A radical iOS 16 overhaul could make my wife miserable

Like change, Apple's iOS 16 is inevitable. Unless we're all very confused, Apple will announce its latest iPhone platform update during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6 – and soon after, the mobile lives of millions of iPhone users will tilt on their axis, as millions of us try to hold on for dear life.

My wife is one of those iPhone users, and she avoids iOS upgrades like a new strain of monkeypox. She can't do it forever though, and it usually falls to me to implement the update. That effort is preceded by an interrogation:

"How different is it?" she'll ask.

"Not too different," I lie, knowing that some of her core features will have undergone a makeover, or been moved to a new corner of the interface.

Eventually, she'll give in or, as happened in the most recent instance, encounter the newest iOS on a brand-new iPhone. I know she loves her iPhone 13, but hates, for instance, the Control Center, and how she has to gesture from the top-right corner to access it. Usually, she acts like the panel doesn't exist, and instead navigates her way through the iPhone's settings menus.

Think of my wife

So when I approach the latest batch of anticipated iOS 16 changes, which we believe might qualify as 'radical', I try to keep my wife in mind, because I believe she represents a vast number of iPhone owners – those who still use 20% of iOS 15 capabilities 80% of the time. They're in no mood to discuss "Who moved my cheese?"

Maybe iOS 16 won't be that different. While iOS 15 is vastly different from the mobile interface we encountered on the first iPhone in 2007, it's taken us 15 years of incremental change to get here.

Many of the rumors revolving around IOS 16 tease "new ways of interacting," a phrase that excites me but which probably sends a chill down the spine of any normal IOS user.

However, even cosmetic changes like Apple's move away from skeuomorphism in iOS 7 can lead to confusion and consternation. Skeuomorphism dictated that icons looked like the actions they indicated, or objects they evoked in real life. Apple's Books app looked like a bookshelf, the Calendar looked like a desk calendar, and YouTube looked like a 1950s TV.

Jony Ive hated that look, and did away with it in iOS 7. Afterwards, I'm sure that some iPhone users were hunting around for the once instantly recognizable icons.

When we write about announced or impending changes, we often use language like "after years of requests" – meaning that someone, somewhere, really wants notifications in IOS 16 to change yet again.

Double agents of change

I have nothing against some new organizing principle for notifications, but I do wonder who, exactly, has been requesting "change." I don't think my wife has ever pointed at her phone and said, "You know, these iOS notifications are pretty good, but I have a neat idea of how they could be better." She's more likely to say, "I just saw a notification and now it's gone. Where did it go?"

Instead of reflecting the interests of real iOS users, I think we've all lapsed into parroting active Redditors, and our analysts and media counterparts who like to noodle and nitpick every platform, looking for holes that aren't there, or creating false equivalencies between iOS and Android. "Android has had this amazing feature for years. Why isn't it on iOS already?"

I'm just as guilty as everyone else in this regard – but the reality is that most iOS and Android users have no idea what they're missing. They live on their one platform, and are probably pretty happy with it.

Many of the rumors revolving around IOS 16 tease "new ways of interacting," a phrase that excites me but which probably sends a chill down the spine of any normal IOS user. That's probably because "new ways" means "new learnings." Whatever you did in iOS 15 to make, say, Apple's Mail app or Safari work might not work in iOS 16 because the stock apps are probably getting a makeover. I know my wife is still frustrated that Safari puts the URLs at the bottom of the screen.

Even changes that iPhone users might welcome, like updates to the Health App and an even richer Wallet experience, might not unfairly be called overkill.

The rise of tips

With most users barely scratching the surface of, say, the Health app, don't we run the risk of overwhelming them with even more health tracking features?

If Apple really wants to make the majority of current iOS customers happy, it should focus on enhancing Tips. I don't think enough users know about this stock app and, like Microsoft Word's classic, overbearing Clippy, it could be more omnipresent and proactive in iOS.

Tips+ (that's what I'd call it) could recognize when you hesitate as you're navigating through the phone and pop up to help guide you. It would notice how you keep opening Settings to turn off Wi-Fi and show you how to do it via the Control Center. Naturally, a feature like this would be user-configurable. You could turn it on and off at will, possibly activating it when iOS 16 lands in September (maybe) and then turning it off by November when you're fully up to speed.

Personally, I can't wait to see and hear everything that's new with iOS 16 at WWDC – but then I'm not everybody. My wife and other normal people like her are dreading this moment (if they're even aware of it), knowing that what was once familiar could soon be alien, and not liking the idea one bit.

If you're looking for your next iPhone – one that's ready for iOS 16 – check out our iPhone buying guide.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has been leaked in full

We’ve been hearing drizzles of information about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 for months, but now there’s been a tidal wave, as a complete specs list for the phone has just leaked.

This comes from @UniverseIce – a leaker with a good track record – who claims that these specs are 100% accurate, so they clearly have confidence in them.

According to this source then, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a 7.6-inch foldable AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. They list the resolution as QXGA+, which in practice means it’s likely similar or identical to the 1768 x 2208 resolution of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

See more

The cover display meanwhile is apparently a 6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED one with a 120Hz refresh rate, and the phone is also said to have a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, 12GB of RAM, a choice of 256GB or 512GB of storage, a 4,400mAh battery with 25W charging, and Android 12, overlaid with Samsung’s One UI 4.1.1.

Finally, they claim the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a triple-lens rear camera consisting of a 50MP wide one, a 12MP ultrawide one, and a 10MP telephoto one with 3x optical zoom, while the outer selfie camera is a 10MP one, and the inner one is a 4MP under-display snapper.

While we’d take all of these specs with a pinch of salt, the reputable nature of the source coupled with their confidence is promising. Plus, while there’s some new information here we’ve heard a lot of this before, so it’s likely that at least much of it is accurate.

Analysis: how does the Z Fold 4 compare to the Z Fold 3?

Now that we have an idea of more or less all of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4’s specs, it’s worth looking at which parts of it are likely to be an upgrade on last year’s model.

Based on the specs above, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a more powerful chipset than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, along with upgraded wide and telephoto cameras, offering more megapixels in the case of the former and a longer-range optical zoom for the latter. The Z Fold 4 also of course looks set to ship with a newer version of Android.

However, every other spec looks identical to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 based on this leak. That’s not the worst thing though, as the Z Fold 3 is a fantastic phone – achieving 4.5 stars in our review, and one of our main complaints was the cameras, which look like they will be getting upgraded here.

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Secret third Google Pixel 7 model could topple the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

When the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro were teased by the company at the keynote speech of its annual Google IO conference, we thought we'd seen the entirety of the line - after all, the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro were the only members of its line (not including the spin-off Pixel 6a).

We might be wrong, though, as rumors are pointing to there being a third member of the line. 9to5Google has found bits of Google code that mention a model with the tag G10 - the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro have already been linked to the tags C10 and P10, so it's not one of those, and the Pixel 7a and an extra unknown Pixel phone are known as Felix and Lynx.

So this G10 phone is something completely different - what's more, some specs were linked to it, which makes it sound rather premium. Apparently it'll have a Tensor chipset, 120Hz screen refresh rate and 1440 x 3200 resolution, and dimensions that make it clear it's a phone and not a tablet.

The code makes it sound like a Pixel 7 device, and the specs suggest it's more comparable to the Pro device than it is to the standard one. Our money, then, is on this being a top-end alternative to the Pro model - quite a few companies offer Pro Plus or Ultra versions of their flagships and this could be Google's take on that.

This is the first leak or rumor on there being a top-top-end Google smartphone, so we'll have to see what other leakers and analysts think, but if this phone is real it could spell bad news for Samsung.

Analysis: a real Galaxy S22 Ultra rival

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra sits at the top of our ranking of the best smartphones, and for good reason - it has a premium design, lots of power and incredible cameras.

We often compare top-end smartphones to it when they're launch, calling them S22 Ultra rivals based on their design or price, but Google is one of the few companies which really has a chance to supplant Samsung for the top spot.

That's because Google has a legacy of making fantastic camera phones, as its AI processing is incredible for scene optimization. The key reason that the Google Pixel 6 Pro doesn't beat it is because the Galaxy S22 Ultra simply has more cameras and a few extra modes.

If a Google Pixel 7 Ultra came along with a greater camera array, it really could give the Galaxy S22 Ultra a run for its money in terms of photography power, which in turn would make it a contender for our top spot. Plus, Google could bring some features that even Samsung doesn't offer - we'd love to see a macro mode, and changeable AI settings.

Sure, the phone would need to be solid in other areas too, so the Pixel 6's software bugs would need to go, but the 6 series is fairly high in our 'best phone' ranking already.

So if there is a Google Pixel 7 Ultra, it really could do something the iPhone 13 Pro, OnePlus 10 Pro and Xiaomi 12 Pro have failed to do: knock the S22 Ultra off its throne.

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This hidden Android phone Wi-Fi sharing trick makes passwords a thing of the past

Connecting to home or work Wi-Fi networks can be a huge pain - typing long strings of gibberish digits to enter the password is lots of work, especially when one mistake can have you starting all over again. If you end up connecting to loads of networks, or have to switch devices often, you're multiplying your work.

Luckily, Android phones have an easy-to-use trick that makes it much easier to connect - however not many people seem to know about this, which is inconvenient since the method requires two people to be 'in the know'.

That's why we've written this article - to bring more awareness to this useful Android Wi-Fi method, so hopefully it becomes more widespread in the future (letting us 'borrow' more Wi-Fi passwords).

How to share a Wi-Fi password

If you're connected to a Wi-Fi network, and want to share the password to someone else, it's easy. 

Swipe down from the top of your phone, so you can see the Wi-Fi button in the quick settings - press and hold this. You'll be brought over to your phone's Wi-Fi menu - find the network you want to share and click on the cog next to it (depending on your phone UI, this cog might not be there - click on the Wi-Fi name itself in that case).

Here, you'll be brought to the settings for this Wi-Fi network itself. You should see options to disconnect, forget the network for good... and to share it.

Obviously, this option is the one you're looking for - select it. You'll generally have to re-unlock your phone, to prove it's you, when you do this.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus Fingerprint

(Image credit: Future)

Now, you'll see a QR code appear on your phone. Grab the person who needs the Wi-Fi password - this is when they'll come in.

This person will need to load up whichever app they use to scan a QR code - some phones support this feature with the built-in camera app, and for others you'll need to install Google Lens or a third-party QR code app. We've got a separate guide on how to scan a QR code if you need help.

Simply get the person who needs the Wi-Fi password to scan this QR code, and their phone will give them the option to automatically connect. This saves the rigamarole of typing in a nonsensical, super-long string of digits.

Some things to note

Just be warned, that this method requires the person to already be connected to the internet - data like 4G or 5G is fine for this though, and it doesn't exactly take up much of your allowance. But if you're not connected to the web at all, you'll still need to type in the long string of digits - sorry.

This method also works for tablets (both sharing the password from, and to, your slate), though from experience it feels like fewer built-in camera apps for tablets offer the native ability to scan QR codes.

Sharing a Wi-Fi password like this is admittedly a very situational trick, but there are moments when it can come in handy, like if you're hosting a dinner party and all need to use your phones (there are loads of party games like Spyfall and Heads-Up which need Wi-Fi) or have people working on a project at your house together.

So make sure to memorize this technique - it's pretty easy, after all - so you can easily give or receive Wi-Fi benefits.

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Ericsson steps up R&D efforts with 250 new staff in Ireland

Ericsson plans to hire 250 new staff to further its 5G efforts at its Irish research and development (R&D) centre in Athlone.

The highly skilled roles will include software developers, data scientists, architects, cloud and mobile communication engineers and will be offered over the next three years as the Swedish telecoms equipment manufacturer continues its 5G development programme.

Several major tech companies have significant presences in Ireland, most notably Apple, which opened a facility in County Cork in 1980.

Wireless power

Ericsson opened its site in Athlone a year earlier in 1979 and is now the main research facility for its Digital Services OSS (Operations Support Systems), employing 1,200 staff who also work on the firm’s Radio Access Network (RAN) portfolio.

“This announcement underscores our global reputation as a world-class R&D software development centre,” said Denis Dullea, Head of Research and Development at Ericsson Athlone. “Our team here already play a critical role in the development of Ericsson products, services and solutions that enable Ericsson to deliver limitless connectivity that makes the unimaginable possible."

“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.”

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.

Earlier this year, the company acquired cloud-based communication specialist Vonage for €6.2 billion in a move that will allow it to bring more of its 5G expertise into the enterprise market and expand its service portfolio for businesses.

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Samsung reportedly slashes smartphone production as slowdown continues

Samsung has reportedly lowered its smartphone production for this year by 30 million, in the latest sign that wider economic issues are affecting the mobile industry.

A report by Korean publication Maeil Business News claims the company has reduced its orders from 280 million to 310 million, with the cutbacks affecting its entire portfolio.

This includes low-end models like the A series and its flagship handsets like the Galaxy S, Flip, and Fold ranges.

Samsung has been contacted by TechRadar Pro for comment.

Smartphone sales

If confirmed, the move to cut production at Samsung would provide the latest evidence of a potential slowdown.

Sales of smartphones slumped by 12.5% during 2020 as retailers closed their doors and consumers delayed purchases, while the reopening of marketplaces and the availability of 5G handsets at more price points contributed to a 6% increase in 2021.

However, ongoing challenges concerning component shortages, supply chain disruption and lockdowns in China have conspired to threaten any further growth.

These issues have been compounded by wider macroeconomic and geopolitical factors affected the global economy, with the mobile industry fearing that consumers might postpone or abandon smartphone purchases.

Last week, Qualcomm said it believed that the premium segment would be more immune to the challenges than the lower end of the market given typical buyers demand the latest technology. However, Apple, which only makes premium devices, has reportedly kept production flat at around 220 million for 2022.

There is some good news on the horizon, though. Industry observers believe the second half of 2022 will offer more favourable conditions to all manufacturers as the challenging conditions ease.

Via Maiel Business News

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iOS 16 could be the most radical iPhone update in years

As we get nearer to WWDC, rumors are starting to appear with one of Apple's upcoming updates, with iOS 16 looking to get a few significant new features, including improvements to your iPhone's lock screen.

According to Mark Gurman's 'Power On' newsletter (paywalled), there's going to be further improvements to notifications, Messages and Health apps, alongside some help with iPad multitasking.

However, the significant takeaway here is the lock screen seeing a redesign. Since the debut of iOS in 2007, we haven't seen major changes to this, except for a Camera shortcut and a 'Today' notification where it gives you a brief overview of your day. Yet we may see interactive widgets soon, alongside a further benefit for iPhone 14 users, where an always-on screen will be able to constantly show notifications, thanks to a new display.

As iOS 15 was arguably a release that stepped back from major features and focused on existing ones, it looks as though iOS 16 is going to go full steam ahead in new features that are going to change how you manage your content.

Analysis: Lock screen has been overdue for a facelift

Reminders iOS Widgets

(Image credit: Apple)

Granted, seeing further improvements to Messages and Health will be welcome, although it would be good to see Health appear as its own app on iPad and Apple Watch.

Multitasking on iPad has clearly been a tough nut to crack by Apple, as we've seen up to three different ways in managing three windows, but the iPhone's lock screen is something that's been left by the wayside.

While notifications have been redesigned and improved with iOS 12, and a 'Today' view was added with iOS 15 where it would show you the day's weather, there's not been anything substantial for the lock screen itself.

However, with widgets redesigning our iOS home screens, there's an opportunity for the lock screen to see the same level of change with widgets and other aspects. Notifications that look similar on an Apple Watch, which can show even when the iPhone 14 is in low-power mode, would be a useful addition.

Regardless, it looks as though almost any user that will be able to run iOS 16 will be able to see a big upgrade even before they've accessed their home screen.

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iPhone 14 could copy this popular Android feature – but just for the Pro models

Many potential new iPhone 14 changes have leaked out already, like a new front-facing camera placement or higher-res main camera, and now reports are pointing to a popular Android phone feature making its way to Apple's smartphones.

As part of his weekly Power On Newsletter, popular Apple analyst and leaker Mark Gurman has hinted toward a new iOS 16 feature that could bring big changes starting with the iPhone 14.

According to Gurman, "iOS 16 builds in future support for an always-on lock screen" - this is a feature that's common on Android phones, where it's called an Always-On Display, and it means that when your phone isn't on, you can still see some information on the display like the time and your notifications. Newer Apple Watch devices already support this feature.

Apparently, the iPhone 13 was meant to have this screen trick but didn't, and recent iPhone 14 leaks explain why. While the iPhone 13 had a variable refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz (letting it refresh as quickly as 120 times per second, or as slowly as 10 times per second), apparently the iPhone 14's will go as low as 1Hz - this lower refresh rate is preferable for always-on displays, as it means the panel only refreshes 1 time per second, which is all you need for a screen you'll only glance at now and then.

It seems, then, that older iPhones won't get the Always-On modes, even if they're compatible with iOS 16, because their displays don't have refresh rates that go low enough.

Unfortunately, Gurman makes it sound like this mode will only come to the iPhone 14 Pro phones, which adds to the feeling that the non-Pro phones won't bring many changes from their predecessors at all.

While the Always-On Display sounds exclusive to the Pro phones, other lock screen changes don't: Gurman also suggests that with iOS 16, the lock screen will get new wallpapers and widgets to slightly improve the functionality.

Analysis: Always-On Display could be a winner

Android and iOS devices frequently snap up each other's features, making the two operating systems more and more indistinguishable each year, and this Always-On Display news is more of the same.

The screen feature is super useful for letting you glean the time, your phone's battery and any notifications you have, without burning through the battery by constantly turning the screen on.

Well, that's if Apple does it the same way as all the Android makers do - we'll have to see. We might not have to wait long though, as while the iPhone 14 is expected to debut in September, iOS 16 will likely get shown off at Apple's WWDC 2022 keynote on June 6.

As you can imagine, TechRadar (a tech website) will be on hand to cover WWDC (a tech conference), so check back then to hear about iOS 16 as well as Apple's other software announcements.

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Google Assistant could soon get even better at understanding your voice

Google Assistant can already recognize your voice from others and pick up what you're saying pretty well, but even more improvements look to be on the way: references to "personalized speech recognition" have started popping up in the code of the Google app for Android.

This is courtesy of some keen-eyed observations from the team at 9to5Google, who found that the latest version of the app will offer to "store audio recordings on this device to help Google Assistant get better at recognizing what you say".

While we don't have too much to go on here, it looks as though the feature could be similar to something Google already does on some of its smart speakers: processing some common queries locally on a device to speed up recognition and processing.

Knowing your voice

Based on the snippets of information found hidden in the app, if this functionality is turned off by the user then Google Assistant "will be less accurate at recognizing names and other words that you say frequently".

While it's not clear exactly what difference these improvements are going to make, it would seem that local processing on an Android phone and an ability to recognize your own vocal quirks – accent, unique contact names and all – are going to make the Google Assistant experience even more fluid than ever.

At this stage we don't know when (or even if) Google will push this out officially, but more information should be forthcoming should it become a fully fledged feature. As we heard at Google IO 2022, efforts to make Google Assistant conversations more natural are always ongoing.

Analysis: Google Assistant still has plenty of room for improvement

Google Assistant is arguably the best digital assistant in the business at the moment, thanks to Google's innovations in machine learning and the way that it reaches into just about every part of our lives, from web search to smart home gadgets. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't still room for improvement.

The ultimate goal is to have chatting with Google Assistant be as simple and as seamless as chatting with a friend or relative – and there's still some way to go until that's the case, despite the regular upgrades that keep getting pushed out.

With the supposed new feature mentioned above focusing on "personalized" conversations, it would seem Google wants to make its Assistant better at understanding those commands and words that are most specific to you.

In other words, it won't be caught out when you mention a name or a phrase that makes perfect sense to you but that an artificial intelligence system would get confused by. It makes sense to store this data for Google Assistant on your phone too, the device that's close by you for most of the day.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 FE: what we want to see

If the Samsung Galaxy S22, Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra didn’t quite do it for you, there might be one more member of the S22 line left to consider, as we’re likely to see a Samsung Galaxy S22 FE.

This would probably be an upper mid-range handset, designed to slot in at the bottom of the line. But given that the Galaxy S22 will have seen some price cuts by the time it lands, that may not neatly pan out.

In any case, below we’ve collected everything that we’ve heard so far about the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE, and we’ve also included a wish list of things that we want from the phone.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A more affordable member of the S22 line
  • When is it out? Probably October or later
  • How much will it cost? Likely at least £699 / $699 / AU$999

Samsung Galaxy S22 FE release date and price

It’s hard to predict when the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE might launch, as while the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE landed in January 2022, the Galaxy S20 FE hit stores in October of 2020.

So Samsung hasn’t been consistent with the release timings, though an October launch would make a lot more logical sense than a January launch, as the latter would bring it much too close to when we’ll probably see the Samsung Galaxy S23. It would also make sense for all of the Galaxy S22 line to land in the same year.

But then the FE phones don’t make a whole lot of sense in a number of ways, as will become clear in this article.

Indeed, while October might be the most sensible time to launch the Galaxy S22 FE, one source claims that it probably won’t land this year – if it lands at all, while another said that – as of late April – the phone wasn’t even in development yet. So a launch in 2023 is actually looking more likely, and it’s possible this phone won’t see the light of day at all.

There’s no news on what the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE might cost if and when it does launch, but for reference the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE started at £699 / $699 / AU$999, so a similar starting price here is possible.

A Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G in someone's hand, with the screen on

The S22 FE might have a similar price to the S21 FE (Image credit: Future)

News and leaks

We haven’t heard much about the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE, but one thing we have heard is that it might use a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chipset.

This is a high-end chipset that’s comparable to the Exynos 2200 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 used in the rest of the Samsung Galaxy S22 line, albeit from a brand with less prestige – and therefore probably a lower price for Samsung.

So it could make sense for the phone to use this, given that the Galaxy S22 FE itself will probably be a cheaper handset than the other S22 models, but there’s evidence to suggest it won’t as well.

For one thing, another source has since said it won’t use the Dimensity 9000, and on top of that using a MediaTek chipset in an FE phone would be a change for the company, as these handsets have previously used either Snapdragon or Exynos ones.

So we’d say a Dimensity 9000 is probably actually unlikely, with the Galaxy S22 FE more likely to get the same chipset split as the rest of the S22 line – meaning an Exynos 2200 in Europe and a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in most other places.

Samsung Galaxy S22 FE: what we want to see

There’s plenty that we want to see changed or improved for the next FE phone, including the following things.

1. A lower price

Our biggest problem with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE was its price, as while it had a lower starting price than the Samsung Galaxy S21 launched at, you could often find the S21 heavily reduced by the time the S21 FE landed, putting the FE in the awkward position of potentially being more expensive in practice.

That wasn’t a workable position for it to be, so Samsung really needs to ensure the Galaxy S22 FE is genuinely more affordable than the Galaxy S22 if it wants a hit on its hands.

2. Better battery life

The bottom edge of a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE doesn't last as long as we'd like (Image credit: Future)

Battery life is the bane of many smartphones, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is no exception, just barely lasting a day of moderate use. We’d say its life was slightly below average, and we’re hoping for above average life from the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE.

That could be achieved by boosting the capacity – perhaps to 5,000mAh – or just by optimizing the software, but one way or another it’s something we want to see.

3. Faster charging

On a related note, we weren’t terribly impressed by the charging speeds of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. Or really by the charging speeds of most Samsung phones, as even the Galaxy S22 Ultra charges slower than many rivals.

That at least manages 45W charging though, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is stuck with quite slow 25W charging, so we’d like to see an upgrade here for the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE.

4. A glass back

A Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G from the back, on a wooden floor

We don't want the next model to have a plastic back (Image credit: Future)

While the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE isn’t a top-end phone, it’s pricey enough that we’d expect premium materials, yet it has a plastic back. We don’t want the same to be true of the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE – even if it has a price cut (unless that price cut is seriously substantial).

Once a phone costs over about $500 / £500, plastic really shouldn’t be a major part of it, so we want a glass back on the Galaxy S22 FE.

5. A clear reason to exist

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has largely similar specs to the Samsung Galaxy S21, and where they differ the changes don’t always work out in the S21’s favor. That’s despite the Galaxy S21 FE being positioned as a lower end phone.

Add to that the messy pricing outlined above, and it’s a hard, confusing sell, so for the Samsung Galaxy S22 FE we want Samsung to clearly position the handset. 

Making it more affordable will help, but we also want to see clearer differences in the specs from the standard S22, and with the S22 FE packing the lesser specs of the two. But not too much lesser, or it might prove unappealing. It’s a tricky balance.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 case leak highlights one potential design change

We're expecting both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 to show up at some point in August, and now we have a new leak from a reliable source that points to a design change for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 foldable.

Regular tipster Ice Universe has posted some shots of a case purportedly designed with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in mind and there's one key difference compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 version – when the case is closed, it's slightly wider.

One of the minor complaints that users had about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 was that the external display (the one you see when the phone is closed shut) was very tall and narrow, so it looks as though the new model might go some way to fixing that.

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Year-on-year improvements

What we don't get here is anything in the way of actual screen measurements or indeed much detail at all – we're going off the text of the tweet and the visuals in the image, so it's perhaps not the most solid of leaks about Samsung's upcoming foldable.

However, it does suggest that Samsung is taking criticisms of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 on board and is prepared to deal with as many of them as possible with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. We've previously heard that the new model will have a less noticeable crease running down the center of the screen, for example.

There has also been talk that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is going to be slimmer and lighter than its predecessor – because even foldable phones need to go in a pocket sometimes. We should find out exactly what Samsung has been working on within the next few months.

Analysis: Samsung continues to try to perfect the foldable

We're fast approaching the launch of the fourth iterations of Samsung's foldable phones now, and – as you would expect after four years – these devices are transitioning from innovative experiments into phones that can be relied upon for everyday use.

While the likes of Apple and Google keep their folding phone plans under wraps, Samsung is pushing ahead, and getting better all the time. If the Galaxy Z Fold 4 does indeed come with a more user-friendly aspect ratio in terms of its external display, then that's another step in the right direction.

There are likely to be many more welcome improvements as well. The phones should be faster than the ones that came before them, the folding mechanisms should be even more reliable, and there have been rumors of a rear camera upgrade as well.

As with every smartphone, a lot of the appeal of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is going to depend on the price points that Samsung is able to get them too. Another advantage of being in the foldable business for many years is that manufacturing processes should get cheaper – or at least that's what we're hoping.

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Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro might keep the same screens as the phones they’re replacing

Google has already officially unveiled the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, without really telling us much about them. Now new information from the rumor mill suggests that the displays on these phones will exactly match the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro handsets.

This comes from Android code discovered by 9to5Google, which points to the 2022 flagship handsets using the same Samsung display panels as the phones that arrived in 2021 – although there might be some very minor tweaks in store.

For the Pixel 7, that means a 1080 x 2400 pixel screen with a refresh rate of up to 90Hz, and for the Pixel 7 Pro it would be a 1440 x 3120 pixel screen with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. Those aren't bad specs, but they'd be unchanged from the previous Pixels.

Possible tweaks

As for the reported tweaks, the Pixel 7 display might be a few millimeters smaller despite using the same panel, while the Pixel 7 Pro could come with the option of a 1080p mode for conserving power, perhaps in a low battery mode.

All of this is unconfirmed at the moment though, and based on references to display drivers in the core Android code. It's possible that the code could be misinterpreted or that Google is going to make changes between now and the launch of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro handsets – which should be around October time.

What we know for sure is the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro design, because we've seen official pictures. Google has also confirmed that there will be a next-gen Tensor chipset inside the new devices, hopefully leading to a substantial speed boost.

Analysis: the Pixel 6 formula is a good one

It's always disappointing when a new phone sticks with the same specs as its predecessor, but we are big fans of the Google Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro – and the case can be argued that the screens on these phones don't need much of an upgrade anyway.

The 6.4-inch panel on the Pixel 6 and the 6.71-inch panel on the Pixel 6 Pro are big and bright and sharp, and we wouldn't be too worried about picking up a Pixel 7 or a Pixel 7 Pro with the same screens attached on the front.

What users will perhaps be more interested in is performance, camera quality and battery life, and there's potential for the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro to improve in all of these areas. We know that the new phones will have a new Tensor chipset, which will be crucial to its overall appeal.

In terms of release date, all Google has said is that the phones will be out later in the year, but we're expecting them to show up around October time. Until then, we can expect plenty more leaks and rumors letting us know what to expect.

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US senators are trying to ban apps that use China’s home-grown crypto

Republican senators have put forward a bill that would make it illegal for app stores in the US to accept payments made with China’s new digital currency, citing national security concerns.

The ‘digital Yuan’ or ‘e-CNY’ is a centralized, cash-like digital currency with a value tied to the physical Yuan. It was launched by the Chinese government earlier this year as an alternative to decentralized cryptocurrencies.

Consumers are promised the same convenience and anonymity that cryptocurrencies promise but, because it is controlled by a central bank rather than a distributed ledger, authorities still retain control over value and can obtain enough data to tackle illegal activities such as money laundering.

Digital currency

The senators behind the bill fear the system could allow Chinese authorities to spy on Americans, Reuters reported, as they would have access to “real-time visibility into all transactions on the network, posing privacy and security concerns for American persons who join this network.”

This view is supported by the Center for a New American Security think tank, which believes the digital currency will expand the surveillance capabilities of the Chinese government.

Chinese government restrictions mean many global digital platforms and services have a limited presence in the country or are absent entirely, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter. This has given rise to domestic platforms such as Alibaba and Sina Weibo, which are hugely popular but relatively unknown outside their homeland.

Several of these apps have confirmed they will support the e-CNY and are offered on the Apple App Store and Google Play, leading to the concerns of some in the senate.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington told the news agency that the concerns were unfounded.

Via Reuters

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Facebook’s dark mode feature has disappeared for some people – but why?

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Facebook has had dark mode available as an option for desktop, iOS and Android users since 2020, but some users are posting that they're now unable to switch the feature on.

The color scheme can be more manageable on the eyes when scrolling through your newsfeed or a set of videos, especially at night.

Other apps from Meta have also benefited from dark modes such as Instagram and WhatsApp, but Facebook seems to switch the feature off from time to time.

We've reached out to Facebook for comment to find out why it's been switched off for certain users.

How to check if you have dark mode

Facebook dark mode in iOS

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Dark mode can be difficult to find on iOS or Android, as it's not as visible as other features. On the main screen, go to the 'Menu' icon on the navigation bar, then Settings & Privacy, scroll down to Preferences, and Dark Mode should be there.

Facebook dark mode on desktop

(Image credit: TechRadar)

However, for the desktop it's an easier affair by simply going to the arrow on the top right, selecting 'Display and Accessibility', and switching on dark mode.

There hasn't been an explanation from Meta as to why it's decided to switch off the feature for some, nor is there a reason regardless to do it. It's a useful feature, and it won't be a strain on the company or the apps it offers, so the deactivation is a baffling decision.

For the time being, we recommend removing the app from your Android or iOS device, reinstalling it, and see whether that makes dark mode return as an option.

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China is getting a Naruto phone, and we want in on the fun, too

In the latest news from “collaborations we didn’t know we wanted”, Realme is releasing a Naruto edition of its GT Neo 3. The phone isn’t an upgrade or anything, just a fun new spin on the 4-month-old mid-ranger. 

The standard GT Neo 3 (we gave a preview of the phone a thumbs up) features a MediaTek Dimensity 8100, up to 12GB of ram, up to 256GB of storage, and a 6.7” 1080p 120Hz display. 80W and 150W charging configurations of the standard phone are available, but the Naruto edition phone will only be available in the 150W configuration. 

The phone has some newly-themed elements on it. The back, for instance, is designed to mimic Naruto’s clothing as seen throughout the show with orange and black elements and a silver accent in the camera area with a hidden leaf village symbol. The included case features a few stylized graphics on the back as well. 

The phone comes in a box that mimics the design of the scrolls in Naruto and comes with a themed charger brick, hidden leaf village symbol SIM card remover, and a power bank with a Naruto graphic on it. The whole package is riddled with the orange and black color scheme of the main character. The software of the phone is also decorated with Naruto wallpapers, sounds, app icons, and a special charging animation.

Availability outside of China isn’t yet detailed, but the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage configuration of the Naruto edition is going for CNY 2,799 (~$415) in China starting on May 31.

Can we have one?

Even if you’re not a big fan of Naruto or anime, it’s hard to deny how sweet this looks. Not only is the phone themed and comes with cool wallpapers, but the rest of the experience, down to the SIM remover tool, is centered around the show. It’s a great tribute, but phones in the West typically don’t get to have that same type of fun.

The last phone to collaborate on a big pop culture moment in recent memory was the Galaxy Note 10 Plus: Star Wars edition. Android Authority spoke of it pretty highly, but It wasn't cheap at $1,300. It looked rather tame compared to what Realme is putting out with this Naruto edition phone.

Whether it’s snazzy new colorways or fully themed tributes to iconic pop culture phenomena, we in the States, for example, rarely get these kinds of cool collaborations. If any smartphone maker wants to hook us up with a Kirby-themed smartphone experience or something, we wouldn’t be mad at it. Just saying.

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