August 29: Galaxy Note 20 Pre-order success noted; post originally published August 28:
Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes Samsung’s Note 20 killer, a new Galaxy S20, Sony’s latest Xperia details, Android 11 removes camera features, new OnePlus smartphone leaks, Fairphone 3+ launch, and why a good Android tablet is hard to find.
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).
Samsung removes Key Galaxy Note 20 Advantage
Now that every flagship phone is a phablet, the big draw of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series is the support for the S-Pen, both in software support and the ability to carry the pen inside the handset. The knock on effect of that could be the Note series is overtaken by the Z Fold as the business offering. Adnan Farooqui reports:
“If this information is accurate, it would mean that the Galaxy Note 20 is the last iteration of this iconic series. Samsung might feel that doing away with it is a great way to secure a significant market share for the Galaxy Z Fold series. Shipping an S Pen with the foldable might be enough to entice Galaxy Note loyalists to switch. Samsung’s margins on the Galaxy Z Fold handsets may also be enough to allow it to strike a balance between the number of units shipped and the amount of revenue generated compared to a Galaxy Note device.”
Healthy Note 20 Pre-orders In The UK
Added August 29: This isn’t having an immediate impact on the Galaxy Note 20. UK pre-orders for the phablet have seen a jump of nearly fifty percent since they were opened after the August launch at the Samsung Unpacked event. From Samsung’s press release:
“Following the launch of the Note20 series this month, Samsung has seen record numbers of UK pre-orders for the Note family of devices – with a 49% increase in comparison to the Galaxy Note10 range. Across the Galaxy Note20 Series, the stunning Mystic Bronze colour variant has proven to be the most in demand amongst customers, making up almost half (46%) of sales.”
Will this loyal customer base be happy with a ‘looks like a Note, acts like a Note, isn’t called a Note’ if Samsung moves ahead with the Galaxy S plan?
Samsung Just Rocked The Galaxy S20 World
Let’s face it, Samsung has a lot of Galaxy models out there when you look at the premium S and Note ranges. But the bed S20 may not be launching until October this year. With higher specs and a lower price than the S20, is the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition the best value Galaxy in 2020? Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
“It has the same stylish design and premium Snapdragon 865 chipset, support for 5G and up to 8GB RAM. But it also has a display which is 0.2-inches larger than the Galaxy S20 at 6.4-inches and, unlike the Note 20, its display supports 120Hz fast refresh rates. It also comes with up to 512GB of internal storage, more than both of them.
“The camera system is excellent as well. The Galaxy S20 FE has the same triple camera setup as the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 (phones which, arguably, take better photos than the flawed S20 Ultra). Meanwhile PriceBaba states the Galaxy S20 FE will have a 32MP front facing camera, which is a big resolution jump from the 10MP module in the S20 and Note 20.”
Here Comes The Next Xperia
Sony’s next Android smartphone, the Xperia 5 II, is expected to be launched on September 17. It’s looking to challenge the established flagship devices, and the latest specs have leaked. Alexander Maxham has the details:
“The Xperia 5 II will sport a 6.1-inch Full HD+ HDR OLED display. Complete with a 21:9 aspect ratio, as Sony is continuing with its CinemaWide marketing for its smartphones. And it also sports 120Hz refresh rate – with 240Hz Touch scanning rate. That means that Sony is the latest to join the 120Hz club.
“…Under-the-hood, the Xperia 5 II is running the Snapdragon 865 chipset (notably, not the Snapdragon 865 Plus), 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Sony is keeping the micro SD card slot here, allowing users to expand storage.”
Android 11 Restricts Camera
Google will be removing the option for apps to use third-party camera apps in Android 11. Today, when an app calls for a camera it presents the ‘app picker’ of the built in camera app or any installed camera app. This restriction is only for apps calling or the camera, third-party camera apps can still be used directly. Paul Monckton reports on the thinking behind the choice:
“The new restriction exists to prevent apps from grabbing your location without permission. Even if an app has been denied access to your location data, it’s still possible to circumvent this restriction when using third-party camera apps.
“The problem arises because camera apps typically embed location data within their image files, and without the new restriction there’s no way to prevent this information from being returned to the calling app along with the photo.”
New Leak Reveals Latest OnePlus
Is there a fourth OnePlus handset turning up this year? Following the release of the mid-range OnePlus Nord in July, the Shenzhen-based company is working on a handset targeting the lower end of the market… essentially a OnePlus Nord Lite (which itself feels like a OnePlus 8 Lite, so is this a OnePlus 8 Lite Lite?). Holly Brockwell reports:
“Known internally as ‘Clover,’ the OnePlus Nord Lite will retail “in the vicinity of $200” in the US… which is pretty damn cheap for any phone, never mind one that will allegedly have a whopping 6,000mAh battery (most phones hover around 3,000 on average, although flagships are of course higher).
“While you shouldn’t expect too many other mind-blowing specs for that price, the leak suggests the phone will still be surprisingly good for the cost. It will apparently run on the Snapdragon 460 chipset (the existing Nord runs on the Snapdragon 765G), and will include 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage.”
FairPhone Launches New Handset And Replacement Cameras
The Dutch-Based smartphone manufacturer Fairphone has announced the Fairphone 3+, with a bump to the camera specifications over last year’s Fairphone 3. The commitment to sourcing recycled materials, responsibly sourced raw materials, and improved worker representation remains. From the press release:
“The refresh upgrades the rear camera from 12 megapixels to 48 megapixels, and the front camera from 8 megapixels to 16 megapixels – giving users sharper selfies and clearer video calls. The cameras also feature enhanced object tracking, faster autofocus and image stabilization for more reliable shots. In addition, software optimization provides an outstanding user experience. Besides technical improvements, the Fairphone 3+ contains 40% recycled plastics, the equivalent of one 33cl plastic bottle, which is a much higher percentage than Fairphone 3 (9%).”
And for those with the Fairphone 3, you can pick up the new camera modules, unscrew a few screws, and swap out the old modules for 70 Euros. There’s a spirited discussion around the handset on Reddit.
Are Android tablets up to the job? CNet’s Iyaz Akhtar thinks not. In his words “Android tablets just don’t cut it”. The root cause is not just with the UI (although let’s be honest, that’s not great), but also the lack of OS updates and long-term support.
“If you look at tablet competition from Apple or Microsoft, you’re probably getting updates for five years easily. Apple’s latest iPadOS 13 works on the iPad Air 2, a device that was released in October 2014. Then there’s Microsoft. It’s a company famous for providing updates for years and years and years (sometimes to its own detriment). While the tablet applications on Windows tablets may not be as polished as iOS or Android apps, you get the ability to run full-on programs without compromise. And Microsoft has this whole multitasking thing down to a science using a windowed operating system.”
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!