Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the Galaxy S10’s secret feature, good news for the Note 9 that hides a danger, Samsung confirms folding smartphone, Huawei Mate 20 leaks, updates to Nokia’s new handsets, the massive Pixel 3XL, a Galaxy S9 variant is cancelled, and Google releases the I/O app’s source code.
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).
The Secret Feature Of The Galaxy S10 Is Green
With the Note 9 ready to reach retail, the slow build-up of tension over the specifications of the Galaxy S10 family is gaining intensity. As the tenth-anniversary handset of the Galaxy S, the S10 has to look forwards and backwards at the same time. How can the South Korean flagship honour the past and remain attractive? By going green:
While black, white and silver are expected (although expect Samsung to jazz up the names (such as the S9’s Sunrise Gold or Ocean Blue), the curious one is green. It has been some time since Samsung had a green flagship handset (such as the S6 Edge’s Emerald Green choice).
With the Galaxy S10 not only acting as a vanguard for new technology, but also pulling double duty as the tenth anniversary handset, perhaps it’s not surprising that the South Korean company is looking back at past glories to promote the new wave.
The Danger Hiding In the Note 9’s Good News
According to mobile carriers, interest in the Galaxy Note 9 is higher than that of the Galaxy S9 and S9 plus. Pre-orders for the South Korean phablet is outpacing the S9 and S9 Plus adoption numbers from earlier in the year, as I reported earlier this week, The only twist is that compared to 2017, interest is falling away:
SamMobile’s Adnan Farooqui suggests that the pre-order increase is in the region of thirty to fifty percent. That’s good news given Samsung Mobile’s performance in the first half of the year, but a look back in history suggests that this success is limited to 2018, and there is a danger that Samsung’s 2018 will continue to look weak compared to last year.
The question now is if the initial rush of sales will continue over the next few months and break out into the public space, or if the Note 9’s appeal is limited to a core of supporters. If the former, then Samsung will have a good back half of the year. If the latter, then the Galaxy Note 9 could easily be seen as the last Note from the South Korean manufacturer as focus turns to the Galaxy S10.
Samsung’s Folding Phone Is Confirmed
With the Note range likely in its last year, what is set to take over as the test-bed for innovation from Samsung? The geekerati expect a folding phone, and now the CEO has confirmed the intention is to not only have a folding Galaxy, but have the first folding phone. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
Speaking about the so-called ‘Galaxy F’, Koh stressed Samsung is “focusing on developing innovations that will be genuinely accepted and liked by consumers”. What’s more, the company acknowledges rivals are trying to beat Samsung to the punch with this technology and it “didn’t want to lose the world’s first title”.
Furthermore, Koh explained that the Galaxy F is not a one-off concept, but the beginning of a long-running new range, stressing: “We wouldn’t have started [the project] if it was a going to be a one-time thing.”
More Details On The Huawei Mate 20 Leaks
Huawei’s follow up to last year’s Mate 10 (and the cousin of the P20 launched earlier this year) is going to be the Mate 20. Looking over the design and the leaked specifications, the Mate 20 family is going to seriously challenge the Galaxys and iPhones of 2018. George Burduli reports on the latest developments:
Last month, we were able to obtain firmware files for the Huawei Mate 20, code-named “Hima.” Based on these firmware files, we were able to provide some of the basic hardware specifications of the Huawei Mate 20 including the presence of the HiSilicon Kirin 980 system-on-chip, a 4,200mAh battery, a 6.3-inch AMOLED screen, wireless charging, and a variant with 6GB RAM/128GB internal storage. We were also able to confirm that the software build on the Huawei Mate 20 is EMUI 9-based Android Pie. Now, we are able to share the recreated renders of the Huawei Mate 20 based on photographs of the original device.
A Really Big Pixel 3XL Is A Problem
Also up on deck for the back half of 2018 is Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL. And thanks to a pre-release handset in Ukraine, it’s possible to see all the details of Google’s ‘reference’ smartphone. That includes the upgrade your hands will need to hold it. Gordon Kelly reports on the oversized phablet that might finally have answered the question on ‘when is big too big’”
Ultimately, however, while the furore over Google’s lost Pixels will die down, it is less certain whether customers will get over the company’s decision to fit a 6.7-inch display. The news has also refocused attention on the Pixel 3XL’s battery, which appears grossly underpowered for a phone this big.
In Google’s defence, Samsung will supersize the Galaxy S10 in early 2019 and in September Apple will launch a greatly enlarged iPhone X. But these displays are still smaller, and they will be surrounded by much thinner bezels compared to the Pixel 3XL’s deep notch and chin.
More Nokia Handsets Spread Out From China
Announced previously as the Nokia X5 and X6 in China, HMD Global’s Android-powered handsets are reaching out from China to other markets, including India, but not yet on a worldwide scale. The international variants of the handsets will be known as the Nokia 5.1 Plus and the Nokia 6.1 Plus. GSM Arena has details on specs on the rebranded handsets:
The Nokia 6.1 Plus comes with 5.8” LCD and Full HD+ resolution. Due to the notch, the ratio of the screen is the ultra-tall 19:9. There is Gorilla Glass 3 on top for protecting the front panel. The dual camera setup is an interesting one – the main shooter is 16 MP with f/2.0 aperture, while the secondary is 5 MP, but unlike other midrangers, this is a monochrome sensor.
…The notched screen of the Nokia 5.1 Plus is 5.86” in diagonal with HD+ resolution. The main camera setup is dual with a 13 MP shooter with PDAF and a 5 MP sensor for artificial background blur. The selfie camera is 8MP but has an 80-degree field of view to get all your friends and surroundings in the picture.
Samsung Cancels Galaxy S9 Variant
Has the long-planned Galaxy S9 Active been cancelled? Although previous years has seen a ruggedised version of the smaller ’S’ handset, 2018 has been lacking an S9 Active in the release roster. According to SamMobile, that’s deliberate. In the year where the Note range is threatened with ‘end of line’, the Active handset has ‘mysteriously disappeared’:
And, of course, the biggest clue for the non-existence of a Galaxy S9 Active is the fact that we haven’t seen any rumors or leaks in the last couple of months. All we saw was a rather fake leak that claimed to show the S9 Active’s specs. There’s no firmware for the device in development, either, as far as we know. Too many indications that a Galaxy S9 Active isn’t coming, so if you had even the tiniest bit of hope, maybe it’s time to let go.
Following on from the Google I/O event, Google has open sourced the code used to create the I/O App that was used by delegates throughout the event. More at Google’s own blog on the topic and how it shows off the new elements in the Android coding world:
We made an early decision to rewrite the app from scratch to bring it in line with modern Android architecture. Using Kotlin for the rewrite was an easy choice: we loved Kotlin’s expressive, concise, and powerful syntax; we found that Kotlin’s support for safety features including nullability and immutability made our code more resilient; and we leveraged the enhanced functionality provided by Android Ktx extensions.
At I/O 2018, the Material Design team announced Material Theming, giving apps much greater ability to customize Material Design to bring more of their product’s brand. As we launched the app before Material Theming, we couldn’t use all of the new components but we managed to sneak a couple in like the new Bottom App Bar with inset Floating Action Button and we were able to incorporate a lot of the conference’s branding elements.
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!