Apex Legends Mobile has learned a great lesson from Call of Duty Mobile

I'm enjoying my time with the newly-launched Apex Legends Mobile, a fact that's partly thanks to my appreciation for big online mobile games like this, and partly because I spent a good year obsessed with the console version.

But I particularly like it because it's learned one key thing from mobile gaming juggernaut Call of Duty Mobile, which has a feature that's so useful that it's now the basis I use to judge other similar mobile games.

I'm talking about one small aspect of the control scheme - and while Apex Legends Mobile doesn't have the most intuitive controls of any of its rivals, there's one small thing it does really well.

The single-button approach

Mobile phones are a little fiddlier to use to control games than a typical console controller, as the buttons are all on the screen, so you basically have to rely on your thumbs to do most of the action (unless you've got very nimble fingers).

Since shooter games like Apex and CoD have the same key functions, all mobile shooters ended up having a near-identical control scheme. You could swipe around on the right half of the screen to look around and on the left half to move around; tap on a button on the left side to aim your gun, tap on the right to shoot.

This scheme worked, with PUBG Mobile being a key example of it in action, but it makes the myriad other functions a little more fiddly. If you wanted to duck or stand up, lay down, use a healing item, change weapons, equip a grenade or anything else, you had to move your hands - this meant you couldn't do them while aiming and firing. Plus, if you wanted to move or look around while aiming, you had a tough time ahead of you.

Gaming on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

(Image credit: TechRadar / Activision Blizzard)

Call of Duty simplified this in a small but key way - when you press the shoot button, you automatically aim too. This cuts out the slight amount of time that it took to press the two separate buttons, which in a frantic shooter game can mean the difference between winning and losing.

With this small feature, CoD became my go-to mobile game when I wanted this kind of gameplay - the entire gameplay felt just that little bit smoother and more intuitive, and it was hard to play PUBG after that.

Thankfully, Apex Legends Mobile copies this feature, and it makes the gameplay feel just as frantic and fast-paced as for the non-mobile version.

But while Apex is super fun, partly because of this feature, it does stumble at another thing that's afflicted mobile shooters, that Call of Duty was much better at - and that's the rest of the controls.

Too many buttons

While Call of Duty Mobile was inspired by the main-line Call of Duty games, Apex Legends Mobile is a direct port of the console and PC game, meaning it needs to be more faithful to the existing controls and features. The base game has loads of nuanced tricks, including for things like sliding and using Ultimate abilities, that don't fit well on a small mobile screen.

The touch controls section of the screen is cluttered, with loads of different icons for different things, and it makes it harder to remember what does what. Which button do I press to slide down a hill? Can I remember to press the 'duck' button instead of the 'reload' one? Lots of the time I end up mashing the wrong icon, or having to remember which did what.

Apex Legends Mobile

(Image credit: Apex Legends)

The Ping system is a key example. On console and PC, this is a great way to easily point out features to a team-mate - you can ping distant enemies, useful loot items in boxes, areas to attack or defend. However with fiddly touch controls on mobile, I always struggle to know what the ping button will do - and sometimes things are pinged when I don't even mean them to be.

The same can be said about picking up objects - sometimes you'll pick them up automatically, sometimes you won't, sometimes you can't pick up items at all even if you need them and have storage space, and I can't work out a rhyme or reason why.

A great example is for the boxes that drop when players get killed - these let you pick up whatever gear they were carrying, which is often the best way to upgrade your own weapons and restock on ammo. In Apex Mobile, sometimes you automatically collect everything in the box that's applicable to you just by moving near, but sometimes you need to press a tiny button on the display to start the process - and sometimes you need to individually pick out which items you want, and this latter option is really time-consuming. 

Bear in mind, I'm not some newbie playing their first mobile game - I've played loads, as it's literally part of my job. Apex Mobile can be a little convoluted, then.

Apex Legends is far from the first mobile game to face the 'too-many-controls' problem, and I faced it recently with PUBG: New State, which put me off playing the thing. Thankfully the easy shooting controls make up for the confusion, but I feel some really easy tweaks would make the game much more fun to play.

That's not to say this is a bad game - in fact, I'm having a lot of fun, and it's one of the better mobile shooters I've played (and I've played many). But since I know I'm going to be spending hours playing the game, I'd love for it to make a little more sense.

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Every Android phone user needs to know about this simple iPhone AirDrop rival

When I'm hanging around my iPhone-using friends, they're always AirDropping things left, right and center. "One of the benefits of having an iPhone," they tell me, "is that you can AirDrop things."

I was taken aback recently, though, when an Android-using friend said the exact same thing to me, when they wanted to send something over. It was then that I realized that many Android phone users don't know that they have an AirDrop alternative readily accessible at their fingertips.

I used to be in the same boat, until I discovered the way to easily send files between Android phones, and I think everybody who uses such a device should know about Nearby Share.

Meet Android Be- no, wait...

Android phones used to have a feature called Android Beam, which used NFC to transfer files between devices.

To use this, you tried to share a file in the normal way, then held your phone right up to the one you were trying to share the file with.

This wasn't exactly an AirDrop alternative, since you need to rub the phones against each other like two dolls that you were trying to make kiss. And even this was a little-known feature that most Android owners hadn't ever used.

But Google got rid of Android Beam in 2020, for something a lot more convenient.

Android Beam

(Image credit: Future)

Meet Nearby Share

Nearby Share works identically to AirDrop - you can share files, photos and links with people nearby, as long as it's to another Android device (though apparently Chromebooks will get support soon too).

This means you don't need to rub your phones together, or use a different app to send files. Easy!

I'd never heard of Nearby Share - I assumed Android Beam had been removed since people just used email, cloud storage or messaging apps to send things, and I generally use WhatsApp for this kind of thing. But no, Nearby Share is here, and it's easy to use.

I was introduced to Nearby Share in a way which really rammed home its use - someone whose contact information I don't have wanted to send me something. Instead of having to give them my email or phone number, they could just Nearby Share them to me. Very simple.

How to use Nearby Share

Using Nearby Share is pretty easy, though I must admit than, when I realized how prominent the button for it is, I felt stupid for having missed it.

Using it is slightly different depending on which Android fork your phone is on, but generally, you press the 'Share' button (y'know, the one that looks like this: < ) and then press 'Nearby Share'. 

Nearby handsets with the functionality will appear, and you can easily send them the files.

Admittedly, this does feel a little bit slower than AirDrop, but given how Android is used by far more people than iOS, I'm just glad that I have the option to easily send files to so many more people.

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Even if the iPhone 14 is the most powerful phone ever, that’s not enough

I must confess, I didn't quite 'get' the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 as soon as I heard about it. It's a new super-powerful chipset from Qualcomm that'll come to Android phones toward the end of 2022, that's a small step up over the 8 Gen 1 already seen in the OnePlus 10 Pro, Xiaomi 12, and members of the Samsung Galaxy S22 family that launched in the US.

The flagship features include 10% faster CPU performance, 10% faster GPU clock speeds and 20% better AI power efficiency - and if your eyes glazed over when you started reading that, we don't blame you. It's not exactly a sexy new smartphone component, and it's very much the definition of 'an incremental upgrade'.

But that doesn't even matter - tech fans know that Apple's Bionic chips are always much faster than Qualcomm's Snapdragon rivals, and as a die-hard Android fan, even I'll admit that the iPhone 14 will probably have any of its Android contemporaries beat in terms of sheer power.

However, as I read more into the specs of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, it reminded me that although it might not lead to more powerful phones than the iPhone 14, that's not all that's important.

Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The loaded chips

While chipsets are largely important for the processing power of a smartphone, letting you play games or edit videos without lags or stutters, that's not all they do.

For example, let's look at the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1's camera support. The chip supports capture on a 108MP camera with no shutter lag, or three 36MP snappers simultaneously with the same lack of delay. Alternatively, you can record 8K HDR video, or 10-bit photos and videos, or make the most of plenty of specific tools like noise reduction and AI face detection.

Another example is in the display - the chip supports a QHD+ resolution and 144Hz refresh rate simultaneously, a combination that would toast a lesser chip.

So, even if the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 isn't technically as powerful as Apple's next chip, it has the features to make up for it.

Apple Arcade

Promotional material for Apple Arcade (Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 14 problem

I will be very surprised if the iPhone 14 has a 108MP camera, or QHD+ 144Hz screen - Apple doesn't often pick flashy specs like those. In fact, some rumors suggest it's not actually getting a new chipset at all this year (though the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max apparently will).

Even if it or its Pro sibling are the most powerful phones on the market, that's not enough, because processing power isn't everything. In fact, power isn't all that important.

You'd think you'd need lots of power to play top-end games, but they play so well on a mid-range phone that you don't need a powerful one to enjoy Call of Duty Mobile or PUBG New State. In fact, for some of these games, I'd even recommend a mid-power phone - they don't overheat as quickly.

Phones simply don't need to be too powerful. So, the bundles of processing strength that iPhones have largely gone to waste.

You know what wouldn't go to waste? A QHD+ 144Hz screen - that'd look great, and actually would provide a demonstrable change for gaming. The ability to take 108MP pictures without your phone stuttering would also be lovely, so you can take lots of high-res snaps in quick succession that you edit afterward.

Even if the iPhone 14 has the most powerful processor in the whole wide world, that's not enough, because, without useful features and flashy specs, it still won't compete with the best Android mobiles that come out at the same time.

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One Google Pixel 6a downgrade might make it a tough sell for cheap phone fans

All cheap phones have compromises to keep the price low - that's a statement about as controversial as saying "water is wet". But the Google Pixel 6a has one downgrade from the Pixel 6 that might put off phone fans.

While the new budget take on Google's popular Android phone has demerits in a few areas, including a main camera sensor with a lower resolution, a smaller body size and a plastic back, there's one aspect that sticks out like a sore thumb, and it's the screen refresh rate.

With a 60Hz refresh rate, the Pixel 6a feels out of date, and it doesn't match the 90Hz of the Pixel 6 or the 120Hz, 144Hz or even 165Hz we see loads in phones of all prices. Admittedly Google has been slow to embrace high screen refresh rates, but that means it's falling behind the competition.

This might seem like a small point to pick out, but screen refresh rate is a huge selling point for many people, as it touches everything you do on your phone. A higher refresh rate means the display updates more times per second, and in practice this makes motion look a lot smoother.

It's particularly an important factor for cheap phones. The Moto G200, which costs the same as the Pixel 6a, has a 144Hz display - many phones that are a lot cheaper have 120Hz ones, and even incredibly budget phones get 90Hz.

So fans of budget mobiles might find this one questionable spec enough to write off the Pixel 6a. 

Having a low refresh rate is particularly a shame for the Pixel 6a - one of the benefits of the smooth motion of a high refresh rate, is that navigating menus feels quick and easy. High refresh displays therefore go hand-in-hand with the clean-looking interfaces of stock Android, that Pixel phones use.

Given the huge popularity of the Google Pixel 6 range, it's possible that the 6a will survive with its limited screen refresh rate. But given that the mid-range and budget phone markets are far more competitive than the premium ones, this could be a rude awakening for Google that it can't downgrade everything.

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The iPhone 14 launch date has finally leaked

Judging by precedent, the iPhone 14 will launch on a Tuesday in September, and a leaker has now given us a good idea of which Tuesday we should mark in our calendars.

According to the Apple-focused site iDropNews, based on information from its own sources, the Apple September Event in 2022 will take place on September 13 - that's right in the middle of the month, basically when we expected it.

Take this date with a pinch of salt for now, because so far in advance, it's possible that this date is just a placeholder for Apple. The company could push the date for a variety of reasons if needs be - and the leaker might just be wrong. 

The leaker does say that Apple will host one event on the 13th, and it might not be the iPhone 14 launch - but since Apple tends to host its iPhone launches on Tuesdays in September, the timings line up.

The leaker has suggested lots of extra gadgets are coming besides the iPhone 14, though there's nothing mentioned that we haven't heard before. Apparently, there will be four iPhone 14s (the standard model is said to come alongside a Max, Pro and Pro Max version), the Apple Watch 8 alongside an 'Extreme Edition' for more outdoorsy pursuits, the more affordable Apple Watch SE 2, the AirPods Pro 2, and the new iPad (2022).

With all those new products, it's possible that the company will host two launch events like it did in 2020 - then, we saw new iPads and Apple Watches earlier than the year's iPhones. If this happened then September 13 would likely just be for the non-iPhone devices, following the way it happened in 2020, with the iPhone 14 family arriving later.

Since Apple generally announces its launch events a week before they happen, we'll likely have to wait until September 6 to see if something is happening on the 13th - though leakers might tell us what to expect first.

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Don’t get your hopes up for the Google Pixel Fold any time soon

Many rumors suggest that the Google Pixel Fold is on its way; this is expected to be the debut foldable phone from the Alphabet-owned tech giant. However, after annual tech conference Google IO 2022, we don't expect it to arrive any time soon.

It was an absolutely manic launch, with Google announcing software and hardware with an incredibly quick cadence, and all was quiet on the foldable front. This would seem understandable - Google won't detail all its future products - except it really seemed like the company did just that.

Google seemed to announce its next year of mobile tech, and there was absolutely nothing about the Pixel Fold. So it seems unlikely that the foldable phone is coming any time soon.

A year of Google

At Google IO, the company showed off both the Pixel Watch and Pixel 7 series - these weren't quite 'teases' as we saw quite a bit about them, but they weren't full launches either.

We're expecting both these products to properly launch later in the year - October, if precedent holds true - so this is a good example of Google showing off its future products. Rumors suggested the Fold could launch alongside the Pixel 7, but the lack of a tease makes it seem unlikely.

What makes this double true is that the Google Pixel Tablet was also teased, and we heard a tiny bit about its chipset, software and design. Google said that this is coming at some point in 2023, so it's definitely a long way off - we expect to hear more about it at Google IO next year.

Since Google teased tech that's literally a year or more off, yet stayed silent on the prospect of a Pixel Fold, it seems very likely that this anticipated device is still more than a year away.

Sure, the company could simply be staying quiet so it's got something to surprise everyone with, but given its recent history of teasing everything far in advance, that seems unlikely.

We're keeping our hopes for the Pixel Fold pretty restrained, for now - maybe at Google IO 2023 we'll see a tease for it.

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7 Google IO 2022 announcements you may have missed – but really shouldn’t

We're surprised to be saying this, but Google IO 2022 was absolutely manic - Google was launching new software tools and products left, right and center, like a kid who's had too much cola and got their hands on a nerf gun.

If you paid attention, you probably caught all the big announcements: these include Android 13, the Google Pixel Watch, Pixel Buds Pro, Pixel 6a and Pixel 7, and of course the Google Glasses.

But there was actually so much more that Google threw into the event, and we don't blame you if you missed a few of them.

To fill you in on some of the Google IO announcements that you may have missed, we've written this guide to some of our favorites.

1. More inclusive AI

One of Google's first announcements was that its skin tone research is helping to make more inclusive AI.

It's doing this by making an open-source development tool to help AI more accurately detect different skin tones, which is something AI currently struggles with.

When developers start using this tool, it should be just as useful for AI photo processing tools to accurately edit snaps as it is for search results to provide a better range of search results (instead of just a wall of white people).

A screengrab from Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Future)

2. Better health tech

Announced not at the keynote conference, but just to developers, is something called Health Connect, which could be incredibly useful for fitness fans.

Basically, this is a way for various disparate health apps (like diet, wearable, workout tracking, and peripheral ones) to all share the same data - this means you don't need to jump between a hundred different apps to track your health.

This is great news for people who have too many health gadgets.

3. Better tablet software

We're always complaining about Android tablet software (because it's not great) but Google might have found a way to shut us up (and improve its tablets too).

With Android 13, Google is drastically improving its tablet software. It's redesigning the home page layout, its quick-settings swipe-down menu, and lots of its native (and third-party) apps. Plus, multi-tasking is getting much more convenient.

This should make Android tablets real competitors to the iPad line, and we couldn't be more excited.

Google IO

(Image credit: Future)

4. A Google tablet

On the topic of slates, this is something that Google mentioned but moved swiftly on from: the company is finally making its first new tablet in years.

This tablet will come out in 2023, will run Android, and will use the Tensor chipset. That's basically all we know so far. Admittedly it's not much, but the slate is likely a year or more out, so that's a lot for now.

5. Google Assistant wants to be casual

If you're sick of addressing your Google Assistant like it's a dumb robot or misbehaving child, there's some good news for you.

Soon, Google Assistant will be better at picking up your casual cues for commands: instead of saying 'Hey Google' you can just look at the device and speak. It'll also understand hedging in commands (like umms or errs) and know that you're trying to watch 'Quantum of Solace' and not 'Quantum of... uh... shoelace? Um... shortcake?'

Some people - this author included - aren't fans of giving voice commands to AI assistants, but maybe this will change our minds.

A phone screen showing Google's enhanced Magic Eraser tool

(Image credit: Google)

6. Magic eraser? I barely knew 'er!

The Google Pixel 6 introduced us to Magic Eraser, a Google software tool that lets you scrub out unwanted details in the background of pictures, with AI filling in the blanks. Well, it's getting an upgrade.

A Magic Eraser demo showed a prominent image being rubbed out - but instead of it leaving a shoddily-AI-filled hole, it simply changed color, to better match the scene.

It seems like Google's tools are getting closer and closer to being Photoshop rivals every day, which will have us doubting everything we see in no time.

7. The world is your store shelf

Google Lens is already pretty good at identifying objects in the real world and trying to sell them to you, but it's getting one step smarter.

Previously, you could point the Google Lens at a mug and it'd identify it, and even offer to sell you one. But now you can point it at said coffee-holder, and also say "Lost" and your phone will bring you to this coffee mug inspired by TV show Lost. Google used the example of searching for water bottles, but with rainbows on them.

Another example is clothes - you can scan someone's top, but find it in another color. AI is getting too smart - and too good at selling us things.

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Google Pixel 7 has been ‘announced’, months before it’s expected to launch

At Google IO 2022, after announcing the Google Pixel 6a, the company surprised us by discussing the Google Pixel 7 series in a surprising amount of detail.

We were expecting this phone (and its Pro sibling) to debut in October, and that's likely when we'll see a 'full' launch and release, so this is just an early glimpse for now. But it was a hearty glimpse for sure.

We know a few key things, and also saw the above image. The new change here is that the aluminum frame is the same piece as the camera bump, and this is apparently made from recycled materials.

A screengrab from Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Future)

From this we can tell that the Google Pixel 7 Pro will have three lenses, while the Pixel 7 will just get two; this lines up to what happened with the Google Pixel 6 phones, though there might be some hardware upgrades.

Both handsets will use the next-generation version of the Google Tensor chipset that debuted in the 6 series - this should be a bit faster, and perhaps will support some cool new camera modes.

We also heard that the phones will run Android 13 which was already discussed on stage. This was something we really expected, frankly.

This isn't that much to go on, but it's a lot more than we expected to know about the Google Pixel 7 phones this early in the year - maybe Google is planning for a teasy year full of hints and winks. Let's see.

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Google Pixel 6a announced to take on iPhone SE 3 at Google IO 2022

The Google Pixel 6a has been confirmed, at the keynote conference of Google IO 2022 (we've got a live blog running for the whole event here). 

This is a budget spin on the Google Pixel 6, judging at least by the 'a' in its name and the conventions of the series. So far, though, we're waiting to hear more about the phone.

It has a surprising amount of its big siblings' features, though some downgrades in select areas do mean the Pixel 6 will remain a key member of the line.

The release date for this phone is quite a way away, but before we get our hands on it, here's everything you need to know about the Google Pixel 6a.

Google has only just confirmed the Pixel 6a's existence, and it's still currently unveiling the new Android phone. This is a breaking story and we're constantly updating it with new information as it's provided, so refresh this page for up-to-date details.

Price and availability

The Google Pixel 6a costs $449 - that converts to around £360, AU$650, though we're waiting to hear about when the thing will go on sale.

Pre-orders in the US start on July 21, though we don't know when it'll actually go on sale. That's quite a way away, so it's surprising we're hearing about it so soon.

It comes in white, green and black.

Design and display

The Google Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch screen, with a punch-hole cut-out like the other Pixel 6 phones. It has FHD+ resolution, but only a 60Hz refresh rate, which may disappoint some.

It has a similar design to its siblings  with the same camera bar, but with smaller lens cut-outs - this makes it look a little more discrete, in our eyes.

We haven't heard what material the phone is made of, but guessing based on previous a phones, it's likely plastic. That does make it more resistant to drops, at least.

A screengrab from Google IO 2022

(Image credit: Future)

Cameras and battery life.

The Google Pixel 6a cameras are a 12MP main, and 12MP ultra-wide, sitting in that chunky bar. We didn't hear about the front-facing camera at the Google IO keynote.

Some camera features are carried over from the Pixel 6 including Magic Eraser for removing annoying extras in photos, and Real Tone for more accurately balancing portrait mode for people with non-white skin.

What's the battery capacity here? We didn't hear - we'll update you on that, and the charging speed, when we find out.

Performance and specs

The Google Tensor chip is carried over from the older phones to the Pixel 6a - this should make the Pixel 6a just as powerful as those other devices, and explains why they get the same camera features.

Beyond that, we haven't heard about the RAM or storage of the phone, so we'll need to update this article when we hear.

The software is Android 12 - the handset is too early for Android 13, unfortunately, though it'll likely receive that update in due time.

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Did the Google Pixel 6a just leak mere minutes before its launch?

We were hoping Google IO could give us our first look at the Google Pixel 6a - turns out, we didn't need to wait that long, though it's only a few minutes out.

Prolific leaker EVLeaks has taken to Twitter to share some images and specs of the phone. You can see the renders below.

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They show basically what we expected: an Android 12 phone with the same bar-like camera bump of the Pixel 6, but with smaller lenses (presumably a wide and ultra-wide, along with low-res sensors). Otherwise, it looks like its older sibling.

In a reply, EVLeaks also shared some specs:

See more

The highlights here are the 6.1-inch screen, though its 60Hz refresh rate might not impress, and its Google Tensor chip like its big sibling.

The specs list also suggests some of the best camera features of the Google Pixel 6 family will carry over, like Magic Eraser and Face Unblur. Plus, it says there will be a minimum of 5 years of security updates, though we can't see it listing the actual number of Android updates.

This news suggests the Google Pixel 6a is launching very soon - and with the IO 2022 keynote conference just minutes away, we hope to hear more soon.

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iPhone 14 will be the last to miss USB-C, according to a controversial report

One of the most demanded iPhone 14 features is for Apple to abandon its proprietary Lightning Port in favor of the industry-standard USB-C (though Lightning certainly has its fans too). And maybe this demand isn't as outlandish as we'd previously heard.

Prolific analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who frequently makes accurate Apple predictions, has said that the iPhone 15 could make the move from Lightning to USB-C, marking a historic change to Apple's habits. The brand has previously stuck to its own ports instead of conforming to what everyone else does.

This would make the iPhone 14 the last smartphone from Apple to use Lightning (unless the iPhone SE 4 gets it, though for reasons we'll get to, that could be unlikely).

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The benefit of USB-C is that it supports faster charging and data transfer - plus, since it's the industry standard, it means you can use the same charger for all your devices, saving e-waste. Apple already supports USB-C for some devices, including most iPads, but not iPhones.

Apple has been sticking with Lightning for a few reasons, though many naysayers suggest it's because, as a proprietary connector, Apple gets lots of money through people being strongly encouraged to buy its own cables.

Various regulatory bodies around the world, including the EU, have been pushing Apple to take up USB-C, to avoid e-waste and stop the company's anti-competitive stance on accessories - but lots of leakers have suggested Apple will go a different way.

Analysis: so, not portless?

Lots of leakers have suggested that Apple will go portless instead of embracing USB-C - that is, it'll make its phones reliant on wireless powering and data transfer, a possibility that its MagSafe magnetic accessories make a lot more feasible.

In fact, we've previously heard that Apple was staunchly against a USB-C iPhone. This is something Kuo themselves previously stated, and we've also heard it from other big 'Apple leak' names like Jon Prosser.

So Kuo's new piece of analysis is quite controversial, as it goes against conventional thinking for Apple's iPhones. It's a move that'll please as many fans as it annoys though.

The word was that Apple will jump straight to making a portless iPhone but we've actually been hearing that for years now - since at least the iPhone 12 - and it's still yet to pass.

Maybe Apple realized that we're not in a wire-free world just yet, and it can't postpone the end of the Lightning storm forever. Or maybe EU pressure made a USB-C-less phone of any kind, even one without a Lightning port, seem too risky.

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Sony Xperia 1 IV price is somehow even higher than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s

Given that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra currently sits as the number 1 entry on our list of the best smartphones, you'd expect it to be the priciest handset too, but the new Sony Xperia 1 IV makes it look relatively affordable.

This is the fourth-gen member of Sony's flagship line, and the Xperia 1 family is always expensive, but this is the most pricey member yet. It costs $1,599 / £1,299 (roughly AU$2,300), which is an increase of $300 / £100 over the Xperia 1 III.

But then remember that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at just $1,199.99 / £1,149 / $1,849 - so for the most basic version of both, the Samsung is far cheaper.

Things get a little muddy when you consider the annoying fact that the Xperia in the US comes with 512GB of storage, while it only has 256GB in the UK - neither region has options to change that. They do come with expandable memory if you buy microSD cards though.

You can buy the Samsung with 512GB for $1,399 though, and in the UK for 256GB it's £1,249, so the Xperia is still more expensive in each country, but it means comparisons have to be a little more nuanced.

What are you getting for the money?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with S Pen

(Image credit: Future)

Well, the Sony Xperia 1 IV has some interesting hardware features, including the first continuous optical zoom in a smartphone, so for zoom photographers it likely justifies its price tag. It also supports 4K 120fps HDR video recording on all of its rear cameras, has pro-level video and audio recording apps, offers a burst photography mode for action footage, and has Sony's eye autofocus mode.

This all makes it really useful for professional photographers... but for average phone users, that might all be too much. If that's you, the Galaxy is preferable.

The Ultra's useful modes are fantastic for people who want to utilize AI and software tricks to take the best snap. The best example of this is Single Take, a mode that lets you record a video of a subject, and lets an algorithm pick the best stills from it and edit them to create dramatic shots.

There's also Food mode which lets you choose an area of the picture to be in focus, then adds a healthy serving of artificial bokeh to the rest, and finishes it off with a garnish of heavily saturated editing.

In a way, the Samsung and Sony phones are two sides of the same coin, aimed at prolific picture takers at different skill levels. But they both have premium smarts in other ways.

The Samsung has a more premium design, with a curved-edge screen, solid build and an S Pen stylus that you can use to sketch, draw or take notes. While the Sony has a high-res 4K screen, a long, thin body and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

They both have the same chipset, the same battery size, similar charging speeds and software that isn't too far apart either - they both run Android, after all.

So your choice between these phones mainly comes down to your photography skill level - but the fact that the Xperia is a little pricier may make the Galaxy more tempting for some.

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Why is there no Sony Xperia 5 IV? Here are 3 possible reasons

The Sony Xperia 1 IV has debuted, and it's the fourth-gen version of Sony's top-end smartphone, but it's missing something that the previous three generations of Xperia device had.

That's because, despite coming with a budget alternative in the Sony Xperia 10 IV, there's no middle option - the Xperia 5 III hasn't seen a follow-up this year.

That's a curious omission, as the Xperia 5 line typically brought lots of the respective Xperia 1's specs to a slightly smaller phone with a price that was a touch lower. But there's no such handset this year - why? 

Sony didn't provide TechRadar with a reason when asked, so we've had to take matters into our own hands. We've thought of three possible reasons - you can decide which you think is most likely.

Reason 1: the Xperia 5 was a weird middle child

Perhaps it's the fault of the Xperia 1 IV and 10 IV that they don't have a middle entry.

The Xperia 5 family has always been an awkward middle child. It brings lots of the features of the top-end mobile to a smaller, cheaper device than the flagship, but it's never been particularly small or cheap. For a device like that, you just have to pick the Xperia 10.

It's hard to find sales figures for the Xperia series, let alone for the individual entries, but the lack of an Xperia 5 IV speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Perhaps Sony recognized that people were buying the Xperia 1 and 10 mobiles much more than the middle entry, and decided to focus on those two models.

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

(Image credit: Sony)

Reason 2: the Xperia 5 III was too recent

Perhaps it's the fault of the recent Sony Xperia 5 III.

"Wait," we hear you say, "recent? Wasn't this phone launched in April 2021, over a year ago?" well, it was - but it wasn't released then. No, it went on sale much later, and in the US it actually only hit store shelves in January 2022.

If you're a big Sony fan, it's possible that you've just bought the Sony Xperia 5 III - so would you pick up another just a few months later? Especially if it only brings certain spec tweaks and a select few new features? Probably not - it wouldn't be worth the cash.

It's possible that Sony has recognized this potential conflict and decided to hold on the Xperia 5 IV this time around.

Reason 3: maybe there still is

Perhaps it's our fault, and we're jumping the gun: maybe the Xperia 5 IV wasn't canceled at all. 

If you can remember the foggy past of 2019, you'll remember that the gen-one Sony Xperia 5 launched about six months after the original Xperia 1.

Maybe, because of the above point, Sony has decided to postpone its middle child until later in the year, to give its phones their own space in the spotlight, and to ensure there's little competition between its third- and fourth-gen Xperia 5 devices.

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Sony Xperia 1 IV launch live blog: see the new camera phone heavyweight debut

Today is the day: the Sony Xperia 1 IV is expected to debut in just a short few hours, and with it we’ll see what the fourth-gen Android phone juggernaut is set to look like. This is set to be a big day for Xperia fans, as well as photographers, videographers and gamers.

The launch event kicks off at 3am ET / 8am BST / 5pm ACT - that’s actually midnight on the US West Coast, so while there might be a few night owls from the States watching this live stream, count yourselves among the minority.

What are we expecting to see? Well, Sony hasn’t actually confirmed the Xperia 1 IV will arrive, but it’s been hinted so strongly that we’d be baffled if it didn’t show up. Plus, we’ll hopefully see an Xperia 5 IV and Xperia 10 IV too.

You can find a guide on how to watch the Sony Xperia 1 IV live stream by clicking here, but we’ll be running a live blog before, during and after the event to help you understand what to expect, what’s happening, and what was important from the event.

And if you’re a fan of tech, you should know that Google IO takes place later today too, kicking off 10 hours after the Sony event.

Why did Sony choose to host the Xperia 1 IV launch so early!? Right now it’s 6am where I am, which is just too early to think straight.

Thankfully I made notes yesterday about what to focus each of these posts on, so I’m not having to totally make stuff up off the top of my head.

So what do we expect from the Sony Xperia 1 IV launch? Well, the main thing we’re expecting is… the Xperia 1 IV.

This is the company’s top-end phone that’ll likely cost over $1,000 / £1,000 / equivalent. It’ll likely have a mid-sized 4K screen, three rear cameras, a top-end chipset and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.

These phones generally don’t have huge upgrades each time, but slight tweaks.

We’re particularly fond of the modes for photography and videography - Sony takes lots of the tech from its Alpha cameras and adds them here, and also lets you plug in the phone to one of those cameras as a secondary monitor.

Sony Xperia 1 III

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Sony’s previous phones haven’t often had giant spec increases between them - I first tested the Xperia 1 and it doesn’t feel that different to the Xperia 1 III.

So don’t expect the Xperia 1 IV to feature any wild improvements. We won’t see three 108MP rear cameras or an 8K display or a stylus or anything like that, probably at least.

Instead, expect a few tweaks and upgrades. Perhaps we’ll see some changes to the way the camera app, or a few minor upgrades in the display and processor areas.

We probably won’t see the Xperia 1 IV on its own though, as its predecessors have come with siblings: the Xperia 5 and Xperia 10.

The Xperia 5 IV would be similar to the 1 IV, with many of the same specs, but with a smaller screen and a slightly lower price.

Then the Xperia 10 IV would be a budget version of it, with a much lower price and reduced specs too. While the Xperia 1 series is designed for content creators, the 10 phones are for people who just want to enjoy streaming that content.

A Sony Xperia 5 III leaning against a wall

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Like the Xperia 1 alternatives, the Xperia 5 and 10 phones don’t usually bring big feature jumps between generations, but hopefully what’s new with the Xperia 1 IV, will also be passed down to these handsets, at least to a certain degree. 

So could anything else arrive?

Well, we've been hearing some rumors about the Sony WH-1000XM5 recently - these would be the newest entries in the brand's top-end range of cans. So maybe they'll show up too, though Sony generally keeps its mobile division separate to its other ones (with the notable exception of its camera range).

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The folding iPhone just got a surprising step closer to reality

While the long-rumored iPhone Flip has generally remained just that - a rumor - it sounds like the anticipated Apple foldable phone may have taken a big metaphorical step closer to really existing.

This comes from Asian news site The Elec, which has published a report on Apple's production of a new type of OLED display. This comes without a polarizer, which is a layer designed to improve how easy the screen is to see, and according to The Elec this removal, which also makes the screen thinner, is designed to make it ideal for foldable phones.

This technique of removing a polarizer to make foldable phone screens isn't new - in fact, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 used such a display, and it's Samsung Display (a different arm of Samsung to the group making Galaxy smartphones) which is making Apple's ones now.

But does that mean the iPhone Flip is nearing release? No, we'd say probably not.

Analysis: don't expect the iPhone foldable any time soon

Just because a report says Apple is making folding screens, doesn't mean we're going to be able to buy a bending iPhone this year.

Not only do other parts need to be designed, including a hinge, body and components which also suit the handset's bending nature, but we don't actually know that these screens are for the finished product.

That's because a key step in the creation of a phone is the research and design phase, where plenty of prototypes are created and tested to see which is best.

It's likely that the new displays are simply being created for test phones that'll stay in Apple's labs, and won't ever go on sale.  So you don't need to start saving for a foldable iPhone just yet.

But still, the fact that Apple is building iPhone displays suggests that it's got a select few prototypes it's focusing on, and is out of the planning stage. 

That still fits nicely with the mooted 2025 release date for the iPhone Flip, but if Samsung shows it's stealing a march with foldable phones in the next couple of years, Apple could well be in a position to move that up a year if it's already sampling the necessary screen tech.

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