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First discovered by
, it appeared that the latest OnePlus 9 Pro suffered from terrible browser benchmarks in routine tests.
Upon closer inspection, Andrei noticed that the phones were switching to less powerful (and less power-hungry) Cortex-A55 cores instead of the much faster X1 core.
This saves some battery life, but reduces performance significantly.
The list of affected apps includes 300 of the most popular apps on the Play Store, including Chrome, Twitter, and others.
quick 6-minute video
that explains the issue in simple terms that anyone can understand.
Now, reducing performance isn’t necessarily a big deal, especially if it actually improves battery life. If you can’t notice the slower speeds in daily use without using benchmarking software, it seems like a win for consumers.
However, many fans are (rightfully) upset that their new $1,000 smartphone that promises best-in-class performance is throttling its processor in nearly all daily apps.
The issue here is transparency (and no, I’m not talking about the
controversial X-ray camera
that shipped with the OnePlus 8 Pro).
Phones from Samsung and other OEMs offer the option to toggle between performance and battery-saving modes.
On the OP9 Pro, this “optimization” was done in secret, and turning off all battery-saving options does nothing to change performance.
If OnePlus is willing to cut corners here, who knows what else the company has skimped out on. The fact that OnePlus wasn’t forthright implies some kind of wrongdoing.
The controversy also brings up a number of questions:
Is Oxygen OS simply bloated and unoptimized? Who decides which apps are affected? Will OnePlus tweak performance in older devices, like
Apple paid a $113 million fine for doing in 2023
Also, if no one noticed until now, what does that say about the necessity of these high-powered devices in the first place? Aren’t budget or mid-range phones a much better buy?
This also isn’t the first time OnePlus has been in hot water for tipping the scales in benchmarks, although in the past it has always been to create more favorable numbers, not worse ones.
The OnePlus 9 Pro has already been
removed from Geekbench
for software optimizations that the site views as cheating.
issued a response
to the controversy, but it doesn’t do much to clear its name:
“…our R&D team has been working over the past few months to optimize the devices’ performance when using many of the most popular apps, including Chrome, by matching the app’s processor requirements with the most appropriate power. This has helped to provide a smooth experience while reducing power consumption.”
It goes on to say “While this may impact the devices’ performance in some benchmarking apps, our focus as always is to do what we can to improve the performance of the device for our users.”
If performance were truly the goal, optimizing software and giving users the option to choose what kind of performance matters to them (battery or speed) seems like the obvious way forward, especially for an enthusiast brand like OnePlus.
📱 The Google Pixel 5a was spotted in FCC documentation, giving away some secrets (and raising some questions). A full launch is almost surely imminent. (Android Authority)
5️⃣ A recent leak suggests that the Google Pixel 6 may offer five years of updates, matching Apple’s update promise on iPhones. (Android Authority)
🐉 Qualcomm and Asus have teamed up to release the first-ever Snapdragon-branded consumer devices. The set includes a tweaked ROG Phone 5 and true wireless active noise-cancelling earbuds, and will run nearly $1,500. (Android Authority)
❔ How loyal are smartphone users to their favorite brand? Here’s what our survey says it would take for fans to jump ship. (Android Authority)
🚔 The FBI secretly sold “Amom” phones to criminals in a huge honeypot operation. It turns out that the phones were Pixel 4a devices with some interesting customizations. (Android Authority)
🏎 In search of the intersection of the world’s most unusual Venn diagram, Dodge will debut an all-electric muscle car in 2024. (Engadget)
💰 In less encouraging news, Volkswagen and BMW have been fined $1 billion for running an emissions cartel. (CNN)
💀 I’ve never felt more justified in my fear of water and cars: What moment made you say “Yep, I’m definitely dead”, but survived with no major injuries? (r/AskReddit)
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You're reading Daily Authority: Oneplus Benchmark Controversy, And More Tech News Today
A patent awarded to Samsung, spotted by LetsGoDigital, shows that it’s developing tech using the non-flat surfaces of foldable phones.
By quite literally folding the phone onto your finger, a bunch of interesting health data can be discerned.
It’s best described in this image:
This is clever stuff! There’s a few different methods of data gathering shown here but undoubtedly the clamping-the-finger method to calculate blood pressure, along with elements claimed in the patents including vascular age, aortic pressure waveform, stress, fatigue levels, and more, is pretty interesting.
There’s also a model where sensors are placed on the outside of the phone and the inside, where the phone will snap an image, convert pixel intensity into pulse wave amplitude, and gather health information using an amplitude conversion mode.
And one other variant is using the palm of your hand — my medical knowledge gives out at some point as to where and which method is best, but that’s a good range of options.
When are we getting these goodies? The patent game rarely yields those kinds of answers. Sometimes we see stuff that looks incredibly far in the future, where the company seems to be storing patents.
With Samsung’s next Galaxy Z devices expected in July or so this year, I’d hazard a guess that the timing of this patent means the next foldables won’t include this health tracking. There’s a chance, but perhaps more like 2023?
In case you forgot too, Samsung’s next smartwatch has long been tipped to get blood glucose monitoring sometime in the second half of this year.
📈 Spotify prices are going up, mostly by $1 or so a month, across large swathes of the world (Android Authority).
🍎 Apple releases iOS 14.5, the biggest update since iOS 14 first launched, including the new privacy feature, while new versions of macOS, watchOS, and tvOS also rolled out (Ars Technica).
🍏 Also, a bug fixed in macOS 11.3 was one of the worst in a long time, already exploited in the wild and easy enough to do for malware (TechCrunch).
📜 Apple will reportedly face EU antitrust charges this week (The Verge).
📺 Roku is feuding with Google over YouTube TV (Gizmodo).
📺 Why the active-matrix LCD panel, despite largely being invented and developed by American companies in the 1970s, was never really manufactured in the United States (Tedium).
🥽 HTC Vive owners can buy parts from iFixit for DIY VR repairs (Engadget).
🌞 Tesla turns a record profit despite new Model S and Model X delay, including $100M+ profit from selling their new Bitcoin holdings, of all things. The company lost around $970 per car sold in Q1, too. Also, Elon Musk said Tesla made ‘significant mistakes’ with solar roof project (The Verge).
🤖 This researcher says AI is neither artificial nor intelligent: new book from Kate Crawford called Atlas of AI (Wired).
🔴 Scientists discover a ‘hellish’ planet so hot it would vaporize most metals (CNET). (Still not as hell as Twitter, where you can follow me for my not-very-often tweets.)
🧽 “ELI5: Why can’t you boil a sponge to sanitize it?” (r/explainlikeimfive). (First use of the sponge emoji in this newsletter, I’m sure!)
The Gemini 11 mission in 1966 (Wikipedia) is definitely one of the cooler missions among these.
It also shows just how far away the Moon is, despite it lighting up our night sky so brilliantly, as it will tonight for a “pink” supermoon (The Guardian).
All the best,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor
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Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter , for Monday, April 27.
1. Your next decision: Exposure notification app, or no app?
Predicting a few days ahead let alone a week or two is folly, but what seems to be about to happen is that most people are going to have a phone with a COVID-19 contact tracing app on it.
That might not exactly be prophetic because it’s happening already:
Over the weekend, 1.5 million Australians downloaded a coronavirus contact app called COVIDSafe via Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
(Here’s a 51-page dissection on Google Docs looking into the COVIDSafe v1.0.11 (Android) build with a focus on privacy: people are allowed to use fake names, data expires as promised, Bluetooth-only proximity detection, and so on.)
In Europe, Germany has changed its mind on its own contact tracing app, now using the Apple-Google decentralized approach rather than a home-grown option for better privacy, joining Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Finland. Germany’s shift came after pressure from scientists, but in Norway, pressure hasn’t yet forced the government to stop pushing ahead with a controversial centralized implementation called Smittestopp.
In the US, it’s hard to know if it will be a state-by-state option (North and South Dakota, and Utah are already pioneering apps) while there’s talk that dubious Palantir will be involved at Federal level.
The technology discussion is always worth having. One interesting shift is that the Apple-Google tech has had a name change, moving from contact tracing to “exposure notification” late last week.
That’s because it doesn’t really offer tracing, per se, but alerts.
The tech is also changing, per Android Authority: “Exposure notification will feature an updated API to randomly generate tracing keys, Bluetooth metadata now features updated end-to-end encryption, and the recorded exposure time is limited to five-minute intervals maxing out at 30-minute increments. Together, these changes promise user anonymity while maintaining the technology’s effectiveness.”
And that brings up an important silver lining: people are more widely understanding their privacy rights, and data security.
Now, having said all that, the real question for most people that you’re going to have to think about is, will you voluntarily install an exposure notification/contact tracing app?
Will you do it in a vacuum or be guided by those-that-probably-know-more? (For many in Australia, that includes Troy Hunt, behind haveibeenpwned, who calmly explains his rationale for installing the Australian app.)
I wasn’t sure where the buck might fall on this: Early signs are it is falling to tech-savvy people to embrace it, while non-technical people are distrusting and or mixing the app’s purpose with distrust of government generally.
But in Norway, the opposite is true as the app is said to track your GPS position and store data in a centralized cloud database.
For me, assuming there is sufficient evidence that the app only does what is intended, for example, doesn’t request geolocation, doesn’t obfuscate its code to allow for reverse-engineering (and/or open sources the codebase), and so on, I’m going to install it.
And it’s far better than governments simply tracking phones, as has now been banned in Israel (Engadget).
Will it help? Is it the new reality not just for COVID-19 but other diseases and viruses? Is it the beginning or end-point for government-related health apps? Which governments and tech companies will boost their reputations through smart, smooth implementations, which will stumble?
You’ll probably need to make your personal decision on using an app within a few weeks if you haven’t already.
A detailed patent document was unearthed by LetsGoDigital, which includes 32 pages of info from a German filing.
We’ve already seen trademark filings for Samsung with the Galaxy “Z Roll” and “Z Slide” being secured.
Now we have a bunch of info, including helpful renders that provide an impression of Samsung’s tech.
Llike the Oppo X 2023, and LG’s cancelled rollable, Samsung’s patent imagines a rollable phone with a display that extends outwards. Once extended, the display becomes 40-50% larger, and the UI adapts automatically.
Huawei is also working on a rollable, using magnets to prevent creases showing in the rolled-out phone.
Samsung’s avoiding creases by using “multiple flexible/elastic carrier films,” together with a clever mechanical hinge structure to support the folded-out display, along with a supportive flat plate.
There’s also talk of an under-display camera with the model.
The robust documentation appears to suggest Samsung has developed the technology here, not just patents of ideas. But there’s still, usually, a long way to go between prototyping, production, and a commercial release.
According to our own Dhruv Bhutani, even rollable prototypes seem to make more sense than foldables, when he wrote:
“Having tried out almost all the foldable smartphones on the market, I can safely say that the Oppo X 2023 gets the closest to combining a smartphone and tablet experience in a singular device, and that’s largely due to how usable the phone is.”
That said, people who own foldables do seem to love them. Stockholm Syndrome when paying big money, or actual utility?
Glad you asked! There’s a great piece at Gizmodo that cautiously enthuses about the Fold 2, with the one (fairly significant) downside being dust bubbles with the screen protector.
Will that be fixed with the Fold 3?
⌚ Samsung just announced a new Exynos wearables chipset, coming to the Galaxy Watch 4 to be announced tomorrow, is a pretty big leap for Wear OS smartwatches: from 26nm to 5nm, better power efficiency, 20% faster CPU, and 10x more graphics (Android Authority).
🔐 Google’s VPN service for higher-tier Google One subscribers is now available outside the US, adding Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the UK to the list if you pay $9.99 or so a month (Android Authority).
💵 We asked, you told us: Here’s what you’d pay for the Pixel 6 Pro (Android Authority).
🔜 Asus ROG Phone 5S tipped for launch: adds the Snapdragon 888 Plus (Android Authority).
🎧 Beats Studio Buds review: Apple’s Android olive branch (Android Authority).
🍎 Apple released an FAQ and had a call with reporters, saying it will refuse government demands to expand photo-scanning beyond CSAM (Ars Technica). But the hits keep coming: Stratechery has a post called “Apple’s Mistake” which neatly questions why Apple didn’t stick with cloud storage scanning, and went on-device, saying: “It’s truly disappointing that Apple got so hung up on its particular vision of privacy that it ended up betraying the fulcrum of user control: being able to trust that your device is truly yours.”
🔑 Google’s new Titan security key lineup won’t make you choose between USB-C and NFC, only USB-A vs USB-C. $30/35, on sale today (The Verge).
🎮 Gamescom 2023 gets officially underway on August 25th, and Microsoft has announced an event on August 24 (Engadget).
🔋 A new Lamborghini Countach is coming, and for the 50th anniversary, the famous Lambo might add a battery (The Verge).
💪 The squishy, far-out new experiments headed to the ISS (Wired).
🛰️ SpaceX is buying an Internet of Things smallsat company (Engadget).
Here’s how the marathon world record has changed over the years, as competitors keep trying to get past the two-hour barrier (in legal conditions, i.e. not including the successful sub-two hour experiment staged by a British multinational chemical company — though more power to Eliud Kipchoge for getting that cash!):
Kipchoge’s incredible record is 2:01:39.
Most of the narrowing of the record time has been Kipchoge’s efforts, who lives a life of running in a small community in Kenya.
In the New York Times there’s this remarkable quote: “A millionaire, Kipchoge is known to live an ascetic lifestyle while training with his running group at altitude in Kenya: living apart from his family, chopping vegetables for communal meals, cleaning toilets, hand-washing his gear, and drawing water from a well.”
But “while training” doesn’t really cut it – Kipchoge seems to always be training.
Performance coach and author Steve Magness wrote on Twitter: “Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest of all time… in ANY sport. His domination in a major sport in the modern era is unprecedented.”
Amazing! Have an inspired Tuesday,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor
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☕Hello there! I recently started playing Chorus, a single-player space combat title that’s available on PlayStation Plus Extra. Fans of Colony Wars and Freelancer might like this one. Anyway, on with the newsletter!
Windows Central reports that Microsoft is working on a project dubbed CorePC.
This project is apparently aiming to deliver a modular, customizable version of Windows.
More specifically, CorePC would allow for versions of Windows with different feature sets and app compatibility levels.
The company is pushing to get this tech ready in time for the next major Windows launch in 2024, presumably Windows 12.
Perhaps the most notable change with this Windows project is that it’s opening the door for seamless system updates, much like Android.
Microsoft will apparently split the OS over several partitions, as opposed to having all system data, app files, and user data on one partition.
Many Android devices can install a system update to an inactive partition in the background, while the device still runs like normal via the active partition in the foreground.
You then simply need to restart your device when prompted and you’ve got a new update.
By contrast, Windows users need to sit through an installing screen.
I do wonder whether this approach will require more storage space, as is usually the case on Android.
In fact, this storage issue is why there isn’t unanimous support for the feature among polled Android Authority readers.A simultaneous attack on Chromebooks and Macs?
The company’s CorePC efforts include a Windows version that only runs Edge, web apps, Android apps, and Office apps.
A Windows Central source even notes that this version will explicitly compete with Chromebooks in terms of OS size, performance, and capabilities.
This version is also said to be between 60% and 75% smaller than the education-focused Windows 11 SE.
A version of Windows with a much smaller OS size and modest requirements should also translate into cheaper PCs.
Laptop makers could theoretically cut prices by shipping devices with less storage and less capable chips. Much like they do with Chromebooks.
Meanwhile, the CorePC project is also focusing on a Windows version with an AI focus and tighter synergy between hardware and software. Much like Apple computers.
Microsoft will apparently implement features like cutting text/objects out of images as well as contextual prompts for tasks/apps based on what’s on-screen.Is this two-pronged approach going to work?
I do wonder whether the company can indeed deliver on this project. It does make sense for Windows itself to be more modular to reach this goal.
But I feel like there’s a risk that taking a one-size-fits-all approach could result in two very compromised products.
The plane nerd in me thinks of the F-35 fighter jet, which is meant to be a jack-of-all-trades but makes compromises to reach that goal.
We’ll just have to wait to see whether the compromises are keenly felt in the final products.
Still, it could be better than simply having S Mode for Windows.
📅 Vivo X Fold 2 launch could be as soon as next month: The big question is whether this will actually come to global markets (Android Authority).
🚨 Google is accused of ripping off OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but the company has denied these claims (Android Authority).
Mark Hamill is lending his voice to a Ukrainian air raid alert app, the Associated Press reports. Yes, beleaguered Ukrainians can take some measure of solace with Luke Skywalker’s voice.
“Attention, air raid alert. Proceed to the nearest shelter. Don’t be careless; your overconfidence is your weakness,” Hamill notes in the Air Alert app. He also dishes out alerts for other hazards, such as drones, missiles, and bombs.
“Attention, the air alert is over. May the force be with you,” Hamill’s voice notes when the danger has passed.
Have a great day,
Hadlee Simons, Editor.
Sony PlayStation 5 review: A beautiful, speedy upgrade from last-gen, and yet more praise for the DualSense controller — by Sarah Chaney.
Samsung Q950T soundbar review: at $1,800, this would want to be good, but thankfully it is —by Chris Thomas.LG: Wing
The novel phone with a swiveling display offered something truly different from LG’s usual flagships. The LG Wing showed that LG can create what we called an engineering marvel in our review, with brilliant hardware and capable software.
Plenty of phone makers are willing to show off prototypes that never see the light of day. LG went for it. At $999, it was far cheaper than other first innovations from others, too.
I didn’t buy one in 2023, but it’s possible LG’s Explorer Project lineup can shake up smartphone design in the same way that Samsung is trying with its foldables. Speaking of…Samsung: Galaxy S20 FE Google: Pixel 4a
The Pixel 4a arguably represents the strongest Pixel product Google has ever put forward. The price tag at $350 made it super attractive, and amazingly, went on sale with better specs and a cheaper price than the Pixel 3a. The flagship camera and Google’s software easily made up for some missing features.
Personally, I bought the Pixel 4a 5G, because I was happy to pay a little more for some of those higher-end features including the better processor, 5G, and the additional wide-angle camera. But the Pixel 4a was even on sale for as little as $299 this year at time.
What a bargain, and what a no-brainer for those looking for the best of Google on a budget.Apple: iPhone SE (2023)
Apple cramming flagship speed and top-notch features — including IP rating and wireless charging — into an iPhone SE at $400 changed smartphones in 2023. At that low price, this became a default upgrade for many Apple-friendly consumers, and even Android fans were quick to appreciate what was on offer. Apple’s 2023 edition of the iPhone SE sold well all year, but it was especially relevant during the early pandemic period back in April.
Also: It alone may have been a catalyst for Google’s attractive Pixel 4a price, and may have driven OnePlus to debut its OnePlus Nord line at under ~$400 in Europe and other markets. But I’m only giving it a side-mention because the Nord didn’t hit the US. Instead, OnePlus kneecapped it , and brought out the almost bad Nord N10 in North America instead, leaving the true Nord for everyone else.
Microsoft Surface Duo
Here’s one that was important for almost all the wrong reasons.
The Microsoft Surface Duo was a super interesting device from Microsoft. The dual-screen smartphone/tablet/tiny workstation showed a lot of ambition, and potential around a new kind of way to work. It was also priced at $1,399 as part of a presumed branding strategy to make this feel like a premium device.
But, it fell completely flat. The hinge and innovations around dual-screen usage were great, but disastrous software bugs at launch, the $1,399 price tag for yesteryear’s specs, a roundly bad camera, fragile USB-C port, and performance issues made it a must-avoid.
Microsoft can take these lessons and do better — I’ve read long-term reviews that have sounded encouraging for smoothing out the software issues at least. But why release it with those bogs? Microsoft will have to learn a lot if it wants to keep its Surface phone dreams alive. And I really hope it does, because competition and innovation are vital for Android.
Tech tweet of the weekGiveaway
This month, we’re giving away three prize packs! Enter the December giveaway for your chance to win.
First prize: An Xbox Series X and an AA hoodie
Second prize: A Google Pixel 4a 5G and an AA hoodie
Third prize: A Garmin vivoactive 4 and an AA t-shirt
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