Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the latest Galaxy S11 leaks, Samsung’s mysterious screen, Sony’s curved Xperia, the return of the Moto Razr, a hands-on review of the Mi Note 10, and Android gestures face up to the navigation keys.
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 S11 Details Framed By SnapDragon 865 Capabilities
Details are slowly coming out regarding the Galaxy S11 specifications, and it’s not just Samsung sources that are kicking in. The latest details about Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 system on chip that is expected to power the South Korean flagship also help frame the specs of the smartphone, as I reported earlier this week:
More importantly is the modem that is executed to be in the SoC. The listed X55 modem offers 5G connectivity, and with Samsung expected to offer the three key flavours of the S11 family (the tightly focused S11e, the standard S11, and the larger S11+) with 5G connectivity the modem matches up to S11’s capabilities.
The same is true of the GPU chip that will allow for faster processing of imaging data, with 8K HDR video within reach, and a NPU (Neural Processing Unit) which should allow for more AI algorithms to take place on the device rather than in the cloud – which increases the security around personal data.
What Is The Mysterious SAMOLED Screen?
Then there’s Samsung’s own documentation helping out. Although no technical details were revealed, trademark applications for the term SAMOLED in connection with displays suitable for smartphones were published, giving an indication as to another key feature of the Galaxy S11. What could the ’S’ signify? Could it be speed? Or shape?
The first is the growing popularity of faster refreshing screens. The Razer Smartphone kicked this off with a 120 Hz LCD screen, but 2019 has seen the rise of the 90Hz OLED based screen on handsets rom the likes of OnePlus and Huawei. It makes sense that Samsung would want to not only step into this market, but to become a major player with more advanced technology. That suggests a 120 Hz AMOLED screen.
Secondly, will be to increase the curve on the screen. Certainly the flat Galaxy choice of the S11e was attractive to many, but it led to two different ‘hero silhouettes’ at the top. Noted industry leaker Evan Blass suggests that all of the Galaxy S11 models will switch to a ‘curved’ display, with the potential for the ‘chins’ to be replaced by a curved edge on all four sides.
Sony’s Curved Xperia 3
Also expected to sport the SnapDragon 865 is the next Xperia handset from Sony. Reports from China label the handset as the Sony Xperia 3. The leaked information also details the slightly curved backplate that will give the smartphone its own identity. GSM Arena has more details:
The device, expected to come with Snapdragon 865, was pictured in a render with a flat front screen and a curved back panel. If Sony really launches the Xperia 3 with this design solution, it will bring back sweet memories about the Xperia Arc, launched many many moons ago.
The front of the screen will continue to have the CinemaWide panel with 21:9 resolution and no notches or pop-up mechanisms. Surely the screen will remain OLED, but we’re still waiting to see whether Sony will jump the 90Hz hype train and provide its panel with the improved refresh rate.
Return Of The Razr
The Moto Razr is back, with roughly the same form factor as the 2004 original, but now the flip is a folding screen. Closed you have the classic form factor, open you have a tall but normal feeling Android screen. With an easel fold in the screen, the new Razr is wildly different to the Galaxy Fold. Myriam Joire has the hands on experience:
To make the folding magic possible, Moto used a bespoke, flexible, plastic OLED panel with a resolution of 2142×876 pixels and a super clever hinge mechanism that supports the display while it’s open, but lets it curve gently into the hinge (and partially slide into the chin) when closed. What’s truly remarkable, however, is that this hinge mechanism is sealed, and designed to expel any dust as the phone is opened. In fact, Moto claims the new Razr is splash resistant, which is no small feat for a folding handset.
A Closer Look At The Xiaomi Mi Note 10
Xiaomi return to the phablet form factor with the Mi Note 10. The 6.47 inch screened smartphone’s standout feature is the camera. It comes with a massive 108 megapixel sensor on the main camera, supported by four other lenses at the rear. Tom Bedford has a hands on with the device:
Now onto the 108MP camera itself – and it’s good. Pictures taken in its default mode are 27MP, although there’s an easily-selectable mode to switch to 108MP, which we appreciate, since on some smartphones you have to delve into the menus to change mode.
Of course, on a smartphone screen you won’t be able to see 108MP pictures in all their glory, but the advantage of this sensor is that it gathers vast amounts of light, so pictures look brighter, more vibrant and richly detailed.
Google’s move to Android 10 includes the adoption of gestures as the main navigation controls while depreciating the on screen navigation bar. Reddit’s Android community has been discussing the choices and impacts of the two systems:
About a week ago I decided to switch back to 3-button navigation just to see how much different it was now compared to the gesture navigation that I’ve gotten used to on my Pixel 3.
To my surprise, I found that it was just way easier to use. Going Home was faster, swiping the slideout menus were easier and less error prone, double tap to flip apps was super quick, accessing the Assistant made more sense. It just all worked.
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!