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Nokia X60 rumored to run Huawei HarmonyOS instead of Android

HMD Global has made great strides in reviving the Nokia brand in the Android world. Whether it’s successful or not is still debatable but, so far, it has definitely played the part of a good Android maker, especially when it comes to its commitment to Android updates. Now there are whispers that its honeymoon phase with Android might be over and is courting another partner, one that would see an upcoming Nokia X60 and X60 Pro run Huawei’s shiny new HarmonyOS instead.

It’s really not that easy to qualify what HarmonyOS really is beyond being Huawei’s multi-platform OS. The company might vehemently deny the association and define what HarmonyOS is in buzzword-filled marketing language, but, at least based on some developers’ analyses, its phone version still has many hooks into Android. Calling it an Android fork probably comes the closest, which means it is both Android yet also not Android.

That is what makes this new rumor rather surprising if true. According to IThome, HMD Global has decided to put this very same HarmonyOS on one of its upcoming phones, called the Nokia X60 and Nokia X60 Pro. HMD Global does have experience with other mobile platforms, like the Symbian-based S60 on its Nokia feature phones, but this rumor comes rather out of the blue even for the company.

One potential reason for this sudden change is that HMD may want to target Chinese markets specifically with these two phones. The fact that HarmonyOS has no access to Google Play services and apps is not a big deal in China since those have not been available there anyway. In global markets, it’s a deal-breaker, as Huawei can attest to.

As for the Nokia X60 itself, there is still some uncertainty regarding its specs but features like a 200MP camera, 6,000 mAh battery, and curved edge screens have been mentioned. Those are features that definitely sound almost too good to be true, which only makes this rumored HarmonyOS Nokia phone sound even more fantastical.

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Vivo X60 Pro+ Review – ZEISS in Focus

Throughout all the changes that smartphones have undergone through the years, one thing that has remained constant, a least in the past few generations, has been the focus on better cameras. Almost just as important as the software user experience, the ability of these personal computers in our pockets to create a visual record of our lives has proven to be of importance to people from all walks of life.

No smartphone maker has been able to turn a blind eye on that trend and this year, Vivo has gone all out on the X60 Pro+ and we take it for a test run to see if its combination of high-end sensors and the ZEISS name is all that it’s cut out to be.

Design and Display

The most distinctive part of the Vivo X60 Pro+ is definitely its back. Even from a distance, you can already tell it is different from most smartphones in the market and a closer look and touch immediately confirms that. Available in a single Emperor Blue trim, the phone combines frosted glass with soft vegan leather to create a unique feel that might actually split people into camps. Given that material, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the phone doesn’t have a formal IP rating for dust and water resistance.

Aside from that, the Vivo X60 Pro+ actually looks pretty familiar, especially with the unique Dual-Tone Step camera design that Vivo is seemingly turning into an iconic look. It visually and physically breaks the usual bump into two levels, exuding what the company claims to be a certain degree of humanistic warmth. The “chocker” is still there as well, though with a slimmer look that visually matches the phone’s actually slimmer body.

The front of the phone is just as eye-catching, which is not really a surprise for the 6.56-inch Samsung AMOLED panel and its HDR10+ capabilities. Even the small 3.96mm punch-hole cutout, strategically positioned in the middle for the best selfie angles, isn’t enough to mar the vibrant and bright display of colors it emits. It is starting to become a common thing so it is also unsurprising that the phone boasts of a 120Hz refresh rate as well as a 240Hz response rate to match.

Specs and Performance

Vivo spared no expense when it comes to the Vivo X60 Pro+’s specs, from the latest Snapdragon 888 to the fastest UFS 3.1 storage available to smartphones. In terms of benchmark tests, the phone naturally boasts high scores though one might notice there isn’t that big of a gap between the X60 Pro+ and the X60 Pro with a Snapdragon 870. That said, the two are separated not just by differences in silicon but also differences in optics.

One particularly special feature that Vivo is giving the X60 series is what it calls “extended RAM”, a feature that some more advanced computer users are more familiar with as “swap memory” on Linux or “virtual memory” on Windows. It utilizes 3GB of unused storage to extend a phone’s RAM, from 8GB to 11GB or from 12GB to 15GB. The net effect is that it gives more room for more apps to stay in the background, up to 20 or 25 apps as the case may be. In practice, you will rarely feel a slowdown when switching between many open apps.

The Vivo X60 Pro+, despite its thin frame, packs a 4,200 mAh battery. Unlike its rivals and peers, however, it only supports 55W FlashCharge, which, while serviceable, almost sounds too modest in comparison. It charges fast, definitely, but fails to make a boast against 65W or especially 100W charging technologies.

It also runs Funtouch OS 11.1, based on Android 11, not the shiny new Origin OS that it thinks better serves its Chinese customers.

Cameras

While the Vivo X60 Pro+ is already a solid phone overall, its claim to fame at least in Vivo’s eyes is that ZEISS logo on its back. It is unambiguous proof that the phone has passed ZEISS’ stringent certification processes. The famed optics company also lent a hand in helping Vivo develop what is basically a miniature version of its camera imaging technologies for smartphones. A concrete example is the special stylized bokehs that the ZEISS Biotar cameras are famous for, now available on the X60 Pro+.

Vivo’s top-of-the-line smartphone also has one other special ZEISS trait that even its X60 Pro sibling doesn’t. It has passed ZEISS’s T* coating certification, which boils down to having improved light transmission and reduced reflections, avoiding stray light and ghosting artifacts produced by other lenses.

That ZEISS mark, however, isn’t the only feature that the phone boasts of. The Vivo X60 Pro+ also uses for its main camera the 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 which, in turn, boasts of a large 1/1.3-inch sensor and large 1.2 micrometer pixels that enables it to take better low-light and night-time shots as seen below. The Vivo X60 Pro+ takes great advantage of this in its Super Night Video feature, something the X60 Pro doesn’t have.

Just like with X50 Pro+, Vivo opted not to combine the large sensor with a large gimbal that would have bulked up the camera bump. Unlike last year, however, Vivo actually gave the X60 Pro+ a 48MP ultra-wide camera that does have its new Gimbal Stabilization 2.0. Curiously, this camera isn’t used in the phone’s night mode when it would have benefited from better stabilization. Vivo believes that the Samsung ISOCELL GN1 is better suited for that task and we can agree with that premise.

Another difference with the X60 Pro is that there is a periscope-style telephoto camera on the X60 Pro+. With an 8MP sensor and a maximum 5x optical zoom (60x hybrid zoom), it really isn’t that much but is definitely better than nothing at all.

Wrap-up

The Vivo X60 Pro+ definitely delivers Vivo’s promise of professional photography packaged in a high-end smartphone with a unique design. The ZEISS branding helps to lend credibility to those claims but, at the end of the day, people will judge the phone by its own merits. Fortunately, for Vivo, the phone performs admirably on all fronts.

There is only one option for the Vivo X60 Pro+ so if you’re not a fan of the Emperor Blue’s vegan leather, you’re out of luck. The phone will launch first in India but plans to expand its availability throughout APAC, European, and Middle East markets are already underway.

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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X60 5G modem has an audience of one: Apple

Qualcomm’s latest 5G modem isn’t the leap that the X55 was last year, but it might be more important. While the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System touts a slew of technical and practical enhancements to take full advantage of the next-generation networks’ tremendous speeds, Qualcomm’s new modem isn’t built for phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 that are already on board with 5G, it’s made for the one that isn’t: the iPhone.

Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. The X60 is the first “to support spectrum aggregation across all key 5G bands and combinations.” That means X60 phones will be more futureproof than today’s X55 ones, supporting mmWave and sub-6 using frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD) at a wider range of deployment. Plus, it can deliver up to 7.5Gbps download speeds and 3Gbps upload speeds, far greater than even the theoretical capabilities of the current 5G networks being built.

But while benefits like carrier aggregation and voice-over-NR are certainly important, the greatest improvement the X60 modem offers is in its size. Qualcomm’s new modem is the first to be built using a 5nm process, allowing for higher efficiency on a smaller footprint. That’s a big leap from the 7nm X50 and X55, and it’s unlikely anyone will be able to catch up anytime soon, including Apple. And that’s precisely the message Qualcomm wants to send.

Size over speed

It’s no secret that Apple will be climbing on board the 5G train with the upcoming iPhone 12, but what isn’t so certain is which modem it will be using. Apple and Qualcomm entered into a multi-year agreement to supply chips for the iPhone, which everyone assumes will include a 5G modem, especially since Qualcomm is basically the only game in town.

qualcomm x60 Qualcomm

The X60 modem is expected to make its way into Android phones and iPhones in 2021.

But after Apple scooped up Intel’s smartphone modem business scraps, reliance on Qualcomm isn’t part of Apple’s long-term plans. But the X60 shows that Qualcomm doesn’t see that path as an inevitability. By jumping to 5nm with the third-generation of its 5G modem, Qualcomm is delivering a smaller and more efficient modem, which just happens to be the very reasons why Apple would build its own modem in the first place. A smaller, more efficient modem would help Apple keep the iPhone thin without sacrificing battery life.

There’s also the issue of the antenna. A recent report from Fast Company detailed Apple’s efforts to design its own antenna for the iPhone 12 after rejecting the QTM525 5G mmWave antenna module Qualcomm currently makes due to its size. But a new antenna is on the way with the X60 modem, which “features a more compact design than the previous generation which allows for thinner, sleeker smartphones.”

If that’s not a direct response to Apple, I don’t know what is. Qualcomm wouldn’t even divulge exactly how much smaller the QTM535 modem is “for competitive reasons,” which basically a professional nyah nyah nyah-nyah nyah to Apple. Qualcomm wants Apple to know that its antenna won’t be as good.

So even if the new modem and antenna aren’t ready for the iPhone 12—Qualcomm was relatively vague about a timeline, only saying “commercial premium smartphones” using the new modem system are “expected in early 2021”—Qualcomm is putting tremendous pressure on Apple to deliver a system that’s better than the X60, lest we have another Antennagate on our hands. 

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