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???? I’m heading down to Munich today to check out a solar conference. That means capable Nick Fernandez will be with you for Thursday’s edition, and then back on Monday. Also, happy birthday to my Dad!!
Google’s been putting out a trail of breadcrumbs for its Pixel 6 launch that pointed to an October 19 launch, and it’s official now: 19.10, at 1PM ET/10AM PT.
- Really the only question is if Google will launch anything else other than its new flagship Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
- It is specifically calling it a “Pixel” event, but will we see things like the rumored Pixel foldable (a tease, or full announcement?) or a Pixelbook (probably not), or even less likely, a tablet?
- Given the leaks we’re seeing already, we might know more closer to the date…
As promised last week, I had a chat with Miquel Ballester, Fairphone’s Product Design Lead, about the latest Fairphone 4 5G, and about the company’s first new product line, its TWS earbuds, just called Fairphone True Wireless Earbuds.
- I’ve had a chat with Miquel each year at Fairphone, stretching back to the Fairphone 1 launch and actual in-person, live product launches.
- Miquel and the Fairphone team have always been generous with their time and insights into how Fairphone grows and creates better products at each launch.
- Though in that time, I’ve seen him getting better at deflecting my questions!
Fairphone 4 5G:
- I told Miquel Ballester that this is the first Fairphone that looks good enough for tech enthusiasts, not just socially-conscious folks. (YouTube channel The Friday Checkout from TechAltar described it as “the first Fairphone that wasn’t terrible.”).
- To his credit, Ballester was excited to hear this: “That’s great to hear,” he enthused. “I’m very happy to hear that, this is the first time it felt like we had a big enough professional team, great product development stages. This is what we want to hear.”
- On the first IP rating: Ballester was happy to talk about the Fairphone 4’s IP54 rating, which brings weather/splash resistance, the first and only IP rating for a modular phone, and important for the five-year warranty of the device. He said it was achieved with “a range of techniques from experience building modular devices, plus nanocoating,” and some key components that face external use (presumably like the USB-C port) “have an IP rating themselves.”
- Fairphone has always been public about its sales figures, with each new device selling more.
On the Fairphone True Wireless Earbuds:
- I was more critical of this new release. Fairphone’s first TWS earbuds have some useful features at 99 euros, but I told Ballester that my Android Authority colleagues and I had seen leaks of the earbuds in advance. We were interested to see if Fairphone might achieve something truly unique like more modular earbuds, which would bring in elements like being able to swap batteries once they are degraded, and the like.
- Not so much with this first edition.
- To Fairphone’s credit, the materials used are more fairly sourced, including use of Fairtrade Gold and recycled plastics. Which is great, but there’s none of the modularity or uniqueness of the Fairphone here, yet.
- Ballester: “My summary in one sentence: the earbuds are like the Fairphone 1. This is a new category for us, a new product, and we’re still a small company. We’re still learning for ourselves, learning the market, and specifically treating the earbuds not like an accessory but a new product. I don’t agree they’re like any other earbuds, with the use of fair materials and Fairtrade Gold.”
- What I take from that is: the next release might be more interesting, but you have to start somewhere.
???? Nokia’s first-ever T20 tablet has launched: being billed as having a 2K screen, 8,200mAh battery, and decent speakers. Top spec for around $250 (Android Authority).
???? Telegram gained over 70 million users in 1 day after Facebook outage (Android Authority).
???? Xiaomi might upgrade its original Mi Mix Fold rather than go for a second edition (Android Authority).
???? Former Sennheiser engineer has a new startup: Grell, with first noise-cancelling TWS earbuds make good sound “accessible,” will start at $200 (Android Authority).
???? New Microsoft Surface gear now has reviews to go with their launch with Windows 11: Microsoft Surface Pro 8 has a good new modern look with 120Hz display, but accessories aren’t included which quickly adds up (The Verge). The new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is lovely and unique, good battery life, and Thunderbolt 4, but heavy and pricey, and not a lot of talk about the new form factor being good or bad (Gizmodo). And the Surface Go 3, which has nice hardware and is portable but sadly is described as a “battery buster” (Wired).
???? Canon created a wild-looking dual fisheye lens for its new 3D VR video capture system (Engadget).
???? iOS 15 reviews are out: more minor than other iOS updates, still a good release (Ars Technica).
???? Google launches new features to help users shrink their carbon footprints in Maps, Search, Travel, Nest and more: eco-options to save fuel, CO2 emissions for flights (The Verge).
???? Report: Amazon-designed fridge will use the same computer vision tech as Amazon Go stores (Ars Technica).
???? “Facebook runs the coward’s playbook to smear the whistleblower,” with Zuckerberg front and center again, breaking his silence/avoidance of being tarred by Facebook’s failures (The Verge).
???? “What is a surprisingly easy way to accidentally die?” (r/askreddit).
Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, aka the Northern or Southern Lights, are one of nature’s miracles and I’m excited to tell you something weird today: some people can hear them, some of the time.
- The thing is that people say they can hear a sort of imperceptible crackling, whooshing, whistling, or whizzing noise, or like rustling silk. There are also reports of smelling an ozone smell.
- The odd part is that the auroras were thought to be 100km above the ground, so the sound was really traveling.
- But research has proven it out, as rounded up by The Conversation on the BBC, including a Finnish study from 2016 that claimed to have finally confirmed that the Northern Lights really do produce sound audible to the human ear.
- And if you wanted to have a listen yourself: “…in 2020, a BBC Radio 3 program remapped very low-frequency radio recordings of the aurora onto the audible spectrum. Although not the same as perceiving audible noises produced by the Northern Lights in person on a snowy mountaintop, these sounds give an awesome sense of the aurora’s transitory, fleeting and dynamic nature.”
Keeping an ear out,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor