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Sony’s Xperia 1 II ships in the US on July 24th for $1,199

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Sony’s new flagship smartphone, the Xperia 1 II (pronounced “mark two”), will ship in the US starting July 24th for $1,199, the company announced. Pre-orders start on June 1st. And if you pre-order by June 28th, you’ll get a free pair of Sony WF-1000XM3 noise canceling earbuds.

A major feature of the Xperia 1 II is its 12-megapixel triple-camera array, which Sony says can shoot up 20 fps in burst mode, make AF/AE calculations up to 60 times per second, and autofocus on the eyes of humans and animals for portrait shots, among other features. The phone also comes with the Photography Pro and Cinematography Pro apps, which give you more manual control over the camera settings for your photos and videos.

The Xperia 1 II has a 4K HDR OLED screen that’s 6.5 inches and has a 21:9 aspect ratio, making it taller than many other phones. The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor, has a 4,000mAh battery, and supports wireless charging. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack, if you want to plug in headphones.

Sony also said it has “plans to develop” the Xperia Pro, a new phone that supports mmWave 5G, which typically offers faster speeds than sub-6Hz 5G but has a more limited range. But to help you find service when you’re using the Xperia Pro, Sony says the new phone will show you the direction of an mmWave 5G connection and your transmission and reception speeds. The Xperia 1 II will be 4G only in the US, but its Europe variant supports 5G.

The Xperia Pro.
Image: Sony

The Xperia Pro will also have a micro HDMI cable so that you can connect it to cameras with an HDMI output. That means you can use the Xperia Pro as a monitor for some DSLR cameras and professional camcorders as well as transmit data captured by a camera over the phone’s 5G connection, according to Sony.

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A new Motorola Razr could launch this year with 5G

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A new version of the Motorola Razr foldable could launch this year, and it might have 5G, a bigger battery, and improved cameras (via 9to5Google). Those could address some of the many criticisms of the original model, which came out in February.

Surprisingly, this apparent new version of the Razr may have been revealed by an executive from Lenovo, which is owned by Motorola, reports Android Authority. Lenovo’s South Africa general manager Thibault Dousson appeared on the Reframed Tech podcast and said a new Razr could be coming around September.

“There’s a new iteration [of the Razr] coming out. From what I understand, there’s one in September, I think, coming out,” he said shortly after the 18-minute mark on the podcast. “A whole new Razr,” he continued.

That new Razr may be powered by Qualcomm’s 5G-capabale Snapdragon 765 processor, and it might have an 2,845mAh battery, up from the 2,510mAh battery in the first-generation Razr, according to specs posted by XDA Developers. And the new version’s outer camera is rumored to be 48 megapixels, which could be a significant jump from the current version’s 16-megapixel camera, with a 20-megapixel inner camera, up from 5 megapixels. The phone may also have 8GB of RAM, up from 6GB, and 256GB of internal storage, up from 128GB.

While these are all welcome improvements in the specs department, it’s unclear if this rumored new Razr will feature any changes to its signature folding mechanism — like a less creaky hinge, changes to prevent bumps and lumps from appearing on the screen, or improvements to stop the screen from peeling away from the laminate layer.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Plus renders suggest a slightly bigger screen and much bigger camera bump

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Last year’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus was truly a thing of beauty, with an amazing screen and superlative industrial design. And, judging by some high-quality (and completely unofficial) renders of the Galaxy Note 20 Plus, it looks like Samsung won’t be changing too much in 2020. The only major difference is a new, bulkier camera module on the rear of the device.

These renders come from noted leaker @OnLeaks in collaboration with phone-case maker Pigtou. As with all renders based on leaked CAD drawings, they should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the design they suggest for the Note 20 Plus seems reasonable enough.

The most obvious feature is the big, nearly edge-to-edge display, with curved bezels, sloping sides, and a small, central hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera that’s near identical to the 2019 design. The top and bottom edge also look the same as that of the Note 10 Plus, with speaker grille, charging port, and space for the signature S Pen stylus.

In terms of size, the Note 20 Plus will reportedly be slightly bigger than the 10 Plus, with a 6.9-inch display instead of last year’s 6.8-inch AMOLED screen, and slightly longer but thinner dimensions, with the same overall width (165mm long, 77.2mm wide, and 7.6mm thick, according to leaks).

The most noticeable change, though, is the camera module on the rear of the device, which is much bigger than that of the 2019 Note Plus, according to the renders.

In the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus this module was a pretty slim oval containing three lenses, while the flash module was positioned to one side, flush with the case (in the 10 Plus there are two additional divots that supply the phone’s depth-sensing capabilities). But the Note 20 renders show a larger, more rectangular module that apparently integrates all these components — lenses and assorted gubbins — into a single raised unit.

This looks extremely similar to the camera system on this year’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, which was very much designed to show off Samsung’s photography abilities. The S20 Ultra’s module contained five lenses sporting up to 108 megapixels, and a 4x optical zoom that offered solid results up to a 10x zoom with the help of software. There’s a lot to say about that camera system, but check out our full review from February for more information.

If the Note 20 and 20 Plus are anything like previous iterations in the series, they’ll contain the best, biggest, and brightest of Samsung’s smartphone specs. So it’s not unreasonable to expect some high-end camera hardware. We’ve not seen any leaked specs for the 2020 Notes, though, so will have to see what surfaces in the months to come.

Reports suggest that Samsung will be launching the Note 20 in August, though this will likely be an online-only event as a reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

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T-Mobile’s free mobile service for first responders is now available

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T-Mobile’s offer of free mobile service for first responders for 10 years is now available, CEO Mike Sievert announced today. The program, officially called “Connecting Heroes,” provides free access to the company’s network over the next decade for members of state and local public and nonprofit law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies.

The offer of free service, which includes unlimited talk, text, and 4G / 5G data, was part of a set of promises the company made to help convince regulators to approve its merger with Sprint. And now, with that merger successfully completed, the newly expanded T-Mobile is making good on that promise. Sievert claimed T-Mobile will follow through on its other pledges as well, and he took shots at AT&T and WarnerMedia for raising prices after their combination.

Of course, there are a few caveats to the offer. The deal is only available of members of eligible first responder groups — and agencies will have to contact T-Mobile to get approved first. The Connecting Heroes plans are also more limited than T-Mobile’s regular Magenta plan: while some things are the same, like the 5GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada and the SD video limitations, there are a few perks that aren’t included.

Tethering on the Connecting Heroes plan is limited to 1GB of LTE tethering (compared to 3GB on the Magenta plan), and there’s no mention of the free data and texting abroad (although the fine print does note that Connecting Heroes plan members can purchase additional international features) or the free Netflix or in-flight Wi-Fi offers that come with the Magenta plan.

The Connecting Heroes plan is just part of T-Mobile’s promised goodwill initiatives. Also included is its $15-per-month Connect wireless plan with unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of data for half of the company’s $30 “Essentials” plan, and Project 10Million, which promised free internet for 10 million households to provide children around the country better access to the internet to close “the homework gap.”

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