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March 25, 2021

☕ Good morning!

Today's newsletter is brought to you by OnePlus! In case you missed it, the OnePlus 9 Series has finally launched. The OnePlus 9 Pro is the flagship offering, with a top-of-the-line camera and impressive hardware under the hood. Be sure to check out the new Bud Z earbuds as well. Learn more, watch again, or pre-order.

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Realme 8 Pro: no

Here’s the Realme 8 Pro, just launched yesterday starting at £279/17,999 rupees (about $243):

Realme 8 Pro rear in hand

That branding. Ouch. That is appalling.

  • Unfortunately, the rest of the phone isn’t much better.
  • Usually, I’m forgiving for new smartphones and devices because the production of anything is a minor miracle, and people have a vast array of reasons to buy.
  • But: this is a rare “steer clear” advisory.

Why?

  • Not so much because this new Realme device is bad, but the competition is so much better.
  • And that’s rare because Realme vs Xiaomi has been a close, hard-fought battle that has resulted in options galore at mid-range and value price-points. It’s been a good fight.
  • But the Realme 8 Pro? No.

Here’s what my colleague Dhruv Bhutani found in his review:

  • “The Realme 8 Pro isn’t a bad phone per se, but the competition is so far ahead in the finer details that it’s a lot harder to make a case for it. Whether it’s the lack of a high refresh rate panel, the barely-working fingerprint reader, or the stuttering software, the shortcomings tower over the real quality features like fast charging, and the high-quality main camera..”
  • “Realme needs to dare to leap a little higher if it wants to catch up to its competition, let alone beat it.”
  • Also, that gaudy branding design treatment. The only good thing is it’s very likely to be hiding behind a case, at least?
  • It does have good battery life, fast charging, and is lightweight with a plastic build. But those features aren’t enough.
  • In any case, Dhruv alludes to competition all-but squashing this release, and the alternatives are clearly the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, which leads on specs and all-round refinement, while there’s also the Google Pixel 4a for a little more, or the Xiaomi Mi 10i for more power and 5G.
Roundup

📸 After a long hiatus, Xiaomi’s innovative Mi Mix line is coming back next week — and it will have a liquid camera lens to switch focus types (Android Authority)

📈 Xiaomi phone sales boomed in 2020 at Huawei’s expense (Android Authority)

🆚 OnePlus 9 vs 9 Pro vs 9R: Which is right for you? (Android Authority)

Rocket League Sideswipe brings car soccer to your phone, on Android and iOS, coming later in 2021 (Android Authority)

🍃 Dyson’s new V15 Detect vacuum uses lasers to guilt you into doing a better job of cleaning (The Verge)

📺 LG’s 2021 OLED TV lineup starts at $1,299 — the new artistic G1 Gallery series starts with a 55-inch G1 for $2,199 (Engadget)

🍎 Apple reportedly bans facial scans of employees, but not factory workers, as surveillance camera use increases and background checks on factory workers are required (CNET)

😬 Medium is going through a huge shakeup and seems to be a dysfunctional mess (The Verge)

🕳 New M87 black hole image from the team that brought you the first image, now shows off a vortex of magnetic chaos (The Verge)

🛳 How to dislodge a 200,000-ton ship from a canal wall: get a Dutch team of experts (Bloomberg).

🛠 TSMC: How a Taiwanese chipmaker became a linchpin of the global economy (Ars Technica).

🔥 The Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay commences today — here’s the route (and yes, sticking with the 2020 brand) (tokyo2020.org)

Throwback Thursday
An image from Apple WWDC 2019.

March 24 marked 20 years of Mac OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system that offered a badly-needed upgrade to its OS problems.

Today, 17 versions and major architecture changes later, it’s called macOS.

What’s cool for this 20th anniversary is that people involved with the development of Mac OS X are tweeting funny little tidbits. 

Here’s Imran Chaudhri:

  • “in 1995, while interning at apple, i bought a NeXT cube for $150 at stanford surplus
    while designing mac os X with steve, he liked to tell us how the NeXT was better
    so i started bringing in my cube to win arguments by showing him that things weren’t as good as he remembered
    this happened so often that it got to the point where if he walked in and saw the cube in the room, he’d just let it go
    still the best $150 i’ve spent
    happy 20 years mac os x!”

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

PS. Windows XP turns 20 in October.

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