Android 10 Code Confirms Pixel 4 90Hz Display


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We don’t even have to assume a new Pixel flagship phone is coming this year — for the first time, Google has announced features of its new phone before the big reveal. Google already showed off the back of the phone and talked about the Soli radar sensor, but we haven’t heard any official details on the screen. The next best thing after an announcement is code features from Google engineers, and XDA found some lines in Android 10 that support the report of a 90Hz screen. 

The standard for mobile device screens has long been 60Hz. It took a long time for Android to even hit 60 frames per second in the UI consistently, but Google has prioritized smoothness in the last few versions of Android, and it optimizes Pixel phones aggressively. Laptops and desktop monitors have long advanced beyond 60Hz with 100, 144, and higher refresh rates readily available for a small premium. However, computers have a lot more power at their disposal, and phones need to remain efficient and pocket-sized. 

It has only been in the last 12-18 months that high refresh mobile displays have become viable. Razer launched the original Razer Phone with a 120Hz display, but that was an LCD with serious efficiency problems. It ran at 90Hz out of the box, and even that drained the battery quickly. Asus improved matters with the ROG Phone, which had a 90Hz OLED panel. OnePlus launched the OnePLus 7 and 7 Pro earlier this year with a high-refresh OLED as well. 

Several weeks back, the first reports of the Pixel 4’s 90Hz “Smooth Display” appeared. Now, XDA has spent some time digging through the just-released Android 10 open source code and found supporting evidence. Android contains a service called SurfaceFlinger, which links apps and system UI with the display controller. Naturally, the SurfaceFlinger service needs to be aware of the display refresh rate. SurfaceFlinger in Android 10 includes a manual 90Hz toggle that wasn’t present in previous versions of the OS. 

In the current build of Android 10, the 90Hz mode exists as a temporary solution for testing purposes — a permanent version is already in AOSP, too. The code notes that the switch should only be used on “P19 devices.” Presumably, that means the 2019 Pixels, and not the Pixel 3a. Those budget phones launched last Spring, and they’re 60Hz. So, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will indeed have 90Hz displays.

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Report: Samsung Working on Clamshell-Style Foldable Phone


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As Samsung struggles to bring the Galaxy Fold to market, the company is reportedly already working on a new foldable phone with a familiar form factor. According to Bloomberg, Samsung plans to launch a clamshell phone with a more durable flexible OLED. This phone should cost less than the nearly $2,000 Fold, and it will offer a compact square form factor when closed. Clearly, Samsung is counting on the nostalgia factor. 

So, why leave the Fold in the dust already? Clearly, the price is the main stumbling block for the Fold, guaranteeing it won’t sell many units. Even the best flat phones are barely half as expensive, and the Fold got plenty of negative press after several early review units failed after several days of use. The Fold is also a giant brick of a phone thanks to the tablet-like 7.3-inch folding OLED. It also leverages new Android features that developers have barely acknowledged. It will look and feel like an experiment. 

Samsung is said to be working with designer Thom Brown to make its new foldable a device that has broader appeal than the Galaxy Fold. The chassis will be thinner than the Fold, making it easier to drop in a pocket. When folded, it will be roughly square. When open, it will have a standard smartphone display ratio. Therefore, developers won’t have to fiddle with multi-window features just to make their apps work properly on the phone. 

While the smartphone market in most markets has moved to the flat glass slab, there are still some places where clamshell phones never died. It’s common for companies like Samsung and Sharp to make giant Android-powered flip phones for Japan and Korea. Those phones have a single internal display, though. Samsung’s rumored foldable would include a large 6.7-inch OLED panel covering both “halves” of the flip. Samsung is reportedly exploring a new generation of flexible glass that’s just 3 percent as thick as conventional Gorilla Glass on smartphones. This could avoid some of the durability issues expected with plastic-wrapped foldable OLEDs. 

moto-fold 2

A rumored Motorola phone may have a similar form factor to the phone Samsung is working on.

The report says this phone will include a hole-punch camera at the top of the inner display. There will also be a pair of main sensors on the back. However, those cameras face front when the clamshell is closed. Assuming there’s a small external screen like the clamshells of old, users should be able to take higher-quality selfies when the phone is closed. 

Samsung has refused to comment on the report, which isn’t surprising. It will re-launch the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks, so it doesn’t want to talk about a potentially better, cheaper foldable right now.

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