Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes more confirmation of the Galaxy S10 hardware, Galaxy Note 10 leaks, reviews of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro launch, more OnePlus 6T details, Google’s response to the European Commission, and the return of the Palm brand.
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 Discusses Galaxy S10’s Notch Plans
Samsung is expected to announce the Galaxy S10 family of three handsets early in 2019, but the South Korean company is not making any effort to hide the surprise. It’s more than happy in the current climate to let everyone know that the new design is coming. The latest route to confirm the handset and specs is in a snarky twitter response to Google’s Pixel 3 and 3XL reveal. Forbes Gordon Kelly has the details:
The attack was prompted by a tweet from the official @MadeByGoogle Twitter account formally announcing the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL and inviting user feedback. To which the official Samsung Mobile US account mocked the larger model’s controversial notch replying: “You could land a plane on it”.
With Samsung due to announce the Galaxy S10 in just three months, this comment makes it 100% clear that the company has no plans to copy almost all of Apple’s rivals by releasing its phone with a notch.
Galaxy Note 10 Screen Leaks
If looking forward to the Galaxy S10 wasn’t enough, the latest details from the supply chain suggest that the Galaxy Note 10 is going to grow in size so it can dominate the S10+ and remain the king of the phabelts during 2019. I reported on the leaked hardware earlier this week:
Samsung looks set to supersize the screen on next year’s flagship Galaxy handsets. The Galaxy S10 Plus is expected to clock in at 6.44 inches – slightly larger than the recently released Galaxy Note 9 – but the big change is going to come with the Note 10 and a massive 6.6 inch screen.
…The Note is traditionally the ‘largest’ of the Galaxy family, so next year’s Galaxy Note 10 would naturally have to top the S10 Plus, and a 6.6 inch screen would certainly do that. Details on the potential size come from noted commenter Ice Universe on Twitter. It’s also being suggested that the aspect ratio of the screen would likely be 19:9, slightly more letterboxed than the current 18.5:9 ratio.
Reviewing Google’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL Smartphones
Dieter Bohn is crystal clear in his review of the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL handsets. The clue is in the headline ‘The Best Camera Gets A Better Phone.’
The Pixel 2, released last year, was the best camera you could get on a smartphone right on through the iPhone XS that was released last month. I won’t beat around the bush: the Pixel 3 camera is better.
But it also makes aesthetic choices that are worth talking about. I don’t think Google made bad choices here, but it is moving the photos that the Pixel 3 produces a little closer to where Apple is going and where Samsung has always been.
The full review, which also looks at the improvements to the screen, the audio, and the dreaded notch, is at The Verge. The Pixel 3 family may be great phones, but what does the smartphone say about society, is it a force for good or evil, and how can you keep sane with everything available at your fingertips? Mat Honan reviews the handsets and also opens a curious discussion:
We are reaching a point of no return, when it comes to information collection, if we have not already gone beyond it. Cameras and screens, microphones and speakers. Capture your face and your voice and your friends’ faces and voices and where you are and what’s in your email and where you were when you sent it and… What did you say? Click, here’s an ad. And where did you go? Click, here’s an ad. Who were you with? Here’s an ad. What did you read here’s an ad how do you feel here’s an ad are you lonely here’s an ad are you lonely here’s an ad are you lonely?
Stand By For Beastly Mate 20 Pro
This week saw Huawei launch the Mate 20 Pro, and it’s a beast of a smartphone with high specs, attention to detail, and is a clear challenger to the Samsung and Apple flagships. Max Parker reports:
Sitting on the front of the Mate 20 Pro is a 6.39-inch 2960 x 1440 OLED panel. It’s gorgeous: HDR enabled with fantastically bright colours and a real punch. Even the notch can’t disrupt the immersion here.
…Inside the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Kirin 980, Huawei’s first chipset to use the 7nm architecture. Moving to 7nm from 10nm (this was used in last year’s 970) helps improve efficiency and allows for better processing and graphics without sacrificing battery life. The 980 has been paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.
Latest OnePlus 6T Detail Officaly ‘Leaked’
With the launch of the OnePlus 6T confirmed for October 30th, the Shenzhen-based company is making sure that everyone knows what is coming up in the handset, quietly dealing out details of the upcoming flagship. Next up on the appetiser menu are the new gestures on the UI:
Details about the changes to OxygenOS have been written up by OnePlus in the official forums. As well as the (almost mandatory) mentions of increased speed, faster interface, smoother transitions and efficient use of resources, additional gestures to access the core Android features have been described:
“Whenever you swipe up in an app, the application window will follow your finger, making for a more natural experience. It’s also faster in two ways: with a quick flick from the bottom of the screen towards the right of your screen, you can change between 2 recently used apps. As there’s no navigation bar when using gestures, users weren’t able to double-tap the “recents” button to quickly switch between apps. This new gesture provides a quick and easy substitute.”
Europe, Android, And The Google Play Store
Following an investigation around its Antitrust rulings, the European Commission fined Google for its practices of forcing Android handset manufacturers to install Chrome and Google Search to gain access to Google Play. Google has now announced the steps it is taking to fall in line with the ruling. Chris Davies takes a closer look:
Google will charge Android phone-makers in Europe to include Google Play access, as the search giant adjusts its policies to comply with an EU antitrust ruling. The European Commission slapped Google with a 4.34 billion euro – $5bn – fine three months ago, after complaints that it had stymied the smartphone space by forcing phone-makers to install Chrome and Google Search if they wanted Play store access.
…Probably the most contentious will be new licensing fees for phone- and tablet-makers. While Android remains free, and open source, manufacturers will be expected to cough up a fee to include the Google Play store, since they’ll also be able to include it – and the Google mobile application suite – separately from the Search App and Chrome.
This issue is going to be appealed, and it will run on and on. Don’t think months, think years. And in that time a lot of manufacturers are going to pay a lot of money to Google, handsets will cost more, and you can expect some of that cost to be passed onto European customers.
In a world of large screened smartphones, what we really need is pocket-sized smartphone to sit alongside our phablet sized smartphones (that presumably works with our ten-inch tablets?). If that’s the case, the return of the ‘Palm’ brand to the mobile world is timely. Hold on… Palm? Variety’s Todd Spangler explains:
The “Palm” name will ring a bell for longtime technology fans: The original Palm Inc. introduced one of the first personal digital assistant (PDA) devices, the Palm Pilot, in the 1990s. The new incarnation of Palm was founded in December 2016 by Miloseski and Nuk. Their Palm Ventures Group acquired the rights to the Palm trademark from Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL, which in turn had bought it from HP in 2014.
“We’re not bringing back the PDA,” Miloseski said with a laugh. “We’re focused on reinventing Palm with its roots in mobile innovation.”
So what do we have? A 3.3 inch screened Android smartphone, ready for the modern world – but is the modern world ready? Brian Heater reports:
For the rest of us, perhaps the reborn Palm represents freedom from being tethered to our six-inch smartphones. Granted, it’s still a smartphone of sorts, but it’s a start. And the device can help you get a lot more done than your average smartwatch — though I speak from experience when I say it’s going to take a lot of practice to get used to typing on that tiny screen again.
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!