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April 9, 2021
🌞 Good morning! Are you good out there? Doing well? Surviving? Life's tough sometimes.
Nokia sorts things out
nokia 8.3 3.4 2.4 together backsides 2
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

HMD Global has had a bit of a rough ride with its Nokia brand. It’s done well at the low-end but its flagships have been disappointing when measured up again the best in Android, and iPhone.

  • Two years ago it admitted its naming schemes were confusing, and it’s also been two years since a Nokia flagship was released at all
  • More recently, executive Juho Sarvikas, who’d headed up Nokia’s products for 15 years, left to join Qualcomm, a glimpse, perhaps, that not all was well. 
  • The other, other Nokia issue is that it intended to launch the Nokia 8.3, an upper mid-tier phone with a big sponsorship tie-in to the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die. With that film delayed due to the pandemic, so too was the phone, and it emerged six months after Nokia intended and wasn’t particularly attractive by then.
  • It’s not all bad: Nokia has made useful and important feature phones in emerging markets, capturing up to 16% market share in 2020. It’s just Nokia has lost relevance elsewhere.

The news now is that Nokia has finally overhauled the Nokia phone line to include just three series: X, G, and C. Six phones make up the new series, and all fall under about $400.

Nokia is pitching longevity and affordability over flagship specs: 

  • Nokia says the new X-series gets three years of OS and monthly security updates, three years of monthly security updates, along with three years of extended warranty in most markets.
  • The X-series has the X10 and X20, both 6.67-inch 1,080 x 2,400 displays, toting 5G-capable Snapdragon 480 chips. The X10 starting things off with a quad camera, the highlights being the 48MP main camera/5MP ultra-wide. The X20 goes for a 64MP main camera, and more RAM and storage. The X10 starts at £250 (~$340), the X20 £300 (~$410)
  • The next-best G-series gets two years of new Android OS updates but the same three years of security updates, and is packaged as a more budget offering, bringing 6.5-inch “HD+” screens and low-end MediaTek processors, but starting at £110 ($150).
  • And the cheaper C-series gets two years of updates, and may only realistically outlast 24 months of usage by a little bit — these are seriously budget devices with basic Unisoc quad- (C10) and octa-core (C20) chips, with the C20 going for just £79 (~$108), and running Android 11 Go.
  • These are probably not going to excite the enthusiast market. But Nokia might be doing the smart thing.
  • We’ll likely have reviews of the X and possible G series at some point, as these go up against true value phones from Motorola, Xiaomi, Realme, and others.

No flagships:

  • The question really is: why would Nokia release a flagship? It’s already struggled to nail things in the past, with the interesting Nokia 9 PureView having an exciting camera array that was too ambitious, and still not perfect even after updates.
  • With LG pulling out of the market entirely, and Samsung, and a host of China-made rivals perfecting the flagship model at low margins, Nokia might be smart enough to not worry about impressing the tech community, and just nailing phones for those with low requirements.
  • Maybe that’s ok. It’s disappointing for some, possibly including its former executives.
  • The Nokia brand is forever partly associated with leading-edge phones of yore, before the iPhone blew up its business, but it’s better HMD Global beds down the Nokia brand before trying again.

🍿 Lenovo’s second-gen Legion gaming phone launched, packing dual cooling fans and a super divisive design. There’s a pop-up camera, which is cool, but only for landscape photos? (Android Authority).

🍎 Court docs show Apple kept iMessage to itself when it could have come to Android back in 2013, saying iMessage on Android ‘will hurt us more than help us’ (Android Authority)

👉 Samsung announced it’ll launch its UWB Galaxy SmartTag+ smart trackers, globally on April 16, but with a “few weeks” delay on the US rollout. It’s $40 vs the less-capable SmartTag’s $30 (Android Authority)

🤔 A mini washer for your earbuds and pods is now a thing on Kickstarter (Android Authority).

🍏 Apple presses ahead with aim to replace paper passports and ID with iPhone (Apple Insider).

📺 81% of the US use YouTube, making it the most popular online platform over Facebook once again (Pew).

📽 Netflix will get exclusive streaming rights to future Sony films, meaning Uncharted, Spider-Man and other Marvel films are set to reach the big streamer (Engadget).

📺 A Korean media report claims Samsung will make OLED TVs with LG panels next year, and it is busily sourcing one million OLED panels (Engadget).

🔓 Hackers scraped data from 500 million LinkedIn users — about two-thirds of the platform’s userbase — and have posted it for sale online (Business Insider).

🚗 Toyota prepared for the chip shortage years ago. Why didn’t anyone else? (Jalopnik).

🩺 This sticker absorbs sweat—and might diagnose Cystic Fibrosis (Wired).

🚀 SpaceX landed a rocket on a boat five years ago—it changed everything (Ars Technica).

🤔 ELI5: “What makes ‘permanent’ markers more permanent than regular markers?” (r/explainlikeimfive)

Friday Fun
good job monke

So, Elon Musk’s Neuralink says this monkey is playing Pong with its mind (YouTube).

There’s probably no substitute better than just watching the 3m 27s long video as it runs through how the macaque monkey is playing Pong without a joystick.

But in case you don’t want to click or watch or engage, here’s the outline on what’s going on from The Verge

  • Pager, a 9-year-old macaque monkey, had a Neuralink implanted about six weeks before the video was shot, the video’s unnamed narrator says.
  • He was first taught to play video games with a joystick for a banana smoothie reward, delivered through a metal straw.
  • While he was doing this, the Neuralink device recorded information about which neurons were firing — learning, essentially, to predict hand movements by recording which regions fired. After learning the patterns, the joystick Pager used to play was disconnected from the computer.
  • The monkey appears to go on playing the game using only his mind — playing a game of Pong with no joystick whatsoever.

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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