Android 7.0 Nougat rolls out to Sony Xperia X and X Compact

Android 7.0 Nougat rolls out to Sony Xperia X and X Compact

Android 7.0 Nougat rolls out to Sony Xperia X and X Compact

It appears Sony is once again in line for the big Android 7.0 Nougat update, bringing the upgrade to two more of its devices. A new report claims it is currently rolling out internationally for Sony’s Xperia X and Xperia X Compact phones.

The report comes from the unofficial Xperia blog, but its stories do tend to be very accurate when it comes to these kinds of updates. It states the build number for this update is 34.2.A.0.266. Sony is rolling it out in select regions so far, including Australia, Latin America, Middle East, Russia, Turkey, Thailand and Vietnam. However, the update will likely makes its way to the rest of those phones, including the US, over the next several days.

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Sony announces limited Final Fantasy XV Walkman, headphones, and speaker for Japan

Sony announces limited Final Fantasy XV Walkman, headphones, and speaker for Japan

Sony announces limited Final Fantasy XV Walkman, headphones, and speaker for Japan

After over a decade of on-off development, Final Fantasy XV is finally landing on a console near you tomorrow. (Stay tuned: our review is coming later today.) And what better way to celebrate than a limited edition Sony Walkman? No better way, that’s what.

Thankfully, Sony is releasing the Walkman A-Series Final Fantasy XV Edition in Japan tomorrow starting at 33,880 yen ($300-ish) for a 16GB model. It supports Hi-Res Audio and comes with little pixel-art Final Fantasy characters on the back.

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Sony’s Xperia X Nougat Concept updated with security patches and more

Sony’s Xperia X Nougat Concept updated with security patches and more

Sony’s Xperia X Nougat Concept updated with security patches and more

Owners of Sony’s Xperia X smartphone in Europe who are also signed up for the “Concept for Android” program can download the first update for the software since it first rolled out a couple of weeks ago for Android 7.0 Nougat. The program offers Xperia X owner a chance to get some hands-on preview time with upcoming features before they are made available for all owners of the smartphone.

In this case, the build number for this update is build number 38.1.A.0.342 (NBD91K4). It includes the latest November Android security updates from Google, along with adding X-Reality support in the Album app, and also includes new versions of Sony’s Xperia Home and Xperia Transfer apps. As you might expect, there are also some bug fixes in this Nougat-based release, including a new version of the fingerprint driver and bug fixes for the camera and FM Radio features.

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Report: Sony to launch Playstation-inspired mobile games in 2018

Report: Sony to launch Playstation-inspired mobile games in 2018

Report: Sony to launch Playstation-inspired mobile games in 2018

I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you that mobile gaming caught a big break this year with Pokemon Go, and it seems that major games developers have taken notice. According to Nikkei, Sony is aiming to release games based on some of its popular PlayStation brands on smartphones.

According to the report, Sony is planning to release five or more mobile games, which will be targeted at the Japanese and other Asian markets to begin with. The game titles are expected to be revealed by the end of the year, but Sony may be planning to revive some of its older names and franchises. There’s also talk about linking some of these titles to upcoming console releases. These game are scheduled to appear some time around late March 2018 and ForwardWorks will be handling distribution.

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Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small Android is still good, but not much better

Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small Android is still good, but not much better

Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small Android is still good, but not much better

Sony’s Xperia X Compact is basically the newest version of the Z5 Compact that hit the US earlier this year. But just because it’s a newer version of the (comparatively) tiny handset doesn’t mean it’s an upgrade in every way. Sony is pushing the camera sensors in the X Compact and the flagship-level XZ, as well as new features like five-axis image stabilization and HDR photo mode. Sony knows cameras, so we know the shooter in the X Compact will at least be competent. However, it has to be good enough to encourage photography buffs to shell out $499 for this unlocked handset while delivering solid performance across the board as well.

Look and feel

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Sony announces its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player with 4K and HDR support

Sony announces its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player with 4K and HDR support

Sony announces its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player with 4K and HDR support

We’re already in the 4K era: it seems like the majority of new TVs, streaming services, and devices support the higher quality video format. The de facto physical format for 4K is off to a slow start, however. The UBP-X1000ES is Sony’s first to support Ultra HD Blu-ray playback, with full 4K and HDR support (although Sony has yet to specify whether it will be using the HDR10 or Dolby Vision standard.) Along with the new 4K Blu-ray discs, the UBP-X1000ES also supports CD, DVD, and Blu-ray content, as well as the ability to upscale older 1080p content to 4K.

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Android OEM death watch: Sony, HTC, and LG edition

Android OEM death watch: Sony, HTC, and LG edition

Android OEM death watch: Sony, HTC, and LG edition

If Android OEMs were just that, original equipment manufacturers, their jobs would be much simpler and easier. But in the modern smartphone world, it’s not enough to just design and build new gadgets to a high spec; you have to power them with your own tailored software, you have to support them with updates and security patches, and you have to price them enticingly, too. Not everyone has been doing a particularly good job of this, and as the ranks of Android OEMs continue to swell, escalating competition might push some familiar names out of the game altogether.

Let’s start with Sony, the most endangered species in the Android realm. Sony only really knows how to make premium devices. Over the course of the past three years, its Xperia Z series has evolved at a breakneck pace, going from Z1 to Z5 to the present XZ, but it’s never changed in character. The typical Xperia flagship phone costs a lot and has the latest specs and an eye-catching design, but it also tends to launch without the latest Android on board, and its great camera is usually hamstrung by bad software. That’s exactly what I experienced with the Xperia XZ at IFA this year: beautiful on the outside, high engineering on the inside, but outdated Android and unconvincing camera software.

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Sony’s new 4K Action Cam has optical image stabilization

Sony's new 4K Action Cam has optical image stabilization

Sony’s new 4K Action Cam has optical image stabilization

Sony has announced a new version of its very capable GoPro competitor, the 4K Action Cam. The new model, called the X3000R, costs $400 and has a slew of new features like optical image stabilization, face detection, and the revamped menu system that we first saw on the smaller Action Cam announced at this year’s CES. Sony also announced the $300 AS300R, which has essentially all the same features except it tops out at 1080p. Both cameras will be available later this month.

Sony’s Action Cams have had digital stabilization for years now, so it’s great to see that the company finally found a way to build optical, or mechanical, image stabilization into this model. Digital stabilization is software-based — it smooths out footage by cropping in on the image and using the excess space to adjust for vibrations, so the results are not always good.

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Sony Xperia X Compact hands on review

Sony Xperia X Compact hands on review

Sony Xperia X Compact hands on review

At IFA 2016, Sony announced two new additions to its Xperia X series: the Xperia XZ and the latest compact model, the Xperia X Compact. The Xperia X Compact is essentially a smaller version of the Xperia XZ, although it hasn’t exactly followed the same flagship-specs-in-a-compact-body recipe Sony employed with previous compacts. Some of the high-end features are there, but others are not. Check out our Sony Xperia X Compact hands on for our first impressions.

The first thing to note about the Xperia X Compact is its design, which finally takes more than a tiny step away from Sony’s familiar Omnibalance look, even if it’s still pretty similar. The XZ and X Compact introduce the new “Loop Surface” design, featuring symmetrically rounded edges, a flat top and bottom edge and a frame around the sides that makes the whole thing feel “constructed”, which is actually a nice change from the unibody look and feel.

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