The Samsung Galaxy S23 series may be more affordable than we thought

The official launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S23 smartphones is less than two weeks away, but the cat may already be out of the bag when it comes to the line’s pricing. 

According to leaked Verizon documents posted to Reddit (H/T 9to5Google), the Samsung Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra will retail for $799.99, $999.99 and $1,199.99 in the US, respectively. For context, those figures are identical to the launch prices of the Samsung Galaxy S22 series. 

We’ll be able to verify the accuracy of those numbers when the Galaxy S23 lineup is properly unveiled during Samsung Unpacked 2023 (which kicks off at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm GMT on February 1, or 5am AEDT on February 2 in Australia), but we’re quietly confident that the new smartphones won’t cost more than their predecessors – in the US, at least.

The Verizon leak will come as welcome news to prospective Galaxy S23 customers worried by previous rumors hinting at price increases for Samsung’s flagship line. In recent weeks, documents pointing towards lofty Galaxy S23 prices in both South Korea and Australia have circulated across the web, leading many (including us) to suggest that similar prices would surface in the US and UK. 

Those suggestions were, however, made using less-than-reliable exchange rate calculations – and official carrier documents are usually a more reliable source of information than Twitter leaks and commentator speculation. In any case, we’ll know for sure on February 1.

More than just price confirmation

A leaked marketing image of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

A leaked marketing image of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (Image credit: Samsung / WinFuture)

In addition to revealing the US pricing of the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, these leaked Verizon documents also appear to all-but-confirm previous feature and release date rumors.

According to the document, all three variants of the Galaxy S23 will start at 8GB of RAM, with the vanilla model packing 128GB of storage and both the S23 Plus and S23 Ultra models packing 256GB. The standard S23 will be available in a 256GB model, too, while its pricier siblings can be bumped up to 512GB (the larger variant of the Ultra will also sport 12GB of RAM). 

What’s more, the launch date for all three models appears to have been confirmed by Verizon as February 17. Samsung’s reservation page is still open for pre-orders, and it’s worth flagging that you’ll get a nice little $50 store credit should you commit to purchasing one of the company’s shiny new models.

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iPhone 16 Pro could be the first mid-level Apple phone with a periscope zoom lens

Apple’s iPhone 15 range isn’t likely to see the light of day until September 2023, but that hasn’t stopped tipsters from speculating about what to expect from the company’s iPhone 16 lineup, which will almost certainly follow in 2024. 

According to a new report from Korean outlet The Elec (H/T Wccftech), Apple’s iPhone 16 Pro models will arrive sporting a periscope zoom lens – a feature widely expected to be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Ultra when the next iPhones arrive in 2023. 

In other words, customers holding out until 2024 for their next iPhone upgrade may not need to spend big on Apple’s top-of-the-range handset to benefit from periscope zoom technology. Instead, the iPhone 16 Pro could be the first ‘mid-level’ iPhone to offer the sought-after photography feature. 

Periscope cameras – which get their name from their similarity to the instrument used on submarines and other naval vessels – essentially allow the viewer to zoom to extreme lengths while maintaining image quality. In the limited space of a phone's camera module, a periscope camera uses mirrors to allow for more lens elements, and therefore a longer zoom length.

Naturally, smartphone-sized iterations of the technology are expensive to produce, and periscope cameras have so far been reserved for high-end models like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Huawei P50 Pro, Honor Magic 4 Pro and Xiaomi 12S Ultra.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in burgundy, held in a hand with the back showing

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra features a periscope zoom lens (Image credit: Samsung)

Of course, the iPhone 16 Pro (and its inevitable Pro Max sibling) will almost certainly still sit at the high-end of Apple's smartphone range – the iPhone 14 Pro, for instance, retails for the not-so-small price of $999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749 – but the rumored existence of an iPhone 15 Ultra suggests Apple will also be releasing an iPhone 16 Ultra, which would relegate the iPhone 16 Pro to mid-tier status (as Apple devices go, at least).

Analysis: sharing is caring?

News of the iPhone 16 Pro’s periscope lens comes just days after other rumors hinted that Apple’s Dynamic Island – the virtual notch replacement that debuted as a Pro-exclusive feature on last year’s iPhone 14 lineup – will find its way onto every iPhone 15 model in 2023

It’s clear, then, that Apple is keen to make its newer, high-end features available to as many users as possible – but only after those features have enjoyed a year of top-level iPhone exclusivity. 

Other features touted as being exclusive to the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra include Apple’s next chip upgrade – likely to be the A17 Bionic – and a titanium frame. If we were a betting publication, we’d wager that both features will be appearing on the iPhone 16 Pro, too. 

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 could feature huge camera upgrade over the Z Fold 4

Now that 2023 is well underway, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 rumors are coming thick and fast, and the latest speculation concerns the upcoming foldable’s camera setup. 

Per a new report from Vietnamese tech outlet The Pixel, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 could swap out the 50MP rear camera utilized by its predecessor – the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 – for a much more powerful 108MP rear sensor (of the sort featured on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra). 

The Pixel also suggests that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 could feature a 64MP telephoto camera (with 2x optical zoom) and a 12MP ultrawide snapper. That setup would trump the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 10MP telephoto sensor, but lose out on the latter’s 3x optical zoom capabilities.

That last point has us exercising a degree of caution over these new rumors. While it’s undoubtedly exciting to think that we might finally see a foldable phone capable of matching non-foldables in the photography department, it’s hard to imagine Samsung giving the Galaxy Z Fold 5 weaker optical zoom capabilities than its predecessor. 

What’s more, as SamMobile notes, Samsung’s track record of seldom implementing two major camera revisions on the trot raises another red flag. The Galaxy Z Fold 4’s camera setup marked a significant improvement over the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s equivalent sensors, which makes us slightly skeptical that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 would feature yet another significant snapper upgrade. 

Of course, we do expect some form of photographic improvement from the Galaxy Z Fold 5 over the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but we’re hesitant to lean full-tilt into rumors of a 108MP rear sensor and a 64MP telephoto lens, at this stage. 

Two Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 units stood on a table with an S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 features a 50MP primary rear camera and 10MP telephoto sensor (Image credit: Future)

Anaylsis: folding in more than just camera upgrades

We do, however, have more faith in rumors surrounding Galaxy Z Fold 5’s design. Per South Korean outlet Naver, Samsung intends to use a water drop-shaped hinge in its upcoming foldable, which would allow the phone to fold completely flat, with no gaps visible between the two halves of its display.

Several handsets from Chinese manufacturers already use this design approach for their foldables (with examples including the Huawei Mate X2, Honor Magic Vs and Oppo Find N2), but at the cost of full water resistance. Samsung, however, is reportedly planning to add the new hinge shape while maintaining an IPX8 rating for the Galaxy Z Fold 5, a feature no rival has been able to compete on in the foldable space.

As for the phone’s release date, we’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 to arrive sometime in August 2023. The Galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 2 were all unveiled in August in their respective years of release, so we anticipate that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will stick with tradition in that regard. 

There’s been no word yet on the phone’s price, but the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 launched for $1,799 / £1,649 / AU$2,499, so a similarly eye-watering figure is to be expected for its successor. Even so, these upgrades might help it find a place on our rundown of the best Samsung phones out there.

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Apple set to move from OLED to micro-LED for future iPhone and Watch displays

Apple has reportedly outlined plans to begin using proprietary custom displays in its new mobile devices from 2024 onwards, in a bid to reduce reliance on component manufacturing partners like Samsung and LG.

Bloomberg’s resident Apple expert, Mark Gurman, claims that Apple is preparing to transition its pocket-sized products from OLED to micro-LED, with a new iteration of the Apple Watch Ultra set to become the first beneficiary of the emerging flat-panel display technology. “Other devices, including the iPhone” will follow in the Ultra’s footsteps, though Gurman notes that the changeover will take several years. 

Apple has supposedly already drawn up a workable design for its in-house micro-LED displays, though the company isn’t expected to actually produce the screens itself. That responsibility will likely fall to TSMC, which currently manufactures Apple-designed CPUs and GPUs for a variety of Apple products, including the best iPhones and best iPads.

Micro-LED is a relatively new – and eye-wateringly expensive – display technology that combines the high brightness of mini-LED with the endlessly deep blacks of OLED. In micro-LED screens, three tiny (read: microscopic), non-organic LEDs are housed in each pixel, allowing for more color variation between adjoining pixels. 

Apple Watch Ultra in use on wrist and on table

The next iteration of the Apple Watch Ultra could feature a micro-LED display (Image credit: TechRadar)

Per Gurman’s report: “The next-generation [Apple Watch displays] are designed to offer brighter, more vibrant colors and the ability to be better seen at an angle. The displays make content appear like it’s painted on top of the glass, according to people who have seen them, who asked not to be identified because the project is still under wraps.”

In other words, the next Apple Watch Ultra (and, by the sounds of things, future iPhones) will be exceptionally bright – though, of course, that also means its price is likely to balloon, making it an even harder sell for everyday consumers. 

Given Apple’s reported commitment to developing in-house micro-LED displays, we can’t help but speculate on the possibility of seeing a full-blown Apple TV (no, not the streaming service) arrive in the coming years, too. Not even Samsung has yet been able to bring micro-LED display technology to the consumer market, so there’s still some way to go on that front, but the mere idea of an Apple-branded micro-LED TV has us excited for the future of home entertainment.

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iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus rumored to feature Apple’s Dynamic Island

Apple’s Dynamic Island debuted as an exclusive feature on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max in 2022 – but new rumors suggest the quirky design element could find its way onto every device in this year’s iPhone 15 lineup. 

The tip comes by way of Bloomberg’s resident Apple aficionado Mark Gurman, whose latest newsletter speculates that the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – expected to be Apple’s entry-level phones in 2023 – will feature the previously Pro-exclusive Dynamic Island. The rumor corroborates previous leaks suggesting that the regular iPhone 15 will have the same screen size as the iPhone 14 Pro.

Arriving as a replacement for the notch that first appeared on iPhones with the iPhone X, Apple’s Dynamic Island is essentially an iOS-integrated virtual cutout capable of displaying notifications, privacy indicators, music album art, navigational directions and more useful info.

As popular as the feature has proven on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max – TechRadar’s US Editor in Chief, Lance Ulanoff, called the Dynamic Island Apple’s “biggest innovation” of 2022 – its absence on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus makes those phones a decidedly less interesting offering than their higher-priced counterparts. 

If Gurman’s hunch comes to fruition, though, both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus could arrive as more than just superficial upgrades over their respective predecessors. 

Dynamic Island swipe

Apple's Dynamic Island in action on the iPhone 14 Pro (Image credit: Future)

The Dynamic Island isn’t the only Pro-level feature expected to come to Apple’s new ‘affordable’ iPhones, either – rumor has it that the iPhone 14 Prо’s high-res 48MP camera will likewise become a universal addition to the iPhone 15 lineup.

As for what features will be made exclusive to Apple’s latest slate of top-of-the-range iPhones, a chip upgrade – likely in the form of an A17 Bionic – seems inevitable. A titanium frame and periscope camera have also been touted as arriving as part of a much-rumored iPhone 15 Ultra.

There’s also a chance that Apple could finally introduce USB-C – the new common charging standard – across all of its iPhone 15 models. The legal deadline for mandatory USB-C ports doesn’t roll around until 2024, mind, so Tim Cook and company may stick with Apple’s proprietary Lightning port for one more year. 

In any case, we’ll be staying abreast of all the latest iPhone 15 news, rumors and leaks as and when they surface throughout the year, so stay tuned to TechRadar for the most up-to-date info on what is likely to be 2023’s hottest smartphone launch. 

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Oppo Find X6 Pro could take on Samsung and Apple with a huge camera sensor

Mobile camera sensors seem to be getting bigger with every passing year, and Oppo’s upcoming Find X6 Pro smartphone looks set to continue the trend and then some. 

According to Twitter leakster Ice Universe, the Oppo Find X6 Pro – which is expected to debut alongside two lower-key variants in early 2023 – will arrive packing a one-inch rear camera sensor akin to that used by the Xiaomi 12S Ultra.

There’s been no further word on how said sensor might be arranged on the phone, but existing leaks have suggested that the Find X6 Pro will sport the same three-camera setup (primary, ultrawide and telephoto) as its predecessor, the Oppo Find X5 Pro.

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Put simply, this is great news for camera aficionados. The Find X5 Pro already ranks as one of the world’s best handsets for photography, so slapping an even bigger sensor on its successor could make the Find X6 Pro one of the best phones of 2023.

Our main (and really, only) gripe with the Find X5 Pro remains its poor zoom performance – it just doesn’t compare to the level offered by rival phones such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Huawei P50 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. However, rumors of a 50MP telephoto lens on its replacement could ensure the new phone isn't subject to the same criticism. 

Oppo Find X5 Pro

The camera setup on the Oppo Find X5 Pro (Image credit: Future)

The standard Oppo Find X6, meanwhile, looks set to boast the same 50MP main and ultrawide cameras as its premium sibling, alongside a slightly smaller 32MP telephoto unit.

Though it’s easy to criticize mobile manufacturers for increasing the size and number of cameras on their handsets for the sake of, well, size and numbers, doing so is important for brands such as Oppo. 

While consumers – in the US, UK and Australia, at least – may regularly opt for new Samsung or Apple smartphones owing to their familiarity or the convenience of their respective ecosystems, the Chinese phone brands must necessarily go big on cameras, displays and other distinguishing features to make their presence known. 

And it's not as if the likes of Samsung are standing still in this regard, either; for instance, the Galaxy S23 has been tipped to come with a 200MP camera. For Oppo to drag people away from their existing phones, it will clearly need to give its products some bold design features in order to stand out. 

A one-inch camera sensor would help the Find X6 Pro do just that – and we’re excited (read: hoping) to see Oppo officially lift the lid on its X6 series in the new year.

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iPhone 14 Pro Max just beat the Galaxy S22 Ultra in one key way

We’re big fans of the iPhone 14 Pro Max here at TechRadar, and its 6.7-inch display is a major factor in our calling it “truly the best of everything in the current iPhone world.”

Now, DisplayMate – the recognized authority on mobile picture quality – has awarded Apple’s latest flagship its highest display performance grade (A+) after the device set 15 (fifteen!) display performance records during testing.

DisplayMate found the iPhone 14 Pro Max's Super Retina XDR display to be capable of reaching a max brightness of 2,300 nits – that’s almost double the nit-count of the iPhone 13 Pro Max (which boasts the same display size and resolution) and some 500 more than that of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (based on Samsung’s own claims from earlier this year).

Let there be light

Despite sharing dimensions and resolution, Apple’s most recent top-end iPhone improves upon its predecessor’s display by adding a handful of new features, including an always-on display mode and a new Dynamic Island centered around the phone’s sensor. 

Evidently, though, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is also significantly brighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max, having now usurped its older sibling as the recipient of DisplayMate’s Best Smartphone Display award. Interestingly, Apple advertises the iPhone 14 Pro Max as offering up to 2,000 nits of brightness – yet DisplayMate managed to record a figure of 2,300 nits.

Images of the iPhone 14 Pro Max

We're big fans of the iPhone 14 Pro Max's 6.7-inch display (Image credit: TechRadar)

The diagnostics company has also credited Apple’s latest handset with awards for highest absolute color accuracy, smallest shift in color accuracy, highest image contrast accuracy and intensity scale accuracy, as well as for smallest change in peak luminance. 

Ironically, the displays used by Apple in the iPhone 14 Pro Max are actually produced by Samsung, so we’d expect the latter’s next flagship – likely to be the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – to match or even exceed Apple’s latest handset for brightness.

For now, though, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the brightest smartphone on the block – even if the Samsung S22 Ultra remains our top overall pick of the best phones money can buy in 2022. 

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Apple Pay Later could be facing some serious delays

It looks like Apple’s buy now, pay later (BNPL) service won’t be seeing the light of day for some time yet. 

Apple Pay Later – an extension of Apple Wallet that will let shoppers split the cost of a purchase made with their device into four equal payments over six weeks, without incurring interest or late fees – is facing some “significant” setbacks that could delay its launch until next year, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

Having first announced the BNPL service at WWDC in June 2022, Apple had hoped to launch Apple Pay Later alongside iOS 16 this September. But with the new operating system now out in the wild and no Apple Pay Later to speak of, Gurman predicts that the service may yet be delayed until the release of iOS 16.4 in the spring of 2023 (i.e. between March–June next year).

Pay Later... much later

This new estimated timeframe comes as Apple, at the foot of its official iOS 16 page, writes that Apple Pay Later is “coming in a future update”, where other features on the same page (like no-setup Siri shortcuts) are listed as “coming later this year.”

Digital wallets

Apple Pay Later was announced at WWDC in June 2022 (Image credit: Visa)

“Apple isn’t completely certain when Apple Pay Later will be ready for launch,” Gurman adds in his Bloomberg report. “I’m hearing there have been fairly significant technical and engineering challenges in rolling out the service, leading to the delays.”

These “technical and engineering challenges” remain unclear for now, but we do know that Apple plans to end its partnership with Goldman Sachs – which currently handles credit checks and lending for Apple Card – and move its financial services in-house (under Apple Financing LLC) in time for the arrival of Apple Pay Later.

Apple Pay Later has faced its fair share of pre-launch criticism, too. BNPL services have come under fire in recent years for encouraging unsustainable spending, and Apple Pay Later – when it does eventually launch – will reach far more users than comparable services like Klarna and Afterpay. Some financial experts fear that the widespread accessibility of Apple Pay Later could make it easy to abuse when used for nonessential purchases.

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iOS 16 will make sharing screenshots way simpler – and save you heaps of storage

The latest iOS 16 beta is now out in the wild, and although the long-awaited return of battery percentages is the feature stealing the headlines, another useful tool looks set to make its debut when the operating system launches later this year. 

iOS 16 beta number five is giving iPhone users the ability to “Copy and Delete” screenshots, which aims to reduce the risk of letting one-time interesting (but ultimately unwanted) images clog up your photo gallery. 

When taking a screenshot in the new iOS 16 beta, a “Copy and Delete” button will appear, and selecting it will save said screenshot to your clipboard for pasting wherever you please. Crucially, though, the feature will discard the image in question, sparing your iPhone’s precious storage capacity. 

In iOS 15, users are given the option of sending, saving or deleting screenshots, but performing a combination of the first and last functions requires some tedious back-and-forth clicking. 

Now, though, it looks like you’ll be able to send screenshots without feeling guilty about the amount of virtual real estate taken up in your iPhone’s photo gallery. Naturally, the feature remains in beta at this stage (here's how you can get involved yourself), though given how useful (and simple) it seems, we’d expect it to make the cut when iOS 16 proper goes live towards the end of 2022.

Various aspects of iOS 16 shown on iPhones

iOS 16 is expected to arrive this September (Image credit: Apple)

As for what other upgrades we’re expecting to see arrive with iOS 16, customizable lock screens – think dynamic widgets, custom text font, and more color options – are the flagship new feature, while Focus mode is also in line for a refresh. 

Notifications are getting a facelift, too, courtesy of 'Live Activities' – which are essentially pinned, widget-like alerts that allow you to check the score of a game, track the progress of food delivery, and so on.

Messages, Wallet, Maps, and many more iPhone apps are expected to receive improvements with iOS 16, so head over to our dedicated iOS 16 hub for all the latest news. We’ll have the lowdown on the new operating system when it releases (we’re currently betting on a September launch, coinciding with the unveiling of Apple's inevitable iPhone 14 lineup). 

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Google Multisearch will soon help you find nearby products using only your camera

Google has announced plans to update its ambitious Multisearch feature with local business information, giving users the opportunity to find nearby product sellers using only their mobile cameras.

Company VP Prabhakar Raghavan shared the upgrade, dubbed Multisearch Near Me, at Google I/O 2022. It’s set to launch worldwide “later this year” for Google app users. 

Google launched its Multisearch feature, which lets users search for products by simply taking a photograph, earlier in 2022. Imagine you need to replace a faucet: simply grab a snap of the faucet in question, and in one single search, Google will identify the product and find resellers across the web.

Soon, Multisearch will be updated with the addition of a “near me” toggle, offering results specific to an individual's location in Google Maps and Google Search. 

This has interesting implications, not just for leaky faucets or other household items, but food items, Raghavan noted. See a picture of a delicious dish? Simply Google it, and you can find local restaurants that make it. 

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This is currently a breaking news story… 

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Nothing has already vaulted a major hurdle that both Xiaomi and Oppo struggled with

Carl Pei's burgeoning mobile company, Nothing, has just scored a major win in its quest to become the next major smartphone brand. 

In a press release, the company confirmed that its upcoming handset, the Nothing Phone (1), will launch exclusively with mobile networks O2 and Telekom Deutschland in the UK and Germany, respectively. Customers will be able to purchase the device either in-store or online via both outlets, Nothing says.

Typically, a mobile brand signing a deal with a specific carrier wouldn’t be big news, but Chinese phone companies, in particular, have historically struggled to partner with contract-based networks, leaving prospective customers forced to reckon with the higher cost of purchasing sim-only deals in addition to the phones themselves.

That’s not to say the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo and Realme haven’t successfully partnered with network companies offering cheaper, contract-based packages, but it’s impressive that Nothing has managed to score such exclusivity deals with its first bite at the European mobile market.

“When we started Nothing we wanted to bring back the excitement we once felt for the tech industry,” CEO Pei said in a statement. “Joining forces with leading telcos and retailers, we look forward to shaking up the smartphone market together.”

In India, Nothing will continue its partnership with e-commerce platform Flipkart – the brand’s Ear 1 earbuds were made available on the platform last year – though it’s not yet clear whether this too represents an exclusive deal.

These three deals represent “the first of many” partnerships, Nothing says, so we’re expecting to hear more region-specific announcements in the coming months as we approach the launch of the Nothing Phone (1).

What do we know about the Nothing Phone (1)? 

Concrete details surrounding the Nothing Phone (1) have been few and far between, but we’ve managed to build up a relatively clear picture of what to expect from the device given the myriad leaks and rumors that have emerged in anticipation of its arrival. 

Company boss Carl Pei has revealed that the phone will be powered by an Android-based NothingOS and a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, though we don’t know which one just yet. Our guess is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (found in the likes of the OnePlus 10 Pro), though we could also see the Nothing Phone (1) sport a previous generation chipset like the Snapdragon 888 or 780G – especially if Nothing hopes to keep the cost of its first phone competitive.

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RAM is another unknown at present, however Pei did share the following tidbit during the company’s 'The Truth' event back in March: "[The Nothing Phone (1)] delivers the optimal processing power and RAM for the exact app you're using, while learning from your usage. By caching in the RAM, the apps you use the most will launch faster. The apps you're not using, but take up resources in the background, will be closed." 

As for the phone’s NothingOS software, Pei has described it as "the best of Android, combined with our iconic design language,” adding that the company “started by keeping what [users] love about stock Android, and removed the bloatware." 

If you’re keen to test out NothingOS for yourself, Nothing Launcher, a beta test granting users a taste of what to expect from the software on existing handsets, recently became available on all Android devices running Android 11 or higher. You can check out our thoughts about the operating system here.

Naturally, we’ll have much more to share about the Nothing Phone (1) when the device officially launches later this year. Our guess for when that'll be? Between June and September (we're counting down the days...).

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‘There has to be a level of trust’: Trent Alexander-Arnold on the virtual future of football fandom

Is the beautiful game losing its shine? With the increasing number of NFT, cryptocurrency and trading platform endorsements cropping up on the social media feeds of football clubs and players in recent months, you’d be forgiven for thinking new technologies are tainting the image of the world’s most popular sport.  

But among the influx of fan tokens and grumpy-looking ape illustrations, the shift towards embracing the digital world is also changing football for the better. At least, that’s the opinion of England and Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, who believes augmented reality (AR) wizardry can bring supporters and players closer together than ever. 

Trent is speaking with TechRadar to promote EE's new 5G Superstore at Wembley Stadium, a world-first smartphone-enabled AR shopping experience (yes, that’s a mouthful) allowing England fans to examine the details of merchandise in the virtual world – with a little help from Trent’s avatar – before purchasing in the real one. 

The initiative formed part of a temporary instalment ahead of England’s latest round of international friendlies – all proceeds from the store were also matched with a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society – but Trent is keen to emphasise that it’s one we could see being implemented at clubs up and down the country in the near future.

“This definitely has potential,” he tells us. “Definitely. It's just the first of its kind. In my mind, it’s exciting for the fans to go into a store and be able to interact with their favourite players.

“But the possibilities with technology [like this] are endless. We see it all the time, how things are always being taken a step further. Who knew, 25 years ago, that we’d all be walking around with phones? Now it’s normal. Who knows where this technology will take us? But it’s an exciting time to be a part of it.”

Trent is referring to the advanced motion capture magic that allowed EE to replicate – in exquisite detail – his face and body in virtual form. To understand just how detailed, we ask him to compare the experience of being scanned by EE against EA’s methods for doing the same on FIFA

“There were a lot more cameras than with FIFA,” Trent admits. “When you're trying to create an avatar in the AR space [as opposed to a video game], you need a lot of cameras involved. I was standing in a room by myself with 100-odd cameras around me – which was definitely strange. But once I was able to see the end results, and how it was going to look, it was unreal. Just the fact that it was so realistic.”

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Trent Alexander-Arnold admiring a virtual recreation of himself

EE used a volumetric studio to create Trent Alexander-Arnold's virtual avatar (Image credit: EE)
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FIFA 22

Trent Alexander-Arnold's in-game likeness in FIFA 22 (Image credit: EA)

A window to the world

Of course, AR versions of Trent and other football stars can’t truly replicate the personality, skill or passion of their real-life counterparts, but they could provide an alternative route through which fans can engage with their heroes – particularly those overseas.  

“We forget that it's not just about fans in the stadium,” Trent explains. “There’s millions and millions more people all around the world – not just those in Liverpool – who I want to interact with, who I want to engage with. The fans in Australia, Africa, America, Asia. The people who wake up in the middle of the night to watch our games.”

The digital age has given fans more opportunities to interact with players, and likewise the players with fans.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

“It’s a lot easier [for a fan] to go to a three-o-clock game in the afternoon than it is to watch one at four in the morning, so these initiatives are for fans all around the world. As players, we want to make everyone feel involved in the process. It’s not just about turning up to the stadium, that’s not the only type of support we enjoy.”

“25 years ago,” Trent continues, “the only time you'd be able to see [a different side to] your favourite players was during an interview on Match of the Day. Now, you can follow them on socials, see behind the curtain a little bit, interact with them more – the digital age has given fans more opportunities to interact with players, and likewise the players with fans. 

“That’s what we [as players] want, as well. We want platforms [allowing us] to speak to fans, give our messages and speak our minds in safe places. The more technology advances in this space – the more we can help [improve] that interaction between ourselves and fans as much as we can – the easier and better it becomes for everyone.”

Trusting the process

Before we let Trent escape to the more familiar environment of the training pitch, we’re keen to hear his message to those uncomfortable with technology’s growing presence in the people’s game – the looming spectre of NFTs, cryptocurrencies, the metaverse and so on. 

“What I would say is that I think a lot of people are sceptical about these things because they don't know how they're going to unfold. With technology, there has to be a level of trust as well. We've seen it throughout the course of history. With emails, phones, smartphones, FaceTime – at the start of all these technologies, there were questions. But eventually, [people] start to perfect these crafts and make them work fluidly, and they benefit everyone. 

A lot of people are sceptical about these things because they don't know how they're going to unfold.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

“So that’s the stage that we’re at. There will be questions around [these digital technologies], whether they’re positive or negative, but with every big change, you’ve got to adapt. I’m sure, over the next five or 10 years, there will be systems in place for everyone to access this kind of stuff – we're just in that early stage of learning.”

For one thing, Trent’s right about trust being the basis for positive change in football. Only a year ago, the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) was being decried as the death of the sport. Perhaps, then, we’ll soon wake up to a future where adoring fans can watch a game alongside virtual versions of their favourite players. 

For now, though, we’ll have to make do with shopping.

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Why your usual Wordle strategy isn’t working today, according to a linguistics professor

If you’ve found today’s Wordle answer more difficult than most, you’re not alone. Puzzle #256 has proven so tough, in fact, that we’ve been live-blogging the internet’s reactions to the latest headache-inducing five-letter term. 

But why is today's answer proving trickier than others? TechRadar spoke to Dr Matthew Voice, an Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics at the UK’s University of Warwick, to find out the science behind the struggle. 

Naturally, we’ll be divulging the solution to today’s puzzle below, so turn back now if you’re committed to weathering the latest Wordle alone. 

Ok, here goes. Today’s Wordle answer is WATCH. Yep, little old WATCH – by all accounts, a fairly simple, universally-accepted noun and verb. Don’t worry, we’re kicking ourselves too. But Professor Voice explains that there is some genuine reasoning behind why you (and we) may not have been so quick on the draw this week.

“[In your live blog] you've already talked about _ATCH as a kind of trap. This is an example of an n-gram, i.e. a group of letters of a length (n) that commonly cluster together. So this is an n-gram with a length of four letters: a quadrigram,” Professor Voice tells us. 

“Using [this] Project Gutenberg data, it's interesting to note that _ATCH isn't listed as one of the most common quadrigrams in English overall, but the [same] data considers words of all lengths, rather than just the five letters Wordle is limited to. I don't know of any corpus exclusively composed of common 5 letter words, but it might be the case that _ATCH happens to be particularly productive for that length.”

Understand your quadrigrams

“The other thing to mention,” Professor Voice adds, “would be that the quadrigram _ATCH is made up of smaller n-grams, like the bigram AT, which is extremely common in English. So we're seeing a lot of common building blocks in one word, which means that sorting individual letters might not be narrowing down people's guesses as much as it would with other words.”

So there you have it. WATCH may in fact be too simple a word, after all – so much so that your usual method of deduction doesn’t account for the myriad possible solutions. 

Here's hoping tomorrow's answer is a little more... difficult?

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Why your usual Wordle strategy isn’t working today, according to a linguistics professor

If you’ve found today’s Wordle answer more difficult than most, you’re not alone. Puzzle #256 has proven so tough, in fact, that we’ve been live-blogging the internet’s reactions to the latest headache-inducing five-letter term. 

But why is today's answer proving trickier than others? TechRadar spoke to Dr Matthew Voice, an Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics at the UK’s University of Warwick, to find out the science behind the struggle. 

Naturally, we’ll be divulging the solution to today’s puzzle below, so turn back now if you’re committed to weathering the latest Wordle alone. 

Ok, here goes. Today’s Wordle answer is WATCH. Yep, little old WATCH – by all accounts, a fairly simple, universally-accepted noun and verb. Don’t worry, we’re kicking ourselves too. But Professor Voice explains that there is some genuine reasoning behind why you (and we) may not have been so quick on the draw this week.

“[In your live blog] you've already talked about _ATCH as a kind of trap. This is an example of an n-gram, i.e. a group of letters of a length (n) that commonly cluster together. So this is an n-gram with a length of four letters: a quadrigram,” Professor Voice tells us. 

“Using [this] Project Gutenberg data, it's interesting to note that _ATCH isn't listed as one of the most common quadrigrams in English overall, but the [same] data considers words of all lengths, rather than just the five letters Wordle is limited to. I don't know of any corpus exclusively composed of common 5 letter words, but it might be the case that _ATCH happens to be particularly productive for that length.”

Understand your quadrigrams

“The other thing to mention,” Professor Voice adds, “would be that the quadrigram _ATCH is made up of smaller n-grams, like the bigram AT, which is extremely common in English. So we're seeing a lot of common building blocks in one word, which means that sorting individual letters might not be narrowing down people's guesses as much as it would with other words.”

So there you have it. WATCH may in fact be too simple a word, after all – so much so that your usual method of deduction doesn’t account for the myriad possible solutions. 

Here's hoping tomorrow's answer is a little more... difficult?

Posted in Uncategorised

These Realme GT 2 Pro microscope photos show how far camera phones have come

In a week of relatively lukewarm product announcements at this year’s MWC (Mobile World Congress) trade show, the global unveiling of the Realme GT 2 Pro ranked among the most exciting. 

The first real flagship device from the burgeoning Chinese manufacturer, the GT 2 Pro is intended to rival high-end competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S22, offering users impressive visuals and premium features for a price tag that's more accessible to Realme’s typically mid-market customer base. 

But while the phone does its best to match, rather than surpass, its more expensive counterparts for overall performance – check out our hands-on review for more details – the GT 2 Pro has an ace up its sleeve that's testament to the giant leaps forward in mobile photography technology in recent years. 

Similar to the macro camera lenses found on last year’s Xiaomi Mi 11 and Oppo Find X3 Pro, Realme’s latest handset boasts a 40x microscopic sensor that allows users to take super-close-up snaps of inanimate objects. Sure, it sounds like a superfluous addition on paper, but having tested the feature ourselves, we found the results to be pretty incredible.

Below, we’ve collated a list of side-by-side images that not only illustrate the power of Realme’s new camera technology, but the remarkable ways in which photography can enhance the most mundane of everyday items. 


Image 1 of 2

Picture of a pair of jeans taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A pair of jeans to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
Image 2 of 2

Microscopic picture of a pair of jeans taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A pair of jeans at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

We’ll start with an item that likely occupies the wardrobe of anyone living in a country with a temperate climate (that includes you, Australian readers). A humble pair of jeans appears decidedly unremarkable at face value, but tie-dyed cotton fibers – otherwise known as denim – look a whole lot more interesting at 40x magnification.

Image 1 of 3

Picture of bread taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A slice of bread to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
Image 2 of 3

Microscopic picture of bread taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A slice of bread at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
Image 3 of 3

Microscopic picture of bread taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A slice of bread at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

We can’t decide whether a super-zoomed slice of bread makes the world’s greatest invention look more or less appetizing. This is wholemeal bread, but we’re still shocked to see how much chemical-induced stickiness lurks beyond the focus of the naked eye (imagine the results on a shop-bought white loaf…). It tastes great, mind you.

Image 1 of 2

Picture of a teabag taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A teabag to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
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Microscopic picture of a teabag taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A teabag at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

If you hadn’t gathered already, all the items on this list come from the same British household. As for your standard-issue English breakfast teabag, the Realme GT 2 Pro now has us expecting to find a spider's web-encased Frodo Baggins inside every one (yes, that’s a Lord of The Rings joke).

Image 1 of 2

Picture of the pavement taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

The pavement to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
Image 2 of 2

Microscopic picture of the pavement taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

The pavement at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

Surely it's not possible to make a pavement (sorry, sidewalk if you're in the US) look interesting? Well, look a little closer… This isn’t the prettiest example of microscopic photography on our list, but it’s still fascinating to see an apparently smooth surface become unrecognizable when magnified several times.

Image 1 of 2

Picture of a magazine taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A glossy magazine to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
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Microscopic picture of a magazine taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A glossy magazine at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

Now this is a result we didn’t expect to see. To the naked eye, the surface of this glossy magazine (which we couldn’t possibly name in writing) appears, well, glossy – but as you can see from the pattern in cover star Mo Salah’s eye, it actually comprises thousands of minute ink spots.

Image 1 of 2

Picture of a biscuit taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A chocolate biscuit to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
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Microscopic picture of a biscuit taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A chocolate biscuit at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

To complement the aforementioned teabag, the humble chocolate digestive biscuit reminds us, at 40x magnification, why we probably shouldn’t eat too many biscuits of this ilk. At first glance, the visible clumps on its surface look like harmless, carpet-destined crumbs – but the GT 2 Pro's microscope reveals their true sugary nature.

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Picture of a poncho taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A poncho to the naked eye (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
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Microscopic picture of a poncho taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A poncho at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)
Image 3 of 3

Microscopic picture of a poncho taken using the Realme GT 2 Pro

A poncho at 40x magnification (Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

Speaking of carpets (or rugs, more specifically), this genuine Mexican poncho passes the authenticity test when placed under the Realme microscope. It looks a lot more welcoming (read: more snuggly) from a distance, mind.

For more on all the latest tech to emerge from MWC 2022, stay tuned to TechRadar over the coming weeks. We've covered all the biggest announcements so far, and are continuing to publish our more detailed thoughts about the trends, surprises and disappointments of this year's mobile showcase. 

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