Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes all the latest details of the Galaxy S10 from pricing and specs to pre-order and release dates, Nokia 9 penta-lens details, the hidden OnePlus 5G at MWC, Xiaomi’s folding smartphone, and the skeleton key of the Microsoft Launcher.
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).
DJ Koh, president of mobile communications business at Samsung, introduces the new Samsung Galaxy during a launch event in New York City (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Getty
Galaxy S10 Has An Expensive Secret
Are you ready to pay over $1000 for Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S10 Plus when it goes on sale next month? Samsung’s key handsets are going head to head with the Apple iPhone family… and Apple is already suffering the effects of its high-priced high-margin strategy. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
With Samsung taking some significant risks with its controversially redesigned 10th-anniversary Galaxy S10 range (including the most exciting one), you might be surprised to learn how much you will have to pay to buy one…
In a new report, the popular (and consistently accurate) Indian site 91mobiles reveals Samsung will increase prices for Galaxy S10 models to such an extent they are close to Apple’s premium iPhones.
A Final Swing At A Galaxy S10 Specs Leak
That’s not the only new detail on the S10 family we have. In the last week before the Unpacked event (on Wednesday 20th February), the team at GSM Arena picked up what appears to be the full specs of the new handsets, with a number of new details being noted:
Mostly the specs are a rehash of what’s been rumored for a while now but there are some interesting bits, like the promised 800 nits of screen brightness – so far we’ve not tested a Galaxy flagship with more than 700 nits in our office.
Another deviation from what we’ve seen rumored is the screen size of the Galaxy S10+. The insider specs sheet claims a 6.3-inch diagonal of 3040x1440px resolution, whereas rumors say a 6.4-inch display.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 registration page (Samsung)Samsung.com
Galaxy S10 Release Date
If you want any of the three Galaxy S10 handsets, then the date to mark in your diary looks like March 8. That’s the date listed by Samsung US on its reservations page. That timescale fits in with the historical pattern of a reservation window of around two weeks opening up shortly after the launch of a new Galaxy S device. Gordon Kelly reports:
Following this, Samsung US dropped all pretence of surprise by opening the Galaxy S10 reservation page under the headline: “We know you know what is coming soon” with an accompanying video. Subtle.
Samsung also spelt out the benefits of an early reservation, promising deliveries by March 8 (“while supplies last”), $50 credit for accessories and up to $550 trade-in for eligible devices – iPhone 8 and above, Pixel 3, LG V40, Galaxy S9 and Note9 all get you this figure.
Nokia 9 Details Leaked Via Google
Ahead of a presumed announcement at Mobile World Congress, more details of HMD Global’s flagship Nokia 9 handset – expected to ship with a penta-lens camera – have been leaked by accident through one of Google’s ancillary Android sites. Tom Bedford reports:
…the Nokia 9 device was briefly listed on Google’s Enterprise Recommended site, which recommends products for businesses, alongside plenty of specs and features for the device. The information was only available on the mobile site, and was quickly removed, but it still gives us a reliable source for the information.
According to the listing, the device will have a 6-inch screen size, 4GB RAM, and 128GB storage space. A feature listed as zero-touch appears on the leak, and while we don’t know what that will offer, it is listed alongside a fingerprint scanner which we can work out.
The Elusive OnePlus 5G At MWC
This week saw OnePlus show its hand over Mobile World Congress through a mysterious invite. Although the Shenzhen based company will not have a presence on the show floor, the first OnePlus 5G handset will be on show at Qualcomm’s stand, as I noted here:
The confirmation comes from recent statements by OnePlus to the press; “OnePlus, at Qualcomm’s booth (Hall 3 Stand 3E10), invites all to connect and communicate with our community over a 5G network. Attendees will also be able to experience the capabilities of 5G gaming on a OnePlus 5G prototype.”
The 5G handset will stand apart from the regular OnePlus release cycle – with the OnePlus 7 expected to be announced late in Q2 this year – although there’s no word if it will be a brand new design, a modification of the OnePlus 6T, or a tweak to the OnePlus 7 shell.
Some Thoughts On Xiaomi’s Folding Phone
Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has already teased its folding phone mechanism, with two ‘wings’ on either side of the main body allowing for a portrait smartphone and larger tablet screen as required. Following that video, Ilse Jurrien has been taking a closer look at the design:
The smartphone folds open into a slim tablet with very thin bezels. You can fold the two sides of the screen backwards. The screen closes seamlessly, exactly in the middle, on the back of the device. It is a very elegant design. Once folded, you have a relatively compact phone at your disposal. The smartphone is also remarkably thin. The on/off button can be found on top of the device, while the bottom offers space for a USB Type-C connection.
…the company will use its own MIUI interface, which will be customised for the foldable screen. There does seem to be a remarkable amount of space between the icons, as can be seen in the promo video. In addition, the video of Xiaomi shows that the interface can rotate. This way, once the device is unfolded, you can operate the elongated tablet with one hand. The fold lines of the screen will be on the side, instead of on the top and bottom.
What do you do if your OS ruled the desktop but lost out in the mobile stakes? For Microsoft the answer is to work hard on the software layer above the OS, by providing useful services, software, and cloud-based computing. And tying it all together is the Microsoft Launcher. I took another look at the strategy this week:
In essence you can pick up any Android smartphone, head to the Google Play store to download Microsoft Launcher, restore your settings, and your smartphone looks and feels exactly like the previous iteration. No matter if you are moving from a Galaxy S10 to a Xiaomi, a Blackberry to a Nokia, a Motorola to a Huawei, or vice versa, the operating system itself has faded into your personal background and Microsoft is holding together all the apps and online services.
Importantly for Microsoft it provides an easy way for a user to access services such as Cortana for search, Microsoft News for personalization, and your email inbox and address shook if you so wish. Throw in Microsoft’s ‘Your Phone’ app to bring shared features between your smartphone and your (Windows 10 powered) desktop, and the benefits of ‘a platform’ are all there.
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!