Your phone might be your life, but what about all those mobile extras? This week, we’ll talk about how mobile charging is getting better and the accessories we can’t live without, plus review Google’s Pixel Buds 2. All in five.
For the middle of July 2020, this is The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and even though you might not be as dependent on your phone as you once were — thank you coronavirus and this whole life working from home — you’re probably still just as reliant, just in different ways.
We still use phones for apps, for games, for texting, social media, web browsing, the camera, listening to music, and even sometimes making and taking phone calls, too, and even if we’re not out and about like we once were, we likely still have the same issues, such as battery life.
It’s an issue that isn’t easy to fix, especially as screens and features get better for phones, the worse the battery life. The higher quality the screen, the more pixels the phone has to fire, the more the battery is likely to suffer, and that’s just the start. If you have a 5G phone, you’re likely going to see battery life drop a bit, and the more you use the camera or GPS, too, the same applies.
So what’s the solution?
Well it might be a bigger battery, but that’s not always going to help. We’ve seen big batteries in 2020’s phones, and the battery life hasn’t stretched that far into the second day to really count for much.
But the battery charger might be a solution, particularly if companies can get the charge time down.
Oppo and Realme have come up with an answer in that this week, unveiling 125 watt chargers that can recharge a big 4000 milliamp battery in 20 minutes. That’s a full charge, from zero to 100, but it can handle a third of that big battery in three minutes. No joke: three.
It’ll need a USB Type C plug and a pretty high-powered adaptor, which Oppo calls flash charging and Realme calls UltraDart, but it’s the same thing across the brands, which are siblings to each other.
While the jargon might be confusing, all you really need to know is the battery recharging is fast when used with one of these gadgets, and can charge laptops and tablets, too. It should be compatible with phones from Oppo and Realme now, and there’s also a wireless version which is fast, just not as fast.
However these aren’t the only extras that can help your mobile, and there’s plenty out there, some of it from this week alone.
If you’re an Optus customer, one of those extras is unlimited data if you pay for it in a $5 daily add on. That’s unlimited data for five bucks a day, whether you’re using 4G or 5G.
Data isn’t the only mobile announcement this week, as Apple unleashes the public betas of iOS 14 for iPhone and iPad ahead of the releases later in the year. They’re not yet final, and not going to be for everyone, with the releases only great if you’re okay with living a little dangerously, because betas have bugs. We’ve found iOS 14 on the iPhone more stable than we expected, but the camera has been a touch buggy, and occasionally the phone needed a reset to make the WiFi work again, but that’s it.
We don’t think every iPhone owner should upgrade to the beta of iOS 14, but when it comes out later in the year, it’s shaping up to be a very interesting upgrade all the same.
It’s not the only upgrade that’s interesting, either.
Belkin has updated its nightstand and desk-bound wireless chargers, now adding support for both iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods, making for an ideal accessory for iPhone owners that can work with some other devices, too, It joins an updated Bang & Olufsen A1 speaker, which is still flat and round, but now has water resistance, a longer battery life, and support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
And there’s also a new pair of earphones out in Australia, as Google joins with a pair of its own. Yes, the Pixel Buds have returned, and this time, they’re actually not half bad.
The first Pixel Buds rocked up in 2017, and weren’t fantastic. Hardly cordless and not worth the price, they were easily missable, which is distinct from this year’s approach to the Pixel Buds.
Instead, Google has taken an approach similar to Apple and Jabra in the new Pixel Buds, cutting the cord with tiny wireless earphones that fit in a small case. Less like the AirPods and more like Jabra’s 65t and 75t, the Pixel Buds are a $279 pair of earphones with no cords that play nicely with either iPhone or Android, but best with Android, to be sure.
On Android, you can find either the app or the controls built in, and that gives you control over some of the features, including an adaptive volume mode which raises the volume based on what they hear. It’s not like noise cancellation, but it’s a kind of solution that you can turn off.
With or without it, the Pixel Buds offer touch controls which kind of work, and a type of sound which is comfortable to listen to, but needs a bit of work in the bass. They’re definitely an improvement over the original — they’d have to be — but at just under $300, you can see Google is basically building a version of Apple’s AirPods for Android, complete with a little water resistance. But there are easily better wireless earphones out there, all you really need to do is look.
There’s plenty out there, we might even wrap it in a future episode, but right now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap returns next week for more technology in five, but until then, have a great week. Stay safe, and take care.