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By Abhay V
Google Messages might stop working on uncertified Android devices starting March 31
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google Messages is a popular messaging app that is installed on more than a billion devices, an impressive feat considering that not every Android device comes pre-installed with the app. The offering serves as a viable alternative to OEM-provided messaging apps on non-Pixel devices. The search giant’s offering can also be sideloaded on devices that are not certified for running Google Mobile Services (GMS), meaning that even devices like those from Huawei – which no longer ship with GMS – can leverage the app.
That might be changing soon, if a string in the Messages app spotted by the folks over at XDA Developers is to be believed. A teardown of the app points to a “compliance warning message” that implies that the app will stop working on uncertified devices starting March 31. The mention was spotted on a teardown of version 7.2.203.
The publication speculates that this change is being made due to the end-to-end encryption feature that is rolling out for Rich Communication Service (RCS) messages. The inability to vet uncertified devices or ascertain if they are compromised – due to the lack of Play services – might pose a risk for users. This means that starting April 1, uncertified phones could begin losing the ability to run Messages and users must look for alternate services.
It is not clear when the updated version of the Messages app will make it to all users with the compliance warning. While the change should affect only a small number of users, it further helps make the service a secure alternative for RCS messaging.
By Jay Bonggolto
Samsung brings the Galaxy A12, A32 5G, and A02s to the UK
by Jay Bonggolto
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G Samsung announced today that the Galaxy A12, Galaxy A32 5G, and Galaxy A02s are coming to the UK. These phones were previously unveiled in the past few months and the latest announcement marks an expansion to their regional availability.
Starting today, you can purchase the Galaxy A12 (first unveiled late last year) for £169 via Samsung's channels and partner retailers in the UK. It's available in white, black, and blue color options. The Galaxy A32 5G, which debuted last week, costs £249 in black, white, blue, and violet color variants. It will ship beginning on February 19. Meanwhile, the Galaxy A02s is the cheapest among the three at £139. It will ship in the coming weeks in white and black colors.
Samsung Galaxy A12 All three smartphones have the same 6.5-inch HD+ TFT Infinity V display and 5,000mAh battery with support for 15W fast charging. The devices are powered by octa-core processors, although Samsung didn't specify each of the phones' chipsets. That said, we know from the company's previous announcement that the Galaxy A12 is powered by MediaTek's Helio P35 SoC.
Both the Galaxy A12 and A32 5G have a quad-camera setup on the back. The A12's camera module consists of a 48MP main sensor, 5MP ultra-wide shooter, 2MP macro sensor, and 2MP depth sensor. The A32 5G also features a 48MP main sensor, 8MP ultra-wide camera, 5MP macro sensor, and 2MP depth sensor. The A02S, on the other hand, has a triple camera setup on its back, comprising a 13MP main sensor, 2MP macro camera, and 2MP depth sensor. The selfie cameras of the A32 5G, A12, and A02s are 13MP, 8MP, and 5MP, respectively.
Samsung Galaxy A02s Memory-wise, the A32 5G and A12 have 4GB of RAM while the A02s has a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage (expandable up to 1TB with a microSD card). The A32 5G includes 64GB of internal storage that's expandable up to 1TB while the A12 has either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage that's also expandable up to 1TB.
Samsung's rugged Galaxy Tab Active3 is now available in the U.S.
by João Carrasqueira
Samsung first introduced the Galaxy Tab Active3 last September, as the latest member of its lineage of rugged tablets for the enterprise. Today, the company has announced that the tablet is now available to buy in the United States, and it's the first one to come with an Enterprise Edition that offers one year of Knox Suite and up to five years of security updates.
Samsung also promises up to three generations of Android upgrades, which will be welcome considering it still ships with Android 10. Samsung plans to deliver an update to Android 11 that will also add the device to Google's list of Android Enterprise Recommended devices. The tablet also supports Samsung DeX for users that may want to connect it to a larger screen and have a desktop-like experience.
In terms of the hardware, it's the same device we already know of. It's meant to be durable, with a MIL-STD-810H certification and IP68 water and dust resistance rating. The included S Pen is equally durable with the same IP rating, and the tablet itself has a display with enhanced sensitivity that lets you use the screen with gloves. Another feature that businesses might appreciate is the user-replaceable 5050mAh battery, and support for a no-battery mode, for situations where the tablet might be permanently attached to a power source.
As for the specs, the tablet is powered by an Exynos 9810 octa-core chipset, 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of storage. The display is an 8-inch panel with Full HD+ resolution (1920x1200), and the rear camera is 13MP, while on the front there's a 5MP shooter.
The Galaxy Tab Active3 comes in Wi-Fi-only and LTE models, starting at $489.99 for the former, and $589.99 for the latter. It's available to buy today.
By Abhay V
Honor reportedly working on a new device lineup with support for Google's services
by Abhay Venkatesh
Back in November last year, Huawei sold its Honor brand to a Chinese consortium owing to the stress created on its supply chain caused by the U.S. trade bans and the firm’s inability to source key components for its phones. The sale would allow the company to not only conserve resources for its own phones but also for Honor’s buyers to develop hardware using parts sourced from the likes of Qualcomm and software from Google.
Now, a new report from Kommersant, a Russian publication, suggests that Honor is working on a new device lineup with support for Google services. The possible addition of Google’s Play Store coupled with the fact that the firm is no longer being owned by Huawei might also result in the devices dropping Huawei’s AppGallery, the publication adds. These phones are expected to make it to the Russian market in the spring, though availability and plans for other regions are currently not known.
The report also adds that the lack of GMS has adversely affected the Honor brand in Russia, citing an earlier report that suggests that the brand held the second position in terms of unit sales in 2019, which was taken over by Xiaomi. The inclusion of Google Mobile Service (GMS) and the now-removed trade blocks for business with the likes of Qualcomm could greatly improve the sales of the devices in Russia and elsewhere.
While it is no surprise that the new owners of the Honor brand expect to begin shipping devices with Google’s services, it will be interesting to see if the company continues bundling Huawei’s AppGallery with the phones. The report speculates that the removal of Huawei’s store might reduce developer efforts for that company. Additionally, it is highly unlikely that Honor’s upcoming flagship, expected to be called the V40, will bring support for Google’s services.
Source: Kommersant via GSMArena
Hands-on with the ZTE Axon 20 5G and its disappearing camera
by João Carrasqueira
In December, ZTE launched the world's first commercially available smartphone with an under-display camera in markets around the world. The ZTE Axon 20 5G, as it's called, is a mid-range phone, but has the peculiarity of having a 32MP selfie camera hidden behind a small portion of the screen, and now we have our own review unit to take a look at. ZTE talks a lot about how it achieved this, using a combination of high-transparency materials, a special pixel matrix, AI algorithms, and more.
The display itself is a 6.92-inch panel with fairly minimal bezels all around, since there's no camera, earpiece, or ambient light sensor on the bezel - it's all under the display. That panel has a resolution of 2460x1080 and a 90Hz refresh rate.
In terms of internal specs, the Axon 20 5G comes with a Snapdragon 765G chipset that allows the phone to have 5G support, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. It also has a 4,220mAh battery to power the device, and that charges at 30W, which should get you up to 60% in 30 minutes or back to a full battery in 55 minutes.
The ZTE Axon 20 5G is available in markets around the world for $449/€449/£419. While ZTE lists the price in U.S. dollars on its global website, it apparently can't deliver the phone to North America. You can check out our hands-on video below.