Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Samsung smartphone with four rear cameras, and the rest of the current tech rumors

OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6T is the update to the 6, pictured here. The new version will have a fingerprint reader in the screen.

It’s fun to speculate about tech rumors, especially when they apply to the products we use every day. But, every rumor is different. Some are likely true, while others are little more than desperate clickbait. On this page, we plan to keep a running tab of the most popular rumors in the tech world and contextualize them so you don’t get your hopes up—and then feel sad when they don’t pan out.

Samsung's Galaxy A9 smartphone will have four cameras on the back

Noted smartphone leaker Evan Blass showed off images of an upcoming Samsung A9 smartphone that will reportedly have four cameras on the back. The cameras will likely include a wide-angle camera and a telephoto camera in addition to the standard camera found on other phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9. The fourth camera is a depth camera that doesn't create images you can see, but provides extra image data like depth for fake blur and contrast for extra punch.

Gutcheck: Blass has a solid reputation for leaks and it makes sense that Samsung would crank up the camera count in the current smartphone climate. The LG V40 is already close with three cameras on the back.

Apple's wireless AirPower charger is coming in September and the iPhone X almost didn't have a charging port at all

Apple announced its own AirPower wireless charger at its iPhone event in 2017. Now, we're just past the 2018 event and it's still not on store shelves. In fact, Apple didn't even mention the device during the presentation. a Bloomberg report claimed it's still in the works for September, so the clock is running..

Gutcheck: Apple missed its shipping estimate with the HomePod last year, and it's still far behind its original estimate on the wireless charging pad that would juice up the iPhones and the Apple Watch. If it really was going to hit stores soon, it sure seems like Apple would have talked about it during the event. We wouldn't be surprised to see it show up in 2019.

The iPhone will ditch the Lightning port and go totally USB-C

In 2011, Apple introduced the Lightning connector to replace the typical 30-pin connector previously used in iPads, iPods, and iPhones. Now, a report from Digitimes suggests another shift is coming in 2019, this time to USB-C. Some speculated that we would see this change in the new iPhones, but that didn't pan out.

Gutcheck: The sources on this rumor are anonymous and seem flimsy. It's unlikely, but it's not totally impossible. The 30-pin connector had a run of roughly 11 years, almost twice as long as Lightning has been around. USB-C adoption has also been spotty across the industry. Recently, however, the EU has been discussing the possibility of using regulations to ensure that all phones use the same connectors. It would likely be USB-C.

Samsung has plans for a folding smartphone in early 2019 UPDATED
UPDATE: Samsung confirmed the foldable smartphone that could arrive this year at the Samsung Developers conference in November. A report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that Samsung could release a folding phone as early as the beginning of 2019. When expanded, the device would have a 7-inch screen, which makes it roughly the size of a small tablet.

Gutcheck: Looks like Samsung is working on stealing some of the thunder from the upcoming iPhone X and Google Pixel 3 announcements at the end of 2018. Apple is reportedly also rolling around the idea of a folding iPhone, which would compete with Samsung's redefined flip phone.

Samsung's Galaxy S10 phone will have three sizes and a fingerprint reader in the display
If you want a typical, non-folding Samsung phone, a report spotted by Business Insider says the upcoming Galaxy S10 will have three versions, inclduing 5.8-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.4-inch displays. The report also claims that the larger models will have an ultrasonic fingerprint reader integrated into the display.

Gutcheck: It's still early to speculate about the Galaxy S10 since it won't debut until next year, but these rumors seem reasonable when considering the Galaxy S trajectory. The in-display fingerprint reader also makes sense as a differentiator from the iPhone, since Apple isn't likely to release a phone with that feature.

New Apple MacBook Airs and Mac Minis are coming this year
Apple's MacBook Air is years past due for a major update (it got a slight spec bump last year), but a report from Bloomberg claims a skinny new machine is coming before the end of the year. The report also claims that Apple's cheap desktop PC, the Mac Mini will get an update making it more attractive to "professional" users like app developers or folks who work in data centers.

Gutcheck It's about time both of these machines get some new life and hardware. The last time the Mac Mini got an update was roughly four years ago. The new MacBook Air rumors claim it will have slimmer bezels (which seems like a no-brainer) and a higher-resolution, Retina screen.

The OnePlus 6T phone will be the first in the US to have fingerprint reader in the screen
Apple killed off fingerprint readers on all its phones, but OnePlus is reportedly working its finger-based biometric identification system right into the display of its new flagship phone.

Gutcheck: What started as a leak got some eventual confirmation from OnePlus about the inclusion of the sensor. Other details, however, like a concrete release schedule, are still up in the air.

2019 will bring new AirPods and a new HomePod from Apple
The AirPod headphones have been a huge success for Apple. The HomePod smart speaker? Not so much. However, many rumors suggest that both products will get a refresh in 2019. Some even say the new AirPods will be higher-end when it comes to sound, and there could be an over-the-ear option as well.

Gutcheck: Apple updated its Beats headphones slightly before the iPhone XS announcement, but the event itself didn't really cover any high-end audio. The HomePod barely got a nod, other than to point out that it can now work in stereo pairs. 2018 is growing short if Apple wants to show off more stuff before we get into CES season.

Apple is working on a subscription service for TV, music, and news
Apple already sells content in a variety of ways, including via subscription with services like Apple Music. Now, rumors say that the company might offer a bundle-style plan that involves TV, music, and news as part of one overall package.

Gut check: Apple recently purchased a service called Texture, which lets users subscribe to magazines in a Netflix style model. The company is also sourcing original content from big celebrities like Oprah for its video offerings. As it increases its offerings, it seems likely that Apple wants to bring people into its all-encompassing media plans. It wouldn't be surprising to hear about this in the Fall when new hardware announcements come and TV season is getting in gear again.

Tesla is working on a Model Y car for 2020 that will fix some of its manufacturing problems
Tesla's Model 3 has been a real pain for Elon Musk as the company tries to ramp up production to meet the demand and cut down on the 9-month waitlist. The Model Y would introduce even more automation into the production process and help reduce the amount of wiring in the car to churn them out faster.

Gutcheck According to Musk, the Model Y is currently in the prototype phase and should start rolling out in 2020. However, we have heard timeline predictions from musk before. It will be a while before we find out how close to reality this ride really is.

Apple is moving away from Intel chips in its laptops by 2020
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple hopes to phase out Intel’s chips and replace them with its own hardware. The new chips may or may not come from the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., which makes Apple’s other custom processors.

Gutcheck: The source is reliable, but there's no official word.

Months of rumors have swirled on this topic, but the Bloomberg report is the most formidable so far as the company has a strong track record for information like this.

Apple is working on a VR headset for self-driving cars
A patent application showing a VR system for inside self-driving cars showed up in Apple’s arsenal of intellectual property. It could help entertain passengers (and fight off motion sickness) who would otherwise be bored as a robot drives them around.

Gutcheck: The patent is real, but the product may never arrive.

There are lots of patents out there that never become reality, but this one does sound like a promising idea. People have to do something since they’re not driving, and VR could possibly be effective at reducing nausea if used in the right way

There could be a folding iPhone by 2020
CNBC reported on findings from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The source backs up the claim saying they talked to several manufacturers in China.

Gutcheck: It's possible, especially since other manufacturers have tried the tech.

Both Lenovo and Samsung have already shown phones that fold or bend in one way or another, so the concept isn’t that far outside the realm of possibility. Of course, Apple is tight-lipped on the subject, but OLED display tech could make it happen. But the fact remains-- do we need to fold our phones?

Spotify could make hardware for listening to music
The genesis of this rumor comes from a job listing in 2017 regarding the company’s desire to build a “category-defining product.” The rumor was dormant for a while, but popped back up again in recent weeks, likely because the company had its IPO on April 3.

Gutcheck: Spotify has been working on hardware, but we don't know when or if it will land on shelves.

There’s a current job description, but this time it explicitly mentions the fact that Spotify is working on physical products. It’s not out of the question that they never actually come to market, but it seems very likely that there is work in progress.

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