Google reveals Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google officially unveiled the next generation of its Pixel phones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, at an event in San Francisco on Wednesday. The devices are built on the capabilities of Google Assistant, continuing Google’s shift “from mobile-first to AI-first” in computing, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL aren’t much of a departure from the original Pixel phones in terms of design. The standard Pixel 2 features a 5″ screen with an OLED display, while the Pixel 2 XL sports a massive 6″ P-OLED screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a curved screen.

The phones have an all-aluminum body, with the smaller glass plate on the back. The fingerprint scanner remains in the same spot on the middle of the back of the phone.

The standard Pixel 2 is available in three colors: Kinda Blue, Just Black, and Clearly White. The Pixel 2 XL, however, is only available in Just Black and a separate Black and White colorway.

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Google’s search box will now be at the bottom of the screen and will remain static while the user moves between home screens. A new feature called Active Edge will allow users to access Google Assistant by simply squeezing the sides of the phone. It will work with a case, and machine learning will be able to identify an “intentional squeeze.”

Google is continuing the trend of including premium camera technology in the Pixel line with the Pixel 2. The 12.2 MP camera, which achieved a DxOMark score of 98, is tuned for AR content and can read it in 60fps. The camera will also include a portrait mode, similar to what Apple introduced with its iPhone 7 Plus. This feature could be especially helpful for marketing professionals and social media pros who need to capture the best images for their content.

 

Apple will unveil the next iPhone on September 12th at its new campus

To the surprise of almost no one, Apple has announced it’ll be holding its annual iPhone event on Tuesday, September 12th. It’ll be the first event hosted at Apple’s new “spaceship” campus in Cupertino, California. Sure, Apple didn’t say exactly what to expect, but given that the company has introduced a new iPhone around this timeframe for the last six years, it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll be seeing new mobile phones.

That includes the “iPhone 8,” a device that’s expected to be radically different from its predecessors. Improvements rumored include an edge-to-edge OLED screen, face detection, wireless charging, a virtual home button and an updated dual-camera system.

Apple’s September event is usually its biggest of the year, at least from a hardware perspective. Beyond the new iPhone, we’re also expecting to hear about an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, in keeping with Apple’s usual upgrade cycle. As for non-phone hardware, rumors are swirling about updates for both the Apple Watch and Apple TV.

Finally, we could hear more about the HomePod speaker that was unveiled at WWDC this past June. If Apple wants to have it out on the market for this holiday season, the timing makes sense to get more details and even a price and release date.

From a software standpoint, Apple will almost certainly say when iOS 11, macOS High Sierra and WatchOS 4 will be ready for customers to download to their devices. While the Mac updates have typically taken a little longer, the new iOS and WatchOS should be out within a few weeks from the event. Given how much Apple is expected to reveal, we’re not expecting much Mac news at this event. But regardless of what’s in store, we’ll be there to cover the news live.

 

 

Until your phone or tablet is set up just the way you want it, a brand new device feels kind of foreign. With the V30, LG is giving you more options for making the phone your own. You can match haptic feedback to the ringtone of your choosing, for starters. Customization applies to security as well, with a handful of ways to make sure you’re the only one unlocking your phone.

Its face recognition apparently works “instantaneously” without the need to turn the screen on first. More than that, you can set a voice password as well. Biometric security!

To take advantage of the handset’s 18:9 OLED display, you can even adjust the Floating Bar (or push it out of the way entirely). Essentially, it offers a place to put your most used apps and widgets.

That’s not to mention all the tricks the phone’s camera is capable of with its f/1.6 glass lens. From the manual shooting mode, you can access Graphy, a sort of photo editing suite that grants access to editing presets designed by pro photographers. Want to make a quick GIF of your dog licking its nose? That’s doable too.

Those interested in more info won’t have too much longer to wait — the LG V30 will be formally revealed August 31st.

The possible funding from Apple comes after a news report early this year that LG Display was in talks with Google for a 1 trillion won investment into its OLED plant. At the time, the Korean firm didn’t deny the talks, saying “nothing has been confirmed on the issue” in a regulatory filing.

Currently, Samsung Display dominates more than 95 percent of the smartphone OLED market, supplying OLED screens to a limited number of big clients, including Samsung Electronics and Apple. Amid the dominant market share of the No. 1 maker, other display makers such as LG Display and China’s BOE are making all-out efforts to beef up OLED production.

“Samsung Display is the only display maker that meets Apple’s strict quality criteria for now,” said an industry source on condition of anonymity. “LG Display is said to be meeting about 70 percent level of the requirements, while Chinese display makers are still struggling to catch up with that of LG.”

Apple’s fresh investment is expected to be poured into LG Display’s new plant, called E6, which has been widely rumored to be dedicated to iPhone orders. About 3.5 trillion won is needed for an OLED production line with a monthly capacity of 30,000 units of the sixth-generation OLED mother glass.

LG Display’s OLED supply for iPhone seemed to be being delayed as it failed to purchase Canon Tokki’s vacuum machine, the most advanced OLED production equipment whose supply is extremely limited.

But sources say the company has recently secured two units of the machine to speed up the production for Apple that has been speculated to start as early as 2019. With the new equipment installations in December this year and February next year, the company’s production capacity is expected to double to 60,000 units per month.

LG’s other new OLED plant, called E5, is expected to focus on orders from LG Electronics and some Chinese clients.

“The funding form Apple is also expected to help LG Display reduce risks from the lower margin,” said another source, adding Apple is known for slashing supply prices for parts makers.

Samsung is set to build the world’s largest-ever OLED plant, according to a report from etnews. The new facility, said to be called “A5,” would be comprised of two buildings in South Korea’s South Chungcheong Province.

This is tipped to crank out “180,000 to 270,000 units of the sixth-generation OLED panels per month,” claims the The Investor, which is roughly a 30-percent jump on its A3 plant (the current largest OLED plant in South Korea).

The Investor says this information was provided by an industry source on the condition on anonymity, and that it could cost Samsung two trillion won (around $1.75 billion) just to construct the building. Equipment costs could set the company back between $4 and $14 billion, claims etnews. Facility operations are tipped to begin in 2019.

Though this is simply a rumor for right now, it is exceedingly likely that Samsung is seeking ways to increase its OLED output; last year, reports emerged that it would invest a whopping $6.8 billion in AMOLED displays.

A new factory would certainly help Samsung build more panels, but to what end? Here are some possibilities.

Staying on top

Samsung is already the largest producer of small displays (nine inches or less) and its Display arm is a lucrative part of its overall business. But the company is facing competition from Japan Display, LG Display, and others while the rising Chinese companies like Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO and Vivo have the potential to cause Samsung problems too.

A reported deal between Samsung and Apple has prompted several Chinese manufacturers to band together with the aim of securing a homegrown OLED supplier to rival Samsung. While a reported 100 million panel shipments to Apple over three years isn’t a bad prospect for Samsung, the Chinese OEMs’ smartphone market shares are on the up, and Samsung could miss out on the action.

Though investing in a better display infrastructure now will cost Samsung a lot of doe, it would give it a chance to secure its market foothold before a potential Chinese solution even gets off the ground. And it would be hard for smaller companies to compete with the prices offered by the biggest global OLED factory.

Market growth

Though LCD is still the most prevalent smartphone display type, OLED panels have been catching up, and the market is expected to continue to grow through 2023. Curved displays, meanwhile, are a current smartphone trend that analysts predict is going to continue over the next few years — and OLED is the best display type for it.

Add to this that OLED prices are dropping overall and it’s clear that they could overtake LCD on smartphones and in other tech spheres too, like smartwatches, home appliances, TVs, VR, etc.

Realistically, there probably won’t be anything to disrupt the prominence of small OLEDs in the next five years or so. Plus, if a superior tech — like microLED — does become preferable, there aren’t a whole lot of companies that would have the capacity to deliver it on a scale like Samsung could with OLED (i.e. they won’t be able to sell it to the market at as low a price).

Larger displays

The other major region that Samsung may need to invest so heavily in this proposed super plant is to produce larger displays. Samsung’s current factory apparently isn’t geared up to produce high volumes of the larger panels required for curved displays (The Investor‘s sources also indicate this), and, as has been previously discussed, these screens are becoming pretty hot. Even Apple is said to be joining the curved-screen party with its 10th anniversary iPhone.

Samsung Display is said to be holding a meeting next month to finalize its plans for the investments on the new plant, though it told The Investor that nothing is confirmed just yet. We’ll let you know when we learn more.