Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes leaked Galaxy S11 camera details, the OnePlus 7T Pro launches, latest OnePlus 8 leaks, Huawei’s new Google lifeline, unifying Android gestures, the Cosmo’s qwerty keyboard, Microsoft’s Android powered Surface device, and the Material Design award winners.
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).
Galaxy S11 Camera Details
More details on Samsung’s Galaxy S1 are coming out this week. The handset – expected to be revealed in February ahead of MWC 2020 – and the South Korean company is playing to its strengths with camera improvements one of the leading leaked features. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
Regarding the camera, The Elec reveals the Galaxy S11 has a massive 5x optical zoom which is already prepped for final testing. MecaTech Systems, a Korean manufacturer of test sockets for smartphone modules, has been brought in for the checks according to The Elec’s industry sources – and they have been right before.
Building on this, Ice Universe has teased fans with the news that “The S11 doesn’t just have a normal 5x optical zoom”. This is significant because Huawei delivered a 5x optical zoom in its P30 Pro this year, so Samsung is not simply playing catch-up. But exactly how Samsung is breaking the mould remains unknown. For now.
Meanwhile the forward facing camera on the Galaxy S11 looks set to be enhanced with three exposed sensors. One suggestion is this accommodates the addition of 3D facial recognition to unlock the smartphone. Chris Smith looks at the latest patent with the details:
As always with patents of any kind, the intellectual property that companies seek to protect might not always make it into consumer devices, and the same goes for this triple hole-punch camera. We might never see it on a phone, especially if under-display sensors are ready for prime time soon. Also worth noting is that the patent was filed last December.
Nevertheless, the fact that Samsung is considering including three sensors in a display is certainly revealing, suggesting that Samsung hasn’t abandoned the idea of having more sophisticated front-facing camera designs.
More at BGR.
OnePlus 7T Pro Launched In London
OnePlus has launched the OnePlus 7T Pro, the follow up to 7 Pro released this summer. Hardware is broadly similar, there is more RAM as standard (8 GB, up from 6 GB), a larger batter, and the latest SnapDragon 855+. But of the focus has been on software improvements in Oxygen OS. Josh Levenson reports:
Portrait Mode has been updated to work with the new two-times telephoto lens, and there’s a Super Stable Mode for shooting video.
This uses the handset’s “ultra-precise gyroscope” and software-based electronic image stabilisation to keep shots steady (both photo and video, OnePlus notes), regardless of how much the device is being thrown around – in theory, at least.
More at T3, and Forbes’ review of the OnePlus 7T Pro will be available soon.
Latest Leak Reveals OnePlus 8 Wireless Charging Test
Meanwhile, with a six-month cycle, the backroom team OnePlus will already be locking in the presumptively named OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro for a launch in the summer next year, so it should come as no surprise that details schematics of the OnePlus 8 have surfaced. They come with the suggestion of wireless charging finally arriving in 2020. I looked at the hints earlier this week:
Every smartphone is a collection of choices, and long ago (in smartphone design terms) OnePlus decided that rapid charging of batteries over a wired connection was a better choice than the convenience of slow but frequent wireless charging. 2019’s OnePlus handsets plough a lonely furrow in not carrying wireless charging.
Inside the new schematic is the ability for the presumptively named OnePlus 8 to be charged wirelessly.
The fact that this is featured in a detailed schematic eight months before the predictable release date is strong evidence that this is the planned route.
More here on Forbes.
Huawei Could Be Handed An Official Google Lifeline
In terms of hardware, Huawei’s Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro are two of the most accomplished smartphones this year, but they have been hampered by Huawei’s inclusion on the US Entitiy List, meaning that Google cannot provide software services to the Chinese-based manufacturer. While there are a variety of potential workarounds for individual users, a change in US Policy could see US companies that deal with Huawei given an exemption. David Phelan reports:
Well, the company really wants to be able to trade fully with the U.S. but is certainly making its own contingency arrangements such as building components of its own and its bespoke Harmony OS which will be able to run a smartphone soon, it seems.
…In the course of the trade talks that are coming soon, it’s highly possible that the U.S. Government will make more concessions. As soon as Google is on that list of licensed companies, then it’s really game on for Huawei: expect its latest phone, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro to make a showstopping entrance around the world.
More details from Phelan here.
Android 10 Heading To Your Nokia Handset
With the Android platform spread over so many partners, there is never a definitive day when Android 10 becomes the product over Android 9… each manufacturer and each handset has its own pace. With a renewed emphasis on updating handsets in the portfolio (as well as new releases), HMD Global has officially started its roll-out of Android 10, starting with the Nokia 8.1. Pranob Mehrotra reports:
HMD Global’s Chief Product Officer Juho Sarvikas, recently took to Twitter to announce the rollout. In his tweet, Sarvikas highlighted that the Nokia 8.1 is the first Snapdragon 710 powered smartphone to receive the Android 10 update. Along with the Android version upgrade, the update also packs in the Android security patch for September 2019.
More at XDA Developers.
Google Works On A Single Android Experience
As Android 10 rolls out, Google is using the opportunity to standardise the ‘initial’ Android experience on countless handsets from multiple manufacturers. There are conditions to follow for those wanting to sell handsets that use Google Services, and 9to5Google’s Ben Schoon reports on some of the details passed to the website:
Another interesting tidbit from the GMS [Google Mobile Services] document is that Google is essentially forcing OEMs to hide their own gesture navigation systems. While they can be included on a device, Google says that they cannot be advertised by the “Setup Wizard or any other method” including pop-ups or notifications. Obviously, these systems also cannot be the default option.
More at 9to5Google.
A Closer Look At The Cosmo
The followup to Planet Computers’’ clamshell ‘communicator/PDA’ styled Gemini PDA is close to shipping, and we’ve been getting a closer look at the Android powered throwback with memories of the Psion Series 5 and Series 5MX. Now with a screen on the clamshell lid that allows it to be more phone like when closed, Tim Anderson takes a look at the communicator ahead of its public launch:
Like the Gemini, it is a chunky affair, but a couple of millimetres thicker and fractionally heavier (326g). Despite that, it is a more attractive device, mainly because of the colourful 2″ external display, replacing a row of LEDs on the Gemini, and allowing you to make and answer calls, read messages, and more, without having to flip the device open.
“We’ve made it more of a phone, and also added a 24MP camera,” Planet CEO Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel told The Reg. Other new features include a dual-SIM slot, eSIM support, RAM increased to 6GB (from 4GB), and flash storage doubled to 128GB. There is also a fingerprint reader, NFC support, Bluetooth 5.0 and improved LTE connectivity.
A New Android Powered Device From Microsoft
Although it’s not called out as a Surface Phone, Microsoft’s launch of the Surface Duo offers a dual-screened Windows like experience based on an Android platform. With a suite of Android applications, this is as close as Redmond will come to returning to the smartphone market… even if it will not launch until this time next year, as I noted in my analysis of the new hardware.
To make the jump to an Android powered device (which the Surface Duo appears to be, although I suspect the exact software is still in flux) is a step up, but not a huge step up. A year of public testing on top of what will already have been gained in private testing, alongside the experience with app development, is still an ask, but perhaps not as much as many would think.
…And while Microsoft’s hardware still demonstrates what can be done in the space, much like Google’s Pixel and Nexus hardware, they are really out there supporting the cloud-based services that powers the whole Windows ecosystem.
More here on Forbes.
Google has awarded its ‘Best In Class’ Material Design trophies this week, and has used the opportunity to show off the variety of options available while still being regarded as ‘following the design goals’ of Material Design for Android apps. One of the winners was Trip.com and its use of a hierarchal design:
Trip.com created an excellent travel-booking experience for its global audience. The app’s layout and typographic scale construct a strong visual hierarchy that holds up across an impressive 19 supported languages. Cohesive iconography and playful colors (which all meet accessible contrast requirements) reinforce key actions and draw attention to important information
Find all the winners at the Google Design blog.
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!