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OnePlus pop-up camera

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When the first OnePlus 7 Pro renders trickled out, showing off what appeared to be a pop-out camera mechanism, even I was critical of the concept. External moving parts on a device that suffers as much abuse as a phone seemed like a design that was destined to fail, even in just a mechanical sense.

Well, I’m not afraid to say that I was entirely wrong. OnePlus’ pop-up selfie camera has proven to be a fantastic idea, and I’m upset it looks like OnePlus’ next high-end “Pro” phone won’t get one.

The advantages of a pop-out camera are subjective, but pretty clear: Right now, it’s the only way to get an all-screen phone free of both bezels and cameras. Now, there’s no real objective benefit to that short of a bit of extra screen space, but I think it’s a much more attractive look, and clearly the ultimate goal of modern smartphone design given the sort of changes we’ve seen over the last couple years with under/in-screen camera designs and the move from 2018’s notch to “hole-punch” cameras. An all-screen design free of camera cutouts and notches is not necessarily “better,” but it is a whole lot cooler to look at.

Another curious detail is the fact that this sort of pop-up/out mechanism has been done plenty of times by a lot of Chinese companies, but outside the OnePlus 7 Pro and Motorola One Hyper, it hasn’t really materialized in the US. There’s the Oppo Reno, Realme X, Vivo Nex, Redmi K20 Pro (the base for the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro), and Honor 9X, all among an even longer list of phones with the feature, all of which have pop-up camera designs, and almost none of which have come to our shores.

While other companies like ASUS and Samsung have put their own spin on the idea by making the rear and front-facing camera the same camera, the OnePlus 7 Pro with its full-screen design and pop-out camera is a unique and much-loved device in the US. In fact, it only narrowly dodged both our readers’ choice award and our editors’ choice smartphone of the year award, though it handily snatched the title at other venues.

OnePlus pop-up camera

OnePlus 8 Pro render, courtesy of @OnLeaks and 91Mobiles.

Looks don’t seem to be an issue, then. So why would OnePlus give up on the idea in its next phone, as it appears to be? Since it’s a moving part, one might think that durability ended up being a concern, and it might be, but not the way you think.

OnePlus rated the 7 Pro’s pop-up mechanism’s longevity for around 300,000 cycles, which is a pretty big number. Assuming that you substantially beat the average and unlock your phone 100 times a day (using the pop-up camera for face recognition) and take another 100 selfies every single day on top of that, then the mechanism will last you a mere four years — a little longer than most folks keep a phone. More realistic use (~90 actuations a day) brings that number closer to nine years.

Of course, variability and basic statistics will see some fail before (and after) these rated numbers, but even so, I had to go out of my way to find any reports of the mechanism failing. Durability doesn’t seem to be an issue. Hell, someone even used one as a bottle opener without any apparent ill effects — not that I’d recommend it.

While the mechanism clearly functions in the long term, there still might be one good reason to get rid of it: an IP rating.

So far as I can tell, precisely zero phones with pop-out camera mechanisms have been able to snag an IP rating. Of course, OnePlus has bent over backward to justify not having an IP rating for its phones in the past. Even if there’s some other undisclosed explanation for OnePlus’ prior lack of rated water resistance, that may not be the case now in 2020. This is speculative, but if OnePlus can make future phones water-resistant with a specified IP rating, that marketing point might be worth giving up on a full-screen design and the pop-out camera.

Whatever the explanation ends up being, I’m still sad that the all-screen, pop-up camera design looks to be replaced by a hole-punch selfie cam. But I hope that we get something good from OnePlus, like IP rating, for giving up that feature.

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In with Galaxy S20, out with the Galaxy S11? This is Samsung's chance to shake up the brand – CNET

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Samsung’s next phone may not be called the Galaxy S11 after all.


Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung can credit the Galaxy S line with securing its place as the world’s top smartphone brand. But after more than a decade, rumors say the company is almost certainly shaking up the way it names its Galaxy S devices. The Galaxy S11 could become the Galaxy S20, with next year’s phone going by the name Galaxy S21 and so on, to match the calendar year.

Sure can’t wait for 2051.

As a writer, I think that names matter. No, not as much as the specs inside the phone, but enough that they can convey what a brand is about. It isn’t just me, either: companies spend millions of dollars on focus groups and marketing strategies when choosing a phone name.

A month away from Samsung’s Unpacked event on Feb 11, I’m not sure whether this proposed naming convention is good or bad. I’m not convinced that Samsung would stick with the plan to name its phone after the year, and if it does, it could be a missed opportunity for the brand to rededicate the phone as memorable and creative.

Let’s consider a few options. Say Samsung follows in the footsteps of Apple’s iPad (e.g. iPad 2019) and most car manufacturers by matching each phone name with the corresponding year. There’s some logic to this strategy — you’ll always know where you are with a Samsung Galaxy S23, and I welcome bringing a little order to a portfolio brimming over with Galaxy phones

I’m sure it’s also cheaper and easier for brands not to have to worry about finding a unique name that resonates with the public in multiple languages, and that also isn’t already earmarked by rivals.

On the other hand, the numbering game tends to feel unruly and meaningless, especially when you get into the higher digits. Would Samsung really commit to this plan long enough to reach the Galaxy S51, assuming we still use phones by then and not chips implanted into our arms? 

The time to reinvent the brand is now

If Samsung thinks it hit a natural limit after the Galaxy S10 and wants to liven up the franchise, I’d be happy if it used the moment to reinvent the brand with a new name that stands for an updated set of values. (Of course, we don’t know what Samsung will actually do until its big reveal.)

For an example, look no further than the iPhone X. Apple seemed to have changed the name when it unveiled a new type of iPhone, one that overhauled the design, removed the fingerprint scanner and boldly adopted face unlock with an approach that had never before been used in a phone. Apple pronounced the model iPhone “Ten”, but many people referred to it as the iPhone “Ex”.


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And then Apple ruined it by moving on to the iPhone 11 two years later. At some point, the iPhone’s name is going to have to change again, because in my mind anyway, the iPhone 18, 21 and 34 seem too ridiculous to exist. I’m reminded of every Mission: Impossible reboot, or that classic line from a fake newscast in Spaceballs (the movie, not the flame thrower), “Rocky V…thousand.”

I suppose the heart of my thinking is that part of me misses the more fanciful names of a decade ago and more, when a phone name stood for some intrinsic value or feature that the device possessed, like the powerful and mysterious Samsung Omnia, or the zesty, flippy Motorola Citrus. (I’ll probably never forgive the LG Chocolate music phone for having nothing to do with actual chocolate.)

There’s a benefit to giving a phone a meaningful name. Just look at Android OS. Google was able to gain a hugely invested Android following that avidly followed and excitedly guessed each year’s dessert-themed code name… until the fun ended this year with Android 10. While dry names haven’t hurt the iPhone’s success, Samsung has a chance to be more meaningful. 

samsung-s20samsung-s20

A leaked image of the Samsung Galaxy S20? Check out that new camera design.


XDA Developers

If the S20 does indeed mark a brand-new direction — 5G, a new camera philosophy, and bold design — then a new name makes sense. I just hope it’s more interesting than “S20.” 

I concede to being in the minority here. Today, straightforward phone (and OS) naming seems to mostly be about maintaining order amidst the chaos — as much to keep models clear on the sales and distribution end, I suspect, as for keeping a sea of variants straight in customers’ minds. 

Then again, there’s such a thing as too much simplicity. I cringe just thinking about the Motorola Moto G, which at one point had at least three different models going by the same name with different carriers. Even Motorola’s PR team didn’t immediately know which was which until we compared the specs.

Of course, when all is said and done, it’s these specs that matter most. The way that a phone works is far more important than how it rolls off the tongue, and that’s where companies should absolutely spend their time and attention. 

Would a phone’s inner workings sound as tempting by any other name? Sure, but if it came down to the Samsung Galaxy Sonic and the Samsung Galaxy S28, I know which one I’d want more.

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Police issue warning about Google Play gift card scam

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NEWS RELEASE
SOUTH SIMCOE POLICE
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BRADFORD/INNISFIL – South Simcoe Police Service officers would like to remind the public to be aware of a recent scam involving Google Play Gift Cards.

Officers have recently received several reports of citizens being contacted through their personal computers or via home and/or cell phone by suspects claiming to act on behalf of a government agency or credit company. The suspects state that the victim owes money for taxes or outstanding credit card purchases that needs to be paid in order to avoid a significant penalty. The suspects will ask the victim to purchase Google Play gift cards typically in an amount totaling $500. The victim will then be instructed to scratch the back of the card in order to reveal the code which will then be provided to the suspect. Once this process has been completed, the value of the card is redeemed by the suspect who will then stop communicating with the victim or will sometimes ask the victim to repeat this process to gain further funds. Please be aware that once card code is provided to the suspects, Google Play will not provide a refund or any form of compensation to the victim.

In these circumstances the phone numbers and employee names provided by the suspects are fictitious.

To safeguard yourself from this crime avoid disclosing personal details or banking your particulars to anyone over the phone or internet. If you do fall victim to this scam contact police and report the incident.

Know this: government agencies and credit card companies will never ask for gift cards as payment. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately.  If you receive a text or email of this nature, delete it.

Additional information can be found here.

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Consider lower your expectations for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip camera

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Ahead of its predicted February 11th launch, the truth of the rumours of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip camera are now starting to come clearer.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip (SM-F700F) is expected to feature a 6.7-inch internal screen with an Ultra-Thin Glass display (UTG), which allows the screen to be crease-free and protected- but still flexible.  Inside, it will have an Infinity-O punch-hole camera (like 10 megapixels); while outside it will offer two lenses capable of 8K recording and a small notification area next to the camera.

While early rumours speculated that the main camera will be 108MP, this would throw the affordability factor out the window- a defining feature of this particular foldable.

The Z Flip is expected to cost anywhere between 1 million won ($862) and 1.5 million won ($1,293)- so it’s unlikely that such a camera will fit into the equation.  With this in mind, recent reports by SamMobile now suggest that we can expect a more humble 12MP main camera- likely similar to the Galaxy Note 10’s.

The device is expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 855 processor and run Android 10 with OneUi 2.0; likely allowing 2 apps to be run at the same time split between 2 halves of the screen. It is expected to have at least 1800 mAh battery power split between two batteries, and possibly more.  The whole device will articulate on a Hide-Away hinge which allows near-flat closure, possibly held together with magnets or a clasp.

The device will be unveiled at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, USA and will likely cost around $1500, with availability date uncertain.

See the device rendered in video by designer Giuseppe Spinelli – aka Snoreyn for LetsGoDigital below.

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Source: Sammobile

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