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March 31, 2021

🔋 Good morning! So the new name of VW, the "Voltswagen of America" thing turned out to be ...an early April Fool's Day joke, or something. I am whelmed but many others are mad.

Xiaomi's foldable

 

Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold product image
Xiaomi

The first Xiaomi foldable phone is here, sort of. I mean it’s here: it was announced by Xiaomi, it’s official,  but it isn’t coming to global markets, so it’s a China-only release, meaning you’ll need to grey import it if you really, really want it.

What it is:

  • The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold is a design clone of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, with 2021 specs.
  • The main event is the tablet-sized 8.01-inch OLED display with 2480×1860 resolution once unfolded, with a 6.52-inch panel on the exterior, complete with a 90Hz refresh rate. 
  • Internals consist of the Snapdragon 888 SoC, Xiaomi’s homemade Surge C1 imaging processor, up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, and a 5,020mAh total battery across two battery packs.
  • The camera array goes for a 108MP rear camera, a 13MP ultra-wide shooter, and an 8MP camera with a liquid lens. The latter lets it shoot macros and up to 3x telephoto snaps.
  • On the software front, oddly, Xiaomi is sticking with MIUI 12 on top of Android 10, not 11. On the plus side of the software gambit, it will offer a PC mode accessible with a three-finger swipe, delivering a desktop-style UI and multiple windowed apps.
  • In terms of durability, Xiaomi says it can be folded 200,000 times, with reliability testing suggesting even a million folds at the extreme. You know, if you really like opening and closing it. 
  • It starts at 9,999 yuan or just over $1,520, with pre-orders starting today, meaning it’s still mightily expensive to get a foldable.

Thought:

  • The derivative Mi Mix Fold is a Galaxy Fold design two years later. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, it’s still expensive, it doesn’t really push things forward, and for whatever reason, Xiaomi isn’t selling it outside of China. In that way, the Mi Mix Fold is disappointing, though at least it looks like a polished first-generation device.
  • More interesting is the actual innovations: the liquid lens and the in-house Surge C1 suggest new tech breakthroughs for Xiaomi, and the chip may be a path towards self-sufficiency without reliance on Qualcomm and others.
  • I don’t expect anyone outside of China will get to put the Surge C1 through its paces any time soon unfortunately, but if it stacks up, I’d expect to see it in a mainstream Xiaomi device.

Bonus: Xiaomi spent 20 minutes talking up a new logo. It’s the same logo, but rounded (The Verge).

Roundup

🗄️ Google has a new app for organizing and saving important documents: Stack (Android Authority).

🆕 ARM introduces v9, its first new chip architecture in a decade that heralds the next-generation of smartphone CPUs: expect first devices in 2022 (Android Authority).

🎧 Report: The Pixel Buds A could be Google’s next true wireless earbuds, made more affordable (Android Authority).

📈 Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review: cheaper and better than the original, and the sleep tracking stuff seems fine if you want it but the data isn’t mindblowing (Android Authority).

📌 Google is making some big upgrades to directions in Google Maps, including AR indoors directions, eco-friendly driving route options, and weather map layers (The Verge).

🍎 Apple has announced a virtual WWDC 2021: June 7-11, with iOS 15, macOS 12, watchOS 8 likely to be revealed. Also, the event announcements had a bunch of diverse memoji, which is normal for Apple, but every single one is wearing glasses. AR glasses? (Daring Fireball)

🧀 Apple patents the Mac Pro’s ‘Cheese Grater’ design for …iPhone? (MacRumors).

👻 Snap is pushing its hardware ambitions forward: AR spectacles in May, and a possible selfie drone? (The Information).

📦 Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer, revealed the ongoing chip shortage will result in it shipping 10% fewer products, and said the shortage would continue into next year (Reuters).

🚀 SpaceX loses another Starship prototype, as the landing sequence failed sometime during high orbit (Ars Technica).

🌸 Japan’s cherry blossom peak at their earliest since records began 1,200 years ago (BBC).

🥕 ELI5: “Why are fruit/vegetables so cheap despite the time and resources needed to produce them?” (r/explainlikeimfive).

Wednesday Weirdness
image

Weird tweet from US Strategic Command actually sent by small child (Gizmodo via DailyDot):

  • “U.S. Strategic Command, the people tasked with overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons, sent out a weird tweet on Monday of complete gibberish, writing “;l;;gmlxzssaw.” What could it mean? Twitter users joked about the possibility of nuclear war, but no one knew for sure.
  • It turns out Stratcom wasn’t hacked and the U.S. wasn’t dangerously close to accidentally launching nuclear weapons at North Korea. The tweet was sent by a small child. And no, not just a figurative child, like so many obnoxious Twitter users on the platform these days. It was a literal child.”

Still, nowhere near as bad as an actual tweet sent by adults at US Strategic Command:

bad tweet
  • “In December 2018, referring to the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball-drop in New York, US Strategic Command joked on Twitter about it being prepared to drop something “much bigger,” with a video of a B-2 stealth bomber dropping two bombs to the beat of pulsing music.
  • Hours later it deleted that tweet and apologised that it was “in poor taste”.”

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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