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September 23, 2021

🚀 Good morning! Keep reading for a link to some cool anti-gravity meetup info.

👉 Today's sponsor OnePlus keeps the deals flowing! Save up to $219.99 with the OnePlus 9 Pro and the new OnePlus Buds Pro.

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Surface Duo 2

Chief product officer at Microsoft, Panos Panay announced five new Microsoft Surface products yesterday, in his always-earnest, slightly over-the-top style.

  • It was a slick show. It even went for a fourth-wall-breaking moment where the new Microsoft Surface Studio was taken off stage and into the production area. Panay “borrowed” someone’s Surface Studio and had cameras whipping around to keep up.
  • Sure it was staged. But it was different and fun, and you’ll see it if you missed it in this two-minute recap on Panay’s Twitter account.
  • Anyway, all these devices go on sale on October 5th, alongside Windows 11.

What’s new?

  • Microsoft launched a new Surface Pro 8, Surface Pro X, Surface Go 3, Surface Duo 2 and the new Surface Laptop Studio, which replaces the Surface Book with a new design that mimics the desktop version.
  • Some of those are bigger than others. The Surface Pro X just added a WiFi-only model for $100 less than the $1000 RRP, and mentioned better Windows 11 support for its Arm-based processor.
  • And the Surface Go 3 can be talked about in just a few words: the smallest tablet in the range is getting newer Intel processors, keeping it relevant. Starts at $400. 

Surface Duo 2:

  • The Surface Duo 2 looks like a much better, true second-generation improvement over the Duo. On the hardware front, Microsoft curved its display around the hinge to add a useful-looking display for notifications and info. 
  • The main dual 5.8-inch displays are now 90Hz, there’s a triple camera system that we expected, and it supports 5G via the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. There’s more RAM, too, at 8GB, and NFC.
  • Incredibly, it’s actually $100 more expensive than the original at $1,500.
  • And while the hardware really looks great, Microsoft didn’t say much about software which was a travesty on the Duo. 
  • The Duo 2 will run Android 11 at launch but that’s about all I heard. Expect Microsoft to be challenged on this front.

Surface Pro 8:

  • This is Microsoft’s brightest star, and it has its biggest upgrade since 2014, after a few years of incremental updates. Now we’re seeing major updates: Microsoft has shrunk the bezels and upped the display quality to a new 13-inch 120Hz display in the 3:2 aspect ratio, it has Thunderbolt 4 support, and latest 11th-generation Intel processors.
  • It also has a nicer new keyboard with stiffer carbon fiber, a new Slim Pen 2 that still has a home in the keyboard but now offers subtle haptics, and has taken some of the nicer design features of the Pro X.
  • Battery life, with the 120Hz display, and how it handles a normal workday for people with a million tabs and Teams or Slack and so on, will be interesting.
  • It now starts at $1,100, though that price should be ignored given that the completely essential Type Cover keyboard and trackpad remain an accessory at $280. And if you want a device to last, I’d say getting an Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 256GB of storage, which is $1,600. So, nearly $1,880 for a useful device, not $1,100.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Hero

Microsoft saved something for last, with the Surface Laptop Studio:

  • This is Microsoft’s most powerful device with Intel 11th-gen processors and at the top end, can pack Nvidia’s RTX 3050 Ti GPU, with a rich 14.4-inch display.
  • It’s most unusual. 
  • It borrows from the Surface Studio all-in-one, with a hinge in the middle to bring the screen closer for touch, drawing, or inking.
  • The display hinge is the big thing. The previous Surface Book had this sort of thick, awkward-looking hinge that was functional for a 2-in-1.
  • You can’t detach the tablet anymore. Instead the touchscreen can fold back or forth or lay flat:
surface studio modes


  • Um, there’s really no way for me to know how good that is until hands-on.
  • Microsoft has magnets for snapping it into certain places but there are only certain positions that it sits at. Meanwhile, you can get the same from an iPad with the right keyboard cover.
  • As The Verge points out in a good quick video, it also sits on top of this odd “plinth” that serves to dissipate heat. It doesn’t look elegant. Maybe it’s fine. It does offer a tuckaway spot for the Surface Slim Pen 2, if you want the separately sold stylus.
  • It also costs $1600 at its base spec, and if you tick all the boxes, it runs you $3100 with all the RAM, 2TB SSD, etc.
  • Full reviews will be essential reading!

🔨 Samsung may have resumed S21 FE production, but will it be enough? (Android Authority).

📩 No shady workarounds needed: YouTube now lets you download videos on desktop, though it’s via an experimental Labs product for Premium members (Android Authority).

🤔 The Lithuanian National Cyber Security Centre-Xiaomi blocked list story? Seems it is baked into blocking ads, not blocking general communication. (XDA). It’s still not all completely fine, but this contradicts the NCSC’s report to a massive extent.

👉 For what it’s worth, Xiaomi told Android Authority: “Xiaomi has never and will never restrict or block any personal behaviours of our smartphone users, such as searching, calling, web browsing or the use of third-party communication software. Xiaomi fully respects and protects the legal rights of all users.” The enthusiast’s answer remains: get a custom ROM to avoid data hoovering, but that’s a big step for non-technical folks.

🍎 Review: 2021’s $329 standard iPad is still the one most people should buy (Ars Technica).

🍏 Tim Cook says employees who leak memos do not belong at Apple, according to leaked memo (The Verge).

🔫 Apple won’t let Fortnite back on iOS until the Epic v. Apple verdict is final which could be years away if it’s constantly appealed (The Verge).

👓 Facebook names Boz its new CTO with a major focus on hardware (The Verge).

💩 Baby poop is loaded with microplastics, 10x more than adults (Wired).

🛫 Amazing airborne microchips are the tiniest human-built objects to take flight. Flying versus falling with style, mind you (Gizmodo).

☄ Monster comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein falling toward the sun is bigger than a Martian moon, and we’ll see it get brighter across this decade (CNET).

🚀 Oh this is great: Inside the Alternative Propulsion Energy Conference, the world’s most exclusive anti-gravity club. Think PhDs and casual NASA employee participation more than tinfoil, but garage hackers are invited too (The Debrief).

☢ “Is the Chernobyl core still melting to this day?” (r/askscience)

Throwback Thursday
The T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream

Today is one of those milestone days around here: the first Android phone launched on September 23, 2008, now 13 years ago. 

The HTC Dream, or the T-Mobile G1 as it was known as in the US:

  • It went for $179, and packed a pop-up, 3.2-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen, with a keyboard, 528Mhz Qualcomm chip, 192 MB of RAM, 256MB storage.
  • And, Android, for the first time, as well as the Android Market for apps, which wasn’t rebranded to the Google Play Store until March 2012.
  • It was early and unpolished but it was the beginning of something.
  • I like to read old reviews of devices like this and it’s fun when Joshua Topolsky at Engadget was so on the money, when he wrote that early adopters of Android through the G1 were “buying into one of the most exciting developments in the mobile world in recent memory.”
  • Also, last time I talked about the HTC Dream, I copped flack for saying the clickable trackball in the middle wasn’t great. A bunch of people wrote in to say they liked it!


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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