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1. Google Pixel 3a all but confirmed as the Pixel 3 ‘Lite’

Google Pixel 3a XL renders

(Renders via 91Mobiles)

On Friday we heard rumors that the new Google Pixel 3 Lite, the expected mid-range Pixel, was going to be called the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL. (I heard Adam Doud on our podcast beg that this naming convention wouldn’t be real, but it seems like it is.)

The best leakers in the business are now putting out more detailed information, too.

  • First, the source code in Android Q hinted at new device names: Pixel 3a.
  • Now 9to5Google’s Stephen Hall says he has access to a device, all but confirmed the name, and is answering questions about it on Twitter – go ask him anything you like, if you want.

The details out now:

  • The 3a will be a plastic body, not glass.
  • Display: The 3a has a 5.6-inch OLED at 2220×1080 resolution and 440dpi (and not LCD as most expected).
  • Specs: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 with 4GB of RAM, a big step-back from flagship.
  • Camera: 8-megapixel wide-angle front camera, and a 12-megapixel rear camera.
  • Importantly, Hall suggests the camera quality is identical to the Pixel 3 which is likely the biggest hook for the device, and would be fascinating to see.
  • The camera app is touch slower than the beefier Pixel 3 when processing images after a shutter-press, which would make sense for a lower spec device.
  • Battery: The smaller Pixel 3a has a 3,000mAh battery
  • Headphone jack: yes (!).
  • Other details: The mid-rangers will have premium Pixel features, including Active Edge squeezable sides, Titan M security chip, eSIM, 64GB of base storage (only).

The unknowns:

  • It’s unclear if the XL differs to the normal model beyond larger display size, and expected larger battery.
  • Notch or no notch? Renders suggest no notch, but thick bezels/chins.
  • No pricing yet, a key element.
  • Release date of “spring” is expected, which could be within a week or a few months – we don’t know.

Will this device sell?

  • Pixels have always been flagship, and the problem for a cheaper device is that the competition is incredibly fierce: Xiaomi, OnePlus, Honor, plus Samsung’s new phones, and so many more compete in the ~$500 range.
  • Especially with the Google Camera Port (XDA) improving camera quality (via APK) on the value-packed OnePlus, and other devices too.
  • Maybe Google won’t try to compete in India or China, though?
  • And how closely matched will the older Pixel 2, with the once-flagship Snapdragon 835 chip, be?

2. Google GDC sneak peek ahead of keynote today

Google’s keynote at GDC is coming today at about 10am PDT, and we’re seeing some big clues about their expected hardware and streaming gaming offering, including the logo – ‘S’ for stream?:

google gdc 2019 new logo

(via Keith Andrew on Twitter)

Quick notes:

  • The launch area near the Moscone Center in San Francisco is surrounded by old consoles including the Dreamcast and first PlayStation.
  • There are hints that Google won’t offer a hardware console at all, just a controller which will tie-in with new software (game store?) from Google – possibly even contained within Google Chrome – to handle all streaming requirements.
  • There are also some rumors that point to a new concept of a tie-in with streamers. This is suggested to be a feature where you can watch a streamer, buy a game, and then immediately jump to the same point alongside the streamer (if the streamer made this mode available), which would be a big change to gaming.
  • Here’s the link to watch on YouTube (10am PDT today).
  • More last minute rumors here (AA).

3.  iPads! Apple quietly released a refresh of its iPad Mini and iPad Air yesterday, retooling their existing hardware with better internal specs, and display, without changing the base prices: $399 and $499 respectively. Curiosities: the Pencil 2 isn’t supported, now there’s five different iPads, and all kinds of different configurations and charging ports. The Verge has a nice wrap of it all. My simple take: more price points are not bad, but it’s all more complicated than it should be though.

4. A new Xiaomi Black Shark 2 gaming phone has been announced (AA).

5. Call of Duty Mobile revealed: classic CoD comes to mobile as a free-to-play shooter (AA).

6. MySpace lost 12 years of user content: photos, music, and videos (Engadget).

7. Facial recognition overkill: How deputies cracked a $12 shoplifting case (CNET).

8. Raspberry Pi has a new competitor – the new Nvidia Jetson Nano, a $99 AI computer for everyone who wants to try machine learning and computer vision (AA).

9. Ray tracing is unexpectedly coming to a whole lot of older GPUs (Gizmodo).

10. “Aurora”: America’s first exascale supercomputer to be built by 2021 by Intel, Cray, for Department of Energy (The Verge).

11. Magnetoreception in people might be real! Scientists find new evidence that humans are (unconsciously) sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field, brain waves dramatically change in limited test subjects (The Conversation).

12. NASA: A massive meteor exploded over Earth, but almost no one noticed (CNET).

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