The New Smartphones

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Microsoft Surface Duo

Following a long dry period when it came to innovation in smartphones, there’s new life heading to the category.  Here’s a review of some of the recent phone introductions:

This week Microsoft showed an Android phone called the Surface Duo that sports side-by-side 5.6-inch screens that create an 8.3-inch display that is only 4.8mm thick (about the height of thumb drive that’s lying flat).  The screens are linked by a 360-degree hinge.  When folded, the phone can fit in your pocket.  The screens can rest in a position where the second display becomes a game controller (see above) or a keyboard. Or the second display can be used as a stand when you want to watch videos.  The catch—the Surface Duo won’t be available until late 2020 at a price to be announced.   It made its debut Wednesday alongside the Surface Neo, a tablet-sized version with two 9-inch hinged screens that create a 13-inch display.

Surface Duo via the Verge

The Microsoft reveal has already triggered a debate on which format is better—dual screens on a hinge or Samsung’s approach of a folding screen with the Galaxy Fold.

Another new phone, the Pixel 4 from Google, is expected to be announced October 15.  Leaked reports say the Pixel 4 that may offer a car feature that uses sensors to detect a car crash and then generate an emergency call.

If it senses a crash it will sound an alarm and ask if the user needs help.  It will follow up with a 911 call, sending the driver’s location if there is no response from the driver, according to Engadget.

The phone is also expected to have Face ID for easy phone unlocking and gesture control so you can swipe away a phone call or swipe to the next song when listening to popular streaming services like Spotify.  Google released a quick video of gesture control here.

Right on the heels of the iPhone 11, we may see another new iPhone early next year, known as the iPhone SE2, according to several analysts including Ming-Chi Kuo, who has forecast correctly on Apple in the past.  CNBC reported the phone will use the iPhone 11’s powerful processor but it will bear a smaller, 4.7-inch screen, and carry a lower price that could make it a hot seller.

Samsung is expected to launch the latest Galaxy models, S11 and S11+, in the first quarter of next year.  It’s revolutionary Galaxy Fold with a foldable screen became available last month, but only through AT&T, and at a hefty price of about $2,000.  When folded, it shows a 4.3-inch screen but when open, it reveals a 7.3-inch screen.  Reviews say the larger screen is great for multi-tasking as it can run three windows at a time.  If you are running an app on the folded front screen and you open to the larger screen, the app is right there in a larger size.  Users may shoot selfies with the phone open or closed.  See some reviews and specs here and here.

For a report on the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro launched last month click here.

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