Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s secret weapon, Galaxy S21 FE reviews, OnePlus 10 Pro launch, Nokia’s Android 12 updates, two firsts for Honor’s Magic V, new clues to a folding Pixel, and Android switches off 2G.
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).
Samsung Returns To The Stylus
With the premium smartphone market looking a bit crowded, how can you make your own flagship stand out? Samsung’ s approach with the upcoming Ultra is, according to the latest reports, to bring back a cherished feature from the Galaxy Note series:
“The premium flagship space may not have too many smartphones on the field – once you take the bleeding edge folding versions away – and relying on raw specifications is no longer enough to attract consumers. While photography continues to be the reflection of the more technical aspects of a smartphone, having a recognisable unique aspect is a huge win.
“Supporting a stylus does just that. Samsung has shown in the past that the S-Pen package is suited towards both enterprise- and artistic-focused tasks. I’d expect the South Korean company to lean heavily into the power of the S-Pen when the devices are finally revealed to the public next month.”
03 January 2022, US, Las Vegas: Samsung presents the new Galaxy S21 FE 5G smartphone at the CES in … [+]
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
Reviewing The Galaxy S21 FE
Following last week’s launch of the Galaxy S21 FE 5G, the reviews are coming in. Unsurprisingly, the delayed reveal of the handset – less than a month before the S22 family is launched – has been a notable discussion point. That’s tempered by the functionality of the handset, as Ryne Hager highlights:
“The S21 FE has last year’s Snapdragon 888 in it. Now that it’s 2022, it might be “old,” but it’s still very capable, especially at this price. The only slips and stutters you should notice are those that are unavoidable, either due to a poorly-made app or simply Android itself. For productivity-oriented workflows, it’s more than you need. Even gaming is no problem, and the 1080p display resolution even helps a little there if you want to play a more demanding title at native resolution. I didn’t notice the S21 FE get particularly hot during use, but the plastic back could be insulating things a little, and it is winter, so ambient temperatures are on the lower side.”
China Launch For OnePlus 10 Pro
Ahead of a global release later in the year, OnePlus has debuted the first ’10’ handset in China. The OnePlus 10 Pro features the traditional fast charging facilities, a fast refreshing screen, and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system on chip. All impressive, but OnePlus is hoping the big win will be found in the camera and the ongoing relationship with Hasselblad:
“The triple camera consists of 48-megapixel main lens and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens, along with a new 50-megapixel, 150-degree ultra-wide angle sensor with a field-of-view up to four times wider than that on rival smartphones.
“…The 10 Pro takes advantage of the second-generation Hasselblad Pro Mode. This now includes a 12-bit RAW+ mode accessible across all three cameras, offering increased information, greater dynamic range and noise reduction to smartphone photographers”
HMD Global continues Nokia’s Android 12 Roll-out
As well as the Nokia G50 and the Nokia X10, a number of other handsets have been spotted with the upgrade in a number of territories, although we are awaiting on the official word:
“The Nokia X20, Nokia X10 and Nokia G50 smartphones have all started to receive Android 12 software upgrades as of December 2021. Pushing the boundaries of the mid-range with unrivalled reliability and durability, the Nokia X10 and Nokia X20 are built to be kept for longer thanks to three years of OS updates, three years of security updates and extended three-year warranty.”
(Nokia Press via NokiaMob).
Two Firsts For The Magic V
This week’s launch of the Honor Magic V sees the young company join the premium flagship space with its own folding smartphone. Not only is it a first for Honor, it’s also a first for Qualcomm, as the new handset is the first folding phone to use the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system on chip. Other specs are strong as well, with the internal screen unfolding to a near-square display area:
“Magic V’s main 7.9-inch flexible OLED screen offers 90Hz refresh rate and 2272 x 1984px resolution. The aspect ratio here is 10.3:9 which divides into two areas of close to 21:9 aspect using two apps side by side. You also get HDR10+ support and 10bit colors as well as 800nits peak brightness. Magic V is also the first foldable to boast IMAX Enhanced certification.”
Honor Magic V
The Shape Of Folding Things To Come
Staying with foldables, Google’s plans for a Pixel Fold remain up in the air. What is clear is that the latest version of Android 12L (an update focused on tablets and foldables) features new animations of SIM card extensions, and the foldable version could well be Google’s mystery device… which looks more like a Surface Duo or Find N than a Z Fold or Z Flip:
“In Android 12L Beta 2, released this afternoon, we’ve discovered new animations that depict how to insert a SIM card into a foldable phone. They appear similar to the animations used when setting up a Pixel today during the stage where the phone asks for a SIM card or eSIM. More importantly, the code for this animation makes reference to the Pixel Fold’s “Pipit” codename.
The EFF has highlighted a feature added to Android that allows users to switch of 2G on their handset. This is important due to security concerns around the weaker 2G standard which could be used for spoof or man-in-the-middle attacks. Quintin Cooper explains:
“There are two main problems with 2G. First, it uses weak encryption between the tower and device that can be cracked in real time by an attacker to intercept calls or text messages. In fact, the attacker can do this passively without ever transmitting a single packet. The second problem with 2G is that there is no authentication of the tower to the phone, which means that anyone can seamlessly impersonate a real 2G tower and a phone using the 2G protocol will never be the wiser.”
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!