Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includesSamsung’s hidden selfie camera, secrets of the Galaxy S21, Qualcomm’s new SnapDragon, Honor’s View40 launch, OnePlus’ Android 11 update, LG’s 2021 plans, Planet Computers’ new 5G keyboard, and a mystery handset in Weezer’s new music video.
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 Prepares To Hide The Selfie Camera
Time and technology wait for no person, so with the Galaxy S21 series now in the marketplace, thoughts turn to both the upcoming and unexpected Note 21, and next year’s flagship Galaxy S. The obvious area of improvement – as it is with most smartphones in the current climate – is the camera. And Samsung looks to have cracked the selfie camera and how to hide it. Mihai M reports: GETSURNMANEHERE
“Samsung Display is seemingly getting ready to finally bring under-display camera technology to customers and the company has recently applied to secure the UPC (Under Panel Camera) trademark at KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office).
“The UPC / Under Panel Camera trademark concerns smartphone displays and TV display panels, but of course, we’ve already learned from Samsung that UPC technology will be adopted by a wider range of segments including portable computers”
Inside The Galaxy S21
With the Galaxy S21 handsets now in circulation it’s time for many to take them apart and see the insides. Thanks to PBKreviews, we’ve got a good idea on the construction of the S21 Ultra, and how easy it is to repair. Mark Knapp follows up:
“…perhaps Samsung is making a better effort to design repairable devices and cut down on products going into landfills, an eco-friendly effort that would line up with its exclusion of a charging brick with the phones.
“Not everything was so simple to disassemble, though. Of note were the front-facing camera, under-display fingerprint reader, and the battery – all of which were attached or glued into place.
Still, simplified repairability is a positive thing to see on a smartphone that’s likely to find its way into many pockets this year.”
Qualcomm’s SnapDragon ’S’ Update
Following this month’s release of Qualcomm’s top line SnapDragon 888 system on chip, the San Diego based company has announced a second chip for the top end. The SnapDragon 870 will sit between last year’s 865 and the 888. Chaim Gartenberg reports:
“Qualcomm says that the reason for the new chip is in response to manufacturer and market demands. The 870 is designed for companies that want to offer a top-tier processor but don’t need the absolute best features that the flagship Snapdragon 888 offers and the higher price tag that it demands. Instead, the company says that it expects that Snapdragon 870 phones should hit a sub-$800 price tag (although, confusingly, we’ve already seen Snapdragon 888 phones like the $799 Galaxy S21 start to bleed into that range).”
Honor’s First Handset As It Steps Out On Its Own
So far, Honor has had an eventful 2021 as an independent company. This week saw the launch of a new laptop (the 16.1 inch MagicBook Pro) and the next handset in the View range. Sporting the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 system on chip with 256 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM, the Honor View40 also comes with a DCI-P3 rated screen running at 120 Hz. Steve Dent looks over the feature list:
“The V40’s headline feature is the 6.72-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 800 nits of maximum brightness. It’s powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ processor and offers 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and a 4,000 mAh battery. The “Mahong-card” rear camera array offers a 50-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle and 2-megapixel macro camera, along with a laser module to improve focus. The 16-megapixel front camera is lodged in a pill-shaped cutout.”
More at Engadget. Of course the bigger question is Google Play Services. Honor is not on the US Entity list so the option to switch back to Google’s suite is there. Will it be taken up for an expected European launch later this quarter?
“…the international “View 40” version of the V40 may be able to ship with Google services on board. That would allow Honor to sell phones in Western markets and beyond without the huge disadvantage of having to rely on Huawei’s AppGallery, which still can’t compete with Google’s Play Store outside of China, where Google has no presence.”
OnePlus Begins Android 11 Push On Older Devices
With the latest OnePlus handsets from 2020 running Android 11, and the Shenzhen-based company’s long-standing promise to bring the software to older devices, it’s good to see the Android 11 beta for the 7 series handsets is on its way. The OnePlus forum has the details, including the headline points:
“System changes: Update to OxygenOS 11 version; Fresh new UI visual design brings you a more comfortable experience with various optimizations of details; Optimize the stability of some third-party applications and improve the experience”
LG’s 2021 Smartphone Plans
Will 2021 see one of the significant names in the smartphone market leave the field? Communication from its CEO would suggest this is being seriously considered. Song Su-hyun reports:
“Its CEO Kwon Bong-seok on Wednesday sent out a message to staff that hinted there would be a major change in the operation of the smartphone segment.
“…Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about time for LG to make a cold judgment and the best choice,” an LG official explained. “The company is considering all possible measures, including sale, withdrawal and downsizing of the smartphone business.””
What If The Keyboard Is Really What It’s All About?
If you are looking for a new 5G smartphone that comes with a physical qwerty keyboard, then Planet Computer’s Astro Glide will answer all your (potentially Psion tinged) dreams. Cam Bunton takes a closer look:
“That keyboard is the biggest talking point here though. It’s a full QWERTY keyboard which spreads across the entire base, which sits under the display.
“When you want to use it, you simply slide the display upwards in landscape mode, and the display then folds up and is held at an angle by a bespoke hinge system. In essence, turning it into a tiny laptop or Communicator style phone.”
If you’re a Weezer fan, you might have spotted Google’s Pixel 5 in the latest music video from the LA band. For everyone else, pay attention, it’s quite subtle. Ryne Hager spins the digital device:
“The final count varies slightly depending on whether you count the transformed Pixel 5 doorway/portal as time spent on-screen or not — that happens twice, and we didn’t — but you’ll notice that a Pixel 5 is visible for about 53 seconds during the three minute and forty-four second video. That’s a Pixel on screen nearly a quarter of the time.”
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!