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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, and I've been struggling with the Pixel 5a leaks all week. Is it ok for Google to go with another simple design? Only the pricetag and specs will tell!
- Redmi K40 series announced: The Redmi K40, K40 Pro, and K40 Pro Plus affordable flagships are here. All three share a 6.67-inch 120Hz FHD+ OLED screen, 4,520mAh battery, 33W wired charging and a 20MP punch-hole selfie shooter. The K40 is the true value option with a Snapdragon 870 while the Pro and Pro Plus sport the Snapdragon 888. The Pro Plus adds more camera tricks, including a 108MP triple rear camera setup.
- Redmi K40 series pricing: Pricing is complicated across the three models and storage options, but the series starts at 1,999 yuan (~$310) with the K40, while the top K40 Pro Plus model tops out at 3,699 yuan (~$573), with plenty of options in between. Global pricing is likely to be more expensive.
- Poco: “Independent brand” Poco likely rebranding Redmi K40 as a global Poco phone, for reasons.
- Pixel 5a leak: Renders via Steve “OnLeaks” Hemmerstoffer showed off what’s being called the Pixel 5a, a remarkably similar device to the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 4a — just a touch taller, thinner, and thicker than the 4a 5G. Hemmerstoffer said the phone would keep the plastic back, stereo speakers, headphone jack, and go for a 6.2-inch display, as well as a wide-angle camera lens. Is that enough to be a great buy?
- Samsung’s big four: All Samsung devices from 2019 or later will get four years of Android security updates, blazing a new trail of leadership. That puts Samsung devices a year beyond Google’s guaranteed software commitment to the Pixel, which is great. But let’s not forget to mention Apple’s average of six years of updates to its older iPhones, either. No clues from Samsung as to why now exactly, but hey, that S21 is looking even better. Which brand will follow next?
- Spotify HiFi: Spotify announced high-quality audio streaming called Spotify HiFi, which will be a new subscription tier for streaming lossless audio instead of the maximum 320kbps it streams now. Great news for those FLAC-level audio enthusiasts. Bad news: we don’t know pricing, market availability (other than it will be limited, initially), and no word as to when. Yet here we are covering it. In the meantime, Tidal HiFi runs you $20 a month. (Android Authority)
- Google TV: A report indicated Google TV will feature a “basic” UI mode that does away with smart TV features if it’s active. Why? Well, you might want to dumb-down your built-in smart TV software and stick with your external streamer box, stick, or dongle, or because you’d rather your privacy with a dumb TV. I know a lot of the team here prefer their Nvidia Shield TVs so this would make sense in that setup, for example.
- PS5 Joysticks: iFixit published a worrying teardown of Sony’s superb DualSense controllers, finding that yes, the joysticks drift, and they’ll only get worse. They’re rated for 2,000,000 cycles, which could be around 4-7 months of rated use, using back-of-the-envelope calculations. PC Gamer gives a bit more info about the entire console industry going the same way.
- Pokémon turns 25: And just for fun, it’s Pokémon’s 25th anniversary! Polygon has a fun and somewhat random breakdown of everything Pokémon, from the trading card game that keeps selling out, to cursed Pikachu merch, to the legendary Game Boy and games, and more — including Post Malone covering Hootie and the Blowfish for Pokémon. It’s actually good!
First up is the intriguing Xiaomi Mi 11: :
- Xiaomi Mi 11 review: It’s a Snapdragon 888 powerhouse with great display, but other than the MIUI skin, the only hesitation is the camera.
Next up, good reviews here of interesting ecosystem-only plays:
- Samsung Galaxy SmartTag review: A clever Bluetooth tracker with one major flaw: it only works in the Samsung ecosystem, meaning you really need a Galaxy smartphone. We’re much more interested in the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag Plus with UWB, whenever it finally drops…
- Apple TV 4K review: This set-top box has aging hardware boosted by a best-in-class ecosystem. Supposedly, the refreshed 2021 Apple TV is due for a spring launch, but who knows? It could be 12 months away.
- Apple AirPods Max vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Who wears the crown?
- Which manufacturer updates its phones the fastest: Android 11 edition.
- It’s been two years since the last Nokia flagship phone. What gives? — Hadlee Simons investigates the lack of ambition from Nokia.
- Value for money is important, but we still need phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra — Rob Triggs argues that value might be more appealing, but Samsung needs premium-tier innovation for its next-gen handsets.
- Meet Kevin Blatt, the Hollywood fixer who gets compromising material off the internet — or into the hands of the highest bidder. (Wired)
- We’re three times more likely to buy an EV if we’ve ridden in one, survey finds. (Ars Technica)
- A first-of-its-kind solar geoengineering experiment is about to take its first step. Is it too dangerous to ever be used? That’s what will be found out by Harvard University scientists. (MIT Technology Review)
This week would’ve been Steve Jobs’ 66th birthday.
- That led to a bunch of reminiscing and thinking about the master marketer and visionary of Apple, Pixar, and so on.
- Something I’d recommend spending a moment on: a recorded Clubhouse discussion called Steve Jobs Stories. You can jump straight into the 1.5 hour YouTube clip here too. (computerhistory.org)
- (I enjoyed one where Andy Hertzfeld, an original Mac team member at Apple, at a dinner with Jobs who worth about $300M, was forced to pay for the meal because Jobs didn’t have a wallet).
Anyway, Steve Levy, the editor at large of Wired, has a weekly column and in this one he touched on his last ever conversation with Jobs, an informal chat in the year he died.
- “Where should we go next?” asked Steve Jobs… It was almost exactly 10 years ago, and Apple’s CEO wasn’t asking for advice, but rather opening up the subject of Apple’s future, one that would unfold without him.
- People kept asking [Jobs], he said, if Apple was going to design a car. “If I were 10 years younger and healthier,” he said, “I’d do it.”
Apple does look set to do it. And make no mistake, it’s both years away and monumental; it’s possibly just as monumental in the next decade as Tesla has been in the past decade.
- “In 2015 I visited Bill Ford, chair of the company bearing his name, and asked him what he thought about Telsa. He gave it measured praise, as if it was just another competitor that had come off a conventional assembly line. I wanted to shake him. It’s not about drivetrains, Bill, it’s a paradigm shift!“
Can Apple deliver something more than another electric car? Betting against it seems unwise, argues Levy. It’s hard to disagree.
- March 4: Realme GT 5G launch
- March 4: Realme Note 10 Series launch
- March 10: Asus ROG Phone 5 launch
- Expected in early March: Oppo Find X3 Pro launch
Here’s a tip too: lots of interesting news in early March.
Tech Tweets of the Week
Fry’s Electronics’ closing is the end of an era. An era when you went to an Aztec temple to be yelled at by a man in a vest for not knowing enough about computer parts, picked up a motherboard from a guy who lived in a cage then got air freshener in a cat food can.RIP a legend. pic.twitter.com/rx6722u9rI— Jesse Thorn (@JesseThorn) February 24, 2021
Meanwhile on the shelves of Philip K Dick’s Sporting Goods. pic.twitter.com/Ip8e1bYMx7— Hunter Felt (@HunterFelt) February 25, 2021
Another fun week in tech — thanks for reading, and catch you in the next one.
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.