Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020



At today’s Galaxy Unpacked 2020 online event, the South Korean firm unveiled updates to Samsung Mobile’s tech product line. Broadcasting live from Korea, the event showcased new Samsung smartphones, tablets, earbuds and smartwatch devices.

The Galaxy Note devices have always been big and the new phones don’t disappoint. With 4G and 5G variants, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 has a 6.7″ screen and the Note 20 Ultra has a whopping 6.9″ screen. Both have 120 Hz refresh screen and use the fastest processors in the Galaxy line-up. The S-Pen defines the Notes and the handwriting experience has been improved by reducing the latency between the pen moving and the line appearing on the screen to just 9 ms. The phones meet the usual expectations for high end devices in terms of cameras (12 MP ultrawide, 108 MP standard, 12 MP telephoto, 10 MP selfie) and charging – 50% in 30 mins. Pre-orders are open and prices begin at £849 for 4G and £949 for 5G.

Everything now matches in the Galaxy world and there’s three standard colours. Mystic Black, Mystic White and Mystic Bronze, which Samsung is clearly trying grab as “their” colour. The Note phones come in some extra colours too, Mystic Green and Mystic Grey.

Samsung’s tablets are some of the best Android tablets and the range has been updated with the new Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+ tablets. The S7 has an 11″ LCD screen and the S7+ is a 12.4″ AMOLED screen with the same 120 Hz refresh rate of the Note 20. The S-Pen works on the tablets with similar low latency and the Tab S7s come with three apps that are designed to maximise use of the S Pen. The note taking app looks impressive and has some great features. It works with the Note smartphone too. Prices begin at GB£799 for the S7+ and GB£619 for the S7. That’s the same price as the current S6. I’m currently in the market for a new tablet….hmm.

Working with Microsoft, Samsung now synchronises with Office tools like OneNote, To Do and Teams. There’s integration between Windows 10 and the Galaxy devices so that you can use the Android apps on the PC. Samsung DeX now works wirelessly, so there’s not need for a dock, and the smartphone can still do phone things when in DeX mode. It all looks pretty slick. It’s not all about the office though as XBox Game Pass is coming to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 from 21st August. This brings cloud gaming to the phones for gaming on the go.

The new Galaxy Buds Live are bean-shaped wireless earbuds intended for all day use. Resting lightly in the ear and come in the new standard colours of Mystic Bronze, White and Black to  match the phones and tablets. The Buds come with active noise cancellation. Battery life is 6 hours and the case can recharge the earbuds for a total of 21 hours listening time. GB£179.

The new Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two sizes (45 mm and 41 mm), and you guessed it, three colours. There’s a high-end titanium version too. The watch comes with health monitoring blood pressure, ECG and blood oxygen level once regulatory approvals have been gained in each country. As you’d expect, the Watch 3 provides activity tracking for walking, running and other sports. There are over 120 fitness programmes that work with the Watch 3 and Samsung smart TVs. Watch 3 prices begin at GB£399.

And finally….The Galaxy Z Fold2 opens up from clamshell to a tablet. Thinner that the Fold, it has a 6.2″ exterior screen but once opened up it’s 7.6″ inside. The hinge has been analysed and improved. Regrettably, it’s only available in Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze. What no Mystic White…? Pre-orders begin on 1st September but price wasn’t announced.


Google Shutters Play Music for YouTube Music. Really?



In a YouTube blog posting, Google has confirmed that it’s the end of the road for Play Music and YouTube Music is the new place to be. Starting in September for the Antipodes and October for the rest of the world, Play Music will stop streaming, though I assume the Play Music app will still play local content. Albums and tracks can be transferred from Play to YouTube from now through December, but come 1st January 2021, Play Music will be gone.

When I heard that Google was closing the doors on Google Play Music in favour of YouTube Music, I wasn’t terribly bothered. I do have a few purchases at Play Music but I’m a subscriber at Spotify and that’s my main source of tunes, so the personal impact is minimal. I’ll get my tracks downloaded to my home NAS and all will be well. I’ve no intention of signing up for YouTube Music.

However, I did wonder about the choice of the YouTube brand for the music service. Undoubtedly, YouTube is a popular and well-known brand but it’s not what I’d associate with quality or trustworthiness. The platform has a healthy selection of clickbait, misinformation and ripped-off content. Yes, there’s some great content on YouTube, but the problem is finding the wheat amongst the chaff. I don’t expect YouTube to be the BBC, but to now suggest that YouTube Music is a purveyor of high-quality legal music is quite a pivot for the brand.

For the purposes of research, I tried out the “YT Music” app on my phone and it’s nothing special. To be honest, I was bit annoyed, because being Google and YouTube, the app tried to pull in my supposed preferences from historical YouTube searches and also tried to make suggestions based on the idea that I was at home and bedtime. I’d really like it, if for once, Google took its nose out of my business. It’s going beyond helpfulness to intrusion.

Sorry Google, but I’m downloading my music and then I’m out of your music service, whatever the brand.


SpaceX Completes Manned Flight #1464



Congratulations to SpaceX for completing the first manned mission and first splashdown in 50 years. This is an incredible accomplishment and now we can look forward to SpaceX being in the human lift business for some time. Tonight we had our first submitted conspiracy theory actually started by one of our long time listeners.

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DOOGEE Launches N20 Pro Android Smartphone



While in grave danger of being eclipsed by another smartphone announcement, DOOGEE have launched the N20 Pro smartphone, an entry-level Android 10 handset from a company usually associated with rugged waterproof devices that could do serious damage if thrown across the room. In this instance, the N20 Pro is a much more traditional design which is unlikely to generate a second glance.

For those unfamiliar with DOOGEE, the company is a Spanish-Chinese enterprise founded in 2013. The company claims to be the “world leading rugged phone brand” and their flagship tough phone carries IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD-810G certification. That’s hardcore.

Regrettably the N20 Pro is more likely to see the inside of mall than a rain-soaked jungle. There’s a 6.3″ IPS FHD+ display (1080 x 2280 pixels) of glass powered by a 2GHz Helio P60 octa-core processor. Inside, it’s 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM,128GB of storage and support for up to 512GB of additional storage with a microSD card, which isn’t bad at all.

There’s dual SIM support, though the second SIM slot is also home to the microSD card, so it’s one or the other.

Round the back, there’s a quad camera array: 16 MP main camera, 8 MP 130° ultra-wide camera lens, 2 MP portrait camera and 2 MP macro camera. On the front, there’s a tear-drop 16 MP selfie camera. Keeping the contents of the phone safe, the N20 Pro has a rear fingerprint sensor, with face unlock available for those too lazy to lift a finger.

The N20 Pro is powered by a non-removable 4,400 mAh lithium-polymer battery with 10W fast charging, and comes in a choice of three colours – Streamer Purple, Fantasy Forest and Space Gray. The N20’s dimensions are 159 mm x 77.1 mm x 8.8 mm, and weighs in at 175 g.

Let’s not pretend these specs are anything like those of a flagship phone, but when the retail price is US$199 compared with $1000, it’s not surprising. And if you are interested in the N20 Pro, there’s a launch sale coming up on 10th & 11th August when the price will drop to $119.99, with a further $10 off using code N20PRO10.

I’ve never actually tried one of DOOGEE’s phones but hopefully I’ll be able to get one in for review soon.

[Update: a previous version of this post incorrectly gave the retail price as US$169]


Verizon LTE Home Internet #1463



Looks like Verizon is finally going to start introducing a Home Internet plan that is supposedly unlimited. We will have to read the fine print for $40/$60 price range with 25mbps down. We will see. The service is in a limited release area at this time but I am going to be calling tomorrow to at least get on a request list.

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Twitter Admin Spying on You? #1462



If you are someone important a Twitter admin may be spying on you. Meanwhile, the real spies may release “some” UFO reports which will likely be super redacted. But the Pentagon appears to be ready to reveal what they describe as swamp gas and over-imaginative pilots chasing hot air balloons over the pacific.

Have a conspiracy theory or saw something that got shadowbanned let me know.

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OnePlus Launches Nord 5G Smartphone



In a pandemic-driven AR showcase, the new Nord smartphone arrived and returned OnePlus to the mid-range market with a phone sporting 5G, 90 Hz screen, 128 GB storage, dual selfie cameras and a very competitive price of GB£379. Let’s take a look and see what’s on offer for half the price of the 8 Pro.

As expected, the Nord is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G chipset, driving a 6.44″ 90 Hz Fluid AMOLED screen with 2400×1080 pixels giving 408ppi. That’s going to look pretty sweet and there’s no curve on the edge of the screen – I’m already a fan.

The cameras are always of interest and the Nord has one big trick up its sleeve. Starting round the back, the phone features the same 48 MP Sony IMX586 sensor as the flagship OnePlus 8, complete with a large f/1.75 aperture for bright images, and optical image stabilization (OIS) to reduce blur and shake. In addition, Nord comes with an 8 MP ultra-wide angle camera, a macro camera and a depth sensor.

However, it’s round the front where the surprise is. The Nord is the first OnePlus device to come with a dual front camera setup for super selfies. Featuring a 32 MP main camera, the highest resolution front camera on any OnePlus phone, the OnePlus Nord is going to get some great selfies. The main front camera also supports high-quality video capture at 4K up to 60 fps. The second 8 MP ultra-wide angle front camera offers a 105-degree field of view for fantastic group shots. With an ultra-wide angle on both the front and the back of the camera, a whole new way of taking photographs is going to open up to Nord owners.

The Nord is 158 x 73 x 8 mm and weighs in at 184 g, which makes it a 2 mm shorter but 4 g heavier than the standard OnePlus 8. The new phone brings plenty of design cues over from the older siblings and shares technology too. The Nord comes with  Warp Charge 30T, which will take its 4115 mAh battery from empty to 70% in only half an hour. As with the 8 and 8 Pro, Nord learns your life patterns to reduce the amount of time the battery spends at 100% on charge to enhance battery health.

To brighten up the Nord, OnePlus are offering some funky cases to protect your investment, including one that has (pretend) X-ray vision, showing off the internals of the phone.

The OnePlus Nord is an important milestone for OnePlus, as we always look for new ways to share the best technology with more people around the world. We are excited to finally bring a more accessible OnePlus smartphone that confidently stands alongside other products in the OnePlus family,” said Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus. “The OnePlus Nord combines a flagship camera along with our signature features such as the 90 Hz Fluid Display, OxygenOS, and Warp Charge 30T to deliver a best-in-class smartphone experience.”

Pricewise, the Nord will be available with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage for £379 / €399 or with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £469 / €499. The Nord will be dressed in two colours; blue marble and onyx gray, and there’s no messing around with colours and RAM sizes.

General availability from 4th August in the UK and rest of Europe but if you can’t wait, there are pop-up stores online and John Lewis on 31st July. Disappointment for cousins across the pond who will be restricted to a limited launch in the US of A.

Regrettably I wasn’t able to get hands-on with the OnePlus Nord, but it still looks like an exciting phone. The OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are fantastic phones but even I balk at spending the best part of £1000 on a phone. While I might stretch to the 8 on a generous day, this very much looks like a phone I’d consider buying.

As for the much heralded AR launch, it was a complete fail for me. The OnePlus Nord AR app would recognise a surface but no amount of tapping made the stage appear. Unimpressed and uninstalled.