Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the Galaxy S11’s powerful problem, new fingerprint reading technology, Qualcomm’s latest chips, 5G phones From Nokia and OnePlus, 64 megapixels of Motorola, Niantic Labs shakes up smartphone realities, and a new CEO for Google’s parent company.
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).
One Galaxy S11 With Two Different Hearts
Once more, Samsung’s flagship handsets are going to be powered by a mix of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Samsung’s own Exynos system on chips. But the US-bound Qualcomm version is shaping up to be far more powerful than the alternative. Which puts Samsung in a quandary… do they increase the bill of materials cost so the Snadragon version can be available globally, throttle back the Snapdragon for worldwide equality, or allow two different grades of S11? Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
In a series of tweets, popular Samsung insider Ice Universe has revealed that the Exynos 990-based Galaxy S11 sold in Europe and Asia will be notably inferior to the Snapdragon 865-based version sold in the US. And that could have serious repercussions for all buyers.
After lauding the performance of Qualcomm’s newly unveiled Snapdragon 865 by revealing its first benchmarks, Ice lamented: “I hope that the Galaxy S11 all over the world uses the Snapdragon 865 processor. Exynos 990 cannot compete with it. This is the darkest period of Exynos. It has never been so embarrassing.”
An attendee holds the Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S10, left, and the Galaxy S10+ during the Samsung Unpacked launch event in San Francisco, California, U.S. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Samsung’s Fingerprint Choice
Will Samsung be considering a change in the fingerprint sensing technology used by the Galaxy range? Following the issues with fingerprints being mis-authenticated through certain screen protectors and subsequent code changes, would the South Korean company switch away from the ultrasonic scanner?Kate O’Flaherty looks at the choice:
Concerns about the reliability of Qualcomm’s ultrasonic tech had already been raised prior to the debut of the 3D Sonic Sensor in December 2018. “Samsung Electronics applied the ultrasonic fingerprint scanners to its new smartphones despite lingering security concerns,” an official from a telecommunications company told The Korea Times on condition of anonymity. “The latest security issue involving the new technology could cause other smartphone manufacturers to hesitate to adopt it.”
Luckily, Qualcomm announced an upgraded 3D Sonic Max fingerprint sensor this week (alongside the new SnapDragon chips). Expect this improved hardware with a wider sensor area and improved discrimination of false fingers to feature in the Galaxy S11:
“What we’ve done is collected and bought [with Samsung] multiples of these phone covers, and we’ve created anti-spoof algorithms that are already released into the market,” Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at Qualcomm, said in an interview ahead of Qualcomm’s technology conference being held this week in Hawaii. “There’s nothing wrong with the fingerprint sensor design.”
But Qualcomm’s trying again. The company on Tuesday at its third annual Snapdragon Technology Summit introduced its new fingerprint sensor, the 3D Sonic Max.
OnePlus Turns Up The 5G Speed With T-Mobile And McLaren
With T-Mobile switching on its 5G network in the US, the 5G handsets have started to roll out. Alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 +, the 5G McLaren Edition of the OnePlus 7T Pro is available to consumers. With the extra branding from the McLaren Formula One team – utilising carbon fiber, Alcantra fabric, and McLaren’s signature papaya orange – the focus is on speed and increased performance. Ryne Hagar has more details:
The T-Mobile version of the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren matches what we previously saw in other markets. Namely: it’s a souped-up 7T Pro with a few gigs of extra RAM (8 -> 12GB) and an oil-sheen etched “Papaya Orange” rear design. You otherwise get the same Snapdragon 855 Plus, 4085mAh battery, 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage, Oxygen OS spin of Android 10, and the same triple camera configuration. Apart from potentially faster network speeds, it should otherwise offer the same experience we noted in our review of the 7T Pro.
Get Ready For A Mid-Range 5G Nokia Handset
Also turning up on the 5G radar is HMD Global, which teased a 5G enabled Nokia handset at Qualcomm’s launch even for the SnapDragon 865 and 765. It’s the latter that has caught HMD Global’s attention, as it is a lower-specced processor compared to the 865 but does integrate a 5G modem, making it attractive to a handset manufacturer with a strong presence in the mid-range market. Chaim Gartenberg reports on the new chips:
Announced alongside the 865 is Qualcomm’s other new processor, the Snapdragon 765, which will feature integrated 5G. However, it’ll be part of a less powerful processor than the 865, which will likely power the next wave of Android flagships in 2020.
Qualcomm has been teasing that it would offer Snapdragon chips with integrated 5G modems since February. It even confirmed at IFA 2019 that it would be offering a 700-series processor with integrated 5G. But it’s still odd that Qualcomm would choose the less powerful chip to serve as its initial integrated 5G product, leaving the next-generation mobile standard as a separate (albeit mandatory) component for its top-of-the-line flagship 865 model
But First, The Two Point Three
Before the 5G handset arrives, HMD Global has a new handset announced just in time for Christmas. The Nokia 2.3 was announced this week in Cairo, featuring a slew of features that mark out this as one of the better value smartphones at the lower end of the market. Stipan Hržić reports:
The device comes with a 6.2-inch screen in HD+ resolution. The screen has a waterdrop notch where the 5MP front camera is placed, that supports face unlock. The backside features the interesting 3D nano coating, something similar we saw on the Nokia 1 Plus.
The device is powered by MediaTek’s Helio A22 and 2GB of RAM, as well as 32GB of internal storage and support for MicroSD card. The Nokia signature 2-day battery life promise is also there, thanks to a 4000mAh battery and Google’s Adaptive Battery feature. On the sides of the device there are volume rockers, a power button and a Google Assistant button. FM Radio is there, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.