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June 23, 2021
📆 Good morning! Don’t forget to keep time spare for Microsoft’s big Windows event, tomorrow. Fascinating to see how it's pitched.
Classic Sony
Sony Xperia 1 III cameras official edit
Supplied by Sony

Sony’s new flagship, its Xperia 1 III, is heading to the US next month, a few months after the launch back in mid-April — nothing too unusual for Sony.

Reminder — this is a beast:

  • This is very likely to be Sony’s best ever flagship. On paper it’s all there: a 6.5-inch 4K OLED panel (21:9) running at 120Hz, running on a Snapdragon 888, with 12GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of internal storage.
  • The camera system looks like it is finally catching up with where an expensive Sony phone should be. The flagships packs three 12MP rear shooters, with a main camera (f/1.7, OIS), ultra-wide sensor, and an interesting 12MP periscope camera, which offers lens elements that can move between 3X and 5X zoom, a first in a commercial phone.
  • The specs list also includes elements like 5G, 4,500mAh battery, 30W wired charging, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and IP65/68 rating. 
  • Oh, and the headphone jack is there, along with loudspeaker support for 360 Reality Audio.

Sony pricing:

  • Sony has rarely been one to offer a bargain, and that’s the case again: this flagship is priced at a cool $1,299, per the official site.
  • That’s $100 more than a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra at retail price, not including recent sales, trade-ins, and bonuses and the like that Samsung tries to throw at you.
  • Sony might counter with its own inclusions or bonuses — we don’t know yet, with the official page only allowing sign-ups for email notification when preorders open on July 1. A 256GB version is listed on the US B&H site too, listing pre-orders starting at 10am ET, on July 1.
  • But again, that pricing is set to leave Sony targeting a narrow slice of the enthusiast market. But at least the specs list is a laundry list of all the top 2021 spec smartphone options you might want.
  • I’m hoping my colleagues get their hands on it before long, for a proper review of all those tasty sounding specs.

😢 LG Velvet 2 Pro unboxing video shows us more of what might have been (Android Authority).

📸 Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Plus might get a major main camera upgrade, with the base spec getting better (Android Authority).

📶 Samsung takes aim at Huawei with its latest 5G chips for wireless network operators (Android Authority).

💻 Lenovo latest: New ThinkPads include a 16-inch X1 Extreme, and new Chromebooks promise compact designs, touchscreens, and $440 prices (Android Authority).

👩‍✈️ Effective immediately: You need a drone license before you fly in the US. The good news? The process is free (Android Authority).

🍎 Tim Cook personally called Nancy Pelosi to warn her against disrupting the iPhone with impending antitrust bill (The Verge).

🍏 TSMC to prioritize Apple and automaker silicon orders as global semiconductor shortage continues (9to5Mac).

☁️ Xbox Cloud Gaming’s next-gen upgrade begins rolling out: Series X power means faster loads, 120FPS, and more graphics options for titles like Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Rainbow Six Siege — but not all games yet (The Verge).

😷 Time to talk Covid-19 Delta/Gamma : Once-dreaded Alpha variant is falling fast — Delta and Gamma take over(Ars Technica).

👍 Zoom is adding new options for sharing your pronouns, as more sites, services, and apps add pronoun fields (The Verge).

😬 Oops: Marvel’s Avengers showed players’ IP addresses on screen after the latest patch, not good news for streamers (Engadget).

👔 NASA and Tide team up to do laundry in space in a new Space Act Agreement, and the project even has its own logo (CNET).

💧 Satellite images show just how bad California’s drought is, and wow, this stuff hurts to see (The Verge).

🌲 Watch a wooden plank yeet itself off a truck, through a windshield and somehow not kill anyone (Jalopnik).

🚢 The ongoing story of the big boat that broke the world (Wired).

🧊 “ELI5: How can people have fires inside igloos without melting through the ice?” (r/explainlikeimfive).

Wednesday Weirdness
B+H Architects

Here’s an unusual one for Weirdness Wednesday; something that’s weird sounding now, but hopefully won’t be in the future. 

It’s a new building design, called unTower:

  • “A weird doughnut skyscraper is the future of architecture,” writes Fast Company, tapping into the malaise of skyscrapers in cities that both found and still find themselves suddenly emptier than usual, even as the pandemic subsides.
  • The problem is that when towers are built for offices, turning that space into something else, from “residential spaces to hotels to healthcare facilities” is difficult.
  • “But turning an office tower into residences or anything else is not a smooth process. From the layout of floors to the lack of natural light deep inside, buildings designed to be offices aren’t easily convertible to something one might consider a comfortable home.”

The solution is round, with windows outside and in being a key element.

  • “The [unTower] concept is based around a simple doughnut-shaped building that has all its structural support at its interior and exterior edges, allowing the space within the doughnut to be configured for any type of use. Walls can be slotted in to divide the space into the rooms of an apartment or the separate units of a hotel, or removed completely for a large, column-free office.”
  • “I think any developer post-pandemic is going to be thinking about resiliency in anything they build,” said Doug Demers, one of the team at the Toronto-based architect firm B+H Architects, behind the unTower. 
  • “If you build something that has flexibility and resiliency, it can have many uses in its life, and that is quite a bit more responsible and sustainable.”


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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