This week, we’re checking out what your phone can do. From gaming to new ways of capturing images to how 5G is coming to the mid-range, this week is phones in five.
It’s the middle of June 2020, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and as we begin to make strides to a return of normalcy, steady as we go, our phones are returning to that whole mobile data thing.
Working from home, mobile data use was probably at a low these past few months. But as we venture back into the real world, data use goes up and our phones can start doing some of those extra things they can do.
Our phones are about to go back to the multiuse devices they were before COVID took hold, and some of the gadgets coming out aim to help.
Take what Razer unleashed this week, the “Kishi” gamepad, an accessory that wraps around your phone and turns it into a Nintendo Switch-like device for about $150. It’s available for Android phones first, requiring a USB Type C port and working on Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel phones from the past few years, plus Razer’s two, but an iPhone version is coming.
You don’t have to use your phone to play games. Adobe has this week made Photoshop Camera a thing that can take photos and turn them into brushed or pop art, but you can use your phone for just about anything. It’s a way to control devices in our smart home, turning off lamps with a smart light, or even controlling smart speaker. It can even control a TV, and is possibly your best friend as a music player.
This week, we checked out a pair of earphones that you can use with a phone, the Beats Powerbeats, which are basically the corded version of last year’s Powerbeats Pro. While the “pro” Powerbeats earphones were wireless and cordless like Apple’s AirPods, the standard Powerbeats are not. They have a cord from one earpiece to the next, and roughly 15 hours of battery life.
Made for the fitness-focused, they’re a decent sounding earphone with a degree of water resistance that can be a little bright, but good for most types of music. We found they needed a little more oomph, but the sound was quite good still, even if the $220 price felt a little over where it should be. These days, that sort of price isn’t far from the cost of something totally wireless, though Beats does do premium earphones for fitness, so it kind of justifies itself somewhat.
They’re not alone, though. There are plenty of great earphones, and as we’re all using our phones for media players, we’re sure you have a favourite pair, or are thinking of grabbing some real soon.
In fact, depending on the type of phone you have, a problem with listening to music on your phone might be solved with an operating system update.
If you’ve ever come home from work listening to something, only to hit home and have to stop because, you know, wearing headphones in the home is frowned upon, you may soon be able to continue with speakers in the home.
Google has released a beta of the next version of Android, and it supports a feature which is basically that. One of the features of Android 11, Google will offer the continuation of sound from one device — your headphones — to another — your TV or a speaker.
Android 11 is in beta right now, so it’s not for every device, and really only should be used by a few — basically if you have a spare device and don’t mind bugs. It’s only available for Google’s Pixel phones, but if you have one, you can begin to see what Google is working on ahead of release later in the year.
Mobile maker Oppo has joined in on the Android 11 release and said that it will have a beta ready soon, but it had other things to talk about this week.
Three, actually, as Oppo offered more in the way of 5G, announcing the Find X2 Lite, Find X2 Neo, and Find X2 Pro, with all three available now.
The trio are all 5G, and offer high-speed connectivity with zero chance of coronavirus, because that’s just silly: 5G does not transmit coronavirus, and people thinking that need to stop. You cannot get COVID from 5G, it does not happen, but you can get faster speeds for your mobile on 5G, which is kind of the point. Faster speeds are better for data, and mean we can begin to see improvements to services like video communication, among other things.
The Find X2 Lite also drops the cost of a new 5G phone down to $749, and brings with it four cameras, making 5G available for the mid-range.
Its big brother, the Find X2 Pro, is twice the price at $1599, and a big 5G phone with more memory and storage, plus an impressive assortment of cameras and water resistance. We’ve been playing with it for a week, and while the battery life could be better, the phone is actually quite nice, with either a ceramic back or a vegan leather.
We had the ceramic, and the phone has a real heft to it. It’s basically Oppo’s answer to Samsung’s S20 Ultra, but for hundreds less. It’s easily one of the year’s best phones so far, offering a great camera, but no wireless charging, both features we expect in flagship phones this year.
You can find out more at thewrap.com.au, but for now, that’s our show. So you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap goes online every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, and we’ll be back next week for more tech in the space of five. Until then, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.