With Android 12 hitting AOSP at the start of the month, Google also released the latest Compatibility Definition Document (CDD). There are a handful of hardware and software changes that device makers have to abide by, but nothing too major.
With Android 12, Google introduced a “Performance class” standard that “defines a set of device capabilities that goes beyond Android’s baseline requirements.” This includes media, camera, and “generic” (memory, screen resolution/density).
It lets app developers determine which software features a phone or tablet is capable of running. For example, Performance class 12 (for the “highest performing devices”) could get the “most premium experience,” while class 11 would go down to “high quality experience” and everything else gets the base experience. Meanwhile, Performance classes are forward-compatible:
A device can upgrade to a newer platform version without updating its performance class. For example, a device that initially supports performance class 12 can upgrade to Android 13 and continue to report it supports class 12 if it does not meet the class 13 requirements.
The Android 12 CDD says that Performance class 11 (R) and 12 (S) “must” at least have a 12MP rear camera that supports 4K at 30FPS video capture. The latter also requires a 5MP or higher front-facer (1080p at 30FPS), while the former needs at least 4MP. Both classes require a screen resolution of 1080p (with 400DPI) or greater and a minimum RAM requirement of 6GB. Sequential and random read/write are also specified:
Meanwhile, OEMs must display the microphone and camera indicators when those two components are being used by apps, including system ones. Under “Unicode and Font,” Google added that device makers:
MUST NOT remove or modify NotoColorEmoji.tff in the system image. (It is acceptable to add a new emoji font to override emoji in NotoColorEmoji.tff)
A “strong” recommendation has been added about making sure the touchable area of an under-display fingerprint sensor (UDFPS) does not interfere with 3-button navigation, which Google reminds that “some users might require for accessibility.”
OnePlus looks to be working on yet another limited-edition device – this time a Pac-Man-themed version of the affordable Nord 2.
We’ve seen the Chinese firm produce a number of tie-in devices over the years including with cultural juggernaut Star Wars, high-end boutique designers and my personal favorite, the Cyberpunk 2077 OnePlus 8T. Sticking with gaming, OnePlus appears to have a limited Pac-Man Nord 2 in the works.
Evidence is mounting as code digging into the recent OxygenOS A.11 update for OnePlus Nord CE devices by the team behind the fantastic Oxygen Updater has unearthed some interesting tidbits (via XDA). After delving into the Settings APK file, the team behind Oxygen Updater uncovered a new fingerprint animation that features titular character Pac-Man chased by ghosts “Blinky” and “Inky” above a maze-styled lock icon.”
Several other code strings also include various references to stickers that can be unlocked after completing various tasks including charging this proposed Pac-Man OnePlus Nord 2 device for 256 minutes. This is a reference to the last level in the original arcade game — which is also the “kill screen” for the game.
Other hardware notables include wireless charging, which is missing on the Vanilla Nord 2. The MediaTek 1200-powered device could also receive a chipset change to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778 according to other code-strings found in this initial report.
At first, none of this information really indicated a great deal in terms of new hardware. However, OnePlus tipster Max Jambor has since teased an image to indicate that this indeed could be a special edition or limited Nord 2 device with Pac-Man theming. Just why a Pac-Man edition of the device would be needed is anyone’s guess but if done well it could be a nice option.
The fact that we haven’t seen a stable Android 12 release means that at least Samsung has the opportunity to catch up to Google with their One UI 4.0 Beta 2 update.
Although it’s quite unlikely, we could have a situation where the first stable Android 12 update comes to a non-Pixel device. That would be a real shock, but given that Samsung is only pushing the second One UI 4.0 beta based upon Android 12, we’d be very surprised, to say the least.
Here’s everything notable in the latest Android 12-based update for Samsung Galaxy devices:
A huge component of Android 12 on Pixel phones is now available as part of One UI 4.0 Beta 2 but with a few Samsung-ish tweaks in tow. “Color theme,” as Samsung has renamed it, is the Korean firm’s take on Dynamic Color and the “Monet” theming system seen on Pixel hardware.
From your homescreen, long-press in an empty space or pinch to zoom outwards and head to Wallpapers > Color theme. From this new panel you’ll be able to choose a three-color theme based upon your on-device wallpaper. You can leave it as the preset blue, white, and black setup or select one of up to four patterns determined by your device.
You’ll see a nice preview pane above showing just what colors will be adopted across your device too. The effect isn’t nearly as obvious as it is on Pixels, but it does work across almost all core One UI 4.0 system areas — including notification toggles and the lockscreen.
It’s worth noting that the change is very noticeable but not quite as extensive as you might expect. Instead, it’s more of an accent addition that tweaks some UI elements but doesn’t appear to work with any of Google’s recently updated and tuned first-party applications including Messages, Gmail and many more.
You’ll still see the Material You tweaks on those apps, but for now at least, most will just adhere to the stock or standard colors applied. Some apps are fully themed but will depend heavily upon which version you have installed or have updated. A fine example is the Google Podcasts app, which will adjust based upon your wallpaper-based “Color theme” accenting.
Because of the inherent changes to apps as a result of your system accent color, “Color theme” changes just how you’ll experience Android 12 on your Samsung Galaxy device. Google is pushing it hard for Pixel, and it was initially expected to be limited to Made by Google devices but the arrival here in One UI 4.0 Beta 2 is far earlier than expected.
To explain, “RAM Plus” is a feature that uses a portion of your on-device storage to create “virtual RAM” that ups the limit on your Galaxy smartphone. For higher-end Samsung Galaxy smartphones in excess of 8-12GB of RAM, this probably isn’t even an issue, but for the low-end devices with hardware limits, this could be a real way to expand or improve general performance levels.
In One UI 4.0 Beta 2 you can’t actually disable “RAM Plus” as it’s simply enabled by default. You can see just how much space is being used by heading to Settings > Device care > Memory. Here you’ll be able to clear or free up RAM as well as see just how much “virtual memory” is being adopted where the system deems necessary.
We’re not sure if this will decrease or automatically disable if you lack the available space, but it appears to be capped at 4GB. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the same as physically adding 4GB of RAM to your device, but it might help if heavy apps are taking up system resources or you want to play more demanding games and are happy to sacrifice other app performance levels. It’s worth noting that this has already been released to some mid-rangers from Samsung, including the Galaxy A52 and even the brand-new Z Fold 3, but joining the main One UI 4.0 build could expand it to all devices.
Enhanced video calling options and effects
When initiating a video call, you have more options at your fingertips as part of the “Video call effects” floating panel after updating to One UI 4.0 Beta 2. These include the ability to adjust background blur effects or add a color/image. Effectively, this simply mimics the kind of things you can already do in the various calling apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and others, but this works on any app that your Galaxy device detects as a video calling app.
Enhancing those controls is a new “Mic mode” option that lets you choose just what audio is picked up when making video calls. There’s a “Standard” mode that works just as you expect, a “Voice focus” option that attempts to cut out any annoying background noise but a neat option for group or family calls is an option labeled “All sound.” When making large group calls — something fairly normal since the start of the pandemic — this might help as it boosts the audio picked up in the vicinity of your phone.
Gallery metadata editing
It’s almost as if Samsung lifted the ability to edit and adjust the time and date metadata from images in the Gallery app right from Google Photos — although it’s simply a highly requested feature. Tapping the overflow menu and then selecting details opens up the metadata menu for any image within the Samsung Gallery app.
From here you’re able to edit everything from the photo name, the location it was taken, and even the time and date — complete with Dynamic Color supporting time and date picker. Not having to upload to Google Photos or use another third-party app is likely a massive added feature for many that use the default gallery app on their Galaxy devices.
Android 12 easter egg with Dynamic Color
Not necessarily a massive update but provided you are using “Color theme” on your device, the Android 12 easter egg will adhere to your preset theme — just like it does on Pixel smartphones running the Android 12 Beta. Is this is an important change? No, but it’s nice all the same.
Should I install One UI 4.0 Beta 2 on my Galaxy S21?
If you want to try this modest set of additional features alongside the previous — and more extensive add-ons — then you’ll need to sign up the One UI 4.0 Beta via the Samsung Members app. At this stage it has only rolled out in the US and UK, but more regions will get access to this Android 12 preview over the coming days.
However, at this stage, we’d suggest holding on a little longer. Although this update includes a number of bug fixes, performance can be quite unstable at times with texture pop-in and lag in certain apps when scrolling. Beta 3 will hopefully add a bit more stability.
It’s been a while since we’ve last seen a Mi Note phone. The Mi Note 3 came more than two years ago and received a lukewarm reception, so the Mi Note series was put on pause. Well, we can now consider that a reboot as the Mi Note 10 is official and it starts on a high note with a penta-camera setup that’s the host of the world’s first 108MP snapper!
The 108MP camera is the obvious highlight, but it’s not the only one. The Note 10 has two zoom snappers – one for 2x and another for 5x optical magnification. There is also a 20MP ultrawide camera with autofocus and a 2MP macro shooter. All kinds of hybrid zoom levels are available, as well as many video capturing modes.
There is more to the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 than just the camera. The maker has refined its flagship design since the Mi 9, and now the Note 10 introduces a new 3D curved screen – a 6.47″ panel of extended 1080p resolution. The front curves mirror the rear ones, and the Mi Note 10 has one of the most symmetrical designs we’ve seen in a while.
The gaming-friendly Snapdragon 730G is in charge of everything that happens on the Mi Note 10. It’s not the fastest chip there is today, but it is one of the most current and its power is more than enough for the 1080p display.
The Mi Note 10 also impresses with a massive 5,260 mAh battery that’s capable of 30W fast charging. We expect nothing, but record-setting scores in our battery life test and here is hoping the Note 10 delivers.
Finally, Android 9-based MIUI 11 boots right off the bat on the Mi Note 10 – making it the first Xiaomi smartphone to have the new launcher installed by default.
Xiaomi Mi Note 10 specs
Body: Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back;
Display: 6.47″ curved AMOLED, droplet notch, 2340 x 1080px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 398ppi; HDR 10 and DCI-P3 compliant.
Penta rear camera: Main camera – 108MP, 1/1.33″ Quad-Bayer sensor with 0.8µm pixel size, 25mm f/1.7 lens (8P lens for the Mi Note 10 Pro), OIS, Laser AF; 2x zoom camera – 12MP, f/2.0, 1.4µm pixel size, dual-pixel AF; 5x zoom camera – 5M, f/2.0, saves 8MP; Ultra wide-angle cam – 20MP, 13mm f/2.2, 1.12µm pixel size; AF w/ closeup focusing Macro camera – 2MP, 1/5″, 1.75µm pixel size, f/2.4; AF, 1.5-10cm focusing distance.
Front camera: 32MP, 0.8µm pixel size, f/2.0; 1080p/30fps video recording;
Battery: 5,260mAh Li-Po; 30W fast charging, 0-100% in 65min.
Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE-A, 4-Band carrier aggregation, Cat.15/13 (800Mbps/150Mbps); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; dual-band GPS; Bluetooth 5.0; FM radio, IR blaster.
Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader; single down-firing speaker; 3.5mm jack
It’s no secret that the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is identical to the Xiaomi Mi CC9, which was unveiled yesterday for the Chinese market. The specs are the same except that the Note 10 doesn’t get the 8GB/256GB tier that the Mi CC9 has.
Both phones have their 3.5mm audio jacks, IR blasters, and even an FM radio.
Sure there are some holes in their specs sheets – they lack any increased water resistance or a MicroSD slot, or wireless charging, or even stereo speakers. But some of us can live without those if it means you can get the impressive set of cameras on the back for a bargain price.
We are eager to test the 108MP camera, but before we go all-in with photo and video samples, we should probably unbox this Note.
Unboxing the Xiaomi Mi Note 10
The Mi Note 10 bundle is pretty straightforward – the contents are the same as you’d get with any Xiaomi. Inside the black box, you’ll find a charger, a USB-C cable, and a black silicone case.
Xiaomi is shipping the Mi Note 10 with a proper 30W charger so that you can enjoy the fast charging right out of the box. And you are going to need it as that 5,260 mAh battery will take forever to recharge with an inferior adapter.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 is a unique smartphone. First – its penta-camera is something you don’t see every day – a 108MP sensor is a first, and it seems to be taking great high-res 27MP photos, both day and night. The other four snappers are quite good, too, making for one of the most skilled and versatile camera kits on a smartphone ever.
Then the Note 10 shines with excellent symmetry in design and its build is nothing less than flagship-worthy. The curves don’t get in the way at all, it has very good palm rejection, while the sandblasted frame helps for a secure grip.
Finally, the Snapdragon 730G chip may not be the best chipset around, but it is among the better ones and it does great in combination with the 1080p AMOLED screen.
We only have two issues with the Mi Note 10 – the trickery it uses to get to 5x magnification and the lower than expected battery life. We can understand why Xiaomi made 5x zoom the way it made it, but we can’t find logic in upscaling the 5MP image to 8MP, especially when the maker is advertising the 5x zoom camera as 5MP. At least we are hopeful for the battery life as MIUI 11 would get better with updates and so will the battery performance.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 costs about €550 at launch, which makes it a great offer already. But the so-called flagship killer segment is quite crowded, and there are other phones worthy of serious consideration.
The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Pro costs €100 more and it offers an upgrade in RAM and storage. You get 8GB/256GB and the main camera has a 8P lens design compared to the 7P on the vanilla Note 10. P stands for the pieces the lens is made of but honestly, we don’t think the difference in photo quality will be palpable. So in end, we can’t really recommend the Note 10 Pro over the Note 10 unless you really want to splurge on absolutely top tier of the device.
Xiaomi already has the Mi 9T Pro, which is at least €150 cheaper than the Note 10. It has a notch-free flat AMOLED screen, a faster Snapdragon 855, but lacks the 5x zoom and macro snappers. Sure, it doesn’t have a 108MP camera either, but its photos are excellent nevertheless.
The OnePlus 7T Pro is about €200 more expensive, but if uninterrupted AMOLED experience at 90Hz is what you are after – you get it with the 7T. It may lack a macro camera, but its tele offers 3x zoom, which should be more than enough.
Realme’s X2 Pro, where available, is much cheaper than the Mi Note 10, but it has a lot to offer. There is a large 6.5″ AMOLED screen with 90Hz refresh rate, the most current Snapdragon 855+ chip is inside, while its battery supports 50W charging. The X2 Pro has a 64MP primary snapper, a 13MP 2x telephoto, an 8MP ultrawide and a 2 MP depth sensor – not exactly a match for the Mi Note 10 setup, but still an excellent configuration.
Finally, the price of the Samsung Galaxy S10 keeps dropping, and it is now about €50 more expensive than the Mi Note 10. The holiday season is almost here, and we expect to see the S10 trio on sweet discounts, and we’d suggest the S10 as a more compact offer, with a better display, faster performance, and high-quality triple camera on the back.
If you are after the camera experience, there is probably no better-equipped smartphone than the Mi Note 10 – it has a camera for every situation. Sure, the camera experience could use a bit more work via future updates, but even in this stage – it’s certainly the phone’s highlight feature.
The Mi Note 10 is not the best smartphone on the market, but with a stunning design, powerful hardware, and an unmatched set of cameras – it is certainly a great package worth recommending.
Bright and large AMOLED screen, DCI-P3 accurate
Large battery and very fast charging
The Snapdragon 730G is gaming-friendly and runs cool
All camera produce excellent daylight photos
Comes with the latest MIUI 11 out of the box
3.5mm jack, FM radio, IR blaster
No rated water resistance
Snapdragon 855 would have been better
Low-light photos by the zoom cameras and the ultra-wide one are nothing special
Video recording quality is not impressive with any of the cameras
Another year, another ROG Phone. Asus has relentlessly been keeping up its efforts to deliver “The ultimate smartphone gaming experience” for four years now. With great success, we might we add.
This time around, we have the shiny new ROG Phone 5 to get acquainted with. A Republic of Gamers product through and through, but one that does things a bit differently than its predecessors in some regards, while staying true to form in many others. There’s plenty to discuss, so without further ado, we’ll just jump straight into it.
First things first. Yes, it’s the ROG Phone 5 instead of 4. Don’t worry about it; you haven’t accidentally skipped an iteration along the way. The explanation is actually simple and one that we have encountered before with Chinese and Taiwanese naming conventions. The number ‘four’ in Chinese just happens to sound similar to their word for death, so naming products after this number is considered unlucky and is avoided.
That’s ironically, probably the least intriguing bit about the ROG Phone 5, though. Let’s start with the fact that the ROG Phone 5 is more of a family of devices than a single model.
Asus ROG Phone 5 specs at a glance:
Body: 172.8×77.3×10.3mm, 238g; metal body; RGB light panel (on the back), Pressure sensitive zones (Gaming triggers).
There are anywhere between two to five distinct versions available, depending on how you count them. The vanilla ROG Phone 5 has an A, B and C variant, denoting their differences in available bands and network connectivity, as well as memory variants. Starting from variant “C”, the base configuration is an 8GB/128GB one with a 12GB/256GB tier also available. Variant “B” adds a third option to the list – 16GB/256GB. Variant “A” is not available in the base 8GB/128GB tier, but can be had in both 12GB/256GB and 16GB/256GB configs.
Granted, clearly, some of these variants are meant for different markets. Still, that’s already plenty confusing in our mind, but things extend past the vanilla ROG Phone 5 this year. And we’re not talking about a “Strix” variant, like in previous generations, which might still be a thing. Instead, this year Asus has an ROG Phone 5 Pro, as well as and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.
The Pro variant has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, while Ultimate ups the RAM to a whopping 18GB of capacity. The Ultimate edition is expected to be an extremely limited offering.
There are some physical differences compared to the Pro/Ultimate. Both of these have PMOLED ROG Vision displays on the back, instead of the ROG RGB logo, as well as a pair of extra touch inputs. There are some exclusive colors and finishes – Glossy Black on the Pro and Matte While, with a satin matte finish on the Ultimate. You also need to buy either the Pro or the Ultimate to get the Asus Aeroactive Cooler 5 snap-on active cooling accessory in the box. And if you go Ultimate, you will also get an exclusive gift bag of ROG “swag” beyond that.
This particular review and all of the testing and benchmarking was done on a regular ROG Phone 5 unit with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
This variant situation is undoubtedly a bit confusing. Still, there are different ways of looking at it from a more positive angle, namely that of extra choice for the end-user and Asus trying to cast a wider net this time around in hopes of appealing to as many prospective buyers as possible.
On the flip side of this argument, there are definitely some questionable decisions with the ROG Phone 5 as well, that could be passed-off as simplification or diversification measures, but are actually kind of downgrades or “side-grades” at best. Notable examples include the rather odd fact that after two consecutive years of deliberately preserving the same footprint with ROG Phones and compatibility with the growing ROG accessory ecosystem, the chain is officially broken with the ROG Phone 5. It is slightly taller than its predecessors and leaves behind support for such killer gadgets as the Desktop Dock and the TwinView Dock.
Also, the Aeroactive Cooler is not bundled with every unit for the first time ever. And in a more general sense, while still clearly on top of its game, the ROG Phone 5 is arguably a bit “lighter” in the innovation department compared to its predecessors.
We’ll definitely dig more into these “interesting choices” surrounding the ROG Phone 5 in the following pages.
A great place to start seems to be the retail box itself and its contents. Getting a new ROG Phone package has always been a bit of an experience in itself. Doubly so for us, since Asus used to send actual briefcases chuck-full of accessories our way. With last year’s ROG Phone 3, the packaging started getting a bit tamer, sort of synergistically so with the design of the phone itself, which was justifiable and rather sensible.
The ROG Phone 5 takes things to the next level in more ways than one. The box we got was just a regular rectangle. A fancy one, for sure, complete with some art, but it only took us a split second to open the magnetic flap and get to the unit. No alien tetrahedranes, pyramids sliding into each other, hidden compartments, and magic augmented reality symbols. Joking aside, we appreciate the extra sensibility in an otherwise costly package that will ultimately end up in a closet somewhere.
We are a lot less appreciative of the omission of the ROG Aeroactive Cooler 5, though. Every other ROG Phone in the past used to have its corresponding Aeroactive cooler bundled. You can definitely choose whether to see this as a convenient way to save less-demanding users some money or an otherwise manufacturer-beneficial cost-saving measure. It’s up to you. Plus, you do still get one if you go for the Pro or Ultimate variant of the ROG Phone 5. Probably the former, since the latter will be extremely limited in availability.
We didn’t get any spare plastic plugs for the ROG Side connector this time around, which is not a major deal, but is still worth mentioning. On the plus side, Asus still throws in its highly-specific Aero case in black or white, to match your unit’s color. It has a particular shape mostly mandated by the need to be compatible with the Aeroactive Cooler 5, to allow for the ROG logo to be visible, while still providing at least some protection. At least the corners are covered.
For charging you still get a very versatile HyperCharger unit from Asus. It is a 65W brick that uses Asus HyperCharge technology, based on Power Delivery 3.0 + PPS at 3.3V to 21V and 3A of current. This means that you only need a decent USB 2.0 or 3.0 Type-C to Type-C cable rated at the base 3A to take full advantage of the charger. Asus provides a nice braided one in the box.
The ROG Phone 5 actually has two separate 3,000 mAh cells, with MMT tech and double-wired split design, which works in conjunction with the HyperCharge tech to allow the 65W charging speed – a clear upgrade over the ROG Phone 3, while also generating less heat. More on that later.
One interesting side note is that the 65W charger also supports Quick Charge 5.0, making it surprisingly versatile to just have on hand for all sorts of charging needs. Plus, it’s compact, especially for a non-GaN unit.
Even if you don’t appreciate certain aspects of devices Asus brings into the smartphone realm, there is no denying that the Taiwanese giant basically spearheaded the modern gaming smartphone niche with the ROG Phone line. It was a major gamble, a bold move and the space is still marked by plenty of uncertainty and soul-searching. That’s the beauty of big bold steps, though, that they spark innovation, and, today, four years later, Asus is not alone in the gaming smartphone space.
Sure, releases are still sporadic and experimental, more than anything else, but there is competition to point out. ZTE-owned Nubia instantly comes to mind, especially with the very recent announcement of the nubia Red Magic 6 and 6 Pro. Just like the ROG Phone 5, these are based on the flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset and even feature active fan cooling. Only theirs is an actual part of the internal design of the phones, as opposed to a snap-on accessory. Another spotlight feature of the Red Magic 6 pair, in particular, is the 165Hz refresh rate and 400Hz touch sampling rate on their 6.8-inch AMOLED displays. Both industry-leading figures, though we are not exactly sure how actual input chain latency sizes-up against Asus‘ bold claims of delivering the lowest input times in the industry with the ROG Phone 5.
Xiaomi has its Black Shark line, which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since the Black Shark 3S, back in August last year. With a regular Snapdragon 865 (non-plus) under the hood, it’s no longer going to be a benchmark chart-topper. Still, a potent device styled in proper gaming attire. You might want to wait a bit for the upcoming Black Shark 4 family, though.
No gaming smartphone list would be complete without Lenovo’s relatively recent entry into the scene with the Legion line. The last refresh there is the Legion Duel – a solid hardware proposition all-around, with its 144Hz AMOLED display and Snapdragon 865+ chipset. Not unlike Xiaomi, though, a new Legion, allegedly called the Legion 2 Pro is right around the corner and if rumors are to be believed, will have some sort of dual turbo cooling system to boot.
If you are not particularly partial to the gamer aesthetic or don’t really think your gaming performance would benefit all that much from any specific game optimizations, features and tweaks on a hardware or software level, there are plenty of excellent “ordinary” flagship devices to consider and still get excellent flagship performance. Vivo, for one, has you covered with the iQOO 7, which still holds the AnTuTu score record. And just a few points behind – the vivo X60 Pro+. Both are based on the Snapdragon 888 and with fast 120Hz OLED displays. The latter shining a bit brighter in the camera department.
Coincidentally, or rather not so much, we also find the excellent and very popular Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro also on the same AnTuTu list. To be clear, we are not advising anyone to choose a device simply based on one peak performance score number. However, it is a convenient data point to consider when looking for the best performance around. Plus, with its 120Hz AMOLED panel, the K40 Pro is more than just raw muscle and has the requirements to deliver an excellent gaming experience, as well.
Speaking of an excellent gaming experience, as part of an equally-good overall phone one, why not consider one of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phones? Ideally, one with the Snapdragon 888, instead of the Exynos 2100, in the particular context of sustained performance and thermal-throttling, which you can read more about in our in-depth comparative exploration of the two chips. Beyond that, it is worth noting that Samsung has a surprisingly competent and in-depth Game Launcher, complete with graphics and resolution tweaks, among other things.
Nobody does smartphone gaming quite like Asus. Four iterations into the ROG Phone line, that remains a fact. The ROG Phone 5 is a true powerhouse in every sense of the word – a phone that is specifically crafted to deliver the best possible gaming experience, with any other concern or consideration taking a back seat. It just so happens that when you make an excellent gaming flagship, you usually end up with an excellent all-around device in general that has plenty of appeal outside gaming.
That has generally been our conclusion for every ROG Phone in the past, and we stand by it for the ROG Phone 5, as well. However, the ROG Phone 5 is probably the least impressive new generation we’ve seen in the ROG family.
On a hardware level, it constitutes a small upgrade over the ROG Phone 3. There are no new major spotlight features, no pushing the envelope in terms of display tech or additional controls and inputs. It’s more a case of Asus refining most aspects of the ROG Phone 3 further, but also, unfortunately, changing some odd things around. We can’t say we particularly like the new design for the side connector. It is hard to operate and fragile. Plus, it breaks compatibility with the excellent Mobile Desktop Dock. The simpler design for the AeroActive Cooler 5 also has its issues, and for the first time ever, it is not included with every unit.
Then there is the slightly taller body, likely related to the return of the 3.5mm audio jack and the newly-symmetrical exquisite speaker system, which we very-much appreciate, as well as the new split battery design, which is more of a polarizing topic, looking at the battery numbers. We don’t really mind the growth spurt, as such, but wish that it didn’t come at the expense of even more lost compatibility with the excellent ROG Phone accessory ecosystem, like the TwinView Dock.
Perhaps Asus is amidst some business “reorientation” here. Shifting focus away from end users and extravagant accessories to capture headlines and laser-focusing on delivering pro tools for the e-sports contestants and organizers exclusively. It seems to be too early to tell. Overall, we feel like the ROG Phone 5 is a truly excellent phone, still on a level of its own when it comes to mobile gaming profess, but one unfortunately experiencing some “changes” this year that managed to rub us the wrong way.
Even more toned-down, but still ROG-inspired gamer’s design with great build quality.
AirTigger 5 ultrasonic touch sensors are very precise and versatile. Motion controls are extended and greatly improved from last gen
Industry-leading stereo speaker performance, complete with gaming-specific sound tweaks
Superb AMOLED screen, 144Hz refresh rate.
Great battery life, even at full 144Hz. Rich battery health prolonging options. Very fast charging (65W charger bundled).
Fastest-available Snapdragon 888 chipset with an amazing thermal management.
Great Android implementation, an unparalleled number of game tweaks, control-mapping and performance options
Solid daylight photos, as well as low-light images. Impressive selfie quality
Very good video quality, impressive EIS
No longer backwards compatible with most ROG Phone II or 3 accessories. Available accessory ecosystem is significantly smaller than on previous models
AeroActive Cooler 5 not included with the vanilla model. The new design for both the cooler and its connector are hard to align and prone to damage
No water or dust resistance
Rather basic camera setup, compared to typical 2021 flagships
Forget iPhones, Galaxies, Redmis, and whatnot. Meet the hottest phone of the season – the Poco M3. Everyone’s talking about this model by the Xiaomi-backed brand, and rightfully so. It has everything needed to become a bestseller – good looks, a nice screen, excellent battery, stereo speakers, and a nice camera setup. And all these goodies come with a cheap price tag!
Poco is now an independent brand from Xiaomi though Xiaomi still manufactures everything that Poco designs. Even down to the software Poco phones run or the chargers they use – it all comes from Xiaomi, so the two brands’ independence isn’t as obvious, at least for now.
But Xiaomi or not, the Poco M3 has the typical bang for the buck spirit we’ve seen from many Xiaomi and Poco phones before. The first thing you’ll notice about the new M3 is the not-so-typical looks, and we do appreciate the grippy leather-like plastic and the unique elements like the large POCO-marked glass at the back.
We would have expected specs to be watered down a bit at this price point, but the Poco M3 seems to tick all the boxes. It has a sizeable 1080p screen with a small notch, a good chipset, all sorts of connectivity, stereo speakers, and an impressive battery with 6,000mAh capacity and fast charging. Oh, and the fast charger is included in the box.
The triple-camera on the back is probably the only feature that took a hit to keep the price this low – while it’s headlined by a high-res 48MP sensor, it omits an ultrawide cam and instead offers macro and depth shooters. There is no 4K video either, just 1080p. Then again, look at the phone’s price! We’d say this setup is still overqualified for the money you’d be paying.
Finally, the Poco M3 runs on Android 10 with MIUI 12 for Poco. There aren’t many differences from the standard MIUI12, and the phone is expected to receive the usual MIUI update treatment for the years to come.
The ultrawide camera and some basic water protection are the only things missing off that spec sheet. Yet, we are talking about a quite affordable smartphone that’s jam-packed with features, and something had to give. But the Poco M3 seems to come close, really close to that.
Unboxing the Poco M3
The Poco M3 comes packed within a dark yellow box, and it’s full of goodies. The phone is inside, of course, packed with a USB cable and a 22.5W QC3 charger by Xiaomi. The Poco M3 supports 18W fast charging, so its 22.5W adapter is a bit overqualified for the job.
The paper compartment contains the SIM ejection tool, a transparent silicone case, and a screen protector. Nice!
But wait, there is more! There is one final compartment at the bottom, where you’d find three Poco bracelets – one braided and two silicone bracelets done in the Poco’s signature yellow and black hues.
The Poco M3 offers a lot of mid-range features at an entry-level price. The M3 packs a high-res screen and camera, impressive stereo speakers, a good chipset, and a massive battery with reasonably fast charging. And all these goodies are priced between €150 and €170 depending on your region and current promotions.
There are four phones that should be considered if shopping for the best bang-for-the-buck entry-level offer. And naturally, two of those are Xiaomi-made.
The Redmi 9 and Redmi Note 9 are some excellent offers with equally large screens, similar performance, some impressive batteries and power autonomy, and quad-camera setups on their backs.
The Redmi 9 is the cheapest fella, with the 3GB+32GB going for as low as €120 or less, though its 4GB+64GB model costs about as much as the Poco M3 4/64 version. It trumps the Poco M3 with an additional ultrawide camera and wireless FM radio but can’t offer Night Mode and stereo speakers.
The Redmi Note 9 has a better main camera than the Redmi 9 – 48MP vs. 13MP – and also offers an ultrawide camera over the Poco M3. This Note does offer Night Mode, but it still cannot match the stereo speakers and the extraordinary battery life of the Poco M3. On the other hand, its 3GB/64GB version costs just the same as the Poco M3.
Then there are two Realme phones you should consider – the Realme 7i and Realme 7. Those two have a bit spotty availability, but if sold in your country – you should check them out before making a decision.
The Realme 7i has a 90Hz 720p screen and runs on the same Snapdragon 662 chipset. It has a 64MP primary camera and an additional 8MP ultrawide shooter. The 7i employs a 5,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging and costs as much as the Poco M3. Because of its lower-res 720p screen, the Realme 7i UI is not only lag-free but thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate – it feels much smoother. It cannot offer stereo speakers and, as we said, its availability is regionally limited.
If you can’t find the Realme 7i on your market, there’s at least the Realme 7. At €179, it’s a rather tempting offer, too. It’s got the same size 1080p LCD as the Poco M3 but with a 90Hz refresh rate plus 4K video recording, an ultra-wide camera, a 5,000mAh battery, and a gaming-capable chipset (Helio G95T).
The Poco M3 is not a perfect phone, and it can’t be, not at €149/$149. While it omits NFC, an ultrawide camera, and its UI stutters occasionally, the Poco M3 impresses with a high-res screen, a hard-to-match battery life, remarkable stereo speakers, and its main camera does not disappoint.
The Poco M3 can do even for gaming, provided you lower the game resolution and graphics quality. Yes, you can play modern games like PUBG smoothly if you tone down the settings.
The Poco M3 is a great all-rounder. The constant competition between Realme and Xiaomi (and by extension Poco) has been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the entry-level segment. We now have a few great, no-compromise phones between €100 and €150 that well deserve your attention with large screens, capable cameras, and great battery life, and the Poco M3 takes a well-deserved place in this select group of devices, earning our full recommendation.
Large 6.53″ screen with 1080p resolution, great contrast
Outstanding battery life
True stereo speakers, excellent audio output
Good photo quality, good portraits
MIUI 12 is easy to use
It can do well in gaming under 720p resolution and low graphics quality
Last year, Android 11 introduced a clever privacy feature that removes permissions granted to “unused apps” that haven’t been opened in some time. Google is now bringing this auto-reset to older phones and tablets via Play services over the coming months.
Android 11 (and newer) can automatically remove permissions from “unused apps” to limit access to sensitive personal data, including location, camera, contacts, files, microphone, and phone. This does not get in the way of day-to-day usage as you have to go at least three months without using an application before Android automatically removes permissions.
Google is now bringing permission auto-reset to “billions more devices” running Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Android 10. This is made possible with Google Play services.
Once rolled out, auto-reset will be enabled by default for apps targeting Android 11 (API level 30) and later. To prevent issues and unintended experiences, resets will not apply to older applications still targeting API levels 23-29 unless manually enabled by end users. Additionally:
Some apps and permissions are automatically exempted from revocation, like active Device Administrator apps used by enterprises, and permissions fixed by enterprise policy.
Meanwhile, developers can ask users to “prevent the system from resetting their app’s permissions.”
This is useful in situations where users expect the app to work primarily in the background, even without interacting with it. The main use cases are listed here.
Next month, Google will make the cross-platform auto-reset APIs available with Jetpack Core 1.7.0, while the company today issued guidance on how developers can prepare.
Android’s auto-reset feature will begin gradually rolling out in December and be fully available in Q1 2022. Once live, users will get a new auto-reset settings page to enable/disable the behavior for specific applications. A few weeks after that, Google will start resetting permissions from unused apps.
The 24th of March marked another landmark in the Xiaomi’s history when the company revealed its keenly-awaited Redmi K30 Pro series devices. It was the time for the Redmi K30 Pro as well as K30 Pro Zoom Edition to roar the market with a spectacular set of specifications on the table. In particular, today, we will talk about the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom Edition smartphone, which has mesmerized the audience at large.
Xiaomi is a reputed tech maker in the world with prideful accomplishments in the domain. When it comes to the smartphone sector, the company has a cumbersome market share with lots of famous smartphone series around the globe. Redmi is a popular subsidiary of Xiaomi, especially in India, which is well-known for manufacturing high-end flagship devices at affordable costs.
As we know, Xiaomi has already released the Redmi K30 smartphone back in December last year. Then it had teased that it would bring the Pro edition soon. The moment arrived on March 24, when Xiaomi took the covers off the Redmi K30 Pro as well as Redmi K30 Pro Zoom phone. Both devices look almost identical but with some contrasts in terms of camera and pricing. We will compare them later sometimes, but now is the time to explore the additional Zoom edition of the series to check its nitty-gritty. So, let’s proceed without any further baffle.
Redmi K30 Pro Zoom Edition: Price and Availability
Let’s get to know to monetary value of the handset first. Well, the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom 8GB/128GB variant will cost you at Yuan 3,799 (approx. Rs. 41,000). Similarly, the top-end 8GB/256GB edition carries a price tag of Yuan 3,999 (approx. Rs. 43,000).
As per availability, the handset will go on sale from March 27 onwards in China with Grey, White, Blue, and Purple colour options. However, we have nothing to say on its international availability.
Redmi K30 Pro Zoom Review: Features and Specifications
Design and Build
The physical appearance and construction matter a lot for most of the users. Correspondingly, Xiaomi has managed successfully to achieve exquisite personality of the device with superior craftsmanship and build. The handset looks glossy and sleek in portable-cum slim contour like the regular Pro sibling.
Furthermore, the front side provides edge-to-edge full-screen surface with ultra-narrow bezels around. It is a diagonal 6.67” panel without any point for selfie camera. The 20MP camera sits on top in the motorized pop-up style.
When we move to the opposite face, the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom smartphone utilizes the aluminum alloy frame, which feels soft to touch. The only highlight of the rear panel is the circular quad-camera module in the middle of the upper half. You will find a black-coloured unit to host cameras, whereas the flashlight is placed just under the setting. Near the bottom edge, it prints the Redmi brand name. on top of both sides, the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom Edition receives the corning gorilla glass 5 protection.
While measuring the device physically, it scales at 163.3×75.4×8.9 mm and weighs 218g. Four colours choices are there to choose from, as mentioned above.
In terms of the screen panel, Xiaomi’s Redmi K30 Pro Zoom smartphone shares the same 6.67-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED touch display as the Redmi K30 Pro. It is a full-screen edge-to-edge unit without any place for the selfie camera.
Moreover, users will get 2400×1080 pixels resolution, 395 PPI pixels density, 20:9 aspect ratio, 100% DCI-P3 and HDR10+ technologies to enjoy exceptional gaming and video experience. The 500 nits of brightness level sounds great to bestow good visuality during the daytime. On the top, the panel wears the corning gorilla glass 5 coating for protection against scratches etc.
The producer Xiaomi always manages to collect top-of-the-class features, especially when it comes to these two pivotal areas. This time, the company also keeps its words and installs the latest Android 10.0 OS in the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom smartphone. Additionally, the device captures the MIUI 11 custom skin interface on top to draw magnificent navigation experience.
Similar is the case with the CPU department. Xiaomi fortifies the handset with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 octa-core processor unit based on 7nm+ process technology. It ensures solid gaming and usual performance in collaboration with the Adreno 650 chip in the GPU corridor.
What insists Xiaomi to develop the Zoom Edition of Redmi K30 Pro phone is photography tools. The department looks consolidated as it utilizes the quad-camera module on the back and a powerful lens on the front.
The primary photography unit is captained by the 64MP SONY IMX686 primary sensor, which brings Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and PDAF utilities. Moreover, the team consists of an 8MP telephoto sensor with OIS, and 30x digital plus 3x optical zoom, a 13MP 13mm ultrawide scanner and a 2MP depth sensor.
On the display side, the company fits the 20MP wide selfie camera on the upper edge in the motorized pop-up form.
The storage slots of the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom handset offer massive space to users. You will get 8GB RAM on both variants with 128GB and 256GB internal storage. However, you can’t extend the space further via external tools.
What’s more, the Xiaomi Redmi K30 Pro Zoom Edition Smartphone covers lots of other specifications in the list. It equips the Bluetooth 5.1 with A2DP, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive and LE techniques, the latest version of dual -band WIFI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, WIFI-direct, hotspot, GPS, GLONASS, BDS, QZSS, Type-C port, 3.5mm jack, OTG, in-display fingerprint scanner, NFC, infrared port, and various features, among others.
Breaking from the recent yearly release cadence, the next version of Android to release might be a mid-cycle bump — an “Android 12.1,” if you will — rather than Android 13.
By all measures, Android 12 is a significant release for Google’s phones, among other things, revamping the design with “Material You,” which matches the system and your apps to your wallpaper’s colors. In the coming months, we should see more of how Android 12 will improve other companies’ phones, with Samsung set to beta test One UI 4.0 in the next few weeks.
Normally, this would be about the time that we should set our sights on 2022’s Android release, presumed to be Android 13. In fact, Android 13’s internal dessert name, Tiramisu, has been discovered.
However, it seems there may be another stop in the journey. As tipped to XDA by luca020400 (Director of the Lineage OS ROM), a new Android code change suggests that Tiramisu/Android 13 will be API level 33, which is two levels higher than the forthcoming Android 12, which will be API 31. 9to5Google has also discovered a newer code change that directly confirms that Android 13 will be API 33.
More than that, it’s directly stated that API level 32 will be “sc-v2.” In this instance, “sc” is shorthand for Android 12’s internal dessert name, “Snow Cone,” while “v2” implies that Snow Cone will get a “version 2.”
In almost every case over the last 13 years of Android’s history, a change to the API level has coincided with a change to Android’s version number. However, this would be the first time since 2017 that Google has felt the need to put out a second, mid-cycle upgrade for a particular Android version.
At that time, Android Oreo got a bump from 8.0 to 8.1 at the end of the year, with the update debuting on Pixel and Nexus phones. A similar mid-cycle “x.1” release schedule also occurred following Android Nougat and Lollipop. Following that pattern, it’s quite possible that this “sc-v2” update might be called “Android 12.1” when it launches.
So what can we expect from such an Android 12.1 upgrade? Whatever is changing must be both important enough to justify a mid-cycle release, and also drastic enough that Google couldn’t add it all to Android 12 while keeping the API stable for developers.
For now, there aren’t many clues to go on, especially as more parts of Android have become updatable without needing a major upgrade, thanks to Mainline modules. In a comment on another code change, we see that “sc-v2” will introduce some tweaks to the WindowManager APIs, which would definitely affect app developers.
It’s too early to say when this supposed Android 12.1 would release, but the earliest available evidence suggests Google has been preparing it since at least May. In past examples of a mid-cycle release, the new Android version bump would see release within a few months of the major version’s launch.
Another tidbit you’ll probably have noticed in the quote above is that a Googler mentions that “some of our Nest devices might not be migrated to T.” For now, we’re not too sure what to make of this, as no known Nest devices run on Android — let alone have potential to upgrade to Android 13 (T) — with the Nest Hub series using either Cast OS or Fuchsia. It’s possible this may simply be referring to the Chromecast with Google TV, which could be seen as falling under the Nest umbrella.
While text chatting with classic Hangouts is still possible today, Google has killed most of the legacy service’s video calling features. Google will soon restore a familiar capability that lets you make direct calls using Meet without having to generate a link ahead of time.
Today, setting up a Meet call involves giving participants a URL. In Google Chat, you can quickly insert an invite like to start a session. This makes sense for group meetings — with video links now normalized — but feels somewhat excessive when you’re just talking to one person.
Direct “Google Meet calling” is the company’s attempt to make “meetings more spontaneous.” In Google Chat, you’ll get a “video” button to quickly start a call. The “phone” icon next to it lets you make audio-only Meet calls without video. This behavior is similar to classic Hangouts, Google Duo, and other consumer video communication apps, with Meet having to increasingly target both casual and enterprise audiences.
This will ring their device running the Gmail mobile app and send a call chip to Gmail running in a web browser, so they can easily answer from any device
It’s rolling out “soon” for one-to-one chats in the Gmail mobile and standalone Chat apps. However, it will come to “other Workspace endpoints in the near future.”
Google today also provided an update on Meet’s upcoming Companion Mode. This second-screen experience lets you use one device for audio/video and another computer to better see what’s being presented, respond to and create polls/Q&A, access meeting chat, and whiteboard. You can also share/mirror your screen from that second device.
This will begin rolling out in November (previously September), with Google also working on adding the ability to read live-translated captions in Companion Mode by year’s end:
We’re currently working on translating meetings in English to French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, with many more languages coming in the future.