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Foldable phones are too expensive — I'd never pay $1,200+ for Galaxy Z Flip 3 – Tom's Guide



Foldable phones are infamously expensive, even by premium phone standards, and it sounds as if the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 will be continuing that trend.

According to Twitter leaker FrontTron, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 will start at $1,249 for the model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. While that’s cheaper than the Galaxy Z Flip 5G’s original price of $1,449, it’s far from affordable.

Obviously there’s no guarantee that FrontTron’s information is correct. We know that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is coming, but it could wind up with a totally different price tag once launch day (rumored to be August 11) actually arrives.

It’s also yet to be revealed whether there will be a more expensive Z Flip 3 model; it’s conceivable that there could be a version with more RAM, storage, or both on the way, and that would naturally have a still higher cost.

Either way, if true this rumor suggests that the price of foldable phones is not going to drop significantly any time soon. Obviously, that’s a major barrier to entry for most people, even those that do split the cost of their phones over a two- or three-year plan.

Plus, even the best and most expensive non-folding devices cost less than this rumored price. Why spend close to $1,300 on a foldable Samsung Galaxy when you can get a 256GB iPhone 12 Pro Max for $1,200 or a 256GB Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for the same $1,249? The 128GB S21 Ultra is $1,199.

Both phones are top of their respective classes, and have proven themselves to work exactly as people would hope.

As interesting as foldable displays are, and as handy as it may be to be able to store a phone screen in half the normal size, they’re still not at that stage yet. It definitely doesn’t help that Samsung is one of only two phone makers that sells foldable phones in the U.S.; most people have yet to use one and plenty won’t even have seen one in the flesh. Unfamiliarity breeds caution, in this case, and foldables aren’t yet at the stage where people necessarily trust them.

This news also suggests that the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which has a lot more to offer than the Z Flip 3, will be even more expensive than this. How much more expensive isn’t clear right now, but hopefully it won’t be more than the $1,800 it cost to buy a Galaxy Z Fold 2 when it was new.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is rumored to be coming with an upgraded 120Hz interior display, a dual-lens 12MP camera, an enlarged cover display on the outside, a 10MP selfie camera that may or may not be under the display, and the more powerful Snapdragon 88 processor. 

These are pretty hefty upgrades, and we should give credit to Samsung for supposedly including it all while also reportedly lowering the price. But that doesn’t change the fact that foldable phones are too expensive, and if Samsung wants people to start buying them in greater numbers, it’s going to have to do something about it. 

Maybe this latest rumor will prove to be unfounded and the Z Flip 3 will arrive with a far more palatable price tag. But if that’s not the case, foldables are unlikely to become truly mainstream devices just yet.

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Apex Legends' Emergence battle pass trailer teases emotes, new skins for Volt, 30-30, Flatline, and more – Dot Esports



Apex Legends: Emergence launches tomorrow with a new battle pass, which was revealed in a trailer this morning.

This season’s max tier rewards are reactive skins for the Volt, “Symbiotic Relationship” at tier 100 and “Fatal Injection” at tier 110. There’s plenty else to grind for throughout the season, though, including looks for Valkyrie and Horizon, among others.

Seer’s “Winged Sun” 30-30 Repeater skin is just one of the other weapon skins in the battle pass, which also includes Valkyrie’s “Temporal Scale” Flatline. There’s also several new emotes, Seer-themed loading screens, music packs, banners, and weapon charms, as players have come to expect.

The updated World’s Edge will be the main stomping grounds for the new season and has received several updates to the landscape and numerous points of interest. A lot of the changes were also focused on quality of life, like adding different flanking routes and pathways that weren’t there before.

Along with Seer and World’s Edge, the third big addition of the season will be the Rampage LMG. The weapon, invented by Rampart, is unique in that it uses thermal grenades as its source of ammunition, so be sure to pick them up while running through the battle royale.

Apex Legends: Emergence begins tomorrow, Aug. 3.

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Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro mark new smartphone era for Google – CTV News



Google on Monday kicked off smartphone season by previewing its new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones. But it also signaled a new era for the Pixel, shifting it away from a mid-tier line with a niche user base to premium status, in a move that could position it to better take on Apple and Samsung.

In a series of tweets and a video posted to its website, the company teased a colorful assortment of feature-packed smartphones with the first-ever Google-made processor specifically designed for the Pixel. The company said a Tensor chip, which Google has used before in existing AI hardware, will allow the Pixel to be faster, more customizable and have “the most layers of hardware security in any phone.”

Google, which previously worked with chip maker Qualcomm for its Pixel phones, is the latest smartphone maker to build its own chip instead of relying on third-party suppliers. Last year, Apple moved away from an Intel processor for its Mac computers in favor of its own M1 chipset, a move that has won rave reviews from users for the added speed and extended battery life.

It’ll also drive speech recognition, its advanced camera features and the massive Android redesign announced in May at Google’s annual developer conference.

At the event, the company announced an interface concept called “Material You” that’s more personalized and “fluid” based on a user’s style. It features bigger buttons, a large clock on the homescreen that changes in size depending on how many notifications appear and color themes created from wallpaper. It also promises more responsiveness with better battery life and less strain on processors.

Moving beyond mediocre screens, design and cameras, the Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch flat display with wide and ultra-wide cameras on the back and a 90 Hz refresh rate display, according to the company. The Pixel 6 Pro, with a 6.7-inch, slightly curved display and a 120 Hz refresh rate, comes with similar specs but also a telephoto lens.

There’s no word on pricing at this time, but if the intention is to compete at the high end of the market, the price is likely to hover around $1,000. For comparison, the Pixel 5 starts at $699 and the Pixel 4a 5G starts at $499.

The design is eye-catching, too. The Pixel phones have more space above the camera bar, allowing three color combinations for each device.

Google said it’ll give more details about the devices in the fall, but the unusual move to drop so many specs ahead of a formal launch may be a way to encourage consumers who may be looking to upgrade their device to sit tight. Samsung will host its annual Unpacked event for its flagship Galaxy smartphones next week. Apple typically launches new iPhones in September.

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Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones announced with custom Tensor chips – The Verge



Google is announcing the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro today, though it might be better to call it a preview or a tease. Rather than releasing all the details on its new Android phones, Google is instead putting the focus on the new system on a chip (SoC) that will be inside the new Pixels. It’s called the Tensor SoC, named after the Tensor Processing Units (TPU) Google uses in its data centers.

Tensor is an SoC, not a single processor. And so while it’s fair to call it Google-designed, it’s also still unclear which components are Google-made and which are licensed from others. Two things are definitely coming from Google: a mobile TPU for AI operations and a new Titan M2 chip for security. The rest, including the CPU, GPU, and 5G modem, are all still a mystery.

Less mysterious: the phones themselves. I spent about an hour at Google’s Mountain View campus last week looking at the phone hardware and talking with Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh about Tensor. After all that, my main takeaway about the new Pixel 6 phones is simple.

Google is actually, finally trying to make a competitive flagship phone.

This fall, Google will release two slightly different Pixel phones: the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. If the final versions are anything like the prototypes I saw last week, they will be the first Pixel phones that don’t feel like they’re sandbagging when it comes to build quality. “We knew we didn’t have what it took to be in the ultra high end [in the past],” Osterloh admits. “And this is the first time where we feel like we really have it.”

Both versions of the Pixel were glass sandwiches with fit-and-finish that are finally in the same league as what Samsung, Huawei, and Apple have to offer. “We’ve definitively not been in the flagship tier for the past couple years, this will be different,” says Osterloh. He also admits that “it will certainly be a premium-priced product,” which I take to mean north of $1,000.

Google is only sharing a few of the key specs for each phone, leaving the details for later — likely October. (And no, there was no mention of a folding phone nor a watch.) Google also wouldn’t allow us to take photos or video of the devices during our meeting. In any case, here is what we do know:

The Pixel 6 Pro will have a 6.7-inch QHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh rate. That screen is very slightly curved at the edges, blending into shiny, polished aluminum rails on the side. It has three cameras on the back: a new wide-angle main sensor, an ultrawide, and a 4X optical-zoom folded telephoto lens. Google isn’t sharing specs on the camera beyond saying the main wide-angle sensor takes in 150 percent more light.

The regular Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch FHD+ screen with a 90Hz refresh rate. Its screen is perfectly flat, with matte-finished rails. It also loses the telephoto camera.

Although there will be memory differences between the phones, both will have the new Tensor SoC, a Titan M2 security chip, and in-display fingerprint sensor. There will be slightly different color options for the two types of phones.

As is often the case with polarizing designs, the look of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro make a little more sense in person than in leaked images. There is a huge “camera bar” that runs the full width of the phones, with a barely raised metal rail to protect the glass from scratches. There are only so many ways to handle massive camera bumps on big phones and Google’s solution is to “celebrate and highlight” them, in Osterloh’s words.

Google’s promo image for the Tensor SoC

If all Google were doing was rescuing the Pixel line from the doldrums of the midrange, that would be significant but not worth a months-early pre-announcement. The most important part of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro is that Google is using that new Tensor SoC inside.

Qualcomm has a virtual monopoly on processors in Android devices in the US. Worldwide, there is a little bit more competition as Samsung, MediaTek, and Huawei all have chips in Android phones. But on the whole, processing power on Android phones is rightfully thought of as woefully behind what Apple has done with its own in-house silicon on its A-Series line of chips.

Because of that situation, there’s a lot of interest to see if Google could potentially make a more competitive chip that could differentiate its products. But don’t let that interest trick you into thinking that Tensor is exactly equivalent to Apple’s A-Series chips. Tensor is the system on a chip, with a mix of components that Google itself has designed and others that it has licensed.

Google’s not sharing who designed the CPU and GPU, nor is it sharing benchmarks on their performance — though Osterloh says that it should be “market leading.” (Current rumors suggest that it might be Samsung providing those more standard component designs.) He adds, “The standard stuff people look at will be very competitive and the AI stuff will be totally differentiated.”

Instead, this week’s announcement is an attempt to reframe the narrative away from gigahertz and toward artificial intelligence and machine learning in phones — areas where Google, of course, has a big advantage.

Typically when you think about a phone’s specs, you think of the core three: CPU, GPU, and RAM. Those pieces of the SoC are what impact your day-to-day experience the most — how fast the phone feels, how long it lasts on battery, how well it connects to a cellular network, and so on. After that, there are generally some co-processors off to the side that handle discrete tasks like image processing or security. Google itself has already made some of those — the Titan M chip and Pixel Visual Core have appeared on previous phones.

“It’s definitely very different than just another co-processor,” Osterloh says. “Like with any SoC, we license a lot of technology into it, but this is our design and it was designed specifically with the purpose of driving our ML and AI forward.” Google’s argument is that the new chips in Tensor are an essential part of many of the things the new Pixel phones can do — not unlike Apple’s Neural Core in its A-Series processors.

The Pixel 6 Pro comes in three staid color options.

The Pixel 6 has two more fun color choices

“The computers of the future are becoming much more heterogenous than they have in the past,” Osterloh argues. He has for years been signaling that the end of Moore’s law will mean that computers — and phones — will need to be built differently. “There’ll be a lot more specialized sub-elements to the design to be able to do things in specific ways. This is a consequence of raw computing power running out of headroom or growing more slowly than the kinds of processing we want to do with AI,” he says.

The most important of those chips is a mobile version of a Tensor Processing Unit. Google has been making TPUs for its server farms for over five years now, dedicated to more efficiently performing AI and ML tasks. It offered an “edge” version of its TPU for enterprise solutions a few years ago, but the Pixel 6 marks the first time Google has put a mobile TPU in a phone.

So what can the new TPU inside Tensor actually do? Google had a small handful of demos. The first two were, unsurprisingly, related to photography. Using ML to make better photos has historically been a huge advantage for Pixel phones, but in recent years progress has stagnated and competitors have caught and surpassed the Pixel — and far surpassed it when it comes to video.

Google clearly wants to take back the crown and thinks the TPU is the way to do it. The first demo Google showed was a blurry photo of a toddler — the kid was moving because that is what kids do. A second version of the photo was the same but run through Tensor’s TPU, and the kid’s face was sharper.

The Google Pixel 6 (top) and Pixel 6 Pro (bottom)

The regular Google Pixel 6 has a matte rail.

It wasn’t a deepfake. What the Pixel 6 does is run the process of snapping a bunch of photos from the main sensor and combine them into a single, HDR image. But now the Pixel 6 also has the ultrawide grab a fast, sharper image to capture that detail. Then the TPU recognizes that there’s a face, and then combines the ultrawide’s image with the rest.

But impressive image demos are a dime a dozen these days. Google itself famously promised to remove chain link fences from photos in 2017 but never delivered. The promise of Tensor is to deliver better results more quickly, since the SoC is designed to more efficiently run data through the TPU.

It’s right to be skeptical until we get a chance to test the camera ourselves. It’s necessary to be skeptical of the Pixel 6’s video abilities given the Pixel line’s history of mediocre video — but Google’s second demo didn’t make skepticism easy.

It was a simple pan across a beach, with the setting sun fully in frame for much of the shot. As an HDR video, it was challenging. Google set up a rig with the Pixel 6, Pixel 5, and iPhone 12 Pro Max and shot the same pan with all three. As you might expect in a demo provided by Google, video from Google’s new phone looked the best.

Specifically, it didn’t artificially brighten shadows too much like the iPhone 12 Pro Max and also maintained a more natural white balance throughout. Compared to the Pixel 5, it was no contest. Last year’s Pixel over-sharpened everything into abstract art while the Pixel 6 looked much more natural.

The main reason the Pixel 6’s video was better, according to Osterloh, is that putting the TPU in line with the whole image processing stand means that the same HDRNet process that Google applies to still images can now be applied to every single frame in video. The demo I saw was in 4K at 30fps.

The other demos were a bit more subtle and were related to translating speech to text, which Tensor handled locally without needing an internet connection. In one, the Pixel’s on-device auto-caption feature appeared to be a little faster and more accurate — and was even able to translate from French to English in real time from a playing video. “We’re now able to run data-center quality models on our device,” says Osterloh.

In another demo, Osterloh showed that speaking to type was nearly instantaneous and that he could use the keyboard to edit words inline at the same time he was speaking — both input methods were active at the same time.

In addition to the TPU, the Pixel 6 will also have a new version of Google’s Titan M security chip. In the blog post announcing the Pixel 6, Google is going so far as to say that “with Tensor’s new security core and Titan M2, Pixel 6 will have the most layers of hardware security in any phone,” with a footnote that the claim is “based on a count of independent hardware security subsystems and components.”

Finally, Osterloh says there will be an “always-on computer” that will handle low-level, low-power processes like the ambient display. The battery life target for the Pixel 6 is still only “all day,” however.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro

The thing about AI and ML is that it might make search more accurate and photos better, but it’s not necessarily going to improve everything that happens on your phone. Osterloh suggests that as the TPU takes up more AI cycles, that could free up the other chips for more performance. That may be, but it’s still hard to make AI a selling point for a phone.

So Google has its work cut out for it. Doubly so, actually, since the Google Pixel line has languished in the low single digits of market share in the US ever since it was announced.

With the Google Pixel 6, Osterloh says that’s going to change. He’s ready to start grabbing market share wherever he can get it — whether that be from Apple or Samsung. “The product is really, now, The Google Phone,” Osterloh says. “So we are ready to invest a lot in marketing and we want to grow.”

In last week’s earnings call, Google CFO Ruth Porat warned investors to keep a look out for higher than usual marketing costs: “In addition, we expect sales and marketing expenses to be more heavily weighted to the back half of the year in part to support product launches in the holiday season.”

It has been five years since Google started making Pixel phones and in nearly every single one of those years I’ve asked some variation of the same question: is Google really serious about hardware? Does it intend to be a real competitor and make real money or is the entire effort just a rehashing of the old Nexus strategy? Or, to use a more recent reference, is the Pixel line just in a kind of “Pantry Mode,” kept alive just in case it’s ever needed for real?

Osterloh says that work on this new Tensor silicon began four years ago. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was about four years ago when Google announced it intended to buy HTC’s phone hardware division. That must have been the year Google got serious about the Pixel line — and it’s only now that we’re beginning to see the fruits of that effort.

Will it be enough? Will the Pixel 6 seriously vie for the enthusiast crowd that wants the very best phone and also grab measurable market share at the same time? We are very far from being able to answer those questions right now.

I am not going to tell you to get hyped up for the Pixel 6. It’s too early and there’s too much we don’t know. But I do think it’s very interesting that Google wants to start building up hype.

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