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April 14, 2021

👋 Good morning! It wouldn't be tech without just a lot going on right now. Including Spotify's Car Thing! A real name for a real thing.

🎞️ Also, today's newsletter is brought to you by Movavi! One of the best video editing apps on Android, you can craft professional video projects with its Movavi Clips app, featuring easy drag-and-drop, and high-quality 1080p exports. Movavi also offers Video Editor Plus, a powerful desktop (and in-browser) video editor with both manual and automatic creation modes, and features for fast, easy editing.

Xperia launch
Sony Xperia 1 III cameras official edit
Supplied by Sony

Sony announced the flagship Xperia 1 III, Xperia 5 III, and mid-range minded Xperia 10 III this morning, emphasizing the Japanese firm’s commitment to its favorite elements of smartphones including photography and entertainment, with a few key improvements over the previous Mark II editions of these smartphones.

  • Sony in its inscrutable style, again launched smartphones long before they’re available, and without pricing.
  • All we know is: the Sony Xperia 1 III and 5 III will only be available to US customers in summer 2021, while the Xperia 10 III might emerge earlier with Sony saying “early summer”.
  • It’s possible this limited availability detail is related to the industry-wide chip shortage, or just Sony sticking with its slightly odd approach.

Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III:

  • The Xperia 1 III is a 6.5-inch phone while the Xperia 5 III is a 6.1-inch, both sticking with the 21:9 aspect ratio, with the Xperia 1 III at 4K resolution, and the Xperia 5 III at FHD resolution.
  • Both the Xperia 1 III and 5 III sport the Snapdragon 888, both feature the world’s “first variable telephoto sensor,” 4,500mAh batteries, 30W wired charging, IP6X ratings, Zeiss camera lenses and coatings, and keep the headphone jack. 
  • The Xperia 1 III also adds a 3D iToF sensor for focus tracking, has the top-spec Gorilla Glass Victus, wireless charging, better speakers, and a microSD port.

Variable telephoto:

  • Keeping it super simple, that 12MP telephoto feature means you can optically switch between 3x and 5x zoom by changing focal lengths instantly, which Sony says is world-first for a commercial smartphone.
  • Sony explained it with this animation, though I’m not sure it translates super well:
Sony Xperia 1 III variable periscope camera

Xperia 10 III:

  • The 6.0-inch OLED Xperia 10 III looks just like the 10 II, albeit with an upgraded processor and battery capacity and the addition of 5G.
  • The Snapdragon 665 from last year’s model has been swapped out for a Snapdragon 690, now with 5G, and ups the battery to the 4,500mAh mark, a big rise from 3,600mAh on the older 10 II.
  • Not a lot else changes. The triple camera system is more or less the same, the headphone jack remains, it’s a 60Hz display, and the panel sticks with Full HD 1080p resolution.

Pricing for all three to come.

Events: Apple, Samsung

As leaked by Siri, Apple confirmed its next event for April 20th with a spring angle, and by the way, ruthlessly ignoring the unofficial 4/20 blaze it holiday:

apple spring invite
  • What is Apple teasing? It’s spring, the graphic looks like a spring. That’s pretty straightforward!
  • With the expected iPad Pro launch, there’s some chance this could be hinting at a new iPad Pencil, possibly with a spring-loaded button clicker.

Also, Samsung announced its next Unpacked event, setting it down for Wednesday, April 28:

Samsung Galaxy Unpacked April 2021 Invite
Samsung
  • Like the Apple event, we don’t expect phones at this launch, after two phone events already in the year.
  • Instead it’s likely Samsung explores its latest laptops, rumored to be 11th-gen Intel-powered clamshells.
  • That could explain the “powerful” angle in the teaser invite.
  • So, a PC-focused launch looks likely. Knowing Samsung, there’ll be leaks.
Roundup

💻 Microsoft has new a Surface Laptop 4 and new Surface accessories, with the Surface Laptop 4 packing faster 11th-gen Intel CPUs, and a “Microsoft Surface Edition” version of AMD’s older Ryzen 5 CPU. Still the same 13.5 and 15-inch design without slim bezels, same bad 720p webcam, no built-in LTE modem and no Thunderbolt ports, but with more battery life — up to 19 hours claimed. Starts at $999 (Android Authority).

🍎 Fresh 2022 iPhone predictions: Apple’s 2022 iPhone series to bring 8K recording but no iPhone Mini (Android Authority).

👉 Huawei reveals a way for developers to easily turn GMS apps into HMS apps, via a BlueSource tool (Android Authority).

📺 Roku news: A new $40 Express 4K Plus adds 4K HDR with boosted performance, and is the first Roku player with OS 10 (Android Authority). Also. Apple gets its own button on Roku’s latest remotes, which means more money for Roku (The Verge).

Discord blocks iOS users from NSFW servers, blames Apple (Mashable).

🔊 Spotify’s Car Thing debuts as a limited release for selected US users. It’s almost free, and really called Car Thing (The Verge).

🎮 New PS5 update allows you to store PS5 games on USB drive, cross-gen Share Play (Android Authority).

📈 Major US crypto exchange Coinbase will list today, in a direct listing on the Nasdaq, at $250 per share. It’s likely to start trading much higher though, based on previous direct listings (Cointelegraph).

🔐 FBI launched a court-authorized operation to remove backdoors from hacked Microsoft Exchange servers (TechCrunch).

🚱 Las Vegas is seeking to ban thirsty “ornamental” grass that no one walks on (AP).

💓 “Heart monitors measure heartrate, is there a heart strength as well? Is there an advantage to faster weaker beats or slower stronger beats? ” (r/askreddit).

Wednesday Weirdness
OnePlus Watch review heart rate monitoring
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Honestly the weird thing this week is how roundly the OnePlus Watch was shredded. And one weird angle is that the US versions seem to be worse than in other regions.

I mentioned the bad reviews yesterday after speaking with our reviewer Dhruv Bhutani, although he didn’t suffer quite as many issues as we’ve seen crop up.

It all led to Gizmodo’s review, titled This Is the Worst Smartwatch I’ve Ever Used, featuring paragraphs like: “Every little thing went wrong when I tested this watch. It tracked every activity inaccurately. It said I was sleeping when I was awake. My step counts were off by more than 10,000 steps.

Ouch.

  • My question: why did OnePlus release this? It’s such a self-own. 
  • OnePlus has mastered very good smartphones. But nothing else it has touched has been much good… apart from some very good little backpacks, curiously.

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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