Face Unlock could come to the Google Pixel 6 Pro after all

The curious case of Face Unlock on the Google Pixel 6 Pro continues to rumble on, with the latest leaks from those in the know suggesting that the feature could eventually arrive on the phone at some point later this year.

That's according to the team at 9to5Google: they've done some digging, and found that the latest Android update for Pixel phones includes code referring to a CPU boost that's applied when Face Unlock is required (presumably to help identify you more quickly). What's more, the code is exclusive to Pixel 6 Pro handsets.

This feature isn't live and Google hasn't said anything about it, but it does appear that the software developers behind Android 12 are laying the foundations for Face Unlock on the Pixel 6 Pro to finally show up at some point further down the line.

Unlocking Face Unlock

You may remember that there have been a lot of rumors about the Google Pixel 6 phones and Face Unlock, both before and after the launch of the handsets. The thinking is that reliability and battery concerns were why the option hasn't been offered so far.

It's possible that Google has now sorted out whatever issues needed sorting and is ready to push out Face Unlock on its most recent Pixel flagship – at least for the Pro model. While the phone doesn't have the radar sensors that powered Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, its selfie camera tech and Google's AI know-how might be enough.

We might have to wait until the launch of the Analysis: the joys of Face Unlock before Face Unlock comes to the Pixel 6 Pro though – it's possible that the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro will include hardware upgrades that provide an ever more seamless unlock experience.


Analysis: the joys of Face Unlock

Google decided to leave Face Unlock out of the Pixel 5 – according to Google it was a trade-off to make room for other premium features of the device. Previously, it had made an appearance in the Google Pixel 4 and the Google Pixel 4XL.

If you never used the Face Unlock feature on those phones, it might be hard to appreciate just how convenient it was: it was fast, it worked from multiple angles, and it enabled you to go straight past the lock screen to the app you were previously using.

It was almost as if you didn't have a lock screen active at all, although of course you did – if anyone without your face tried to pick up and use the Pixel 4 or the Pixel 4 XL, they wouldn't have been able to get in.

While similar results can be achieved with a high-resolution camera and some software smarts, it was really the dedicated radar sensors that made Face Unlock so smooth – not least because it could detect when you were about to pick the phone up. Hopefully, the Pixel 7 will have the necessary hardware and software to make Face Unlock shine.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max camera test: why one is my favorite

If you've got money to burn and want to buy a smartphone that's top of its league for photography, you've basically got two choices.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max are both good options - they sit at the top of our list of the best camera phones, and if you follow tech news you'll likely have seen countless samples from both.

However given that the former is Android and the latter is iOS, and that tech users tend to draw a line in the sand between the operating systems and stick to one, you rarely see people compare their camera prowess head-to-head.

And that's a shame - it means that people who call one or the other the 'best camera phone' generally haven't tested both. And when you have seen them together, it's usually from camera experts who take pictures on both then spend ages analyzing them in a lab, without considering the human factor.

So to rectify that, we needed a neutral party to make a ruling - and that's where I come in. I don't really have much fondness for iPhones or Samsung Galaxy S mobiles - I prefer mobiles like I do my beer, cheap and cheery. So to see which was a more fun photo experience, I picked up both phones and took them for a camera test around the canals near TechRadar's London office.

A brief specs comparison

Before I dive into what I found in my camera test, I feel that I should briefly list the phones specs for people who don't know.

Camera typeiPhone 13 Pro MaxSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Main12MP f/1.5 26mm180MP f/1.8 23mm
Ultra-wide12MP f/1.8 13mm 130-degree12MP f/2.2 13mm 120-degree
Telephoto12MP f/2.8 77mm 3x zoom10MP f/2.4 70mm 3x zoom
PeriscopeNone10MP f/4.9 230mm 10x zoom

Standard pictures? Too similar

Image 1 of 2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample

A barge taken on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

iPhone 13 Pro Max camera sample

A barge taken on the iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Future)

When I first started taking standard (1x) pictures on both the iPhone and Galaxy, I quickly noticed something, and putting the pictures on my PC and blowing them up to a larger size made it clearer.

For pictures like these, the differences are basically small enough to be irrelevant. At least on my standard PC display, the colors look near-identical, the field of view is almost the same (though wider by a touch on the Samsung). And there aren't any huge changes between the pics.

Sure, you can zoom in and point to tiny areas where there are slight discrepancies - the balconies in the top-left are a little bit overexposed on the Samsung, and the iPhone clearly loses detail when you start to zoom in - but most people aren't going to do that are they?

No, for snaps like this, both mobiles perform basically the same. So I needed to get more artistic.

Close-ups

Image 1 of 2

iPhone 13 Pro Max camera sample

A close-up picture of leaves on the iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample

A close-up picture of leaves on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

I like a nice macro image as much as the next person... but apparently neither Apple or Samsung do, or they would have made taking close-up pictures much easier.

You see, both use their ultra-wide cameras to take macro photography shots, and both automatically switch to these when you put the phone near a subject. However, the results weren't perfect on either.

When I held the Galaxy S22 Ultra near these leaves, hoping to get the nearest few in focus and the rest of the leaves slightly out of focus with the background a nice puddle of blur, it took quite a lot of coercion to get this to happen. I had to hold the phone really still and manually adjust the focus using on-screen controls.

While it was annoying on the Galaxy, though, it was downright impossible on the iPhone. The device would flicker between its lenses seemingly at random when near the leaves, and there was no consistent way of getting the right level of focus, or keeping the phone in macro mode. And sometimes when this mode did trigger, the completely wrong thing was in focus.

So the images you see aren't actually taken in macro mode, purely because I couldn't wrangle the iPhone well enough to ensure it'd take right. Both phones lose points here (as neither has a dedicated macro camera, like some other mobiles), though the iPhone loses more.

Going wide

Image 1 of 2

iPhone 13 Pro Max camera sample

A lake captured on the iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample

A lake captured on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

When I loaded these ultra-wide pictures into TechRadar's website, I needed to double check that I hadn't accidentally uploaded the same image twice - they're near-identical.

Both of the ultra-wide cameras have the same resolution and nearly the same field of view, colors look basically the same, and there's no noticeable difference in distortion between the two. In fact, the main way that you can tell they're different pictures at all is that there's more of the dock on the iPhone snap.

The lack of differences between the iPhone and Samsung here don't mean much to me - I don't really like the look of ultra-wide pictures - but it does mean that this section can be nice and short!

Zooming in a little bit

Image 1 of 2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample

A picture taken at 3x zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

iPhone 13 Pro Max camera sample

A picture taken at 3x zoom on the iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Future)

Now we get to the good stuff - zoom.

Both the Samsung and Apple phones offer 3x optical zoom on their telephoto lens (though admittedly the Galaxy has a second zoom camera, that we'll get to later). But note, that this doesn't mean they zoom in the same amount - that's 3x from their own respective 'standard' modes.

Because the iPhone has a longer focal length for its main camera, that means 3x its zoom gets it further in than on the Samsung. The pictures make this clear - you can't see any of the non-cloudy sky on the Pro Max snap.

For the picture of this tree, the iPhone snap works - it frames the branches up well. However when you zoom in, an odd iPhone niggle rears its head - look at the house on the left. It's weirdly yellowish on the Pro Max snap, more so than on the S22 Ultra shot (and compared to the real house).

So there are good and bad things about both snaps, though if push came to shove I'd have to pick the iPhone 13's snap as being my favorite. If this was the end of the camera test, there would be a clear winner - but unfortunately, Apple's offerings don't go the extra mile.

Zooming in further

Image 1 of 2

iPhone 13 Pro Max camera sample

Some boats taken on the iPhone 13 Pro Max's 15x digital zoom. (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample

A bird captured on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's 100x zoom. (Image credit: Future)

As I mentioned earlier, I don't like ultra-wide snaps - no, I love using telephoto or periscope snappers to close the distance. And the iPhone 13 Pro Max's camera prowess falls apart when you try anything beyond 3x zoom.

The phone's maximum limit is 15x, and thanks to the 12MP sensor used on the telephoto camera being a little low-res, going anywhere near that level of zoom results in pixelated snaps (since digital zoom is basically cropping).

Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - it can hit 10x optical zoom with its periscope camera, and can go all the way to 100x digital zoom if you want it. It's just far superior for this kind of picture.

Bear in mind, zoom photography isn't just useful for capturing boats or animals that are far away. It's great for close-up pictures too, of nearby pets or flowers at a medium distance, as the focal length results in snaps with a lovely depth of field.

On my camera test, I frequently came across subjects that I just couldn't capture, because the iPhone wouldn't zoom in far enough. And in these circumstances, only the Galaxy could help.

Takeaway

This isn't the be-all and end-all of camera tests - I didn't capture using other camera modes, or at night, or take any selfies. But I wanted to emulate the kind of photography I'd do on a normal day out.

Thanks to its zoom prowess, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra quickly became my go-to for pictures. It gave me the versatility I needed to switch from ultra-wide to super-zoom depending on what the subject needed.

The fact that the iPhone felt uncomfortable to use (thanks to its flat edges) and had a fiddly camera app didn't help either, but it's really in the zoom department that the Samsung stood out.

Hopefully, Apple learns a thing or two in time for the iPhone 14 launch - for a super-expensive phone, 3x optical zoom just isn't enough.

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Google’s split keyboard makes typing on foldables easier, hints at the Pixel Fold

The Gboard software keyboard that Google develops for Android (and iOS) is getting a significant upgrade to improve the typing experience on foldable devices – and it suggests that the Google Pixel Fold is getting closer to launch.

As detailed on Reddit (via Android Central), the new interface mode shifts one half of the keys over to the left of the screen and the other half over to the right. That means that the keys are in a more natural position in relation to your thumbs as you hold a larger, foldable device in two hands.

However, you need to be running the beta version of Gboard for Android to get the feature at the moment, and you might have to wait before Google flips the switch and enables the split keyboard option on your particular device.

Do the splits

You'll know that you have the new feature when you see a split keyboard icon above the row of numbers on the Gboard interface, just to the right of the settings cog icon. Tap this to switch between the normal layout and the split layout.

It's worth noting that the default Samsung keyboard on foldables such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 already offers this layout option. However, some users prefer using Google's own Gboard as their Android keyboard of choice.

At the moment it isn't clear how long it will take for the feature to progress from the beta version of Gboard into the standard app. It's also not included in the iOS version yet – because we're still waiting for a foldable iPhone.


Analysis: software then hardware

While we don't have confirmation that a Google Pixel Fold is on the way, there are a lot of signs that it's in the pipeline, and this Gboard update is the latest. It means Google's own Android keyboard will be ready when the folding smartphone is finally unveiled.

With Android 12L and Android 13, Google has continued to make a number of improvements for devices with larger screens, including foldables. A lot of the upgrades involve the software interface: how apps look and function on a screen that can be split in two, and how elements such as the status bar adapt.

In other words, Google is getting the software foundations in place before it launches its own foldable hardware, which is the correct way to go about it. The appeal of a folding Pixel phone is going to be seriously diminished if the software is buggy and not properly tweaked to support the different form factor.

There have been rumors that the Pixel Fold is going to launch later this year, perhaps around October time, so it would make sense that Google is getting the software pieces into place. However, it may well get pushed back to 2023.

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You’ll soon be able to pay for gas through Apple CarPlay and iOS 16

Apple CarPlay is getting an innovative new feature in the not-too-distant future: it's going to give drivers the ability to pay for gas right from their car's infotainment screen, making the process more convenient and straightforward than ever.

While the upgrade was mentioned by Apple at WWDC 2022, we now have some more specifics. Reuters reports that HF Sinclair, which sells its fuel at 1,600 stations in the US, is planning to support CarPlay purchases later this year.

There are a few caveats: at the moment we've not heard anything about support for the feature outside of the US, and it won't go live until iOS 16 is released to the public. That should happen in September, when we'll also be treated to the iPhone 14 launch.

More to come

"We are excited by the idea that consumers could navigate to a Sinclair station and purchase fuel from their vehicle navigation screen," Jack Barger, HF Sinclair's senior vice president of marketing, told Reuters.

To take advantage of this, you are going to have to sign up for an account in the HF Sinclair app, and get your payment details registered in advance. Once all that is done, you should be able to pay for your gas right from the driver's seat.

With more and more motors now supporting CarPlay, other companies are likely to follow the lead of HF Sinclair in offering this kind of friction-free payment solution, so expect to hear further announcements like this between now and September.


Analysis: software for your car

If you've not used Apple CarPlay before, it isn't installed in your car – it runs from your iPhone, which is why the iOS 16 upgrade is important. If a vehicle's infotainment system supports it, then the iPhone can put the CarPlay interface up on the screen.

Apple has promised that iOS 16 will usher in the "next generation" of CarPlay, though details are a little thin on the ground, and some vehicle partnerships aren't going to be announced until 2023 – so there might be delays along the way.

Deeper communication with the internal systems in a car (including the gauge cluster), plus more features specific to each car model, are in the pipeline. Apple is also saying that "new levels of personalization" will also be rolled out in the future.

Meanwhile, Android Auto – the Google equivalent – isn't sitting dormant either. Recent improvements pushed out with Android updates include the ability to play games (when the car is stopped) and improvements to the interface.

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iOS 16 includes this awesome hidden innovation

I think I wildly underestimated the impact of iOS 16 and its new Lift Subject from Background feature. This is next-level image stuff that fundamentally changes how you can interact with the 15-year-old platform.

Let's start by getting something clear: Apple's next big mobile platform update, iOS 16, is still months away from final release and is currently only in developer beta. The public beta could arrive as soon as next week (the week of July 3). This means that, while I can talk about what I've learned, I can't show you any more than what we all saw during Apple WWDC 2022 keynote last month.

Granted, the demo of someone grabbing a bulldog out of a photo and casually dropping it onto a Message was pretty cool on its own. Actually using it, though, is something else.

iOS 16 Lock Screen

The demo (Image credit: Apple)

Hold it

From what I can tell, it doesn't matter what kind of photo from your library you use, or even its age. Virtually any photo with a clear subject (or subjects) is game for the Lift Subject from Background feature.

In my library, I opened photos shot with my iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 6 and was able to select subjects in all of them.

iOS 16 Lift subject from background

The iOS 16 Lift Subject from Background selection process. (Image credit: Apple)

As demonstrated in the keynote, you open the photo on the iPhone and place your finger on the subject (or multiple subjects, as it's happy to let you grab a group of people). You know your iPhone is finding the subject thanks to a cool visual effect that appears to marquee the subject and transport it to your finger's control.

As Apple told me last month, the ability to identify subjects is all part of the company's rapidly developing image-segmentation technology. Apple uses it on the lock screen to put just your image subject in front of the time. In the case of Lift Subject from Background, it lets you select and move the photo subject almost anywhere.

It's more

I think I understood what I saw during the WWDC keynote demonstration, but it wasn't until I tried the Lift Subject from Background feature myself that I understood the radical iOS change that comes along with it.

Look, it's cool that iOS 16 can identify and lift any subject (person, flower, bird, dog) from a photo. What I didn't understand is how you might move that subject elsewhere. This is not a cut-and-paste feature; it's also not a photo-editing feature, à la the Google Pixel's Magic Eraser. It's more like a mobile platform magic carpet ride.

Once I had a subject selected, I paused for a moment as I tried to figure out what to do with the floating image under my finger. How would I get it to Messages as they did during the WWDC demo?

iOS 16 Lift subject from background

Now you have your subject under your finger or thumb. (Image credit: Apple)

Instinctively, I kept one finger on the subject and with my other hand I touched the screen and swept up from the bottom to access my home screen. Then I selected Messages.

I found I could hover with the captured image over my messages list and drop it into one of the threads, or go directly to an open message conversation.

Alternatively, I could open a different app like Notes or Keynote and drop in. As long as I held my finger on the captured subject, I could do whatever I wanted with my other hand, including launching new apps or swiping up one-third of the way from the bottom of the screen to access all my open apps and choose the one where I wanted to drop in my subject.

iOS 16 Lift subject from background

You can drop in in a wide variety of apps. (Image credit: Apple)

I couldn't recall ever seeing iOS 16 work in this fashion before, like a multi-window system.

It's weird, cool, and a distinct departure from previous versions of iOS. We've always had multi-touch, but this is like multi-modal touch -- and with a pretty wild new image feature to boot.

iOS 16 Lift subject from background

Time to message that dog. (Image credit: Apple)

It's possible that Lift Subject from Background will undergo many changes before Apple launches the final version of iOS 16 in the fall, but I don't see it going backward from this near-revolutionary change (which also happens to work in iPadOS 16). It's the start of something big.

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Motorola’s next flagship has a camera unlike any iPhone, Galaxy or Pixel

Motorola’s next flagship – the Moto X30 Pro – is shaping up to be an unorthodox entry in the flagship phone space, with new official camera details pointing to a system unlike anything we’ve seen on devices from rivals including Apple, Samsung or Google.

Rumors around the X30 Pro have existed since January (under the name ‘Motorola Frontier’), however, more recently, Motorola has been serving up its own official teases of the device; granting us glimpses of the hardware the phone is set to offer.

It was previously reported that – based on a spy shot supplied by user Fenibook on Weibo – the phone will lead with a huge 200MP sensor, set into what resembles a Xiaomi 12/Vivo X60 Pro-inspired camera module.

In a new post shared to the Chinese social network from the official Motorola account on July 30, we now know what focal lengths the phone’s three rear sensors are set to be and they’re… unexpected.

While the promise of three rear-facing cameras isn’t anything out of the ordinary, the Moto X30 Pro forgoes the standard blend of main (wide), ultrawide and telephoto that most rear triple-lensed phones offer up, instead opting for a 35mm primary sensor, paired to dual 50mm and 85mm telephoto snappers.

While the zoom range isn’t particularly astounding, it’s Motorola’s departure from an ultrawide to a dedicated portrait camera for that secondary lens that sets the X30 Pro’s system apart.

Motorola’s next flagship is slated to launch in China in the coming weeks, with the possibility of making its way westward, towards the UK, Europe and the US soon after.


Analysis: advantage on Moto’s own terms

The trend of phones sporting multiple rear camera sensors started to pick up around 2017, with the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X alongside the Galaxy Note 8 being some of the first high-end handsets to adopt the feature.

Where high-end handsets are concerned, nowadays three sensor setups almost always manifest as a main, ultrawide and telephoto. By deviating from the status quo, Motorola has made the X30 Pro trickier to directly compare with otherwise similarly-spec'd rivals.

This also opens up an opportunity for the company to innovate and dominate in an area that’s seldom the focus of most phone makers’ camera endeavours. Does the Moto X30 Pro have the stones to become the king of mobile portrait photography? 

We’ll have to wait and see, but just by placing an emphasis on it the phone sends a message to the makers of the best camera phones currently out there, that they can’t rest on their laurels, not anymore.

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Future iPhones could be much less annoying to use in the rain

Most high-end smartphones these days have a decent amount of water resistance – enough that you can confidently use them in the rain. Except, if you’ve ever tried interacting with a smartphone’s screen in a heavy downpour you know what a lost cause that can be, with the moisture leading to false touches. Apple could have a solution to this though.

In a patent spotted by Forbes and catchily titled ‘Modifying functionality of an electronic device during a moisture exposure event,’ the company details ways that an iPhone could use pressure and moisture sensors to detect ‘moisture events’ – which could range from a small amount of water on the screen, to the phone being fully submerged in water.

Once a moisture event has been detected – and the iPhone has figured out just how much moisture it’s dealing with – the handset would then aim to adapt to this to prevent false touches from being registered.

A patent image showing a simplified iPhone interface for use underwater

(Image credit: USPTO / Apple)

To aid in that, the on-screen button layout might be changed, by making them larger for example, so they’re easier to hit, or moving them further apart. Some controls might even be removed altogether, leading to a simplified interface with just a few big buttons to hit.

Cleverly, the phone would also use its pressure sensors to ensure that touches are only registered if a certain amount of pressure is made – so a hard push with one of your digits would register, but a drop of water wouldn’t. The amount of pressure required and the layout of the interface could also vary depending on the situation - whether it’s raining or whether you’re underwater for example.

If you are brave enough to use your iPhone underwater then it might also be able to display your current depth, to help ensure you remain within the phone’s water resistance limits.


Analysis: don’t count on seeing this soon if ever

This patent sounds like a potentially great idea, but the caveat we always add with patents is that far more of them get filed and granted than actually get used for commercially available devices.

Apple is always thinking up and experimenting with new ideas, but the vast majority of them don’t see the light of day, be it because they’re too niche, too costly, too hard to implement, or probably any number of other reasons.

So we might never see an iPhone that can comfortably be used when wet, and if we do it’s very unlikely that the iPhone 14 will be that phone – think the iPhone 15 or even later.

Still, more than some patents we’d love to see this become a reality. The underwater use cases might be niche, but everyone gets rained on, so a feature like this could help Apple's handsets stand out among the best smartphones.

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OnePlus 10T could lose a popular OnePlus phone feature

With the OnePlus 10T coming pretty soon, we've started to hear leaks about the upcoming Android phone - but the latest one isn't great news for fans of OnePlus and its phones.

Renders have leaked via site SmartPrix, though they come from reputable leaker OnLeaks so seem pretty reliable. They show the newest OnePlus phone from a few different angles - but show a big gap where an important feature is missing.

While the OnePlus 10T looks a lot like the OnePlus 10 Pro in many ways - it has a nearly identical-looking camera bump, for example - it doesn't have an alert slider like the Pro version and many previous phones from the brand.

An alert slider is a physical slider that lets you easily turn your phone into vibrate, silent or full volume mode, which saves you unlocking the phone and jumping into the quick-settings menu every time you need to change this setting.

It's a feature that loads of OnePlus phone fans love - it's also something that you see on iPhones, though when it comes to Android, you'll generally only see it on OnePlus phones.

See more

Analysis: a surprising feature to drop

OnePlus' T series usually takes the form of slightly modified and improved versions of the standard numbered models - though the 10T's lack of a 'Pro' title makes its position compared to the existing phone obvious.

So we'd expect the OnePlus 10T to lose some features from the Pro, but the alert slider is an odd thing to lose. This is a feature that's popular with fans of the company, so lots of people who might consider buying the phone will be looking for the slider.

Bear in mind that these early renders may just have slight errors, which may explain the disappearing slider, but Onleaks does have a good reputation.

We'll just have to wait and see when the OnePlus 10T lands, or otherwise fans of the alert slider will have to stick to the iPhone 14.

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Apple would like to remind you that it still thinks Samsung copied the iPhone

Some wounds never heal. Just ask Apple, the new champion of grudge holders.

As we were all celebrating the 15-year anniversary of the original iPhone, Apple took a moment during a rather extensive and fascinating interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern to once again call out rival Samsung for allegedly copying iPhone technology.

Apple’s current head of Marketing Greg Joswiak, an amiable guy whom I’ve had many pleasant and sometimes pointed conversations with, is one of the featured players in Stern’s video, which cleverly details the history of the iPhone through the eyes of someone who was born on the same day.

However, when she asks Joswiak about the rise of the big-screen Android phone and Samsung’s part in it, Joswiak’s smile fades and he calls it “annoying.”

Okay, I get that. Apple was on top of the world with an industry-changing device that came in exactly one flavor. There were no Pros or Maxes or screen-size variants. You got 3.5-inches and that was the end of it. Then Samsung arrives with devices like the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S4, all with screens at least an inch larger. Worse yet, their designs and icon-based home screens were a little too familiar-looking.

Yeah, I guess I’d be annoyed, too.

But Joswiak isn’t done. “They were annoying because, as you know, they ripped off our technology.” Oh, wow. So, we’re going there. Warming up to the topic, Joswiak continues, “They took the innovations that we had created and created a poor copy of it and just put a bigger screen around it. Yeah, so we were not too pleased.”

Huh. It’s like the wounds are still fresh, even though they’re not, even from a litigation standpoint.

Apple vs. Samsung

Back in 2011, Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement, claiming Samsung copied the look and feel of its iPhone 3GS. Samsung would later countersue, claiming Apple was copying them.

The legal battles raged for years and cost – mostly Samsung – millions of dollars until the two parties quietly settled in 2018.

Yet, here is Joswiak, ripping open that old wound as if the companies are not still partners.

That’s right, for as many pieces of technology as Apple seeks to build itself (including, now, Apple Silicon), it’s still relying on component manufacturers for various iPhone parts and technologies. In recent years, Qualcomm (another frenemy) and Broadcom have supplied wireless chips and Samsung is often the go-to supplier for the OLED displays on most modern iPhones.

Granted, Apple insists on bespoke components from many of its partners, meaning that whatever, say, Samsung might build for its own phones and other companies, Apple probably asks it to make numerous adjustments to satisfy its own rigorous requirements.

Even if Apple and Samsung were never partners, Joswiak’s fresh enmity is striking. It’s as if he isn’t aware that the entire handset industry is inexorably sliding to the middle. All smartphones look alike and even if Samsung hadn’t allegedly “copied” some of Apple’s design and functionality elements, there was a clear path forward for all smartphones:

  • Bigger screens
  • Biometric security
  • Thinner bodies
  • Longer battery life
  • Apps and on-screen app management
  • Better and more cameras

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also how development works. Unless you are inventing something no one has ever seen before, your product and design will inevitably be built on the backs of what’s come before.

Naturally, Samsung (and other third-party Android smartphone designers Apple also eventually sued) all saw the seemingly ubiquitous iPhone and used them for a time. They had to understand that phenomenon. Even if they didn’t do teardowns and reverse engineering (many probably did), they’d be influenced by the iPhone all the same.

One might argue that the creation of another platform option and some aspirational design decisions made by Samsung (like bigger screens) actually helped Apple by leading them to expand the iPhone options from one model to today’s five choices (iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone SE (2022)).

Usually, when you ask a tech executive about the competition, even from a historical perspective, they demur and talk about how competition led to growth and innovation for them.

Joswiak, though, made it clear that Apple is still annoyed.

Upon reflection, though, maybe this isn’t a bad thing. It means Apple is as hungry as a young company. It can still feel the slights from the early days and uses them as fuel to drive new innovation.

Perhaps it’s even a sign that Apple is preparing to, after all these years, strike back at Samsung where it hurts the most – in the marketplace. And what better way to do that than with Apple’s first folding iPhone. Imagine how Samsung will feel when that arrives.

I’d guess, “annoyed.”

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BT asks for more time to replace Huawei kit in its core network

BT has asked the UK government for more time to remove Huawei’s telecoms equipment from the most sensitive parts of its network infrastructure.

All mobile and broadband operators must remove any Huawei kit installed in the core layers of their infrastructure by 28 January, 2023 as part of a wider ban on the company’s technology due to alleged security concerns.

BT is migrating to a new 4G and 5G core powered by Ericsson’s cloud-based technologies. However, the company’s CTO Howard Watson told Bloomberg that supply chain issues caused by the pandemic had slowed down progress.

BT Huawei

Although BT is still working to the original deadline of early next year, it has formally requested an extension.

Huawei has had a presence in the UK market for two decades and was a supplier to all four major mobile operators. However, in July 2020 the government followed the US’s lead and banned operators from using the Chinese firm’s technologies.

The ban forms part of a wider package of sanctions on the Chinese firm.  In July 2021, the government reversed its previous policy and confirmed all mobile operators would be forbidden from purchasing new Huawei 5G radio gear from 2021 and must remove all equipment installed in their 5G networks by 2027.

It was a dramatic reversal of previous policy, and at the time, the government said it expected the ruling to delay 5G rollout by up to three years and add £2 billion of additional costs to operators.

No evidence has ever been produced to support the alleged security concerns and Huawei has persistently denied the allegations.

Via Bloomberg

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Google’s DIY Pixel repair is here, and it looks better than Apple’s version for iPhones

Not so long ago, Apple started allowing iPhone users to repair certain faults for themselves, and now Google has started offering a similar service to Pixel owners.

In partnership with iFixit, Google now offers parts and repair kits catering to a myriad of mobile maladies, covering the original Pixel through to the Pixel 6 line – though the exact selection of parts and supported phones seems to vary a bit from country to country.

You can order a kit online, and it'll come with the relevant replacement parts, along with the tools necessary to fit them. iFixit also provides detailed repair manuals for all supported fixable problems; available fixes include replacements for the screen, rear cameras, batteries, and in some cases, the charging assembly.

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Depending on the device and problem, the cost for these repair kits can range from around $22.99 / £24.99 (for a Pixel 2 camera) to $192.99 / £189.99 / AU$252.99 (for a Pixel 6 Pro screen).

At launch, the kits are available in the US, UK, Australia, and EU countries where the Pixel line is available.

Of course, these repairs won’t be for everyone – generally, we’d suggest getting a professional to fix your Pixel, unless you're confident in what you’re doing. Either way, another manufacturer that officially supports the right to repair is great.

For those who have the tech know-how or for whatever reason can’t easily get their phone repaired elsewhere, this is a handy option, and one which should make Pixel phones last all the longer – which is good for both our wallets and the environment.


Analysis: how does this compare to Apple’s Self Service Repair?

We haven’t tested either of these services ourselves, but from looking at them both it seems Google’s repair service might have some advantages over Apple’s.

For one thing, the replacement Pixel parts generally look cheaper – though this can vary, depending on the components in question and the region.

One key difference with these Pixel repairs is that you buy the relevant tools for the job from iFixit, whereas Apple Self Service Repair simply has you rent them. The latter is probably more sustainable, but alongside paying for the equipment rental, an enormous hold (of $1,100 excluding taxes in the US) will be put on your card, in case you don’t return the kit in full and on time.

That huge cost is because Apple sends out a full suite of tools, with the same selection sent out regardless of your issue, whereas iFixit just sends the tools you need for your device's specific ailment.

Another difference in Google and iFixit’s favor is that, at the time of writing, Apple Self Service Repair is only available in the US, though this is set to change.

Still, given how much trouble The Verge had when performing their own iPhone repair, you might want to skip it anyway, and it remains to be seen whether Google’s repairs will be any easier. Our advice? Pick up one of the best eco-friendly phone cases, and hopefully your phone won’t need to be repaired in the first place.

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Apple iPhone is officially 15. It was cooler when it was a baby

The early days, when the iPhone was new, were special. 15 years ago, Steve Jobs and Apple engineered what could best be described as a hype beast of a product launch.

First, Jobs unveiled the iPhone at Macworld in January 2007, but it would be months before the iPhone would officially launch. Whether by design or necessity, that delay turned out to be the best possible way to launch what would become a technological and cultural touchstone.

Anticipation for availability details and the official launch date built and built until Apple announced and, naturally, the tech media reported it.

Hype central turned out to be the one-year-old Apple Flagship Store on Fifth Ave. While I remember launch day, I don’t recall attending or even walking by. However, reports from the time described a line that literally ran down the front steps of the store and snaked around the block. There was media, and third-party companies trying to ride this cresting wave of excitement. It was pandemonium.

The old-fashioned way

Apple generated all this without the benefit of social media. Facebook was just a couple of years old and mostly only college students used it. Twitter hadn’t caught on with the general public. There was no Instagram.

This was all built on traditional media hype and word of mouth.

Apple leaned into it, hard. There were store employees acting as cheerleaders, leading people in chants of “When I say ‘I,’ you say, ‘iPhone.’”

The scenes of people waiting all night (sometimes for days) outside of Apple Stores were repeated around the country. 

Why?

Apple and Jobs had spent the last eight years building brand devotion that some might argue surpassed the concurrent quality of their products. I don’t see it that way. There’s never been a company, tech or otherwise, that managed to pair exquisite design and industry-leading quality and utility with a brand affinity that built into something approaching a cult.

As one guy told The New York Times in 2007 while he waited online outside a Chicago Apple Store for the first iPhone, “If Apple made sliced bread, yeah, I’d buy it.”

The devotion was born out of products like the iMac, iBook, and iPod. Steve Jobs was the glue that bound it all together. It was hard to find an Apple fanatic who wasn’t as devoted to Jobs as he was to his iPod.

An original iPhone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Devotion and repetition

After that first launch, I became a regular at the yearly launch events, which eventually moved from the Summer to September or October. For a while, the hype machine continued unabated. At the iPhone 6s launch, I remember meeting one of the first eager iPhone recipients, a young woman who traveled from Lithuania to get a Rose-colored device she still couldn’t buy in her home country.

Still, by then the tenor of the events had shifted. Yes, there were still lines, but they were often filled with professional line waiters who would buy the phones for other people and those who were buying for resale. Pre-orders, home delivery, and at-home activation all became commonplace – and easier than waiting outside an Apple store.

The lines were starting to shrink, but Apple’s team of hypers was growing and getting bolder.

After the Lithuanian woman brought her new, still-boxed phone outside, they demanded she unbox it for the crowd. She complied and seemed excited, but I thought it was a little forced.

Never the same

There are the occasional blips back to past excitement, like when Apple introduced the iPhone X in 2017. Its radical new look and notch created a buzz not seen since the Jobs days. I thought the line at the Fifth Avenue store was among the biggest I’d seen in years. I had the phone early and when I waved it in front of a few future iPhone X owners, they visibly swooned.

Obviously, the pandemic vaporized that phenomenon for a few years, but even before then, I’m not sure the lines of iPhone customers were as big as the groups of professional Team Apple cheerleaders who created a gauntlet for new iPhone owners to run through.

15 years on, Apple’s iPhone is still an excellent smartphone, clearly a leader in its field, but the hype bubble Apple and Steve Jobs nurtured and grew is visibly deflated. We still love the devices and buy them by the millions, but that cultural moment is gone.

I look forward to the next product that can generate that kind of thrill.

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Ericsson’s €6bn Vonage deal delayed by US probe

Ericsson’s proposed €6.2 billion acquisition of cloud-based communication specialist Vonage has been delayed by an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The Swedish telecoms equipment giant had hoped to complete the deal by the first half of 2022, but now expects the transaction to go through next month. It added that it is working closely with authorities and that it has no reason to believe there will be any complications.

“The merger has cleared all other requisite foreign and US regulatory approval requirements, and the parties are working to conclude the regulatory process as expeditiously as possible,” it said.

“Ericsson and Vonage remain fully committed to this transaction and are working towards closing before end of July, 2022.”

Wireless power

Ericsson hopes the takeover will allow it to bring more of its 5G technology and expertise into the enterprise market and expand its overall portfolio for businesses.

“We are hiring an additional 250 software developers, engineers and architects with cloud native skills to enhance our capability to deliver the benefits of cloud native technologies to our global customer base via our RAN, Management, Automation and Orchestration offerings," said the firm.

Ericsson is one of several major network equipment providers (NEPs) looking to supply mobile operators as they continue their 5G rollouts. The development of cloud-based, software-defined technology, including RAN, is critical to this endeavour.

  • If your tests are showing a slow connection you should check out the best 5G phones 
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Samsung adds virtualized 2G to its network portfolio

Samsung’s virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) platform now supports 2G connectivity, addressing one of the company’s biggest weak spots in telecoms equipment.

The Korean electronics giant sees 5G and the shift to software-based, cloud-native infrastructure as a huge opportunity to crack a market that has traditionally been dominated by Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia.

Central to Samsung’s pitch is that, unlike other vendors, it is focusing its resources on 4G, 5G and 6G rather than legacy technologies, and can deliver an end-to-end proposition that combines chipsets, radios, and cores.

Samsung 2G networks

But although 3G is losing importance, 2G is still essential for many operators for emergency service calls, is used for certain mass IoT applications, and offers the widest platform for international roaming.

Samsung hopes that by adding support for “yesterday’s innovation”, its products will appeal to operators that still rely on 2G but still want to modernize their networks. Virtualization means 2G, 4G and 5G can all be supported from a single platform, simplifying infrastructure, and saving physical space.

“Virtualization of 2G will be an effective way for operators and enterprises looking to leverage this legacy technology, enabling operators to maintain 2G with more efficiency in deployment and management,” said Kiho Cho, VP and Head of Product Strategy at Samsung Networks. “It is also an optimal option for markets that are not ready for 4G or 5G, but still want to modernise networks and future-proof their technology investments.

“Legacy 2G network solutions are often outdated and take up too much physical space, with lower operational efficiency. By replacing traditional hardware-based 2G network equipment with a software-centric approach, operators can benefit from site simplification, centralised management, deployment efficiency and cost savings.

“Virtualization also aids in ensuring a smooth migration path to more advanced network technologies. When the time arrives that traffic diverts away from 2G, operators can phase it out, making room for and allocating resources to newer technologies. This can be easily done with a vRAN architecture, which can turn 2G on or off at any time—and use freed up server capacity for 4G and 5G traffic, rather than having to physically remove hardware infrastructure from cell sites.”

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5 fascinating facts from 15 years of iPhone

Within the first 30 minutes of Apple’s 2007 Macworld keynote in early January, Steve Jobs unveiled the first-ever iPhone. Just an hour later, however, the tech press and eager fans alike learned that they’d have to wait until June to actually get their hands on one. Fifteen years ago today, that wait was over.

With June 29, 2007 marking something of a milestone in the history not just of smartphones but consumer technology as a whole, we thought it’d be fun to see how that fledgling handset has evolved into the most established smartphone on the planet, by serving up a smattering of facts pulled from the history of the iPhone’s 15-year existence.

The iPhone actually missed its first sales target

During the iPhone’s 2007 launch, Jobs said the company had set its sights on selling 10 million units, equivalent to 1% of the mobile phone market at the time. Despite successfully launching on time and to generally positive reviews, (according to Statista) the original iPhone actually only sold 1.39 million units in 2007, and a total of 6.2 million handsets before being discontinued in July 2008.

Apple didn’t own the ‘iPhone’ brand name at launch

Apple had reportedly been in talks with networking giant Cisco for years ahead of the iPhone’s unveiling in an effort to lock down the rights to the brand name. Cisco took ownership of the iPhone name when it acquired a company called InfoGear back in 2000, which had in turn trademarked the name ‘iPhone’ way back in 1996 (as reported by CNBC).

According to TechRadar’s US editor-in-chief, Lance Ulanoff, at the time speculation started to form regarding potential alternatives Apple might have to settle for if a deal with Cisco couldn’t be struck. Suggestions such as ‘Apple Phone’ and even ‘Steve Phone’ were apparently bandied about; however, Apple and Cisco settled their dispute in late February 2007, just four months ahead of the iPhone’s market release.

The iPhone didn’t launch with the App Store, or a selfie camera

While nowadays the thought of having an iPhone without an App Store is unthinkable, that’s exactly how the original device made its way to market. It wasn’t until July 10, 2008, that the App Store launched, at which time it featured just 500 apps.

Today there are 1.96 million App Store apps (according to Statista) and that’s after Apple culled all the 32-bit apps no longer compatible with iOS.

Other notable iPhone staples also took time to materialize: the iPhone 4 was the first in the line to play host to a front-facing camera; Siri didn’t arrive until 2011, as part of iOS 5 on the iPhone; and the iPhone’s signature Lightning Port didn’t replace the 30-pin connector – popularized by the iPod – until 2012’s iPhone 5.

The iPhone 13 is up to 3.2 times more expensive than the original iPhone but at least 53 times more powerful

The original iPhone – with its 4GB of storage – cost $499 on a two-year plan from AT&T, Stateside (the 8GB model cost $599), while the current iPhone 13 line ranges from $699 to $1,599 – that’s for the base 128GB iPhone 13 Mini and top-spec 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max, respectively. As price increases go, that’s not that bad, especially considering just how far features and performance have come.

Speaking of performance, Moore's Law be damned; based on figures from GadgetVersus, the iPhone 13 line’s A15 Bionic chipset is approximately 53 times more powerful in single-core comparisons, compared to the underclocked RISC ARM 1176JZ(F)-S v1.0 SoC inside the original iPhone and, understandably the gains afforded to multi-core architecture expand the chasm even further.

Apple has shipped over 2.8 billion iPhones to date

While Apple hasn’t been officially releasing worldwide iPhone sales figures since November 2018 – when the total officially stood at 2.2 billion – multiple sources (as collated by Business of Apps) peg the units shipped, as of the end of 2021, at a total 2.8 billion iPhones.

According to Counterpoint Research, Apple also currently holds 62% of the premium smartphone market, and the top four spots for the most popular phones on the market (as of April 2022), worldwide.

What does the future hold for the iPhone?

While it’s clear that Apple has made some monumental strides in the iPhone’s illustrious history so far, it’s also no secret that a successor is already waiting in the wings.

Our iPhone 14 hub has all the latest updates on the next line of iPhones, including leaks, rumors and news.

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