Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes Samsung confirming the Galaxy S10 in China, more Note 9 problems, the Galaxy F is delayed again, Google launches the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, OnePlus 6T launch date confirmed, why Nokia handsets aim low, Razer’s second gaming phone announced, and Fortnite Battle Royale for everyone!
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).
China’s Galaxy S10 Confirmation
Via regulatory filings in China, Samsung has confirmed more details of the upcoming Galaxy S10 smily, with listings for the flat-screened entry-level mode, the regular S10, and the oversized S10+. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
The models Samsung certified are the ‘SM-G9700’, ‘SM-G9730’ and ‘SM-G9750’ and they were submitted to the CMIIT on September 25th.
Breaking down the models, you’ll notice they have an extra number on the end which is geographic and denotes China. That aside, leaks tell us these are the all-new flat screen single camera budget Galaxy S10, the regular 5.8-inch dual camera Galaxy S10 and the massive 6.44-inch triple camera Galaxy S10+.
More Note 9 Problems And Potential
With the Note 9 picking up a number of small faults, Samsung could use the opportunity to promote the security updates, patches, and all round after-care of its Android handsets. I discussed the positive potential of the problems earlier this week, starting with the speedy security update for October:
It shouldn’t be a surprise when a company releases a security update to a smartphone, but for many Android is still seen as lacking in ongoing support compared to iOS. Google is addressing this through changes to Android’s structure (and offering AndroidOne and AndroidGo options), but manufacturers have a part to play in implementing and informing the users.
That’s why Samsung’s speedy rollout of the October Security Update to the galaxy devices is both welcome and something that the South Korean company should be promoting heavily. It’s also a chance to turn the recent Galaxy Note 9 problems in the camera and user interface into PR wins as it rolls out the software updates.
Of course that only works if issues are cleared up, and this week we were reminded that the Note 8 bluetooth issues are still present in the Note 8 and subsequent handsets. Piunika Web has more on that:
Back then, the complainants were suggested to upgrade their to-be paired devices to match up to Note 8’s newest Bluetooth 5.0 technology. Cut to now, we are in the last quarter of this year, and the Note line up has leveled up to Galaxy Note 9. But Bluetooth issues just refuse to budge.
…While majority of them delineate pairing their phone to their car’s head unit over Bluetooth a hit and miss, some struggle while pairing with smartwatches, headphones and other Bluetooth devices as well
Samsung’s Galaxy F Folding Phone Delayed Again
Samsung’s revolutionary folding smartphone – the presumptively named Galaxy F – was set for a reveal in November and a limited retail release so the South Korean company could be ‘first’ to the market. Well, the dates are slipping, and we could be waiting until 2019 to see the F. Gordon Kelly answers the question ‘is it vapourware?’:
I think not. In August, Koh admitted Samsung “didn’t want to lose the world’s first title” that launching the screen folding smartphone would deliver. That said, we’re clearly no longer talking about a mass market consumer device and the expected asking price is jaw-dropping.
Consequently, while the Galaxy F (potentially) still represents the long-term future of smartphones, it is the Galaxy S10 where you should focus your interest. We already know the 10th generation device will have slimmer bezels, an ’ultrasonic’ in-display reader, triple rear cameras, gradient colors and a 5G option.
3 Or 3 XL – Which Pixel Is For You?
This week saw a number of hardware launches from Google, including the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. US customers will be able to purchase them from next week, Forbes’ Gordon Kelly has taken a closer look at the two models to find out the differences:
Much like the first two generations of Pixel, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL again appear to be behind the curve in terms of design.
Notably, the Pixel 3 looks like a shrunken version of last year’s Pixel 2XL and the Pixel 3 XL looks closer to last year’s Android iPhone X knock-offs than the cutting edge notch-less and almost notch-less phones we’ve seen in 2018 from Huawei, Vivo and OnePlus. There’s also a belated move to glass backs to support wireless charging (more later) and the headphone jack isn’t coming back.
That said if you can get past the controversial fascias (at least you can hide the Pixel 3 XL notch) there’s actually a lot to like.
More details on the Android handsets here on Forbes. But if you’re looking for an in-depth examination of the new Pixel, Nicole Nguyen has all the details on Buzzfeed’s ‘Everything You Need To Know’ series, including the new ‘Automatic Call Screening’ AI:
To help you avoid calls from scammers, Google is adding Call Screen to the Pixel, a new option that appears when you receive a phone call. Whenever someone calls you, you can tap a “Screen call” button, and a robot voice will pick up.
“The person you’re calling is using a screening service and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name and why you’re calling,” the Google bot will say. As the caller responds, the digital assistant will transcribe the caller’s message for you. If you need more information, you can use one of the feature’s canned responses, which include “Tell me more” and “Who is this?” There are also buttons to either pick up or hang up the call, so you can accept or reject it at any time.
OnePlus Confirms 6T Launch Date
Following the launch event on Tuesday 30th October (reported previously on Forbes), the OnePlus 6T was expected to make its way quickly to retail sale. It has now been confirmed that it will take fractionally less than a week for the handset to go sale. Jon Porter reports:
The OnePlus 6T will be available from November 6th, OnePlus has confirmed. The phone, which is due to be announced at a New York event on October 30th, still doesn’t have an official price or specs, but is expected to include an in-display fingerprint sensor, and will be the first OnePlus device to ship without a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Nokia Aims Low For Success
Meanwhile I’ve taken a look at HMD Global’s strategy for flagship models, and why there isn’t a Nokia 9 to fight the iPhone XS and Galaxy S9 lineups. The answer is that the Nokia brand is, once again, going for the low-price high-volume market.
Given HMD Global’s startup DNA is mixed with many former Nokia employees who were around for the first wave of smartphones in the 21st century, it should not be a huge surprise that the old Nokia approach of high-volume low-margin is part of the HMD Global approach.
That doesn’t mean that the Finnish-based start-up is ignoring the higher specifications – the aforementioned Nokia 8 picked up an update with the Nokia 8 Sirocco that focused on a fashionable design and bumping up some specifications (such as a larger screen and increased memory) – but it doesn’t feel the need to play Top Trumps bingo and max out every number in the spec sheet, even if there’s a clear gap in the product naming scheme for a Nokia 9.
Razer Phone 2 Launched
Following up on last year’s launch of its first gaming smartphone, Razer has revealed the Razer Phone 2. While the name is incredibly predictable, the hardware retains much of the same form and function as the 2017 model, but with improved specifications and software optimizations as required. Samuel Axon has taken a look at the numbers:
Razer claims it has managed to make this phone faster than most thanks to “vapor chamber cooling,” which the company says allows the phone to draw 20-30 percent more power than competing Android phones. It’s related to similar technology used in the Razer Blade gaming laptop.
The Razer Phone 2 also has a hefty 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. Other specs and features include a 4,000mAh battery, IP67 water resistance, gigabit LTE, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+. Like its predecessor, it only comes in one storage configuration at launch—64GB—but it has a microSD slot for additional storage.
Last year’s Razer Phone was beloved by many for its 120Hz display that pumped out twice as many frames per second as other phone screens, resulting in noticeably more fluid, smooth animations; and big, front-facing stereo speakers that boasted the loudest and fullest sound in any mobile device. These two hardware features return in the 2018 iteration mostly unchanged, but they are still enough to top everything else on the market in both areas.
Following the exclusive period negotiated by Samsung, Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale can now be downloaded acres the Android ecosystem (although some low-spec handsets may feel like the last generation of home consoles. Andrew Webster gets ready to play:
Epic announced that the Android version of the game is open to everyone with a compatible device, so you no longer require an invite to play. Fortnite for Android first launched back in August exclusively for Samsung Galaxy devices, before opening up to more smartphones a few days later. Unlike most Android games, it has its own installer, so you won’t find it in the Google Play store.
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!