OnePlus is now accepting sign-ups for a Nord Beta Program in the US and Canada.
Only 50 people will be accepted, and they’ll have to provide feedback and reviews.
This could shape the future of Nord phones in North America.
The OnePlus Nord isn’t officially available in North America, but there is a way to try one — if you’re part of a very small testing group.
As promised, OnePlus is launching a Nord beta program that will give 50 people in the US and Canada a chance to test the new mid-range phone. If you sign up and are chosen (based on your writing and media skills), you’ll provide feedback and a review to help determine where the Nord line goes “in the future.” Some users will get to keep their phones, while others will have to return theirs after an unspecified period.
Applications are open until June 28 at 10:30PM Eastern. OnePlus will announce its selections on August 4, and the reviews will be published by August 31. You’ll know if you can keep your Nord by the end of August. You don’t have to be a OnePlus phone owner or participate in its forums, and that may even work to your advantage. The company is encouraging “original, creative, and unbiased” reviews that include performance comparisons with rival hardware.
This isn’t a giveaway. In addition to the feedback requirements and limited ownership, OnePlus warned that the phones are European models missing some LTE frequency bands on AT&T and T-Mobile. Your connection might drop to 3G or otherwise be flaky in certain parts of North America. OnePlus still wants people to review signal quality even with that in mind.
Still, this test could be particularly important. OnePlus previously said the Nord range could expand to the US with future models, and the input from the beta program will likely play an important role in shaping any future devices. What effort you put in as a tester could pay off for generations of phones to come.
A Huawei executive’s recent suggestion that the Huawei Mate 40 series will quite likely be the last of the company’s phones to feature its in-house Kirin silicon was both shocking and inevitable. With US trade sanctions against the Chinese giant now extending as far as foreign chipmakers that use or license and US technology, this prevents TSMC or Samsung from manufacturing chips for Huawei. Without a manufacturing partner, Huawei’s Kirin is no more. Simple as that.
Of course, this would also have a knock-on effect Huawei’s routers, switches, and other bits of hardware that all use Kirin silicon. What happens next is a quagmire of trade rules and weighing up options that may or may not pan out.
Huawei could look to China’s own Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) to manufacturer Kirin. However, even SMIC uses US-made equipment, so even as a short-term option, it would still stir up trouble with Washington. In addition, SMIC is notably behind on cutting edge lithography technology, sat as it is on 14nm FinFET versus TSMC’s 7nm FinFET and soon to be 5nm EUV processes. SMIC isn’t close to replacing TSMC as a premium-tier manufacturing option.
Without a manufacturing partner, Kirin is no more.
Alternatively, Huawei is still allowed to procure chips from rival designers, providing they aren’t US-based. Qualcomm is obviously out of the question and Samsung doesn’t have a track record of selling large numbers of Exynos chips to outsiders. This leaves MediaTek.
Huawei has already begun using MediaTek chips for some of its more affordable phones. Meanwhile, industry insiders suggest that Huawei purchases from MediaTek will surge by up to 300% this year as a result of the trade ban. Other reports note Huawei has already ordered more than 120 million chips to help cover the Kirin shortfall. Whether Huawei deems MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 series a suitable premium-tier replacement remains to be seen, but the company may not have much choice if it wants to keep up its sales momentum.
Even with MediaTek as a backup solution, this doesn’t solve the bigger picture problem. By losing Kirin, Huawei’s future phones risk losing almost everything that makes them special.
This is much worse than losing access to the Play Store
Huawei’s Western smartphone hopes were already skewered by the ban on access to Google’s Play Store. The company’s App Gallery alternative, while much improved in recent months, still isn’t a replacement for the ecosystem and apps that smartphone users outside of China are intimately familiar with. As bad as this is, however, the loss of Kirin will be felt outside of the West too.
The first issue is that this latest development impacts all of Huawei’s products, including those sold in China where Google-free phones are the norm. The chip supply issue threatens Huawei’s ability to complete in China, a market the company has become increasingly reliant on as its global appeal stutters. Secondly, and equally devastating, is that without Kirin, Huawei’s smartphones lose their most important unique selling points. Huawei could become just another generic smartphone manufacturer.
Huawei’s smartphone reputation is centered on exceptional camera quality. A large part of this is due to the company’s image signal processor (ISP) built into its Kirin chips, which runs the company’s cutting-edge BM3D noise-reduction algorithm and supports its unique RYYB sensor technology. Any future Huawei phones powered by another chip could fall well below the high photography standard everyone expects from the Shenzhen firm.
Almost every single one of each Huawei phone’s unique selling points are based on Kirin hardware.
Kirin is also out in front on machine learning thanks to its custom Da Vinci architecture. This lends itself to super-resolution zoom imaging, low-power voice recognition, gesture controls, facial recognition security, and more. This would also halt any integration of the company’s own 5G modem technology and other silicon optimizations.
Huawei can certainly move some of its software and algorithms over to another vendor’s chip. However, there’s no guarantee that they will run as well or as efficiently as they do on the company’s bespoke Kirin processor. The bottom line, Huawei’s phones won’t be the same without Kirin.
Can Huawei survive without Kirin?
There’s little doubt that without Kirin, Huawei’s ability to adapt and withstand the pressures of the US trade embargo is further diminished. Silicon cuts right to the core of Huawei’s smartphone business and its future now seems to rest firmly on who, if anyone, it can find to work with to get around this latest roadblock.
With no sign of a TSMC replacement on the horizon, Huawei may have to find a new close partner in MediaTek. Outside of a few niche releases, MediaTek’s premium 5G SoCs are a reasonably untested entity and aren’t quite in the same class as rival chips from Qualcomm. Undoubtedly, a switch to MediaTek will have repercussions for the performance, capabilities, and probably costs of Huawei’s premium smartphones, which could further eat into their appeal in the West, but also at home in China.
Silicon cuts right to the core of Huawei’s smartphone business.
Having just unseated Samsung for the top spot in the mobile industry, it would take some time for Huawei to lose its position as a major smartphone player. However, adapting to the ever-evolving trade ban inevitably means big changes for the company’s products in 2021 and beyond. We’ll have to see if these products sustain Huawei’s current momentum, but with the potential loss of Kirin, the prognosis looks worse than ever.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the long-awaited successor to one of our favorite wearables, the original Galaxy Watch, and we’re enjoying all the new perks and features. But how does it stack up to the market leading competitor, the Apple Watch 5?
While both watches sit on either side of the operating system divide – the Apple Watch 5 works seamlessly with iPhones, while the Galaxy Watch 3 integrates with Android phones far better than iOS devices – so choosing between the two may come down to which ecosystem serves you better. Apple Watches only link to iPhones, while the Samsung Watch 3 won’t be able to reply to messages or transfer much health data unless linked to Android phones
That aside, both are all-around watches that can fit your fashion and your fitness needs – which is to be expected with their high prices relative to other smartwatches. These are the top-tier devices in their field, and you’d be hard-pressed to find wearables that outperform them.
The Apple Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 3 do differ substantially in features, operating system, and functionality, but it’s tough to summarize their appeal. Instead, we’ve broken them down section-by-section, so read on for our deep dives into how they compare by category.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 5 price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 was officially announced at Samsung Unpacked on August 5, 2020 and released a day later on August 6, 2020. Yes, it’s the direct successor to the original Samsung Galaxy Watch – we’re not sure why the company skipped the ‘Galaxy Watch 2’ name, but there was a two-year gap between the two watches.
The Galaxy Watch 3 starts at $399 / £419 / AU$649 for the smaller 41mm Galaxy Watch 3, and $329 / £429 / AU$699 for the bigger 45mm version, both in stainless steel – and there’s a titanium version in 45mm coming later in 2020 at an undisclosed cost. The price is even higher for the LTE-connecting models: $449 / £439 / AU$799 for the 41mm version, and $479 / £459 / AU$849 for the 46mm version.
The Galaxy Watch 3’s stainless steel cases come in three colors total, split between sizes: 41mm exclusively has Mystic Bronze, 45mm has Mystic Black, and both come in Mystic Silver. They’re shipped with a color-coordinating leather band, and the titanium version will have a corresponding metal link band.
The Apple Watch 5 launched alongside the iPhone 11 lineup on September 10, 2020. Costs for the cheaper GPS-only model start at $399 / £399 / AU$649 for the smaller 40mm size, rising to $429 / £429 / AU$699 for the 44mm size. LTE versions of the watch start at $499 / £499 / AU$799 for 40mm, and go up to $529 / £529 / AU$849 for the 44mm version.
Those baseline prices are for the aluminum case, which comes in three finishes: Gold, Space Black, and Silver. The stainless steel casing costs more based on band choice: $699 with a sport loop or sport band, $749 with a Milanese loop, or $799 with a leather loop. The titanium casing, in light and dark finishes, starts at $799 with a sport loop and goes up to $899 with a leather loop. Finally, a Ceramic finish will push the cost to a whopping $1,299 with a sport loop and going up to $1,399 with a leather loop.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 5 design
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a refinement of the original Galaxy Watch and inherits much of its design. While the new watch is 14% slimmer and 15% lighter than the old, with some visibly streamlined elements, it’s still a large smartwatch.
Most importantly, the Watch 3 retains a physical rotating dial, which was one of our favorite features of the original Galaxy Watch that made it a pleasure to navigate the interface with precision and tactile clicking. Visually, the dial has lost its triangular pips that marked time, which overall contributes to a more minimal look. The lugs connecting the watch case to the strap are smaller, the buttons are distinct and rounded, and the leather band instead of rubber all contribute to a classy watch that takes cues from traditional timepieces.
The Galaxy Watch 3 has a suite of sensors on the bottom that face the wrist: an ECG sensor as well as an SPO2 sensor to track blood oxygen levels, as well as sensors to monitor blood pressure.
The Apple Watch 5 continues its own tradition of rounded rectangle that began all the way back with the original Apple Watch. The oval button that summons recent apps and rotating crown are relatively unchanged, while the ECG sensors on the watch’s bottom remain virtually the same from their introduction in the Apple Watch 4.
Design-wise, the Apple Watch 5 has more in common with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 – an overall ‘sporty’ look that contrasts with the more traditional appearance of the Galaxy Watch 3. The baseline aluminum versions Apple Watch 5 weighs 40.6 g for the 40mm model and 47.8 g for 44mm, which is notably lighter than the 48.2 g of the 41mm Galaxy Watch 3 and well under the 53.8 g of the 45mm Samsung watch.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 5 display
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 has a 1.2-inch (41mm) or 1.3-inch (45mm) circular AMOLED display, with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels, that’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass DX. It inherits an always-on display from its predecessor, which shows a minimal version of the watch face for, say, checking time without draining much battery.
The Apple Watch 5 has a 1.57-inch (40mm) or 1.73-inch (44mm) rectangular OLED sapphire crystal display, with a resolution of 448 x 368 pixels. Apple introduced an always-on display with this model, beating Samsung to the punch by nearly a year.
While both watches have sharp displays with nearly the same pixel density, the biggest difference is form factor. The Galaxy Watch 3 screen is circular, while the Apple Watch 5 display is more rectangular – and this defines each one’s experience. While modern app content is arguably better suited for rectangular screens, the Watch 3’s rotating physical dial is easier to scroll with than the Apple Watch 5’s crown.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Apple Watch 5 fitness
The Galaxy Watch 3 builds on its predecessor’s fitness modes and offerings, which were acceptable but not impressive. It can track a total of 40 different workouts, seven of which (running, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical, and aerobically dynamic) the watch can detect and start tracking automatically. Whether it’s actually a pleasure to exercise with the big watch will have to wait until we’ve done more testing – the original Galaxy Watch was notably top-heavy.
The other features are supplementary but helpful, like a VO2 Max reading that calculates the maximum amount of oxygen your body can take in while exercising. The Watch 3 also gets fall detection, which has been in Apple’s wearables since the Apple Watch 4. And of course, the Watch 3 has SPO2 blood oxygen tracking and blood pressure monitoring.
We haven’t fully tested the Galaxy Watch 3’s sleep tracking yet, but it’s encouraging that Samsung partnered with the US National Sleep Institute to help develop the feature. It automatically tracks sleep cycles and gives a morning report detailing sleep quality and tips on getting better sleep.
The Apple Watch 5 doesn’t have sleep tracking, though it’s rumored to be coming in the watchOS 7 update arriving later in 2020. Even if it does, the Apple smartwatch has such limited less-than-a-day battery life that it’s hard to imagine it being a helpful feature; at least the Galaxy Watch 3 can last overnight (or even two) to monitor sleep habits.
The Apple Watch 5 shines in its fitness offerings, though, even if little has changed since the Apple Watch 4. The watch accurately tracks and auto-detects workouts, steps, heart rate, and elevation thanks to the new internal compass, and automatically feeds the data into the iOS Fitness and Health apps, if the watch is connected to an iPhone. This makes the Apple Watch 5 a better fitness partner for those who have an iOS device.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Apple Watch 5 performance and battery
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 packs the Exynos 9110 chipset, the same as in the original Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy Watch Active 2. It has a flat 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage for apps and media.
The Galaxy Watch 3 runs on Samsung’s Tizen wearable OS 5.5, which is the company’s proprietary wearable OS it uses instead of Wear OS. This allows Samsung to fine-tune how the rotating dial works within the interface, but it also potentially means fewer apps that have to release a separate version for the OS.
The Apple Watch 5 is powered by the Apple S5 mobile chipset, which reportedly isn’t much changed from its predecessor’s silicon, but does have a magnetometer (for the compass) and better power efficiency – all of which seems to have been counterbalanced by the always-on display, meaning the battery life is essentially the same as the Apple Watch 4. The new smartwatch does double its storage to a whopping 32GB for all the app and media you’d want to store locally.
Apple Watch 5 runs watchOS 6 out of the box, which notably has its own App Store for users to browse and download apps on the watch itself without having to route through a connected phone. The OS also has voice memos and basic versions of iOS apps (like the calculator), as well as ambient noise monitoring.
Battery life is where these smartwatches seriously differ. The Apple Watch 5 claims 18 hours off its 296mAh of capacity, which makes daily recharging a necessity – since, well, it can’t even last a full day. We haven’t fully tested the Galaxy Watch 3, but given its predecessor managed to repeatedly last over three days, and even into the fifth day on occasion without recharging, we’re eager to see how long it will last. But the disparity in capacity between the smaller and larger versions of the watch (247mAh and 340mAh, respectively) leads us to think it’ll be two days this time around.
Given the benefits of matching these smartwatches with phones of their operating systems, it’s likely best to pick the wearable that works best with the smartphone you already own. But these wearables are different enough in form and features to consider on their own merits.
The Galaxy Watch 3 is big, no doubt about it, but it looks classier and more broadly-appealing than its chunky predecessor, especially with its leather straps. Otherwise, its appeal is virtually the same as the original Galaxy Watch, albeit with more sensors for ECG and SPO2 to track health conditions.
The extra battery and health features give the Galaxy Watch 3 a bit of an edge on the Apple Watch 5 (where its SPO2 sensor is cleared by medical authorities, anyway), but the Apple-tuned wearable has polish befitting its brand. If you don’t mind recharging your smartwatch more often, the Apple touch and seamless integration with iPhones is just easy.
Either way, these devices represent the top picks of the best smartwatches on the market. If you want all-around quality and are willing to pay the price, both are great picks.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 announced three days ago is receiving its first software update, which enables a couple of features that aren’t activated out of the box – VO2 Max and blood oxygen monitoring. The last one isn’t available in nine countries, though, which include Algeria, Angola, Canada, France, Iran, Japan, Libya, South Africa and Thailand.
The new firmware, that weighs 80MB in size, also brings in Advanced Running Analysis that provides insights to improve your running, as well as Sleep Score to help you understand your sleep patterns.
The Galaxy Watch3 also features hardware to measure blood pressure and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, but these functions aren’t activated right now due to the pending approvals from regulatory agencies of different countries. This was also the case with the Galaxy Watch Active2 announced last August, which got ECG enabled yesterday.
Seeing how the governments across the world are busy battling the COVID-19 pandemic right now, it could be a while before ECG and blood pressure monitoring is activated on the Galaxy Watch3.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 is powered by the Exynos 9110 SoC and boots to Tizen OS 5.5. It packs a Super AMOLED display and comes in two sizes – 41mm and 45mm – with the screen measuring 1.2″ and 1.4″, respectively.
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