Your tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Tuesday, January 21.
1. New Qualcomm mid-range, 4G-only chipsets
Qualcomm’s range of chipsets for 2020 devices has expanded today, a few weeks after the more attention-grabbing launch of the flagship Snapdragon 865 range, which included 5G capabilities.
But at the 4G end – which is, to be fair, exactly where most of us will be for 2020 – Qualcomm has overhauled its more budget options for powering mid-range devices.
- New chips include the Snapdragon 720G, 662, and 460.
- Each has performance upgrades over previous models, with Qualcomm suggesting some huge boosts especially at the low end, while improved imaging and connectivity are part of each release.
- Each will offer Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, Bluetooth 5.1, and interestingly for India, they support India’s own GPS-style efforts, working with the Indian Constellation (NavIC) satellite positioning system of 7 satellites.
- On that note, Qualcomm’s launch itself was in India, which tells you where Qualcomm thinks its market is for lower-cost devices.
- In terms of the chips themselves, in brief, the 720G looks like an underclocked 730G chipset, with much of the same specs but lower clock speeds, and includes Qualcomm’s ‘Snapdragon Elite Gaming suite’ set of features. More on the 730G here.
- The Snapdragon 662 looks like it will be a mainstay of the mid-range segment of the smartphone market by the end of 2020, with improved GPU and imaging processing for more complicated camera setups and higher megapixel counts on lower-end devices.
- The spec sheet suggests that this is a slightly-less capable version of last year’s Snapdragon 665, which performed well.
- The lowest-spec Snapdragon 460 looks like a surprise: Qualcomm notes a 70% performance improvement over the previous 450, and with A73 CPU cores it should offer solid performance even at the low-end.
- Loads more information here on Android Authority, especially if you’re into clock speeds and nanometer manufacturing detail. (Which you are, don’t lie!)
- Availability is the only catch.
- Qualcomm notes that Snapdragon 720G-based phones should be available starting this quarter, and Xiaomi quickly announced it will be one of the first to offer a 720G-phone in India and other markets.
- Curiously, phones with the entry-level Snapdragon 460 and 662 platforms won’t start shipping until the final quarter of 2020.
- Meanwhile, competition exists from the likes of MediaTek’s Helio G70 chipset.
- As for the lack of 5G? That will likely be a benefit to battery life in these handsets, as the 5G rollout continues slowly.
2. Here’s how Google Assistant wake-word sensitivity could work (Android Authority).
3. There’s an enormously creepy New York Times expose on a new facial recognition database run by Clearview AI and used by US police. It encompasses just about everyone who’s ever been online. Worth your time (NYT). Meanwhile: the EU is considering a ban of up to five years on facial recognition in public spaces (Politico).
4. Also, yesterday, Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, published a (fairly dry) editorial arguing for regulation of AI (FT, $): “Now there is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to. The only question is how to approach it.”
6. Tesla says faulty acceleration allegation is ‘completely false’ (The Verge).
7. “Living concrete” with cyanobacteria is an interesting first step, as long as you know it’s not really self-healing and can’t grow (Ars Technica).
9. Astronomers find an oddball asteroid entirely inside the orbit of Venus (Ars Technica).
10. “How much power leaks from a charger that is not connected to a device?” (r/askscience). (Not much!)
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