Tag 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.


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 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.


Android Phone Apps Used in Ad Fraud Scheme



BuzzFeed reported, in an extremely detailed article, information about their investigation into a fraud scheme that involved more than 125 Android apps and websites, some of which were targeted ads.

Google has responded in a blog post on the Google Security Blog, with details about what they have done after BuzzFeed informed them about the ad fraud scheme.

In short, the scam involved the TechSnab botnet, which operated by creating hidden browser windows that visit web pages to inflate ad revenue. Google says that malware contains common IP based cloaking, data obfuscation, and anti-analysis defenses. Google also stated that the fraud primary impacted mobile apps. According to Google, those apps were monetizing by using AdMob.

So, basically, what happened was some nefarious people put a ton of effort into finding a way to make money by artificially inflating ad revenue in mobile apps. I find it disgusting that someone out there is so selfish and greedy that they felt the need to do this. I understand that people want to make money – but most people don’t assume that means it is ok for them to commit fraud.

Garbage like the malware used in the fraud scheme clutters up the internet. It has no legitimate purpose at all, and I’m glad that Google is actively tracking this operation.

The only good thing that has come from this situation is that it involved a collaborative effort between BuzzFeed and Google in order stop the problem. Google stated: “Collaboration throughout our industry is critical in helping us to better detect, prevent, and disable these threats across the ecosystem.” I’m hoping the collaboration will make it much harder for people to pull these kind of shenanigans in the future.

Image from StockSnap.io


OnePlus 6T Launch Event Announced



Right on schedule, OnePlus announced the time, date and place for the 6T launch event – 11am EDT, 30 October, at Pier 36, New York, USA. That’s 1500 GMT or 1600 BST for folks in the UK.

As usual, it’s a fan event with tickets available from the launch website. but you’ll need to get in quick. These typically sell out and are priced at UK£16 for early birds. Looks like you get a goodie bag and a free gift in the shape of Bullets Wireless (to complement the Bluetooth-only 6T).

Doors open at 9am, keynote starts at 11am and the event closes around 3pm.

Can’t get there in person? The event will be livestreamed, though I’d advise you to put your own reminder in the diary – the “Add to Calendar” feature seems to want to book 1/11/18 rather than 30/10/18.

And if that’s not enough, join the OnePlus 6T Launch Megathread.

Update: there’s a second launch site – 8:30 pm IST at KDJW Stadium, in New Delhi, India.


OnePlus Teases 6T on Twitter



OnePlus continues to build the hype ahead of the 6T smartphone launch with a teasing tweet on Twitter. Posted at noon GMT, the message simply says, “Check back in 24 hours for an exciting announcement. #OnePlus6T“, along with a photo showing the lower rear of the new smartphone. There’s not much to be gleaned from from the picture as it only shows the USB C port, a speaker grille, part of antennae and “Designed by OnePlus” written on the back.

Sticking to its biannual smartphone release strategy, OnePlus’ CEO Peter Lau all but announced the new device in an interview with CNET last week. The latest tweet reaffirms the new phone is expected to be formally revealed this month.

Ever since the 3 was followed by the 3T (which I currently own), OnePlus has followed a pattern of spring and autumn releases, with the later smartphone mainly being a boosted model with a faster processor. In 2018, it looks like the 6T will be arriving a month earlier and will be significantly different from the current 6.

Most notably, the 6T is coming with an in-display fingerprint sensor, Screen Unlock, but will be losing the headphone socket. After being a staunch support of the 3.5mm audio socket, it seems that this will be removed to make way for the fingerprint sensor. The headphone socket itself moved from top of the phone to bottom between the OnePlus 2 and 3 models, and with the fingerprint sensor moving from the rear of the phone to the display on the front, the space below the screen is needed. Goodbye headphone socket.

Diehards will be disappointed in the loss of the headphone socket but I moved to Bluetooth headphones at least a year ago and haven’t looked back. My latest tablet, the Huawei Mediapad M5 doesn’t have a socket either.

Fans of wireless charging won’t fare any better. OnePlus still haven’t included wireless charging in the 6T, claiming that the wireless charging needs to be on a par with their wired fast charging technology, Dash Charging. Lau says, “We’re working hard on this. When we get to the day that the wireless charging can get up to speed without the implication of heat that we expect, then I believe we can integrate the technology.

I think that’s a complete cop-out. Surely I can judge for myself whether I need slower wireless charging versus fast wired charging? I can’t believe that it’s been nearly ten years since the Palm Pre came out with wireless charging and it’s still not a standard feature on smartphones.

Flagship killer or not, the 6T can’t have everything and still be delivered at mid-range price, so it’s not unexpected to see some features left out. Nevertheless, the 6T is expected to see a small bump in prices, somewhere in the US$25 range, which still prices the smartphone very competitively. OnePlus is the now #4 smartphone OEM in Western Europe after Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

I’m hoping for a “just one more thing” moment and OnePlus introduces a decent spec tablet for half the price of the Samsung Tab S4!