The bombshell that is 2020 rumbles on. The biggest news of the week had nothing to do with tech, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to digest in our world. There were new devices launched to shake up the establishment and cause for concern for the Big Tech monopolies in Europe.
As ever, I’ll start with a couple of honorable mentions. Google finally officially unveiled its Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G smartphones this week. The launch was somewhat subdued compared to previous Pixel events, but the lack of a physical audience and the fact that Mountain View was yet again unable to curb the wave of leaks in the build-up probably contributed to the missing hype.
The Google Pixel 5 does not land with any flashy new features this year – unlike last year’s Pixel 4 with its Soli Radar technology, which has now been ditched – but as an every day, reasonably priced, rock-solid Android smartphone, the Pixel 5 will please plenty of consumers over the next couple of years.
Oppo also launched its Reno 4 5G and Reno 4 Pro 5G this week. The two new mid-range (ish) smartphones are packing the same chipset as the Pixel 5 – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G – and thus should offer good performance. There are some cool finishes available for Oppo’s new smartphones too, including a rather striking Green Glitter version.
Whilst both of these launches look interesting and we’re excited to test the phones, it was another manufacturer who stole the show this week with a flagship-killing swoop straight out of its famous playbook.
Winner of the week: Xiaomi still the king of killing flagships
The original flagship-killer is back with a bang. It was Xiaomi that turned heads in our editorial office this week with the launch of the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro. The €649 smartphone comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, support for 5G, a display with a 144 Hz refresh rate, a massive 5,000mAh battery, 33W fast-charging, 8GB of 8 GB LPDDR5 RAM, and a 108-megapixel triple rear camera – all for what Google is charging for its much more upper-mid-range specced Pixel 5.
OnePlus is yet to launch its OnePlus 8T, but it is going to have a job on its hands to outperform Xiaomi’s latest slap of glass and metal. We’ve already been hands-on with the Mi 10T Pro, and will be back with a full review for you shortly. On paper, at least, Xiaomi looks like it could cement its place as the ultimate flagship-killing brand with this one though.
Loser of the week: Big Tech trouble in Europe
Not the first time, America’s tech giants found themselves under the scrutiny of the European Union this week. Reports broke on Thursday that Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple could be restricted from pre-installing apps on smartphones sold in Europe. The EU is said to be drafting new rules, which will curb the current practices.
Google requires manufacturers to pre-install apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play Store, etc., as a condition of licensing the Android operating system. Apple too, with its first-party software and hardware, heavily promotes its own apps over those of its rivals. Until recently, for example, you could not change the default apps for email or the web browser on iPhone. Facebook is also deeply involved in this practice, making deals with the likes of Samsung to pre-install the Facebook app on its smartphones. You can’t even delete the Facebook app from certain Samsung smartphones, only disable it.
Under what could be called the Digital Services Act, the EU also wants to get a grip on data-sharing and how digital marketplaces operate. Let’s not forget, all of this is taking place amidst a giant legal battle. Both Apple and Google are fighting off lawsuits from developers over the way the two biggest app stores work for third-party companies.
Whichever way you slice this one, Big Tech has got a problem in Europe that is not going to go away, and it’s for that reason we have to name all of the Silicon Valley giants our loser of the week award.
Who were your winners and loser of the week just gone? Let us know below the line.