Smartphones have evolved a fair bit with regard to screen real estate – the bezels are as thin as they can get, front-facing cameras are no more a hindrance with under-display camera tech, and the display quality has gone through the roof in the last couple of years. Still, there is a lot more to be desired when we see the unique form factor of a foldable device or a rollable phone that’s eye-popping. So, what smartphone will be the most trusted design in terms of its display technology in a couple of years? Let’s find out.
Samsung can be crowned the undisputed leader in foldable phones – a fashion set in motion with the Galaxy Fold. This triggered Motorola to come with its own version of the nostalgic Razr, and now once a crazy display technology, it has become mainstream with time and more companies including Huawei exploring its options. Learning from its experience with the first generation Galaxy Fold, Samsung made worthy improvements in the Galaxy Z Fold 2 – giving it the hard to achieve balance of flagship-level specifications and design.
The phone targeted at demanding multitaskers has everything you can ask for in a premium device, plus a little extra in the form of a foldable design. This brings countless functional aspects to the device – be it taking full control of your daily tasks or enjoying rich multimedia experience on the beautiful folding screen.
One major improvement on the device is its innovative hinge mechanism which gives you the freedom to use it in any configuration, at any angle. Use it as a mini laptop or as a tripod for taking stable shots, the possibilities are endless.
While Samsung has invested a lot of time, resources, and faith in the Galaxy Fold phones, LG has forayed into uncharted waters with the WING swivel display smartphone. The unique device is not just a one glance charm with its highly functional aesthetics and well-thought-out design that pushes the boundaries of use case scenarios.
It actually comes very handy in day-to-day tasks, for instance, while on your office commute, the 90 degrees orientation of the two screens gives you more information in a readable text or when you are playing a circuit racing sim, the detailed map gives you a tactical advantage in gameplay. Even better, the form factor turns your phone into a stable gimbal for steady video shoots and photography. And yes, the dual recording mode with the rear and front camera simultaneously is so enticing to explore.
For those who questioned the durability aspect of LG WING with repeated usage, the South Korean electronics giant put all speculations to rest by explaining its innovative technology. You can make 100 swivels per day, every day for five and a half years and the phone still won’t show any signs of mechanical failure. It’s that good!
We got a first real glimpse of this promising display technology with the OPPO X 2021 prototype demoed at Inno Day 2020 – the brand’s platform for showcasing the latest innovation and future tech. The screen behaves like a paper on a scroll – actuated by the user’s input as intended. It can be a 6.7-inch compact smartphone at its smallest while at the touch of a button you can instantly turn it into a decent sized tablet. If this hasn’t got you sold for multifunctional approach in a smartphone, current-gen technology has still a long way to go then!
The magic is unfurled by the roll motor powertrain housing the ultra-thin rollable display (just 0.1 mm thick at its thinnest point) which rolls to expand or contract. Of course, OPPO did all the R&D to make this experience seamless and it has definitely managed to draw attention in its favor.
Future-forward, refreshing, and bold venture by OPPO – this rollable display phone shows what’s in store for us in the near future. The same anticipation and excitement that got all the tech community going when the Galaxy Fold or the Motorola Razr phones first burst into the scene. Rollable display technology is pretty new to smartphones and hasn’t really seen a commercial variant yet, but in addition to OPPO, LG and a few other brands are also exploring their options.
Futureproof display tech
All three display technologies come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. The one that’s going to be futureproof will have to impact the user’s daily life in a positive manner, offer durability, better overall experience, and energy efficiency at the core. The folding Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 comes with a considerable assurance in comparison to the other two options.
LG WING has just released last month, it is fairly fresh in those terms, and still has a lot to prove over the next year or so. On the other hand, rollable tech is a few months away (presumably with the OPPO X 2021) from landing in consumers’ hands. LG has already conducted hardcore tests to prove the mettle of WING in real-life conditions, so if all goes well, the device will appeal to users who weigh their options as opposed to early adopters who want to explore everything new.
Talking of the futureproof technology that’s practical – the rollable display looks promising for smartphones already. The ultra-thin display barely takes up space and its rolling function gives users what they demand for in multi-functionality. One cannot deny the huge advantage in terms of thinness and weight, as the foldable and swivel display are undeniably overweight and chunky.
At this point in time rollable smartphone is actually what one would want in their pocket – it’s sized like a normal phone, weighs just like your contemporary smartphone, and still packs the functionality of a foldable and a swivel phone. And yes, there are no screen creases, so the viewing experience is as seamless as it can be.
Pluto TV adds a free Showtime channel, but there are limitations
Free TV streaming service Pluto TV has expanded its offerings with a new Showtime channel — one that is free to access despite Showtime’s premium nature. The addition gives viewers access to Showtime content, but as you’d expect, there are some limitations on the new channel including the presence of commercials.
Pluto TV is one of the most popular free over-the-top streaming services that offer access to an experience akin to live TV. The platform’s content greatly expanded following the company’s acquisition by ViacomCBS, bringing content like older Nickelodeon episodes for kids. In addition to the live channels, Pluto TV also offers a selection of on-demand content.
According to Variety, the platform is adding an ad-supported Showtime channel called ‘Showtime Selects’ featuring uncensored originals. The channel will offer around 250 hours of content from the premium network, the idea being that you may see something you like and decide to pick up an actual Showtime subscription for the full content library.
Showtime Selects will feature originals from the network, including episodes from shows like Shameless, Your Honor, Ray Donovan, The Affair, Billions, Californication, and more. The only full series on Showtime Select, at least based on the report, will be The Loudest Voice.
The decision to launch a limited Showtime channel on the free streaming platform isn’t surprising. Pluto users who may otherwise never watch Showtime content will be exposed to the kind of content they can get from the network, which offers its own paid streaming service priced at $11/month. In addition to getting the full show content, Showtime’s subscribers are also given an ad-free experience.
Galaxy S21+ leaks – the 2021 edge of reality
Today we’re getting our first good look at solid leaks of the Samsung Galaxy S21+. This next-generation device will mark another big move by Samsung away from traditional industrial design into design that’s a bit more… daring. Before this, Samsung’s biggest industrial design transition points were the Infinity-O (punch hole) display, and the “Galaxy Edge” or “Infinity” display curve.
The Samsung Galaxy S21+ looks a whole lot like the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra leaks we’ve seen in the last few weeks. This design isn’t a surprise, only because we’ve seen a few other views of the rest of the device family. Take a peek at the rest of the family in the Samsung Galaxy S21 leaks article published on November 16 – it is a good place to start.
Imagery from CoverPigtou and xLeaks7 show this device both front and back, side to side, using CAD drawings as their own source. These are renderings based on leaked specifications generally made to act as guide for accessory-makers and protective case-makers.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 family has a set of displays that are fairly similar to the Galaxy S20. The display bezels are thinner, the punch-hole is smaller. Otherwise we’re pretty much on-track with the year-by-year ever-more-sleek simplicity of a full frontside coverage display panel, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S lineup.
ABOVE: The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge – the first Samsung phone with a display that cascaded off it’s side. BELOW: The Samsung Galaxy S10 “escapes the notch curse” with a punch hole.
The big change comes in the sides and the back of the device. If we look at the Samsung Galaxy S21+, we see the most obvious design move in the camera array. There, three cameras live in an array that sits above the rest of the device’s backside – like the Galaxy S20 – with one big change. Here, the camera array island becomes a bit more like a peninsula.
The camera array connects with the silver metal edge of the smartphone, an edge that also contains the power button and the volume rocker.
This is a solution that allows the raised array of cameras to sit above the majority of the back of the device without feeling like an element inflicted negatively upon the device. When we first started seeing backside cameras on smartphones that sat above the flatness of the back of the phone, it was an ugly situation. This might well be the most elegant integration of said design requirement yet.
We’ll likely see the Samsung Galaxy S21 family appear officially in the first several weeks of 2021. The Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra will likely be revealed in late January or early February, 2021, with release dates closer to the tail end of February, if history acts as guide for the near future – we shall see!
Google names the best Android games and apps of 2020
Today Google released a list of games and apps for Android that they named “best” of the year 2020. Included in the mix were categories like Best Competitive, Indies, Pick Up & Play, Game Changers, Everyday Essentials, Personal Growth, Hidden Gems, “Best for Fun”, and “Best Apps for Good”. As it is each year, this list of lists makes for a good first place to look for the apps and games that have the best chance at allowing users to make the most of their smart device experience.
Google’s best apps of 2020
Google’s choice for best app of the year, 2020, was “Loona: Bedtime Calm & Relax.” This app includes soothing sounds, simple stories, and calming game-like experiences to get users in the mood for sleep. The Loona app is free and offers in-app purchases for expanded experiences. The User’s Choice for Best App of 2020 was… Disney+, the streaming platform.
Google’s Best Everyday Essentials apps included Calmaria (for calming down, not entirely unlike Loona,) and Grid Diary (a top notch journal and planner app). Also in the mix were The Pattern (to explore your personality with astrology… only… not astrology.) Whisk was on the list, as was Zoom Cloud Meetings.
Personal Growth apps included “Centr, by Chris Hemsworth” and “Intellect: Create a Better You”, as well as “Jumprope: How-to Videos”, “Paired: Couples App” and the language app Speekoo. The best Hidden Gems included Cappuccino for mini-podcasts, Paperless Post, and Explorest – Photo Locations. And don’t forget Tayasui Sketches for a new approach to digital brush painting.
Best For Good apps included apps like ShareTheMeal and GreenChoice for Healthy Grocery Shopping.
If you’re looking for FUN apps, Google’s best-of collection included Bazaart: Photo Editor & Graphic Design, Disney+, Dolby On: Record Audio & Music, Reface, and the video editor Vita.
Google’s best games of 2020
The User’s Choice best game of the year was SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, which is absolutely bonkers. This game contains both in-app purchases and advertisements and all sorts of “unlocks” and such. But who am I to argue? Google’s own best game of the year was Genshin Impact!
Google named Brawlhalla the best competitive game of the year, as well as Bullet Echo, GWENT (the Witcher card game), Legends of Runeterra, and The Seven Deadly Since: Grand Cross. Google’s Best “Indies” included Cookies Must Die, GRIS (by Devolver Digital), Inbento, Maze Machina, and Sky: Children of the Light.
The best Pick Up & Play games of the year included Disney Frozen Adventures: Customize the Kingdom, as well as another game with an impossibly long title: DreamWorks Trolls Pop: Bubble Shooter & Collection. Also on the list was EverMerge, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, and the SpongeBob game mentioned above.
The Game Changers list this year included some truly odd pieces of work. You’ll find Fancade, Genshin Impact, Minimal Dungeon RPG, and the game Ord. The game The Gardens Between was also included on the list – easily one of the most expensive up-front costs on the list, with good reason – no ads, no in-app purchases, just one cost and you’ve got it!
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