Your good tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Friday, March 27. 

1. P40 Pro: Probably not, but Pro power

The Huawei P40 series launched online yesterday, and Huawei’s latest had a few surprises, including real 10x optical zoom in its new third Pro Plus model. (Pro Plus. Yep.)

  • Huawei is persisting with wide availability through Asia and Europe despite the lack of Google services, notably the Google Play store just to get apps.
  • Huawei does offer its AppGallery as a replacement but it is not good, and even just downloading Facebook forces you to sideload the app from a link.
  • The best solution is to clone Google apps from a previous device, and Huawei is counting on more technical people capable of working around the limitations.

What’s new?

  • The series has grown to three, with the P40, P40 Pro, and P40 Pro Plus.
  • This is a hat-tip to the likes of Apple and Samsung, the latter which launched the S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra.
  • Aside from other improvements, there’s a 90Hz refresh rate screen, and it gets the new Kirin 990 processor that was also in the Huawei Mate 30
  • Huawei has a virtual/voice assistant: like the Google Assistant or Siri or Bixby, Celia handles things from voice commands. The closeness of Siri and Celia is coincidental, we’re sure.
  • Probably the biggest feature is in the camera.
  • The new camera systems are impressive in their promises, as they usually are in Huawei’s P series.
  • In the P40 Pro Plus there’s 10x optical zoom: not digital, or hybrid, but optical. Which is pretty nuts.
  • It’s done with a sequence of mirrors inside the camera bump to lengthen the focal distance, which provides zoom!
  • Our technical writer Rob Triggs said he was impressed in his Huawei P40 camera technology explained piece, noting that some tradeoffs must exist somewhere…

Details:

  • All the specs for the Huawei P40, P40 Pro, and P40 Pro Plus.
  • And pricing/availability: P40: 799 EUR/available on April 7, P40 Pro: 999 EUR, also April 7, P40 Pro Plus: 1399 EUR, June.
  • And here’s an early look: Huawei P40 Pro hands-on: The biggest smartphone camera sensor so far (Android Authority).
  • The question, really, isn’t about Huawei’s hardware which has been at the top or next-best for some years. It’s software.
  • The ways around Google’s lack of support for the device seem pretty hacky and painful still, and once again it’s the software experience that commands the quality, enjoyment, and utility of the smartphone above all other factors.
  • Managing to entice people away from an Android phone they understand is not easy outside of China.

2. Samsung reportedly disappointed with Galaxy S20 sales so far (Android Authority).


3. OnePlus to extend warranties, return periods due to coronavirus (Android Authority).


4. Sony Electronics Corporation is the new name for a new Sony holding that will merge its electronics, imaging, and mobile into one division. Explainer here, and there’s hope expressed this will stop Sony’s own divisions competing with each other, and do better for consumers (Medium).


5. The Apple Mac transition from Intel CPUs to Apple’s own designed ARM chips seems like it is happening. We’ve talked about this a few times, noting it’s been rumored for years, but now it seems more likely than ever, and faster than expected. From Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is set to release “several” ARM-based Macs in 2021, both laptops and desktops. If you want just one reason outside of Apple controlling its own destiny, it’s that processors will cost “40-60% less” (MacRumors).

Also, there’s some furor that the new iPad Pro 2020 Apple A12Z Bionic SoC, is actually just a renamed A12X with an enabled GPU core. This implies it’s a processor with a higher binning, which is common for the likes of Intel and AMD, but seems to be a first for Apple (notebookcheck.net).


6. Gaming stuff: ‘GTA Online’ gets competitive F1 racing today called Open Wheel Racing (Rockstar), best free games right now for Xbox, Stadia, PlayStation, PCs and Nintendo Switch (CNET). Nintendo had a surprise ‘Direct Mini’ yesterday, with a bunch of games and updates dropping and announcements (Engadget), Epic Games behind Fortnite and Unreal, is getting into videogame publishing with its new Epic Games Publishing label (Polygon). What matters: it will cover up to 100% of development costs for profit sharing, game creators retain 100% of IP and creative control. Public terms are rare in gaming, and this creates new competition.


7. Houseparty, Discord, Zoom, and Marco Polo downloads explode amid coronavirus pandemic (VentureBeat).


8. Most read on Wired all week: The Ibuprofen debate reveals the danger of COVID-19 rumors (Wired).


9. Do people become immune to COVID-19 after recovering from it? (r/askscience).


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