Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the latest Samsung Galaxy leak, a review of the Pixel 4a 5G, a closer look at Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro and EMUI OS, surprise OnePlus Nord handsets, Nokia’s trusted handsets award, pre-folded Razrs, and the Play Store compares apps.
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 Box Of Delights
When Samsung’s Galaxy S30 launches in 2021 (or will it be earlier?), the handset is expected to pack many new features. What it may not be packing, at least in the box, will be the mains charger or any headphones, To the surprise of very few, Samsung will be following Apple’s lead and removing the peripherals from the retail packaging. Andy Walker reports:
“While the Galaxy S20 series included a 25W charger and a pair of USB-C AKG earphones, the Galaxy S30 series may just include a cable and a SIM eject tool.
“Despite its open criticism of Apple’s charger-less boxes, not including accessories with its phones makes financial sense for Samsung. Instead of dropping these components in the box for free, it can coax buyers to purchase its range of wireless earbuds and chargers if they so wish. It’s done just that before, asking users to buy another $50 charger to activate the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 45W charging mode.”
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More at Android Authority.
Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 4a 5G Reviewed
Alongside the flagship Pixel 5, Google’s Pixel 4a 5G is proving an interesting option for those on a budget. While a step down from the Pixel 5, it’s a small step; and the addition of 5G and a larger screen over the summer’s Pixel 4a offers something different to the current flagship. Sam Rutehrford reviews the 4a 5G, including the key differences to the Pixel 5:
“The main things missing from the Pixel 4a 5G compared to the Pixel 5 are wireless charging and an IP68 rating for water resistance, both of which would be nice, but they’re not dealbreakers. Technically, the Pixel 4a 5G also lacks the aluminum frame used in the Pixel 5, though because the 4a 5G still feels quite sturdy and the Pixel 5’s chassis is hidden beneath Google’s special “bio-resin,” you can’t really tell either way.”
More at Gizmodo.
Reviewing Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro
Following Huawei’s announcement of the Mate 40 series of handsets last week, reviewers are getting their first experience of the smartphone. Ahead of a full review, Paco Zheng takes a first look at the handset:
“The new Mate series phone, just like its predecessors, screams of quality. The phone retains the steep 88 degree curved display of its predecessor while bringing in a new and unique color scheme, Mystic Silver. Its a really cool color option for the Mate 40 Pro as the colors shift at different angles. The circular space ring camera setup completes the unique design of the device. The phone is wider than the P40 series and has a larger display too. However, it weighs 212 grams which is almost the same as the P40 Pro.”
More at Gizmochina. The Mate 40 family all run Huawei’s variant of Android. Derived from the Android Open Source Project, the emotion user interface (EUMI) was updated to version 11 earlier this year and is now shipping with new handsets. While EMUI11 brings in some great new features and interfaces, it still has an achilles heel for many consumers to consider:
“Huawei has made some significant steps forward in making the Huawei Mobile Services package fit with expectations of consumers in the US and Europe, notably by hooking into third-party app catalogues such as APKPure alongside the Huawei App Gallery. But there are still hurdles, and when they appear in front of me, my workflow comes to a complete stop. This could be my banking app refusing to run because a certificate is missing, cloud-based storage apps refusing to download files to the P40 Pro, or the inability to bring my Google Calendar into Huawei’s Calendar app (even though the Email app will allow access to Gmail).”
Read more on EMUI here.
The OnePlus Nord Lineup Grows
Following on from the launch of the OnePlus 8T in October, OnePlus has launched two more Nord branded handsets. The Nord N10 5G is priced to take on the likes of the Google Pixel 4a at £329 here in the UK, while the Nord N100 is squarely in the budget territory priced at £149. Notably the two handsets are steps down in terms of processors, with the N10 sporting the Snapdragon 690 and the N100 the Snapdragon 460. From OnePlus’ forum post:
“Both the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100 come pre-installed with OxygenOS 10.5 for a flagship-level fast and smooth software experience. OxygenOS brings many of its well-known features to these two devices, such as Dark Mode, Zen Mode, and a full set of customization options that let users tweak everything from icon shapes to accent colors. Designed to be ultra-fast and smooth, OxygenOS has nearly 300 powerful software optimizations to deliver the ultimate smartphone experience, no matter the device running it.”
One feature missing from the Nord N100 is OnePlus’ Fluid Screen. The screen technology with a faster refresh rate was previously announced with the statement that “all future OnePlus smartphones will come with the Fluid Display technology”. It’s not present on the N100, but as Hadlee Simons reports, OnePlus considers the Nord a separate production line:
“Nord is a different product line and [the quote] from the OnePlus India launch was said in reference to our flagship devices,” a company spokesperson told Android Authority.
“The OnePlus executive clearly didn’t mention “flagship” when announcing that all future phones would offer Fluid Display tech, and the Nord line wasn’t around at the time of Pei’s statement. Thus, there was no reason for him to mention the word “flagship” as all OnePlus devices were considered flagships at the time. So, is OnePlus backtracking on its promise? It’s more amending the promise than completely backtracking, though our expectations were obviously high after Pei’s announcement on stage.”
More on this at Android Authority.
Nokia Handsets Top Trust Charts
HMD Global is celebrating this week, as its Nokia brand of handsets have once more topped Couterpoint Research’s Trust Rankings. The rankings are built on the performance in four key areas; up-to-date software, security updates, build quality, and enterprise recommendations. Ida Torres reports for Android Community:
“When it comes to the four aspects they considered in their rankings, Nokia was consistently on top and had an even better performance this year compared to last year where they were also top dog. The first criteria is bringing up-to-date software to its users and Nokia has a 100% rate as all of its smartphones are currently running Android 10. OnePlus is the only other brand that got a perfect score here but since they only had 7 devices, it was HMD at the top since they have 20 devices.”
It’s worth noting that Counterpoint Research look at the entire portfolio of a company, rather than individual handsets, so this ranking reaches down from the top $800 smartphones right down to the $80 budget models. And of course all of these models will receive the HMD commitment to two years of core software updates and a further year of security updates.
Pre-Folded Razr Surprise
Amazon customers who have purchased the latest Motorola Razr have been reporting a curious issue – when they receive their new phone, the box has been opened and their new foldable phone is folded. Never fear though, all is well. Chaim Gartenberg reports:
“Both the original Razr and the updated model come in fancy display boxes meant to showcase your phone to its fullest degree. (It also functions as a passive speaker, and its shape is designed to amplify the sound from the phone’s speaker.) As part of that fancy design, though, the Razr itself is shipped in an unfolded configuration to better show off the flexible 6.2-inch OLED panel.
“But Amazon seems to be concerned about the safety of shipping the $1,399 phone with that massive (and relatively fragile) display exposed to the elements. So the retailer is opening the box, removing the phone, folding it, and then resealing and shipping it to customers.”
More at The Verge.
Google looks to be testing a new Play Store feature that allows you to compare similar apps next to each other while browsing the store. Caleb Potts reports:
“The “Compare apps” section shows up on individual app listings near the bottom of the page, though it seems to be limited to a few popular media players at the moment. When it does appear, it displays popular apps that are similar to the current listing, comparing them based on things like ease of use and whether or not they support features like offline playback and casting.”
More at Android Police.
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!