Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes a review of the surprising Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live, three new Nokia handsets, another flagship killer from Xiaomi, the OnePlus 8T announcement, Android 11 reviewed, and Zoom adds Android backgrounds…
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).
The Late Running Galaxy S20 Is Winning
Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, some seven months after the first S20 launched, is a curious beast. Yes it feels like a way to keep the S20 feeling fresh ahead of the Christmas rush, but it also feels like the base Galaxy S20 that should have been on sale in February. Andrew Hoyle reviews the latest addition to the S20 family:
“The price might be more affordable, but the key specs don’t seem to have suffered all that much. There’s a 6.5-inch, 2,400×1,080-pixel super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and a lightning-fast Snapdragon 865 processor (for the 5G models; there’s an Exynos 990 chip in the 4G models — the same one found in the Note 20 Ultra and S20 Ultra).
“…No, this phone isn’t a revolution in mobile technology, but that’s not what Samsung needs to do right now. What it should be doing is offering a solid all-round experience at a more attractive price, which on paper at least is exactly what the S20 FE provides.
Read the full review at CNet.
Reviewing A Different Design Of Earbuds
Also reviewed this week are Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live. The South Korean company has pushed away from the regular design of wireless earbuds for this model. With a kidney bean inspired shape and an open design, they sit just outside the ear canal. Aamir Siddiqui describes the benefits of the design:
“…the Galaxy Buds Live have a unique design, one that does set it apart and ensures that no one mistakes them for an AirPod or any other TWS on the market. The design works out for short and medium wear durations for me. But because the TWS are so different, the comfort and the fit does boil down to the individual and the shape and size of their ear. It’s difficult to label it “good” or “bad”; it’s just “different” with no real mainstream comparison. Samsung wanted to give the earbuds its own identity, and they have been pretty successful to that end.”
The full review can be found at XDA Developers.
Three Nokia Handsets Reach The Market
HMD Global has released the Nokia 8.3. The 5G smartphone also packs in a ‘PureView’ four-lens camera with Zeiss options, and the Ozo audio tuning software. PocketLint’s Chris Hall takes a closer look, noting the size and the customary low-friction finish on the handset:
“It’s a good looking phone, but apply a little more scrutiny and we can’t help feeling it’s a little large: the screen could reduce the bezels, especially at the bottom of the display, although we appreciate the curves to the rear which make it sit in the hand nicely. It’s a bit of a slippery fish though and given the high gloss finish, it would be a shame to put this phone in a case – but we feel that will be necessary to keep it looking good.”
This isn’t the only Nokia handset from HMD Global this week. further down the portfolio, with the Nokia 2.4 and 3.4 models fitting in exactly where you would expect the ‘2’ and ‘3’ models:
“The Nokia 3.4 is powered by the Snapdragon 460 chipset with an octa-core CPU – HMD says its CPU is 70% faster than Nokia 3.2’s quad-core processor. It runs Android 10 now and is ready to make the jump to Android 11 in the future. The handset is equipped with 3GB of RAM and 64GB storage and supports microSD cards up to 512GB.
“…The Nokia 2.4 is larger than both its predecessor (the 2.3) and its new sibling (the 3.4). It packs a 6.5” LCD with 720+ resolution (20:9). The battery is bigger as well, it has 4,500 mAh capacity. Unfortunately, it charges at 5W over outdated microUSB.
The phone is powered by the MediaTek Helio P22 chipset, which is similar to the A22 found in last year’s Nokia 2.3 though now with an octa-core CPU. It’s paired with 2GB of RAM and 32 GB storage and there’s a dedicated microSD slot.”
More at GSM Arena.
When Flagship Killers Become Flagships
Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Pro is the latest handset to pick up the challenge of becoming a flagship killer. The team at GSM Arena have spent some time with the handset to find out if this is really the case. The short answer is yes, but at 1000 euros there’s a question about how it is being pitched:
“This is definitely not a ‘flagship killer’. It’s a proper high-price flagship, and it’s Xiaomi’s first mainstream high-end phone to be that. And so a lot of people expecting something else may be in for some sticker price shock. While you could find it for less than that right now, this is still very far from an affordable device, and so Xiaomi’s challenge here is whether people will adapt to this new reality, in which the company is also offering true flagships alongside its usual ‘flagship killers’.”
You can read the full review here.
Time For T
OnePlus has announced that it will be announcing is next handset on October 14. Beyond the marketing phrase of “ultra stops at nothing”, the OnePlus 8T needs to fit into a 2020 portfolio that already has the OnePlus 8, the 8 Pro, and the Nord. If the leaks around price suggest anything, it suggests the T may slot in-between the 8 and the 8 Pro… which would break the historical precedent of updating both the summer handsets with T variants, as an 8T Pro has not (yet) been announced. Jitendra Soni and Tom Bedford report:
“The OnePlus 8T is one of the next big phones coming in 2020 – we mean ‘big’ as in ‘popular’, but it seems the price could be something else that’s ‘big’, according to a new leak which has just given us an idea at how much it could cost.
“…According to the leak, the OnePlus 8T will cost €799 (roughly $940, £730, AU$1,300) for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, and then €899 (about $1,050, £830, AU$1,470) if you want 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.”
More at Tech Radar. And following the traditional OnePlus announcement of the announcement comes the OnePlus interviews that reveal a new feature every day of the week; this week including a confirmation of the screen refresh rate, faster 65W charging, color accuracy measurements, and a potentially higher than expected price of 799 euros for the entry-level model.
The Android 11 Review
Following a long process of private and public beta releases, Android 11’s full rollout started earlier this month on Google’s Pixel smartphones and a handful of other partners (with more to follow). Ron Amadeo has taken a deep dive to review the OS in Are Technica’s annual opus. Let’s set the scene:
“Last year, Android 10 was a massive release, adding gesture navigation, a dark mode, Project Mainline, a dual-boot system, scoped storage, foldable smartphone support, and a million other things. In comparison, Android 11 is more limited. This being the annual Ars Technica review, however, there are of course still plenty of things to talk about—like yet another notification panel revamp, a new media player, chat bubbles, smart home controls, and more.”
The full review is at Are Technica.
The latest update to Zoom’s Android client has added in virtual backgrounds to the videoconferencing application. The feature has proven popular on desktop clients to create a more studious look for those working at home, and will be welcome by countless users. Hagop Kavafian reports on the changes:
“Although Zoom’s Android app now lets you add virtual backgrounds, these can only be still for the time being, as videos aren’t supported yet. Despite this limitation, the feature works well, and Zoom was even able to recognize our green Bugdroid and separate it from the background, as shown above.
“On top of this addition, Zoom’s Android app now integrates with your schedule, making it easier to hop into a meeting without having to open your calendar and manually tap your next meeting’s URL.”
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!