Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the launch of the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus, the changes to Samsung’s phablet, the updated S-Pen, a review of the Sony Xperia 1, the first OnePlus 7T Pro details leak, Huawei’s alternative yo Android in HarmonyOS, HTC pausing UK sales, and the ugly design of the Pixel 4.
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).
The Galaxy Note 10 Is Officially Launched
After a long wait - and pretty much every feature and specification leaked in advance - Samsung has announced the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus (the latter has a 5G variant). The team at SamMobile breaks down the devices, starting with the design:
Under the hood, there’s the new Exynos 9825 SoC for most markets and the same old Snapdragon 855 processor for markets like the US and China. The Galaxy Note 10 gets 8GB of RAM on the base model and the Galaxy Note 10+ gets 12GB, and both come with 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage at the minimum. There’s a 12GB+512GB version of the Note 10+ but no 1TB model; the smaller Note 10 only comes with 256GB storage for now but does get a bump up to 12GB of RAM on the 5G model.
Samsung has posted a look at the five features the company is most excited about, starting with the design and the choice to go with two models:
The 6.3-inch Galaxy Note10 is 0.1 inches smaller than the Galaxy Note9, and perfect for those who want all the power and performance that comes with the newest Note, but in a more compact form. The 6.8-inch Galaxy Note10+, meanwhile, is a full 0.4 inches bigger than last year’s Note, and boasts the largest display that the series has ever seen.
Both models feature elegant forms that build on the Note series’ premium design heritage. But what makes the Galaxy Note10’s design so striking boils down to more than simply looks. It’s also exceptionally light and thin, weighing in at 196 grams1 and measuring just 7.9mm thick.
More at Samsung’s Newsroom.
DJ Koh, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, presents the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 smartphone... [+] during a launch event at Barclays Center on August 7, 2019 (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Getty
Reviewing The Changes In The Note Family
The Note 10 series has given up a number of features to reach these elegant goals though. Two stand out for me. The first is the smaller punch-out on the screen. David Imel has a hands on review with both devices, noting the new forward facing camera:
They feel like proper updates to the series, with an Infinity-O display punching a camera hole in the top-center of the device. This allows for the smallest bezels Samsung has ever produced, and both the top and bottom bezel are noticeably smaller than even the Galaxy S10. There’s a trade-off though.
To make the hole-punch in the Infinity-O display small enough, Samsung had to make the aperture smaller in the front-facing camera. This resulted in a 10MP camera with an f/2.2 aperture. The Galaxy Note 9 had an 8MP camera with an aperture of f/1.7, which let in more light. We’ll have to see how well the new selfie camera performs once we have a unit in for review.
More at Android Authority. The other missing feature is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung’s official line is that removing this offers more battery space, but it comes from a company that made a lot of marketing effort around retaining the headphone jack unlike its competition. As Chris Matyszczyk points out in his initial review, this is not unusual for any company:
In one of these ads, Samsung chuckled heartily about Apple having removed the headphone jack on iPhone X, so if you want to attach old-fashioned headphones, you need a dongle. Worse, if you wanted to charge your phone at the same time, you’d need a double-dongle…
In the vast and messy scheme of life, this is just a tiny pimple. Brands -- and people in general -- contradict themselves all the time, sometimes on a daily basis.
More at ZDNet.
Samsung’s Magical S-Pen Gets A Few New Spells
The Note’s big ‘differentiating’ feature is of course the S-Pen. Although available for some Galaxy Tablets, the Note is the spiritual home of Samsung’s stylus. Along with an update to the Note series, the S-Pen has also been updated. With BlueTooth low-energy and a bundle of positional sensors, the S-Pen works without needing to be in contact with the smartphone. Nick Statt reports:
The stylus now has a six-axis motion sensor, including an accelerometer and gyroscope, that lets it determine how its being held and in what direction in space it’s being moved. That allows Samsung to create some interesting features, like switching between remote camera modes with swipes of the S Pen through the air while setting up a self-portrait with the Note 10. You can also control in-app features for Spotify, YouTube, and other media apps.
More at The Verge.
Long Tall Sony
Sony’s latest handset, the Xperia 1, has made an expansive decision and outfitted the Android powered smartphone with one of the widest screens on the mobile market - although it does match Sony’s move to ‘full widescreen’ televisions and monitors. But does it work for a phone? David Phelan reviews the new handset, starting with the aforementioned 21:9 screen:
The display doesn’t cover the whole of the front of the phone, thanks to a camera and speaker at the top edge and small area of blank space at the bottom. But these black areas pretty much disappear, thanks to Sony’s cleverly designed wallpapers. Still images, in some cases, open into place with an animation and subtle darker areas at each end. It also means there’s no notch or peephole camera in the display – it’s a pure oblong with gently curved corners and nothing missing.
It feels good in the hand thanks to the Gorilla Glass which covers front and back and the aluminium frame in between. The joins between the different materials are super-smooth, so you can roll the phone through your hands as though it were a worry stone – something made even more appealing thanks to the slim width of the phone.
More at AVForums.
Here Comes The OnePlus 7T Pro
Pictures this week on Chinese social networks suggest that a new OnePlus handset is on its way. Given the six-month cycle that’s a fair bet, although the images could well be early test-bed versions for internal use only. Chris Smith reports:
Posted on Weibo and picked up by SlashLeaks, these images purportedly show the OnePlus 7T Pro. We’re looking at an all-screen phone encased in protective gear meant to hide its design. The holes at the top suggest the phone features a slide-up selfie camera system just like the 7 Pro. The top speaker is also visible.
More at BGR. But what can we look forward to in the updated version. I took a look at three contenders for new features in the OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro, starting with the processor:
Assuming that there is little appetite for a physical design change (beyond perhaps a dimension change in the thickness of the handset if required) I think there are three features that will be under consideration. The first is to stay on top of the system on chip race and stay with the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. That means adopting the Snapdragon 855 Plus.
More ideas here on Forbes.
OnePlus 7 Pro with iFixit's 'internals' wallpaper (photo: Ewan Spence)OnePlus 7 Pro with iFixit's 'internals' wallpaper (photo: Ewan Spence)
Huawei’s Alternative To Google
Following the well-reported issues in Q2 of its then temporary loss of access to Android, Huawei continues to test its alternative to the popular mobile OS. Provisionally called Hongmeng (but now revealed as HarmonyOS), it targets smart devices in the IoT category, but of course many are wondering if this is a hedge to build competency for a smartphone OS. Reuters looks at the news:
Huawei executives have previously described Hongmeng as an operating system designed for internet-of-things products. Last month the company said the first major devices powered by Hongmeng would be its upcoming line of Honor-brand smart TVs.
…Last week, at an event announcing the company’s earnings for the first half of 2019, Huawei chairman Liang Hua said the company preferred to use Google’s Android operating system for its mobile devices and referred to Hongmeng as part of Huawei’s “long-term strategy”.
More at Reuters.
HTC Pauses Sales In UK
Due to a long-running patent case with Ipcom, HTC handsets on sale in the UK have had a workaround in place. But Ipcom has alleged that in a number of handsets the workaround is no longer present. As a result thesehandsets are currently not on sale. The BBC reports:
HTC has stopped offering its phones for sale in the UK while it is involved in an intellectual property dispute. The Taiwanese company's online store currently lists all of its models as "out of stock" despite the fact they remain available in other nations.
…Munich-based Ipcom has alleged it carried out tests earlier this year that showed no workaround had been implemented. It said HTC had failed to "play by the rules" and had displayed "disregard for the law by contravening a UK court ruling".
More at BBC News.
Pedestrians walk by the new Google pop-up shop in the SoHo neighborhood in New York City (Photo by... [+] Spencer Platt/Getty Images)Getty
Apple may have introduced the notch and continued with its ugly implications, but Google’s Pixel 4 has pushed the boat out on bad design with the Pixel 4. Chris Matyszczyk goes fashionista on the Pixel:
Since Google emitted images of its new Pixel 4, it’s felt like the art teacher didn't come to school and the kids are daubing ill-spelled graffiti on the walls of the classroom. You thought we were heading for all-screen phones? Lord, no. Have you seen the bezel on that Pixel?
It's thicker than the head of an average congressperson. It’s more prominent than a toucan's nose. You'll tell me it contains all sorts of vital cameras and sensors because we'll never be complete unless we can shoot better selfies and wave at our phones instead of touching them.
More at ZDNet.
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!