Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, also known as new smartphone/Galaxy S10 launch day!

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1. New smartphones galore

Before the Galaxy S10 launch —here’s everything we know about it already via Android Authority — a few manufacturers have jumped early.

A quick wrap of the big new devices from Vivo and Xiaomi:

Vivo V15 Pro

Vivo V15 Pro

  • Vivo has upgraded the V11 Pro from last year to the V15 Pro.
  • Still, at 6.39-inches, the big focus is a pop-up 32MP selfie camera on the front.
  • Originally only on the Vivo NEX, this elevating camera, along with the in-display fingerprint sensor, provides an all-screen appearance with a Super AMOLED display.
  • There’s also a 48MP rear camera and the latest mid-range processor, the Snapdragon Qualcomm 675 SoC, all for around $407 USD for a 6GB RAM/128GB storage model, with an 8GB option as well.
  • All-in-all, this is going to be popular in China and India, and where Vivo spends a fortune on advertising, focusing on buyers who shop in stores.

Xiaomi Mi 9

Xiaomi Mi 9 triple camera detail 2

  • The Xiaomi Mi 9 is more of a powerhouse, packing in the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, together with a 48MP triple camera for under $500.
  • It’s another 6.39-inch device, with a Samsung-made AMOLED display and a small notch.
  • It also packs a dedicated button for Google Assistant, and Xiaomi says it’s ranked just two points below the Huawei Mate 20 in DxOMark scores, scoring 112 for photos, thanks to the premium Sony IMX586 image sensor.
  • It has fewer gimmicks and more purposeful features. But no headphone jack, though.
  • The Mi 9 will go head-to-head with the V15 Pro, again in China and India sporting more premium features, starting at around $446 for the default spec (6GB of RAM and 128GB storage). There’s also a compact Mi 9 SE, smaller and with more modest specs.
  • Xiaomi focuses more on online sales in those markets.
  • Here’s an early hands-on from Kris Carlon.

What’s it mean?

  • These new devices aren’t taking on the flagships, but they do their best to make the iPhone range, for example, look unnecessarily expensive in those markets.
  • But the early V15 Pro review, plus video review from Gary Sims, shows many of the lingering problems that these devices have as they cut corners to keep costs down: the V15 still has an ancient micro-USB port, it uses non-Samsung and non-Sony display and image sensors, and while the rear-camera is solid, the selfie camera quality isn’t great, “AI” camera features don’t always work as you might expect, and the phone software is unappealing.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S10 today – at least the premium models – will be aiming for a more high-end refinement across the board, plus new features and innovations. And it’ll come at a price – more on it tomorrow.

Bonus: LG quietly launched three very low-end devices today – the LG K40, LG K50, and LG Q60 – but with no pricing or availability details. More on those here.

2. Razer: Layoffs might mean no more new Razer Phone devices? (Android Authority).

3. Android Authority’s big book of smartphone firsts! (AA). (This is practically my colleague Joe Hindy life’s work – and he doesn’t miss that Nikola Tesla was the first guy to think of a smartphone back in 1926!)

4. Samsung’s One UI is the best software it’s ever put on a smartphone (The Verge).

5. Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was ‘never supposed to be a secret’ (Business Insider).

6. Google’s Game Developer Conference press invites came with a teaser, possibly for its Project Stream in-browser game streaming service (AA).

7. Also, Signal had to take to Twitter to beg someone at Google to respond to a Play Store issue (Twitter). (The Google response was a bit odd, too.)

8. New Bloomberg report suggest Apple is targeting combining iPhone, iPad and Mac Apps by 2021 (Bloomberg).

9. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem is the 4G/5G solution we’ve been waiting for (AA). 40% faster downloads over X50.

10. Here’s a challenge: Write a program to play the game Snake, and battle others (

11. “AT&T is already trying to sweep its 5G E lies under the rug” (The Verge).

12. A commercial flight hit an absurdly fast 801 mph or 1289 km/h while flying over the US thanks to the jetstream. It didn’t break the sound barrier, because it was in fast-moving air (Jalopnik).

13. Amazon Studios reportedly has ‘Lord of the Rings’ writers in a locked office with a guard and fingerprint scanner (Gizmodo).

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