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First smartphone with under-display camera in weeks, and more tech news today

ZTE is first but will the innovative full-screen dream come to life? Plus more tech news you need to know today!

Published onAugust 17, 2020

OPPO under-screen camera (USC).

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Monday, 17 August 2020.

1. An under-display camera in a smartphone you can buy

Here’s something: ZTE’s Axon 20 5G smartphone will be the first in the world with an under-display camera, launching Sept 1. Finally, we get one in a consumer device!

And yet again it’s China:

  • China-made devices tend to be first to bring new tech features and innovations to market.
  • It’s not necessarily because they’re far ahead in R&D in the space. It’s because these brands appear more willing to take risks.
  • We’ve seen that with in-display fingerprint sensors, pop-up cameras, huge megapixel sensor cameras, 5G devices, and so on.
  • While Samsung and Apple wait until the tech is mature enough to appear on their flagships, other brands spin up new devices that sometimes don’t make it out of their home region.
  • And it’s likely the ZTE Axon 20 5G selfie camera will be bad! The first phones with in-display fingerprint sensors had cool factor but were slow. The first 5G devices were crazy expensive and burned through the battery fast. But still, it’s going to be very interesting to see if that is the future.
  • There’s no secret the reason many brands have looked at selfie cameras being hidden under the display is to give you 100% full-screen, no holes or notches.
  • But as we’ve talked about here before, those lovely displays packed with pixels don’t let a lot of light into the sensor.
  • In June, Chinese brand Visionox unveiled its solution, mixing improved transparency in the camera area of the screen, and an “industry-first drive circuit and pixel structure design” (according to machine translation) to minimize interference, plus algorithms to minimize diffraction, glare, and reduce the “fogging” effect that this camera placement holds.
  • There are still trade-offs to be expected, and second-gen usually crushes first-gen. But finally, we have it now.

Axon 20 5G details:

  • We know a little more about the rest of the Axon 20 5G details, but it’s fairly standard stuff compared to the hopes for this camera.
  • The device’s specs, spilled by TENAA, show a larger-sized 6.92-inch display, a triple rear camera array headlined by a 64MP snapper, and a 4,120mAh battery.
  • The selfie camera should be a 32MP sensor hidden away beneath the display.
  • Who knows how good or bad it’ll be, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
  • ZTE is first, how fast the rest follow will be fun to see.

2. AT&T 5G test drive: After a couple of weeks testing AT&T’s 5G, it’s not the next-gen network we were promised (Android Authority).

3. What would a Google version of Apple One look like? Yes, Google One does exist, but add in a YouTube tier or two, Stadia, Play Pass, and could this tempt you? (Android Authority).

4. Google Pixel 4a 5G: Everything we know so far — despite its name, it won’t just be a Pixel 4a with 5G support (Android Authority).

5. How the price of Google Pixel phones changed over the years (Android Authority).

6. Onyx Boox Nova 2 review: “I unabashedly love this Android E Ink tablet” (Gizmodo).

7. Mozilla and Google renew Firefox search agreement, which keeps Google as the default search engine in the Firefox browser (The Verge).

8. Drone maker DJI, with 14,000 employees, is having to cope with changing political pressures affecting its tight grip on the drone market (Reuters).

9. A college student used GPT-3 to write fake blog posts and ended up at the top of Hacker News. Sadly I missed it at the time to say if I’d have figured it out. Certainly readable, with some clumsy moments. (‘Wait, it’s all GPT-3? Always has been.’) (The Verge).

10. Ex-Amazon, Ex-Googler, and always spicy Steve Yegge has published his first new blog in years, this one on the baffling insistency of Google’s approach to deprecating its own features in Google Cloud. Yegge is one of the few bloggers that’s an instant-read even when talking about a platform I don’t use, and when it’s a 15-minute read (Medium).

11. In case you missed it: Trump gives TikTok a new deadline: 90 days instead of 45, meaning a November 12 deadline. US Election Day is November 3, by the way (The Verge).

12. NASA powers up Mars helicopter Ingenuity as it travels through space (CNET).

13. SpaceX Starlink speeds revealed as beta users get downloads of 11 to 60Mbps, as low as 31ms latency (Ars Technica).

14. Saliva-based COVID-19 test, partially validated through testing on NBA players, gains FDA emergency use authorization (Stat).

15. “Why is it so hard to find the word “Shampoo” or “Conditioner” on the bottles?” Not many answers here, but a lot of complaints! (r/nostupidquestions).

The DGiT Daily delivers a daily email that keeps you ahead of the curve for all tech news, opinions, and links to what’s going down in the planet’s most important field. You get all the context and insight you need, and all with a touch of fun. Plus! Rotating daily fun for each day of the week, like Wednesday Weirdness. Join in!

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