Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes a look at the Galaxy S11, two new surprising Samsung smartphones, three key OnePlus 8 features, the Nokia Power EarBuds coming to America, the Honor MagicWatch 2, the Mate 30 Pro review, and Android 10’s missing features.
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).
Is This The Galaxy S11?
Expected to launch in mid-February (just ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona), Samsung’s Galaxy S11 is making a number of design changes to stay on top of the current smartphone fashions. The latest leaks from Steve Hemmerstoffer lay out the changes, notably the new location for the selfie camera, the increased space for more camera lenses, and a curvier design. Damien Wilde looks at the new images:
According to these renders, Samsung is set to move the punch-hole on the Galaxy S11 to this central position. This makes sense as it can be disorientating on the S10 when taking a selfie, as the offset notch means you don’t always look directly at the camera.
The display also looks to return to the curvy style that was introduced back with the Samsung Galaxy S8. We can see softer corners and almost zero side bezels. A return to the curves helps differentiate from the boxier Note line a little further than it has recently. There is enough room for a thin earpiece on the 6.7-inch display but 91Mobiles notes that the side curves are set to be less pronounced as with the Galaxy S10. Recent OneUI 2.0 information hints at a 120Hz refresh rate on the AMOLED panel.
More at 9to5Google.
Samsung’s New Galaxy Dreams
Two new Samsung devices have been hinted at this week in various patent filings. The first is a cheaper Galaxy Fold like device. By dropping the screen on the outside of the handset and simplifying the construction, the South Korean manufacturer should be able to bring down the retail cost of the device, as I reported earlier this week:
As well as the cutting edge technology that led to a delay in releasing the handset for public sale, the other notable feature of the first Galaxy Fold was the launch price. Coming in at close to $2000, this was a price that reflected both the cutting edge technology and the presumably shorter production runs when compared to the Galaxy S and Galaxy A product lines.
So it makes sense that Samsung would – after another year of experience with filing displays, look to broaden the market out to more consumers with a cheaper device.
More on the new Fold here. The FCC has also published certification for an updated version of the S-Pen, and the theory goes that this is a stripped down S-Pen for a ‘Lite’ version of the Galaxy Note 10. SamMobile reports:
The FCC documents reveal that the Galaxy Note 10 Lite will have a Bluetooth-enabled S Pen like the one seen on the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Note 10. That shouldn’t be surprising, and we would be more interested to learn whether it will also have a gyroscope built-in to enable air gestures (called Air actions) like the Galaxy Note 10 S Pen. Given the Lite moniker, Samsung could bundle a Bluetooth-only S Pen with the device, although that is just speculation at this time.
And I have more thoughts on the Note 10 Lite here on Forbes.
Key Features For The OnePlus 8 And OnePlus 8 Pro
OnePlus is expected to launch the next iteration of its two smartphones in June 2020. The designs of the presumptively named OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus are likely locked in, and the leaks are starting to come out in regards hardware and features. I looked at three potential wins within the handset that we already know about, starting with the changes to the selfie camera:
The OnePlus 7 and 7T used a small teardrop notch, while the 7 Pro and 7T Pro used a motorised ‘pop-up’ selfie camera so the screen could be fully utilised. From the recent leaked schematics, both the regular and the Pro handsets look to be moving to a ‘punch out’ in the screen – with space for a single lens in the OnePlus 8 and a double-lens in the OnePlus 8 Pro.
More on the OnePlus features here.
Nokia EarBuds Coming To America
Following the announcement of Nokia’s new BlueTooth enabled earbuds at Berlin’s IFA trade show earlier in the year, the ‘Power Earbuds’ have been certified by the FCC, suggesting a US launch is close. Marin Ordulj reports:
These earbuds came as an upgrade to True Wireless earbuds that we had a chance to play with at MWC2019. Anyway, many were wondering where are those earbuds and when we will be able to see them on the market around the world. Well, it seems that Nokia BH-605 just passed the FCC certification process, and soon we should be seeing them at least at the US market. This test came after the earbuds passed the BT SIG certification.
More at Nokia Mob.
Honor Launches Magic Watch 2
This week saw Honor announce its latest smartwatch. Going on sale on December 12th (just in time for Christmas) and powered by Huawei’s Kirin A1 chip, the software runs Huawei’s own wearable OS rather than Google Wear. Eli Blumenthal reports on the key features:
Called the Magic Watch 2, the new smartwatch promises up to a week of battery life on its smaller 42mm version with the battery jumping to up to 14 days on the larger 46mm version. Both watches are powered by Huawei’s Kirin A1 chip, have 15 fitness modes for tracking your workout and can take calls over Bluetooth when near your phone.
Sleep tracking is also part of the new wearable, with the company touting that the Magic Watch 2 can “precisely track and diagnose six common types of sleep disorders and provide over 200 corresponding suggestions tailored to your sleeping habit” to help you sleep better.
More at CNet.
When Your Mate Is Missing Google
Also on the Huawei front, Andrei Frumusanu has been taking time to review the Mate 30 Pro. From a hardware point the phone has all the technology required. But can it satisfy without having access to Google’s mobile services?
Now, for people who don’t care tinkering even the slightest bit with their phone, is the lack of Google services and the Google Play store a deal breaker? I would definitely say that yes, it is a deal breaker.
While it’s possible to side-load the vast majority of applications that one uses on a phone, there’s a few core applications that for me would be critical. If not the Google Play store itself, then it would be Google Maps and YouTube. Whilst these are still accessible via browser, they’re not the same streamlined experience as the applications themselves.
The matter of fact here is that the Mate 30 Pro is simply a lesser device without the Google services and core applications. For people who cannot live without these apps, then the Mate 30 Pro isn’t a device for you.
More at Anandtech,
As with any project, not everything you want to make the final cut actually makes the final cut. That’s certainly the case with Android 10 which has seen a number of features left behind on the coder’s bench, such as the screen recorder. Corbin Davenport reports:
Android still doesn’t have a built-in screen recorder, while iOS has actually had this feature for a while. Android 10 looked like it might have addressed this problem, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
An experimental screen recorder appeared as a flag in the Android 10 betas, and it could be enabled from the Settings app. The feature basically didn’t work at all, but it showed Google was interested in the idea
More at Android Police.
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!