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Android Circuit: New Galaxy Note 9 Feature Confirmed, OnePlus 6 Review, Radical Pixel 3 Design Leaks

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes new Galaxy Note 9 leaks, release date thoughts on the Galaxy S10, OnePlus 6 reviews and waterproofing discussions, Pixel 3 design leaked by Google, HTC launching the massive U12 Plus, Nokia 1 going on sale in UK, and BlackBerry Mobile teases the KEY2. 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[1]). Latest Galaxy Note 9 Leak

Although the under-screen fingerprint may have been dropped, the upcoming release of the Samsung Galaxy Note9 is expected to showcase Samsung’s latest efforts in the AI space with an updated digital personal assistant. Gordon Kelly reports[2]:

Speaking to The Korea Herald, Gray G. Lee, head of the AI Center Under Samsung Research, revealed the Galaxy Note 9 will be the launch device for Bixby 2.0. This may trigger sneers given the Bixby smart assistant has been widely derided since it launched with the Galaxy S8 last year, but not so fast.

Lee says Bixby 2.0 will be more than just a personal assistant. Instead, it will be an “artificial intelligence platform” which enhances the performance and user experience across the phone. The Assistant itself will also have enhanced natural language processing, improved noise resistance capability and faster response times.

How much of an impact that will have on the day-to-day use of the phablet remains to be seen. More here on Forbes[3].

Is Samsung Accelerating Galaxy Release Dates If the Galaxy Note 9 is going to be released early (with indications that a late July launch is possible[4]) what does that mean for the rest of the flagship line up over the next device cycle? It could be the South Korean company is getting ready to launch three key devices over twelve months, as I speculated earlier this week[5]:

Perhaps the early Note 9 appearance opens up the window for the Galaxy S10 to make an early run – and if it did that’s going to provide a lot of sales in Q1 2019.

Of course, this only works if Samsung has a third handset that will wow the press with a new design, show off a new user interface, with a radical approach to new technology, that could be revealed at MWC in late February 2019 to go on sale at the start of the second quarter.

At which point I’ll point out the Galaxy X and the mythical Samsung folding phone. More here on Forbes[6]. Ewan Spence

OnePlus 6 (Ewan Spence) OnePlus 6 Reviewed

This week saw the OnePlus 6 go on public sale, and the first full reviews of the Shenzhen-based manufacturers latest device were published. You can read the highlights here[7], before I sum up the internet’s impression:

Although the camera has improved it still misses out on that certain something to push it into challenging the top-line handsets. There is no IP rating for water or dust ingress and while it should survive a quick immersion I would have liked to have seen OnePlus reach the by-now defacto IP67 standard.

And while the move to a glass-backed device brings it into line with other fashionable phones, it also robs OnePlus of the signature metal back. But it still has a headphone jack, it retains Dual-SIM capability, and the OnePlus ‘three way’ slider for muting alerts or vibrations remains present. This is a solid iteration on the OnePlus design.

It moves with the times, although it doesn’t seem to have questions if the times are moving in the right direction. Yet the handset offers an experience that is almost at flagship levels, but for £300 less.

More OnePlus 6 reviews here[8]. One point that every picked out is the lack of an IP67 rating for the OnePlus 6.

This has become a defacto standard in high-end smartphones over recent years, and while OnePLus has waterproofed the handset, it’s tough to compare it without having a standard rating[9]:

If OnePlus is about challenging the flagship offerings from other devices then a defined standard is the way forward. it offers confidence to the public, it offers a measurable standard for the manufacturer to aim for, and it allows easy one to one comparisons. Apple waterproofed the iPhone 6S, and the subsequent iteration saw the iPhone 7 gain an IP67 rating. The campaign for the presumptively named OnePlus 6T to get the same rating starts here.

More on the waterproofing here[10].

Pixel 3 Design Leaked By Google Sometimes it’s the accidental leaks and images close to the source that are the most convincing. Tucked away inside the Android P developer code resources and graphics used by the UI, lies one clear (albeit slightly abstract) look at a mystery Google-branded smartphone.

Has Mountain View leaked the Pixel 3? Gordon Kelly thinks so[11].

Spotted by Slashleaks, I can confirm that buried within the current Android P beta settings (Settings > Sounds > Shortcut to Prevent Ringing) is Google showcasing the functionality using a new phone design which would be an absolute gamechanger. …the image shows a truly bezel-less device. No bottom chin, no notch, just the slender, consistent rim of the phone all the way around the display.

If this is the Pixel 3, then Google will be the first mass-market smartphone maker to essentially reach design perfection.

And it’s not like Google has made this graphical slip up before.

Kelly explains why this Pixel 3 leak feels genuine, here on Forbes[12].

Next: HTC reveals the U12 Plus, AndroidGo arrives in the UK on the Nokia 1, and BlackBerry teases the KEY2…

References

  1. ^ and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ Gordon Kelly reports (www.forbes.com)
  3. ^ More here on Forbes (www.forbes.com)
  4. ^ with indications that a late July launch is possible (www.forbes.com)
  5. ^ as I speculated earlier this week (www.forbes.com)
  6. ^ More here on Forbes (www.forbes.com)
  7. ^ read the highlights here (www.forbes.com)
  8. ^ More OnePlus 6 reviews here (www.forbes.com)
  9. ^ it’s tough to compare it without having a standard rating (www.forbes.com)
  10. ^ More on the waterproofing here (www.forbes.com)
  11. ^ Gordon Kelly thinks so (www.forbes.com)
  12. ^ here on Forbes (www.forbes.com)

The OnePlus 6 shows you don't need to splash out for an iPhone or Samsung to get a good phone

If you’re in the market for a brand-new smartphone, but don’t necessarily want to splash out upwards of £1,000 for the latest phones from Samsung or Apple, there’s never been a better time to buy a more affordable device. OnePlus, the phone-maker with ties to a massive but relatively unknown[1] Chinese consumer electronics company, has been cranking out impressively built and relatively low-cost phones for years[2]. Its latest offering is the OnePlus 6, which starts at £529, EUR519, or GBP469, depending on your region. Like many of the company’s offerings before it[3], the OnePlus 6 can go toe-to-toe with phones from more established manufacturers, although some compromises have to be made along the way to keep the price down.

Are the trade-offs worth the savings? Here’s a quick run-down of our thoughts after using the phone for a couple weeks:

What’s good

Decent battery life. The first weekend I had the OnePlus 6, I forgot it at work on Friday when it had about 50% battery, and came back on Monday to see it still had about 35%. It can last well through a day’s usage, and the quick-charging technology built into the phone means it should have enough juice to last an entire day from just a half-hour charge.

It’s a OnePlus. There are many little delightful design features OnePlus has introduced over the years. It was one of the first phones to have a function to tap to wake up the screen. It run a clean, almost untouched version of Android.

It has a three-way rocker button that toggles between silent, vibrate, and ring. It’s big. The phone features a massive 6.28-inch AMOLED display, meaning you won’t go blind using the OnePlus 6 as your only screen on commutes, trips, or even on the couch. It still has a headphone jack. Unlike most other major phones on the market these days, OnePlus still puts a regular headphone jack in its phones.

The company also recently released a decent[4], if slightly awkward, pair of wireless headphones, which does seem to suggest that it may eventually kill the headphone jack too.

OnePlus’ distinctive red charging cable. (OnePlus)

It’s still quite cheap. The OnePlus 6 is more expensive than previous models. The OnePlus 3, for example, started at[5] £399. But it’s well below many comparable phones, like the £850 Google Pixel 2 XL[6], the £700 LG G7 ThinQ[7], or the £800 Sony Xperia XZ2[8].

Quick unlock. The sensors included in the front of the phone offer a face-unlock function that’s like a boiled-down version of the FaceID feature on Apple’s iPhone X. It’s not quite as reliable as Apple’s technology, nor as secure, but still pretty speedy when it works. It looks kind of like an iPhone X. I don’t know if this is necessarily a good thing, but perhaps you’re the kind of person who wants people to think you’re fancier than you are.

It seems like a trend[9] in phone making right now.

What’s not so good

No wireless charging. The OnePlus 6 has a smoothed glass back. But that feature is not, like the back on the iPhone X, iPhone 8, or Samsung Galaxy S9, to enable wireless charging–instead it’s mainly just because the designers thought it looked and felt nice. The phone is potentially a fair bit more breakable than its predecessors (which mainly had sturdier, plastic backs) and there’s no added benefit of wireless charging.

For some reason, even the matte black finish has a glass back. (OnePlus)

It’s not waterproof. Many of the competing phones are water-resistant, and OnePlus has not figured out for the 6.

Unlocking can be annoying. The fingerprint reader on the back of the phone seems to only work when I place my finger in a very specific way, and although the face unlock works quickly, I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable relying on it to secure all the information in my phone. Which leaves you with the standard Android pin or pattern inputs to lock the device. Copycat design. As much as OnePlus likes to tout its uniqueness as a differentiator in crowded markets[10], there isn’t a whole lot about the design that feels unique.

The front looks like an iPhone X, and the back of like a Samsung Galaxy S9+:

You vs the guy she told you not to worry about pic.twitter.com/JnGvIbnzGQ[11] — Mike Murphy (@mcwm) May 24, 2018[12]

It’s big. Although having a large screen is lovely, the OnePlus is a cumbersome device to keep in your pocket, as all the larger smartphones are. But OnePlus doesn’t offer multiple sizes for the 6, unlike some of its competitors.

The camera is fine. One a clear day, the photos the OnePlus 6 can take look very good, as you’d expect from any decent modern smartphone at this point. But the dual 16- and 20-megapixel rear cameras aren’t as sharp as many of the cameras their competitors offer.

A few shots taken on the OnePlus 6 pic.twitter.com/oiF1pOwPvZ[13] — Mike Murphy (@mcwm) May 24, 2018[14]

But the camera sometimes adds odd coloration[15] to photos, and the portrait function wasn’t as sharp as what other dual-camera phones can do:

Consider how much having the absolutely best smartphone camera[16] means to you, instead of just a quite good one.

Should you get one?

The OnePlus 6 is a great phone for its price in 2018. But if you have the ability to shell out more, there are better phones out there. And if you’re looking to save some cash, there are other phones, like Nokia’s, that are even cheaper and provide a very fine smartphone experience.

This phone isn’t likely to win over any Apple converts.

But if you have a budget of about £500 and you’re after an Android phone, there’s not much better out there for the price.

Read this next: OnePlus says it beat Apple and Samsung in India through word-of-mouth[17]

Read full story

References

  1. ^ massive but relatively unknown (qz.com)
  2. ^ for years (qz.com)
  3. ^ Like many of the company’s offerings before it (qz.com)
  4. ^ a decent (www.theverge.com)
  5. ^ started at (qz.com)
  6. ^ Google Pixel 2 XL (qz.com)
  7. ^ LG G7 ThinQ (www.theverge.com)
  8. ^ Sony Xperia XZ2 (www.cnet.com)
  9. ^ seems like a trend (qz.com)
  10. ^ crowded markets (qz.com)
  11. ^ pic.twitter.com/JnGvIbnzGQ (t.co)
  12. ^ May 24, 2018 (twitter.com)
  13. ^ pic.twitter.com/oiF1pOwPvZ (t.co)
  14. ^ May 24, 2018 (twitter.com)
  15. ^ odd coloration (twitter.com)
  16. ^ absolutely best smartphone camera (www.dxomark.com)
  17. ^ OnePlus says it beat Apple and Samsung in India through word-of-mouth (qz.com)

Honor 7A and Honor 7C First Impressions

Honor 7A and Honor 7C are the latest budget smartphones from Huawei’s youth-focused brand to hit the Indian market. They have been launched within months of the Honor 7X (Review) and Honor 9 Lite (Review) coming to the country. As per a Counterpoint report, Honor was the fifth-biggest smartphone brand in India in Q1 2018 with around 3 percent market share, almost all of which comes from the sub-Rs.

15,000 price bracket. The Honor 7A and Honor 7C are the brand’s first smartphones to bring features such as face unlock, dual rear cameras, and 18:9 displays to the sub-Rs.

10,000 segment. In terms of pricing, the Honor 7A price in India has been set at Rs.

8,999. It will come with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and no other variant has been launched here. On the other hand, the Honor 7C has been priced at Rs.

9,999 for a variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, while the other option with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, has a price tag of Rs.

11,999. Strangely, the Honor 7C has been priced similarly to the Honor 9 Lite, which debuted roughly four months ago.

Honor 7A (front)

The Honor 7A will be available starting at 12 noon on May 29, exclusively on Flipkart. The Honor 7C will be available starting 12 noon on May 31, exclusively on Amazon.in. Alternatively, users can also purchase the handsets at Honor India’s own online store.

Both smartphones have a premium design and decent specifications, and the company hopes to take on the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi 5 (Review), Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (Review), and Oppo Realme 1 (Review). We got a brief look at Honor’s latest budget smartphones, and here are our first impressions. With a smaller 5.7-inch HD+ (720×1440 pixels) IPS LCD panel, the Honor 7A is definitely much sleeker and is easier to fit in your hand.

On the front, the phone has an 18:9 display with onscreen controls for Android navigation. Above the display are the front camera sensor, earpiece, ambient light sensor, and proximity sensor. On the back of the smartphone, you can spot the dual rear camera setup with an LED flash to one side.

There is also a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and Honor branding on the back. On the right, you get the volume keys above the lock/ power key. The of the handset has a slot to house two Nano-SIMs and one microSD card.

Finally, on the bottom of the phone, is a Micro-USB port, a 3.5mm headphone socket, and the speaker grille.

Honor 7A (back) On the inside, the Honor 7A sports an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, coupled with 3GB of RAM.

These two budget handsets are, in fact, the only Honor-branded phones in recent times to sport Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs. A variant with 2GB RAM and a single rear camera exists abroad but has not been launched in India. Performance with EMUI 8.0 seems fluid but you will have to wait till we finish our full review to see how this phone stacks up against the current competition at this price level.

Now, let’s talk about the Honor 7C. The larger 5.99-inch HD+ (720×1440 pixels) IPS LCD panel is one of the first things you’ll notice about the Honor 7C. Its design is largely similar to that of the Honor 7A.

The rear has a similar dual-camera module, plus the fingerprint sensor and Honor branding in the same spots. The placement of the buttons, sensors, and connectors is also the same. This phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, which is the same one that powers the Xiaomi Redmi 5.

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Both smartphones run EMUI 8.0 on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. With multiple feature additions over the years, the EMUI Android skin has somewhat matured and can be considered among the most versatile currently available.

It has a few nifty features such as Huawei Histen for better audio quality, Ride Mode for bikers, and single-touch fingerprint access to Paytm. It also has knuckle gestures, a one-handed mode, an intelligent messages app, and automatic toggles for Wi-Fi and mobile data. Our detailed review will list the pros and cons of the phones’ software.

In our initial experience with both the Honor 7A and Honor 7C, we found the UI to be snappy. However, bloatware is an issue. The Honor 7A and Honor 7C both have five preinstalled Gameloft games, social media apps such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Truecaller, and others including Netflix and UC Browser.

However, most of them can be uninstalled to clear up some storage space.

The Settings menu is also a bit cluttered and could be better arranged.

For full details of both the Honor 7A and Honor 7C, including their performance, battery life, camera quality and ease of use, be sure to check out our full reviews of these devices, coming up soon on Gadgets 360.

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