Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the Galaxy Unpacked launch, first thoughts on the Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4, the mysterious Pixel 7 Ultra, design awards for ColorOS, fast charging thoughts for USB-C, patent issues hit Oppo and OnePlus, and Apple’s iMessage lock-in called out.
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 Folds, The Twists, And The New Handsets From Samsung
This week, the Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event saw the launch of the cutting-edge Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4. While the handsets make look similar on the outside, with dimensions maybe a millimetre or so smaller at best, the changes around the Flip’s hardware and the Fold’s user interface stand out:
“The Galaxy Z Flip4 builds on the success of Samsung’s iconic form factor, adding key features, including an upgraded camera experience, a larger battery, and expanded customization, while maintaining its ultra-compact design. The Galaxy Z Fold4 opens up new possibilities for users by delivering Samsung’s most comprehensive smartphone experience to-date, offering shape-shifting design, immersive displays and PC-like multitasking features, in addition to advanced camera technology and powerful mobile processors.”
Longer Lasting Flip
The Z Flip tends to get less press, perhaps because when opened, it represents a pretty standard Android smartphone screen, but it remains an impressive and well-received handset. For the Flip 4, Samsung has improved once again the hinge and foldable screen, as well as bumping up the battery capacity:
“As for battery life, while charging remains the same as on the Flip 3: support for up to 25W when wired and wireless charging at up to 15W, as a direct result of user feedback, the Flip 4 bumps the battery capacity of its predecessor up from 3,300mAh to 3,700mAh, which should allow it to more confidently make it through a day.”
Improving The Fold’s Camera
The key difference in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the camera. Moving up from last year’s 12-megapixel main lens, the Fold now matches the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus sensor, along with a move from x2 to x3 optical zoom:
“The Fold 4 gets a newer 50-megapixel main camera, a more useful 3x telephoto camera, narrower bezels, and a slimmer hinge. There’s a little more real estate on the front display since it’s a few millimeters wider. It’s not much, but it does make the display feel a little less cramped and a little more like a normal phone. There’s still a gap when the phone is folded closed; Samsung hasn’t achieved optimal foldable flatness yet.”
The Mystery Of The Pixel 7 Ultra
Google put itself ahead of the drip-feed of leaks when it announced the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro at its I/O conference in May, months ahead of the presumed launch. But that’s not stopped the idea of a Pixel 7 Ultra popping up every few weeks. Robby Pane looks at the evidence:
“…the rumor surrounding an upcoming Pixel with a ceramic body as opposed to the expected glass exterior. I originally read this over on 9to5 Google as a hardware feature for a Pixel phone in the future at some point, but a closer inspection of these rumors via GizChina from an account on Weibo dubbed Digital Chat Station are pointing to an unverified Pixel 7 Ultra that will come with this new chassis material.”
ColorOS’ Four Design Awards
Ahead of the upcoming release of ColorOS 13 next week, Oppo’s current Android variant ColorOS 12 has picked up four Red Dot design awards for Brands and Communication Design for its Oppo Sans font, its digital wellbeing app, Oppo’s implementation of emoji, and the ‘ability to start split screen work with a two-finger gesture:
“…the new “Two-Finger Split Screen” function is tailored to the 7.1-inch large screen of OPPO’s first folding screen mobile phone, Find N, optimising user experience through providing efficiency and multi-tasking flexibility. Users can easily swipe down the middle of the foldable screen with two fingers, the screen display will then be split into two to aid with multi-tasking demands. Such design is aimed to be both intuitive and self-explanatory to users.”
USB-C Needs Fast Charging Standards Adoption.
“Even though Samsung and Nothing drew some flak for making the charger a separate purchase, many users can admittedly get by without buying one. This is because both companies rely on the universal USB Power Delivery standard for fast charging… However, the same isn’t true for many other smartphone brands, including Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Oppo, to name a few. These brands are at the forefront of smartphone fast charging technology today, with their respective protocols supporting as much as 150W of power. Yet, if you used a USB-PD charger with these devices, they’ve historically pulled just 18 or 27W from the wall.”
Nokia Patents Force Germany Withdrawal CHECK STORY LATE WEEK
Oppo and OnePlus handsets have been withdrawn from sale in Germany. An ongoing patent dispute between the companies and Nokia Corporation saw German courts rule in Nokia’s favour in two patent cases. While the cases are still ongoing, new handset sales have ceased:
“…Oppo has taken the proactive step of shutting down all sales in Germany. Oppo’s German site has been stripped of all phone info and now only hosts a message saying (through translation) that “product information is currently not available on our website.” The site also mentions that Oppo products will continue to work, and support channels will keep running. OnePlus’ site still lists phone info, but the store now displays an error page if you try to see phone listings.”
More shots have been fired in the text messaging space by Google as it takes to the official Android site to call out Apple’s approach (or lack of approach) to messaging standards:
“It’s not about the color of the bubbles. It’s the blurry videos, broken group chats, missing read receipts and typing indicators, no texting over Wi-Fi, and more. These problems exist because Apple refuses to adopt modern texting standards when people with iPhones and Android phones text each other.”
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!