Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – Tech Gets Controversial

One month into the new year and technology is seeing controversy. From foldable phones to legacy speakers to the cost of your next mobile, we’re checking the topics that might grind your gears in 2020, all in five.

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It’s the end of January 2020, and this is The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and now that the kids are on their way to class and you’ve been back at work for a few weeks, it’s time to properly begin the year.

What’s new? How are you feeling? Did you have a good break? Did you get all the technology you wanted and then some?

Depending on what you own, you might be in for a bit of a technology controversy, because this year, you can bet we’re going to see a few. From new technology form-factors to old technology being killed off, the year has already started off with a bit of that controversy, and it’s been a little different depending on what you looked at.

Last week saw some of that controversy come to Sonos, the pioneers of the multiroom sound system that allows you to synchronise music from room to room in your home using networked speakers.

Now Sonos has had speakers out for quite a long time — over ten years now — and if you’re someone who bought into the Sonos system in the early days, you might still have a few that keep on working. That’s what good sound gear does — it keeps on keepin’ on — but last week, Sonos decided to change that, and had plans to make its older legacy gear prevent updates from being rolled out if it was in a system with newer Sonos gear. We said it “had” plans, though, because now it doesn’t, and the company has said it would find a way to make the old gear work with the new gear in a way that won’t upset fans and owners of Sonos systems.

That was a controversy and a half, and while we’re surprised Sonos didn’t think about this beforehand, at least the company has decided to allow customers to keep using both old and new gear without limiting owners of both types, the old and the new.

Controversies can be about anything, from a retiring of technology to change in port technology — something that we expect will happen on either the iPhone this year or the one next, when Apple finally decides to move its iPhone to Type C USB and off the Lightning connection. But one of the more regular controversies is about pricing, particularly when something costs more.

This year, you can expect controversies over price to arise as phones hit pricetags sure to make your wallet weep just that little bit more.

While Samsung’s next Galaxy smartphone announcement is only a couple of weeks away, the rumour is that it won’t be a cheap release, possibly fetching past the $2000 mark for the top end model, what is rumoured to be the 5G Galaxy S20 Ultra. At least three models are expected — the S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra — and while being flagship phones typically means they shouldn’t be cheap, the rising prices of phones edging closer to the three thousand dollar mark isn’t helping any.

You can expect higher price tags from newer form factors, though, particularly with those foldable phones gradually making their way out. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold may have been the first last year, costing a dollar shy of three grand, but it won’t be the last, with Motorola’s joining it in Australia on February 24.

We went hands on with the new Moto Razr this week, Motorola’s first foray in foldables that relies on a 6.2 inch screen that folds in half and closes shut like the old Moto Razr clamshell phones did over a decade ago. It’s one of the most quaint takes on foldables yet, because it’s a big phone that folds into something smaller, ideal for people who’d prefer their tablet not be their phone, though it’s one that will come with some caveats.

The new Moto Razr will run only come with 128GB of storage, it only runs on eSIM so you need to download your SIM card using your mobile carrier, and it will cost $2700. It’s not cheap, not by a long shot, and it won’t likely be the only phone designed like it by the middle of this year, with Samsung expecting to release a similar model in the Galaxy line-up.

But neither will likely be cheap, and with phones edging towards the three thousand dollar mark in 2020, that’s going to be a pain point we all have to deal with.

At least the mid-range is shaping up to be an area that helps people update their phones, offering some seriously strong specs last year for less money. We expect that will only get better this year, and you may be able to get a new phone this year that outperforms some of the more expensive models, but for less.

Last year, Google’s Pixel 3a nailed that for us, and for quite a few reviewers, so we’re expecting something similar from the Pixel 4a, which we suspect Google will unveil in May at Google I/O.

The mid-range possibly being better than the high-end is certainly a controversy, and so is how companies are beginning to become more green. We’re seeing recycled parts used in phone and computer production, and case makers are getting in on the action, too. EFM showed a case made from 85 percent plant based materials recently, while Incipio has released a compostable iPhone case.

That is to say when you’re done with the Incipio Organicore iPhone 11 case — maybe you’re upgrading to a new phone — you’ll be able to compost the case, and it will break down.

That’s a good kind of controversy for sure, and the last one of this episode, because you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap is released every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but we’ll be back next week for more tech in five. Until then, we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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