Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the new Samsung Z Flip 5G, Note 20 Ultra’s Xbox support, the OnePlus Nord launch, Honor 9A review, the Asus ROG 3 gaming phone, Microsoft ’s Surface Duo certification, and why old Android phones are not worth the investment,,,
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).
Samsung’s Z Flip Goes 5G
Ahead of the expected Samsung Unpacked event in August, the South Korean company has announced an update to its foldable clamshell handset, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. The addition in both the name and the feature set is the faster wireless standard of 5G, yet the oversell size of the device remains constant. From Samsung’s press release:
“Now with 5G, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G can bring blazing-fast speeds to the palm-sized foldable device, making it easier than ever to stay connected with followers, friends, and family.
“The Galaxy Z Flip 5G is the first device in Samsung’s Galaxy line-up to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G Mobile Platform. This new platform maximises the power of 5G with revved up performance to deliver faster and more efficient on-device processing with sharper imagery through improved graphics rendering.”
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Just remember this is not the second model of the Z Flip, this is an iteration on the design launched last year. Matt Swider reports:
“The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G is the upgrade that February’s foldable phone needed to justify its extravagant price. Its use of the faster Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset is a nice upgrade over the older Snapdragon 855 Plus used in the original Flip.
“Be warned, though. While the 4G Z Flip cost $1,380 / £1,300 (around AU$2,050), the 5G edition is priced at an eye-watering $1,450. Only its Samsung Galaxy Fold price is more at this point (and the rumored Fold 2 should be just as high).”
This picture taken on February 21, 2020 shows the new Galaxy Galaxy Z Flip mobile phone in the … [+] Samsung Experience flagship store in Utrecht, The Netherlands. (Photo by Robin UTRECHT / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT – Belgium OUT (Photo by ROBIN UTRECHT/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
ANP/AFP via Getty Images
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s Xbox Support
And what of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra? This is expected to be the star attraction at next month’s Samsung Unpacked event. There are signs that the handset may be set up to stream Xbox games via xCloud (the temptation to call it the Galaxy Xbox is huge). As for the partnership between Samsung and Microsoft, it is not as outrageous as you might think. Jay Peters reports:
“While that might come as a surprise, Samsung and Microsoft have actually gotten pretty cozy over the past year. Last August, at the last Galaxy Note launch event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared onstage to recognize an increased partnership between the two companies, and the two companies announced that Samsung would preinstall Microsoft’s Your Phone app, Office apps, LinkedIn, and OneDrive on the Galaxy Note 10.
“The two companies also announced they would be partnering on a cloud-based game streaming service in February.”
The OnePlus Nord Has Arrived
This week saw the long-awaited launch of OnePlus’ mid-range handset. Heavily trailed by OnePlus ahead of Wednesday’s event, the OnePlus Nord is a £379 handset that brings the flagship experience to a lower price point. As well as revealing the Nord, OnePlus also took the time to showcase a new way to launch a smartphone in a socially distant world using AR. ZDNet’s Sandra Vogel highlighted the new approach:
“The launch was in some respects like any other: a tour of the Nord’s features. But in other respects it was very different, with the ability to move around the various graphics and scenes to get a better view — from above, from one side or the other, from the back or the front. Screenshots don’t really do an AR experience justice, but I took some anyway. ”
Putting aside the digital bells, virtual whistles, and a Eurovision Song Contest style commentary from Unbox Therapy’s Lewis Hilsenteger, the star of the show was the OnePlus Nord – a handset that brings the OnePlus back to the mid-range where it first appeared in 2014.Tom Pritchard has a hands-pn review of the handset for Gizmodo, including the camera options:
“Camera-wise, it’s all pretty standard, with various different features like nightscape, time lapse, Pro mode, and all those other things OnePlus has been tweaking and trying to improve over the past few years. Hardware-wise we’re not looking at anything special at the back, but the front does include a ultra wide angle lens that OnePlus has built with selfies in mind. According to them the extra field of view means you won’t need a selfie stick to get everything in frame, which is something we can get behind.“
The OnePlus Nord goes on sale on August 4, but OnePlus is running an online ‘Pop-Up’ store that will allow the community to join a digital queue to buy a limited edition Nord Pop-Up Box.
OnePlus Launches First Wireless Ear Buds
Also launched at the Nord event were the OnePlus Buds, its take on the popular wireless ear buds peripheral. Offering fast USB-C charging in the case for $79, OnePlus say you’ll get thirty hours of life out of the case and buds. Myriam Joire gets up close with the new hardware:
Honor 9A Reviewed
Also launching into the UK is the Honor 9A, a budget focused device which balances the lower price point with the solid performance of the MediaTek MT6762R and a huge 5000 mAh battery. As always with a new device from Honor, it will be running Huawei Mobile Servies rather than Google Mobile Services, due to its parent company’s inclusion on the US Entity list. Kristijan Lucic sets the scene:
“It is worth noting that this phone costs €149.90 / £129.99. In some markets, you even get the HONOR Band 5 with your purchase. All of that makes this phone extremely affordable. That is worth noting as we go through this review, as you can’t expect flagship-level features out of a phone that costs so little.
“That being said, the Honor 9A is nothing to scoff at. If you want a budget phone to purchase for your kid, or as a secondary device, this phone has proven to be quite capable.”
Reviewing The Third Republic Of Gamers Smartphone
Asus has launched its third gaming phone under its Republic of Gamers brand. Compared to some of the svelte fashionable flagship smartphones, the Asus ROG 3 is heavy, bulky, brutish, and perfect for Android games that demand a lot from the handset. The team at GSM Arena has reviewed the latest version of the phone, starting with why we need specialist gaming phones in the Android market:
“Continuing the super car analogy a bit further, it is equally important to note that just because you don’t personally need one for your work commute or for the trip to the mall, that doesn’t mean it has no place in the world. Same goes for the ROG Phone 3. In fact, Asus’ continued ROG Phone efforts are not only admirable labor of love, but also a justified investment from a uniquely positioned company, leveraging years of pre-existing PC gaming expertise and pedigree.”
Part of the gaming experience is the additional software and hardware packaged into the phone. The RoG III comes with new technology from Sentons. The SDS Gaming Bar on Asus’ smartphone uses ultrasonic pressure sensors allow for classic trigger controls without the physical buttons. From its press release:
“The first phone built with SDS GamingBar is the new flagship ROG Phone 3 from Tencent and ASUS, which rolled out in China today and uses GamingBar to power newly upgraded and hyper-responsive AirTriggers through an interactive, bezel-less edge on the device. One of the most popular features on the ROG Phone II that launched last year, AirTriggers can be customised to recognize any tap, press, squeeze or gesture with the extreme accuracy needed for pro-level gaming.”
Microsoft Surface Duo Picks Up Certification
The launch of the Surface Duo – Microsoft’s Dual-screened Android device – is getting closer to reality. A new device, which is almost certainly the Surface Duo, has shown on in both the CC certification for wireless devices, and the SIG BlueTooth certification for compatibility:
“Surface Duo from Microsoft continues to be the most anticipated smartphone. Yesterday, Surface Duo passed through FCC and now the dual-screen foldable has popped up on Bluetooth SIG certification page, which suggests that it could be right around the corner.
“Spotted by us, Surface Duo on Bluetooth SIG certification page bears Bluetooth 5.0 and the same model number from the FCC. This means there’s a very good chance of the Surface Duo launching sometime in August or September.”
Panos Panay, chief product officer of Microsoft Corp., displays the Surface Duo smartphone during a … [+] Microsoft product event in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Microsoft unveiled a dual-screen, foldable phone that will run on Google’s Android operating system, jumping back into a market it exited years ago. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg
© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP
2018’s flagship specs are this year’s mid-range minimum buy-in. But if these phones were more than good enough two years ago, would it not make sense to buy an older flagship rather than a newer budget phone? Andrew Hoyle compares the Galaxy S8 to the Moto G8, but any advantage in price or specs cannot balance out the lack of software updates… especially security updates:
“While [the Galaxy S8] still technically receiving security updates, it’s very much towards the end of its supported life cycle and as per the advice from industry experts, using an unsupported phone can be dangerous.
“Using technology for longer is something we should all try and do and rescuing used phones from ending up in landfill is unquestionably a good thing. But it’s important to do so safely and persisting in using an unsupported phone, exposing your personal info and banking details, even nude pics, to hackers isn’t a risk you should take.”
For all the advantages to the environment on recycling hardware and re-using technology, the industry standard of ‘two years of updates and an additional year of security’ is too big a stumbling block to overcome. More discussion at CNet.
Android Circuit rounds up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course read the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!
This article originally appeared on https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2020/07/24/android-google-news-samsung-note-20-ultra-xbox-leaks-oneplus-nord-microsoft-honor-asus-rog3/