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February 8, 2021

🎁 Good morning! As I hit send this morning, the Xiaomi Mi 11 series is about to be launched in China, so keep an eye out for what it looks like and what it all means later today...

OnePlus steps up the camera game, or just branding?

So, this is interesting. OnePlus has had a reasonably average run in its smartphone cameras. Photographs out of them were rarely terrible, but just as rarely able to compete with flagships from Google/Samsung/Apple.

Now YouTuber Dave2D is claiming he has obtained images of a OnePlus 9 Pro prototype via a leak, and the images give us huge clues pointing to a camera partnership with Hasselblad. (That’s if the leak is accurate, and given what we’re seeing, it’s worth looking at further.)

  • The almost legendary Hasselblad brand, I think, last had a smartphone arrangement as a Moto Mod adding optical zoom.
  • It’s a big-time serious camera operation, known for medium format cameras and lenses and while the competition in this space is fierce with Leica and Fujifilm, I asked a friend who owns a body who says Hasselblad is in every high-end professional studio for portraits and fashion shoots and art, and not really at all used for action or sports, as such.
  • The cheapest Hasselblad camera body you can buy, right now, sells for $5,750.
  • So, it’s a big serious expensive brand with a track record that OnePlus is tying up with, and it gives the camera fresh interest.
  • It may explain why reports have suggested the OnePlus 9 Pro won’t offer a periscope lens for optical zoom. It’s possible Hasselblad isn’t about that, and instead has committed to working with OnePlus on perfecting its most-used photography modes.
  • We previously saw Hasselblad partner with Motorola for the optional True Zoom Moto Z mod, with 10x optical zoom via a telescopic lens. 
  • And the Swedish company also teamed up with (now-defunct) luxury phone maker Vertu for an $11,000 phone back in 2014.
  • Aside from the camera, there is more to the leaks. We also see these reported leaked photos showing a curved display instead of the flat screen we’ve seen on leaked renders of the OnePlus 9, and a glossy finish to the phone rather than the matte finish of recent OnePlus flagships.
  • All of that is fine, normal, and part of the new phone game. The possibility of a very good camera system, though, is much more exciting.

DJI hands on this?

  • By the way, Hasselblad’s status as Swedish company may be a slight misnomer, too? I mean, it is headquartered there, but like Volvo, isn’t Swedish owned.
  • Chinese drone maker DJI acquired a minority, and then majority stake in Hasselblad; announced at CES 2017.
  • DJI drones have included Hasselblad branded sensors since then.
  • In any case, is this Hasselblad wanting to get into the smartphone game, as we’ve seen with Leica? Or all just prototyping that won’t come to a flagship?
  • We should find out within a month or two, based on previous OnePlus timelines…



👉 Samsung Galaxy F62 to launch in India next week with Galaxy Note 10 chipset (Android Authority).

🤐 This smartphone mode could save you from drunk-texting (Android Authority).

🆚 Deep dive: The Snapdragon 888 vs The Exynos 2100: Cortex-X1 & 5nm — Who does it better? (AnandTech).

🍎 Remember when Hyundai spilled the beans that Apple was in talks about developing an autonomous electric vehicle? Yeah, that ended as predicted: Apple Car talks break down between Apple and Hyundai/Kia (Bloomberg).

🎵 On that note: a musician talks about what it’s like to work with Apple on product announcement videos. While he’s mostly kept in the dark, here’s one good part: “For obvious reasons they were very protective about any potential leaks and or the possibility of someone breaking into my studio and taking my gear. I am very careful with stuff like that though, so it was never a problem. I had to encrypt my HD for any projects where I had images or video of the project I was working on. I even had to buy blinds for a problematic window…” (r/apple).

🥊 Intel has finally clapped back at Apple after months of silence, trying to take down Apple’s M1 chip with a flurry of benchmarks about its 11th-gen Core i7 processors. Here’s a look at each claim, one-by-one (PCWorld).

📈 Reddit bought a five-second Super Bowl spot that none-too-subtly celebrated GameStock. (Just don’t ask if Reddit beat Wall Street, because…) (Reddit).

🤑 Speaking of, Robinhood is still planning to IPO in H1 2021 (WSJ, $).

📺 Also, two-minute packed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier trailer probably won the Super Bowl for Marvel/Disney. Coming March 19th (Gizmodo).

🦜 NASA is shipping the James Webb Space Telescope from California to Kourou in French Guiana for launch, including travelling the Panama Canal. Therefore, it won’t publish shipping dates for fear of pirates, despite a Navy escort (Twitter).

☄ What dust from space tells us about ourselves (Wired).

🤔 “What was the worst job interview you’ve had?” (Tech startups do strange things, and this one just hurts) (r/askreddit).

Meme Monday

Super Bowl memes from last night’s game, The Weeknd’s memeable moments from his half-time show are doing the rounds. To start, The Weeknd’s show was fun but the sound mixing seemed off, and somehow he spent $7 million of his own money* to be memed.

The main point was a passage in an illuminated gold funhouse of mirrors that was pretty funny:

weeknd lost

Good Memes:

me trying to follow the hostess to my table at the Cheesecake Factory
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 8, 2021
Major “Mom on FaceTime” vibes #PepsiHalftime
— Jordan Hamm (@JordyHamm) February 8, 2021


*I have not investigated this claim. But apparently the NFL pays mostly in exposure, not money, for performers?


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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