iOS 17 Brings Comprehensive Protection Against Unwanted Nude Images
Apple's forthcoming iOS 17 will include a suite of new options to protect both children and adults from inappropriate and/or unwanted sexual content. The features are a significant expansion of the technology already available via Communication Safety. Currently, parents can enable Communication Safety for their kids, which intervenes when it detects nudity in photos in the Messages app, either sending or receiving. In iOS 17, this protection expands to video content, AirDrop, FaceTime video messages, Contact Posters in the Phone app, and the Photos picker. In addition, a new API lets developers add Communication Safety to third-party apps. For adults, this same technology has been repackaged as a separate feature called Sensitive Content Warning. It only applies to receiving images and videos in Messages, AirDrop, a FaceTime video message, and the Phone app when receiving a Contact Poster. It's an optional feature that can be turned on in Privacy & Security settings. When enabled, sensitive photos are blurred by default, but can still be viewed with an extra step. Both Communication Safety and Sensitive Content Warning use on-device processing, so no content is uploaded to Apple nor any other party.
iPhones Gain News Powers Paired with TVs
Apple today announced two distinct new features that will let iPhones do more with full-size TVs. FaceTime on tvOS lets you make FaceTime calls on your TV with Apple TV. Continuity Camera lets your iPhone or iPad provide the camera for the call. The feature supports Center Stage, which automatically adjusts the framing to keep you centered. Separately, AirPlay for Hotels will make it easier to watch your own media on the full-size TV in select hotels. Simply scanning a QR code displayed on the TV will automatically connect your iPhone to the hotel Wi-Fi and pair the phone with the TV for displaying content. The feature will roll out starting later this year.
iOS 17 Adds StandBy, Live Voicemail, Check In
Apple has announced iOS 17, due in the fall. It includes a long list of new features. StandBy is a new interface mode that activates when you turn the iPhone 90º while idle. It acts like a home smart display, offering a clock, widgets, photos, music, and a special interface for Siri. The Phone app adds contact Posters, which let you customize a full-screen photo with text for each contact, displayed during incoming calls and across the OS. Live Voicemail displays a live transcript as someone leaves you a voicemail message. FaceTime now includes video voicemail. Autocorrect now uses more intelligent machine learning, considers sentence context, and adds sentence auto-complete and personalized learning. Apple also promises fewer "ducking" mistakes. Check In lets someone receive automatic updates on your trip to a safe destination. It provides interactive prompts if you're running late. If you're late and not responding, (and therefore potentially in trouble,) it automatically lets your trusted contact know, along with location and battery level. Messages lets you refine searches, and "catch up" jumps to the last unread message for you. AirDrop now includes NameDrop for sharing contact info, and AirDrop can now be triggered by simply bringing two iPhones very close together. Journal is a new app for journaling. It includes machine-learning-powered Suggestions based on your activity to inspire a new journal entry. Apple has also improved Siri to respond to just "Siri", instead of "Hey Siri". Finally, the Maps app now supports Offline Maps. The first developer beta of iOS 17 is available today.
Motorola Gets Serious About Foldables with New RAZR Lineup
Motorola has launched two new foldable phones, creating a lineup of 2023 razr phones with flexible display technology. The higher-end razr+ has the largest outer display of a modern flip-style phone, and is the thinnest when closed. The design no longer features a "chin", bringing it closer to Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip series in appearance, and Motorola is matching Samsung on price at $1,000. The lower-end model will presumably be more affordable, breaking new ground in the US as a sub-$1,000 foldable at launch. Both new razr phones have the same 6.9-inch AMOLED inner display with FHD+ resolution, HDR10+, and at least 144 Hz refresh (165 Hz for the razr+).
- The 2023 razr+ is powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip paired with 8 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256 GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The large AMOLED outer display surrounds the outer cameras. It measures 3.6 inches and sports 1066 x 1056 resolution, HDR10+, and up to 144 Hz refresh. Motorola has created a new software experience for the large outer display that includes functionality for apps like Google Maps, Google News, Google Wallet, weather, and Spotify. It also has new customization options and even mini-games. The battery is 3,800 mAh. The main camera is 12 megapixel with f/1.5, dual-pixel PDAF, and OIS. Standard colors are Glacier Blue and Infinite Black, both of which employ a 7000-series aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus on both sides. A Viva Magenta (Pantone color of the year) edition swaps out glass for vegan leather on the bottom half. This color will be exclusive to T-Mobile in the US.
- The 2023 razr will be a more affordable option and perhaps the most affordable foldable phone on the market, although Motorola has not yet set a specific price. Its OLED outer display is a more modest 1.5 inches with just 194 x 368 resolution. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chip paired with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. The main camera is 64 megapixel (f/1.7) with OIS and laser autofocus. Interestingly, the battery is larger at 4,200 mAh. The design consists of 7000-series aluminum, vegan leather, and Gorilla Glass Victus protecting the outer display. It will come in Sage Green, Summer Lilac, and Vanilla Cream.
Federal Judge: Border Searches of Cell Phones Require a Warrant
A Federal judge in New York has ruled that a warrant is required for a cell phone search at the border, "absent exigent circumstances". U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has long asserted broad authority to conduct warrantless, and often suspicionless, device searches at the border, which includes ports of entry at the land borders, international airports, and seaports. "In Fiscal Year 2022, CBP conducted an all-time high of 45,499 device searches." The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has been fighting this potentially unconstitutional practice in the courts for several years.
Google Adds More Cards to Wallet
Google is updating its Wallet app to support more and new types of cards, bringing the app closer to a full replacement for physical keys and wallet. The app will now let you scan any physical barcode or QR code and turn it into a scannable card in Wallet. This feature can be used for things like a physical gym membership card, transit ticket, parking pass, or e-commerce returns. Google is also working to enable secure, protected health insurance cards in Wallet. The first partners to support this feature will be Humana in the US and National Insurance in the UK. Google is also introducing a new shortcut that makes it easier to save travel passes received via RCS in the Messages app. Finally, Maryland is now the latest US state to support a digital driver's license or state ID in Wallet. Google says digital IDs will soon be available for Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia.
Nokia Refreshes Entry-Level Android Lineup for US
HMD Global today announced two new very affordable Nokia 4G smartphones for the US. The Nokia C110 and C300 will sell for $99 and $139, respectively. Both have an HD+ display, 13 megapixel main camera, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (expandable), IP52 water resistance, and Android 12. The Nokia C110 has a 6.3-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, and is powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 chip. The Nokia C300 has a 6.52-inch display, 4,000 mAh battery, fingerprint reader, macro and depth cameras, and is powered by a Snapdragon 662 chip. Both phones go on sale this month. The C110 comes in grey and will be available from Walmart, Target, Consumer Cellular, and Tracfone. The C300 comes in blue and will be offered by Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Consumer Cellular, and Tracfone.
2023's moto g stylus 5G is Smaller
Motorola has launched the 2023 edition of its moto g stylus 5G, a mid-range phone that offers a few extras for $400 (or less through some carriers). This year's model is more compact, with a 6.6 inch display instead of 6.8". It also updates the processor to the newer Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chip and adds stereo speakers. Other specs and features remain the same, (and a major upgrade over this year's 4G model). That includes the integrated stylus, 120 Hz display, 5,000 mAh battery, 50 megapixel main camera, combined wide/macro camera, NFC, memory card slot, headset jack, and fingerprint reader. The phone has excellent support for all major (sub-6) frequency bands used in the US. It comes with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of storage,. It appears to be very popular with carriers. Cricket will sell it starting this Friday, June 2nd. It will also be offered by AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro, Consumer Cellular, US Cellular, Boost, Google Fi, Xfinity, Optimum, and Spectrum.
Hands On with the moto g stylus 5G (2023)
The Moto g stylus 5G has long been one of the few popular mid-range phones in the US. It's a tricky category, but Motorola usually gets it right. So for this year's model, they're not changing much. The 4G model changed a lot this year, but the 5G model is probably closer to what you were expecting, if you follow such things. So what's new, and what's it like in person? Read on for our hands-on report and first impressions.
New Arm Cores Deliver up to 40% Better Performance
Arm has revealed Total Compute Solution 2023 (TCS23), its next-generation chip designs for mobile devices including phones of all types. Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Google all use Arm's designs and technology as a foundation for their own processor chips that power essentially all of today's phones. The new Arm Cortex-X4 is a high-performance "prime" core for flagship phones. Compared to last year's X3, it offers 15% better performance using 40% less power. Arm also has new "big" and "little" CPU core designs for all classes of phones: the Cortex-A720 and Cortex-A520 (respectively). They both offer a 40% performance boost and 20–22% better power efficiency compared to last year's designs. On the graphics side, the new Immortalis-G720 GPU offers a 14% improvement in total system efficiency and introduces Deferred Vertex Shading (DVS) technology. In addition to the new cores, TCS23 includes designs for other chip components, including the interconnect that links the cores and memory, which boasts 25% better latency. Arm is also working more closely with TSMC, the world's leading chip manufacturer. Through this partnership, TCS23 is optimized for TSMC's new, cutting-edge N3E manufacturing process. Arm revealed that it has already produced a physical chip with TCS23 on TSMC N3E. This example chip exists only to proves the technology. It is not a full SoC (it doesn't have a modem, for one) and Arm has no intention of competing with its partners like Qualcomm and MediaTek. The chip is intended to help those partners bring chips based on TCS23 and N3E to market faster.
Samsung's New Display Senses Fingerprints and More Across Whole Surface
Samsung has revealed "Sensor OLED", a new display panel technology that has many tiny light sensors embedded directly into the whole OLED panel surface. This allows the panel to read fingerprints anywhere on the display, as well as check cardiovascular health. Current in-display fingerprint readers utilize a seperate sensor module under a small part of the display; this new technology is embedded directly in the display itself and covers the whole display area. When placing two fingers on the display, (one from each hand,) the display "can measure the user's heart rate, blood pressure and stress level". Samsung also showed off several new foldable phone concepts using its flexible display technology. One is called Rollable Flex, a display that unrolls like a scroll to become five times larger, essentially transforming from a slim phone to a large tablet.
FCC Says No to 5G in Lower 12 GHz Band, Yes to 6G in Upper 12 GHz
The FCC has adopted new rules governing the 12 GHz band that rule out using the lower half for cellular service, while specifically setting aside the upper half for cellular service. The lower 12 Ghz band, spanning 12.2 – 12.7 GHz, is currently used for satellite services such as SpaceX's Starlink service. Dish and RS Access had wanted to use this band for terrestrial 5G service as well, claiming it would not interfere. SpaceX insisted that its own tests showed interference would be significant. The FCC today sided with SpaceX, finding that there was "a significant risk of harmful interference". For the upper half, spanning 12.7 – 13.25 GHz, the FCC will move forward with a process to make this band available for flexible terrestrial wireless service, "including 6G wireless services." Incumbent non-federal licensees may need to be relocated or adopt a sharing system. The Commission is seeking comment on the best way to accomplish that.
ChatGPT Now available as an iPhone App
The conversational AI app is available now, for free, in the US. ChatGPT Plus subscribers get additional features. It will come to Android and other countries soon.
Apple Previews Major New Accessibility Features for iOS
Apple today previewed several new accessibility features that are coming to iPhone and iPad later this year. The major new features address those with speech, cognitive, and vision disabilities. Live Speech lets users type to speak out loud. The feature works during phone or FaceTime calls, or on its own for in-person conversations. It includes bookmarks for quick access to frequently-used phrases. Personal Voice is an enhancement to Live Speech that lets users create a voice that sounds like them. This is for users at risk of losing their ability to speak, such as those with a recent diagnosis of ALS. Assistive Access replaces most of iOS with a dramatically simplified interface for those with cognitive disabilities. It presents large tiles for Music, Calls, Messages, Photos, and Camera, and a simplified interface within each of those apps. A trusted supporter can customize the experience. "For example, for users who prefer communicating visually, Messages includes an emoji-only keyboard and the option to record a video message". Point and Speak will read aloud any text that your finger points to when using Detection Mode in the Magnifier app. "For example, while using a household appliance — such as a microwave — Point and Speak [will] announce the text on each button as users move their finger across the keypad." Detection Mode already announces and describes whatever is in front of the camera, and is a feature of the existing Magnifier app, which helps those with low vision navigate their physical environment. Other improvements include phonetic suggestions for similar-sounding words in Voice Control, and adjustable speech rate for Siri (0.8x – 2x) in VoiceOver.
Verizon Intros Customizable Plans
Verizon today launched myPlan, a totally new plan structure. Users choose from one of two unlimited-data base plans, then add as many or as few "perks" as they want, for $10/month/each. Available perks include 100 GB of mobile hotspot data, a smartwatch plan, 3 international travel day passes (which don't expire if unused). Perks also include a Disney+ bundle (with Hulu and ESPN+), Apple One, or even Walmart+. Another perk is a $15 credit to Verizon's "+play" service, where other subscriptions such as Netflix and HBO Max are available. Because all "perks" are $10, they offer savings that vary depending on the perk. For example, the Disney+ bundle is normally $15/month. An Apple One subscription is normally $17/month. There is no minimum number of perks and they can changed at any time. The two base plans are Unlimited Welcome and Unlimited Plus. The Plus plan includes access to Verizon's "Ultra Wideband" 5G network, meaning its faster mid-band and mmWave frequencies, and truly unlimited "premium" data. Neither plan has any set data limit where speeds become slower, although customers on the Welcome plan may see slower speeds during times of network congestion. The Plus plan also includes 30 GB of hotspot data and better device discounts. Both plans have discounts available if you bring your own device. The Unlimited Welcome plan is $65/month for one line, or as low as $27/line/month for 5+ lines. The Unlimited Plus plan is $80/month for one line, or as low as $42/line/month for 5+ lines. All prices are with Auto-Pay. myPlan becomes available May 18th and replaces Mix & Match. Mix & Match customers can keep their existing plans if they prefer.
Sony Updates Flagship Phone With New Camera
Sony has announced the Xperia 1 V, a $1,400 flagship phone aimed at professional content creators. The design is a minor iteration of last year's Xperia 1 IV. Specs have been updated, features added, and an all-new main camera sensor promises better photos and videos. The new "Exmor T for mobile" sensor is about 1.7 larger than the sensor in last year's model. Sony promises "approximately double" the low-light performance and "a wider dynamic range that is equivalent to a full-frame camera." The 1 V keeps the adjustable optical zoom tele camera that made the 1 IV so unique. It also keeps the 4K OLED display with 120 Hz refresh. The processor has been updated to the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. New camera features include: high-speed continuous shooting of up to 30 frames per second with AF/AE tracking, a Product Showcase setting that keeps focus on an object instead of a person, and an interactive chat feature for YouTube live-streaming. Most other specs carry over from the previous model, including 5,000 mAh battery, fast charging, wireless charging, IP68 dust/water rating, headset jack, 12 GB of RAM, and the ability to serve as a monitor for certain Sony Alpha cameras. Curiously, the built-in storage is down to 256 GB (from 512 GB last year), although it is expandable by up to 1 TB via memory card. Also, the version announced today does not seem to include mmWave 5G like the previous model. These changes may account for the price that's $200 lower than last year. The phone does have excellent support for almost all other (sub-6) 5G and 4G frequency bands used in the US, including mid-band 5G. The Sony Xperia 1 V ships July 28th and pre-orders start today. It comes unlocked in black from various retailers in the US, or a "khaki green" color (shown) available exclusively from Sony directly. For "a limited time", pre-order customers will be eligible to receive Sony's latest LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds (WFL900/H) with purchase (a $180 value).
Teams, Zoom, and Webex Coming to Android Auto
Google is working with the major video conferencing providers to enable audio-only versions of their apps for Android Auto. The apps would simply let you join a previously scheduled meeting.
Google Bringing More Functionality to Wear OS
Google has dropped an update on Wear OS, its smartwatch platform, including new and enhanced apps coming this year. The company also outlined several key features coming in Wear OS 4. A major update to the Google Home app (rolling out today) will let you "check who rang your Nest doorbell right in your notifications, remotely unlock your door and more." Google will also introduce Gmail and Google Calendar for Wear OS. Gmail will let you reply to emails. Calendar will let you "check your schedule, view and RSVP to events, and update task statuses". Google also highlighted what popular third-party apps are introducing. WhatsApp is coming to Wear OS. Spotify and Peloton are also introducing new Tile widgets that make it easier and quicker to interact with those services. Finally, Google announced several key features coming in Wear OS 4, like backup and restore support. "And if you’re setting up a watch from your phone, any permissions you've granted on your phone will automatically carry over."
Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold Popular with US Carriers, But Details Differ
The top three US carriers will all sell both the Google Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold. All three will sell the Pixel 7a starting this afternoon. T-Mobile will sell it for the same price as Google ($500), while AT&T will charge $520 and Verizon will charge $540. The 7a comes in both mmWave and non-mmWave versions. The addition of mmWave 5G accounts for the price difference with Verizon. Although T-Mobile's version does not support mmWave, it will support three-carrier aggregation on the company's unique 5G SA network. AT&T's version does not support mmWave either, but does support mid-band 5G: band 77-C today and band 77-A (3.45 GHz) "enabled in a future software update". T-Mobile and AT&T say they will offer the Pixel Fold "soon" or "this summer" (respectively). Verizon is being much more specific, saying Pixel Fold pre-orders start June 20th, with full availability on June 27th. Verizon will offer the phone with the option of either 256 or 512 GB of storage.
Google's Pixel Fold Goes After Samsung's Z Fold
Google today announced its first foldable phone, the Google Pixel Fold. The Pixel Fold features a 7.6-inch flexible inner display for a tablet-like experience when open. The concept is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series, as are the high-end specs. When closed, the 5.8-inch outer display offers OLED technology and FHD+ resolution. Both displays support up to 120 Hz refresh. Google claims that the Fold is the thinnest foldable on the market (when open), and has the best zoom camera (5x optical) of any foldable phone. Google also claims that its hinge mechanism is the most durable on the market, thanks to "multi-alloy steel construction" and a custom "dual-axis, quad-cam synchronized mechanism". Like Samsung's Z Flip series, the hinge is stable at any angle, allowing you to set the phone down and keep the camera pointed wherever you choose. A unique Dual Screen Interpreter Mode uses both displays to give two people real-time, two-way language translation. Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protects the outside and the phone offers IPx8 water resistance. The Pixel Fold is powered by Google's own Tensor G2 processor, paired with 12 GB LPDDR5 RAM and 512 GB UFS 3.1 storage. The battery is rated 4,821 mAh and the phone supports wired fast charging up to 30W (no charger is included) as well as wireless charging. The main camera is 48 megapixel with OIS, while the tele and wide camera are both 10.8 megapixel. Although Google claims the inner selfie camera is the best in a foldable, it is just 9.8 megapixel and fixed focus. The phone also includes mmWave 5G, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, and stereo speakers. It will be available for $1,799 in either Obsidian or Porcelain. It ships "next month". Pre-orders start today and include a free Pixel Watch.
Pixel 7a is a Pricey Pixel a
Google today announced the Pixel 7a, a more affordable model in the company's Pixel 7 series. At $499, it's $100 cheaper than the Pixel 7. However it's a big jump up from last year's Pixel 6a, which was only $349. The Pixel 7a is relatively compact with its 6.1-inch display, smaller than the Pixel 7. The display sports FHD+ resolution, OLED technology, and 90 Hz refresh. The 64-megapixel main camera is the best in an a-series phone yet thanks to a larger sensor. There's also a 13 megapixel wide-angle camera and 13 megapixel front camera. The 7a is powered by a Google Tensor G2 processor paired with 8 GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128 GB UFS 3.1 storage. It has a 4,385 mAh battery and an IP67 rating for dust and water. It will come in four colors: Sea (light blue), Charcoal, and Snow, plus Coral available exclusively from Google. Google promises 5 years of Pixel updates for the 7a. The Google Pixel 7a is available starting today.
Google Bringing Generative AI to Android Messages, Wallpaper
Google today announced several new features of Android's wallpaper options and the Google Messages app. The Messages app gains Magic Compose, a new feature that uses AI to enhance your messages by rewriting them for you in the style of your choice. In Android, the wallpaper tools will expand this fall to includes Generative AI Wallpaper. This feature will let users create a completely original wallpaper image based on a structured text prompt. Sooner — next month — Pixel owners will gain access to Emoji Wallpaper and and Cinematic Wallpaper. Emoji Wallpaper lets Android users create unique, personalized wallpaper based on a user-chosen combination of several emoji and one of several patterns or colors. The wallpaper are also slightly interactive, responding to touch. Cinematic Wallpaper takes an existing photo and uses AI to make it a 3D image with a subject that moves independently from the background as you move the phone.
WhatsApp Coming to WearOS Smartwatches
Google today revealed that WhatsApp will soon offer an app for the WearOS smartwatch platform. It will support both messaging and calls.
Google Photos Gaining Magic Editor
Google today announced Magic Editor, a new feature of Google Photos coming later this year that builds on Magic Eraser by letting users make more types of changes to photos. Users will be able to easily select subjects and move them around, with missing backgrounds and cut-off details automatically generated using AI. Lighting and skies can also be changed, using AI to make more dramatic changes than traditional editing could deliver.
MediaTek Turbocharges its Flagship Chip
MediaTek today announced the Dimensity 9200+, a version of the Dimensity 9200 announced six months ago with higher clock speeds. Phones using the new chip are expected to ship this month.
Hands On with TCL's $120 5G Phone
TCL has a new affordable 5G phone for Verizon, and it's very, very affordable (as 5G phones go) at just $120. We spent some time with that phone: the TCL 40 XE. Check out our hands-on report to learn a little more about what $120 buys you in a 5G phone this year.
The TCL 40 XE Offers 5G for Just $120
Verizon has launched the TCL 40 XE 5G for prepaid customers. The phone is notable for including 5G at a price point of $120, a new level of affordability for 5G in the US. The next-cheapest 5G phone offered by Verizon prepaid is the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G, which Verizon sells for $200. The TCL 40 XE 5G sports a 6.56-inch HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh, 5,000 mAh battery, and 18W fast charging. It has a 13 megapixel main camera, 2 megapixel macro camera, and 8 megapixel front camera. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage (expandable). It also has a fingerprint reader embedded in the lock button on the side.
Google Confirms, Teases Pixel Fold
Google has released the first official images of its new foldable phone and confirmed that it will be called the Pixel Fold. The company also promises to release more details about the device during the keynotes at its Google I/O event next week, starting May 10th. The new images show a device similar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold series, with a large vertical outer display on one side and a larger, flexible landscape display on the inside. Also visible are three rear cameras, an inner camera, and a smooth metallic hinge. The long-rumored device was first confirmed via an FCC approval published on Monday. That confirmed several radio-related features, such as UWB, wireless charging, mmWave 5G, and Wi-Fi 6E.
T-Mobile Continues Expanding 5G Coverage, Tests Faster Uploads
T-Mobile is the first US carrier to successfully test carrier aggregation on the uplink side of a 5G data connection on a live 5G SA network. This new technology enabled upload data speeds of 207 Mbps, a record for sub-6 GHz (non-mmWave) 5G. Faster speeds are common in the dowlink (download) direction, but uplink speeds are typically slower. Faster uplink speeds enable higher-quality video conferencing, for example. The company expects to roll the feature out for regular customers early next year. The test used a smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon modem and Nokia equipment on the network side. The two carriers that were aggregated were in bands 2 (1,900 MHz) and 41 (2,500 MHz). T-Mobile also provided an update on its 5G network coverage and plans. The company claims that its 5G network now covers "326 million people across 2 million square miles – more than AT&T and Verizon combined." That includes slower low-band 5G. As for the faster mid-band 5G that T-Mobile brands "Ultra Capacity 5G", the company says that it currently covers 275 million people nationwide, and plans to reach 300 million people – "nearly everyone in the country" – by the end of this year.
Hands On with the 2023 moto g 5G & moto g stylus
Motorola has two new phones its affordable "g" series, and while at first glance they may seem like basic updates to last year's models, there's more to the story. Motorola has repositioned its 4G moto g stylus to address a different market segment this year, so it has some major differences compared to last year's model. And while the two phones look similar in photos, there are some major differences that become apparent in person. Read all about it in our hands-on report.
Apple and Google Collaborate on Anti-Stalker Tech
Apple and Google have announced a new industry standard that will enable cross-platform alerts when people are potentially being tracked without their consent using any popular Bluetooth location-tracking device, regardless of manufacturer. For example, this would allow someone to receive an alert on their Android phone when an unknown Apple AirTag seems to be following them, or the same for an Apple iPhone and a Samsung SmartTag. Current anti-stalker features are either siloed in one company's ecosystem or require the manual download and use of a special app. This new standard will eventually come baked right into both iOS and Android. Besides Apple and Google, "Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for the draft specification, which offers best practices and instructions for manufacturers, should they choose to build these capabilities into their products." Today marks the start of a three-month comment period on the draft standard. The companies plan to finalize the standard by the end of 2023 and implement it "in future versions" of iOS and Android.
Hands On with the Motorola edge+ (2023)
The new Motorola edge+ (2023) is the company's newest flagship phone. It builds on the same formula as last year's model when it comes to features, including dual 50 megapixel cameras. But in terms of design, it's a return to form for the edge series, giving us another curved-edge display after briefly going flat last year. Not only that, but Motorola has doubled down on this aspect, giving us more curved edges all around, as well as a thin body and thin bezels. In photos, this might look like any other phone. But in person... the design might be the phone's best feature; it feels exceptional. We spent some time with it, so allow us to explain in this hands-on report.
Motorola's New Flagship Gets its Signature Edge Back
Motorola has taken the wraps off the new edge+ (2023), its flagship phone for the US this year. This year's model brings back the curved-edge OLED display that was a hallmark of the edge series until last year's model switched to a flat display. The curved sides give the phone slimmer bezels and a narrower body that's easier to hold. Both the front and back are made of Gorilla Glass Victus that's curved on all four edges, helping the phone feel thinner. Also, this year's model is actually thinner at just 8.39 mm. The sandblasted aluminum frame rounds out the IP68 waterproof body, another improvement over last year's model. The fast charging is more than twice as fast at 68 watts, and the battery itself is larger at 5,100 mAh. There's also two-way wireless charging (15W/5W). While the display is still 6.7 inches, HDR10+, and FHD+ resolution, the refresh is faster at 165 Hz. The two 50 megapixel cameras (main and wide/macro) are joined by a new 12 megapixel 2x telephoto "portrait" camera. The front camera is 60 megapixels. Naturally, the processor gets an update to the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 from Qualcomm. There's also 8 GB of LPDDR5x RAM and 256–512 GB of UFS 4.0 storage (not expandable). Connectivity includes USB 3.2, Bluetooth 5.3 with LE Audio, NFC, and the phone is Wi-Fi 7 ready. The edge+ supports Motorola's ReadyFor connections to TVs and monitors (wired and wireless). The camera app sports a new 360º "Horizon Lock" feature that mimics a gimbal. Also new are Night Vision and portrait modes for video. The edge+ comes with Android 13, three OS upgrades, and four years of security updates. Boost Infinite and Boost Mobile will be first to offer the new edge+ (2023) starting in one week, May 9th. Spectrum and Consumer Cellular will also offer the phone. An unlocked model with 512 GB storage will be available for $800 starting May 25th (pre-orders May 19). Only one color — Interstellar Black — will be offered in the US.
Motorola Updates its Most Affordable Phones
Motorola has introduced two new models in its "moto g" series of affordable phones.
- The moto g 5G (2023) is very similar to last year's moto g 5G, offering 5G for a low price. Updates include 120 Hz display refresh (vs. 90), 15-watt fast charging (vs. 10), and stereo speakers. A Snapdragon 480+ ship replaces the MediaTek Dimensity 700 in last year's model. Other specs are essentially unchanged, including a 6.5-inch, HD+ display and a 48 megapixel camera. It has excellent support for all US networks. It will be available with AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, Metro by T-Mobile, Boost Infinite, Boost Mobile, Google Fi Wireless, US Cellular, and Consumer Cellular, with dates and pricing TBA. It will also be available unlocked starting May 25th for $250. Color options are Ink Blue and Harbor Gray.
- The moto g stylus (2023) takes a different approach, cutting some specs to reach a lower price compared to last year's model. The new model is more compact with a 6.5-inch HD+ display and no wide-angle camera. What the new model keeps is the large 50 megapixel main camera, 90 Hz display refresh, and, of course, built-in stylus. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio G85 4G chip. Cricket, Straight Talk, and Walmart Family Mobile will all offer the phone. It will also be available unlocked for $200 starting this Friday, May 5th. It has excellent support for all US 4G networks. It will come in Midnight Blue and Glam Pink.
Foldable Google Pixel Confirmed by FCC
A new device approval appearing on the FCC's web site appears to confirm the rumor that Google has its own foldable phone coming out soon. Among the information available are diagrams showing "open" and "closed" configurations. The crude drawings show a device that appears similar to the Samsung Z Fold series, as rumored. The approval also confirms that the device will be high-end and feature-rich, with features like UWB, wireless charging, mmWave 5G, and Wi-Fi 6E. The company is holding its annual Google I/O developer conference next week, starting May 10th. The day-one keynote event often includes major announcements. Given the timing of this FCC approval, it seems likely Google will announce this foldable device at that event next week.
Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola Now Available
The new Lenovo/Motorola phone optimized for business users is available via enterprise channels starting today, and will be available online for consumers starting April 28th. "The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola will be available through select B2B channels in the U.S. beginning April 26. Enterprise consumers can purchase the device through their trusted Lenovo business partner or directly through their Lenovo sales representative." Consumers will be able to purchase the (universally unlocked) ThinkPhone on Motorola.com and Lenovo.com for $700 starting on Friday. It will also be available via Lenovo Pro with "special business pricing".
BMW Brings Enhanced Digital Car Key to Android
BMW is rolling out its Digital Key Plus feature to compatible Android phones with UWB, such as the Samsung Galaxy S23+ and Pixel 7 Pro. The feature is already available for Apple products. The enhanced "Plus" version lets you keep your phone in your pocket, whereas the earlier Digital Key feature (already available for select Android phones) requires that you tap your phone on the door handle. Cars with the feature produced since November 2022 are compatible with Android, while a future remote software update will add compatibility to older cars. Older Samsung and Google phones are compatible as well, as long as they have the necessary UWB feature. This includes most Plus and Ultra Galaxy S phones, Samsung foldables, and the Pixel 6 Pro. Digital Key Plus is based on an industry standard from the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC).
AST Completes Voice Call via Satellite Using Regular Cell Phone
AST SpaceMobile has successfully completed a test of the first full two-way voice call using a standard, off-the-shelf cell phone connecting directly to a satellite in orbit (instead of to a land-based network.) Other recently-announced space connectivity solutions have focused only on messaging, not voice calls, and/or require new phones with added satellite technology. This test used an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 connecting directly to AST's BlueWalker 3 test satellite in orbit. It took place in Texas using AT&T radio frequencies; AT&T plans to use AST's system to provide coverage in remote areas. AST has completed additional tests that "confirm the ability to support cellular broadband speeds", as well as multiple cellular technologies from 2G to 5G. Tests also confirm compatibility with a variety of different phones and other cellular devices.
Android Will Prompt You To Update a Crashy App After a Crash
Google is rolling out a new pop-up prompt in Android that will appear immediately after certain app crashes, prompting the user to update to a more stable version of that app. Google will use the analytics it collects through the Play Store to determine which versions of apps are more crash-prone and which are more stable. When a crash occurs and a more stable version is available, the prompt will appear.
T-Mobile Rolls Out New Plans with Two-Year Phone Upgrades
T-Mobile is making it easier and a better deal to switch service to them, and introducing new plans. The new Go5G and Go5G Plus plans include a new phone up front (up to $830) with trade-in (up to six years old), and a phone upgrade every two years. Baked into both plans is a price lock guarantee, and the Go5G Plus plan comes with a promise that new and existing customers will always get the same phone deals. T-Mobile is making it easier to switch to its network by paying off existing phones — even if locked (for a limited time) — or contract termination fees, and customers are still eligible for the free new phone. T-Mobile's "Go Back Guarantee" gives new customers 30 days to change their mind, in which case customers get $50/line to cover switch-back costs. The new Go5G and Go5G Plus plans are very similar to the company's existing Magenta and Magenta Max plans, respectively, which will continue to be available. The difference is that the Go5G plans are an additional $5/line/month, and include an extra 10 GB of hotspot data. Other plan features are identical, such as unlimited premium data on the higher-end plan and 100 GB premium data on the cheaper plan. T-Mobile is also introducing a cheaper version of its Essentials plan called Essentials Savings. This offer is for a limited time but also includes a price lock guarantee. Essentials Savings includes everything the standard Essentials plan includes, such as 50 GB of premium data, but is $10/month cheaper for one or two lines, or $5/month cheaper for four lines. Because it doesn't offer a third line free like the standard Essentials plan, the price is the same for three lines.
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