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 or Galaxy S20 mystery, Samsung’s slower screen, the OnePlus 8 Lite leak, another smartphone with a removable battery, Huawei’s struggle with Google in the Honor V30 Pro, more Android 10 handsets from Nokia, Pixel 4 problems, and a successful year for Pokemon Go.
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).
What’s In A Name For The Galaxy S11… Or The Galaxy S20
There’s been a lot of talk this week around the presumptively-named Galaxy S11, because it’s still up in the air if Samsung is going to go with the continuation number from the S10, or make a numerical jump to S20, perhaps because there is a big jump in technology, perhaps the team just like S20 in 2020. Matt Evans looks at the evidence:
“Whether the buzz since is genuine or whether people are simply capitalising on the latest controversial Samsung rumours remains to be seen, but the case names are the most concrete evidence of the change we’ve seen so far.
“Perhaps the S20 will be part of a new naming convention – a new Samsung for a new decade. If models continue to be released annually going forward, they will match the year of release, such as the S21 in 2021 next year.”
More at T3. One name that has been cleared up is the codenames, with Samsung’s registration for the February 11th launch date using the ‘Hubble’ and ‘Bloom’ titles in the URL – the development names of the Samsung S20 (neé S11) and Galaxy Fold 2.
Where’s My Fast Galaxy Screen?
Irrespective of the name, will Samsung ship the Galaxy S11 with fewer functions than expected. The ‘Director Mode’ in the camera, which would allow for automatic camera switching while taking videos; and the ability to run the high resolution 2K screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. Alan Friedman reports:
“Several tweets from tipster Ice Universe (@UniverseIce) indicate that the latest version of the test firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra deletes the 120Hz refresh rate at 2K resolution leaving 60Hz as the only option. However, at FHD (1080p) resolution, the user still has the choice of choosing a 120Hz or 60Hz refresh rate. In addition, it seems that one of the rumored camera features for the Galaxy S20 Ultra has been deleted from the latest test firmware; this would be the Director’s View feature which locks in on a subject when recording a video and switches instantly between cameras while recording video.”
More at Phone Arena. It’s also worth pointing out that Samsung could be shipping the handsets with the hardware that allows for these features, but the software isn’t ready yet. If that’s the case, the South Korean company could ‘switch on’ these features with a software update in the future.
OnePlus 8 Lite Leaks
OnePlus has been showing off its ‘concept One’ phone at CES this week, but CEO Pete Lau was also carrying a tupperware box of handsets, and a mystery OnePlus was spotted and snapped. Is this the potential OnePlus 8 Lite model?, I looked at the potential earlier this week:
“…the big deal is obvious. Three lenses to the camera.
“This is a big deal because previous leaks around the hardware have suggested that this new line of smartphones from the Shenzhen-based company would be a dual-lens affair at the rear. If I had to hazard a guess I would expect the proliferation of triple-lens cameras has seen the benefits of economies of scale and it is cheaper to source triple-lens camera units.”
Samsung’s Removable Battery
Although it is not a flagship handset, Samsung’s recently announced XCover Pro is a rugged smartphone that comes with a number of advantages, including an IP68 rating for protection against dust and water, robust protection against falls, and a curiously old fashioned touch with the power. Jon Porter reports:
“Samsung’s new Galaxy XCover Pro is a rugged smartphone that features a removable battery, a feature that’s almost unheard of in a modern phone. So, if you’re prepared enough, you can easily swap out the phone’s 4,050mAh battery with a fully charged spare when its power runs dry. The device was technically launched last week in Finland, but Samsung did it so quietly that at least one report had it pegged as an unannounced handset.”
Honor V30 Pro Shows Huawei’s 2020 Struggle
The Honor V30 Pro has impressive specs for a mid-range handset, almost at flagship levels; a flattering design with a triple lens camera at the rear, and dual band 5G support. But it also comes with a problem that parent company Huawei are going to face at every turn in 2020. The lack of Google Mobile Services.
“Due to the U.S. government’s export ban, the Honor V30 Pro, just like the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, ships with an open-source version of Android 10 without core Google apps — known as the Google Mobile Services (GMS) — inside. While there will be hacks to get Google apps on the phone, I tested the phone as it ships and found the lack of GMS a major hassle, but not crippling to the point of making the phone unusable.
“For one, Honor’s own email client supports gmail, and things like YouTube can be accessed via the web browser. Other ubiquitous apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all work fine too, as they’re not part of the GMS. But not having Google Maps became problematic, as running the service through a web browser loses crucial navigation features, and the map alternatives on Huawei’s app stores all pale in comparison to Google’s.”
Android 10 Continues Roll-out to Nokia Phones
HMD Global is continuing the roll-out of Android 10 across its portfolio, with the Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 7 Plus next in line. Not only is it providing these in a timely fashion, it is also showing that the commitment to two years of updates is still strong. Pranob Mehotra reports:
“As per a recent report from FoneArena, the update has already started rolling out to the device globally and it brings the Android security patches for December 2019 in tow. HMD Global launched the device back in August of 2018 and it ran Android 8 Oreo out of the box. The device was subsequently updated to Android 9 Pie later that year in October. With the Android 10 rollout, HMD Global has fulfilled its promise of delivering two Android OS updates to the device and we expect the device to receive security updates for another year.”
Pixel 4 Facing A Few Recognition Problems
The last few months have seen a number of Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL dealing with facial recognition problems on their handsets, with struggles to have their faces be verified. With no fingerprint sensor to fall back on, these users are relying on pin numbers and passwords for access.
“For many, the issue first appeared immediately after receiving one of Google’s (recently delayed) monthly security updates, though it’s also occurring without any apparent triggering action for others. Although there are reports of the issue at venues like the Pixel support forums, Reddit, and the XDA Forums, with some threads around 20-40 comments deep, the problem doesn’t appear to be particularly widespread.
“…We’ve reached out to Google about these reports, and it’s looking into them. In the meantime, those affected can attempt a factory reset as a last-ditch solution, though it doesn’t always fix the issue. “
There’s a huge success in the Android games market just now, with Nintendo’s Pokemon Go (developed by Niantic) having it’s best year ever of sales, despite being launched way back in 2016. Craig Chapple has more numbers:
“Pokémon GO caught most of its 2019 revenue in the United States, where it picked up $335 million, or 38 percent of all user spending. Japan ranked No. 2 for revenue with $286 million, or 32 percent of the total, and Germany was No. 3 with $54 million, or 6 percent.
“…While many top mobile games gross more on iOS, Pokémon GO has historically generated the majority of its revenue on Android. To date, Niantic’s hit has racked up more than $3.1 billion in lifetime player spending.”
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!