Category Archives: Android

OnePlus Shows Off OnePlus 7 Series



With the usual level of hoopla, OnePlus showed off the new OnePlus 7 Series of phones at three launch events in Bangalore, London and New York. Consisting of the 7, 7 Pro and 7 Pro 5G, it’s the first time the company has simultaneously launched multiple models – the closest OnePlus came to this in the past was with the 2 and the X models way back in 2015. Right at the end, Bullets Wireless 2 were announced too.

I watched the London event to see CEO, Pete Lau, take to the stage, review OnePlus’ journey and introduce the new models with a string of guests, including Akis Evangelidis (VP OnePlus France) and Kate Parkyn (Head of Growth OnePlus Europe).

The 7 Pro took centre stage and the phone sports a whopping 6.67-inch curved glass display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, making this the biggest phone that OnePlus has made, even with the absence of bezels. The screen is branded Fluid AMOLED, with 516 pixels per inch (QHD+) and supports HDR10 & HDR10+ for fantastic visual dynamic range. Beyond that, the screen is capable of an astonishing 90 Hz refresh rate. Fast and smooth for sure. OnePlus 7 Pro has earned DisplayMate’s highest A+ rating, making it one of the top smartphone displays on the market

Screen unlock is still there and will typically unlock the phone in 0.21 seconds: that’s 28% faster than 6T and OnePlus claims it’s the fastest of any smartphone on the market.

There are three cameras on the back of the phone, which form a triple camera system. There’s a state-of-the-art 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with OIS, an 8 megapixel 78 mm telephoto lens at f/2.4 and 1μm pixel size and stabilised by OIS, and a 16 megapixel 117° ultra-wide angle lens at f/2.2. Together these produce great photos in daylight and lowlight, as demonstrated by the photos on show by Krystle Wright, an Adventure Photographer with National Geographic. For other proof, DxOMark scored the 7 Pro at 111 which is the second highest score ever recorded.

There’s no notch on 7 Pro’s screen and the seflie camera pops up. It’s covered in sapphire glass and the mechanism has been tested over 300,000 times, so it should be good for a few years (but try to avoid getting any sand in there.) If you drop the camera, the phone will detect the free-fall and automatically retract the camera. That’s neat.

Inside the 7 Pro, it’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and with up to 12 GB of RAM, it’s 45% faster and consumes 20% less power. It uses UFS 3.0 storage making it one of the first phones to use the memory type. The extra RAM can be used for RAM Boost, which is a caching technology to speed up loading times.

The new phone will come in three colours – Mirror Gray, Almond and Nebula Blue – and the last two look very good.

The presentation diverted into 5G and how wonderful it’s going to be, with gushing presentations from Qualcomm and EE. I always have a sense of déjà vu at these points as I seem to remember the same presentations for 3G and 4G. Ok, it’s going to be faster than before. Move on.

The 7 Pro will go on sale from 21st May, priced from GB£649 for 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM. Top of the range is £799 for 12 GB RAM, 256 GB ROM. Pricing and availability for the 5G version is TBA.

The poor OnePlus 7 (not Pro, not 5G) didn’t even get a mention until over an hour in. It’s the direct successor to the 6T and most obviously, it retains the notch for the front-facing camera. In fact, the form factor hasn’t really changed so it’s a smaller 6.41″ display, with a comparatively low 402 pixels-per-inch resolution(!) However, it has the same CPU (Snapdragon 855), UFS 3.0 and main camera sensor (IMX586) as the 7 Pro, so it’s nothing to be sniffed at all. Dolby Atmos stereo speakers are present too along with the larger in-screen fingerprint reader.

Pricewise, the 7 comes in at £499 for 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM and will be on sale in June. Do I upgrade from my 3T….?

OnePlus pop-ups start from 16th May and will run in 21 cities across Europe and more details can be found here. The UK pop-up is taking place in the stunning roof garden of John Lewis and Partners’ flagship store on Oxford Street in London, on the 17th May.

There’s loads of extra information over at the OnePlus website.


Android Q has a Live Caption Feature



Google shared details about what is new in Android Q. One of the best new features makes smartphones more accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The feature is called Live Caption.

We are also seeing many firsts in software driven by on-device machine learning. One of these features is Live Caption. For 466 million deaf and hard of hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience – they make content more accessible. We worked closely with the Deaf community to develop a feature that would improve access to digital media.

With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption media that’s playing audio on your phone. Live Caption works with videos, podcasts and audio messages, across any app – even stuff you record yourself. As soon as speech is detected, captions will appear, without ever needing WiFi or cell phone data, and without any audio or captions leaving your phone.

The Verge reported that the Live Caption transcription appears in a black box that can be freely moved around your phone’s screen to wherever it is most convenient. The feature works even if your volume is turned down or muted. Transcriptions cannot be saved for later review.

You can find Live Caption, and other Android Q features, in the Android Q beta. The beta is available for 21 devices from 13 brands, including all Pixel phones.

Accessibility is very important, and Live Caption will make it easier for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate with their friends and family on video chats. In addition, the same feature can be used by anyone who wants to watch a video in public without having the sound of the video bother everyone around them.


OnePlus 7 Series Launch Event 14 May



As expected, OnePlus have announced the launch events for the OnePlus 7 Series in London, New York, Bengaluru and Beijing. Branded “Go Beyond Speed”, the teaser trailer is a short 11 seconds long.

With the moniker of “Series”, there’s now no doubt there will be more than one model, and they’re going to be different designs. Expect to see a 7 Pro to go up against the top-tier Samsung devices alongside a more humble 7. The video, posted to Twitter by Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus, allegedly runs at 90 fps which suggests that the new (7 Pro) phone will have a screen with a matching 90 Hz refresh rate. That’s up from the normal 60 Hz of an ordinary smartphone. I don’t know how to confirm the video frame rate so will have to take it on trust.

Never Settle LogoThe trailer doesn’t reveal much else. There are the expected swooshes, curves and vents but no real giveaways as far as I can tell, though it looks like the ever popular alert slider is still there. There are some renders of both the 7 and 7 Pro floating around the web, with the 7 Pro sporting a pop-up camera. The 7 looks substantially the same as the 6T so expect the same in-display optical fingerprint reader.

As usual for OnePlus, there are opportunities to buy and win tickets for the launch events. Checking the London event, tickets are still available at GB£16 for early birds. It’s GB£30 after Thursday and the ticket gets you swag and snacks as well as entry to the event. If you can’t be there, it’ll be streamed live too.

The launch events are:

  • London, United Kingdom
    Time: 4 PM BST, May 14
    Location: Printworks London
  • New York, United States
    Time: 11 AM EDT, May 14
    Location: Pier 94
  • Bengaluru, India
    Time: 8:15 PM IST, May 14
    Location: Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre
  • Beijing, China
    Time: 2 PM CST, May 16
    Location: Yanqi Lake

Of course, the big unknown for both the 7 and 7 Pro is price and we’re unlikely to discover that with any certainty until 14 May.


OnePlus 7 On Its Way? Sounds Like It



It’s late in the year for Easter but OnePlus are keeping to schedule for their biannual smartphone releases. Pete Lau, founder and CEO of OnePlus announced on Twitter today…

I’d say it’s a safe bet that the OnePlus 7 is going to be announced.

Rumours abound as to the details. Is it going to have a pop-up camera? Is there going to be a “Pro” model? Is there a 512GB version? Who knows, but OnePlus rarely disappoints. Watch this space for more news on Tuesday.


All microUSB cables are not the same



This is a salutary warning to all geeks out there….even with all the year’s of experience, it’s still possible to make a rookie mistake and forget that all microUSB cables are not the same.

Last week at work, I needed to present an Android tablet screen via a data projector. The tablet only had a microUSB port, so connecting up directly via HDMI or VGA was out of the question. I’d have to mirror the tablet screen to a PC and then show the PC screen on the projector. WiFi wasn’t available to the PC, so it needed to be a wired connection but fortunately I had a drawer full of USB A to microUSB cables. I connected the Samsung Tab S2 to my PC and got on the with the job.

The wisdom of the Internet suggest that AirDroid was the one to try, so I signed up for an account, downloaded the PC software and installed the app on the tablet. Could I get the tablet to mirror to the PC? Not a chance!

Back onto the Internet, I then discovered that the Samsung tablets have an app for this called Flow, which doesn’t need rooting or developer access. Brilliant. I chucked AirDroid out the window, downloaded the complementary PC software….only to find that it’s for Windows 10, not Windows 7. This isn’t going well.

A bit more research and I further find that Flow’s predecessor is SideSync. There’s an app in Google Play, there’s a download for Windows 7…this is it, sorted….Nah, still doesn’t (expletive deleted) work.

I’ve been at this for hours and at this point I start to blame ActiveDirectory policies but it’s time to go home so I take the S2 home (leaving the USB cable) to see if I can get it to work on my personal laptop. And of course, it works straightaway.

At this point, the penny drops. It’s the bleeping USB cable. The one at work is a “charge only” cable whereas at home I’ve a proper “sync’n’charge” cable.  I’ve wasted half a day because I forgot that not all microUSB cables are the same. Back in work the next day, it’s time for lessons learned and I get the scissors out. Useless pieces of junk.

To paraphrase a European politician, there’s a special place in hell for companies that bundle charge-only cables with their products to save a few pennies.

And Samsung’s SideSync did the job perfectly. Thumbs up!


OnePlus 6T “Unlocks The Speed”



Never Settle LogoOnePlus has officially unveiled its latest flagship, the OnePlus 6T at a live event in New York. Announced a day ahead of schedule to avoid a conflict with Apple’s autumn event, the 6T’s features were in line with expectations based on leaks, both official and unofficial….but let’s follow along with the keynote.

Starting bang on time, OnePlus founder and CEO, Pete Lau, took to the stage for the first time at a OnePlus launch. He welcomed everyone to the event, thanked the community and reminded everyone of OnePlus’ history starting with the OnePlus One. He then announced that OnePlus is officially partnering with T-Mobile in the US and the 6T phones will be available through their 5,600 stores.

OnePlus 6T FrontPete then handed over to Kyle Kiang, OnePlus Head of North America Region for the big reveal. Before that, he thanked the OnePlus community that now has over 5 million registered users. Finally, the 6T specs….

– Screen unlock with in-display fingerprint sensor
– Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU up to 2.8GHz with an Adreno 630 GPU
– 3,700 mAh battery with Fast Charge 5V @4A (note not “Dash” because of trademark issues)
– 20M+16M pixel cameras with both OIS and EIS
– 6.41″ AMOLED screen with 19.5:9 ratio and Corning Gorilla Glass 6
– 6 GB / 8 GB memory and 128 GB / 256 GB storage
– OxygenOS based on Android 9

The new screen unlock brings the fingerprint sensor in under the front display towards the bottom, which is great, because having the fingerprint sensor on the back of phone was a really stupid idea. Apparently the sensor was first tried out on the 5T but performance wasn’t good enough. On the 6T, the sensor will unlock in 0.34s – apparently it’s the fastest in-display sensor in the world – and it will learn your fingerprint better over time. For comparison, the OnePlus 5 fingerprint unlock takes 0.2s so there’s some penalty putting in under the glass.

The new 6.41″ AMOLED screen is 1080 x 2340 pixels, giving 402 pixels per inch. OnePlus give a slightly odd aspect ration of 19.5:9 which I feel ought to be 39:18 but there you go. At max brightness, it’s over 600 nits, and covers over 100% of the sRGB gamut. There’s a very neat notch at the top and the screen’s been extended at the bottom too.

The 6T will come in two finishes at launch, a ceramic Mirror Black and a metallic Midnight Black. The phone is 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm and weights 185 g. That’s nice. Memory options are 6 GB / 8 GB RAM and 128 GB / 256 GB storage. 64 GB is history….

OnePlus 6T Rear ViewFor photography, there are two cameras with 16 megapixel & 20 megapixel sensors, plus both OIS and EIS. You can do slow-mo at 480fps! The 6T addresses one of the main criticisms of the 6 – the low light photography wasn’t great – and comes with Nightscape, which is a proprietary HDR and post-processing algorithm to improve pictures at night. The demoed photos are very impressive. As there’s no change in the camera hardware between the 6 and the 6T, Nightscape mode is going to be available on the 6 as well.

Kevin Abosch, OnePlus Innovation Director and photographer took to the stage to talk about Studio Lighting, which improves portraiture photography by accentuating facial features in shadow. Looks impressive.

Kyle was then joined by Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm‘s President to talk about the relationship with OnePlus, flagship phones and the 5G future. Apparently the 5G future is already here, with first tweet sent by 5G last week…

Back with Kyle, the OnePlus 6T has been optimised for gamers with Smart Boost. This combination of hardware and software uses the 6T’s RAM as storage which allows gaming applications to load faster. It’s not insignificant at 20% faster load times.

The battery has been upped to 3,700 mAh battery from 3,300 mAh in the OnePlus 6. Along with software improvements, this translates to 23% improved battery life.

It’s not all hardware. Software in the shape of OxgenOS has been tweaked too with improvements across the board in stability, features and experience – it’s a mantra of “fast and smooth” with over 500 optimisations. Based on Android 9 (Pie), OxygenOS now comes with Full Screen Gestures 2.0.

Yes, there’s no 3.5 mm headphone socket, but OnePlus now has Bullet Type-C headphones (US$19.95) with a USB C connector and a Cirrus Logic DAC. Or else it’s full Bluetooth with Bullets Wireless (US$69), which have a special 5th Anniversary edition in red. 10 minutes charging gives 5 hours of listening pleasure.

The 6T will be available from the OnePlus on-line store from November 1 in the US, 6 November in Europe, costing US$549 / GB£499 for the 6+128 GB version. No invites required these days. If you are in the US and want to get on-board with T-Mobile, there are some fairly incredible trade-in offers especially if you have an older OnePlus model – $300 off with a OnePlus Two!

There are pop-ups round the world too if you want to get yours quicker. The London one is 31 October 11:00am – 7:30pm at The Music Room, 26 South Molton Lane, Mayfair, W1K 5LF, UK.

If you want to watch the keynote for yourself, it’s on YouTube. The presentation begins around the 30 minute mark.


OnePlus News Round-Up



With only about a week to go before the launch of 6T, OnePlus have been busy keeping themselves in the news. Here’s a quick round-up of the latest tidbits on the smartphone front.

First up, OnePlus have brought forward their showcase event by a day to 29th October to avoid being overshadowed by Apple’s autumn announcement which was scheduled immediately after OnePlus’ original event. The location is unchanged and it’s still at 11am EDT/ 1500 GMT, Pier 36, New York City. Graciously, OnePlus has offered to cover the additional travel costs of ticket holders who need to change their arrangements.

Secondly, OnePlus have announced a slew of pop-up events in India, Scandanavia, Western Europe and North America. These start from 29th October and the 6T will be available for sale at the pop-ups.

Next, a leak on a German retailer’s website has confirmed that the 6T will come with a larger battery. The listed specs suggest that 6T will come with a 3,700 mAh battery rather than the 3,300 mAh of the 6. The listing mentions microSD for expandable memory which would be a first for OnePlus, so take that with a pinch of salt.

Finally, even though the 6T isn’t out yet, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has been commenting on the OnePlus 7 which will be one of the first phones to support 5G in 2019…whatever that means.