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What is Apple’s XDR display tech? Extreme ...

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Apple Pro Display XDR side tilt and front view
The new iMac could resemble the Pro Display XDR, says Gurman

Apple is hosting its Spring Loaded event on April 20 and, while the firm has offered little indication of what to expect from the evening, we hope to see Apple’s XDR display tech make an appearance in some of the products.

XDR – or Extreme Dynamic Range is a feature that debuted on the Pro Display XDR back in 2019.

The monitor has gotten Apple into hot water recently. The company found itself forced to drop the “far beyond HDR” claim from its Pro Display HDR page after marketing for the product underwent a review with the Advertising Standards Authority here in the UK (via 9to5Mac).

The complaints were filed because Apple’s website reportedly led users to believe it supported 100% of the P3 wide colour gamut instead of 99%. Users also questioned the company’s 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio claims.

Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s XDR display technology, including what it is, how it works and where you can find it.

What is Apple’s XDR display tech?

XDR is the display tech found in Apple’s Pro Display XDR. Apple describes the feature as “dynamic range to the extreme” – which makes sense considering the acronym actually stands for Extreme Dynamic Range.

You’ve likely already heard of HDR, or High Dynamic Range. The feature is in charge of improving the contrast you see on many displays these days, keeping the whites bright and the blacks dark in a way that SDR TVs had previously been unable to achieve.

While not technically a separate standard of HDR, XDR is HDR pushed further – well at least that seems like how Apple wants it thought of. Apple says it employs a “breakthrough backlighting technology” to increase the brightness, contrast and colour on its Pro Display XDR beyond what you see with HDR.

According to Apple product manager Colleen Novielli, a large number of individually calibrated blue LEDs come together in the Pro Display XDR to form its backlight. Apple then applies a proprietary algorithm to modulate each LED based on the content, using custom lenses and reflectors to control the light.

“Now, a typical thermal system would make this impossible to achieve for more than a few minutes. So we did something amazing”, said Novelli at WWDC 2019.

“We designed the rear lattice pattern to act as a heatsink, and this doubles the surface area, quietly extracting heat from each LED. This display can maintain 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness indefinitely. Forever! And 1,600 nits peak”.

Apple claims that, while a standard desktop display can sustain a brightness of just around 350 nits, its XDR display can sustain 1,000 nits of brightness and 1,600 nits at its peak, offering a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (though the latter is currently under independent testing).

The Pro Display XDR also supports 99% of the P3 wide colour gamut and true 10-bit colour for vibrant, accurate colours.

All of the above basically means that professionals are able to achieve more accurate colour grading when creating content on the Pro Display XDR, and that photos and videos viewed on the XDR display appear bright and vibrant.

Of course, this tech doesn’t come cheap. The Pro Display XDR launched in 2019 at the steep price of £4,599 (or £5,499 if you opt for the nano-texture glass).

Apple XDR Display on iPhone

You can also find XDR displays on some of Apple’s most recent smartphones. The feature, called Super Retina XDR on your phone, can be found on the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

A step up from the Super Retina display found on the iPhone X, XS and XS Max, Super Retina XDR has a contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1 and supports HDR10, Dolby Vision and variants of HDR. Unlike the Pro Display XDR, the XDR displays used on the phones are OLED panels.

We’ve reviewed all the iPhones that boast this XDR tech and they’re all superb displays that certainly match up with the best we’ve seen from top-end Android devices. They’re all bright displays with strong HDR support and far more neutral colours then you’ll elsewhere. While a Samsung display might be more punchy and saturated, we’d certainly have the iPhone’s panel is more realistic with colour reproduction. Hopefully, Apple brings some of the tech across to the tablet range with the heavily rumoured iPad Pro 2021.

For more on monitors, make sure to check out our guides to the best monitors and the best gaming monitors. Or for smartphones, visit our guides to the best phones and the best iPhones available right now.

The post What is Apple’s XDR display tech? Extreme Dynamic Range explained appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Samsung Galaxy M12 will launch in the UK this ...

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Samsung has just announced that its latest M Series phone, the Galaxy M12, will be available to buy in the UK from April 30.

The M Series is one of Samsung’s most affordable smartphone lines, providing a cheaper alternative for people looking for a Samsung phone without the S21’s flagship prices.

The M12 is the follow up to 2020’s Galaxy M11 and Samsung is promising “some of the biggest upgrades” in the M Series this year, including a 90Hz Infinity-V display, a powerful processor and a 5000mAh battery.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy M12 ahead of its release.

Samsung Galaxy M12 pricing and release date

The Galaxy M12 will be available to buy in the UK from April 30. The phone has an RRP of £159 (roughly ¢226/€184). It had previously be revealed for a release in India.

Samsung Galaxy M12 screen and design

The Galaxy M12 boasts a 6.5-inch HD+ Infinity-V display with a 90Hz refresh rate – an upgrade over the M11.

The screen has an aspect ratio of 20:9 and the smartphone supports Dolby Atmos audio when used with wired or Bluetooth headphones for a more cinematic experience when you’re streaming movies or gaming on the phone.

The M12 features a haze and matte finish with curved sides and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The phone is available in Black, Light Blue and Green colour options and comes running Android 11 out of the box.

It also features support for One UI Core, as well as premium services such as Samsung Health, Galaxy Apps and Smart Switch.

Samsung Galaxy M12 specs and features

The Galaxy M12 is powered by the Exynos 850 octa-core 2.0GHz processor. Samsung claims the chipset offers snappy performance, smooth multitasking and is power efficient, regardless of whether you’re browsing or using multiple apps.

The phone packs a huge 5000mAh battery so you shouldn’t have to worry about it draining quickly. The phone also supports 15W fast charging and Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging tech.

The M12 includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Samsung Galaxy M12 camera

The Galaxy M12 features a quad-camera setup on its rear, including a 48-megapixel main wide angle sensor, a 5-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor with a 123-degree field of view, a 2-megapixel macro sensor for close ups and a 2-megapixel depth sensor for portrait shots.

There’s also an 8-megapixel (f/2.2) selfie camera on the front of the phone.

How good will the Galaxy M12 be?

Of course, it’s hard to come to a definite verdict on this device before we’ve put it through our review process. But, for the price, it certainly seems to offer a decent selection of features that should give the Moto G30, for example, a run for its money. There is some serious competition at this end of the market though, from the likes of Poco, fellow Xiaomi offshoot Redmi and Realme.

 

The post Samsung Galaxy M12 will launch in the UK this month appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Fitbit Luxe unveiled as Fitbit’s new, ...

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Fitbit Luxe

Fitbit has unveiled its latest wearable, the Fitbit Luxe, which aims to strike a balance between being a fashionable device and a competent fitness tracker.

Priced at £129.99 – the Fitbit Luxe will serve as a more fashionable alternative to the Fitbit Charge 4, which also has the same going rate. Particularly noteworthy however is that the Luxe will not have untethered GPS, something that the Charge 4 has, so there will be a partial trade-off in the decision over which fitness tracker to buy.

What the Luxe does have is Fitbit’s well-tested health and workout infrastructure, including tracking of Zone Minutes, stress tracking and sleep tracking, alongside a quoted battery life of up to five days. According to Fitbit, functionality for SpO2 tracking will also appear at a later date.

Each purchase of the Fitbit Luxe will come with six months of Fitbit Premium at no extra cost, giving users access to additional features such as meditation sessions and premium workout routines via the Fitbit app.

Fitbit Luxe

Commenting on the Fitbit Luxe’s unveiling, Fitbit Co-Founder James Park detailed: “Over the past year, we’ve had to think differently about our health and wellness from keeping an eye out for possible COVID-19 symptoms to managing the ongoing stress and anxiety of today’s world. Even though we are starting to see positive changes, it has never been more important to control your holistic health.”

“That’s why we’ve doubled down on our efforts to introduce innovative tools and insights to support you in staying mentally well and physically active. We’ve made major technological advancements with Luxe, creating a smaller, slimmer, beautifully designed tracker packed with these advanced features – some that were previously only available with our smartwatches – and providing access to these tools to even more people around the globe.”

Thematically, the Fitbit Luxe feels very similar to the recently released Garmin Lily, which also utilises a fashion-first approach to the wearable concept. You’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the Fitbit Luxe to know if it’ll make our list of the best fitness trackers, but in the meantime you can read our reviews for the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3.

Fitbit Luxe is now available to pre-order via Fitbit.com.

The post Fitbit Luxe unveiled as Fitbit’s new, fashion-oriented fitness tracker appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Xbox cloud gaming on iPhone finally becomes a ...

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Xbox Game Pass Cloud iPhone Windows

Microsoft has confirmed Xbox cloud gaming will be available on Windows PCs and on the iPhone and iPad, via a range of popular web browsers, from this week

Initially, the long awaited ‘xCloud’ will be available in beta via invite to existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members.

Once gamers receive an invite they’ll be able to log on to xbox.com/play on the Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Safari web browsers. There they’ll find over 100 games to close from. If you have an invite, you can get in on the action and sign in immediately.

Gamers will need a compatible USB or Bluetooth controller to play the full range, but 50 of those games will also be compatible with touch controls out of the gate. Microsoft recommends at least a 10Mbps with 5Ghz Wi-Fi connection for the best experience.

Microsoft is promising a “simplified, universal landing page presents a great opportunity to make cloud gaming approachable to more players in more places over time.” The gaming giant is using the rollout as a test, but says it’ll learn fast and bring support to more devices.

“Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways,” the company says in an Xbox Wire post.

Related: Best Xbox Series X games

The launch comes after cloud gaming came to Android phone owners via the Xbox app, rather than through the web browsers. Microsoft was forced to adopt a different tactic in order to launch on Apple devices due to App Store guidelines that would have required the Xbox team to submit every game for review, rather than as a bundled streaming service.

Going through web browsers is a workaround many companies have used before, but it remains to be seen whether it’ll be an effective tactic for playing high-end Xbox games.

The post Xbox cloud gaming on iPhone finally becomes a reality from this week appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

PS3 and PS Vita stores live on as Sony admits it ...

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Sony PS Vita

When Sony announced its decision to close the PS3, PSP and PS Vita stores, the overriding reaction was “why?”. Surely, if people want to buy games their old consoles they should be allowed to, right?

Well, thankfully, Sony has come to its senses and has reversed its decision, with the top brass Jim Ryan admitting “it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here”, having listened to feedback from the PlayStation community.

As such, the PS3 and PS Vita versions of the PlayStation Store will remain open indefinitely. However Sony is still planning to retire the PSP store on July 2 2021.

In the post on the PlayStation Blog, Ryan writes: “When we initially came to the decision to end purchasing support for PS3 and PS Vita, it was born out of a number of factors, including commerce support challenges for older devices and the ability for us to focus more of our resources on newer devices where a majority of our gamers are playing on.

“We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations.”

Related: Best PS4 games

The explanation from Ryan somewhat answers our initial confusion about why Sony would shut down the stores. He says it’s about challenges of supporting older devices and wishing to focus resources on where most PlayStation gamers are at.

However despite that, it’s clear Sony has realised it has a duty to keep those games available to those who a) love their legacy consoles or b) aren’t quite in a position to upgrade their collections to PS4 and PS5.

Sony’s decision gives gamers and extra time to get their hands on PS3 and PS Vita titles. However, we’d advise gamers to snap up as many of those PSP titles between now and next July.

The post PS3 and PS Vita stores live on as Sony admits it failed to read the room appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Microsoft finds way to speed-up hard-drive busting ...

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Xbox because you play

One of the disadvantages of next-gen gaming is the increase in file sizes that mean downloading PS5 and Xbox Series S/X games can take an age, if you’re not on a lighting-fast broadband connection.

Knowing this, Microsoft has made a number of changes in recent times, namely the ability to start playing a game while it downloads. Now the company has added a further tweak in a new dashboard update that’ll help gamers get to their new games more quickly.

In the April update Microsoft has added the ability to suspend a game running on the console to ensure that valuable bandwidth is dedicated to the latest game update. Gamers are informed “You’ve got a game running. Suspend kit to help improve download speeds.” They can then resume the action once the download is complete.

Related: Best Xbox Series S/X

In a post on the Xbox Wire blog, Jason Ronald, Partner Director of Program Management, Xbox explains: “Download your games as quickly as possible with the new suspend game feature in My games & apps. Today, the queue warns you when your active game is slowing download speeds. Now you’ll have the option to suspend your active game in order to free up bandwidth and get the most efficient download speeds. Then, with Quick Resume, you can jump right back into your game whenever you want to start playing again.”

Elsewhere, Microsoft is announced its bringing monthly leaderboards to the Xbox app for iOS and Android, enabling gamers to see how they’re doing against their pals on a regular basis.

Game Pass also gets a boost with Play With Friends now an easy to access option when playing any game on Game Pass. “You can either jump right into a joinable multiplayer session or begin installing the games your friends are currently playing,” Ronald adds.

Elsewhere, there’s a couple of tweaks to game recommendations and collections in Game Pass, which will be based on your gameplay history. You’ll see “because you played” recommendations as you would on Netflix, for example.

The post Microsoft finds way to speed-up hard-drive busting Xbox downloads appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Apple to launch Podcasts Plus subscription service ...

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Apple Watch Series 4
Apple Watch Series 4

Apple is planning to launch a podcast subscription service during its Spring Loaded event on Tuesday, according to new rumours.

According to Peter Kafka of Vox Media (via Gizmodo) Apple will launch a paid service for its Apple Podcasts app during the event, where new iPad Pro models are likely to take centre stage.

The rumour has been floating around previously, mainly through an article from The Information suggesting a ‘Podcasts Plus’ service could be on the way, earlier this year.

Apple has also dropped hints with its iOS 14.5 beta versions suggesting changes are coming to the way podcasts are handled. That update is due imminently and, given the company’s penchant for adding subscription services in recent years, we wouldn’t be surprised if the new podcast service arrived tomorrow.

Opinion: Spotify needs to ditch the podcast spam

Apple has offered podcasts for free since podcasts became a thing at the dawn of the iPod era. Hence the name. However, podcast makers have been able to earn cash by selling their own advertising.

It’s not clear what format a Podcast subscription service would take, whether Apple would look to get exclusive deals with podcasters to put behind a paywall, or whether listeners would get an ad-free experience with subscription fees enabling content providers supplement their revenue with a little more to make the lack of autonomy worthwhile.

Spotify has been aggressively expanding into podcasts in the last couple of years, signing many top podcasters to exclusive deals, meaning long-time fans have no choice listen to Spotify in order to tune in.

The prospect of Apple doing the same and fragmenting the availability of podcasts isn’t a particularly fun one for the public, but let’s hope that’s what Apple has in mind if it launches a subscription service. This was largely avoided when the big hitters started fighting it out over music streaming and we’d prefer not to go chasing around for our favourite pods.

The post Apple to launch Podcasts Plus subscription service at Spring Forward event? appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get a major ...

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Foldable phones have two major barriers to entry among those rocking the traditional form factors. They’ll cost you more money and, as perceptions would have it, won’t be as durable. 

However, Samsung has been working towards lessening those concerns since the expensive and fragile Galaxy Fold first arrived, then left, then arrived again, a few years back. Now the company is looking to take durability concerns off the table with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 2, according to a SamMobile report.

The sources say these will be the first Galaxy foldables to carry an IP rating for water and dust resistance. The report says the Ingress Protection rating may not be the high-end IP68 certification offered by the Galaxy S21 range, but it will be an improvement on the big fat nothing that’s there right now.

For example, the IP67 rating we see from most higher-end phones would enable users to get the phone wet without worrying and about knackering it completely. If you’re so inclined you could even swim for 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Here’s our lowdown on IP67 vs IP68.

Related: Best smartphone

Of course, it’s not because Samsung just can’t be bothered to add it that we haven’t seen waterproofing yet. It was one of the first companies to provide true water resistance on Galaxy phones. Protecting a phone from water and dust just becomes a far greater challenge when you’re adding additional hinges to what has been a largely unchanged form factor for over a decade.

If the report comes to fruition, Samsung will hope it’ll improve the perception of its foldable phones, which hasn’t quite recovered from the initial Galaxy Fold recall in 2018. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 did fix all of the issues and there were no durability issues with that handset.

The next question will be whether Samsung can bring the prices down enough to ensure they’re a little more in line with the cost of a current flagship phone. Recent rumours have suggested we could see the phones in late summer.

The post Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get a major durability boost – report appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Ctrl+Alt+Delete: It's the perfect time for ...

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The Apple Spring Loaded Event is confirmed to take place next week, with a new iPad Pro 2021 with a Mini LED display seemingly taking the spotlight. But I’d argue that it’s the iMac 2021 that’s poised to be the most exciting reveal. 

The upcoming iMac is rumoured to feature several exciting new features, including an Apple Silicon processor and an entirely new design. While major upgrades are always welcome, it feels like a particularly good time to glam up the iMac. 

Firstly, there are now far more people working from home compared to 2019. Of course, plenty of those people will soon return to the office now lockdown restrictions are slowly easing, but it’s likely that employers will become more flexible with home working than ever before. 

An iMac is a fantastic option for home workers, offering a bigger display and a more comfortable working setup than a laptop since you don’t need to be hunched over the keyboard. It may not be portable like a MacBook, but that’s not so big of an issue now home working is becoming more common. 

Thanks to the introduction of Apple Silicon, the next iMac is expected to offer a blistering productivity performance too, potentially even better than what similarly priced Intel Core desktop chips can offer. 

Without going into too much detail, Intel has suffered numerous setbacks for its desktop processors in recent years, limiting the generation-on-generation performance increases. Apple could therefore leapfrog Intel in terms of performance power, achieving a similar feat with the MacBook Air M1 when compared to similar Intel-powered Windows laptops. 

There’s also not a lot of competition in the all-in-one desktop PC space right now. Microsoft still hasn’t launched the Surface Studio 3, so HP and Lenovo are some of the only brands to rival Apple here. The iMac 2021 is also rumoured to have a slimmed down bezel, fitting in with modern trends popularised by the Dell XPS 13 laptop. It’s inevitable that this trend will continue into the all-in-one PC space, and so is a perfect opportunity for Apple to make the switch. 

iMac 2021 colours
Image: Jon Prosser / Concept Creator

Apple leaker, Jon Prosser, suggests (via MacRumors) that the new iMac will come in five colours: Silver, Space Gray, Green, Sky Blue and Rose Gold. I think the desktop PC space is crying out for some more adventurous colour options, with the iPhone 12 proving there’s now an appetite for colourful designs, so I’m very happy the iMac is potentially getting a similar treatment. 

With all things considered then, the iMac feels an even more important device than the iPad Pro right now. Hell, even the iPhone 13 feels slightly redundant during a time we’re encouraged to stay indoors. 

But we’ve been fooled into thinking Apple was going to redesign the iMac before, so it’s not out of question that Apple will only upgrade the internals for the new model. It would be a massive missed opportunity if Apple delayed the redesign once again, so here’s hoping we do see an all-new iMac during the upcoming Apple Spring Loaded Event to make home working that little bit more bearable. 


Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon. 

The post Ctrl+Alt+Delete: It’s the perfect time for Apple to redesign the iMac appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Winners and Losers: PS5 gets a major feature while ...

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Need a quick run-through on two of the best and worst tech happenings of the week? Trusted Reviews’ Winners and Losers has you covered.

It’s been another busy in the tech world, with Sony finally unveiling its latest flagship phones in the form of the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III. There’s also been confirmation that Apple’s next event will take place on April 20 and likely have an iPad Pro 2021 reveal.

Two other pieces of news have stuck with us for differing reasons though, and they are this week’s winners and losers.

PS5

Winner – The first PS5 update adds some welcome features and hints at the future

If you are one of the lucky few who has managed to snag a PS5 then there was some very good news this week in the form of the first major software update for the console. The April Update, as it seems to be referred to, adds some welcome additions to storage management and HDR settings.

The most useful addition is the ability to finally offload your PS5 games to an external SSD or HDD – something bizarrely only available for PS4 games at launch. Now, before you get too excited, this doesn’t mean you can play games from external sources (this will come at some point, we hope) but it does mean you get to attach a hefty external drive and moves games across to that instead of deleting them.

The PS5’s measly 667TB SSD might be ridiculously snappy but it is simply not big enough for games that routinely hit the 70-100GB mark. I’ve only had the console a couple of months and have already had to completely delete games to install something else. Hardly what I would consider ‘next-gen’.

Of course, this issue won’t fully be resolved until Sony either sells a higher-capacity version or lets us add in our own high-speed SSDs into the console. It’s a welcome start, though.

OnePlus Watch

Loser – OnePlus fails to dazzle with its first smartwatch

I finally got my hands on the OnePlus Watch this week, a few weeks after it was unveiled alongside the excellent OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9. I haven’t written my full review yet, but as you can probably tell by its position as today’s loser – my first impressions weren’t great.

I wasn’t expecting a £149/$149/€159 watch to blow me away and take the top spot in our best smartwatch list. The finest wearables you can buy are often double the price of OnePlus’ attempt. I was expecting something that felt distinctively OnePlus though, something this Watch just isn’t.

It’s big, dull in terms of looks and comes with a sporty strap that’s oh so plain. OnePlus hasn’t even bothered to include its trademark red cable in the box. If you removed the OnePlus branding you wouldn’t know who made this.

That would be fine if it worked flawlessly, but after a few days of use it doesn’t feel like that’s the case. I’ve found step-tracking to be wildly inconsistent, with GPS issues aplenty and the OS is so basic it doesn’t even have an always-on display. This isn’t so much a smartwatch as it is a ‘fitness’ band with a clockface.

Maybe my opinion will change wildly once I have completed the review and there’s always the chance software updates will fix things, but for a product you can order now the OnePlus Watch hasn’t impressed me so far.

The post Winners and Losers: PS5 gets a major feature while OnePlus Watch misses the mark appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Massive TCL TV Sale: Save over £200 on a 4K QLED ...

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TCL TV Deals eBay sale

eBay’s just dropped a huge sale on brand new TCL TVs, letting you save hundreds of pounds across a range of high-end and affordable 4K sets so you can give your movie nights a serious boost for less.

While there’s a wide variety of TCL sets that have been discounted in the sale (you can see the full list here), we’re highlighting the best offers currently available so that you can get straight to the TV that’s right for you.

Starting at the pricier end of the scale, the TCL 65C715K is a must-have for movie fans. The TV uses QLED technology to provide greater contrast and more natural lighting than what you would find on standard UHD TVs. What this means is that you can enjoy a viewing experience that’s more in line with what a director intended, letting you see your favourite films in a whole new light.

The experience is further enhanced by Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos compatibility – two features that were previously exclusive to cinemas, giving filmmakers greater control over how an image is processed and for audio to envelop a 3D space, making you feel as if the action is happening all around you.

Deal: TCL 65C715K QLED 65-inch 4K TV for just £692.97 (was £899)

As if that wasn’t enough, the TCL 65C715K gets even smarter thanks to the Google Assistant, which lets you ask for the content you want to watch, any time. No more fumbling around for the remote, Google Assistant can take you directly to your desired channel or streaming service.

At any other time, the TCL 65C715K would have set you back a mighty £899, but thanks to eBay’s sale, the high-end set can be yours for just £692.97 – that’s an unbelievable saving of £206.03 to be had.

If the TCL 65C715K is a little out of your price range but you’re still in the market for a solid TV, then the reduced TCL 43EP658 is a great option. Just like the pricier 65C715K, the 43EP658 also runs on Android TV, which is a brilliantly intuitive smart system that can pair seamlessly with Android phones. If you want to watch a video stored on your phone but on the big screen, then you can do so in an instant – it’s that simple.

The TCL 43EP658 uses a gorgeous 4K display which packs four times as many pixels as what you’d find on an old HD set. The higher resolution ensures that whatever your watching is bright, vibrant and full of eye-popping colour.

Deal: TCL 43EP658 43-inch 4K TV for just £269.97 (was 339.97)

You might be thinking that the TCL 43EP658 would still come in at a fairly high price but no, the set can be yours for just £269.97 (down from £339.97). Even if you’re lucky enough to have a spare room and fancy putting an affordable TV in there, you’d be hard pushed to find a better deal on a 43-inch 4K set.

The current sale ends on April 23, but there’s no guarantee that stock will still be available by then – so it’s very much a first come, first served situation, and with discounts like these it’s hard to imagine them staying put for very long.


We may earn a commission if you click a deal and buy an item. That’s why we want to make sure you’re well-informed and happy with your purchase, so that you’ll continue to rely on us for your buying advice needs.

The post Massive TCL TV Sale: Save over £200 on a 4K QLED TV while stocks last appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

What is Mini LED? Everything you need to know ...

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There’s another next-gen display technology in town looking to pick a fight, and it is called Mini LED.

Mini LED – not to be confused with MICRO LED (similar idea, different execution) – has been adopted by several tech and TV brands, and is rumoured to be the display of choice for Apple’s upcoming iPad Pro models.

Mini LED pitches itself as an affordable rival to OLED, and as OLED continues to fall in price, this has the all makings of a titanic battle.

So, what’s Mini LED: what are its benefits and how does it compare to other displays?

What is Mini LED?

The clue is in the name. Mini LED are shrunken versions of ‘conventional’ LEDs used to emit light. It’s an advancement of existing LCD LED technology rather than something completely new.

TCL OD Zero Mini LED TVs 2021

Having miniaturised the LED form factor, many more LEDs can be fitted into the same space. This allows thousands – even tens of thousands – of LEDs to be fitted into a display, depending on the size of screen.

More LEDs create more dimming zones. The more dimming zones there are, the greater control there is over the brighter and darker aspects of an image. Benefits include deeper black levels, brighter whites, an improved contrast ratio (the difference between the brightest and darkest part of an image), and minimised blooming when compared to more traditional LCD LED displays. Factor in the potential for a higher brightness, and you have a display that’s simpatico for HDR content.

Mini LED vs Micro LED vs OLED

So, how does Mini LED differ from other recent and emerging displays? MICRO LED uses micrometer-sized LED lights, and doing so allows it to eliminate the backlight and colour filters used in LCD LED displays.

Where MICRO LED differs from Mini LED, is that it is a self-emissive technology – each pixel can be switched on or off (like OLED). That adds a great deal of complexity to the production process, as well as cost. Each pixel structure in a MICRO LED display produces its own light and colour, and that gives it the ability to produce lifelike colours and bright images. Compared to traditional LED panels, it’s more efficient and less wasteful with light and colour.

Much like Mini LED, it’s happy to push brightness further. And despite being a self-emissive display like OLED, it’s made from inorganic materials. As a result, a MICRO LED screen should last a long time, and won’t suffer from the image retention/burn-in that is a potential issue with OLED. However, it is not cheap. Samsung’s 110-inch MICRO LED TV is a wallet-hungry £149,999.

OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Each pixel is self-emissive, so it can produce its own light. Like MICRO LED, a pixel that’s ‘on’ can sit next to a pixel that’s ‘off’. That helps to deliver deep black levels, a high contrast ratio and wide viewing angles.

OLED can’t go as bright as either Mini or MICRO LED. OLEDs can also suffer from image retention or burn-in, where static images remain on the screen. The former is temporary, while the latter is more difficult to get rid of.

While there’s the potential for burn-in, brands that use OLED displays go to great lengths to minimise the issue, and that can be through pixel refreshing technologies or dynamic screensavers. Given OLED uses organic materials, the picture quality will deteriorate over the panel’s lifespan compared to MICRO LED.

Who’s making Mini LED displays?

Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL has been making hugely successfully and affordable Mini LED TVs in the US, They’re bringing Mini LED sets to the UK, which should arrive in the second half of 2021.

Samsung has adopted the technology for its Neo QLED branded 8K and 4K TVs. They use Samsung’s own design to be brighter and more light efficient. When married with their Quantum Dot filters, the results have been fabulous. We reviewed the flagship QE65QN95A 4K TV and called it the start of a new TV era.

Both LG and Philips are getting in on the Mini LED act. LG’s version will be branded under QNED (Quantum Nanocell Emitting Diodes), and they’ll be available in larger sizes, covering 8K and 4K resolutions. Philips will launch its 9636 and 9506 Mini LED TVs in 65- and 75-inch sizes. Both TV brands, however, see OLED as the premium choice in their line-ups.

For TV brands, Mini LED is seen to have a better impact at bigger sizes. However, we could be seeing the technology make an appearance in a smaller form factor elsewhere.

Speculation is high that Apple is about to introduce an iPad Pro with a Mini LED display. We could see an announcement for it at Apple’s Spring Loaded event.

The idea behind Mini LED is to approach the depth of black levels OLED panels can reach, as well as deliver high levels of contrast, accurate colours and high brightness. With the next-gen display set to make its mark in 2021, it could – potentially – become a more affordable rival to OLED. Let the Mini LED vs OLED battle commence.

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Trusted Recommends: Bang and Olufsen’s gaming ...

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TR Recommends 14

Welcome to the latest round of Trusted Recommends, the weekly column and show where we detail the top scoring products to pass through our labs over the last seven days.

Every product on this list has been thoroughly tested by one of our team of product experts to ensure it is the best of the best.

MSI MPG Artymis 343CQR 02

MSI MPG Artymis 343CQR

The MSI MPG Artymis 343CQR is a large curved screen monitor designed for gaming. During testing we found it offers fantastic image quality and a wonderfully immersive gaming experience. This, plus its excellent build quality and wealth of useful gaming features, make it a solid, albeit expensive option for any PC gamer.

Score: 4/5

DelDell S3220DGF 06

Dell S3220DGF

The Dell S3220DGF is the second big screen gaming monitor to earn a place in this week’s Trusted Recommends. During testing we found it offers superb core image quality and is an all round great monitor for mainstream gaming, especially for single-player titles. The only downside is its missing some of the advanced features seen on eSports monitors.

Score: 4/5

Creative Outlier Air v2

The Creative Outlier Air v2 are the latest affordable true wireless earbuds to pass through Trusted Labs. We found they offer decent sound quality for the price, improved battery on their predecessor and a reliable fit for runners and gym use.

Score: 4/5

Hoover SteamJet Handy hero

Hoover Steamjet Handy

The Hoover Steamjet Handy is a handheld steam cleaner with useful Wet Steam and Dry Steam modes. While the cleaner can be a little awkward to fill, it’s capable of delivering powerful blasts of steam and comes with a good range of attachments at an affordable price.

Score: 4/5

Karcher SC3 Upright EasyFix hero

Karcher SC3 Upright EasyFix

The Karcher SC3 Upright EasyFix is an upright steam mop. During testing up we found heats up quickly and quietly, and steams efficiently, leaving surfaces largely dry and clean. The only downside is that, unlike some competitors, it can’t be used as a handheld.

Score: 4/5

Corsair HS75 XB Wireless

The Corsair HS75 XB Wireless is a premium gaming headset designed for the Xbox Series X and S. During testing it impressed us offering solid build quality, decent wireless performance and surprisingly capable and immersive audio quality.

Score: 4.5/5

Honor Watch ES

Honor Watch ES

The Honor Watch ES continues Honor’s track record of offering fantastic value for money within the fitness tracking space. For £99.99, the device packs in an AMOLED display, built-in workouts with on-screen animations and a battery life of around nine days. There’s a good case to be made that the Watch ES is the top fitness tracker under £100.

Score: 4.5/5

Rear panel of Rotel A11 Tribute

Rotel A11 Tribute

The Rotel A11 Tribute is the latest integrated amplifier to be tested by the experts at Trusted Labs. It’s also part of the line of devices designed by audio personality Ken Ishiwata before his death, making it a part of audio history. During testing we found it’s an incredibly well made machine that’s capable of delivering wonderfully immersive sound across all its inputs.

Score: 4.5/5

Halo Capsule hero

Halo Capsule

The Halo Capsule is one of the lightest vacuum cleaners we’ve tested. We found it performs well on a variety of surfaces and is an all round excellent cleaner, despite not coming with an awful lot of accessories.

Score: 4.5/5

Bang and Olufsen Beoplay Portal

The Beoplay Portal is a new gaming headset from premium audio brand Bang and Olufsen. During testing the headset delivered in nearly every way offering rich Atmos-powered audio, a premium, comfortable design and solid battery life.

Score: 4.5/5

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Samsung Galaxy Book Pro: Everything you need to ...

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Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 2
Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 5G

Samsung is hosting its Galaxy Unpacked event this month, with rumours suggesting that the Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 laptops will make an appearance. Read on to discover everything we know about the two laptops so far.

Rumours of the Galaxy Book Pro and the rotatable display-toting Galaxy Book Pro 360 have been appearing online over the past few months. Renders showing off the laptop’s design have been leaked by Evan Blass on social network Voice, while further information about the two devices was spotted passing through the SafetyKorea certification just this week.

Here’s all we know about the two new Galaxy Books so far, including when we expect them to launch, how much they could cost, what they look like and what specs they’ll pack. Make sure to bookmark this page too as we plan to update it as more info rolls in.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro release date – When will it launch?

We’re expecting to see the Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 unveiled at Galaxy Unpacked 2021. Samsung will be holding the event on April 28 this year to unveil the “most powerful Galaxy yet”. However, there’s no guarantee that this is in reference to a laptop, with Samsung yet to confirm further details.

If you want to watch the announcements live, you’ll be able to catch them on Samsung’s Youtube channel starting at 10am ET on April 28 (that’s 3pm here in the UK). We’ll embed the video into this article closer to the event, so you can watch it right here too.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro price – How much will it cost?

So far, we’ve seen little indication of what the Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 will cost, but we’d expect them to be a bit pricier than previous Galaxy Books.

For reference, the Galaxy Book Flex2 5G was priced at £1649/€1749 at launch, the Galaxy Book Ion was £1249/$1199 and the Galaxy Book S was £999/$999, so the Galaxy Book Pro and the Pro 360 are likely to land somewhere above the £1000 mark.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro specs – How powerful will it be?

The bulk of our knowledge of the Galaxy Book Pro comes from 91mobiles, which spotted images of the Pro and the Pro 360 on SafetyKorea certification this week.

According to the report, the two laptops will be powered by up to Core i7 11th Gen (Tiger Lake) Intel processors and will pack Intel Iris X graphics, with the option to upgrade up to the Nvidia MX450 GPU. It doesn’t look like Samsung will be offering AMD Ryzen 5000 configurations, so it’s Team Blue or go home.

The images showcase a dedicated Windows function key, indicating that the two laptops will run on Windows 10. As far as connectivity goes, the laptops are expected to feature a Thunderbolt 4 port, along with optional LTE.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro design – How will it look?

Both the Galaxy Book Pro and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 are expected to feature AMOLED displays in 13 and 15-inch variants. This could make them slightly more expensive than the Galaxy Book Flex, which launched with a QLED display.

While Samsung is said to be working on 90Hz laptop displays for the future, it looks like the Galaxy Book Pro will be limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, which is not really an issue since the majority of non-gaming laptops are still at this speed.

 

Image: Evan Blass / Voice

While the Galaxy Book Pro and the Pro 360 appear to pack the same specs inside, the physical design is where the two laptops differ. The Galaxy Book Pro is rumoured to feature a 360-degree rotating display (as you may have guessed from its name) while packing touchscreen and S-Pen support.

The colour options could also differ, with the SafetyKorea leak showcasing the Galaxy Book Pro in silver and white and the Pro 360 in white. Previous leaks have also teased the Pro in blue and silver, and the Pro 360 in navy and gold.

Image: Evan Blass / Voice

Evan Blass has also shared renders of the supposed new Galaxy Books on Voice (via AndroidAuthority). The images show off the laptop’s slim body and narrow bezels, as well as a handful of the colour variations expected to be available. Interestingly, it looks as if HDMI and USB-A ports will be included, despite the laptop’s narrow frame.

That’s everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 laptops right now, but keep this page bookmarked for future updates and keep an eye on Trusted Reviews on April 28 for the Galaxy Unpacked 2021 event.

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What is ProMotion: Apple's high refresh rate ...

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ProMotion has been one of Apple’s best iPad features for years now – but what exactly is it? Here’s everything you need to know, including whether it’s coming to the iPhone.

ProMotion is Apple’s name for a high refresh 120Hz display that can also dynamically adjust that refresh rate to save on power. Read on for more information.

What is ProMotion?

While a standard refresh rate updates a display 60 times a second (60Hz), a 120Hz version doubles this for smoother scrolling, improved responsiveness and better gaming.

Apple’s official definition of the tech reads:

The stunning, redesigned Retina display in iPad Pro features ProMotion, a new technology that delivers refresh rates of up to 120Hz for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness and smoother motion content.

With ProMotion, Apple Pencil is even more responsive with an industry-best, 20-millisecond latency for even more fluid and natural drawing. ProMotion also improves display quality and reduces power consumption by automatically adjusting the display refresh rate to match the movement of the content.”

The adaptive nature of ProMotion means you’re not stuck at 120Hz when the speeds offer no obvious benefit. For instance, when watching a 24fps film or 30fps YouTube video.

Where can you find ProMotion?

Currently, the only use of ProMotion can be found in Apple’s iPad Pro range of tablets and it has been a key selling point of the best tablet since the second-gen model.

Rumours heavily suggest we’ll see the new iPad Pro 2021 announced very soon, likely with the ProMotion tech featured heavily again.

What about ProMotion on iPhones?

High refresh rate displays are commonplace on Android phones. You’ll find 120Hz panels on phones at all price ranges, including the Xiaomi Note 10 Pro, Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, Xiaomi Mi 11 and Oppo Find X3 Pro.

What you won’t find across the board is the tech needed for them to adapt in the same way as the ProMotion iPad Pro. The cheaper devices, like the A52G, will stick at 120Hz all the time rather than intelligently dialling down. Adaptive refresh rates are becoming more common on higher-end Android phones, like OnePlus 9 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Still, you won’t find this feature at all on the iPhone. Whether you buy an iPhone SE 2, iPhone 12 Mini or iPhone 12 Pro Max they all have 60Hz displays.

Rumours swirled this would change in 2020 and many believed the iPhone 12 would adopt ProMotion 120Hz on at least the top-end Pro models. This didn’t come to pass and we’ll have to wait for the iPhone 13 to see whether it is something Apple adds this year.

Will we see ProMotion on the MacBook?

High refresh rate displays are common on gaming-focused laptops (the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE (GX551) being an example), but we have yet to see the tech trickle down to more mainstream models. This could change soon, as Lenovo has recently revealed a duo of laptops with 90Hz and 120Hz panels.

All of Apple’s current Mac line have 60Hz panels, as does the Pro Display XDR. Whether a new MacBook Pro 2021 or iMac 2021 changes this remains to be seen.

The post What is ProMotion: Apple’s high refresh rate screen tech explained appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

Fitbit Luxe could be the most style-focused ...

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Fitbit Luxe leak

Fitbit is working on a luxury fitness tracker called Luxe, that could be ideal for those as style conscious as they are fitness conscious.

Images published by WinFuture on Friday show a more premium design with a stainless steel casing coming in multiple finishes. It’ll have an colour OLED screen, which would certainly add to the premium nature of the device.

There’s also what appears to be a more streamlined design compared to the Inspire 2 and Charge 4 fitness trackers that arrived last year, and is thus likely to carry a larger price point.

According to the report, there’ll be a continuous heart-rate tracking, sleep tracking, but not built-in GPS, which could limit the premium nature of the device somewhat. The report doesn’t state when the device will be launched.

Related: Best fitness tracker

The Fitbit Charge 4 did arrive with built-in GPS and it proved to be a game changer for the range, with our reviewer giving it 4.5 out of a possible five stars. He wrote: “Thanks to the addition of GPS connectivity and a SpO2 sensor, the Fitbit Charge 4 is an excellent fitness tracker that will meet any entry-level or semi-serious athletes needs.”

With Fitbit now officially owned by Google, we’d expect a slight change in tack from the fitness-focused company. We’d perhaps expect a smartwatch to rival the Apple Watch before more trackers, but it doesn’t appear to be on the cards as yet.

Google is thought to be working on a Pixel Watch again, with a potential launch coming at the Google I/O expo next month. That’ll run Wear OS rather than the more capable Fitbit OS that powers devices like the Fitbit Versa smartwatch.

Would you prefer a more stylish Fitbit tracker with moderate capabilities beyond the premium design? Or are you features first, design later? Let us know @trustedreviews on Twitter.

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Apple reveals penny-per-play streaming rate for ...

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Artists who make their music available through Apple Music are paid an average royalty rate of $0.01 per stream, the company has surprisingly revealed. That’s a penny per play.

In a letter sent to artists, labels and publishers, Apple has divulged the nature of the payment for the first time. Some observers have pointed out that the one-cent-per-play rate is approximately double what Spotify pays per stream.

While the size of the payments mean only larger artists are likely to benefit substantially from having their library house on Apple Music, those smaller acts can at least take solace from all artists receiving the same rate.

There’s also a barb aimed at rival service Spotify, claiming that Apple Music believes “that creators should never have to pay” for their music to be promoted within the app. That appears to be a reference to Spotify offering artists lower royalty rates in exchange for better positioning last year.

Related: Best streaming service 2020

In the ‘newsletter’ sent out today, Apple also said 52% of all revenue it receives from subscriptions goes to record labels. It says the number of artists earning over 120% in the last four years, while the number of artists earning over $50,000 a year (hardly enough to sustain a band) has more than doubled. Apple also points out five million recording artists were paid out last year.

Here’s the note, first seen by the Wall Street Journal, in full:

Apple Music Insights: Royalties

This update, which is part of a new series of newsletters, looks at how creators earn royalties from Apple Music and how these have grown over time.

We believe in the value of music and paying creators fairly for their work. Since we launched the iTunes Store in 2003, we have helped millions of artists and songwriters make a living from music. As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it is important to share our values. We believe in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring.

While other services pay some independent labels a substantially lower rate than they pay major labels, we pay the same headline rate to all labels. This means artists can distribute music however they like, knowing Apple Music will pay the same rate. Sign with a label or stay independent; we believe in the value of all music.

We pay the same headline rate for all compositions.

Without songwriters, there wouldn’t be recordings. That is why we have paid every publisher and licensor the same headline rate within each country. It’s also why we have invested millions to optimize publishing operations to ensure songwriters are paid as quickly as possible.

While royalties from streaming services are calculated on a stream share basis, a play still has a value. This value varies by subscription plan and country but averaged $0.01 for Apple Music individual paid plans in 2020. This includes label and publisher royalties.

We do not pay a lower royalty rate in exchange for featuring

Apple Music’s team of global tastemakers hand-curate 30,000 editorial playlists. These tastemakers select music based on merit and we do not ask anyone to accept a lower royalty rate in exchange for featuring. The same is true for Apple Music’s personalized playlists and algorithmic recommendations.

As a result of our commitment to these values, Apple Music paid out royalties for more than 5 million recording artists around the world in 2020, over 1 million more than in 2019. The number of recording artists whose catalogs generated recording and publishing royalties over $1 million per year increased over 120% since 2017, while the number of recording artists whose catalogs generated over $50,000 per year has more than doubled.

Like others, we have looked at alternative royalty models. Our analysis has shown that they would result in a limited redistribution of royalties with a varied impact to artists. Per play rates would cease to be the same for every play of a song. But more importantly, the changes would not increase what all creators earn from streaming. Instead, these changes would shift royalties towards a small number of labels while providing less transparency to creators everywhere.

At Apple Music, our focus remains on artists and songwriters and finding new and innovative ways for all creators to make a living from music. With Apple Music, music fans around the world enjoy an uninterrupted ad-free experience while knowing their data is kept private and used only to enhance the overall music experience for them.

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Android 12 may get a user-friendly trash can to ...

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Android 12 logo

Whether it’s the Trash can on Mac or the Recycle Bin on Windows, the ability to throw unwanted items in the trash is an important part of any desktop operating system.

Now it looks like Google is going to unleash Android’s trash can in the forthcoming Android 12 release, according to those who’ve delved within a Google app.

The feature, which was hidden for users in Android 11, could enable Google-powered phone users to recover apps, photos, videos and other data from a centralised bin before the phone deletes them.

While Google hasn’t officially revealed Android 12 yet – save for some bare bones developer previews – the feature was spied within a Files by Google app spotted by XDA Developers this week.

Related: Best Android phones

Judging by screenshots posted alongside the report, users will be able to browse to Settings > Storage > Trash to mange files they have previously deleted but haven’t yet been removed from the phone. As well as restoring files, it could permanently delete others if they wanted to free up some space.

Image credit: XDA Developers

The feature might be quite limited and relatively hidden away within Android 12, but it does seem like the trash can will be accessible by users.

The report says: “Based on what we know, it doesn’t look like Google plans to add an actual Recycle Bin/Trash folder in Android 12, but it does look like Google plans to at least make the Trash a more prominent feature. The one issue is that apps have to use the MediaStore API to mark files as “trashed”, so some apps will continue to permanently delete files or utilize their own recycle bin, preventing users from viewing and restoring them in one easily accessible location.”

We expect Google to launch the Android 12 operating system at the forthcoming Google I/O expo next month. We’ll be covering the launch as it happens.

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Fast Charge: The Pixel 4a is great – but I ...

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Fast Charge Pixel 5a

It has been a week since Google announced the Pixel 5a and stated that, after reports the device had been cancelled altogether, it would only be coming to the USA and Japan.

Considering the Pixel 4a was one of the best cheap phones I tested in 2021, I was initially shocked the follow-up wouldn’t see a release in the UK.

But after spending some time with a number of very affordable, very high-specced and very good phones over the past few days my mind has changed slightly. In markets like the UK, can Google really offer some of the tech available elsewhere for the price?

The Pixel 4a is a great phone – but it’s a little basic. It sells itself solely on camera performance and its smaller than average size, falling behind the competition in many areas. I can’t imagine Google will be doing anything different with the Pixel 5a.

The competition is huge

Already this year I have been blown away by what’s an offer at a similar price to the Pixel 4a. Phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro offer a 120Hz OLED display, a huge battery and ridiculously fast charging for £249 – that’s £100 cheaper than the Pixel 4a.

In his in-depth review, Jon Mundy said “The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is one of the best cheap phones you can buy, it is even better than some of the best mid-range phones we have reviewed. There aren’t many phones on the market today that give you more for your money.”

Then there’s the Poco range – another Xiaomi brand – which is currently headlined by the Poco F3. This £329 phone has a processor that trounces the flagship Pixel 5 and offers 5G – something else missing on the 4a, though would surely be added to the 5a.

There are other options too. Both the Realme 8 Pro and Realme X50 Pro have impressed and come in well below the Pixel 4a’s asking price.

These phones may not offer the sheer picture quality of the Pixel 4a, but they do offer more variety with different lens and zoom options. If you don’t need the very best picture quality, there’s very little reason to plump for a Pixel over one of these phones and I can’t see the Pixel 5a being a big enough step forward to catch them.

Pixel 4a 5G
Pixel 4a 5G

It’s also worth taking into account the Pixel 4a 5G which, despite its name, is actually more like a Pixel 5 than a Pixel 4a. It matches the pricier model in terms of processor and camera. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to picture the Pixel 5a looking very much like the 4a 5G. Add too many extra features and you’ll start encroaching on the Pixel 5, or whatever Google has in store for the Pixel 6.

This isn’t to say Google should ditch its A series of phones altogether in the UK. While the phones listed above do impress in many areas, I am still disappointed by the software they use. Xiaomi’s version of Android is among the worst, with in-built ads, heavy bloatware and bugs. Google’s Pixel phones aren’t free of bugs, but you get frequent updates and a slick version of Android.

Maybe in 2022 when enough time has passed and the Pixel 4a feels truly outdated I would welcome the 6a’s arrival, but for now, there’s just too many other great cheap phones taking the limelight away from Google’s A series.

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Dear Spotify, ditch the podcast spam or I'm ...

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The Spotify app has gone from showing listeners what they love, to ramming podcasts down their throats. The podcast spam has to stop, says a grumpy Chris Smith.

I’ve been a Spotify Premium subscriber since the upstart streaming company began offering them. More than a decade, we’ve been married for. In that time it’s mostly been tenner I spend every month. If times were tough, I’ve always thought it’d be one of the last luxuries I’d cut out.

However, the streaming service had been testing my patience of late and I’m wondering whether this partnership is going to work long term. Namely, due to its insistence of flooding the app with podcasts and constantly recommending them to me, in prominent positions. Whether it’s directly beneath my recently played items, or elsewhere throughout the app, I’m tired of it.

Related: Best phone

Like this Friday morning, for example. Entering the home stretch before the weekend I just wanted to listen to some music from my music app. I didn’t want to be promoted to “educate yourself about voter suppression” when I’m just looking for a bit of pop punk to energise my morning a little bit.

As worthy a talking point voter suppression is, most of us get plenty of that from the hellscape that is Twitter. If I wanted to be preached at, I’d click the #JKRowling on Twitter. I’d rather not be subjected to it my music app, if it’s all the same with you Spotify.

It’s the same deal every time I plug my phone in with Apple CarPlay with Spotify is shoving podcasts in my face on the home screen. I’m actually driving here, lads, don’t make me look too hard for some music to listen to.

Spotify (not so) Premium

Just recently it feels like Spotify has gone from feeling like it’s an app designed to show me what I like, to showing me what Spotify wants me to see. And I must say it’s fostering some real resentment. It once felt that, thanks to some spectacularly good algorithms and years and years of leveraging my listening history, Spotify knows what I’ll like before I do. The daily mixes,  Release Radar and Discover Weekly playlists are just fantastic music discovery tools.

I’m not quite at the point where Apple Music and the hassle of transferring all of my playlists seems attractive yet, but I’m not far off. At least Apple has the decency to keep podcasts within their own app.

I understand Spotify’s keenness to become a podcast hub. The format is exploding once again and Spotify wants a slice of that gigantic pie. It’s hefty investment in exclusive podcasts with Joe Rogan, the Obamas and Bruce Springsteen, among many others, isn’t going to pay for itself. Spotify needs the 155 million people who pay for ad-free music to listen to podcast ads.

But this is an app I pay for to access music on demand without any barriers. Why can’t they abrasively push this content in the direction of the freeloaders who don’t think music is a commodity that should be paid for, and leave me out of it? At least give me the choice to hide podcasts from the app!

The company bends over backwards to throw as many Premium benefits in the direction of Spotify Free users as often as possible. Let them deal with the podcast spam, not me, one of your paying customers.

Apple Music a better option?

As much as I’ve loved Spotify for all this time, the streaming era hasn’t been exceptionally kind to the smaller artists. Spotify pays between $.003 and $.005 per stream and, by the time, everyone’s cut has been taken out, smaller artists don’t see much in return. We’ve all seen those royalty cheques, artists sardonically post on social media.

It doesn’t sit well with me. I believe music is a commodity that should be paid for. I try to offset this by buying vinyl versions of my favourite artists and going to shows when they’re allowed. I have enough band t-shirts to hand them out to a sold out crowd at Wembley Stadium.

Apple’s recent admission that it pays double that is hardly going to change the lives of the bands I follow, but it is better. Food for thought for everyone when considering the switch. I want my music app to be a music app, not an all-encompassing audio app. My money will go to the company that provides that experience.

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Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III: What’s ...

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Sony has officially unveiled the latest additions to its Xperia 1 and Xperia 5 series: the Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III.

While the phones seem similar at first glance, there are a number of differences to note between the two Android phones before you choose your next upgrade.

Read on to discover how the Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III compare – and to decide which of the two is best for you.

Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III – screen and design

The Xperia 1 III is the only phone around to pack a 4K HDR display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The Xperia 5 III has the same 120Hz refresh rate. just with a FHD+ resolution.

The Xperia 1 III features a 6.5-inch 21:9 CinemaWide display, while the Xperia 5 III has a slightly smaller 6.1-inch 21:9 CinemaWide OLED display. This makes it one of the smaller phone around, especially if you’re looking for a high-end Android device.

Both models support Sony’s Creator Mode for accurate colour reproduction, as well as the XI for mobile engine for BRAVIA HDR remastering, and Dolby Atmos sound.

Gamers also take advantage of 240Hz Motion blur reduction, 240Hz Touch scanning rate and adjustable white balance, as well as improved Game Enhancer features, including a new audio equaliser, an optimised VC microphone and a high frame rate recording feature.

Both phones come with a 3.5mm headphone jack, however, unlike the Xperia 5 III, the speakers on the Xperia 1 III are 40% more powerful than those found on its predecessor.

The Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III also support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio through the speakers, and also support 360 Spatial Sound for more immersive listening.

The Xperia 1 III is available in Frosted Black and Frosted Purple and features a frosted glass rear, while the Xperia 5 III is available in the less creatively named Black and Green and sports a mirror-glass finish. Both models feature IP65/68 water and dust resistance ratings.

Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III – specs and features

The two Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III are powered by Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship Snapdragon 888 5G chip, both models are also kitted with a 4500mAh battery and can be charged 50% in 30 minutes with the 30W charger or juiced up using a wireless charging pad. Both phones also support battery share, so you can use your phone as a charging pad to charge other devices.

The highlight here is definitely the cameras. The Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III also mark the world’s first smartphones with a variable telephoto lens and dual PD sensor, allowing them to reach from 70mm up to 105mm in focal length with speedy autofocus. Both phones also include a 24mm wide angle camera and a 16mm ultra-wide camera, and can capture 4K HDR slow motion video at 120fps.

While both the Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III feature continuous AF across all lenses and Real-time Eye AF, they differ in their autofocus tracking. The Xperia 5 III includes object tracking to snap photos of moving subjects, while the Xperia 1 III boasts Real-time tracking, which uses AI algorithms and the phone’s 3D ToF sensor to focus on more challenging moving subjects – even when they temporarily move out of frame.

The continuous AF on both models perform AF/AE calculations at 60 times per second to support 20fps shooting, while the BIONZ X processor allows for low-light shooting in Burst Mode to reduce noise.

Lastly, the two Xperia phones feature Sony’s new AI super resolution zoom, which uses AI to restore detail and definition in images, as well as the Photography Pro function for manual camera controls and a new Basic Mode for quick access to other shooting features.

Will these high-end features ensure one of these Xperia phones enters our best camera phone list? We’ll have to find out when we do our full in-depth reviews.

Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III – pricing and availability

Both the Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III will be available to buy from early summer.

Sony hasn’t revealed any specific dates nor prices, but we’d expect the Xperia 1 III to be the more expensive of the two based on previous models. Its predecessor, the Xperia 1 II, was priced around £1000/$1000, while the Xperia 5 II had an RRP of £800/$800.

Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III – early verdict

The Sony Xperia 1 III and the Xperia 5 III have a lot of similarities, from their chipsets to their 120Hz OLED displays. Of course, if you pluup for the 1 III you get a bigger screen, and that 4K resolution.

The other differences lie in the camera, speakers and design. The Xperia 1 III features more advanced Real-time tracking to the Xperia 5 III’s object tracking, as well as a 40% boost in speaker power compared to last year’s models.

The biggest difference here is the likely £200 difference in price, though we’ll have to wait and see what the final RRP is.

The post Sony Xperia 1 III vs Sony Xperia 5 III: What’s the difference? appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

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