The latest gadget from Satechi is both a stand and a USB-C hub made for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models that have a USB-C charging port, as well as the 2020 iPad Air. It’s $100, and with your tablet wedged into the stand, it should look more like a traditional monitor, so you can keep on pretending it’s an actual desktop replacement.
Like any hub, it gives you a handful of extra ports for expanding the functionality of your iPad. This one includes an HDMI port capable of outputting 4K at up to 60Hz refresh rate, a USB-A data port, a USB-C PD port with up to 60W of charging power, a headphone jack, and separate slots for an SD and microSD card.
You technically don’t need an iPad to use this hub, as this foldable stand is compatible with other computers, tablets, and phones that have a USB-C port. Satechi does mention, however, that your device needs a USB-C PD port for “full compatibility” with the hub. It lists the last five years of MacBook Pros, the 2018 and 2020 MacBook Air, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 and Surface Go, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Google Pixelbook as viable companions to its hub. Extra compatibility is nice, but if you don’t have an iPad (and thus, no need for the stand component), you can probably find a different USB-C hub that’s no less capable for cheaper.
If this product seems appealing to you, Satechi is knocking $20 off the cost through June 6th at midnight PT when you enter the offer code IPADPRO at checkout.
Samsung has announced two new Windows laptops running Arm-based processors. The Galaxy Book Go and Galaxy Book Go 5G both use Snapdragon chips from Qualcomm rather than Samsung’s own Exynos designs.
The Galaxy Book Go is an entry-level model that starts at $349. It has the updated Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor that Qualcomm announced last month, as well as 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of eUFS storage. The display is a 14-inch 1080p LCD and the laptop is 14.9mm thick, weighing in at 1.38kg.
The Galaxy Book Go 5G, meanwhile, uses Qualcomm’s more powerful Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 processor — though other laptops with that chip aren’t exactly powerhouses — and, as the name suggests, it includes 5G connectivity. Despite running on a Snapdragon chip with an integrated LTE modem, the $349 Galaxy Book Go is actually Wi-Fi-only.
Specs otherwise appear to be shared between the two laptops. The Galaxy Book Go has two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, a headphone jack, a 720p webcam, and a microSD card slot. Samsung hasn’t given pricing or release information for the Galaxy Book Go 5G just yet, but the $349 Galaxy Book Go is going on sale on June 10th.
Samsung could enable HDR10+ for gaming, according to a German blog post spotted by HDTVtest. The article claims Samsung executives are working with ‘various unnamed studios’ to set up a steady supply of HDR10+ titles.
The HDR10+ format was created by Samsung and is a competitor to Dolby Vision. Like Dolby Vision, HDR10+ is all about adding dynamic metadata to the HDR signal to deliver more detail. Unlike Dolby Vision, companies don’t need to pay a fee to license HDR10+.
The report doesn’t reveal whether Samsung is planning to bring the technology to games consoles or reserve it for mobile devices such as the HDR10+- supporting Samsung Galaxy S21.
However, it’s interesting to note that Dolby Vision is supposed to be exclusive for the Xbox Series X and S for the next two years. Could Samsung be working with Sony to bring HDR10+ gaming to the PS5? It’s certainly a possibility.
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S systems have supported Dolby Atmos since launch, with Dolby Vision support expected later this year. Microsoft recently announced a Dolby Vision HDR test program for Alpha Ring members ahead of ‘general availability’.
Only a handful of titles make use of Dolby Vision HDR (Gears 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Borderlands 3 are the biggies) but last month Microsoft revealed plans for a major push into Dolby Vision gaming.
If the rumours are true, HDR10+ for gaming could bring better contrast and more vibrant colours to your favourite titles, although you’ll still need a compatible 4K TV.
AMD is partnering with Samsung to provide RDNA 2 graphics technology for an Exynos mobile system-on-chip, potentially giving a boost to GPU performance in flagship Samsung phones. The announcement was made today at Computex Taipei.
There aren’t many details on the chip or which products it’ll be used in, but AMD describes the chip as a “next-generation Exynos SoC,” and says Samsung will provide further information later in 2021. The GPU will use AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, enabling features like ray tracing and variable rate shading. AMD says it’ll make its way to “flagship mobile devices.”
“The next place you’ll find RDNA 2 will be the high-performance mobile phone market,” AMD CEO Lisa Su said on stage. “AMD has partnered with industry leader Samsung for several years to accelerate graphics innovation in the mobile market, and we’re happy to announce that we’ll bring custom graphics IP to Samsung’s next flagship mobile SoC with ray tracing and variable rate shading capabilities. We’re really looking forward to Samsung providing more details later this year.”
Exynos is the brand name that Samsung uses for its own in-house processors. In the US and certain other markets, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones ship with Snapdragon SoCs from Qualcomm, while the rest of the world gets Exynos chips. The Exynos models are generally regarded as slightly less performant than their Qualcomm equivalents, but it was seen as a surprise when Samsung decided to switch to the Snapdragon variant of the Galaxy S20 in its home market of South Korea.
Whether AMD’s mobile solution will provide tangible benefits over Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs is unknown. But by throwing out buzzwords like ray tracing and lending its latest RDNA 2 architecture, AMD is certainly setting expectations high for future Samsung devices.
New type of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold smartphone with two hinges that can fold both inwards and outwards. Folds out into a tablet, with S Pen storage option.
Besides the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 foldable smartphones, Samsung seems to develop some more exciting new foldable devices. Among them is a Galaxy Z Roll / Z Slide smartphone. In addition, the South-Korean manufacturer has a multi-foldable device in the works. Last month LetsGoDigital already reported about a Samsung patent for a smartphone tablet device that can be folded both inwards and outwards. Not long after a similar display device, called S-Foldable, was shown by Samsung Display.
The unique tri-fold device that was patented by Samsung inspired the talented industrial designer Sarang Sheth to bring this device to life. In collaboration with LetsGoDigital, Sarang has made a series of high resolution renders of this ‘Galaxy Z Fold Tab’. Sarang is editor-in-chief at Yanko Design, a respected online magazine about modern, industrial design. To design the renders, the patent of Samsung Electronics is used as a basis.
Samsung Z Fold Tab with S Pen
As it is a multi-foldable device that can fold inwards and outwards, there is no need to integrate a cover display. Of course, the hinge does have to be modified – as illustrated in the renders. Making the hinge wider makes it possible to bend the screen in two directions – forwards and backwards.
Samsung also came up with an innovative solution for storing the S Pen, without taking up valuable space by a stylus pen compartment. Instead it is possible to clamp the S Pen at the rear, between the two display parts, when folded. This way you can easily prevent the stylus from getting lost in your bag or lying around on the table. In the unfolded position, it is possible to attach the magnetic S Pen to the side of the device.
Want to know more about the operation of this futuristic, multifunctional device? Take a look at the extensive coverage of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Tab on our Dutch edition – including many more product renders of this foldable tablet.
For now it stays a mystery when Samsung will launch new types of foldables devices. In August 2021, Samsung is expected to held an Galaxy Unpacked event to introduce the Galaxy Z Fold 3, de Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Galaxy S21 FE. Perhaps we will learn more about the new form factors during this event, although Samsung is not expected to launch a Galaxy Z Fold Tab or Z Slide device before 2022.
Note to editors:The 3D renders presented in this article are made in collaboration with Sarang Sheth, Industrial Designer and Editor in Chief at Yanko Design. The design is based on the patent images of Samsung Electronics. The product images are for illustrative purposes only, this product is not for sale. If you want to use the product renders on your own website, please include a clickable source link into your publication. Thank you very much.
Ilse is a Dutch journalist and joined LetsGoDigital more than 15 years ago. She is highly educated and speaks four languages. Ilse is a true tech-girl and loves to write about the future of consumer electronics. She has a special interest for smartphones, digital cameras, gaming and VR.
Enermax is well known in the DIY PC world, having gotten its start way back in 1990. Since then, they have looked to provide the highest-quality products possible, offering a diverse portfolio that includes everything from cases, coolers, fans, power supplies, and more, which has firmly established them as a recognizable brand. That being said, it was the company’s success with power supplies, such as the Revolution85+, Galaxy EVO, MAXREVO, and Platimax series of units, that truly propelled them to prominence.
Enermax looks to capitalize on the affordable ARGB cooler craze with the ETS-F40-FS ARGB series available in white or black. This asymmetrical, 154 mm tall four-heatpipe heatsink is rated to handle up to 200 watts of heat, and with its 140 mm fan with a maximum RPM of just 1200, it should make for a potent combination that keeps your CPU cool and noise levels in check. Still, it will face stiff competition at its $50 price point, so let’s move on and take a closer look at what the company has to offer with this new cooler series.
Intel: LGA1200, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011, and LGA2066 AMD: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1
Material: Aluminium (fins) Copper (heat pipes) Dimensions: 140 x 93 x 158 mm (with fan) Heat pipes: Ø6 mm – 4 pcs Weight: 800 g
Model: AFS40ARGB-14 Dimensions: 140 x 140 x 25 mm Fan Speed: 300–1200 RPM Fan Airflow: 74.33 CFM (maximum) Fan Noise: 10–23 dBA
Offset design for maximum compatibility Heatpipe Direct Touch (HDT) base ARGB-illuminated fan and top plate
Apple’s AirPods Pro cleverly solve one of the trickiest parts of earbud design with a unique button — even if it’s not technically a button at all.
Officially referred to as the “force sensor” (a title that makes the button sound far more interesting than it actually is), it’s technically nothing more than an indented portion of the AirPods Pro’s stems, with some fancy hardware that measures not just capacitive touch but also pressure. But the faux-buttons solve one of the most annoying things about earbuds: how to control them.
The issue of controlling truly wireless earbuds is a relatively new one. Older in-ear headphones often included a row of buttons on their wires, which allowed for volume and playback controls to be placed in a spot that’s easy to reach and find. But in-ear wireless earbuds don’t leave a lot of space for buttons, joysticks, or control wheels to manipulate playback, forcing manufacturers to come up with alternate solutions.
Touch controls, employed by headphones like the Galaxy Buds or the regular AirPods, have emerged as the most common answer. Tap, double tap, or triple tap your earbuds, and you’ll be able to play, pause, and skip around your tracks.
The problem, though, is that in-ear headphones — as the name suggests — are already nestled pretty firmly into your ear. And tap controls mean that you’re either shoving those earbuds further into your ear (painfully so, sometimes) or dislodging them entirely, at which point you’re risking loss or damage when your expensive buds plummet to the ground.
Apple avoids both of those problems with the force sensor. Instead of putting pressure on your ear, Apple has users squeeze the stem of the AirPod. It’s a far gentler movement that doesn’t move the earbud as much, reducing both the risk of discomfort and dislodging.
Its controls are pretty similar to the other methods of headphone control: one squeeze to toggle play / pause, two to skip forward a track, and three to skip back. There’s also a fourth long press, which toggles the various noise cancellation modes.
The whole design guides you through how to use them, too. The indented pad makes it clear where to press to activate the “button,” while the requirement for some slight force makes it hard to trigger unintentionally.
And while there’s no physical haptic feedback from the force sensor, Apple does some masterful work in tricking your brain that there is, through clever clicking sound effects relayed through the earbuds to make it feel like you’re pressing a button.
The controls might not be long for this world — Apple is rumored to be testing a new version of the AirPods Pro that would remove the stem (and the force sensor) entirely. It’d be a disappointing change, given that the force sensor isn’t just a great control method; the AirPod stems are one of the more recognizable parts of the product, so much so that it’s the main thing copycat designs tend to replicate.
Is it a lot of engineering work for a relatively simple function? Undoubtedly. But it makes a crucial part of operating the AirPods a seamless, aesthetically pleasing, and comfortable process. And what more can you ask than that?
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There are plenty of buying guides for figuring out the best phone to buy at a given time, across a wide variety of prices. We have two of them, in fact. But if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool phone enthusiast, you don’t need a guide that’s going to give you the best rational recommendation. You need something that’s going to help you scratch your new gadget itch in the most satisfying way.
I’m here for you because, well, I’m one of you. This is the internet’s premiere buying guide for phone enthusiasts. We’re not going to focus on practical, rational choices, nor are we going to concern ourselves with budgets. These are the dream phones, the ones you buy not as a utilitarian tool, but for the fun of playing with a new piece of tech that you’ll probably sell or trade in for a loss in six months. I’m not even going to single out a specific model that you should buy, because you’re likely buying a new phone every year (or maybe more!) anyway. This is all about throwing caution to the wind, diving deep into a hobby, and buying something you don’t need but absolutely want. Budgets be damned.
Grab your cargo shorts, we’re going shopping.
1. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
The best folding phone because you know you need one in your collection
Folding phones are the future, right? You can’t call yourself a Real Phone Enthusiast without one in your life. Hands down, the best folding phone you can buy right now is Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G. It’s got everything you might want from a modern smartphone, but it also opens up into a tablet-sized screen that lets you put more than one app side-by-side or look at a giant version of Google Maps. It’s easy to justify because you can tell yourself that you will get SO MUCH WORK done on it, right after you finish watching that YouTube video. Promise.
The Fold 2 costs more than most laptops, you have to baby it, and there’s a really good chance the screen will crack or break on you even if you are careful, but that’s just the price you have to pay to be on the bleeding edge.
2. Apple iPhone 12 Mini
The best iPhone for when you’re double-fisting an Android phone
Look, I know that you know that everyone in the world has an iPhone and it’s the farthest thing from an “interesting” phone. But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore what Apple’s doing, and really, iMessage and the Apple Watch are pretty great. Lots of people carry an iPhone alongside an Android phone, and you could be one of them.
The best iPhone for doing this is the iPhone 12 Mini. It does everything its bigger siblings can do, but it can easily fit in a secondary pocket and isn’t a burden to carry around. The battery life is kinda lousy, but who cares, that’s why you have a second phone on you anyway, right?
3. Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate
The best phone for seeing what this “gaming phone” trend is all about
Gaming phones are so hot right now (unless they’ve got a great cooling system) — it seems like a new model is released every three months. You can’t call yourself a true phone enthusiast without being up on this trend, and the best one to dip your toes into it with is the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.
The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate has a ton of features that can make any mobile accomplisher swoon. A massive battery. A ridiculously high refresh screen. An OLED screen on the back you can customize to show whatever you want. A bunch of accessories to make gaming better. 18GB of RAM! How could you not buy this phone?
Asus ROG Phone 5
Prices taken at time of publishing.
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is the quintessential example of a modern gaming phone. It has over-the-top specs, lots of gaming accessories, and a head-turning design.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The best phone for pretending you’re going to use a stylus
Writing on a phone screen with a pen is so cool! It feels futuristic and is just so natural. At least, it is for the first week until you forget about it and it never leaves the little garage built into the side of the phone again.
If you’ve been telling yourself that little “I’m gonna be a stylus person” lie, you need a phone that supports one and it’s hard to see buying anything other than Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20. It’s got a low latency S Pen, a bunch of software features that can utilize the stylus, and all of the other bells and whistles of a modern smartphone, which means it works quite well long after you’ve forgotten about the stylus.
5. Google Pixel 4A
The best phone for messing around with the Android 12 beta
Okay, I said I wasn’t going to recommend anything rational in this guide, but this is perhaps the recommendation that makes the most sense: if you want to mess around with the Android 12 beta but don’t want to install it on your main phone, you should just buy a Google Pixel 4A. It’s only $350 (that’s just $20 more than it costs to fix a broken screen on an iPhone 12 Pro Max) and can work with Google’s latest and greatest software even before it’s released to the public.
You know the Android betas are going to be messy — battery life is going to be bad, there will be lots of bugs, certain apps might not work correctly — so you don’t want to put it on a device you actually need to rely on. Once the beta period is over, the Pixel 4A is a great device for experimenting with the aftermarket ROM world. Get a Pixel 4A and flash those ROMs to your heart’s content.
6. Microsoft Surface Duo
The best phone for making people go “Whoa, is that a phone?”
As a phone enthusiast, you already know this harsh truth: the Microsoft Surface Duo is not a good phone. It has an old processor. The camera is worse than any iPhone of the past five years. The battery life is decidedly Not Great. It gets hot doing simple tasks. There are SO MANY software bugs. It’s got a generation-old version of Android. It doesn’t even support wireless charging or NFC payments! Oh yeah, and there’s that questionable build quality to worry about.
But there’s something undeniably cool about the Surface Duo, like it’s a device from the future coming here to bless us in the early 21st century. It’s so thin, it has two screens, the hinge is incredibly neat. Open it up in public and you’re sure to get someone to ask “wow, is that a phone?” which we all know is the ultimate goal here. You can then show them all of its cool features, right after it’s done rebooting itself for the fifth time that day.
7. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
The best phone for telling yourself that you don’t need an actual camera
For years now we’ve been told that phone cameras are so good that you don’t need an actual camera. The iPhone 12 Pro Max might be the best example of that yet. It’s got a bigger sensor! It’s got three focal lengths! It can shoot video in Dolby Vision HDR!
At the end of the day, it’s still a phone camera and can’t really hold a candle to the image quality or creative control you get with a larger mirrorless camera. But hey, it’s fun to live in that lie and you can totally see the difference between the 12 Pro Max images and other phones. When you blow them up on a big screen. And zoom in.
8. Oppo Find X3 Pro
The best phone for saying “you can’t get this in the US”
Perhaps the ultimate phone flex is pulling a phone out of your pocket that nobody else is going to have. If you’re in the US, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is that phone. It’s got features you can’t get on any American phone and a design you won’t see everywhere, like a microscope camera and softly rounded camera bump. Sure, it won’t really work great on the cellular networks here, importing it is an expensive hassle, and you won’t have any warranty whatsoever. But just think of the envy on your friends’ faces when you tell them they can’t have this phone.
Oppo Find X3 Pro
Prices taken at time of publishing.
Oppo’s Find X3 Pro is the company’s latest flagship and it’s not sold in the US. It has a unique camera system and head-turning design that you won’t see on American phones.
9. OnePlus 9 Pro
The best phone for when you realize that Pixel phones aren’t great, but you don’t want a Samsung either
Google’s Pixel phones have such great software and then… mediocre everything else. Samsung phones have incredible hardware but are laden with heavy software and actual ads inside of the stock apps. The OnePlus 9 Pro splits that difference — it has software that’s similar to Google’s on hardware that’s virtually a Samsung with a different logo on it.
The 9 Pro is just what the phone enthusiast ordered: a high-end, bells-and-whistles device with All Of The Specs but none of the cruft.
10. Samsung Z Flip 5G
The best weekend phone for when you’re “disconnecting”
Here comes the weekend, with all of its promises of relaxation and enjoyment. You don’t need a phone that’s going to make you more productive, you need something that’s going to slip into your pocket and won’t distract you with a colorful display unless you absolutely need it to.
The Z Flip 5G is this phone. You can flip it closed to ignore it and then pop it open and have a full smartphone inside, complete with every feature you get on non-flippy phones. You’re making a compromise without really making a compromise, because we all know that you had no intention of actually disconnecting for the weekend.
Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro will launch next year, following the release of an updated pair of standard AirPods this year, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The new AirPods Pro will reportedly feature upgraded motion sensors to allow for fitness tracking, while the entry-level AirPods will have an updated design similar to the Pro models along with a shorter stem.
In a previous report from last year Bloomberg said that the upcoming AirPods Pro could ditch the stem entirely in favor of a more compact design similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus or Google’s Pixel Buds. However, at the time Bloomberg noted that design challenges meant these plans could change. Its latest report says Apple has “tested” this design, which sounds like it’s not guaranteed to appear in the final model.
Alongside the two new AirPods models, Apple is reported to be developing a HomePod equipped with a screen, as well as a separate Apple TV-like device that could include a speaker and camera for video calls.
The new AirPods would be the first updates to Apple’s true wireless lineup in over a year. Apple first release its AirPods Pro in late 2019, while its entry-level AirPods haven’t been updated since March 2019. It released its first AirPods-branded over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max, in December.
Samsung has officially announced two long-rumored tablets: the Galaxy Tab S7 FE and the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite. The company is yet to confirm US pricing or availability for the Tab S7 FE, but in the UK, the tablet will cost £589 or £629 depending on whether you opt for 64GB or 128GB of storage, and it’ll release on June 18th. Meanwhile, the Tab A7 Lite is a smaller, more affordable model. It starts at $159 in the US where it will release on June 10th. (In the UK, it starts at £149 and will release on June 18th.)
There’s not a lot we don’t know about the Galaxy Tab S7 FE since most of its specs were revealed earlier this week by its German product page. It’s got a large 12.4-inch 2560 x 1600 LCD display, an 8-megapixel camera on the rear, and a 5-megapixel camera on the front. A neat bonus is that it comes with one of Samsung’s S Pen styluses in the box for note-taking and sketching purposes.
Samsung’s press release doesn’t say exactly what processor is powering the Tab S7 FE beyond saying it’s an octa-core model, but it’s previously been reported to have a Snapdragon 750G. It’s got a 10,090mAh battery that can be fast-charged at up to 45W, and there’s the choice of 4 or 6GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of internal storage (expandable by up to 1TB by microSD). There are Wi-Fi-only, LTE, and 5G models available, and the Tab S7 FE is available in black, silver, green, and pink.
Meanwhile, the more affordable Galaxy Tab A7 Lite drops the screen size to just 8.7 inches and the resolution to 1340 x 800. There’s still an 8-megapixel camera on the rear, but the selfie camera is just 2 megapixels. Previous reports have pegged its processor as a MediaTek MT8768, and that’s paired with a 5,100mAh battery and either 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There are Wi-Fi-only and LTE models available, and color options include gray and silver.
Both of these Android 11 tablets are designed as more affordable counterparts to last year’s Tab S7 and Tab A7, so their modest specs shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. If last year’s tablets are anything to go by, that should make them a pair of decent devices for media consumption, even if they’re not going to trade blows with a device like the iPad Pro when it comes to productivity.
(Pocket-lint) – When ZTE told us the Axon 30 Ultra 5G was en route for review, we got that fuzzy feeling inside. That’s because the older Axon 20 5G was the first device we’d ever seen with an under-display selfie camera – so surely the Axon 30 Ultra would take this technology to the next level?
Um, nope. Instead the Axon 30 Ultra instead has a more traditional punch-hole selfie camera front and centre, so that fuzzy feeling quickly dissipated. Without such a ‘magic camera’ on board what then is the appeal of this flagship?
The Axon 30 Ultra is all about power and affordability. It crams a top-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor into a slender body with a 6.67-inch AMOLED display that can push its refresh rate to a class-leading 144Hz. All for just £649 in the UK and $749 in the USA. So is that as exceptional value as it sounds or are there hidden compromises?
Having moved out of the gigantic Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, the ZTE’s more slender frame and trim 20:9 aspect ratio felt like a revelation by comparison. It’s not that the Axon 30 Ultra is small, per se, but it’s a well balanced scale.
The model we have in review is apparently black – that’s what the box says anyway – but the phone’s rear has a much softer metallic appearance about it, with some degree of blue to its colour balance. Really we’d call it a metallic grey. It looks pleasant, while fingerprint smears aren’t a massive problem thanks to the soft-touch material.
The camera unit on the rear is a fairly chunky protrusion, but that’s because there’s a 5x zoom periscope housed within that frame. It’s a relatively elegant block of cameras, though, and even with the phone flat against a desk it doesn’t rock about unwantedly.
The screen is the big selling point though. It’s a 6.67-inch AMOLED panel, the kind we’ve seen in the Redmi Note 10 Pro, for example, except the ZTE goes all-out when it comes to refresh rate by offering up to 144Hz. You can pick from 60Hz/90Hz/120Hz too, with the option to display the refresh rate in the upper left corner.
Having a faster refresh rate means smoother visuals, especially when it comes to moving content. You’re more likely to notice it when scrolling through emails than much else, though, so we’ve found our preference for balancing rate to battery life has meant settling on 90Hz. A more dynamic software approach would be better, or the option to designate specific apps to function at specific frame rates – especially games.
Are you really going to tell the difference between 144Hz and 120Hz? No. But the simple fact the Axon 30 Ultra can do this is to show its worth; to show that it’s got more power credentials than many less adept phones at this price point.
Otherwise the screen hits all the right notes. It’s got ample resolution. Colours pop. Blacks are rich thanks to the AMOLED technology. It’s slightly curved to the edges too, but only subtly to help hide away the edge bezel from direct view – and we haven’t found this to adversely affect use due to accidental touches and such like.
There’s also an under-display fingerprint scanner tucked beneath the screen’s surface, which we’ve found to be suitably responsive for sign-ins. Or you can sign-up to face unlock instead to make things even easier.
Having that scanner in such a position, rather than over the power button, leaves the Axon 30 Ultra’s edges to be rather neat. Other than the on/off and volume up/down rocker to the one side, and USB-C port, single speaker and SIM tray to the bottom edge, there’s nothing to disrupt the phone’s form. That keeps it looking neat and tidy. It also means no 3.5mm headphone jack, but that’s hardly a surprise.
Performance & Battery
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 8GB/12GB RAM
Storage: 128GB/256GB/1TB, no microSD card slot
Battery: 4600mAh, 66W fast-charging
Software: ZTE MyOS 11 (Android 11)
Elegant looks complement an elegant operation, too, largely down to the power that’s available on tap. With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor on board, couple with 8GB RAM, there’s little else more powerful that you can buy. Indeed, the Axon 30 Ultra is knocking on the door of gaming phone territory given that 144Hz refresh rate screen.
Navigating around the interface is super smooth and speedy, apps open quickly, and there’s no downturn in performance if you happen to open a whole bunch. Games are a breeze, too, as you’d expect from this kind of hardware – although we’d like a game centre to prevent over-screen notifications and such like.
But it’s not perfectly smooth sailing on account of ZTE’s own software, which here is MyOS 11 over the top of Google’s Android 11 operating system. It’s a common problem among Chinese makers, so we probably sound like a broken record, but there are definitely issues with notifications. WhatsApp might take a couple of hours to notify you of a message, for example, but there’s never a fixed period of time – and other times it’s immediate. The mail app Outlook rarely to never notified of new mails in the inbox either.
A lot of this is down to software management. Because there’s rather a lot of it in MyOS. Under battery settings is an ‘Apps AI-control’, which is said to intelligently manage apps to save power. Except, as we’ve highlighted above, this can stifle some apps inappropriately. It can be turned off for manual control, where individual apps can have their auto-start and background running characteristics specified.
All of this is an attempt to aid the overall battery life. Because, as you can imagine, cranking out gaming sessions using the 144Hz and top-end engine from Qualcomm’s SD888 definitely eats away at the supply pretty rapidly. The 4,600mAh cell on board isn’t as capacious as some competitors we’ve seen and that, as a result, can see a heavy use day only just about scrape through a 15 hours day. It’ll manage, but only just.
Another oddity we’ve experienced with the Axon 30 Ultra is Wi-Fi connectivity seems to be a little up and down. With less strong signal our Zwift Companion app was very choppy in its updating of data – something that hasn’t been an issue with other phones we’ve compared in the same environment. We suspect that’s because the ‘a/b/g/n/ac/6e’ designation is catering for higher frequencies (‘ac’ is 5GHz only, for example, whereas ‘ax’ caters for both 2.6GHz and 5GHz, while the newly adopted ‘6e’, i.e. 6GHz, isn’t widely supported yet).
On the rear the Axon 30 Ultra houses an apparent four lenses: a 64-megapixel main; a 0.5x ultra-wide (also 64MP); a 5x periscope zoom lens (just 8MP); and what we would call a ‘portrait lens’ with 2x zoom (also 64MP).
It’s a bit of a mish-mash when it comes to results though. The main camera, at its best, is really great. It snaps into focus quickly, reveals heaps of detail – as you can see from the main flower shot below – but isn’t the most subtle when you look in detail, as images are over-sharpened.
The ability to zoom in the camera app is actioned on a slider to the side, but you don’t really ever know which lens you’re using – until there’s a clear ‘jump’ between one visualisation and the next, because, for example, the 5x periscope zoom is far poorer in its delivery. It’s only 8-megapixels, for starters, so there’s not nearly the same clarity revealed in its images. Plus the colour balance looks far out of sync with the main lens. Really this periscope is overoptimistic.
The 2x portrait zoom lens we also can’t really work out. Sometimes zoom shots are great, sometimes they’re quite the opposite – all mushy and, again, over-sharpened. It seems to depend which sensor/lens the camera is using at that particular moment – because the image of a horse in a field that we captured (within gallery above) looks fine, whereas the sheep in a field (shown in our wide-to-main-to-zoom-to-periscope gallery, below) is miles off the mark.
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: Ultra-wide lensUltra-wide lens
There’s potential here overall. The specifications read rather well, but somehow the Axon 30 Ultra gets away from itself a little. It needs to rein in the offering really, simplify things, and deliver a more detailed app that explains specifically what kit you’re shooting with. That said, the main lens will please plenty, while close-up macro work – with the artificial intelligence ‘AI’ activated – snaps into focus really well.
To answer our opening question: what compromises do you have to accept if looking to buy the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G? Relatively few at this price point. There are some irks, though, such as the software causing notification problems (by which we mean absences), the battery being a little stretched, and the cameras get away from their potential somewhat – despite the main lens being perfectly decent.
Otherwise ZTE has crammed one heck of a lot into the Axon 30 Ultra. Its screen is commendable and having that headline-grabbing 144Hz refresh rate is sure to bring attention. The subtlety of the design is elegant, too, delivering a well-balanced scale that’s comfortable to hold and fairly fingerprint-resistant on the rear. And there’s bundles of power from the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform, ensuring apps and games run a treat.
There might be less ‘wow factor’ than if there was an under-display front-facing camera to captivate prospective customers (like there was in the Axon 20), but given the Axon 30 Ultra 5G’s price point undercuts the big-dog Samsung, that’ll be enough of a lure to many.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
The ‘Fan Edition’ Galaxy might be a year older than the ZTE, but it’s a similar price, has more stable software in our experience – and that makes all the difference to everyday use.
The Samsung Galaxy A22 5G still hasn’t become official, but it definitely can’t be long now. The phone’s name implies that this is going to be Samsung’s cheapest 5G handset yet, and today a supposed retailer listing from the EU has pretty much confirmed that unsurprising fact.
The phone is listed at €185 sans VAT, which strongly implies a final price, inclusive of the tax, around €229, depending on country (since VAT is different in each one). Perhaps in some nations we might even see it go lower, but it’s very unlikely the price will be below €199.
Still, that will in fact make this the cheapest 5G Samsung ever to launch in the EU, if not by much – the Galaxy A32 5G can currently be had for €238 at the moment (although it did launch at €279).
The Galaxy A22 5G is expected to have the MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset at the helm, 64GB of base storage, a 6.4-inch FHD+ LCD touchscreen, a triple rear camera system (48 MP main + 5 MP macro + 2 MP depth), and a 5,000 mAh battery with 15W charging support.
Samsung and Wacom have been partnering for 10 years now, ever since the first S Pen made an appearance with the huge-screened by the standards at the time Galaxy Note.
Samsung is the largest phone maker in the world, while Wacom is renowned for its digital pen tablets. Together they make devices that have almost no rivals in the smartphone world.
The pair’s latest joint-product is the Galaxy Book Pro 360′ S Pen, which is different from its tablet and smartphone counterparts.
Starting with the size, the S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Book Pro 360 laptop is thicker than your usual pen, which is said to feel very similar to a real pen and aid in long-term comfort.
The S Pen is also coated in a special paint, which enhances the grip during writing or sketching sessions.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 comes with either a 13.3-inch or 15.6-inch AMOLED, Intel’s new 11th gen processors, up to 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and Mystic Bronze or Mystic Navy paint job. The S Pen is preloaded, but doesn’t have its own compartment within the laptop.
Earlier this year, Samsung announced its ISOCELL HM3 – a 1/1.33” sensor with 108MP resolution which we saw in action on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Now, we get a new official video which hints the sensor might soon make its way to other flagship offerings from Samsung or and flagship phones from other makers.
The HM3 brings 9-to-1 pixel binning with an effective pixel size of 2.4µm. The sensor captures 12-bit images with 12MP resolution in default and features Smart-ISO Pro that upscales HDR content by capturing simultaneous low and high ISO shots to balance out ghosting on moving objects. Video capture tops out at 8K resolution while slow-motion videos can go up to 240fps at FHD resolution.
Given the timing of the new video, Samsung could be hinting at a possible new Galaxy flagship featuring the ISOCELL HM3 or that it will be offering the sensor to other OEMs.
In a new blog post, iFixit heavily criticizes Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Upcycling program (via ArsTechnica), an initiative which the repair specialists helped launch in 2017. It’s a damning look at how the initiative morphed from its ambitious origins to a “nearly unrecognizable” final form, and completely sidelined iFixit in the process.
Here’s how iFixit describes the original plan:
The original Upcycling announcement had huge potential. The purpose was twofold: unlock phones’ bootloaders—which would have incidentally assisted other reuse projects like LineageOS—and foster an open source marketplace of applications for makers. You could run any operating system you wanted. It could have made a real dent in the huge and ever-growing e-waste problem by giving older Samsung devices some value (no small feat, that). It was a heck of a lot more interesting than the usual high-level pledges from device makers about carbon offsets and energy numbers.
You can see this original vision on display in a Samsung trailer from 2017 (embedded below). Samsung outlined how an old smartphone could be turned into a sensor for a fish tank, simultaneously re-using an old phone while at the same time helping to stop people from needing to buy a dedicated single-use device. Other potential ideas included turning old phones into smart home controllers, weather stations and nanny cams.
It sounds like a cool initiative, and iFixit was initiallyheavily involved. It lent its branding to the launch, and its CEO Kyle Wiens helped announce the project onstage at Samsung’s developer conference. It had even planned to expand its support pages and spare parts program for Samsung phones had the project shipped, but…
Instead, we heard crickets. The actual software was never posted. The Samsung team eventually stopped returning our emails. Friends inside the company told us that leadership wasn’t excited about a project that didn’t have a clear product tie-in or revenue plan.
So what’s the problem with the program in its 2021 form? Two things: it only goes back three years to the Galaxy S9, and it only gives it basic smart home functionality. Less, in other words, than what’s possible from a cheap $40 Raspberry Pi.
So instead of an actually-old Galaxy becoming an automatic pet feeder, full-fledged Linux computer, retro game console, a wooden-owl Alexa alternative, or anything else that you or a community of hackers can dream of, the new program will take a phone you can still sell for $160 and turn it into something like a $30 sensor.
Most will have probably just shrugged and moved on when they saw Samsung’s upcycling announcement in January. But it’s disappointing to realize that the project could have been so much more. iFixit’s post is well worth reading in its entirety.
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