Android Police

Editorials

172

Google was wrong to drop the telephoto lens on the Pixel 5

Google was wrong to drop the telephoto lens on the Pixel 5

One of my favorite features on the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL were their telephoto camera lenses. While they lacked the kind of extended range you might find on a phone like the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, the effective 2x zoom factor coupled with Google's Super Res Zoom AI made the Pixel 4's maximum digital zoom usable, at 8x. You don't need to take my word for it, either. Here are two photos, one taken by my Pixel 4 XL, and one by the Pixel 5, at 7x (the Pixel 5 maxes at this zoom factor).

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98

Now that the iPhone has 5G, should you finally care about 5G?

Now that the iPhone has 5G, should you finally care about 5G?

Today, Apple announced its latest family of phones: the iPhone 12, the 12 Mini, the 12 Pro, and the 12 Pro Max. One brand-new feature they all share is support for the fifth-generation mobile network technology known as 5G. For months, commentators and analysts have speculated that this fresh wireless whiz-bang could finally make 5G a going concern for smartphone buyers in the US. So, let's dive in: now that the iPhone finally has 5G, will 5G finally start to matter to ordinary people? Should you care about it?

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156

Google needs to set an example and go beyond three years of Android updates

Google needs to set an example and go beyond three years of Android updates

I admit, I held hope that Google might surprise us with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. They were only guaranteed updates until this month, but Google was able to bring the original 2016 Pixels Android 10 last year even though they weren't promised to get it. Secretly, I wanted that to be a trial run for the Pixel 2, dreaming that Google might surprise us with an extra year of updates. After all, 2017 wasn't that long ago, and the hardware has the headroom for at least another year or two of updates. But, though the phones commanded a premium $650-750 price tag at launch, they're being left behind.

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174

It's time for Google to kill the rest of its 'Play' branding

It's time for Google to kill the rest of its 'Play' branding

Mixed in among the Pixels, Chromecast, and speaker yesterday was another important tidbit. Google is essentially rebranding Android TV to Google TV over the next few years. But "Google TV" is more than just a software skin, it's also the new name for Google Play Movies & TV. That's makes it the second Play-branded service to get the boot in the next month if you consider Play Music, and I don't think this change goes far enough. It's been eight years, and it's time for Google to kill the "Play" branding across the board.

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189

The Pixel 5 isn't even out yet, and Samsung already beat it

The Pixel 5 isn't even out yet, and Samsung already beat it

Today, Google officially announced the extremely leaked Pixel 5. It's a lovely device with a very cool green colorway option, and as an unrepentant Google hardware fan, I'm struggling against the urge to buy it. Honestly, there's only one thing stopping me: the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, launching early next month, is the exact same price at $699. And on paper, it's a much better value.

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122

Including expensive mmWave 5G on the Pixel 5 was a big mistake, Google

Including expensive mmWave 5G on the Pixel 5 was a big mistake, Google

When it launches, the Google Pixel 5 will cost $699 in the United States — easily making it the most expensive Snapdragon 765 device on the market globally. For comparison, OnePlus's Nord costs around $470 in Europe, while the US-sold LG Velvet retails for $600. Both phones have larger screens, more cameras, in-screen fingerprint scanners, and still support the actually-usable sub-6GHz 5G being deployed globally. And I think that pretty much tells us what we need to know about why the Pixel 5 is commanding such a premium — mmWave 5G no one asked for or needs.

Only the American Pixel 5 will ship with the antenna modules required for compatibility with mmWave 5G networks, and those antenna modules are expensive.

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58

5G has succeeded — in making my phone more of a pain in the ass

5G has succeeded — in making my phone more of a pain in the ass

5G is a necessary and transformative technology, you'll get no argument from me. It's going to allow our cellular networks to scale to previously unimaginable levels, and connect everything from traffic lights to tractors to truck assembly plants in the process. But if you're like me, you probably know 5G first and foremost as the next generation of wireless connectivity for your smartphone. That also overwhelmingly remains the core purpose of almost any 5G deployment on earth right now, aspirational IoT marketing aside. And here's the thing about those networks: they're fairly awful to actually use right now.

Having switched between a number of 5G-ready phones and the two meaningfully extant 5G networks in the US (sorry, Verizon — if I can't see it on a 50 mile scale map, it isn't real coverage), I can say confidently that the only thing 5G has succeeded in accomplishing is making my phone less reliable and more aggravating.

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111

Android's yearly updates aren't for you anymore

Android's yearly updates aren't for you anymore

This year's big Android update has finally arrived, but there's not quite the excitement around its release that was common just a few years ago. Given the current worldwide pandemic and Google's shift to working from home, it's impressive that Android 11 arrived even close to on time, but the upgrade seemingly crossed the finish line with little fanfare.

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19

The latest OnePlus leaks have me worried

The latest OnePlus leaks have me worried

OnePlus is gearing up for two new Nord-branded phones in the US market, according to leaks from Android Central in the last month, including what might be its first entry-level phone. If the details regarding the ~$200 "Clover" and sub-$400 "Billie" are both true (and they probably are), then OnePlus might have a problem on its hands. While the company was once known for its massively disruptive influence in the flagship space, now it's settled comfortably into the market it once upset. And its usual strategies won't work here.

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75

I did my entire job from the Galaxy Z Fold2 for a day

I did my entire job from the Galaxy Z Fold2 for a day

I really can't stress enough how game-changing folding phones are. I know they're frequently (and fairly) criticized for things like display durability and price, but once you actually use one and understand the experience, something just clicks — or, at least, it did for me. They're still not for everyone, but if you absolutely need to maintain productivity on the go, then the Z Fold2 will be as disruptive to your idea of work as the early Blackberry phones were. In fact, to prove a point, I was able to do my entire job here at Android Police from the phone for most of a whole day.

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