Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the latest Android malware warnings, Samsung’s Galaxy A54 5G reviewed, Google’s missing Pixel, Tensor G3 leaks, Amazon’s new Fire Max 11, Poco F5 Pro reviewed, and a useful addition to Android screen recording.
Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).
Android Malware Warnings
Many headlines this week around the reporting of malware discovered in a number of cheaper consumer electronic devices powered by Android. Ars Technica has more on the reports while noting that named manufacturers in the mid- and high- end of smartphones are not part of the various reports:
“Android devices that come with malware straight out of the factory box are, unfortunately, nothing new… People in the market for an Android phone should steer toward known brands like Samsung, Asus, or OnePlus, which generally have much more reliable quality assurance controls on their inventory. To date, there have never been reports of higher-end Android devices coming with malware preinstalled.”
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G Review
Samsung’s Galaxy A54 5G is the 2023 edition of the extremely popular A53. But the viral power of the A53 is not enough to sell the A54 5G. Not only is the A54 up against the current crop of mid-range handsets, it’s also up against the best in class from previous generations… and last year’s Pixel 6a from Google is arguably still the better value handset
“Up against the A54 5G, the Pixel 6A is still the phone to go for. Its performance is a bit better, its camera takes nicer shots and Google’s plain version of Android is generally nicer to use than Samsung’s One UI skin. If you’re willing to pay $50 more, the Pixel 7A also offers better camera performance and wireless charging, which is missing from the Galaxy A54 5G. Still, the A54 is slightly larger and offers microSD card storage expansion, so it’s not a total victory for the Pixel.”
Google’s Missing Pixel
It may not be number one in the sales charts, but Google’s Pixel handsets are quietly redefining what it means to be an Android handset. Or at least it is in the high- and mid-range markets. If only Google decided to take the Pixel into the budget market, dreams Mark Jansen:
“Say this budget Pixel phone doesn’t arrive until next year. By then, we’ll have the Pixel 8, most likely using the Tensor Gen 3 processor. Why not put the first Tensor from the Pixel 6 into a budget Pixel phone? Despite being three years old by then, it’s still a flagship processor and grants exceptional power and the advanced camera AI the Pixel is so known for.”
Google’s Tensor G3 Predictions
Google sidestepped the arms race of chip speed when it designed its Tensor Mobile chips. With the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro likely debuting the third-generation G3, what can we expect in the silicon beyond “a bit more speed?”
“Given the lack of CPU upgrades since the first-gen chipset, a leap to the Arm Cortex-X3 and company would go a long way to addressing concerns that the Tensor series lags behind the competition. A GPU upgrade to the latest gen would also help, even without the inclusion of fledgling ray tracing support at this point. But our biggest complaint with Tensor to date has been high temperatures and battery drain, which Google also seems likely to address by moving to a smaller manufacturing node.”
Amazon Launches Fire Max 11
Amazon has launched a new Fire tablet, running its own flavor of Android. The specs aren’t going to scare the big hitters any time soon, but they’ll be more than sufficient for consuming content purchased through Amazon… which is arguably the exact market Amazon will be selling this to:
“The Fire Max 11 is powered by an octa-core MediaTek processor and 4GB of RAM. Amazon said the Fire Max tablet offers a “14-hour battery life” without specifying the battery size. Plus, the company ships a slow 9W USB 2.0 charger in the box, which fully charges the device in 4.2 hours. You can buy a 15W charger separately and reduce the charging time to 3.5 hours.”
Poco F5 Pro Review
Poco’s latest flagship, the F5 Pro, looks great on paper. Still, there are a few issues – notably software update support and chipset choices – that lead it to fall behind the current crop of flagships – and arguably behind last year’s flagships as well:
“At first glance, the Poco F5 Pro is a capable yet affordable flagship phone. It has the performance, ships with 256GB of storage by default, has an impeccable display, and it’s pretty good at taking photos and videos during the day. Not particularly impressive at night, though. However, the handset is easily outclassed by many 2022 flagships offering longer software support and better hardware overall.”
It’s a small quality-of-life thing for those making videos and presentations, but the next version of Android will allow you to record just the active window rather than the full screen… handy if you don’t want to show off all those notification badges in the status bar when making presentations:
“Hands-on: I finally got this fully working, so here’s a full demo of Android 14’s new partial screen recording feature. This feature lets you record a single app without any System UI elements or notifications appearing in the video!
Android Circuit rounds up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course, read the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!