Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes leaked Galaxy S21 benchmarks, a new Galaxy Fold design, another Galaxy Note goodbye, Huawei’s Google Maps alternative, OnePlus’ big week of cameras, Qualcomm’s new SnapDragon, Google’s enterprise program expansion, and how to learn a new accent with your phone.
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).
Galaxy S21 Benchmarking Numbers
This week saw Samsung’s upcoming flagship show up on the popular benchmarking site Geekbench… and the numbers were lower than expected. In fact the numbers failed to match up to 2020 handsets running the soon to be superseded SnapDragon 865 system on chip. Not to fear though, as Tom Bedford reports, Samsung should see that number rise up as the expected January launch approaches:
“It’s likely the Galaxy S21 though, but given that the phone is still likely over a month away, we’d expect Samsung is still tinkering with the handset software, and has yet to fully optimize the phone.
“The poor benchmarking tests could be due to this, and we’d expect Samsung to improve the phone’s performance between now and its launch. We often find a phone’s power is less dependant on its hardware than on how the manufacturer tweaks its software to work with said hardware, and it’s likely the same here.”
There’s More Than One Way To Fold A Samsung
Last week saw Samsung Display’s latest presentation suggest a number of foldable screen options. One was a bi-fold screen, literally in the shape of a Z, This could be set up in portrait or landscape mode; the former leading to a very small form factor version of the Galaxy Z Flip, with the latter going for a long and thin enhancement to the Galaxy Z Fold. The second was a winged model with the two edges folding into the main screen. The team at Let’s Go Digital have taken the cartoon references to come up with a clearer demonstration of the potential:
“The first model is a relatively broadly designed smartphone. Even when folded, this device is wider than a modern phone. The middle display part is twice as wide as the other two display parts. This model most closely resembles the foldable smartphone that Xiaomi showed at the beginning of 2019 – with one important difference, the patented Samsung phone is an inwardly folding device. This way, the screen remains optimally protected when you take it with you in your pocket.”
Galaxy Note’s Goodbye Note
There has been a lot of discussion around the future of the Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. Once seen as revolutionary with its large screen and stylus action, the family of devices is losing its unique position in the portfolio as the capabilities of the Galaxy S class meet the Note, and the innovation goes to the Galaxy Z foldable. Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang report on the growing discussions of an upcoming cancellation“
“At present, the South Korean tech giant does not have plans to develop a new version of the Galaxy Note for 2021, three sources said, declining to be identified as the plans were not public. Instead, the Galaxy S series’ top model, the S21, will have a stylus and the next version of Samsung’s foldable phone will be compatible with a stylus, which will be sold separately, one of the sources said.
A second source said company development efforts that normally would have been directed to the Note would now be channelled into its foldable phone range.”
The Alternative To Google Maps
With its inclusion on the US Entities List, Huawei has been cut off from using Google Mobile Services in its Android devices. That includes losing key Google apps (such as YouTube) and services (such as Gmail). The company has been working on its own replacements, and the Google Maps alternative has left beta and is now available in Huawei’s store. Sophie Blake reports:
“Huawei released a beta version of Petal Maps, its map app announced back in October. Published on AppGallery, the app offers almost all of the features in Google Maps. Currently released as a beta version, the Petal Maps is only available on models running EMUI 11 (Mate 40, Mate 30 or P40).”
OnePlus Camera Content
OnePlus has been working its camera hard this week. First up was live-streaming a concert with Danish singer-songwriter Mads Langer, who performed inside a dome of fifty OnePlus handsets, each streaming exclusively to a single OnePlus owner for a one-of-a-kind viewpoint. Thankfully there was a more traditional livestream view for everyone else.
This week also saw OnePlus win a ‘blind camera test’ conducted by YouTube Marques Brownlee, beating many flagship handsets, including the iPhone 12 Pro Max. That’s one for the OnePlus 8T’s awards cabinet.
The New Heart Of The Silicon Dragon
Qualcomm has announced its top end smartphone chip that will be found in the heart of many of the major Android flagships next year. The SnapDragon 888 will naturally bump up the specs from this years SnapDragon 865, but one of the key differences will be welcomed by many manufacturers… the 5G X60 5G modem is integrated into the system on chip assembly, rather than being standalone. Shara Tibken reports:
“With the Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm gets back to its SoC strengths, and phone users will benefit. The biggest advantages of SoCs are better battery life and lower cost. Instead of two chips taking up room in a phone, there’s just one, resulting in thinner, sleeker phones or more room for bigger batteries. Having an integrated chip also enables device makers to quickly develop phones for essentially any 5G network in the world, and it makes 5G handsets cheaper for consumers.”
The Essentials For Enterprise
Google has launched a new service as part of its Android Enterprise program. The Android Enterprise Essentials offers a number of key features for mobile device management, including mandatory lock screens and device, encryption, restrictions on applications that can be installed, and remote wiping of the handsets. Abner Li reports:
“In creating, Google focused on a “critical set of default features designed for businesses with simpler needs and smaller budgets.” This comes as SMBs are “increasingly the target of malicious attackers and may be required by local laws to protect company data.”
“…Despite that uptick, these organizations are hesitant to invest in what they perceive to be complex and costly solutions.”
Ever needed to find a voice? Advance previews of Spikizi are now available. The app is designed for actors and other creatives to quickly learn new accents ahead of productions, rehearsals, or auditions. From the press release:
“Upon joining the app actors will be asked to complete a detailed onboarding process about themselves to highlight their voice history, before moving on to recording a series of words, texts and passions that exemplify all the vowel and consonant sounds they naturally use. This will form the basis of their contribution to the community, adding their voice to the database. From there they can search, request and assist other members as well as create private, public or cast playlists all with the ability to download them and listen offline.”
More details at www.spikizi.co.
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!