Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes all the news from Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked, the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s new hinge, a bigger Galaxy Z Flip screen, folding the next Google tablet, Pixel Tablet picks up LineageOS, OnePlus Open details, Sony’s supercharged sensor, and the fate of Microsoft’s Surface Duo.
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’s Galaxy Unpacked For The Summer
Samsung’s big summer launch took place this week, with updates to its foldables, wearables, and tablets. The summer edition of “Galaxy Unpacked’ tends to focus on the more innovative designs, while the Unpacked earlier in the year focuses on the flagship Galaxy S line-up:
“At this year’s Galaxy Unpacked on July 26, Samsung revealed exciting new additions to the Galaxy family, including the Galaxy Z Flip5 and Z Fold5, the Galaxy Watch6 series and the Galaxy Tab S9 series. Taking place for the first time in Seoul, South Korea, the event captivated both domestic and international media and consumers worldwide. The city of Seoul is recognized as a global leader in progress, fusing tradition and modernity to serve as the ideal backdrop for Samsung’s latest lineup.”
What Feels New With The Galaxy Fold?
The most significant change in the Galaxy Fold 5 is the hinge, which uses fewer moving parts and allows the device to close with its edges flush. While this is very much a technological flex of its design muscles, not much else has changed in the handsets that make it a material upgrade for consumers:
“…for a company that has had such a head start in the foldable phone space, it seems like Samsung isn’t pushing that advantage as hard as it should. On the Pixel Fold, which is Google’s first foldable phone by the way, we got an interesting new design that’s even thinner than the Z Fold 5 while having a similarly sized screen plus a longer 5x optical zoom, not to mention Google’s superior photo processing. And other big foldables from China, like the Oppo Find N2, are doing a better job at eliminating the crease.
“But perhaps more importantly, the Z Fold 5 still costs $1,800, which is ludicrously expensive.”
A Bigger Flip
For the Galaxy Flip 5, there is a clear upgrade over last year’s tiny clamshell… the outer screen is much larger. This allows for more details, more inventive widgets … and a handful of full-blown Android apps:
“Whereas the 1.9-inch cover screen of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 was largely reserved for quick glancing notifications, the larger space presented by the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s outer display gives me access to full app experiences — in addition to the usual staple of widgets and notifications. I saw how it was able to run the full YouTube app experience, but what’s important to know is that there are only a handful of apps that get the full experience treatment.”
Folding The Pixel Tablet
Staying with foldables, Google could be working on a foldable tablet. Set to debut in Spring 2024 (presumably at next year’s Google I/O developer event). The idea of a smaller “pocket tablet” with a super-large screen size is an intriguing one.
” Google finally joined the foldable phone party this year thanks to the Pixel Fold. However, it sounds like the company has plans to bring folding screens to more than just phones. Digitimes reports that Google is considering a foldable tablet, citing “upstream supply chain sources.” The outlet’s sources say Google could bring the device to Google I/O next year if it does indeed decide to launch the product.”
Open Up Your Pixel Tablet
For those looking for a new tablet adventure with the Pixel Tablet, the popular alternative Android operating system LineageOS is now available for Google’s flagship slab. Be warned, while you will get an OS that is far more ‘open than Google’s flavour of Android, Pixel Tablet owners will potentially lose access to key software features such as the hub mode used when attached to the bundled dock:
“Available now through the official LineageOS website, you can now download and install the custom ROM on the Google Pixel Tablet. The “tangorpro” builds are based on LineageOS 20 and bring support for added customization and extra features, such as a PIN unlock that changes the order of the numbers on each unlock.”
A Bit More On The Open
OnePlus is widely expected to release a foldable smartphone in the next few months, with “OnePlus Open” suggested as a possible name. Now we have a better idea of the design and specs from noted industry watcher Max Jabor:
“Can it compete with others? Yes. Does it look good? Yes, if you like big cameras. Periscope camera? Yesssssssssss (3x). Form factor? Like OPPO Find N2.”
Sony Will Help Upgrade Your Next Smartphone
At the heart of many of today’s smartphones lies Sony’s image sensor technology. While software plays a huge part in dealing with the raw data that makes up an image, the base sensor is where it all starts. So the announcement of two new IMX sensors will drive many upgrades over the next two years:
“Sony’s next two sensors will go slightly smaller but will have clever designs, according to unofficial reports. The Sony IMX903 is allegedly a 1/1.14” sensor with 48MP resolution and 1.4µm pixels (compared to 1.6µm on the IMX989). It will support dual pixel autofocus, so each pixel will be made out of two photo diodes, each 0.7 x 1.4µm in size… The Sony IMX907 is roughly the same size at 1/1.12” but with a bit higher 50MP resolution. Pixels still measure 1.4µm in size but are divided into four photo diodes each (0.7 x 0.7µm) for quad pixel autofocus.”
Launched in the white heat of innovation, Microsoft’s Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2 look to be quietly coming to the end of their lives with no replacement in sight. The Surface Duo family is expected to receive security updates for another year, but Microsoft has “nothing to share” on the potential upgrade to Android 13:
“The company has seemingly gone radio silent on all things Surface Duo… This week, I asked Microsoft if the company had discontinued Surface Duo 2, and a company spokesperson said it had nothing to share. My own internal sources say that the Surface Duo 2 has been discontinued, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering it’s a smartphone coming up on two years old, and makes no financial sense to restock.”
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!