Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes new details on the Galaxy S10’s fingerprint scanner, 5G data for the S10+, a colorful update for the Galaxy Note 9, more details on the OnePlus 6T, the Nokia 5.1 taking on the iPhone XR, a detailed review of Android 9.0, and Google teases the launch of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
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 S10 Fingerprint Details Leaked
Samsung is set to use the latest technology to read your fingerprints through the screen of the Galaxy S10, with Qualcomm’s third generation ultrasonic sensor lined up for the top two devices. That’s going to give the flagships far more accuracy and security than existing screen readers, as I reported earlier this week:
Apart from the aforementioned limited runs in Chinese devices, the majority of in-display fingerprint readers have used optical sensors. These offer the same physical experience to users, but are slightly cheaper. Ultrasonic’s main benefit is an increase in accuracy by modelling the fingerprint in three dimensions.
That doesn’t mean that Samsung is ignoring the imaging version of the sensor. The third handset in the anniversary portfolio – the presumptively-named Galaxy S10 Mini – is expected to use the imaging style sensor.
Limited 5G For Galaxy S10
Meanwhile those looking for 5G connectivity from the Galaxy S10 are going to struggle to find handsets. Although Samsung will be launching one flagship model of the S10 with the advanced cellular data hardware, it’s only going to appear on one limited edition of one model. Gordon Kelly reports:
The Bell specifies this as a maximum of 2 million units out of 40 million Galaxy S10 models produced in 2019. Pricing of the Galaxy S10+, the most expensive model, is also expected to be almost $1,000 so the 5G limited edition is likely to make it the most expensive mass-market phone Samsung has ever released.
…But this is no way to do business. With Android rivals expected to leap aboard 5G in 2019, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 may well be left behind, and that would be a great shame. After all, a 10th-anniversary launch should showcase Samsung’s vision for the future, not restrict a phone to the past…
Galaxy Note 9 Goes For A Colorful Update
Continuing a policy of pushing different colors in different regions, and creating a second wave of demand for its handsets, Samsung is reportedly ready to release an ambitiously simple update to the Galaxy Note 9 for US consumers:
Samsung is no stranger to releasing custom colors after the initial launch of a handset; the Galaxy S8 picked up a burgundy red color almost a year after it was revealed to the public, and the Galaxy S10 is expected to bring back the classic shade of Emerald Green to next year’s flagship.
The Galaxy Note 9 is currently available in Midnight Black, Ocean Blue, Metallic Copper, and Lavender Purple. You can add silver to that list if you are in the US. The question now is if silver becomes a universal choice, or if other territories will be picking up custom shades.
More Details On The OnePlus Sneak Out
There’s always a lot of buzz around a new OnePlus handset, and the run up to the presumptively named OnePlus 6T is no different. Two major details dropped this week. Following on from the leak of the box artwork, OnePlus confirmed the use of an in-display fingerprint reader. Lynn La reports for CNet:
“We unlock our phones multiple times a day, and Screen Unlock reduces the number of steps to complete the action,” said OnePlus in an email to CNET. “By adding this feature as an addition to other display unlocking options such as Face Unlock, users will have options to unlock the display in a way that is most efficient for them.”
As well as the key feature, there was also news about the launch date. This is a little more speculative, but includes a date (October 16th) and specifications (including the use of the SnapDragon 845 and a triple lens camera). Chris Mills covers the date on BGR:
But even in OnePlus’s leaky universe, a pre-order listing going up for the phone, including price and release date, is rather unusual. The leak comes from a somewhat dubious third party, not OnePlus’s own website, but if it’s accurate, then we have every last detail about the OnePlus 6T.
The pre-emptive listing comes from Giztop, a Chinese e-commerce site linked to the blog GizmoChina. The listing says the OnePlus 6T will be priced at $569, available (whether for pre-orders or for live sales isn’t clear) on October 16th, and look exactly like what we’ve seen in all the leaks.
Nokia 5.1 Displays The Android vs iOS Battle
HMD Global launched the Nokia 5.1 in the UK this week – although expect stores to label it as the Nokia 5 (2018) – and in a cheeky nod to the competition decided the best day to do it was the day that apple revealed the new iPhone family. So in the same spirit, I decided to compare the AndroidOne powered mid-range smartphone to Tim Cook’s new handsets. Of course the real comparison is Android vs iOS:
Let’s be clear here, for the slice of consumers who are already locked in to the Apple ecosystem, through the cloud based services, investment in apps, and personal circles that may require specific software commitments, the only real replacement for an iPhone is… another iPhone.
Inside the Android ecosystem it’s a bit more fluid. Changing between Android manufacturers is a much easier proposition given the shared ecosystem of apps, data, and cloud services. That forces Android manufacturers to stay sharp and push forward innovation and value for money, compared to the slightly more laissez-faire approach Apple can take to the hardware upgrade cycle. But you are still staying within Android.
How did the Nokia 5.1 fare? Find out here on Forbes.
Reviewing Android 9.0 Pie
What has Google updated in the latest version of Android? What’s new? Why have certain changes been made? Are they worthwhile. All that and more in a 19,000 comprehensive review of the latest code from Mountain View. Ron Amadeo starts his deep dive by noting the key changes:
Android 9 Pie brings Google’s updated Material Design spec (don’t call it “Material Design 2”) to Android OS, and it begins a wave of UI updates that will spread across Google’s entire portfolio. In Android, that means revamped interfaces for the notification panel, Recent Apps, settings, and various bits of system UI. For future smartphone designs (like, say, the Pixel 3), Android 9 includes an experimental gesture navigation system and built-in notch support. There’s also a new screenshot editor, lots of improvements for text selection, and changes to the way rotation works.
Under the hood, more changes have come, too, with AI-powered battery usage controls, new rules for Play Store developers, and changes to how apps get distributed.
Now the iPhone launch is out of the way, the next big reveal is expected to be Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. As if on cue, Mountain View has released some teaser advertising for the new handsets. Abner Li reports:
Yesterday, Google began teasing its upcoming phone with an “Are you ready?” landing page that prominently featured a “3.” The latest nod at what’s “Coming Soon” comes from Google Japan and might hint at the color variants for the Pixel 3.
The first color combination is a light gray top and white bottom. An almost neon green internal accent is similar in shade to the power button on this year’s larger and white Made by Google phone.
Up next is a black shade and dark gray bottom. This too is in line with the leaked smaller Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. With no internal accent, it matches how the leaks and current Really Black Pixel 2 XL feature a plain power switch.
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!