Your tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, January 6. It’s CES 2020 people!

1. Samsung’s new devices and divides

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite front facing camera

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite phones have hit CES 2020, with most of the leaks and rumors proving accurate.

  • But the reason they exist is confounding people, and that’s not helped given we now have specs and people have held them in their hands, but we don’t have pricing, release regions, or availability just yet.
  • And all of this as Samsung announced the launch date for the next major flagship phone, the Galaxy S11 (or perhaps called the Galaxy S20), for February 11, at 11am, in San Francisco — here’s the official invite.

S10 Lite, Note 10 Lite:

Hadlee Simmons had hands-on time with the new Lite series, here’s what’s up with specs and details:

  • Both offer 6.7-inch FHD+ OLED screens; the S10 Lite packs a Super AMOLED Plus display compared to the Galaxy Note 10 Lite’s standard Super AMOLED panel. They’re flat, not curved displays, which makes them a bit more standard.
  • Both pack 4,500 mAh batteries and feature a shiny plastic build.
  • So, what’s different between the two?
  • The S10 Lite offers 2019’s powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, while the Note 10 Lite packs 2018-era Exynos 9810 SoC. That leaves the Note 10 a little underpowered but it’ll still be adequate.
  • The S10 Lite has a 48MP primary sensor, 12MP ultra-wide snapper, and 5MP macro sensor (no telephoto camera here), and offers what Samsung is calling “Super Steady OIS” on the primary camera.
  • The Note 10 Lite still has three 12MP cameras on the rear, with a standard sensor, 2x telephoto snapper, and an ultra-wide lens.
  • The other major difference is the S10 Lite doesn’t have a headphone jack, while the Note 10 Lite has the Note-series standard S Pen, and headphone jack.
  • That seems to suggest the Note 10 Lite will be cheaper, but it’s hard to know at this stage.

Ultimately:

  • I don’t want to fall into the realm of saying these are confusing devices. They are unusual for Samsung but they’re not unwelcome.
  • And too often we try and put together a narrative for what a phone means, when the reality is for most consumers that Samsung’s devices don’t follow a story that they need to know: marketing and price points drive sales, not narrative (and only remarkable devices that manage to garner that almost impossible factor of word-of-mouth sales break out of this bind.)
  • Having said that, Samsung’s new Lite devices pack pretty high-end specs which seems to suggest they won’t offer massive affordability or value.
  • Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy A-series and M-series already exist in markets like India, and the presumably much more premium S11/S20 series are now just over a month away from launch.
  • So the Lite series has no price, no date to buy, no clear regions that can be counted in or out, just yet.
  • Those are the key details for this high-end-yet-mid-range series.
  • The best case: if these are well-priced, it looks like Samsung’s best attempt yet at focusing on camera, battery, and affordability. We’ll know more in the coming days.

2. Samsung’s 8K bezel-less panel is a sneak peek into the future of televisions (Android Authority).


3. Gary Explains: Could ultrasound replace switches and buttons on your phone? (Android Authority).


4. Staff Picks: 8 things Chris Thomas uses every day, including Galaxy S10 Plus, Victorinox chef’s knife, Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet ANC headphones, and a whole lot of coffee (Android Authority).


5. US announces AI software export restrictions, but how to limit the export of algorithms, and open-source software, is not straightforward (The Verge).


6. Illinois says you should know if AI is grading your online job interviews. Although it’s the first law of its kind, it’s weak (Vox).


7. How Japanese people are finding companionship from robots like Sony’s robot dog Aibo, which respond to emotions (BuzzFeed).


8. Would you give up Facebook for one month in exchange for $50? (Bloomberg).


9. Dan Wang’s 2019 review offers some good insights and detail on the fragility of Chinese technology companies in the short to medium term, and why Intel and Boeing have real power compared to Facebook/Google (danwang.co).


10. Streaming wars: Netflix wins just two Golden Globes, despite receiving 34 nominations; HBO Max grabbed four, Amazon Prime and Hulu two each (Engadget).


11. Finally, early CES 2020 good/fun/weird stuff:


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