Jul 30, 2019

Google and Samsung preview their next slate of iPhone competitors

Screenshot via YouTube

Both Google and Samsung shared details Monday about their next phones ahead of their official announcements, bringing the rest of the fall hardware lineup that will compete with the new iPhones into focus.

Our thought bubble: These companies have experienced enough leaks to know their smartphone secrets won't keep. Announcing key features builds excitement and lets the companies help influence the narrative.

  • Yes, but: It also builds anticipation, which could lead to a letdown if the final devices aren't more exciting than the sum of the features that are shared early.

Google posted details of the facial and gesture recognition features that will be part of the Pixel 4. As with the iPhone X series, users will be able to use their faces to unlock the device, with a radar sensor allowing hand gestures to control the device.

  • Earlier in the year Google tweeted a photo of the rear cameras amid a series of leaks about the device.

Samsung, meanwhile, is roughly a week from its Galaxy Unpacked event in New York, where it is widely expected to announce the Note 10.

Go deeper

Scoop: Pixel boss getting a new job at Google

Mario Queiroz, at the 2016 launch of the Google Pixel. Photo: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Mario Queiroz, the Google VP who serves as general manager of its Pixel smartphone business, is leaving the hardware unit for a new job in the office of CEO Sundar Pichai, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move comes as Google gears up for this fall's launch of the Pixel 4. Queiroz has been involved in Google's mobile efforts since the first Android phone and has led a number of other projects, including Chromecast, Google Home and the Stadia streaming game service.

Go deeperArrowAug 8, 2019

Samsung aims for high note with latest smartphone

Samsung's Note 10. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Samsung introduced its latest Galaxy Note smartphones on Wednesday. Among the new features are improved video editing controls, augmented reality doodling and what Samsung is calling "Air Actions"— gestures made using the digital pen to control the camera and other apps.

Why it matters: Samsung's Note customers are its most loyal and demanding, and the high end remains the most lucrative part of the U.S. smartphone market. But the industry is finding it increasingly tough to make phones that are better than the pretty darn good ones most people already have.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

Big Tech giants battle for smart speaker dominance

Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod. Photo: John Brecher for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Eager for a place in the home, tech giants are beefing up their smart speaker products, hoping to find just the right combination of screens, speakers and features that will stick with consumers.

Why it matters: There's a lot of potential in the smart speaker market, especially for the big companies like Google and Facebook whose traditional advertising streams face slowed growth projections. But balancing privacy concerns with enough functionality to attract users is proving to be tricky.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019