Hidden Android code hints at another Google Pixel 7 upgrade

The Google Pixel 7 got its initial unveiling back at Google IO in May, but we don't yet know everything about this upcoming flagship phone. Now newly discovered references in debug documentation for Android give us another hint about what's on the way.

As reported by Android Police, the documentation includes a mention of a Hall effect sensor: that's a sensor that can detect the presence of a magnet, most often deployed to tell a phone when a case is closed over it.

When it comes to flip covers, a variety of useful functions can be enabled if the phone knows whether that cover is open or closed. Essentially, it expands the possibilities for Pixel 7 accessories – and it's a feature that the Google Pixel 6 range didn't have.

Details, details, details

While it's perhaps not the biggest upgrade that the Pixel 7 could possibly get over the Pixel 6, it does show that Google is thinking about the details when it comes to its next handset – and that it's also considering accessories and the wider ecosystem.

There are actually drivers for a Hall effect sensor included in the software for the Google Pixel 6a, although there's been no official confirmation from the manufacturer that the smartphone does indeed include such a sensor.

All will be revealed – probably – at some point in October, and we will of course bring you everything you need to know when the Pixel 7 goes on sale. In the meantime, expect a few more leaks and rumors to surface.

Analysis: all eyes on the Pixel 7

It's been a tough few years for the Google Pixel phone series, but there is a general feeling that the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro were the best handsets that Google has put out yet – even if the sales figures haven't really given Apple or Samsung anything to worry about.

That means that the Pixel 7 has something of a tough act to follow. We know that the main processor is going to get a significant upgrade, which should mean apps move along quicker and the AI response is even slicker.

There has been talk of a few camera upgrades, though a lot of the improvement in terms of picture taking and video recording might be done on the software side, which is of course something that Google has been known for with its Pixel range in the past.

On the other hand, the smartphone displays are likely to be more or less the same as they were on their predecessors, if the rumors and leaks up to this point are to be believed. The real test will come when we've actually got these phones in our hands to test.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 cases appear in new leak

August 10 is going to be a big day for Samsung fans, as we're getting the formal unveiling of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 (and more besides). Ahead of the event, a new leak has revealed some of the official cases we can expect to see launching alongside the foldable phones.

As spotted by SamMobile, one retailer in Germany has already started listing a few accessories for both the Z Fold 4 and the Z Flip 4, showing off different elements of the design of both smartphones at the same time.

These cases don't seem to have changed massively from those we got with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, suggesting that there haven't been any major shifts in the designs of the foldable handsets either.

Cases and pricing

For the Galaxy Z Fold 4, it looks as though there's a Slim Standing Cover that does double duty as a case and a stand for the device, and according to the retailer that's going to go on sale for €43.47 (about $45 / £37 / AU$64). A single piece protector, meanwhile, will cost €19.13 ($20 / £16 / AU$28).

When it comes to the Galaxy Z Flip 4, there's a Flap Leather Cover for €72.84 (about $74 / £61/ AU$107), and a Clear Cover with Ring for €28.72 (about $29 / £24 / AU$42). These prices might just be placeholders or tentative estimates however, and might differ when the accessories actually go on sale.

We don't have long to wait until August 10, and we're going to get to see the Galaxy Watch 5, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro at the same event as well. We'll bring you all the announcements as they're made, along with details of any accessories that Samsung is unveiling too.

Analysis: the importance of an ecosystem

Samsung certainly isn't shy of pushing out a suite of accessories and add-ons alongside its main devices – it knows the importance of offering not just phones, tablets, smartwatches and all the rest, but also complementary products to go alongside them.

Apple is leading the way here, with laptops and phones and smartwatches and tracking devices and streaming boxes, all working seamlessly with each other. Plus, there are plenty of official cases and chargers and cables for users to pick through too.

You can see that this is something that Google is trying to emulate. Google hasn't always been able to get hardware right, but the Google Pixel 6 was seen as a success for the company, and it's bringing out the Pixel Watch as well later in the year.

One edge that Samsung does have over both of these competitors is that it has two well-established foldable phones in its line-up – available in various colors and with various accessories as well. While both Apple and Google are expected to launch folding phones at some point, Samsung has a clear head start here.

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A Pixel Fold clue has been spotted in Google’s own camera software

Rumors around the Google Pixel Fold – a foldable phone with Google branding – have been swirling for several years at this point, but a new development makes us think that a launch might now be imminent.

As spotted by Android Police, the latest 8.6 update to the Google Camera app includes a hidden icon that looks very much like a foldable phone. Hardly conclusive evidence then, but nevertheless a sign that Google is getting its own apps ready for such a device.

While the button doesn't really do much at the moment, it's possible that it enables the user to switch between the various cameras on the Pixel Fold. If it follows the lead of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, there will be three separate camera modules.

Foldable cameras

If you've never picked up a foldable phone – which is quite likely – then you might not have realized that there are rear and selfie cameras, just like normal, but also a selfie camera on the internal, fold-out screen as well.

When the phone is open, you've got a selfie camera on the large screen, and effectively two rear cameras around the back. When the phone folds shut, the secondary display comes into play, and one of the rear cameras becomes a forward-facing one.

That all needs to be accounted for in the software. Samsung has already tweaked its own camera app accordingly, and it looks as though Google could be next in line – keep an eye out for further adjustments like this in the months ahead.

Analysis: the clues keep on coming

We're not sure exactly when the Google Pixel Fold rumors started coming – possibly around the same time that the first foldable phones started showing up on the market – but they've definitely been around for a long time at this point.

We've been fooled before into thinking that a foldable phone from Google was about to be launched, but this time around it feels as though there's some genuine momentum behind the idea that an actual product is going to turn up sooner rather than later.

Some people have pointed to the launch of the Google Pixel 7 phones in October as a time when we might see the Pixel Fold appear: that's according to a well-placed industry analyst, so there is some weight behind the claims.

There have also been recent adjustments to Gboard, the default software keyboard that Google makes for Android, making it easier to use on foldable screens. As with the update to the Camera app, it's hardly proof, but it's certainly suggestive.

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You’re finally getting the Google Play Store and apps you deserve

A new day is coming for your Android apps. Google is implementing new Play Store rules for developers as it attempts to stamp out intrusive ads, impersonators, and VPNService misuse.

The big changes will roll out incrementally with the first rule going into effect on August 31 and will be complete on July 31, 2023.  Reading through the rules, it appears that some developers on the Play Store were getting away with uncouth practices, but Google is giving them ample time to clean up their act.  The Play Store is also clarifying the language on several policies as it cracks down on misinformation.

New rules

Starting August 31, apps will no longer be able to impersonate another developer/company nor can an app falsely imply that it's related to something else. Google gives the example of the RSS News Aggregator app created by Google Developer. This is an impersonator because first-party apps on the Play Store are listed under Google LLC. The developers were trying to use Google's name to sell their product. 

Google also points to the YouTube Aggregator app using the official YouTube logo. This gives a false impression that YouTube Aggregator is an official app when it isn’t. Truth be told, it’s surprising that this file advertisement rule wasn’t implemented long ago, but better late than never.

Effective September 30, “full-screen interstitial ads” can no longer appear randomly. Ads will still be allowed; they just can’t pop up in the middle of a game or as you’re scrolling through a product description. And whenever full-screen ads do appear, they must be closeable after 15 seconds. Speaking from personal experience, this is a great change because nothing kills a game faster than an annoying 30-second ad that you can’t skip. Also on September 30, apps must make it clear how to manage or cancel a subscription service. Developers will no longer be able to hide the cancellation process in a labyrinth of menus.

VPN clarity

Google is also tightening the rules on apps that use a VPN (virtual private network) as its core function. Apparently, developers were misusing Google’s VPNService to collect user data or manipulate traffic via ads. Starting November 1, VPNService can only be used for, among other things, parental control, web browsing, and device security apps.

And on July 31, 2023, Google will be restricting the Exact Alarm Permission so it can only be used on alarm and calendar apps. According to Mishaal Rahman, Senior Technical Editor for Esper, this restriction will also improve battery life. He explains that if too many apps schedule alarms at different times, it can quickly drain the phone's battery. By prioritizing apps where the main function is to be an alarm, it will solve this conflict.

Effective immediately

Google has also updated many different policies to combat misinformation and make sure things stay appropriate for an app's userbase. There are so many changes, in fact, that we can't cover everything, so here are some of the more important ones.

Descriptions, screenshots, and titles must accurately reflect what the app does. For example, developers won’t be able to promote their puzzle game app with action-oriented images to make it seem more exciting. Ads now need to be appropriate to the app’s rating. Ads for a mature app can’t be placed into a video game rated for teenagers. Harmful medical misinformation will be more strictly enforced, as well. This includes misleading vaccine claims and the selling of prescription drugs without a prescription.

Again, it’s surprising these changes weren’t implemented earlier but cleaning up the Play Store is always a win in our books.

While we’re on the topic of the Google Play Store, the platform just hit its 10th anniversary recently and TechRadar’s Philip Berne made a list of the 10 apps that he stuck with all these years.

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Google Play Store is blocking full-screen ads, VPN hijacking

Google has announced new Play Store policies for Android developers in an effort to crack down on full-screen ads, VPNs, and fake apps impersonating genuine software.

Coming into effect from September 30, 2022, the Play Store will require developers to stop showing “Full-screen interstitial ads,” for example those that show during gameplay or during an app’s loading screen. Additionally, full-screen ads that cannot be closed after 15 seconds shall be banned.

The new policy will not include rewarded ads, such as in-app popups that users can opt into in order to unlock in-app content, which will continue to be permitted.

Google Play Store developer policies

There have been further revisements to the company’s FLAG_SECURE feature, which is intended to protect sensitive data by preventing or obscuring screenshots, and disallowing screen sharing and broadcasting. From November 1, 2022, apps will not be allowed to create workaround for the flagged content.

With effect from the same date, VPNs will also be subject to tighter restrictions. Only dedicated VPN apps will be allowed to “create a secure device-level tunnel to a remote server,” with some exceptions

Access to the USE_EXACT_ALARM permission will also be refined to primarily include only the apps that “requires precisely timed actions” (from July 31, 2022)

Fake Google Play Store apps

Maybe of most interest to general consumers will be a change that is due to be enforced on August 31, 2022.

“We don’t allow apps that mislead users by impersonating someone else (e.g. another developer, company or entity) or another app… To ensure that Google Play remains a safe and respectful platform, we've created standards defining and prohibiting content that is harmful or inappropriate for our users," Google said in a blog post announcing the news.

The company recommends checking the developer name (displayed beneath the app title within the Play Store), that the logo matches the company’s logo, and that the name appears to be genuine and not mis-leading.

Further changes to the company’s app store include eliminating misleading health information, better subscription management, safer child-friendly ads, and further personal protection steps.

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Dual Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 leaks reveal possible price and design

We’re now less than two weeks from the August 10 announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but as so often happens with high-profile phone launches, the phone has already been leaked more or less in full. In fact, two big leaks have now landed more or less simultaneously – one revealing the likely design, and the other the probable price.

First up, lets take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4’s possible design, courtesy of leaked renders shared by Evan Blass – a leaker with a great track record – through 91Mobiles.

These appear to be official press renders, and they show the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in three shades – black, beige, and a sort of grey green.

Leaked renders showing the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 from a variety of angles

(Image credit: 91Mobiles / Evan Blass)

You can see there’s a triple-lens camera, and a design that appears basically identical to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is no surprise since leaks had suggested as much. In fact, we’ve previously seen leaked renders which also showed this design, so it’s likely accurate.

The leak also includes some Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 renders, and they similarly look a lot like the Galaxy Z Flip 3, as well as matching previously leaked renders. You can see a dual-lens camera here in a black strip on the back, while the rest of the rear is shown in a choice of graphite, gold, blue or purple.

Leaked renders showing the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 from a variety of angles

(Image credit: 91Mobiles / Evan Blass)

Next up we’ve got prices. According to South Korean site Naver, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 will start at 1,998,700 won for 256GB of storage, rising to 2,097,700 won for 512GB. We won’t bother with conversions because those are exactly the same prices as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 launched for, suggesting that prices in other regions might be identical too.

That would mean a starting price of $1,799 / £1,599 / AU$2,499, rising to $1,899 / £1,699 / AU$2,649 for 512GB of storage. Notably that’s slightly at odds with another recent leak, which suggested prices would increase a little bit, so we’d take this with a pinch of salt.

This latest source does suggest a small price increase for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, which would apparently start at 1,299,000 won for a model with 256GB of storage, rising to 1,398,000 for 512GB.

However, while this is a slight price hike, you’re also getting more starting storage if this leak is right, and converted prices for the 256GB Z Flip 4 could amount to around what the 256GB model of the Z Flip 3 cost – it’s just there might not be a cheaper 128GB version this time. That could mean a starting price of around $1,049 / £999 / AU$1,599 this year.

Analysis: a disappointing Flip

If Samsung is flipping up the price of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, that could hurt what’s currently the company’s most mainstream foldable phone line.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 reportedly sold very well, and that’s surely largely down to a price that – by foldable phone standards – was very affordable. In order to maintain or build on that momentum, we had hoped Samsung would keep the price at that same level or lower it further.

The company might still do so, of course, as this is just a leak for now. It also seems odd that Samsung wouldn’t offer a 128GB model this year, especially if skipping that means a higher starting price.

So fingers crossed for a cheaper base model than we’ve heard about above. This is never going to be affordable enough to be one of the best cheap phones, but if the price is right, it could easily be one of the best foldable phones.

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Getting your Samsung phone repaired? This new update makes it a lot easier

Getting your smartphone repaired can seem like a daunting prospect; knowing that your mobile - full of personal information and photos and sensitive apps - is going to be in the hands of a stranger for a time without you present.

And sure, the vast majority of repair specialists are trustworthy experts, but now Samsung phones are getting an extra feature that'll help ease your mind. This is called Repair Mode, and it's rolling out to phones from the company starting with the Galaxy S21 series.

When activated, Repair Mode lets you block access to certain functions or apps on your mobile - for example, you could lock off your social media accounts or gallery apps, so that they can't be accessed by strangers.

According to Samsung, once you trigger Repair Mode, your phone will reboot and "you won't be able to access your personal data, such as photos, messages, and accounts, and only use the default installed apps."

This means you can hand your smartphone over to repair companies without either worrying about your information, or having to back up and reset your phone. 

It's not quite clear when this update will arrive on users' devices and although we know the S21 series will be the first to receive the feature, Samsung hasn't provided a timeline as to when that mobile family, or subsequent ones, can expect to gain access to Repair Mode. That said, we expect Samsung is staggering its updates on a region by region, as that's common industry-standard practice.

Analysis: a good time to get a Samsung phone

Samsung has been surprisingly generous in 2022, with multiple updates bringing new features to its smartphones.

Sure, the company has a habit of bringing the latest functionality from its flagship phones to older models soon after launch, but we've seen more this year.

For example, the company recently launched the Photoshop-esque Enhance-X app, which lets you use AI to fix photos, even those you didn't originally take on a Samsung phone.

It seems that Samsung is taking a page out of Google's book, which has previously been good at bringing new tools and features to Pixel phones with its regular Pixel Feature Drops.

Because of this, and also because of Samsung's promise that its newer phones will get four years of software updates, now is a really great time to pick up a new phone from the company. We've got a list of the best Samsung phones if you want to peruse them, but our list of the best Android phones overall will help you check out Samsung alongside its rivals.

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Qualcomm suggests we’ll see Snapdragon chipsets in the Samsung Galaxy S23 globally

We’ve been hearing reports for a while that Samsung might use Snapdragon chipsets – likely the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – globally in the Samsung Galaxy S23 line. These were just rumors, but now Qualcomm, which makes Snapdragon chipsets, has also suggested this will be the case.

In its Q3 2022 earnings call – a transcript of which can be found on Fool.com – Qualcomm has said “the way you should think about it is Snapdragon will power their Galaxy product line, their Galaxy flagship products. And what I can say at this point is we were 75% on Galaxy S22 before the agreement. You should be thinking about we're going to be much better than that on Galaxy S23 and beyond.

“It's a multiyear agreement. And it's - that's probably what I can tell you. You should think about us powering their devices globally.”

That comes straight from Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s President and CEO, and they appear to be saying that the company already supplies chipsets to 75% of Galaxy S22 models, but that the percentage will be far higher for the Galaxy S23 onwards.

The mention of powering Samsung’s devices globally also suggests that more or less every flagship Samsung phone will have a Snapdragon chipset.

That said, Amon doesn’t quite go so far as to say that 100% of Samsung devices will use Qualcomm chipsets. For one thing, he only seems to be referring to premium handsets, so budget ones might still use Exynos or MediaTek ones. But even with the Galaxy S23 line, it’s possible that some regions might get an Exynos chipset, but probably far fewer than do with the Galaxy S22.

Analysis: a good move

This shift to Snapdragon can only be a good thing, as currently some regions (including the UK) get Samsung’s own Exynos chipsets in the company’s flagship phones, and these typically don’t perform as well as the Snapdragon versions.

That means the Samsung Galaxy S22 for example is arguably a better phone in the US (where it’s equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1) than it is in the UK (where it has an Exynos 2200). Yet Samsung doesn’t give UK buyers a discount.

It also complicates reviews, as publications will often only review one model, so their review may not be fully representative of the other one. The same applies to buyer reviews and impressions, yet readers may not always be aware that the phone they can buy might not line up with what they’ve read.

So it’s a messy situation, and even if the Exynos chipsets were better, the fact that you’re in some ways getting a different phone in different regions would remain a problem, given how global society – and particularly the internet – is.

So Snapdragon in everything sounds like a beneficial change, though it remains to be seen how long this change will last. Qualcomm has extended its partnership with Samsung for 7 years, through to 2030, but with reports that Samsung is building a bespoke chipset designed specifically for Galaxy devices, we might see the chipset split return sooner than that.

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Google Pixel 7 will have a disappointing lack of camera upgrades, leak suggests

While Google has teased some aspects of the Pixel 7 we're left guessing on other fronts - or, more accurately, letting leakers fill in the gaps. However, according to one leak, the Pixel 6 provides all we need to know.

This comes from leaker and developer Kuba Wojciechowski, who wrote a Twitter thread on a deep, deep dive they took into Pixel software to uncover the names of the sensors that the Pixel 7 phones will use.

See more

To skip to the end of their adventure, it sounds like the Google Pixel 7 phones will use the same sensors - at least for the main and ultra-wide cameras - as their Pixel 6 predecessors. That means a 50MP main and 12MP ultra-wide.

The Pixel 7 Pro will also use the selfie sensor that the Pixel 6 Pro had, at 11MP, but it sounds like the Pixel 7 will get this too, instead of using a lower-res one.

Apparently the Pixel 6 Pro's telephoto camera will get a sensor change, though it's switching from one 48MP sensor to another, so it won't exactly be a massive upgrade. Wojciechowski speculates that this move is to ensure all the sensors are made by the same company, which is Samsung.

So that's a surprising lack of changes in the new series of phones, and while Google could be preparing some software features (think Magic Eraser), it's possible that cameras just aren't the focus of the next-gen phones.

More camera specs too

Wojciechowski didn't just provide information on the two Pixel 7 phones, but on the Google Pixel Tablet and Google Pixel Fold.

The latter, a rumored foldable phone that's likely at least a year out, will apparently get a 50MP main camera joined by two 12MP sensors and an 8MP one - due to the folding nature of the device multiple of those could be front-facing ones for the multiple displays it could have.

Finally, the tablet, which Google confirmed is coming in 2023, will apparently get two 8MP cameras, one on the front and one on the back - that adds to the idea that this won't be a top-end tablet, and will instead be affordable. It seems Google is aiming to hit our ranking of the best cheap tablets.

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Every iPhone 14 model might get a RAM upgrade – but the Pros could keep their edge

We’ve heard a number of times now that every iPhone 14 model – including the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max – might have 6GB of RAM, and the latest leak again suggests as much, but this RAM apparently won't all be equal.

According to a report in DigiTimes – spotted by MacRumors – the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max will have 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM, while the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will have 6GB of LPDDR5 RAM.

In all cases – other than the iPhone 14 Max, since that phone has no predecessor - this would be an upgrade. The iPhone 13 had 4GB of RAM, so the new model would be getting 2GB more. In the case of the Pro models, we saw 6GB in both the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but they had LPDDR4X RAM.

LPDDR5 RAM is faster and more energy-efficient, so we could see improvements to both performance and battery life from the Pro models, even if they have the same amount of RAM as their predecessors.

This would also mean that despite all four iPhone 14 models apparently having the same amount of RAM, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max would offer better performance than the standard and Max models – and that’s before you get to the rumored use of a new A16 Bionic chipset in the Pro models, while the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max will apparently be stuck with last year’s A15 Bionic.

In a sense then this news is good regardless of which iPhone 14 model you’re considering, since they should all be an upgrade on the RAM front – but the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max should retain an edge.

Analysis: Apple’s late to the party with LPDDR5

While the move to LPDDR5 RAM is a positive step, it’s one that some rivals took a while back. Samsung has been using it from the Galaxy S20 series onwards in its flagship line, and hasn’t reserved it for the very top models, as even the likes of the Galaxy S20 FE 5G got LPDDR5 RAM.

Samsung isn’t alone either, as a number of other Android phone manufacturers have made the move already.

It’s not entirely surprising that Apple is behind here. After all, the company has never been one to chase specs for the sake of it, but this slow progress was likely a cost-cutting move, which is a bit disappointing when iPhones are already so expensive. If Android manufacturers can deliver this faster RAM, then Apple should be able to in its premium phones.

It’s also a shame that this move is apparently limited to the Pro models, given that you can get mid-range Android phones with LPDDR5 RAM. It’s just one more example of how – more than in most years – the Pro iPhones look set to be the ones to buy, and could end up being the only new entries in our best iPhones guide.

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Motorola’s svelte Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 rival has been shown off

Motorola has taken a break for a few years after launching its last foldable phone, the Motorola Razr 2020, but we now know that it's got a Razr 2022 on the way - because the company itself has confirmed as much.

Posting on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, Motorola has teased its upcoming folding phone in detail, providing a look at the design as well as specs for the thing.

You can see the first image above - it shows two rear cameras, as well as a large outer display that seems to have loads of functions. Separately, the brand confirmed that the phone will use the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, a top-end processor that'll provide lots of processing power.

The phone is being teased alongside the Moto X30 Pro, which we now know will have 125W fast charging and three rear cameras.

Both are set to debut on August 2, another thing that these teasers confirm, which is when we'll find out all the other specs of the phones.

It's not clear if it'll be a global unveiling or just a Chinese one. In the last few years Motorola has made a concerted effort at breaking into the Chinese market, launching a few products that don't make their way to the rest of the world, but hopefully we'll see the Razr globally.

Analysis: a busy time for foldables

The Motorola Razr 2022's launch date, of August 2, means it'll debut just eight days before a close rival, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4.

This will have the exact same form factor - a 'clamshell' folding phone - as well as likely equally high-end specs, and possibly a similar price too.

The Z Flip 4 will likely go on sale soon after its August 10 unveiling, so we'll have to see if the Razr 2022 gets a similar release date or whether it arrives in second place - if it comes before the Z Flip, it could sway people interested in buying a new clamshell.

The Z Flip 4 is expected to debut alongside the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, so that's going to be a big day for folding phones - it sounds like the first half of August will bring us lots of new members of that growing niche.

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Google Pixel 6a is out now – but here’s why I’d hold out on buying it

If you've read my Google Pixel 6a review, you'll know that I have mixed feelings about the phone. While it has a nice small form factor and easy-to-use fingerprint scanner, it has an awful battery life and charges too slowly.

The phone is now available to buy, so lots of you might find the same issue. But one issue I had could easily be solved by waiting a few months to buy it - in fact, that's what this whole article is about.

You see, the Pixel 6a has a price that's a bit too high - while its $449 / £399 / AU$749 price tag makes it a touch cheaper than the Google Pixel 6, nine months of price cuts meant that the older mobile has been available to buy for basically the exact same price as its budget alternative.

This is a bit of an awkward problem for Google because it means that if you find a decent Pixel 6 deal, you can pick up the more powerful phone for a lower price. However, if for whatever reason you want the Pixel 6a, there's a way to get it for much cheaper.

Black Friday is soon

Google is clearly a fan of reducing the price of its tech during sales seasons. During Prime Day 2022, it liberally sliced the price of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.

Black Friday 2022 is going to fall in late November and there's a very good chance that the Pixel 6a could see a good price cut then. It'll have been around for four months at that point, so it won't be too new to see a reduction.

Judging by Google's past habits, as well as the way Black Friday works, we'll very likely see the Pixel 6a hit a new low price, and it'll almost definitely then be much more affordable than the Pixel 6 ever has been.

That'll make it a great deal - one worth waiting for, I'd say. So unless you really need a brand-new phone in the next four months, my advice is to wait until Black Friday to pick up the Pixel 6a.

Of course, I can't guarantee that the budget Pixel phone will get a discount, or that it'll be a good one, but precedent suggests it will. And anyway, if it doesn't there will be plenty of other Black Friday deals on all the best phones that you can pick up instead.

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iOS 16 Developer Beta 4 reveals powerful message editing and unsend capabilites

Apple's vision of user-controlled messaging is coming into focus.

On Wednesday, the iPhone maker finally dropped the long-awaited iOS 16 Developer Beta 4, which includes updates to Messages and Mail that offer a better understanding of how its new communications controls will and won't work. The newest release arrives a few weeks after Apple's first iOS 16 public beta.

On the Message front, retrieval and editing of sent messages are looking a lot more like they did when Apple announced the feature -- and iOS 16 as a whole -- at its WWDC developers' conference in June. But the company is also adding some nuances that weren't entirely obvious back then.

Messages can be edited for up to 15 minutes after you send them. On the recipient side, they see a log of your changes. This means they see both the original message and the new one, prefaced by "Edited to." Editing messages in iOS 16 is not changing history. The record of your original words remains.

There is also a limit to the number of edits you can make. You've got five. If you need more, then consider deleting the message.

As far as the message unsend function goes, the window is much smaller. You have two minutes to rethink your words. But unsend is unreliable in the current beta, and words might not disappear from the phones of those who aren't running one of the iOS 16 betas.

Mail recalled

Tools for controlling your mail mishaps are also coming together. iOS 16 Developer Beta 3 had an Undo Send preference setting that let you set it for off or for 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Gmail offers a similar 30-second unsend window.

That's a half minute to reconsider your missive and pull it back. The Undo Send appears in that timeframe at the bottom of the email screen and, with the clock ticking, it can be pretty easy to miss. 30 seconds go by pretty fast, after all. 

There's more

Other updates in this build include the ability for developers to build Live Activities through a new API. These activity windows can live on the new Lock Screen and show you, for instance, live scores from your favorite sports teams.

Early availability of the new tool would normally mean developers can have their Live Activities ready for iOS 16 when it launches in, we expect, September. However, an update on Apple's Developer page, reminds developers that "Live Activities and ActivityKit won’t be included in the initial public release of iOS 16." Developers will have more time to build out these widgets and submit them for App Store approval before Live Activities launches later this year.

All these developer updates should make their way to the next iOS 16 public beta update whenever that arrives.

If you're thinking about getting a new iPhone to support iOS 16, you should read our best iPhones roundup.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s best feature may not get an upgrade for the S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's best camera feature is its 10x zoom periscope telephoto camera, which lets you take fantastic pictures from a great distance - however it's not perfect, and it sounds like the phone's Galaxy S23 successor might not improve it.

According to Samsung fan website GalaxyClub, based on information from its sources, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will get the same periscope lens as before, and it'll also be paired with a 10MP sensor like in the S22 Ultra, though it's not clear if this will be the exact same sensor or not.

That's a shame - while 10x zoom is great, a 10MP sensor doesn't really lend itself to high-res photos, particularly if you use digital zoom to get even closer.

We weren't expecting Samsung to use even longer-ranging telephoto lenses for its phones, but a higher-res sensor could help a lot.

For example, simply bumping the resolution up to 12MP would allow for 4K video recording on this lens, which would be useful for pro videographers who want to take some nice long-ranging video.

Analysis: what about the other cameras?

GalaxyClub also points out that the other zoom camera - in the S22 Ultra this supported 3x optical zoom and had a 10MP sensor - will possibly retain that resolution, thanks to the fact that the S23 will apparently have a 10MP zoom camera.

Other than that, GalaxyClub doesn't have information on the extra cameras, but a previous leak points to the main one having a whopping 200MP resolution.

There will probably be a fourth snapper with an ultra-wide lens, but leakers haven't provided much information on this camera, likely due to the fact that this kind of camera is a little less exciting than standard or zoom ones.

So it sounds like the main upgrade in the Galaxy S23 Ultra is in the main camera. The phone will need to bring camera improvements over the S22 Ultra, as that phone had no camera hardware changes over the S21 Ultra - a higher-res main camera is one, but we'd like to see more if this phone is to have a shot for our list of the best camera phones.

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Inside the new Apple Store Brompton Road – where you won’t have to wait to pick up the new iPhone

Apple has proven itself resistant to the economic challenges a lot of consumer technology companies have faced of late and the opening of a new flagship retail store in one of London's most affluent areas embodies its ongoing success pretty well - and we got an early chance to look around.

The new Brompton Road Apple Store - nestled in London's high-sheen corner, Knightsbridge where designer fashion retailers rub shoulders with the famous luxury department store Harrods - is located on the spot of the old Brompton Arcade, which dates back to 1903.

Like the company's other London stores in Regent Street and Covent Garden, the design of Brompton Road pays homage to the site on which it's found; with seven meter tall floor-to-ceiling arched glass windows, the shape of which echoes the original arcade. 

As storefronts go it's hard to miss, especially when you can see what's inside.

Grab and go

The Brompton Road Apple Store is the first in the country to feature something that Apple has been developing hard in the US: Apple Pickup, which evolved from Apple's Express Pickup system that allowed consumers to get their hands on products without needing to visit stores during lockdown.

This is the first time in a UK Apple Store that customers will have a dedicated area where they can head to pick up the items they've ordered online, compared with needing to flag down a staff member to help with their order.

This will be hugely beneficial come the expected iPhone 14 launch in September, where a steady stream of customers will be expected in the weeks following the release and having a way to navigate them will make the experience a little slicker.

The new Apple pickup zone in Brompton Road, with people at a desk pickup up new apple products

(Image credit: Apple)

What's interesting about the Brompton Road Apple Pickup zone is that it's on the left-hand side of the store, towards the rear. Apple Store blogger Michael Steeber recently wrote about how Apple is openly evolving the placement of this Pickup areas in different stores, with different locations and layouts being used depending on the location.

In the new Apple Brompton Road Store, you'll need to weave your way past many other Apple gadgets to pick up your new device - taking you past the tree-lined zones and a likely-tempting AirPods trial zone, where you can see how Apple's own headphones work.

While you grab your order, the eye might be also caught by the huge 'Today at Apple' screens that show off workshops and other content that take place in the Store - perhaps another design choice to engulf customers in the differing Apple retail experience.

Building green

As with the company's original Regent Street location - which opened in London in 2004 and was subsequently refitted in 2016 - Brompton Road's Apple Store features a familiar open-plan layout, dressed in natural materials, designed to reflect the company's green pledges.

Apple Store Brompton Road Knightsbridge London - interior

The arched wooden ceiling also pay homage to the design of the arcade on which the new store stands (Image credit: TechRadar)

Sandblasted Castagna stone lines the walls and pillars, the terrazzo flooring is made from a bio-resin that includes castor oil and recycled glass, and both the tables dressed with iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as the arched ceilings, are all hewn from sustainable wood; with twelve sizeable ficus trees helping soften the space, with the intention of reminding visitors this isn't solely a retail space.

Located just a stone's throw from one of the city's most centrally-located green spaces, Hyde Park, at launch Apple has dressed the windows with plant-based motifs, blended with some of their most popular products, and attendees from the preview event walked away with a packet of wildflower seeds sporting this same bespoke designs.

Not the typical thing Apple customers can expect to pick up, when the store formally opens on July 28.

Apple Store Brompton Road Knightsbridge London seed packet

The seed packets Apple handed out feature a plant motif unique to the Brompton Road location (Image credit: TechRadar)

Educate and entertain

Just as with its other flagship locations, Apple's new Brompton Road store will host numerous free events too; with training, talks and more, revolving around areas like fitness and creativity.

To mark opening day, Apple’s VP of Fitness Technologies, Jay Blahnik, is going to be on-hand, accompanied by trainers Cory Wharton-Malcolm, Jamie-Ray Hartshorne, Kim Ngo, and Jonelle Lewis, who'll be leading an Apple Fitness+ Q&A session, followed by a three-kilometer walk and a five-kilometer run around Hyde Park.

Apple Store Brompton Road Knightsbridge London Tin Nguyen, Edward Cutting, Just Blaze

Artists Tin&Ed alongside producer Just Blaze, talking about the creation of the United Visions AR experience. (Image credit: Future)

Additional sessions including talks on AR (the preview event also marked the launch of the new 'United Visions' AR experience, created for the Getty Museum by Tin&Ed and award-winning producer, Just Blaze), as well as illustration sessions, where attendees will be shown how to create using 'inspiration from the local blooms,' as Apple puts it.

Fans inside and out

The staff in Apple's retail stores are a famously passionate bunch and that rang true based on the interactions we had during the preview event.

The 200-strong team is reportedly comprised of musicians, artists and developers from 26 nationalities, speaking 45 languages, and chatting with a handful of them, there was a tangible sense of excitement surrounding opening day and the interactions they were expecting to have with the initial wave of curious customers.

Apple Store Brompton Road Knightsbridge London - iPhone 13 range

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The stage is set

The Apple Store Brompton Road carries all of the hallmarks that make the company's other London locations appealing retail experiences.

There's little doubt that this new store will play host to a familiar line of excited Apple fans in the coming months, when the iPhone 14 series eventually arrives (expected to be around late September). 

Even if the rumors are true and the iPhone 14 does end up sporting a higher price than its predecessor, nowhere more so in the city of London will a few extra pounds go unnoticed than in affluent Knightsbridge.

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