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Daily Authority: ⬜ Why white smartphones are hard to make

OnePlus talks tricky white smartphones, laptop webcams are bad because thickness, and more tech news today!
By
February 21, 2022

☕ Good morning!

Two tech facts: white is hard, laptop cameras harder

Fact #1: White smartphones are difficult to make

Here’s a chance to learn something this morning: why smartphones are rarely white, and why our laptop cameras are terrible.

The first comes via OnePlus. It just announced a new white OnePlus 10 Pro in China, the first time a white OnePlus has appeared since 2018 and the OnePlus 6.

  • So, why’s white been missing from the OnePlus lineup?

OnePlus product line president Liu Fengshuo noted three reasons on Weibo:

  1. Color, material, and finish, or CMF as it’s called, is harder: slight deviations create different whites.
  2. The yield rate is low and cost is high: Fengshuo said that “it took roughly three months of testing,” with over 100 different attempts tested to find the best white.
  3. Fingerprints are more obvious on white models.

Err:

  • OnePlus is saying all of this because it’s great for OnePlus to make you think the white model is more valuable.
  • On the other hand, somehow Apple has managed to have a white iPhone in most years (the most recent iPhone 13 series is an exception, though).

Fact #2: Laptop webcams are terrible and this is why

Also in the Today I Learned fact file is why laptop webcams are bad. (You might already know, by the way! Or, at least, feel free to guess…)

  • Almost all webcams in modern laptops, from Apple MacBooks to HP to Dell XPS to Razer to almost everything have had 720p cameras, making the webcam output pretty terrible.
  • It’s only been in the last few months that we’re seeing change: more efforts have been made on software, and 1080p cameras are more standard in the new MacBook Pro, Lenovo ThinkPads, the Surface Laptop Studio, and so on. Part of that is due to Windows 11, too.
  • Finally, HD becomes standard after far too long.

So, why have webcams been stuck at rubbish resolutions for so long? Lenovo has answers.

  • In a post on Chinese media site ITHome, it’s being reported that Lenovo says, more or less, that laptop screens are too thin to have more advanced imaging components, whereas smartphones accommodate much more space.
  • Which makes sense: usually embedded at the top of a thin laptop screen, there’s not a lot of depth for optical lenses, sensors, and so on.
  • Here’s the machine-translated quote: “Lenovo said that in terms of technology, as far as the camera is concerned, the thickness of the module directly determines the basic space of the optical design and affects the optical performance. Even if the mobile phone is ultra-thin, there is a thickness space of more than 4mm, so the impact on the optical module is not so great. Compared with mobile phones, notebooks are very different. With the further optimization of screen technology, the display panel is really getting thinner and thinner, and some panels are even 1mm thick, which affects the thickness of the camera imaging group.”
  • So, 1mm of space in a laptop vs 4mm in a smartphone, which is all the difference when trying to maximize light and minimize noise.
  • (By the way, I haven’t found the original source for this, and it’s possible ITHome sourced the information directly.)

Roundup:

🔎 ICYMI: Google.com is testing a busier homepage for the first time in forever, with a row of info cards, and it all reminds me of AltaVista and Yahoo (Ars Technica).

👉 Also ICYMI: First Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro details leak and it’s very very early, but… (Android Authority).

🤔 Galaxy Book 2 360 renders leak: Here’s what Samsung could reveal at MWC (Android Authority).

🎞 The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 could finally gain a key missing feature: AV1 codec support (Android Authority).

💻 Gurman: Apple to launch new Macs next month, with more to come around May or June: high-end Mac mini and a refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro, and a 24-inch iMac, and a redesigned MacBook Air, all outfitted with the rumored M2 chip (MacRumors).

🤯 A fake company tricked real people into working for it and now being “jobfished” is a thing (BBC).

⛓ Also, a real company, OpenSea, saw people on its marketplace tricked, with their NFTs being supposedly phished away… and then returned, oddly enough. Or was OpenSea exploited? (CoinDesk).

King Tut’s meteorite dagger has a mystery origin story (Gizmodo).

🎮 Capcom announces Street Fighter 6 via a new teaser trailer for the game: no word on a release window, or which consoles it’ll be for (Engadget).

🎨 “AI’s next trick? Helping unearth amazing artwork(Wired).

🔴 Perseverance celebrates one year and 200,000 images on Mars (NASA).

📺 “What’s a movie you love that you swear no one ever talks about like the world has forgotten it?” (r/askreddit).

Monday Meme

These memes: cool, or terrible? I can’t figure it out but I can’t stop looking at this: Hidreley Diao uses AI to capture what historical figures would look like if they were modern people, and a guy put them into a Twitter thread here.

  • Here’s George Washington and Van Gogh:
monday meme ai generated 2 1
monday meme ai generated 1 1

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor