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✨ Good morning and happy International Women’s Day for 2021. It’s been 100 years since the first edition, the UN gave it a fixed date on March 8, and it’s been a holiday here in Berlin since 2019. Which is good and all, but shows progress can be slow!
Thanks to Nick for covering things for us all on Friday.
OnePlus confirmed this morning that it will launch its latest flagship range in the OnePlus 9 series on March 23rd, and confirmed the Hasselblad partnership. (The rumor mill can pat itself on the back; the leaks have been spot on.)
- CEO Pete Lau announced three things: the OnePlus 9 Series launch date on March 23.
- Details of the Hasselblad partnership and camera app, which looks significant and not just a licensing deal
- And confirmation of the use of Sony’s latest “custom” sensor, an IMX789.
There isn’t a lot more to say about the March 23 launch: timing is set for 10:00 AM EDT, and that’ll be when all the talk about the Hasselblad camera will start to shift from hype to real-world use.
Partnership with Hasselblad and camera app:
- Pete Lau did surprise me by announcing a $150 million R&D investment, which includes opening four R&D labs, with two of those in the US and Japan.
- That’s a lot more than just slapping on an iconic camera maker’s name.
- Quote: “Today, we have announced a three-year partnership with iconic camera manufacturer Hasselblad to co-develop future generations of OnePlus flagship smartphone camera systems. This journey starts with the revamped camera system – Hasselblad Camera for Mobile – that will make its debut on March 23, as we unveil the OnePlus 9 Series”
- “…we have created an entirely new color solution – Natural Color Calibration with Hasselblad – that will now serve as our new standard for color calibration for future OnePlus smartphone camera systems”
- “We’re pioneering new areas of smartphone imaging technology for future OnePlus camera systems, such as a panoramic camera with a 140-degree field of view, T-lens technology for lightning-fast focus in the front-facing camera, and a freeform lens – to be first introduced on the OnePlus 9 Series – that practically eliminates edge distortion in ultra-wide photos.”
- “Over the next three years, we are also investing USD 150 million to continue upscaling and improving our imaging capabilities to deliver cutting-edge camera technologies that meets your growing expectations.”
What it means:
- Iconic camera brands are about heritage and established position, and Hasselblad gets in on the game properly, where Leica and Carl ZEISS have been playing for some years. They work to be a differentiating factor for totally commoditized smartphones.
- More importantly, it gives OnePlus a fresh start. It’s cameras have been okay without ever being true leaders, but this now presents a reason to believe that a OnePlus flagship can have a great camera.
- Remember earlier this year, Pete Lau did commit “huge resources” towards being the world’s number one in smartphone cameras.
- Lau also name-checked a new custom Sony IMX789 sensor, bigger and better than any previous OnePlus flagship (as you’d expect).
- It will provide 12-bit RAW support, improved HDR video recording, as well as support for capturing 4K video at 120 fps and 8K at 30 fps. No megapixel rating
- What’s interesting about that is that usually, OnePlus and Oppo flagships share a similar camera system. Last year, both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Find X2 Pro used a custom Sony IMX689 sensor.
- But the Find X3 Pro, to be unveiled this week, is from all reports, going with another sensor, a custom 50MP Sony IMX766 main sensor.
By the way, no word on pricing or availability, no word yet on a OnePlus Watch, and no mention of the cutdown 9 series model, a “lite” phone which may be called the OnePlus 9R.
Bonus: Here’s the official word on in-box chargers for the OnePlus 9 flagships (they’ll be included).
📉 Qualcomm says chip shortage is affecting smartphones as well, might end by late 2021 (Android Authority).
🔕 Why hasn’t anyone copied the mute switch on Apple and OnePlus phones? (Android Authority).
📺 TiVo Stream 4K review: Is it a Google Chromecast killer? (Android Authority).
🤦♂️ “The new Google Pay repeats all the same mistakes of Google Allo” (Ars Technica).
🔊 An update on Android’s audio latency, including interesting data on how far latency has dropped (blog.google).
🍎 Kuo: Apple plans to release an XR headset in mid-2022 (for ~$1K), AR glasses by 2025, and interestingly, may release AR contact lenses in 2030s. Anybody got other 2030s tech bets? (MacRumors).
🍏 Apple’s ending the iMac Pro because the 27-inch iMac released last August is the preferred choice for most users (Gizmodo).
🔓 Move over, SolarWinds: 30,000 orgs’ email hacked via Microsoft Exchange Server flaws, Chinese involvement suggested (The Verge).
👩💻 China five-year plan aims for supremacy in AI, quantum computing (Engadget).
🕸 Microsoft starts testing Edge Chromium for a much better browser on Xbox (The Verge).
📺 Why popular YouTubers are building their own sites (BBC).
📦 Inside Jeff Bezos’s failed attempt to make Amazon “cool” like Nike. This features interviews with Amazon designers, something that Amazon is not known for, despite attempts (FastCo).
🚲 Gig companies fear a worker shortage, despite a recession — and that means big bonuses are being used as lures (Ars Technica).
🔴 Perseverance drives on Mars’ terrain for first time, notching 6.5m (21.3 ft) (NASA).
🤔 “What’s something you should ALWAYS keep in your car?” (r/askreddit).
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor