use. In addition to offering a refund on the data that you don’t use at the end of each month, SMARTY also allows customers to simply and quickly switch between plans at will each month. It’s up to them and all it takes is the touch of a button or the swipe of a finger.

    Elin McLean, General Manager for SMARTY, said: “There is currently a wide variety of different mobile plans and tariffs out there, and these suit a lot of people. That said, we know that many others are looking for more simplicity and honesty from their network. They may not want to commit to a contract and want the freedom to manage their mobile in line with their lifestyles. That’s where SMARTY comes in.

    “SMARTY sets out to change the UK mobile market as we know it – putting the power in the customers’ hands by offering the simplest and most honest mobile network experience ever. The unique perk of being given a discount for any data you don’t use at the end of each month is unlike anything that’s been offered by a UK network before. This benefit, coupled with the fact we also offer a blanket cost for each GB of data you use across all our plans, reflects our ambition to deliver a smart and cost-effective mobile option that provides customers with immense flexibility when it comes to managing their data usage.”

    The post New UK network, SMARTY, hopes not to be pants. is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.

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