Motorola has dropped a hint about a key Razr 2022 upgrade

We may have a better idea of what's in store with the Motorola Razr 2022, the third version of the clamshell foldable that first launched in 2019 – and this latest leak comes straight from one of the executives at Motorola.

Qualcomm just unveiled the Snapdragon Gen 8+ Gen 1 mobile processor, and Motorola general manager Shen Jin has posted an image promoting the new chip on Weibo (via Notebookcheck). According to the post text, there's a hidden Easter egg in the image.

Look a little bit closer, and you can make out the shape of a foldable phone down at the bottom of the picture – is this the Easter egg that's being referred to? The implication is that the latest CPU could make its way into the Razr 2022.

Chips with everything

We wouldn't exactly take this as confirmation right now, even given the quality and standing of the source. The Motorola Razr 2020, the most recent one we've seen, arrived with a mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor, so it would be a significant jump up if Motorola was to include the best chipset around in this new version.

Other upgrades have been rumored as well however: there's talk that the 2022 version of the foldable is going to come with more storage and with a better camera – so perhaps a processor upgrade could also be in the pipeline.

We shouldn't have too long to wait to find out. While there haven't been any specific leaks around a release date, we are expecting the next Razr to make an appearance at some point during the rest of 2022 – Motorola didn't update this phone last year, so a refresh is now long overdue.


Analysis: Motorola could be ready to challenge Samsung

There are two more significant foldable phones launching in 2022 besides the Motorola Razr: namely, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. Like the Razr, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 will be using the clamshell form factor.

If the rumors that we've heard so far are true, then the Motorola Razr 2022 is ready to go head-to-head against the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in just about every metric that matters. With improved performance and better cameras, plus other upgrades that we assume are coming, the new Razr will be very much a premium phone.

When it comes to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor specifically, it is reportedly bringing with it up to 10% faster CPU performance, 10% faster GPU clock speeds and 20% better power efficiency for AI-related tasks. That's compared to the flagship chip found in handsets such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

All these premium upgrades come with a cost though, of course: pricing is going to be a crucial part of how successful the Motorola Razr 2022 is in terms of sales. For comparison, the 2020 version of the handset cost a hefty $1,399 / £1,399 when it launched.

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Motorola has dropped a hint about a key Razr 2022 upgrade

We may have a better idea of what's in store with the Motorola Razr 2022, the third version of the clamshell foldable that first launched in 2019 – and this latest leak comes straight from one of the executives at Motorola.

Qualcomm just unveiled the Snapdragon Gen 8+ Gen 1 mobile processor, and Motorola general manager Shen Jin has posted an image promoting the new chip on Weibo (via Notebookcheck). According to the post text, there's a hidden Easter egg in the image.

Look a little bit closer, and you can make out the shape of a foldable phone down at the bottom of the picture – is this the Easter egg that's being referred to? The implication is that the latest CPU could make its way into the Razr 2022.

Chips with everything

We wouldn't exactly take this as confirmation right now, even given the quality and standing of the source. The Motorola Razr 2020, the most recent one we've seen, arrived with a mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor, so it would be a significant jump up if Motorola was to include the best chipset around in this new version.

Other upgrades have been rumored as well however: there's talk that the 2022 version of the foldable is going to come with more storage and with a better camera – so perhaps a processor upgrade could also be in the pipeline.

We shouldn't have too long to wait to find out. While there haven't been any specific leaks around a release date, we are expecting the next Razr to make an appearance at some point during the rest of 2022 – Motorola didn't update this phone last year, so a refresh is now long overdue.


Analysis: Motorola could be ready to challenge Samsung

There are two more significant foldable phones launching in 2022 besides the Motorola Razr: namely, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. Like the Razr, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 will be using the clamshell form factor.

If the rumors that we've heard so far are true, then the Motorola Razr 2022 is ready to go head-to-head against the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in just about every metric that matters. With improved performance and better cameras, plus other upgrades that we assume are coming, the new Razr will be very much a premium phone.

When it comes to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor specifically, it is reportedly bringing with it up to 10% faster CPU performance, 10% faster GPU clock speeds and 20% better power efficiency for AI-related tasks. That's compared to the flagship chip found in handsets such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

All these premium upgrades come with a cost though, of course: pricing is going to be a crucial part of how successful the Motorola Razr 2022 is in terms of sales. For comparison, the 2020 version of the handset cost a hefty $1,399 / £1,399 when it launched.

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Get an early look at the Google Pixel 6a with this leaked unboxing video

The Google Pixel 6a is now official, though you can't buy it until July 28. If you want something to pass the time until then, an unboxing video of the phone has leaked out from one of Google's official channels on YouTube.

As spotted on Reddit (via 9to5Google), the unlisted video gives us a guide to the phone from Google Retail Training France. Whether or not Google is going to allow it to stay up now it's been discovered remains to be seen.

We already know what the Pixel 6a looks like of course, but the video gives us some interesting hands-on footage, and shows the packaging of the device. We also get a look at the fingerprint sensor, which looks speedy enough (it's apparently using a different component to the sensor in the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro).

Specs appeal

The first proper look at the Google Pixel 6a came at Google IO 2022, although there's still a lot that we don't know about this mid-ranger. The price is going to be $449 / £399 / AU$749, and preorders will be open in certain regions from July 21.

Google has said that the handset is going to use a 6.1-inch, 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution OLED screen with a punch-hole cut out for the selfie camera. An always-on display option is supported, although the screen refresh rate is capped at 60Hz.

We also know that the Pixel 6a will have a dual-lens rear camera (12.2MP f/1.7 main and 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide), as well as an 8MP selfie camera. The 4,410mAh battery charges at a rate of 30W, and according to Google lasts for more than a day of use.


Analysis: hopes are high for the Pixel 6a

At first glance, these mid-range versions of Google's flagship phones should be sure winners: the best bits of the more expensive phones at an affordable price, plus all the benefits of the tight integration between Google's services and the clean version of Android that gets put on Pixel phones.

However, since the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL launched in 2019, this series of handsets has been a bit hit and miss. We weren't really overwhelmed with the Google Pixel 5a, which was actually only ever released in the US and Japan.

Hopes are high for the Pixel 6a though, based on what Google has told us so far. Not everyone needs the very best in smartphone components, and for a lot of people the upcoming mid-range handset should suit them very well.

It's worth noting that the Google Pixel 7 is coming out three months after the Pixel 6a – and it was quite a surprise when we got a brief, official glimpse of it at Google IO 2022. It's possible that some smartphone buyers will wait and see what the 2022 flagship has to offer before parting with their cash.

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This little known iPhone trick will help you become a DIY master

One of the best things about the modern world is that you can have a gadget in your pocket for months or even years, and still be surprised at the cool little things it can do. This week it was the turn of the iPhone to make me sit up and go “hey, you’re a neat little guy, aren’t you?”

Now I’m not going to pretend you all don't know about this feature already. But the iPhone’s pre-installed Measure app proved invaluable to me this week, and I’ll be using it forevermore as a result. That’s because it’s not only a quick tool for measuring things, but because it also doubles up as a very accurate spirit level.

I’ve been in my new(ish) home for about six months now, and it’s been time to put the finishing touches to the place. There’s some pot plants for the balcony sorted out, some smart connected decorative lights on the wall, and, finally, some frames for prints and pictures.

The previous owners of the place had already left in place some handy picture hooks, but they felt a bit off – all my frames looked wonky against each other. And, thanks to the iPhone’s Measure app, which has slowly been improving since its introduction in iOS 12, I was able to quickly determine that, yep, I was living in a crooked house. A few tweaked hooks later, and I’m the vision of perpendicular accuracy. Here’s how you can be too.

How to use the iPhone Measure app’s spirit level

You don’t need to download Measure – it’s pre-installed on every iPhone. But if you can’t find it, fire it up from your iPhone’s Utilities folder.

When you first open the app, it’ll be using your iPhone’s camera in its default “measure” mode (more on that later), which uses augmented reality (AR) technology to measure things without the need for tape. You can ignore that – instead tap the small “Level” icon on the right.

The app will then turn into a spirit level, using your device’s accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to establish whether or not you’re on a perfectly flat-and-balanced surface.

You can use the feature in two ways. If you’re looking to measure a large flat surface, you can place the iPhone on its back, and you’ll see two white circles. Making them overlap will ensure the surface is level – the screen will turn green when that’s the case.

If you’re measuring something less wide, turn the iPhone on its edge, and place it on the surface. You’ll then be presented with a more traditional spirit-level interface, with a white line displaying the exact angle you’re off by. Again, aligning the surface until it is level will see the iPhone screen go green.

The iPhone measure app

(Image credit: Future)

Ditch the tape measure

As mentioned above, the app’s default mode is as a tape measure, and if you’ve not used it before, it’s really handy. A modern iPhone’s camera system and sensors are so advanced now as to be able to sense depth – a key requirement of augmented reality (AR) interfaces. As such, the app is able to determine an object’s distance from the iPhone, and use this with relative accuracy to give you a measurement of something’s length on screen.

The app is pretty good at determining straight edges of objects (handy for measuring shelves and the like). It then uses a pin system to let you draw a line between two points that you’d like to know the height of. If you get in close to an item you’re measuring from a distance, the onscreen measuring tool will become a full-on ruler, letting you know the precise distance between points of the element you’re measuring.

While I wouldn’t use it for architectural purposes, as it’s still requiring you to accurately determine the exact edges of the object you’re measuring, it’s a great way to get a very good estimate of the length of something in a pinch – handy, say, for when walking around IKEA and you’re looking to get an idea of whether or not something will more-or-less fit a gap in your home.

And, in one final neat trick, if you point it at a person, it’ll instantly recognize them as a human and measure their height – handy for establishing if your Tinder date may have been exaggerating a little on their profile!

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iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Sony Xperia 1 IV: which flagship phone is the real pro’s choice?

The Xperia 1 IV is Sony’s latest enthusiast-baiting smartphone, and it’s packed full of multimedia potential.

But when it comes to creating a phone that pros and media types love to use, Apple is the king of the hill. Its iPhone 13 Pro Max is in the running to be dubbed the best flagship phone in the current market because of its all-round excellence.

Does Sony have the key to access that same exclusive club? Let’s take a look.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max price and availability

Sony announced the Sony Xperia 1 IV on May 11, 2022, but the phone won’t  be available for purchase until June 16 in the UK and Europe, and September 1 in the US. Over in the U.S., the sole 512GB option will cost $1599; the UK and Europe will get a 256GB model for £1299/€1399.

There’s no word on Australian availability just yet, but we’re not holding out hope for any. Sony usually doesn’t sell its phones in the region.

Sony Xperia 1 IV event

(Image credit: Sony)

The iPhone 13 Pro Max hit shops on September 24, 2021. Prices start at $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1,699 for the 128GB model; move up to $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,869 for 256GB; then on to $1,399 / £1,349 / AU$2,219 for 512GB; and top out at $1,599 / £1,549 / AU$2,569 for the new 1TB model.

All in all, it’s a win for the iPhone 13 Pro Max in terms of both price and availability.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max design

The Sony Xperia 1 IV looks nearly identical to the Sony Xperia 1 III, with the same flat sides and oddly tall form factor.

With the iPhone 13 Pro Max, Apple has also stuck with the design language of its previous phone. Like the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the 13 has a flat stainless steel frame and equally flat front and rear surfaces.

Sony’s phone measures 165 x 71 x 8.2mm and weighs 185g. This makes it taller and thicker than the iPhone 13 Pro Max (160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm), but also narrower and significantly lighter. There’s no hefty stainless steel weighing it down here.

A key reason for the Sony Xperia 1 IV’s height is its tall forehead and chin bezels. Unlike virtually every other current flagship, it houses its selfie camera above the screen rather than in a display notch.

The iPhone, of course, has the mother of all screen notches eating into the top edge of its display. Apple claims to have reduced the size of the notch by 20%, but it’s still a bit of an eyesore.

Sony always packs its phone edges with points of interest, which explains the physical camera button and the 3.5mm headphone jack – these should appeal to photographers and audiophiles respectively.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max in silver facing down on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Around back, the iPhone 13 Pro Max organizes its camera sensors in a square configuration; Sony’s are configured in something like a vertical lozenge.

You can get the Sony Xperia 1 IV in Black, White, or Purple. Over in iPhone-land, there’s a wider range of color options: Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue, and Alpine Green.

Both phones are suitably dust and water-resistant. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has an IP68 rating, while the Sony Xperia 1 IV gets an even more thorough IP68/IP65 certification.

There’s Gorilla Glass Victus protecting the screen of the Sony;Apple has fitted the iPhone with its Ceramic Shield, which is made by embedding ceramic nanocrystals into the glass by way of a high-temperature crystallization process.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max display

The Sony Xperia 1 IV goes with the same 6.5-inch 4K OLED display as the Xperia 1 III. The stand-out part of that is the ‘4K’ figure, which equates to a massive 3840 x 1644 resolution.

By contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro Max display is a 6.7-inch OLED with a 2778 x 1284 resolution. It’s more than a match on size and vibrancy, but it’s nowhere near as sharp.

A Sony Xperia 1 IV from the front and back, with the screen on

(Image credit: Sony)

This means that the Sony Xperia 1 IV is the only current flagship that can play back 4K content natively. That’s clearly what Sony is aiming for here, together with that 21:9 aspect ratio and unbroken canvas.

Both displays refresh at a maximum of 120Hz, so they’re equally fluid.

Sony has increased the brightness of its display by 50%. It remains to be seen if that helps it compete with the punchy iPhone panel, which remains one of the best in the business.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max camera

Both of these phones pack triple 12MP camera systems, and both manufacturers are known for their natural color science. But that’s about where the similarities end.

Apple and Sony take fundamentally different approaches to photography. The iPhone is all about the fire and forget experience, unburdened by fiddly menus and the need to think through one’s framing.

Sony’s Xperia 1 line is all about pro-level control, with an in-depth camera app that mirrors its high-end Alpha line of cameras, and a physical two-stage camera shutter button on the right-hand edge.

The big advancement with the Xperia 1 IV is with that telephoto system. This time around, you get a continuous zoom between 70mm and 125mm, roughly equating to an optical zoom that can fall anywhere between 3.5x and 5.2x. That’s a first.

By contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 3x zoom seems a little tired.

Still, the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera’s image quality is well recognized at this point. It’s arguably the best smartphone camera system on the market right now.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max lying on a table, face up, showing the home screen

(Image credit: Future)

This is led by a large (and, at f/1.5, wide open) main sensor that can capture some seriously impressive images in all lighting conditions, aided by an uncannily steady, sensor shift stabilization system. Even the ultra-wide can take sharp nighttime shots this time around, too.

Hardware aside, a large part of the fantastic image quality comes down to Apple’s leading image processing technology, which helps produce excellent results with minimal input. Sony’s phones have never been able to achieve the same, though it does offer unmatched control over your shots.

Apple’s cameras have always had an edge over the competition in video recording, but Sony is looking to make progress with the Xperia 1 IV. The Sony’s latest phone captures 4K 120fps slow-mo recording to the iPhone’s 4K/60fps; and Sony has also imbued the Xperia 1 IV with wider dynamic range and a Videography Pro mode for live streaming.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has its own video tricks, including a Cinematic Mode that enables you to apply Portrait-like bokeh effects to your footage and adjust the point of focus in post.

Both phones have 12MP selfie cameras, but the Xperia 1 IV’s is the larger sensor of the two.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max specs and performance

We all know the story by now. Android phones can keep one-upping themselves on performance, but they’re still going to fall short of Apple’s latest.

We haven’t been able to put the Sony Xperia 1 IV through its paces just yet, but we can confidently tell you now that it won’t be as fast as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. That’s because it’s running the exact same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip that powers most of its rivals, from the Xiaomi 12 Pro to the Oppo Find X5 Pro.

A close up of the Sony Xperia 1 IV's rear camera

(Image credit: Sony)

And in all of our testing and benchmarking, those phones fall comfortably shy of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The key to that is Apple’s latest custom A15 Bionic chip, which is a monster.

Benchmarks aside though, you won’t notice the performance difference between the latest iPhone and any Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone. Both chips are way more capable than they need to be for any modern task, from juggling multiple apps to playing high-end 3D games.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV packs double the RAM of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, for what it’s worth (12GB vs 6GB). Still, this isn’t a great deal, given the fundamental differences between the ways iOS and Android handle resources.

Apple’s device comes with way more storage options than Sony’s though. You get a choice of 128, 256, 512, or 1TB wherever you are. With the Sony Xperia 1 IV, you get 256GB in the UK and Europe, or 512GB in the US.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max battery life

Sony has bumped the capacity of its flagship battery up to 5,000mAh. That’s a healthy size for a flagship Android phone, and is much larger than the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 4,352mAh cell.

Like we just said, though, iOS and Android handle their hardware resources very differently, and we’d hope for rough parity between the two.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV will need to pull the cat out of the bag to match the iPhone 13 Pro Max, though. With the Xperia 1 III, we tended to have around 10% or so left in the tank at the end of a long day. With the iPhone 13 Pro Max, we had a third of a tank left. Hopefully Sony’s brute force capacity increase, alongside the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and software improvements, will close that gap.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Neither phone is among the most impressive when it comes to charging speeds. Sony has equipped its latest phone with the same 30W wired charging support as before, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max can take a similar 27W.

When rivals are boasting 80W, 100W, and even 120W charging, those specs aren’t too great. Still, both manufacturers claim their phones can charge to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Neither manufacturer includes a charger in the box, but at least Apple gives you a cable.

Takeaway

Sony seems to have created another media enthusiast’s dream with the Sony Xperia 1 IV. It picks up where the Sony Xperia 1 III left off, with an even more flexible camera system, a brighter 4K display, and meatier battery life.

It remains to be seen if those updates are enough to close the 1-point review score gap between its predecessor and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. We were seriously impressed with Apple’s latest for its superb fire-and-forget camera, its excellent battery life, and its peerless performance.

One thing seems certain – Sony is always going to hold a place in the hearts of a certain type of fan obsessed with serious photography, audio fidelity, and proper video playback. But can it mix it with the iPhone in the mainstream this time around?

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 just keeps on sounding better

In the space of a day or two the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 has gone from sounding underwhelming to quite exciting, as hot on the heels of a leak suggesting a serious power upgrade, it now looks like the battery could be better than expected.

MyFixGuide has spotted a listing from China’s 3C certification agency, which suggests that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 will have two batteries with a combined capacity of 3,595mAh.

Now, that’s already more than the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 – which has a 3,300mAh battery – and than a previous leak suggested, as that pointed to a 3,400mAh battery.

But the battery capacity we’re seeing on this listing is almost certainly the 'rated capacity', which is essentially the minimum capacity you’ll get from the battery. Samsung (and most device makers) actually advertise the 'typical capacity' though, which is the estimated average value for the battery - so a little higher than the rated capacity.

It’s the typical value that we mentioned for the Z Flip 3 and for the previous leak, and with a rated capacity of 3,595mAh, the typical capacity here is likely to be even higher at around 3,700mAh – a figure which leaker @UniverseIce suggests.

So that’s around 400mAh more than the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, which is a not-insignificant amount, especially given that the screens sound like they might be similar, and the chipset is likely to be more efficient. So if anything the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 might be less battery hungry than its predecessor.

We would of course take this claim with a pinch of salt, especially since it conflicts with an earlier rumor. But certification agencies like this one are usually working off official information, so there’s a very high chance that this is accurate.


Analysis: A big boost but we still want more

Battery life has long been a problem with smartphones, and it’s even more of an issue with foldable phones, as despite often having bigger screens than conventional phones, they also often have smaller batteries.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 will probably actually be in line with a large conventional phone, as leaks point to a 6.7-inch foldable display, but even a 3,700mAh battery would be much smaller than the juice packs in most phones of that size.

It’s rare to find a large phone with less than a 4,500mAh battery, and many are at 5,000mAh or higher.

But with the hinge, the secondary display, and the multiple sections needed in a foldable phone, there’s a lot more to them than normal smartphones, meaning battery space is more limited – unless you want something really chunky. So this isn’t an easy problem to solve.

Hopefully the rumored upgrade here will be enough, but either way it’s much needed, as our Galaxy Z Flip 3 review described its battery as the “biggest drawback.”

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TikTok update helps to prevent users from being cheated out by their own videos

In order to make the creator economy a fairer, TikTok has implemented new tools that allow users to properly credit their inspiration for their latest video, alongside giving credit to the original user who made the video in the first place.

In a similar fashion to how credit is applied for stitched and dueted videos, TikTok’s new crediting tools will place a tag directly in the description of the video, in a spot that it’s always visible even before the description box is expanded. This is even when they’re not replying to or stitching other videos on the app.

According to TikTok, these new tools will “better enable creator credit and equitable attribution for our creator community and content originators,” which in turn should mitigate some of the parasitic content-stealing that is commonplace on the ever-growing social media app.

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While these new crediting tools have the possibility to be a powerful force for good on TikTok, it remains to be seen whether or not this feature will be used by many of the app’s users.

As an entirely voluntary feature, it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that the parasitic creators who’re being targeted by these tools will simply opt not to use them as there is no incentive nor mandate for their use.

Anticipating that the new crediting tools won’t immediately be adopted by the app’s entire userbase, TikTok announced in the coming weeks they will be implementing additional prompts to encourage creators to credit, one of which will be an “educational pop-up that encourages and explains the importance of crediting.”

Ultimately, while these features may help to appropriately share credit across the app, TikTok is always going to struggle to properly embody the culture of crediting the original creators.

However, it's a good first start in taking on spam accounts that regard other viral videos of their own, and could help original accounts to further monetize their TikTok careers with more original videos.

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The OnePlus Nord 2T is here – and it just made another OnePlus phone irrelevant

In what feels like about the 50th OnePlus smartphone launch of the year, the company has just unveiled two new handsets for the UK – the OnePlus Nord 2T and the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite.

Of these, the OnePlus Nord 2T is the star, being the higher end of the two – but it’s also a remarkably similar phone to the OnePlus Nord 2.

It has a 6.43-inch FHD AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+, 8GB or 12GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage, a 4,500mAh battery, 5G, a 50MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide one, a 2MP mono one, and a 32MP front-facing one.

That’s basically all the same as the OnePlus Nord 2, but there are a few upgrades here. For one thing, you get faster 80W charging here, which is the same as you’ll find on the OnePlus 10 Pro. There’s also a better chipset (the MediaTek Dimensity 1300), and it ships with newer software in the form of OxygenOS 12.1. There are also some improved camera features, including nightscape and AI video balancing modes.

OnePlus Nord 2T

A OnePlus Nord 2T (Image credit: Future)

This doesn’t sound like an enormous upgrade then, but with a starting price of £369 (roughly $460 / AU$655) it doesn’t need to be, as that’s exactly what the OnePlus Nord 2 costs at the time of writing.

That’s for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and the price rises to a still quite reasonable £469 (around $580 / AU$830) for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

As for the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, that has previously launched in India so we already knew what to expect. It has a 6.59-inch 120Hz LCD screen, a Snapdragon 695 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 5,000mAh battery, 33W charging, a 64MP main camera, a 2MP depth sensor, a 2MP macro one, and a 16MP selfie camera.

You can pick this phone up for £279 (approximately $345 / AU$495), with both phones going on sale on May 24 in the UK. There’s no word on US availability, but we wouldn’t expect to see them there, and Australia is even less likely, since OnePlus doesn’t currently sell anything in Australia.

OnePlus Nord Buds

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Finally, OnePlus has also launched the OnePlus Nord Buds in the UK, following a recent announcement for the US. For $39 / £49 (around AU$85) they give you up to 98 decibels of volume, Dolby Atmos audio, a 12.4mm titanium coated driver, 4 microphones, AI-powered noise reduction algorithms, and an IP55 rating.

You can expect 7 hours of battery from the Nord Buds, while the charging case offers 30 hours before that needs juicing up. There’s no exact release date for these but expect them sometime around June.


A OnePlus Nord 2T

A OnePlus Nord 2T (Image credit: Future)

Analysis: the Nord line keeps on growing

Right now in the UK, OnePlus is selling the original OnePlus Nord, the OnePlus Nord 2, the OnePlus Nord CE, and the OnePlus Nord CE 2. So with the addition of these two new phones, the line will have got 50% bigger.

Of course, the company may well discontinue the OnePlus Nord 2, given that the Nord 2T is a better phone at the same price. At a minimum a price cut will be needed if the company hopes to keep selling the older model.

The OnePlus Nord CE might also need a price cut if OnePlus hopes to keep selling it, as it’s priced at almost exactly the same level as the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite and looks on paper to be a slightly worse phone.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 could be even more powerful than the Galaxy S22 Ultra

We haven’t seen much to get excited about in Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 leaks yet, with the available information suggesting that it'll be very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. But finally we’ve seen something that could make it worth upgrading to.

Leaker @UniverseIce has spotted a Geekbench benchmark listing for the phone, and it includes a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus chipset.

This is a chipset that hasn’t even been announced yet, but it’s set to be an upgrade on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which is currently used by most Android flagships – including the Samsung Galaxy S22 range in some regions.

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If it does get that chip, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 could be more powerful than even the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

And in regions like the UK, which got an arguably lesser Exynos 2200 chipset in the Galaxy S22 range, the upgrade will be even bigger – Samsung typically uses the same chipset globally for its foldable phones, so we’d expect the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus will be used worldwide.

That said, not every aspect of the performance will be an upgrade on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, as the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is listed here with 8GB of RAM. That’s the same starting amount as the S22 Ultra, but while Samsung’s top flagship can come with up to 12GB, we might only see the one RAM configuration in the Z Flip 4 based on past form.

It’s worth noting also that while this benchmark is for the Galaxy Z Flip 4, we’d expect that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 will use the same chipset, so that will likely be an seriously powerful phone too.


Analysis: the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 suddenly got interesting

We’ve been a bit down on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 thus far, given that the design and screens are rumored to be more or less identical to those of the Z Flip 3. Slight improvements to the cameras and battery have been suggested, but nothing overly exciting.

That left a possible price reduction as the only really notable rumor we’d heard about the phone, as a lower price could truly push the foldable into the mainstream.

But if it’s both cheaper than the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and one of the most powerful phones of the year, then suddenly the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a handset that’s worth paying attention to.

Nothing that we’ve heard about it has been confirmed yet, though, so we’d take all of this with a pinch of salt; but this could end up being one of Samsung’s most impressive phones of 2022.

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Apple previews new iPhone and Mac accessibility features that could seriously change lives

Apple has revealed a clutch of fresh innovations for its hardware which pushes forward strongly on the accessibility front, capabilities that’ll arrive later in 2022 courtesy of software updates.

The new software features, which have been developed using machine learning, include Door Detection for blind or low vision users, as well as a system of Live Captions for the deaf or those with hearing loss, and Apple Watch Mirroring which gives those with physical and motor disabilities the ability to control the smartwatch via an iPhone.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these capabilities, starting with Door Detection, which as the name suggests allows for iPhone and iPad users to locate a door when arriving at a new place.

The feature, which uses LiDAR, so will require a device equipped with the LiDAR Scanner (iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 – both Pro and Pro Max – handsets, and various iPad Pro models), is built into the Magnifier app. It can ascertain whether a door is open or closed, and if the latter, how it can be opened, as well as the user’s distance from the door, plus it can read any signs or characters on the door (like a number).

Magnifier will get a new Detection Mode which will play host to the Door Detection feature, and will also offer the likes of People Detection and image descriptions (for describing the surroundings of the user).

Those who are deaf or hard of hearing will get access to Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers, allowing for captions (with adjustable font size) to be generated on-device for everything from video chatting to watching streaming content. In FaceTime, the captions are automatically attributed to the relevant person speaking on the call, and on Mac, users have the option to type responses and have them spoken aloud in real-time.

The caveats for device support include that only Macs with Apple chips are supported, or you’ll need an iPhone 11 or better, or in the case of the iPad, models with the A12 Bionic chip (or later). Initially, Live Captions will debut in beta form (so still in testing – Apple observes that the accuracy of the captions ‘may vary’) for just the English language (US and Canada).

The final major accessibility revelation from Apple here is the introduction of Apple Watch Mirroring, which allows for people to use their iPhone to control the watch. In other words, users can benefit from the smartphone’s assistive features such as Voice Control and Switch Control when interacting with their Apple Watch, opening up abilities like voice commands for the watch, head tracking and so forth.

Gesture control with Quick Actions on Apple Watch

(Image credit: Apple)

New Quick Actions with the Apple Watch also let users employ simple hand gestures for controls, such as answering (or ending) a phone call by using a double-pinch gesture.

Note that you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 6 or newer to benefit from the mirroring function.


Analysis: More to come including VoiceOver revamp and Buddy Controllers

There’s a lot of well thought out stuff here, and more besides which is coming to push forward even further with accessibility.

For example, Apple has also been busy with adding support for a bunch of new languages (over 20 of them) for VoiceOver, its screen reader tool (with dozens of new voices being implemented, too).

There’s also an incoming Siri Pause Time feature, so those with speech disabilities can extend the length of time Siri waits before responding to a request, and Buddy Controllers, whereby a friend can be invited in to help the user play a game, basically letting both controllers work to direct the action in a single-player title.

As a reminder, all this stuff will be coming to Apple devices later this year via software updates. Furthermore, bear in mind that Apple does advise that features such as Door Detection and Live Captions should not be used in ‘high-risk’ or emergency situations, and in the case of the former, where there might be a danger of injury to the user.

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Apple’s foldable iPhone could borrow screen tech from Kindles

We’ve been waiting years for the iPhone Flip and we’ll probably be waiting a few years more, but when it does arrive it could be quite different to any current foldable phone.

That’s because, according to Ming-Chi Kuo – an analyst with a good track record for Apple information – the phone might have an E Ink cover display.

Apple is apparently testing E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for use on the secondary screen of a foldable phone – though it’s worth noting that even if Kuo is right, the fact that Apple is testing something doesn’t mean the company will necessarily end up using it.

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Still, such a display could make sense. This EPD tech is a lot like the screen on a Kindle, in that it’s designed to replicate the look of paper, and to be incredibly low-power, so the cover screen could be always on without draining much battery.

And this particular tech goes a step beyond what any of Amazon’s Kindles currently offer, as it’s also a color screen.

Kuo goes on to suggest that this tech could, for the above reasons, become widely used for secondary screens on foldable phones, so it might not just be Apple that uses it. We could certainly imagine other companies copying the idea if Apple’s foldable successfully uses this tech.

Interestingly, Kuo also says that Apple is testing an EPD with “tablet-like applications”. It’s not totally clear what's meant by that, but it could be that Apple is working on some sort of e-reader or drawing tablet as well.


Analysis: pros and cons of an EPD

While an EPD has obvious advantages – most notably how easy it is on a device’s battery – it also has some downsides.

If you’ve ever used an e-reader you’ll know they tend to have extremely low refresh rates, making them feel sluggish to do much on. In some cases the refresh rate can be increased, but this often leads to ghosting. They’re ideal then for reading books on, but less so for things that require constant, rapid inputs, or for animations and videos.

That means an EPD cover display probably wouldn’t work very well as a full-featured smartphone interface, like the cover screen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. But it could be ideal as a less interactive screen that’s more designed to show notifications and the time, a bit like the smaller cover screen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

So if Apple does use an EPD on the iPhone Flip, it will probably be more like the Z Flip 3’s secondary screen than the Z Fold 3’s. These limitations also mean that even if other phone makers do start doing the same, there will still be a market for conventional secondary screens.

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WhatsApp’s next update could make your status bar actually worth using

A new WhatsApp update is in the works that could greatly improve the presence of your status updates on the popular messaging app by adding rich link previews to any link you post in your status bar.

A report from WABetaInfo shows that WhatsApp is working on what looks like a pretty significant update in regards to your profile's status bar. The feature, which has yet to be rolled out to WhatsApp beta testers, is set to upgrade the appearance of links posted in your status bar on Android, iOS, and the desktop app.

Currently, links are displayed in your status updates as plainly as possible, with no preview window to offer any kind of insight as to what the link contains. That's set to change with this upcoming update, which will flesh out links posted in your status updates with a rich link preview showing a thumbnail and a greater amount of info pertaining to where the link will take you.

WABetaInfo created a mock-up image showing the difference between the current appearance of links in your status updates, paired against what they'll look like in the future update:

WhatsApp rich link update preview

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

WhatsApp isn't slowing down

WhatsApp's current run of updates has mostly been pretty impressive, even if many of them are the addition of features the app probably should've already had. Just a couple of weeks ago, the messaging app finally rolled out emoji reactions as part of a chunky update that also boosted file transfer limits up to 2GB, and bumped the maximum group size up to 512 individual users.

And that's a good thing, considering that WhatsApp has certainly lagged behind other popular messaging apps like Discord and Telegram in terms of functionality. Discord, for example, has had emoji reactions for years.

However, WhatsApp does have Discord Nitro (the app's premium subscription service) soundly beat on upload size limits. WhatsApp's 2GB makes Discord's 100MB look relatively meager in comparison. As such, clear improvements over the competition are beginning to appear on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp's made some major strides over the past few months, then, but we, unfortunately, don't know much more about the upcoming status updates. WABetaInfo's report clearly states that the feature is under development, and is in the dark as to when it'll roll out for beta testers to try out.

It's safe to assume that regular WhatsApp users might not see the improvements to the status bar for quite some time as a result. But when it does launch for non-beta users, it just might be enough of a reason to make status updates on WhatsApp actually worth bothering with.

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WhatsApp’s next update could make your status bar actually worth using

A new WhatsApp update is in the works that could greatly improve the presence of your status updates on the popular messaging app by adding rich link previews to any link you post in your status bar.

A report from WABetaInfo shows that WhatsApp is working on what looks like a pretty significant update in regards to your profile's status bar. The feature, which has yet to be rolled out to WhatsApp beta testers, is set to upgrade the appearance of links posted in your status bar on Android, iOS, and the desktop app.

Currently, links are displayed in your status updates as plainly as possible, with no preview window to offer any kind of insight as to what the link contains. That's set to change with this upcoming update, which will flesh out links posted in your status updates with a rich link preview showing a thumbnail and a greater amount of info pertaining to where the link will take you.

WABetaInfo created a mock-up image showing the difference between the current appearance of links in your status updates, paired against what they'll look like in the future update:

WhatsApp rich link update preview

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

WhatsApp isn't slowing down

WhatsApp's current run of updates has mostly been pretty impressive, even if many of them are the addition of features the app probably should've already had. Just a couple of weeks ago, the messaging app finally rolled out emoji reactions as part of a chunky update that also boosted file transfer limits up to 2GB, and bumped the maximum group size up to 512 individual users.

And that's a good thing, considering that WhatsApp has certainly lagged behind other popular messaging apps like Discord and Telegram in terms of functionality. Discord, for example, has had emoji reactions for years.

However, WhatsApp does have Discord Nitro (the app's premium subscription service) soundly beat on upload size limits. WhatsApp's 2GB makes Discord's 100MB look relatively meager in comparison. As such, clear improvements over the competition are beginning to appear on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp's made some major strides over the past few months, then, but we, unfortunately, don't know much more about the upcoming status updates. WABetaInfo's report clearly states that the feature is under development, and is in the dark as to when it'll roll out for beta testers to try out.

It's safe to assume that regular WhatsApp users might not see the improvements to the status bar for quite some time as a result. But when it does launch for non-beta users, it just might be enough of a reason to make status updates on WhatsApp actually worth bothering with.

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iOS 16 will reportedly include new Apple apps and major changes

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We'll likely see iOS 16 unveiled at WWDC 2022 in June, but we don’t know much about it so far. However, it’s increasingly sounding like it could be a big deal, with the latest leak pointing to major changes, new ways of interacting with widgets, and even some new Apple apps.

That’s all according to Mark Gurman, a journalist with a solid track record for Apple information, who made the claim in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg.

Gurman didn’t go into any detail, but we can take an educated guess at some of what he’s referring to. On the new apps front, there’s already evidence that Apple is working on an Apple Classical music streaming service, so that could be one. But Gurman said apps, plural, so there could still be some surprises.

As for the new ways of interacting, that might refer to interactive widgets, which have previously leaked. iOS currently has widgets, but while they can show you information, you can’t interact with them, for example to type a note or skip a track. Tapping on them will generally just launch the relevant app.

So adding widgets that can be interacted with would certainly fall under new ways of interacting with the phone.

Then there’s Gurman’s claim that there will be “major changes across the system”. Interactive widgets could also fall under that, but additionally we’ve previously heard from Gurman that iOS 16 will include “fairly significant enhancements across the board, including an update to notifications and new health-tracking features”. So he could be referring to those things here, though that’s fairly vague in itself.

Gurman also mentioned watchOS 9, saying that the news about this at WWDC will be “significant”. We've heard basically nothing about watchOS 9 so far, but from this it sounds like big changes could be planned for that too.


WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: what else will we hear about at WWDC 2022?

Gurman’s comments here were a response to the question of “which operating system do you think will get the most attention at WWDC?”. So iOS 16, and perhaps watchOS 9, are likely to be the stars of Apple’s developer conference then, but they won’t be all that we hear about.

Based on past form, we’re also sure to hear about macOS 13 during the event, while iPadOS 16 will probably get a nod too.

And it might not only be software that we hear about. While that’s typically the focus of WWDC, it’s thought that Apple’s next high-end chipset, the M2, might make an appearance at WWDC 2022, possibly inside the MacBook Air 2022 or other computing hardware.

There’s an outside chance that we could see other things too, including the long-rumored Apple MR headset. We’ll find out for sure soon, as WWDC 2022 runs from June 6-10.

Via MacRumors

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UAE telco Etisalat becomes Vodafone’s largest shareholder

Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat, also known as E&, has made a surprise investment in Vodafone, purchasing a 9.8% stake to become its largest shareholder.

The $4.4 billion paid is a 10% premium on Vodafone’s share price, a vote of confidence in the Newbury-based operator’s present strategy.

E& said the investment formed part of a wider strategy to be a global leader in telecoms and technology and that it would provide “significant exposure to a world leader in connectivity and digital services.”

Vodafone consolidation

Vodafone has spent the past few years doubling down in key markets like the UK and Germany, scaling up and expanding into new sectors. It has expressed its desire to be viewed as a technology company rather than just a mere provider of telecoms services.

Market consolidation is one of its key ambitions, with chief executive Nick Read holding discussions with regulators and potential partners in Europe. Most recently this was believed to be in the UK with rival operator Three.

However, it has come under pressure from investors, including ‘constructive activist’ investor Cevin Capital, on its progress.

E& said it was fully supportive of Vodafone’s current board, management team, and business strategy and that it did not intend to make a takeover bid. That commitment is now legally binding for six months under London Stock Exchange rules.

"Our investment represents a unique opportunity to acquire a significant stake in one of the leading and strongest global telecom brands, and a company that we know well,” said Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO of e&. “We are looking forward to building a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Vodafone with the goal of driving value creation for both our businesses, exploring opportunities in the rapidly developing global telecoms market and supporting the adoption of next-generation technologies.”

"We see this investment as a good opportunity for e& and its shareholders as it will allow us to enhance and develop our international portfolio, in line with our strategic ambition."    

“We look forward to building a long-term relationship with Etisalat,” Vodafone said in a statement.

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