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Daily Authority: 📱 Pebble Phone to make a splash?

We've also got a beautiful demo showcasing the gaming tech of tomorrow.

Published onMarch 23, 2023

🙋‍♂️ Hey there! I took Monday and Tuesday off, and I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. Woe is me, right? Anyway, we’ve got a lot to cover in today’s edition of the Daily Authority.

Pebble’s compact phone ambitions

Pebble phone concepts
The Verge

Pebble was a pioneer in the tech space, releasing the crowd-funded Pebble Watch line back in 2013 and effectively popularizing the smartwatch. The company may have been discontinued and acquired by Fitbit back in 2016, but Pebble’s founder is officially working on a compact phone.

What should we expect?

  • Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky previously expressed a desire to make a small Android phone, also posting a wishlist.
  • Now, it looks like he’s taking on this challenge himself, along with some former Pebble team members as part of a community effort.
  • The team outlined their vision for the phone in an interview with The Verge.
  • We got a look at a variety of potential camera bump designs, for one (see the image above).
  • It won’t use a ~100MP camera, though. Expect something around 50MP for the main shooter.
  • The team is also looking at using either the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC or an unreleased mid-tier Snapdragon chipset.
  • It’s unclear if the latter is the brand-new and beefy Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 2 chip that was just announced on Friday.
  • What about the all-important screen size, though?
  • Finding displays under six inches in size seems to be a problem, while one option looked too similar to Apple’s Mini displays.
  • So the team thinks it’ll need to get a custom screen for this phone, although this could delay the phone’s debut.
  • Finally, the former Pebblers think the phone will end up costing $850.

Is there still an appetite for small phones?

  • That’s the big question, isn’t it?
  • Apple stopped production of the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 13 Mini, purportedly due to low sales.
  • That says a lot about demand for phones with screens smaller than six inches.
  • Things aren’t much better on the Android front. Asus has the Zenfone 9, bringing a 5.9-inch screen, though.
  • But the pocket-friendly Zenfone 8 and 9 had limited availability and didn’t seem to sell massive numbers.
  • Then again, our list of the best small phones also contains notable entries like the Galaxy S23 and Xperia 5 IV.
  • So between Asus, Samsung, and Sony, there are indeed options out there. And in Samsung’s case, it’ll be available in your market.
  • We’re also seeing more clamshell foldables out there too, like the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Oppo Find N2 Flip.
  • They might not have small folding screens, but the form factor is still exceptionally pocket-friendly.

Will this even see the light of day?

  • The other challenge for this Pebble team is sourcing cash. They’ll need up to $50 million.
  • That’s a big ask, and it’s suggested that the team won’t use Kickstarter for this endeavor.
  • So there’s a real possibility that this phone will remain a pipe dream.
  • Maybe the company needs to keep things small at first, like fellow crowdfunding-focused brand Unihertz.
  • Yes, the same company that recently offered a Nothing Phone 1 clone.
  • Unihertz generally uses crowdfunding to drum up some interest, while offering niche, budget-priced handsets.
  • Its wares include the ~$200 Jelly smartphone, which has a 3-inch screen, as well as keypad-toting phones.
  • So perhaps the team behind this Pebble Phone needs to walk before it can run by offering a budget phone first.
  • After all, the industry is littered with the remains of upstart high-end brands like Red and Essential.
  • But hey, I’m happy to be proven wrong.

💣 Valve announces Counter-Strike 2 for summer launch: Feels like just the other day that I was a teenager trying out Counter-Strike 1.5 at an internet café (Polygon).

🎨 Wallpaper Wednesday: I really like the reader-submitted wallpaper showing stars and a light trail (Android Authority).

💻 A journalist has suffered injuries after he plugged in an explosive-laden flash drive that was mailed to him (Ars Technica).

📞 iPhones will soon have voice isolation in calls, catching up to the likes of the Pixel 7 series and Samsung Galaxy phones (Gizmodo).

📷 Samsung’s photo ‘remaster’ tool apparently added teeth to baby pictures: The software seems to be mistaking a seven-month-old baby’s tongue for teeth. How weird (The Verge).

Thursday Thing

The Unreal Engine is the framework for a ton of video games today, and Unreal Engine 5 already powers the likes of Fortnite. Now, Epic Games has revealed a gorgeous tech demo for Unreal Engine 5.2. Check it out in the YouTube clip above, courtesy of IGN.

The video, which sees someone driving a car through a jungle environment, shows off some beautiful visuals. But we also see some fantastic features like fluid physics when driving through water, rocks being crunched out from under the car’s wheels, and procedural generation of high-quality environments. Can’t wait for this tech to come to real games.

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