Category Archives: Android

Nothing Launches Phone(1) from London



Carl Pei (and a parrot) launched Nothing‘s Phone(1) today in London. Starting in a café, moving to a theatre and ending at the after party, it was a surprisingly brief run through of the new phone.

The big thing is the glyph feature on the back. Glyph’s will be familiar to anyone who has played Niantic’s Ingress but simplistically it’s four shapes on the rear of the phone: a circle in the middle, a vertical line bottom centre, an angled line to right and an oval C round the cameras. The glyphs are multifunctional and can synchronise with ringtones, indicate who is calling, show charging activity or simply act as a light while recording video. There are videos of the glyphs in action over on Instagram.

Moving to the rest of the phone, the body of Phone(1) has an aluminium frame with a Gorilla Glass 5 front. Everything that’s touched is made of premium materials and where plastics are used, over 50% is either recycled plastic or a bioplastic. In what’s believed to be a first, any tin used inside the phone comes from recycled materials.

There’s a 6.55″ AMOLED 2400×1080 pixel display supporting HDR10+ with a 120Hz refresh rate so it’ll be smooth too. There’s some clever trickery involving flexible displays to make the bezels even all round – now that’s an attention to detail.

Round the back, there are only two cameras but they’re both pretty good. Both are 50 MP sensors and the main camera is a Sony IMX766. The ultrawide is a Samsung JM1 with a 114 degree view. These sensors are widely used and should take decent photos. If you want to see some untouched photos from the Phone(1), there’s a selection here.

Inside is Snapdragon 778+ processor which provides stability whilst still being fast and smooth. Carl says, “Buttery smooth” – I think we’ve heard that somewhere else already but I’m sure it’s true. A 7-series processor fits nicely into the upper mid-range as per expectations. While it may be the current flagship for Nothing, it’s not going up against those £1000 top tier devices.

Powering it all is a 4,500 mAh battery. Wired charging is 33W so should charge from flat in a little over an hour. There’s wireless charging at 15W and reverse wireless charging is 5W.

NothingOS is obviously based on Android and Carl was keen to point out that Android is good with loads of natice apps. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, as it were, so it stays close to the original. Nothing will develop software where they can add value, and in the first instance there’s extra software that works with Tesla Cars and NFTs. Both are hot at the moment, so quite understandable.

The Phone(1) is available in both black and white, and there are three RAM and storage combinations with prices to match.

  • 8GB + 128GB = UK£399 (this one seems to be only available in black)
  • 8GB + 256GB = UK£449
  • 12GB + 256BB = UK£499

There are some extras: a clear case is £25, a charger is £35 and screen protector is £19. The blurb suggests a screen protector is already applied to the phone in the box.

There will be open availability from 21st July but if you are really desperate to get one, hotfoot it round to the Nothing Kiosk in Convent Garden from 16th July.

Overall, The Phone(1) looks a good upper mid-range phone that’s priced a little below the competition: I’m thinking of the Xiaomi 12 and the OnePlus 9 though it’s a little more than the Nord 2. It will be interesting to see if the glyphs make interesting enough to stand out from the crowd.

Disclosure: I have a small shareholding in Nothing.


Android Released The Third Beta of Android 13



Google’s Android Developers Blog posted “Android 13 Beta 3 and Platform Stability” on June 8, 2022. It was written by VP of Engineering, Dave Burke. The blog post talks about the release of the third beta and platform stability.

Today, we’re releasing the third Beta of Android 13, taking us into the final phase of our cycle where we’re focusing on polish and performance. With Android 13, we’ve built on our core themes of privacy and security, developer productivity, and tablet and large screen support.

In the blog post, he mentions features in Android 13. This includes privacy features like the new notification permission and photo picker, to productivity features like themed app icons and per-app language support, as well as modern standards like HDR video, Bluetooth LE Audio, and MIDI 2.0 over USB.

They also extended the newer updates they made in 12L, giving you better tools to take advantage of the 270+ million tablet and large screen devices in active use.

Those who want to participate in Beta 3 on their Pixel device can enroll for over-the-air updates. Anyone who has previously enrolled will automatically get the June 8 update.

Regarding platform stability, they are asking all app and game developers to start their final compatibility testing now, and to prepare to publish their compatibility updates as soon as possible ahead of the final release. It is important for app and game developers to move quickly, because those who don’t may find their apps blocked until Android receives their updates. There are more details in the blog post for developers to consider.

Gizmodo explained that Android’s Beta 3 is now available as an over-the-air update to anyone already using Android 13 as their daily driver on a respective Pixel device.

Gizmodo also pointed out that this version of the Android beta has also reached Platform Stability, which means that the developer APIs and how apps perform on this next version of the operating system are final. According to Gizmodo, from here, until the software’s public release sometime in a few months, developer are to focus on app compatibility and overall quality.

The Android Developers Blog says that the Android Beta 3 can also be tested on tablets. According to the blog, Android 13 builds on the tablet optimizations introduced in 12L. As part of your testing, make sure your apps look their best on tablets and large-screen devices. You can test with the large screen features by setting up an Android emulator in Android Studio, or you can use a large screen device from their Android 13 Beta partners.


OnePlus Expands Nord Range with Two Phones and Earbuds



Never Settle LogoAfter a couple of leaks and a few heavy hints, OnePlus have announced that two new Nord phones and a set of Nord earbuds will be officially unveiled next Thursday afternoon (19th May).

On the phone side, there’s the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G, an upgraded version of the Nord 2 with the Oppo’s 80 W SuperVOOC charging system: that’s the same charge and battery tech as in the OnePlus 10 Pro. For comparison, the Nord 2 does 65 W and comes in at UK£369.

At the lower end, there’s the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. This will bring fast charging and a large battery in at an even lower price point than the CE 2 which drops in at UK£299. I doubt either phone will make it to the USA, which has a different OnePlus portfolio.

For Nord’s first audio product, there’s the Nord Buds. And that’s about all we know, though there are a few early release videos and rumours that suggest they’ll be US$40 for a set of wireless earbuds.

In the meantime, I here are my reviews of the Nord 2, Nord CE 2 (also below) and the Buds Z2. Hopefully they’d tide you over until next week…

 

 


OnePlus 10 Pro is Out of this World….nearly



OnePlus LogoOnePlus have announced the launch event for the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G in Europe, North America and India – it’s going to be 1500 BST on Thursday 31st March 2022. That’s next week and yes, the clocks go forward this weekend (if you are in Europe). The 10 Pro’s been available in China for a couple of months now, so it’s good to see it coming to other countries.

To celebrate the news and the on-going collaboration with Hasselblad, OnePlus strapped a 10 Pro to a weather balloon and sent it 38,000 m up to take a few pictures. Ok, so it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that….

The team built a light-weight module, nicknamed The Stratosphone, to house the phones and protect them from the wind and cold (-60 C). As remote control wasn’t possible – 38 km is a bit far for Bluetooth – a special app was developed to help take pictures and try to get the best shot possible. The team were able to retrieve the module and cameras – some of the pictures are spectacular! Click through on any of the photos to see more detail.

The OnePlus 10 Pro is the first OnePlus phone equipped with a camera system to take pictures in full 10-bit colour to deliver a more natural and delicate display of colour in every photo. In theory, the benefit of 10-bit colour is smoother colour transitions in photos without colour banding and the ability to manage 64 times more colour than in 8-bit colour. Although it might seem this would be imperceptible to most people, it means that professionals can work with the full10 bits before any final conversions for output.

Kate Parkyn, Associate Marketing Director, OnePlus Europe, said, “Since the launch of OnePlus 9 series, we have been in a close-knit strategic partnership with Hasselblad to co-create and improve on OnePlus flagship camera technology. This is the second year of our partnership with Hasselblad where we have further developed and improved the colour science with the second-generation Hasselblad Camera for Mobile. Our campaign is inspired by Hasselblad’s historical voyage to space to take images of the moon and we were confident that our camera too will be successful in delivering the same image quality. We are extremely delighted to see the stunning images of the horizon captured by OnePlus 10 Pro and proudly present this trusted camera quality to OnePlus users.

Anyway, great pictures and great news about the OnePlus 10 Pro launch next week (1500 31/3/22). Tune in on all the usual channels. Apparently pre-orders for the 10 Pro will entitle the purchaser to free OnePlus Buds Pro wireless earphones which is a good bonus.


Apple Launches AirTags and Find My Trackers for Android



Those who choose to travel during this holiday season should make an effort to keep a close watch on their baggage or carry-on items. Previously, Apple gave iOS users the ability to use AirTags to keep track of their stuff, and to identify when an AirTag has been placed on their stuff by a stranger. Now, Android users will have the same ability to protect themselves.

CNET reported: The new app, which Apple released on the Google Play store Monday, is intended to help people look for item trackers compatible with Apple’s Find My network. “If you think someone is using an AirTag or another device to track your location,” the app says, “you can scan to try to find it.”

The Verge posted a screenshot of what Apple’s Tracker Detect does. The screenshot shows a blue circle, with a smaller blue dot in the center. Three smaller circles show a key, a backpack, and an AirTag.

The screenshot includes the following text: “Tracker Detect looks for item trackers that are separated from their owner and that are compatible with Apple’s Find My network. These item trackers include AirTag and compatible devices from the companies. If you think someone is using AirTag or another device to track your location, you can scan to try to find it.”

As The Verge pointed out, the Tracker Detect will alert Android users if it finds a tracker that shouldn’t be there. However, it is “purely a manual search.” The Verge makes it clear: “Tracker Detect doesn’t help you keep track of the AirTags attached to an Apple account, so it’s not helping Android users actually use AirTags.”

In my opinion, it appears that Apple’s Tracker Detect could provide Apple users who have added AirTags to their belongings to quickly learn that a tracker that they did not put there has been detected. Tracker Detecter can provide Android users with the same information, but the user will have to do a manual search for the unknown tracker while scanning for it. That said, everyone traveling should always keep a close eye on their luggage and carry-on items.


DuckDuckGo Introduced App Tracking Protection for Android



DuckDuckGo has introduced App Tracking Protection for Android into beta. It is a new feature in their existing app that will block third-party trackers like Google and Facebook lurking in other apps.

Across all your apps, your personal data is being sent to dozens of third-party companies, thousands of times per week. This data enables tracking networks like Facebook and Google to create even more detailed digital profiles on you. With those profiles, tracking networks can manipulate what you see online, target you with ads based on your behavior, and even sell your data to other companies like data brokers, advertisers, and governments.

According to DuckDuckGo, over 96% of the popular free Android apps they tested (based on AndroidRank.org rankings) contained hidden third-party trackers. Of those, 87% sent data to Google and 68% sent data to Facebook.

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you are protected by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. This feature asks users in each app whether they want to allow third-party app tracking or not, with the vast majority of people opting-out.

Most smartphone users worldwide use Android, DuckDuckGo claims, where no similar feature to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency exists. As such, it makes sense for DuckDuckGo to create something similar that protects Android users from being tracked without their permission.

The App Tracking Protection from DuckDuckGo is currently in beta and is free. It blocks trackers it identifies in other apps from third-party companies (those different from the company that owns each app). The App Tracking Protection is built into the DuckDuckGo Android app.

I think this is an excellent solution, especially since it is created by DuckDuckGo, a company that clearly cares about privacy. It is unclear to me why Android smartphones don’t already have something like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency protections. In my opinion, users of Android phones should have the same protection as users of Apple’s iPhones and iPads do.


Xiaomi 11T Pro Charges to 100% in 17 minutes



After yesterday’s event by the #3 smartphone brand, it’s the turn of Xiaomi, #2 worldwide smartphone brand, to show off their latest gear, and it’s a tasty selection of tech. Amazingly, it’s taken Xiaomi only 11 years to get to #2 (#1 in Europe), and while it would be easy to say that they’ve benefitted from Huawei’s woes, they do make very competitive products.

Xiaomi 11T series
First out of the gate are Xiaomi’s new flagship phones, the 11T and 11T Pro. Available in three colours: Meteorite Gray, Moonlight White and Celestial Blue, Xiaomi has focussed on cinematography, from the recording all the way through to the viewing. Cinemagic, as they say. The company has created some pretty cool tricks, such as the video focussing on the loudest sound and has partnered with the Sundance Institute to provide classes on filming. There are three rear cameras, a 108 MP main shooter, a 120° landscape and a telemacro lens. The Pro offers end-to-end 8K HDR10+ video capabilities and Dolby Vision.

Under the hood, the 11T Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor whereas the 11T runs on the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Ultra. On the front, it’s a 120 Hz ActiveSync AMOLED TrueColour screen showing 1 billion colours protected by Gorilla Glass Victus. It’s a WQHD+ screen, which is 2960×1440. The screen received A+ from DisplayMate, setting or matching records in 14 display categories. Sound-wise, the phones come with dual speakers tuned by Harman Kardon, supporting Dolby Atmos.

Powering all this in the 11T Pro is a 5000 mAh battery which can be charged from 0 to 100% in 17 minutes using Xiaomi’s 120W HyperCharge. The 11T uses 67W TurboCharge which still charges to 100% in 36 mins. Charger comes in the box.

Pricewise, there are five models across the two phones.

Xiaomi 11T

  • 8 GB + 128 GB 499€
  • 8 GB + 256 GB 549€

Xiaomi 11T Pro

  • 8 GB + 128 GB 649€
  • 8 GB + 256 GB 699€
  • 12 GB + 256 GB 749€

There are some special offers on the pricing, so keep eyes open for those.

Mi 11 Lite 5G NE
Following on the from Mi 11 Lite and Lite 5G, Xiaomi also announced the 11 Lite 5G NE. A fun, light and slim phone at 158g and 6.9mm thick, it comes in four colours: Bubblegum Blue, Peach Pink, Charcoal Black and Snowflake White. The new phone has at 90Hz 10 bit AMOLED screen on the front and round the back, there’s a 64MP main lens, ultrawide and telemacro, plus a 20MP selfie. Powering all this is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G.

Pricewise,

  • 6 GB + 128 GB 369€
  • 8 GB + 128 GB 399€

Xiaomi Pad 5
Next, Xiaomi announced the Pad 5, an 11″ tablet with a 1600 x 2560 display in an aluminium frame and smart pen support. Driven by the Snapdragon 860, the OS has been beefed up with extra features and productivity tools. The battery is 8720 mAh giving 16 hours of video or 10 hours of gaming. I’m delighted to see this as I’m a fan of Android tablets with hi-res screens. Available in Pearl White and Cosmic Gray

  • 6 GB + 128 GB 349€ (299€ special offer)
  • 6 GB +256 GB 399€

You can watch the whole launch event here.