Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes a look at North Korean Android smartphones, the Pixel 7 Pro challenges the competition and fights fingerprint reader issues, Pixel 6a’s sales success, new expert camera modes for Samsung Galaxy users, Nothing’s Ear (Stick) launches, Android 12L improves Surface Duo, and what advances will be in your future phone?
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 Brave New World Of North Korean Smartphones
Starting out this week with something a little different as the team at Android Police explores the world of Android smartphones in North Korea. There are no names we’d be familiar with. Instead of handsets from Samsung, Google, and Apple, you have brands such as Arirang, Jindallae, and Phurunhanul. What do they offer?
“North Korean smartphones are almost disappointing in their blandness. They are cheap rip-offs of popular devices. The unique thing about them is the complete lack of privacy. Take a moment to appreciate your freedoms, and check up on your digital privacy.”
Pixel 7 Pro Takes On The Other Flagships
This year’s “flagship finalists” has shaken out to three contenders. Naturally, Apple gets to be there as the only iOS manufacturer. Meanwhile Samsung’s Galaxy has to fight off the challenge of the Google Pixel handsets. How does the new kid compare? The price and the camera quality are best-in-class, but is that enough compared to the iPhone and the Galaxy? There are areas where it falls down, most notably in battery life:
“Battery life is markedly worse than on a current iPhone, and a Galaxy will likely get you better longevity too. Neither Apple nor Samsung are industry leaders in charging speed, but Google has become an industry… trailer? Two hours for a full charge can turn into an actual issue in day-to-day use, we reckon. And then, despite all the gushing over Pixel cameras, there’s potential for improvement here or there as well.”
Pixel-Safe Screen Protector List
Google is subtly highlighting issues with the fingerprint readers on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 families. In short ‘use these screen protectors that definitely work” also defines “a lot of screen protectors are causing issues.
“If your fingerprint won’t scan, it might be because of your screen protector. Make sure you use a screen protector that is Made for Google certified. Brands that are Made for Google certified for Pixel 6 and later phones are Bigben, BodyGuardz, Case-Mate, OtterBox, Panzerglass, Power Support, and ZAGG.”
The Real Star Is The Pixel 6a
Still, there’s also good news on the Pixel front. Sales of Google’s new handsets are solid after its launch, but the more cost-effective Pixel 6a – which sports the first powerful Tensor Mobile chipset – is the big hitter in sales:
“It seems hardware has played an important role in that. While all of our attention of late has been on the shiny new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, that Q3 sales bump actually reflects the success of the slightly older and cheaper Pixel 6a. Porat revealed that the aforementioned growth in hardware revenue came “primarily from sales of the Pixel 6a”.”
Samsung’s New Pictures For Experts
Images continue to be one of the key areas where smartphone manufacturers can differentiate themselves. Samsung puts many technical features in its “Expert RAW” camera app. This week it has picked up updated that include the long-trailed astronomy mode:
“The camera’s advanced AI algorithms then use multi-segmentation and multi-frame processing to capture shots that look like they’re taken using much costlier and higher-end camera equipment. The new app also offers the Multi-Exposure feature, which lets users capture multiple shots of the same scene and then overlay them on top of each other, resulting in standout images.”
Nothing Finds Something New For Your Ears
Nothing Tech has launched its second set of earbuds. The Nothing Ear (Stick) will sit alongside the Ear (1) launched last year. The Ear (Stick) misses out on active noise cancellation and a close-fitting ear design but is $50 cheaper:
“Acting as the understudy to the Ear (1) earbuds released last year, the Ear (stick) earbuds are an entry-level model that offers some design changes and impressive battery life metrics. Nothing has ditched the silicone tip seal that was found on the Ear (1) for an AirPod-like “half in-ear” design that sits in your ear this time around. Each earbud weighs in at just 4.4g.”
Android 12L Arrives For Surface Duo
Microsoft’s Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2 picked up a significant update this week as the platform moved up to Android 12L, Google’s fork of its main Android line that offers more support for foldable and dual-screened devices.
“Until now, Gmail was only usable on a single screen of the Duo; once you moved to span both screens, the app was not aware of the central gap, resulting in some text chopped off and some text sitting on a small sliver of the left-hand screen. Now you can span Gmail over two screens, and the code – which hooks into Android’s display code – will respond to its environment and place navigation fully on the left side and the content fully on the right side.”
What comes next? Smartphones continue to add features and technology, so what will drive the future? An entertaining and lively discussion over on Reddit attempts to answer that challenge:
“I just came across a post from 5 years ago asking people what they thought would be the revolutionary features that would become standard 5 years later. II found quite amusing to read the answers 5 years later, and I thought it would be cool to make a 2nd edition. So here we are: What new revolutionary phone technology do you think will become a standard in 5 years time?”
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!