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August 9, 2021
📦 Good morning! A big week ahead, so strap in...
Pixel 5a
google pixel banana video

Google announced its Pixel 6 last week but the Pixel 5a is almost certainly the phone we get to see first.

  • “We” being people in the US and Japan, by the way: Google is only making it available in two countries: the US and Japan.

Anyway, the latest is via Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who noted in his Sunday newsletter: 

  • “Google’s new low-end Pixel phone is just days away. Expect the low-cost 5a with a Qualcomm chip, not an in-house design, to go on sale in the next two weeks.”

That aligns with previous Pixel 5a launch info, including: 

  • Google saying that it would be “announced in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced,” which was August 3, 2020, by the way.
  • Also, the Pixel 5a passed through the FCC last month.
  • And some leaks and rumors, none of which seem credible alone, but all start to make sense together.

…but why only two countries?

  • Google’s approach to sales has always been baffling. International availability is always very limited for its hardware and services – it just doesn’t like to sell its stuff internationally, and has never really tried. 
  • The Pixel 2 launched in seven countries. Now the Pixel 5a is only selling in two?
  • Everyone’s favorite colleague at Android Authority, Bogdan Petrovan, wrote back in 2017: “Google cannot be this bad at selling phones.”
  • At least, though, the still ongoing pandemic has armed Google with one excuse to stick with the US, which makes sense, and Japan, for reasons that make less obvious sense. “It’s not us, it’s the chip supply shortage,” Google will probably say.
  • Given how little control Google will have over chip supplies, that might be fair.

Nokia supply chain insights:

  • I spoke a few weeks ago with HMD Global’s General Manager in Germany and nearby countries, Eric Matthes, who confirmed Nokia smartphones have had their own supply chain issues.
  • Matthes mentioned an overall shortage of materials, from chips, moving to displays, and even camera lenses, and said Black Friday orders were already being discussed in July with retailers worried about a lack of supply for November. November!
  • Matthes also pointed out that it’s the heavyweights who have the power: “Let’s say Samsung is ordering one million pieces and we are ordering 20,000. All of a sudden, the suppliers say ‘Oh, your supply looks difficult…’ And that’s a really challenging one to discuss, and a lot to discuss.”
  • By the way, Matthes said companies like his (and his former employer, HTC) are “always targeting” to “announce on Sunday and be on shelves on Monday,” but said it “just never works.”

Google’s supply:

  • With Google only a minor percentage point or two of global smartphone shipment, a component shortage on the Pixel 5a is understandable and may even affect the US and Japan launch supply. 
  • Google’s efforts appear to be going into the Pixel 6 series coming in two months — but we know nothing, yet, about which countries it might launch in. 
  • Still, at least Google is building some kind of “hardware hub” in Silicon Valley (CNBC).

📸 Samsung patents a movable camera system with adaptive aperture (Android Authority).

📈 Redmi 10 specs, renders leak: Redmi’s budget phone gets a 50MP camera (Android Authority).

👉 Valve Steam Deck hands-on: “I have held the Steam Deck, and I’m nearly a believer.” (The Verge).

💵 Google considered buying ‘some or all’ of Epic during the great Fortnite clash of 2018, court documents say (The Verge). Those same documents revealed that Google told Epic not to allow Fortnite sideloading, said sideloading is ‘awful’ (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple’s “child safety” initiatives continue to accrue some of the strongest criticisms of a new privacy issue I’ve seen: Now more than 5,500 individuals and organizations (security and privacy experts, cryptographers, researchers, professors, legal experts, such as Edward Snowden) have signed an open letter asking for two things, chiefly requesting: “Apple Inc.’s deployment of its proposed content monitoring technology is halted immediately.” ( Even John Gruber is worried about the slippery slope Apple seems to be about to step onto (Daring Fireball).

📸 Speaking of: Stingle is a privacy-focused, open source photo backup application (Ars Technica).

🌎 A major climate report came out today: The IPCC’s sixth encyclopedic analysis of the state of climate science tells us directly – things aren’t good. You might know that, but getting 195 nations to sign a report by volunteer scientists isn’t particularly easy. Just read these five tweets even if you don’t read anything else. All is not lost, yet, but there’s precious little time to act as there’s no end to warming until emissions stop (Twitter).

🔋 An unsurprising but sad update for the Tesla Cybertruck: production has been pushed to 2022, as Tesla keeps working on its production processes involving enormous casting machines (Electrek).

🔴 NASA’s Perseverance rover fails to collect its first Mars rock sample, a rare mishap on the so-far 10/10 mission (Engadget).

🚀 Midwest missiles: Minuteman Launch Control Centers hiding in plain sight (CNET).

👃 “If your bedroom could only smell like one thing, what would it be?” (A: “The freshness when you open your windows and it’s -15°c outside.”) (r/askreddit).

Monday Meme

Switching to Viral Monday today because of the re-emergence of this ripper:

paul seow creative prodikeys
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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