Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, July 22.
1. Nord too shabby, but the market is about to heat up
Finally, OnePlus Nord is everything we expected from the leaks and slightly frustrating long marketing cycle from OnePlus. (And let’s not speak of the AR phone launch, which required a dedicated app that kept crashing. The YouTube presentation worked, but without the AR effects.)
But all that aside, the key to the OnePlus Nord is how much you get for the price. And the price is looking pretty good:
- In Europe, it starts at €399/£379, with the higher-end model at €499/£469. As there’s no US release there’s no US pricing. Working it out is always tricky because US pricing doesn’t include taxes upfront (and the tax decreased temporarily in the Germany!) unlike in Europe. All that considered, so the equivalent US pricing is something like ~$370 and ~$470. In that range, not too far Nord or Sud, anyway.
- And for that, the OnePlus Nord ticks a bunch of high-end smartphone features while only cutting back in a few areas.
Here’s an overview:
- It’s a 6.44-inch AMOLED panel device, at Full HD resolution and a smooth 90Hz refresh rate. That panel is flat too, without the curves that you either love or hate on the likes of the OnePlus 8
- Under the hood there’s the Snapdragon 765G processor and X52 modem supplying 5G capabilities.
- A Sony IMX586 48MP powers the main camera, same as the OnePlus 8 has, plus an 8MP ultrawide lens, a 2MP macro camera, and a 5MP depth sensor. On the front, it has dual-cameras for more selfie options.
- It sports a 4,115mAh battery and 30W Warp Charge fast charging.
- There are two RAM and storage configurations for the Nord (at two price points). 8GB RAM and 128GB storage or 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.
- Ideally, I’d go for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage but I understand that fewer options here can reduce confusion and production costs.
- No headphone jack, no adapter in the box.
- The bottom line: the Nord has many of the features that flagship phones have been touting: high-quality, higher-refresh rate display, quality camera, 5G, decent battery at least in terms of numbers on the box, and fast charging.
So, what’s missing?
- There’s a processor compromise and there’s limited availability outside of Europe and India.
- On the internals, instead of the flagship Snapdragon 865 in the OnePlus 8, the Nord has the less powerful Snapdragon 765G on board.
- While that remains a decent SoC with early signs that performance hasn’t suffered at all, it’s a step down from the latest and greatest.
- It also matches competitors like the 6.8-inch LG Velvet ($599), 6.53-inch TCL 10 5G (€399), and like we expect the Google Pixel 4a 5G to have, as well.
- And, as mentioned, it’s not going to be widely available: there’s no availability in North America.
- OnePlus had managed to compete well in the US, but missing out wider markets in Asia, Australia, South America, Africa, and so on, for a mid-range phone, suggests hedging bets on if this will sell or not.
- In a contender for Weirdness Wednesday, the OnePlus isn’t slated for North American release. But some people will get it? OnePlus says: “Fifty North American users will have a chance to experience the OnePlus Nord through a limited beta program.”
- What’s missing for the US? The Nord doesn’t have bands B14, 30, 29, 48 (for AT&T), or bands B25, 71 for T-Mobile, meaning much more limited reception, and leaves out 4×4 MIMO which drops wireless speed and signal strength, useful for 4G in the US.
- On the plus side, though, in India the OnePlus Nord has some very aggressive pricing, close to 15-20% cheaper than the equivalent pricing in Europe.
- Nord reviews are next: we’ve only seen some initial hands on articles and videos with the Nord so full detailed reviews that can dig into how battery life holds up, performance and if there’s any noticeable slowdowns, display quality in all lighting conditions, software experience, and of course, the quality and versatility of the camera all come next. I can’t wait to see those.
OnePlus Buds, too:
- There’s also the debut of OnePlus Buds, the fairly cheap TWS from OnePlus, which are unusually more locked to its own phones than from competitors outside of Apple: only OnePlus smartphones may transfer firmware updates to the earbuds.
- These are more widely available, and have a classic white AirPods copy look, and a funkier blue.
- My colleague Lily Katz has a look at the OnePlus Buds in a detailed review and while the pricetag of $79/€89 catches the eye, there are better alternatives with the limits OnePlus has weirdly put down here. These only get a 6.6/10, but if you already own a OnePlus phone it’ll be a little more attractive
- A friend is hanging out to upgrade from her OnePlus 5T, and the new Nord and subsequent detail from reviews obviously going to be important.
- But there’s a host of phones coming out even in the next few weeks, from flagships to midrange, from Samsung and its expected next foldable device, new ROG and Lenovo gaming phones, the expected Pixel 4a, the most likely pound-for-pound, $-for-$ competitor, the LG Velvet is cheaper than expected, and there are deals on the likes of the S20 range as well, and the cheaper Samsung A51. And of course, the iPhone SE 2020.
- It’s an exciting time!
- More on Nord price and release date here.
2. Samsung quietly released the new Galazy Z Flip 5G, with a Snapdragon 865+ under the hood, more colors, and up in price a little for the 5G: $1,450, up from $1,380. Also in Samsung’s world: huge Galaxy Note 20 Ultra leak spills glorious images, flagship features (Android Authority).
3. LG Velvet is coming to the US this week with an aggressive price: $599 (Android Authority).
4. Gmail is about to start testing verification-like logos for email, in the coming weeks (Engadget).
5. Apple Glasses patent suggests any surface could become a virtual touch interface (MacRumors).
6. Here’s a bold prediction: iPhones to get periscope telephoto cameras in 2022, says key Apple supply chain guru (The Verge).
7. TikTok news: investors in parent Bytedance are looking at upping their stake to majority ownership to weaken Chinese ownership arguments (The Next Web). It’s also hosing down complaints with jobs: TikTok says it’ll be hiring 10,000 staff in the US in the coming years (Axios). It has now been banned from US Federal devices (Android Authority).
8. Walmart will close stores on Thanksgiving, end Black Friday tradition (Business Insider)
9. San Diego Comic-Con goes virtual today for the first time, 350 panels free (CNET).
10. Xbox’s Summer Game Fest event has 70 demos of new games you can try now (The Verge).
11. The last Qantas 747 flight is taking place today (Twitter). As it flew out of Sydney to the Mojave desert, it followed a route that drew a Kangaroo in the sky. Just zoom out to east of Australia to spot it, or watch this gif (Flightradar24).
12. Also in goodbyes to early giants, the first luxury cruise megaship, the Sovereign of the Seas, built in 1988, has arrived in Turkey where it will be scrapped. Mega cruise ships easily outclass this giant now, but she was the first! (maritime-executive.com).
13. “What life changing item can you buy for less than $100?”(r/askreddit). This post is ridiculously popular right now, with more than 40,000 comments so combing it will take time. A few popped up that I heartily endorse: motion sensor night lights, good kitchen knife or two, carbon monoxide detector, and a good shower head. Mind you, my knives are a little blunt at the moment.
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