Much linked to over the last few days has been a Google video showing exactly how to assemble a Pixel 6 Pro from first principles. But this is much more than someone reassembling something they've previously torn down - all the factory 'jigs', tools, and protective films are shown - despite the video quirks, it's a really interesting look at how a modern phone is 'made'.
Recent News - Hardware
Started as Project Andromeda with (an evolution of) Windows 10 Mobile, of course, the Surface Duo is now a year old and seemed the whole time like an experiment. Not least because its hardware design and internals were never really appropriate for use in a well-rounded smartphone - instead, the Duo had its roots in a productivity-centric pocket computer. But we now have the Surface Duo 2, ramping up the componentry to be competitive with the rest of the 2021 smartphone market.
Something of a cheat, in that I'm having to summarise other people's thoughts on the new iPhone 13 Pro range this year, since I'm not buying it (as in previous years), mainly because the update from 12 to 13 series is so relatively small. But I've been reading and watching the reviews and I thought it worth rounding up the verdicts, including some that highlight a serious shortcoming in the iPhone stills camera system - something that Apple should fix in a software update.
Ah yes, high resolution sensors continue to evolve. While not as technically sophisticated as Nokia's PureView RGB oversampling back in 2012 (just saying...), the new 'ChameleonCell' system from Samsung in the HP1 works on a (wait for it) 200MP sensor in either 2x2 (reducing the raw sensor resolution down to 50MP), 4x4 (ditto 12.5MP), or even full resolution pixel configurations, depending on available light. However, the pixel layout was also released and I have some serious colour rendering worries...
Not a smartphone but very mobile, the diminutive Surface Go has been a mainstay of my computing setup for three years now*. A Start screen and full Windows in landscape or portrait modes, and useable as laptop, tablet, or - in an emergency - as a phone with the LTE edition. Why this news post? Because Microsoft just issued a raft of low level system firmware patches, great to see its hardware fully up to date.
Samsung has been holding a virtual event, launching the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Z Flip 3, with form factors the same as last year's, but with IPX8 waterproofing and tougher flexible displays, along with a new rubber-tipped, suspension-equipped S-Pen. Along the way, the Z Fold's selfie camera has gone under-display, giving a full tablet experience, which is pretty cool.
There was a Huawei event yesterday, which I'd failed to remember, and the P50 series phones were the star, albeit not very exciting for people outside China, since they come with the Google-less Harmony OS Android fork. But I was intrigued to see, GSMArena story below, that Huawei has started offering upgrades of internal storage for a wide variety of its phone models. Eh? Are they - literally - going to start opening up phones, desoldering chips and soldering in new ones? I don't think so, but there's certainly a lot going on here...
Back in the day (2013), the (Finnish) Nokia Lumia 1020 launched with the PD-95G, a grip accessory that clamped onto the back and bottom of the phone to provide a chunky DSLR-style grip. It came complete with 'pro-grade' shutter button and, interestingly, a built-in power bank (though not a very big one) to help keep the 1020 going, but the core idea was to enhance creativity by making the Lumia feel like a DSLR. And the idea just made a come back, albeit for Apple iPhones, thanks to the (Norwegian) 'Fjorden' system, just launched on Kickstarter. See the demos here, it looks superbly thought out so far, with just two caveats for me personally, of which more below.
Last week saw a refocussing of Surface Duo 'for Business' and also launches in many world markets, and since then we've had updates, background chat, long term reviews, and more. No, the price hasn't come down, no, we still don't have review hardware in the UK, yes, it still runs Android, but here's a digest of all sorts of Surface Duo bits spotted in the week. Buckle up.
Starting off (in the smartphone world) with Series 60 (on Symbian) handsets, transitioning through Windows Phone 7.x phones, and ending up on Android, LG has officially closed its Mobile division, with the short statement quoted below. It's been a rocky road for LG, but even back in the mid 2000s at the Symbian shows, I never really felt their heart was in it, at least in terms of selling to - and supporting - the West. Some thoughts and a few looks back below.