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⚡ Welcome back to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority series that recaps the top Android and tech news from the week.
💌 Tristan Rayner with you on this Valentine's Day with all the news and views. As always, we love to hear from you. Check-in, rant or rave, or just say hello by hitting reply to this email.
- Some interesting Android 12 leaks: Design mockups showed new theme options and features that were in earlier Android versions but didn’t make the final cut, including microphone and camera toggles.
- Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: Don’t miss the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra leaks — the secondary display in the camera panel is super interesting, and the feature list looks about as high end as you might get. A real Galaxy S21 Ultra competitor?
- Xiaomi Mi 11: Also the vanilla Xiaomi Mi 11 launched globally this week, starting at €749 (~$908); not as affordable as some might have hoped. While it was a global launch, it is still missing some key bands for the US, despite Xiaomi getting FCC certification for the device.
- OnePlus may have found a new place to tuck away the selfie camera on its phones — right in the top bezel. This is at patent stage for now. The selfie camera remains a problem with many viable fixes, but none of them have proven to be very elegant.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 sales: Strong sales in Korea, and record pre-sales figures out of the UK. We’ll get more data later about the US and other major regions. Good news for Samsung given its previous flagships had suffered falling sales for a few generations now.
- Disney Plus is becoming a monster. The streaming service will break 100 million subscribers within weeks at the current rate. What does that mean? The House of Mouse is already all-in on Star Wars and Marvel content, and the money will just keep coming…
- Chipageddon continues, but now President Biden is stepping in (Bloomberg). Reports are suggesting he will sign an executive order that will allow for a supply chain review, and commit to developing a long-term strategy to avoid future shortages. I mean, there’s still a 25% tariff on GPU imports into the US, so maybe a short-term strategy might start there? Also, Nvidia started making its older GPUs again (The Verge), because they’re still capable enough for more mid-range builds.
- Mars: A busy week for the Red Planet! Both the UAE’s spacecraft Hope, and China’s Tianwen-1 successfully entered orbit (AP) around Mars within a few hours of each other. China plans to touch down with a rover in the coming months, at a “vast, rock-strewn plain called Utopia Planitia.” Up next, NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on February 18th.
- Poco M3 review: Bright, beautiful, and brilliant at the price.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review: Very good isolation and cheaper than competitors at the premium end. Even better if you own a Samsung Galaxy phone.
- Oppo Enco X review: Are these the new affordable true wireless earbuds to beat?
- Fitbit Premium review: For $10 a month, it’s an early feeling product, but at least you can get a 90-day free trial to sample the added extras.
- A big Realme interview with Realme India and Europe CEO Madhav Sheth: Premium prices, new markets, update promises, and more.
- Who asked for Xiaomi’s portless concept phone? The button-free concept ruffled a few feathers, but it exists for a reason.
- The ultimate photography showdown! Can Android’s hottest new camera phone, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, match (or beat?) the iPhone 12 Pro Max? Find out in this ludicrously in-depth shootout.
- There are spying eyes everywhere — and now they share a brain (Wired).
- How Cubans make island Internet work for them (Ars Technica).
- And it’s a long weekend for some this weekend, so here’s ten outstanding Short Stories to read in 2021 (Longreads).
We’re running a poll now asking what your early impressions of the Android 12 leaks are like.
- When I checked the poll, 75% of about 1,000 votes were feeling positive.
- Which, given our site name and focus, probably could’ve been predicted.
But major Android upgrades in this era don’t always capture the imagination of people. Even enthusiasts may struggle to think of more than a few nice things that made Android 11 that much better than Android 10. For example, I love the media controls and improved smart device controls that were added in Android 11, but they were hardly groundbreaking.
However, Android is a mature operating system. Improvements aren’t game-changers like they were when an update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean felt like getting a new phone.
But now the first release of Android 12 is right around the corner, and there are already things that look like they’ll matter. Over in the Android 12 rumor hub we’re keeping updated, these early rumored features look like they might be really useful:
- Wi-Fi password sharing via Nearby Share
- Better-theming support for more built-in color options and accents.
- And a killer feature around actively monitoring camera and microphone usage, with toggles to turn off all access.
The catch is that early Android developer previews sometimes contain nifty features that don’t make the final cut of the public release. Bear that in mind before you get too hyped.
- February 22: Huawei’s next foldable phone is officially coming.
- February 25: Xiaomi’s Redmi K40 launch date.
- Expected in February: Android 12 developer preview, OnePlus 9 launch.
- Expected in March: Oppo Find X3 Pro launch.
Tech Tweet of the Week
What Apple doesn’t want you to know about the App Store👇“The apps you love, from a place you can trust” they tell you. But the reality is far from it.A 4.5-star app? Might as well be a multi-million dollar scam.How, you ask?1/🧵— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) February 12, 2021
- It’s a longish thread, so keep reading on Twitter to get the real meat of this post, and/or you can read the tweets more easily via ThreadReader.
Another fun week in tech — thanks for reading, and catch you in the next one.
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.