When it came to note-taking apps on mobile, Evernote was one of the earlier entrants. They helped popularize the idea behind the ability to sync your notes and also collaborate with other people on the same note in real-time, but this does not necessarily mean that the app is for everyone.
Some of you might have different needs and maybe you’re seeking an alternative to Evernote. If you are, you’ve come to the right place because here are some worthy Evernote alternatives that you can check out for Android and iOS.
Notion might not necessarily be an app that you have heard of, but it doesn’t detract from the app’s value and potential. In addition to being a decent note-taking app, Notion pulls double and triple duty by being an app that can help manage your workflow through Kanban-styled boards, timeline views, and more.
OneNote is an app developed by Microsoft that’s designed to be a note-taking app. It is a pretty straightforward app and comes with some features that Evernote users might actually be familiar with, but that’s a good thing. It can also sync over Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service, so if you have an account, it can back it up to the cloud quickly and easily and you’ll be able to access it from other devices like a computer.
If you don’t need a full-fledged word processor like Google Docs and want something small and simple to jot down your notes, it would be remiss of us if we did not include Google Keep on this list. Given that this is a Google product, it quite easily integrates across Google’s other services, so if you’re tied into the Google ecosystem, this is a no-brainer.
Dropbox made a name for themselves as being a cloud storage service, but the company has been slowly expanding on its offerings and Paper is one of them. If you’re someone who uses Dropbox quite a bit, then using Paper would make a lot of sense as not only does it allow users to take down notes, but they can also sync it and collaborate with other users.
Simplenote, as the name implies, is a very simple and straightforward note-taking application. If you’re just looking for something that takes down notes well and can sync across a multitude of platforms (it’s also available on Linux), then Simplenote is a great alternative to Evernote.
These days as we work from home, being able to collaborate digitally and virtually is slowly becoming a necessity, and Notejoy excels in that regard. Users can quickly make changes to their notes and documents that can then be synced with other users in the team. There is also the ability to include reactions, threaded discussions, note views, and more.
If you’re looking to take your note-taking and productivity to the next level, there’s a good chance that you might have heard of the Todoist app. This is not only a note-taking app, but a planner, project manager, and reminder app all in one. You can use it to track your goals for your current projects, collaborate with other users, and it also integrates with other apps and services like Gmail, Slack, and more.
Motorola has announced which of its phones will receive an update to Android 11, along with some of the new features to expect. The list of phones is long; if you purchased a Motorola device in the past 12 months or so, chances are you’re covered.
Here’s the full list:
motorola razr 5G
motorola razr 2019
motorola one 5G
motorola one action¹
motorola one fusion
motorola one fusion+
motorola one hyper
motorola one vision
moto g 5G
moto g 5G plus
moto g fast
moto g power
moto g pro
moto g stylus
moto g9 play
moto g9 plus
moto g9 power
moto g8 power
Lenovo K12 Note
According to Motorola, Moto users should expect features like Chat Bubbles, streamlined device and media controls, and improved privacy settings. We also confirmed earlier this month that as part of Motorola’s Android 11 update, some of its phones will support a new Desktop Mode.
It’s unclear which Motorola devices will support the new mode, but we got a brief glimpse at it possibly running on the Moto G 5G Plus. Either that or it was the company’s upcoming Snapdragon 865-powered “nio” handset.
The plan right now is for Motorola to roll out Android 11 “in the coming months.” Unfortunately, we have no exact dates, and Motorola warned that its current plans could change. “This information communicated is not a commitment or an obligation to deliver any product, product feature, software update or functionality and Motorola Mobility reserves the right to change the content and timing of any product, product feature or software release,” Motorola wrote in a blog post.
Motorola said that the rollout of Android 11 is also influenced by partner support. Hopefully, we’ll see Motorola release Android 11 sooner rather than later. There’s a long list of devices expected to get the update, and we’re hoping Motorola can hit every one on the list.
Motorola released a list devices it plans to update to Android 11.
All of the phones on the list came out in either 2019 or 2020.
After all the disappointment 2020 brought with it, you might have hoped a company like Motorola would have tried to end the year on a high note. But that’s not to be the case. The company shared its Android 11 upgrade plans, and they’re no better than anything Motorola has put together over the past couple of years.
As you can see from the list below, if you own a Motorola phone that came out before 2019, don’t expect the company to push the latest version of Google’s operating system to your device. What’s more, even if you own a Moto phone from 2019 or 2020, you may end up waiting a while to get anything. Motorola says it will begin rolling out Android 11 “starting in the coming months, pending partner support.” In other words, expect a potentially long wait, particularly if you don’t own one of the higher-end devices on the list like the Razr 5G or Edge.
If you happen to own a Motorola One Action you bought in North America, you’re also out of luck. Motorola only plans to update the Latin American and European variants of that phone to Android 11 since it’s included in Google’s Android One program in those places. Even by Motorola’s lacklustre support standards, this is not a great showing for the company.
Thankfully, update lists like the one above may become less common in the future. Google and Qualcomm recently announced a partnership to deliver four years of support to future Snapdragon-equipped devices. That pledge is likely to help low-end and mid-range devices the most.
Only four months after officially announcing the One UI 3.0 update, Samsung already brought its custom Android 11 implementation to quite a few of its Galaxy devices. At least compared to the pace of its Android 10-based One UI 2.x deployment efforts which have been ongoing until this very month. And assuming we’re counting Android 11 beta builds, which we are.
As Samsung is expected to begin ramping up the development and release of various One UI 3.0 iterations, this is a fine time for us to start keeping detailed tabs on that endeavor. This would primarily constitute tracking the exact lineups and models that have already been updated, as well as the order in which that happened.
We will be updating this list on a regular basis, so feel free to bookmark it if you’re eager to embrace Samsung’s latest mobile OS ASAP. Our definition of that term is about to change soon, anyway, seeing how the One UI 3.1 update is right around the corner.
One UI 3.0 stable update release schedule for Galaxy devices in Egypt
Galaxy S20 Ultra
Galaxy Note 10
Galaxy Note 10+
Galaxy Note 20
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Galaxy S10 Lite
Galaxy Z Fold 2
Galaxy Z Flip
Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Galaxy Tab S7
Galaxy Tab S6
Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
Galaxy A01 Core
Galaxy Tab A
Galaxy Tab S5e
Galaxy Tab A 10.1
Galaxy Tab Active Pro
This might not be the full list of devices, though, and we see that the Galaxy A50s, Galaxy S10e, and a few other phones are missing from the list. We will update the article when we find more information about the release schedule.
Galaxy devices that have received Android 11/One UI 3.x update
Galaxy S10 series (still in beta)
Galaxy Z Fold 2 (still in beta)
Galaxy S20 series
Galaxy Note 20 series
Galaxy Note 10 series (still in beta)
Android 11 is the eleventh major iteration of Google’s mobile operating system. The first developer preview was released in February 2020 with the public beta being scheduled for an announcement at Google I/O 2020 which was supposed to take place on June 3. However, the COVID19 pandemic forced Google to cancel the event and just release the beta online.
Many of our readers will now be curious to learn more about Android 11 for Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets. It will take some time before Samsung officially confirms which of its devices will get Android 11. However, we can make an educated guess on the devices that will be updated to the latest iteration of Android.
Samsung will most definitely release Android 11 for its devices with a new version of its One UI custom skin. Since One UI 2.5 will be released with Android 10, there’s a good chance that Samsung will release One UI 3.0 with Android 11.
Best Android 11 features
Google is focusing on enabling users to better take advantage of the latest innovations with Android 11 while also emphasizing privacy and security. There will also be enhancements for 5G, support for new screen types that utilize pinhole and waterfall design elements, machine learning enhancements and more.
New permission options are among the best Android 11 features. Users will be able to grant apps temporary access to sensitive data like microphone and camera with a one-time permission. The app will not be able to access that data once the user moves away from it.
Android 11 is going to simplify conversations with a dedicated conversations section in the notification shade. Bubbles will be used to keep conversations in view while multi-tasking on the phone. If an app supports image copy/paste, it will also be possible to insert images directly into notification inline replies.
A rather useful enhancement is that Airplane mode will no longer disable Bluetooth. This means that people who enable Airplane mode don’t have to open the notification shade again and reconnect their Bluetooth devices.
It’s not exactly easy to see previously dismissed notifications on an Android device. Google is set to change that with Android 11 which will have a Notification History option.
Android 11 on Samsung devices
These are some of the general Android 11 features and enhancements. Many of the user interface changes that Google has introduced to the core OS won’t be available on Samsung phones since the company applies its own custom skin.
There’s no information available right now about the new features and improvements that Samsung will bring with One UI 3.0. Some features that are new to Android 11 like a context-aware Dark mode and a native screen recorder are already present in existing One UI versions.
Android 11 beta for Samsung
Samsung devices don’t get developer preview builds of Google’s mobile operating system. However, the company itself launches a beta program so that it can get the latest Android version and the One UI version that will accompany it out in the hands of testers.
However, it will take some time before such a program is launched. For context, Samsung launched the Android 10 and One UI 2.0 beta in October last year, about a month after Google had released the stable Android 10 firmware for its Pixel smartphones. The Android 11 beta for Samsung can be expected to follow a similar timeframe.
Only Samsung’s latest devices are eligible to take part in the beta. So it will most definitely be open to the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 lineups. Samsung also opened up the beta to the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9 last year so it may do the same for the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 this time around.
Which Samsung devices will get Android 11
Samsung releases dozens of smartphones every year for every price segment of the market. Providing software support for all of these phones is no simple task. The company does guarantee two major OS upgrades for all of its smartphones. This means that any Samsung phone that shipped with Android 9.0 and Android 10 will be eligible for Android 11.
The company continues to release security updates for devices even when they have received their two major OS updates. It splits them between the quarterly and monthly release schedules. Samsung also releases security updates for devices older than three years as and when required. It will continue to do so after Android 11 arrives as well.
Check back for more on the Android 11 update for Samsung devices
We still have a few months until the Android 11 update is released for Samsung’s smartphones and tablets. Do keep checking back in with us to learn more about how the Android 11 update landscape for Samsung’s devices is evolving. We’ll continue to provide coverage on this topic and update you as and when there are new developments.
Samsung Galaxy devices eligible for Android 11 update
The devices listed below are currently expected to get Android 11. The list is based on Samsung’s policy of providing two major Android upgrades to all of its devices and three major upgrades for flagship and select mid-range devices, which means your device will probably get Android 11 if it came with Android 9 Pie or Android 10 out of the box.
The confirmation comes from Samsung’s biggest mobile experience store in India, courtesy of an inquiry from Android Authority and a separate reaffirmation from Sammobile. The Opera House store in Bengaluru has said that it will start sales of the devices from January 29th, as stock won’t reach India until the week after the launch. It also says it has begun taking preorders with an ₹2000 ($27) deposit, in return for which it will keep customers updated on availability via WhatsApp. Those leaving a deposit will not need to decide which variant they want until the official announcement. After all, technically, these devices “don’t exist” yet.
The store also confirmed that Indian devices will be powered by the still-unannounced Exynos 2100 chipset, rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 believed to be under the hood in some other markets. They also confirmed the colors seen in teaser videos – gray, pink, purple, and white for the Galaxy S21, pink, purple, silver, and black for the Galaxy S21 Plus, and silver or black for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Yesterday, we got our first look at what’s believed to be the camera array for the range, suggesting a main sensor at 12MP, along with a 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 64MP telephoto lens. The Ultra has a quad-array with 108MP main shooter, 12MP Ultra Wide lens and not one, but two telephoto lens, one of which offers up to 10x optical zoom, the other 3x zoom. One thing that hasn’t been confirmed or denied is the rumor that Samsung won’t be bundling a charger with this year’s flagships, at least in some countries. That’s a surprise yet to come.
In an unexpected turn of events, a regional branch of Samsung revealed the launch date for the Galaxy S21 series before any announcement from its global offices. More specifically, Samsung India confirmed the company’s next-gen flagship series will be debuting on January 14th. It did so in quite a casual statement issued to Android Authority earlier today.
We followed up with Samsung’s local offices and had a company official confirm the development. Not only that, but they actually said Samsung Experience Stores in India are already accepting Galaxy S21 pre-orders in exchange for a token advance fee of Rs. 2,000 (just over $27).
Is Samsung India jumping the gun with these Galaxy S21 pre-bookings?
If that sounds a bit premature, that’s probably because it is. Because it seems these early pre-bookings are completely blind, i.e. they are not accompanied by any concrete pricing or availability details. Yet with Samsung now confirming our October scoop by announcing a definitive Galaxy S21 launch date that falls in the first half of January, those who pre-book them today might already have their new Android flagships by the end of the same month.
Anyone who pays the aforementioned fee will be able to choose from any of the available models once the actual pre-orders open on January 14th before everyone else. Finally, Samsung India also revealed the color options for the entire flagship series, stating that the Galaxy S21 will be available in white, gray, pink, and purple, whereas the Galaxy S21+ will also be offered in purple and pink, in addition to black and silver. Those last two hues will be the only options presented to prospective Galaxy S21 Ultra buyers.
New privacy and security features give users more control to browse freely with true peace of mind
Samsung Electronics today announced a new update to Samsung Internet, its fast, easy and reliable web browser. Samsung Internet 13.0 introduces a series of new features and enhancements designed to offer users a better and safer browsing experience.
“At Samsung, we’re always optimizing our products and services to offer the best experience to our users,” said Du Kim, VP and Head of Web R&D Group, Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “Our lives are increasingly lived online, as people try to stay informed and connected, so we wanted to make it easier for everyone to enjoy the best the internet has to offer with peace of mind, knowing you can count on us to keep you safe.”
Protecting You From Prying Eyes
These days, it’s hard to know which website you can trust. Samsung Internet 13.0 offers a new permission request UI that will display a warning message if a website seems malicious and is attempting to trick users into allowing notifications. And since we know how much privacy means to our users, Secret mode allows them to automatically clear their browsing history as soon as all their Secret mode tabs are closed. A new Secret mode icon will also be displayed on the address bar as part of the Samsung Internet 13.0 update, so that it’s easier to know when it’s switched on. For more information about Secret mode, check out the new About Secret mode section.
Permission Request UI – Before (left) and Samsung Internet 13.0 (right)
A Better User Experience
We introduced a series of new features and enhancements to make Samsung Internet even more user-friendly:
You can now use High contrast mode with Dark mode on, to make fonts and other components stand out even more.
Samsung Internet 13.0 also introduces an Expandable App Bar for menus such as Bookmarks, Saved pages, History and Downloads.
Get more screen space by hiding the status bar, to immerse yourself in the content you’re browsing.
When watching a video in full screen with Video assistant, pause it by double tapping the middle of the screen.
Easily edit the title of your bookmarks so that they’re easier to recognize and search.
High contrast mode
Extension API for Developers
New Application Programming Interface (API) modules are now available for Samsung Internet 13.0, including WebRequest, Proxy, Cookies, Types, History, Alarms, Privacy, Notifications, Permissions, Idle and Management. Developers can use these APIs to build extensions and contact the Samsung Internet team to validate, approve and add their extension to the Samsung Internet browser. For more details, please visit https://developer.samsung.com/internet/android/extensions-dev-overview.html
If you’re an existing Samsung Internet user, you will receive a notification telling you a new version is available. You can also download the latest version of Samsung Internet browser on the Google Play Store or Galaxy Store.
Google‘s Pixel 4a is finally here and although it has arrived a few months behind its rumored schedule, many are eager to buy one during these trying times. How much has been done to improve the Google-fied budget Pixel 3a from last year? Well, last year’s formula was quite successful that Google didn’t need to change it up too much. In fact, it lowered the price and doubled the storage.
The 4a gets a modest performance boost with a Snapdragon 730G chipset, 2 additional GB of RAM, and updated UFS 2.1 storage speeds (The Pixel 3a used eMMC 5.1). A slight boost in battery capacity is seen as well, and the display size was stretched out to cover more surface area, and there’s a punch hole selfie camera cut-out of the screen as well.
The backside and frame are both made of plastic, but the display glass is now made of Gorilla Glass 3. In addition, the camera, while otherwise identical in hardware, gets a slightly brighter f/1.7 aperture lens (the 3a had f/1.8). We are expecting to see camera performance comparable to what we saw on the Pixel 3a last year, which was wonderful to say the least.
Google Pixel 4a specs:
Body: 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm; 143g; Plastic body and frame
Despite the taller screen, Google managed to shrink the footprint of the 4a (compared to the 3a) in both height and width. This is the first Google Pixel phone to feature a punch hole cut out for the selfie camera.
With the Pixel 4a, Google is solidifying its foothold in the midrange category. The higher-end Pixels that came before it excelled in camera technology, but these days the competition swerves around Google’s offerings. With the Pixel 3a, Google has proven it can make cheap hardware deliver a premium-feeling experience.
Let’s dig further into the Pixel 4a starting with the unboxing.
Unboxing the Google Pixel 4a
The Pixel 4a comes with the bare necessities inside. The box is printed with a matte finish on the outside. Google‘s branding and an image of the Just Black Pixel 4a appear on the packaging.
Inside the box is the Pixel 4a itself, a quick start guide and safety information card, SIM eject tool, a USB-C to C cable, and a USB-C Power Delivery charge adapter. There’s also a USB-C to A adapter, useful for transferring data from an iPhone or other Android device. This adapter doubles as an OTG input so you can mount a USB drive into the Pixel 4a.
The Pixel 4a doesn’t come with any earbuds, case, or screen protector.
Design and build quality
The Pixel 4a is built with a plastic frame and back panel while the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Like the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, the Pixel 4a no longer has the “window” on the back, so it is completely matte on the back, save for the camera bump. It’s interesting to see this fingerprint scanner, which is also matte on the back, we can’t help but think it might have been more aesthetically pleasing to make it shiny to contrast the rest of the back.
The camera setup is square like its more expensive siblings, but it only houses a single 12.2MP camera, and a dual-LED flash. We like that the styling matches with the Pixel 4. The camera housing does protrude, but not enough to make rocking back and forth on the table a serious issue.
The rear cover and the frame are a single piece, so holding the Pixel 4a feels really nice and smooth with no breaks or seams. At 144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm, the Pixel 4a is slightly shorter and narrower than the Pixel 3a, despite having a screen that takes up more space. It’s even slightly lighter at 143g and its weight is well distributed.
It’s a well built phone, but we wonder if it has any structural weak points. It doesn’t creak or buckle under light pressure, so that’s worth something. Remember that the Pixel 4a is not rated for water or splash resistance, and we would not bet that it’s even sealed well for such an event.
Google has omitted Active edge from all Pixels starting with the 4a. Perhaps it realized that the pressure sensors placed in the frame take up more space than is worth the squeezy feature. You can do the same thing by swiping up from a corner, but it won’t be the same.
The front of this Pixel finally looks like it belongs in the present day. The Pixel 3 had large bezels (and the Pixel 3 XL had the bathtub notch), and the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL had the honkin’ upper bezel for the underwhelming Motion Sense hardware. The bezels on the Pixel 4a are the smallest we’ve seen on a Pixel phone thus far and the display fills the space nicely.
There’s a 5.81-inch OLED screen with a punch hole cut out for the 8MP selfie camera. This cutout does have a border that isolates it from the display. The front-facing speaker is now a slit that sits above the display, so we wonder if it will affect the stereo loudspeaker performance.
There’s a headphone jack at the top, which you don’t see on the higher-end phones anymore.
At the bottom is a USB-C port, and two symmetrical ports – the right one is a loudspeaker, and the other is a microphone.
The SIM tray is on the lower left side of the phone, and it only takes a single nanoSIM card. There’s no expandable storage here, but dualSIM is possible via eSIM.
The power key is accented with a slightly mint-colored white. The buttons themselves are very clicky and tactile, though not too sensitive.
The phone feels great in-hand. From its curvy matte back cover to the compact size, this is going to be a wonderful phone to hold and use. Finger gymnastics are still kind of needed to reach the top of the status bar, but the Pixel launcher already lets you swipe from anywhere on the home screen to reach the notification shade.
Android 10, soon to be 11
It’s interesting that Google released the Pixel 4a this close to the release of Android 11. We’re expecting it next month along with the new Pixels, so we’ll skim over Android 10’s most prominent features.
Upon setup, you’ll be offered the chance to transfer data from another Android device, iOS device, or restore from a Google Drive backup. You do have the option to transfer via a USB cable (via the adapter included in box), iCloud download, or Google Drive backup, but this won’t be as thorough as the other two methods.
Keep in mind if you skip the initial setup, you won’t be able to transfer from another device unless you reset the Pixel, so skip wisely.
Next, the setup prompted us to set up a screen lock and register a fingerprint. This process is quick, simple, and the fingerprint scanner unlocks the 4a in a pinch, and every time.
In case you haven’t opted for Android 10’s gesture navigation by now, you’re offered a quick tutorial on how to use it. You can always switch the setting if you prefer the classic navigation bar.
The home screens are clean and uncluttered. A weather and date widget are at the top, with a dock, Google Search bar and Google Assistant shortcut at the bottom. The app drawer pops up with a swipe upwards. A swipe to the right opens your Google feed. As before, there are plenty of pre-loaded and downloadable wallpapers for the Pixel launcher.
You can change the look of the UI’s icon and quick toggle shapes, fonts, and accent color.
All Android 10 phones have universal live captioning that is accessed from the volume menu. Be advised that this feature will consume more battery when it’s enabled. Since its launch, English is the only supported language.
Dark Theme is easy on the eyes if you primarily use your phone at night. It can also be set to switch between light and dark with your local sunrise and sunset.
Google‘s Personal Safety app combines an emergency contact page, a page with your health information, a Safety Check feature, and an automatic car-crash detection feature.
Always-on display is available in the Display settings. The 4a doesn’t have the Motion Sense hardware that the Pixel 4 has that woke up the phone with a wave, but it does have “Tap to check” and “Lift to check” options to make checking the time or notifications easy. Ambient Display will also briefly show notification as they arrive.
With every passing year, Google‘s software is more solid, polished, and keeps getting deeper integration with Google Assistant. Android 11 is coming next month, so we’re expecting a slew of new features to come. The Pixel 4a is expected to be among the first in the queue to receive the update.
The Pixel 4a doesn’t stutter, slow down, or take a second to really think about what it needs to do. It handles multitasking like a champ thanks to those 6GB of RAM.
The Pixel 4a is currently on pre-order with a price tag of around 350 bucks – regardless whether that means dollars, pounds or euros where you reside.
The market has never been so full of great midrange propositions. The Google Pixel 4a enters a heated arena where all smartphones are already offering great performance and smooth user experience. It’s a compact phone so we’d admit that if that’s a particular feature you are after, you’d be hard-pressed to find equally matched counterparts as the industry has generally moved past the 6-inch mark.
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is one compact option to consider but we won’t actively recommend it at this stage because it’s already 1yr and a half old which means it’s unlikely to get major software updates going forward. It’s also considerably more expensive off-contract than the Pixel 4a.
The Samsung Galaxy A41 is a more recent midrange smartphone. It has not launched in the US yet but it’s enjoying a warm reception everywhere else and we were quite happy with it when we reviewed it. It’s got a 6-inch AMOLED screen and a larger battery than the Pixel 4a. Its great battery life is thanks to the chipset which is more tuned for power efficiency rather than performance. As a result, performance is one area where the Pixel 4a has the upper hand. The camera performance of the A41 is good but not outstanding too, which puts a second mark on the Pixel 4a checklist. However, the A41 is priced some 100 euros less than the Pixel 4a, so if camera performance is not super important, the A41 sounds like the better deal.
The iPhone SE 2020 has the camera performance to match the Pixel 4a as well as the fast-track OS updates and it’s got a much more premium build with water resistance. It’s got awesome performance thanks to Apple’s latest CPU but battery life is uninspiring and it also has a much smaller screen. Coupled with the higher price tag, it’s the phone you get if you want the cheapest or most compact iPhone possible (or both). The purchasing decision will likely not be down to specs but rather to the preferred OS ecosystem.
If the compact size is not a must-have, there are a few other alternatives hovering around the 6.5-inch mark. Due to their increased size, they’ve all got better battery life than the Pixel 4a aside from increased screen real estate.
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G offers an amazing value package as well with a great AMOLED screen, and superb battery life while costing around 300 euros. It even throws in 5G connectivity in the mix but camera performance is not as good.
For around 350 euros, the OnePlus Nord is another 5G capable phone that is better than the Pixel 4a. And when we say 5G we mean this comes with a better grade chipset overall even if you don’t have access to a 5G network.
With many other midrange devices in the same price range, the Google Pixel 4a offers a fully rounded Pixel experience in a compact size and at a budget-friendly price point.
As midrange smartphones are now coming with triple and even quad-cameras, the Pixel 4a‘s Astrophotography feature, dead-simple camera UI, and distinct style of photography that it produces makes it competitive enough to stand out in its class.
The screen is plenty bright and nicely sharp. The phone’s compact size is comfortable and easy to handle – a nice break from all the budget smartphones that come in the mid and upper 6-inch range.
Software is as expected. Android 10 runs smoothly and quickly, though we are kind of puzzled that Google would release a Pixel so soon before it officially releases Android 11. It’s generally known that Google severely delayed the launch of this phone because of the ongoing pandemic.
This feels more like a refresh of the widely successful Pixel 3a, which is fine too. We have a feeling that Google is saving all the jaw-dropping changes for the upcoming Pixel 5.
If you’re coming from the Pixel 3a or the 3a XL, there isn’t any incentive to upgrade to the 4a. The phones are identical on paper and aside from the 4a’s design, added RAM and storage, and marginally better CPU, there isn’t really anything surprising about the Pixel 4a.
Comfortable, compact size
Plenty of RAM and storage
Smooth, snappy software
Still images nearly indistinguishable from Pixel 4XL, astrophotography
Not much of an upgrade over Pixel 3a and Pixel 5 launch is imminent
Samsung has released Android 11-based One UI 3.0 beta for the Galaxy S20, Note20 and Z Flip lineups already, and today the Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+ and Galaxy S10e join them as the company opened the One UI 3.0 beta program for its 2019 flagships.
Samsung had confirmed the One UI 3.0 beta for the S10 lineup a couple of weeks ago, but it was delayed due to battery drain concerns. But now that Samsung has opened the beta program for the S10 trio, you can get a taste of Samsung’s latest custom Android skin by participating in the beta program from the Samsung Members app.
So Android 11 is still officially missing from Samsung Galaxy devices, but the Android 11-based One UI 3.0 beta has offered a preview phase ahead of a global rollout.
Before you enroll in the beta program, make sure you’ve backed up your device, and remember that beta software is not as stable as the final builds and often has bugs that hamper the user experience.
The One UI 3.0 beta program for the S10 trio is currently live in the UK, India and South Korea, but should expand to other countries soon.
It looks like the stable One UI 3.0 could be here within weeks as firstly the One UI 3.0 beta for Galaxy Note 20 series devices has now officially ended in Samsung’s homeland of South Korea. This is a good sign, as the beta ending signifies that testing is complete. The next likely rollout for Galaxy Note 20 devices will be the stable One UI 3.0 update.
Samsung kicked off the One UI 3.0 public beta program for the Galaxy S20 series early last month. A few weeks after the update started rolling out to Galaxy S20 users, the company expanded the beta program to include Galaxy Note 20 series devices. Then, earlier this month, Samsung announced that it would be expanding the One UI 3.0 beta program to more devices, including the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Galaxy Z Flip 5G, the Galaxy S10 series, and the Galaxy Note 10 series. As promised, the company has now opened the One UI 3.0 beta program for the Galaxy S10 series in South Korea, India, and the UK.
Samsung had first unveiled its lifelike artificial humans called NEON earlier this year during CES 2020. Since then, the company has showcased several use cases, including in the banking, news, and retail sectors. Now, the company is hinting that we might get to see NEON on smartphones really soon.
Pranav Mistry, the CEO and President of STAR Labs, has mentioned on Twitter that he is currently using NEON on his smartphone. He also said that the company is testing its artificial humans on smartphones right now, and others can see it before Christmas. So, Samsung may showcase NEON on Galaxy smartphones sometime in December 2020.
There is no clear indication from Samsung if NEONs would one day come pre-installed on Galaxy devices and if they would be available on devices from other brands. NEONs are powered by STAR Labs’ Core R3 and SPECTRA technologies. SPECTRA offers emotions, intelligence, learning, and memory to Core R3, which Samsung claims can pass the Turing test once it is ready.
NEONs feature AI-generated virtual avatars that are indistinguishable from human beings, and each one of them has his/her own unique personality. Samsung’s website mentions that the artificial humans can be customized as per the client’s requirement. They can be used as a service representative, financial advisor, concierge, healthcare provider, or just as a virtual friend.
Disappointingly, what has been confirmed via The Verge and through the official teaser images is that the scenarios shown at CES and in promotional content ‘are fictionalized and simulated for illustrative purposes only.’ This likely means that the recently leaked NEON video doesn’t give us much of an insight into what STAR Labs’ ‘artificial human’ is all about or how these avatars will look like. The people shown in that video (and the images below) were actual actors and weren’t computer-generated images or the real ‘NEONs’ as the company calls its virtual avatars.
Samsung NEON will bring lifelike ‘artificial humans’ to your digital screens
It seems Samsung has found a way to bring lifelike ‘artificial humans’ to the masses. The company has been teasing a new product called NEON in recent weeks, and a leaked video showcasing what NEON can do suggests that we could soon be talking to a digital human who looks, talks, and even thinks like a real person.
NEON seems to use motion capture technology to capture an actor’s likeness and voice and then lets AI use that data to let the digital avatars “autonomously create new expressions, new movements, new dialog (even in Hindi), completely different from the original captured data”, according to Pranav Mistry, who is leading the project. Digital humans are not new – they have been seen in movies and video games for decades, but Samsung is suggesting that NEON can take things a step further and enable these digital humans to have unscripted interactions.
NEONs can’t be exact copies of an existing human being. They can share some similarities with humans but a NEON will never be an exact replica. The company claims that ‘each NEON is a unique, individual artificial human, with his/her own unique personality, just like us.’
NEON is a hype vector for now
Checking the official NEON webpage might get you all hyped for the future, but that seems to be by design. However, you don’t need an overly-critical eye to realize that there’s barely any concrete information there. The webpage is filled with buzz phrases such as ‘Inspired by the rhythmic complexities of nature‘ or ‘Virtually, Real. 100% visually real, like you and me. Existing among us from all walks of life.’
The most ambitious statement of all might be that the so-called NEONs are indistinguishable from real humans. ‘Introducing lifelike reality that is beyond our normal perception to distinguish.’ In other words, NEONs can easily pass the Turing test, according to STAR Labs, and that is quite a bold statement to make for a product that, so far, has only been ‘fictionalized and simulated for illustrative purposes only.’
But who knows?! Maybe this really is the beginning of a new era and we will be truly impressed once NEON will be ready for the masses. It’s just that, for now, STAR Labs hasn’t given us enough information to sell us on this rather confusing non-assistant AI concept. For the time being, it looks like NEON is a vision of a future enhanced by AI and powered mostly by hype.
A look at what the NEON artificial human could become
NEONs are supposed to show emotions and intelligence, with each avatar being customizable for different tasks. In STAR Labs’ vision ‘In the near future, one will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON as a service representative, a financial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge. Over time, NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors; or they can simply be companions and friends.’
Idealistically, NEONs are life-like computer-generated AI avatars indistinguishable from human beings. Exactly how they would reach the consumer market is unclear. We don’t know if they will be streamed to your smart devices from the cloud or if they would require prospective customers to purchase special local hardware.
They are, however, powered by STAR Labs’ Core R3 and SPECTRA technologies which remain somewhat of a mystery. But in short, Core R3 is a proprietary technology that can computationally create lifelike reality, while SPECTRA is an upcoming tech that will lend Intelligence, Learning, Emotions, and Memory to Core R3, according to the company. So, SPECTRA – the brain of the AI if you will – is not yet ready, but the company was confident enough to claim that it (together with Core R3) can pass the Turing test.
NEON beta is planned for release by the end of 2020
STAR Labs claims that NEON is ‘fundamentally different from deepfake or other facial reanimation techniques.’ What NEON isn’t, according to STAR Labs, is an AI assistant. It’s not an interface to the internet, not a music player. It’s ‘simply, a friend‘ and it can ‘speak it all, from Spanish to Hindi, from Japanese to English.’ NEON artificial humans are ‘more like us, an independent but virtual living being.’ Just how independent a NEON can be? We don’t know, but we might find out later this year.
It sounds like the technology is not yet ready for deployment and we don’t have a concrete launch date for the time being, but STAR Labs plans to release a beta version of NEON through select partners by the end of 2020.
The purpose of the new functionality is to allow Google users to edit Microsoft Office files in a familiar interface (AP)
Following the web last year and Android in September, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for iOS can now edit Office files.
This capability is pitched as bringing the “collaborative and assistive features of Google Workspace to your Microsoft Office files” in a familiar interface. For example, an organization might still receive Word documents from clients and other sources, but otherwise use Google’s productivity tools for all internal work. In coming to mobile, users don’t need to download another app. Three key aspects are touted :
Allows you to edit, comment, and collaborate on Microsoft Office files using Google Docs’, Sheets’, and Slides’ powerful real-time collaboration tools.
Improves sharing options, improves sharing controls, and reduces the need to download and email file attachments.
Streamlines workflows by reducing the need to convert file types.
This editing functionality replaces the previous Office Compatibility Mode (Quickoffice), which only had basic features. The following Microsoft file types are supported:
The ability to edit Office documents in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for iOS is already rolled out today on both personal and enterprise accounts:
Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, and Enterprise Plus as well as G Suite Basic, Business, Education, Enterprise for Education, and Nonprofits customers
Remember when people made fun of the original Samsung Galaxy Note and its “humongous” 5.3-inch display? Oh, how the times have changed. Still, have we really come to a point where a 6.9-inch diagonal behemoth is able to avoid the “tablet” category and stretch the already confusing phablet category even further?
Well, we definitely don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here. Plus, we’re all for a positive body image. So, power to Xiaomi and the Mi Max 3! Obviously, the company has decided it’s got a wide enough user base for such a device. And truth be told, they’ve achieved a pretty sleek and compact design thanks to the impossibly slim bezels and the trendy 18:9 tall aspect ratio.
Xiaomi Mi Max 3 specs
Body: Metal unibody, glass front; 176.2×87.4x8mm, 221g.
Memory: 4GB/6GB of RAM; 64GB/128GB storage; hybrid microSD slot.
Battery: 5,500mAh Li-Po (sealed); QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging.
Connectivity:Dual-SIM (Nano-SIM); LTE; Dual VoLTE; USB-C; Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS; Bluetooth 5.0, IR blaster, FM radio.
Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; single down-firing speaker; 3.5mm jack.
Combine the beastly display with some budget internals and a price tag to match and you basically have the Mi Max 3‘s calling card. That being said, simply looking at the Mi Max 3 in the same way as a budget big-screen TV isn’t really fair or productive in any way.
If you are going to commit to lugging the hefty Mi Max 3 around, that Snapdragon 636 better deliver a well-rounded, modern Android experience. And coupled with a 5,500 mAh battery, we expect nothing short of a marathon in doing so, from the chip, as well.
So, join us on the following pages, as we peel away the layers of the Mi Max 3 to see just how well Xiaomi managed to fill the hefty figure, at hand, with substance.
As expected, the Mi Max 3 ships in an impressively sized box. That’s kind of a necessity. Other than that, however, there is nothing really special about the packaging – it is the standard Xiaomi affair. That is – thick cardboard and a two-piece design.
As far as the included accessories go, you get a USB cable and a wall charger – both in matching white. No bonus plastic case, which the Chinese OEM does often throw in the box. Do, however, check with your seller of choice on that point, since a case might be present on some markets.
Case nitpicking aside, we were delighted to see the included wall charger is a Quick Charge 3 unit. So, you won’t have to buy a fast charger separately.
As we mentioned earlier, picking out proper competitors for the Mi Max 3 is a rather tough task. Mainly, since there’s practically nothing out on the mainstream market that can come close to the 6.9-inch panel and the pure real estate it offers.
As far as performance and value go, the Snapdragon 636-based internals of the Mi Max 3 do represent quite decent value, at a price point of EUR 260, or so. Our first, go to, is, understandably, the Redmi Note 5 family. To be more specific – the Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera, since that one features the updated camera, with a brighter f/1.9 aperture. The rest of the internals are pretty much identical to the Mi Max 3. Of course, a 5.99 inches, you will be giving up quite a bit of screen. But, that’s just something you’ll have to deal with, given the Mi Max 3‘s unique position in this regard.
For a notable performance and all-around experience boost, may we suggest the Mi 8 SE, complete with an excellent, even if smaller, 5.88-inch, Super AMOLED display, and the new Snapdragon 710 chipset. On the flip side, if you really need as much screen as you can get and are willing to forgo certain modern treats, the Mi Max 2 might be right up your alley. You might even save a few bucks in the process.
Looking past team Xiaomi, Huawei and Honor seem to be hitting the big-display, budget segment pretty hard. Frankly, not surprising, seeing how the pair is pretty much playing on all fronts and filling every niche in 2018. The Honor Play springs instantly to mind. A spacious 6.3-inch display and a flagship Kirin 970 chipset make up, what Huawei is positioning as a great mobile gaming platform, on a budget.
For a more official, work setting, there are the Honor View 10, Mate 10 Lite and the P20 Lite, all positioned under the EUR 300 mark, on most markets. Choosing between the trio is mostly going to depend on personal preference and you opinion and the value you put in things like a more powerful chipset, bigger screen, a home button, zoom functionality and a notch, to name a few. If we had to choose, for us, the Honor View 10 stands out as the best value deal, with its notch-free, 5.99-inch display, excellent camera setup and flagship Kirin 970 chipset.
Some other notable competitors to the Mi Max 3 include the Lenovo Z5, with its quite large 6.2-inch display and pretty similar internals. Then there is the Motorola Moto G6 Plus and the Nokia 6.1 Plus. Both, also, quite similar to the Xiaomi phablet.
Truth be told, however, if the screen real estate is your main draw towards the Mi Max 3, you might be better off exploring LTE tablet options. It all depends on your intended use case. Finding something quite as compact will be a challenge, though.
Playing a particular angle in any product, especially tech is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you could limit your goals to a particular niche requirement alone and cruse though everything else, cutting corners as you please. Chances are that with a unique enough offering, you can still make the bottom line work.
Then there is another, a perhaps even bigger danger of overreaching and trying to crank every aspect of your device to 11, while also offering a unique feature, or two. This increases price, expectations and in many ways the chance of failure (we’re looking at you Razer Phone).
Solid build quality.
Huge 6.9-inch, 18:9, FullHD+ display; Surprisingly color accurate.
Great battery life, although it could potentially be better; Quick Charge 3 support.
Dual SIM LTE standby
Great audio output quality and fairly loud stereo speaker setup
Flexible and feature-rich MIUI 9.1; Based on a current Android Oreo core.
Solid, mid-range performance. It is powerful enough for most everyday tasks.
Good all-round camera experience with plenty of shooting modes.
Fast and accurate fingerprint reader, IR blaster, FM radio
No official mention of Gorilla Glass.
Still no MIUI 10 update; Mi AI assistant and a few other features are still only available in Chinese.
AI scene detection seems to be missing from camera UI.
EIS does not work at 4K resolution with the Mi camera app.
Limited camera Manual controls (only ISO and white balance).
Decent edge detection on Portrait mode, but we expected more from the dual camera setup.
Xiaomi seems to have hit a nice middle ground with the Mi Max 3. The unique feature is obvious and executed masterfully. All the while, the rest of the device offers a solid experience, a good middle-ground in practically every respect, building and borrowing from the success of the Redmi line of devices. This is a great way to keep costs down, as well.
To put it in simple terms, after spending some time with the Mi Max 3, we can vouch that it won’t disappoint in any way as a daily driver for most average users out there. As for the unique offer of a huge display, it is one of those things you either instantly love or hate. If you’re up to the task of handling the beastly Xiaomi, it’s one to easily recommend.