The glorious utility of the mid-range phone


We are big fans cheap phones here at WIRED. If you can do without all the beefed-up chips, six-pack cameras and lidars of $1,000 handsets, the mid-range options get the job done for little money. Sometimes you even get more from cheaper phones, like a real headphone jack.

This week, Motorola and OnePlus announced new phones belonging to this group. Moto, owned by Lenovo, offers two new options. The Moto G 5G is the most basic. It’s only $400, and where it cuts corners in display technology (720p), it makes up for it with a more powerful processor (MediaTek Dimensity 700) and 50-megapixel camera. For $100 more, the Moto G Stylus 5G comes with – you guessed it – a built-in stylus. It also has a high resolution 1080p display. Oh, and it differs from the recently announced Moto G Stylus 2022 with NFC, so you can tap and pay via Google Pay and 5G support. The Moto G 5G includes the latter but unfortunately lacks NFC. The Stylus 5G will go on sale on April 28 and the Moto G 5G will launch on May 19.

The OnePlus N20 5G costs even less: for just $282 you get a 6.43-inch AMOLED display, 128GB of storage and a 64MP camera. This one will also be available on April 28. For now, it’s exclusive to T-Mobile, but an unlocked version is expected to arrive this summer. (Stay tuned for WIRED’s full review.) Unlike Moto phones, however, the OnePlus N20 comes with Android 11. That means you’ll miss out on some of Android 12’s features, at least until that that OnePlus is releasing an update to the newest OS.

Here are some other recent consumer tech news:

Zoom put you in a bad mood? Now Zoom knows it.

Zoom video conferencing company updated its software this week, adding gesture recognition. The change lets you trigger a reaction emoji by raise your hand or give a thumbs up to the camera. It’s not an entirely new feature – Zoom introduced the feature on mobile iOS devices last year– but now it’s available on its desktop client.

The slightly more controversial update is limited to users of its Zoom for sales service, at least for now. Zoom’s software now uses artificial intelligence to analyze how people interact on calls. It is just one step in the company’s wider ambitions to develop “conversational intelligence softwarewho can creep into your Zoom calls to determine people’s “emotional states” as reported by Protocol Last week. That last part has yet to come to fruition, although Zoom’s new update allows users to monitor calls to categorize a person’s talk time, filler word usage, and “patience.”

Yet the non-profit privacy group Fight for the Future has published a open letter to Zoom decrying the practice of emotion tracking as manipulative, discriminatory and just a little scary. So we know exactly what they think about it, even without Zoom tracking.

Garmin brought the group together

This week, Garmin unveiled the first of its Vivosmart fitness trackers in four years. Its updates aren’t… as monumental as you’d expect for a long-running device. But it could still be appealing to consumers who want to track their fitness, but just don’t want to wear a smartwatch.

New Vivosmart 5 tracks activity, monitors sleep and reads blood oxygen levels with a built-in pulse oximeter. Unlike the previous version, this model has GPS tracking (although it still requires a connection to your smartphone). Garmin claims the Vivosmart 5 has a seven-day battery life in “smartwatch mode”, which seems to mean without using the sleep or pulse oximeter. Garmin says it also offers stress monitoring with breathing exercises, and there’s menstrual cycle tracking in the compatible mobile app. The Vivosmart 5 is available now and costs $200. Check out the latest model’s WIRED review and browse our picks of the best smartwatches.

Repost? Instagram wants to slow your turnover

On Wednesday, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri posted a video on twitter (the irony!) in which he described some upcoming changes to the photo-sharing platform. Along with improved tagging settings, Mosseri also said Instagram is tweaking its ranking algorithm to prioritize “original content.” The details of how it works are not entirely clear, but the goal is to push original posts higher in the feed than reposts or shared content. Platform users will now be able to tag products and edit their own tag settings to make it easier to identify the source of a post.

Instagram has already changed its sharing settings. Last year, the company tested a feature that made it harder to regurgitate messages by adding a reshare sticker to anything that is, well, reshared. But that experiment has come to an end, and Instagram still seems to be littered with screenshots and unoriginal posts. Clearly Instagram is hoping this new fix is ​​the one that works.

It’s time to talk about Twitter

As you may have heard, Elon Musk set out to buy Twitter last week. He had already acquired 9% of the company’s shares and rejected a seat on the board of directors. Then he decided he wanted it all. This elicited various responses, including a conflicted rebuttal from Twitter itself. Now Musk says he has lined up the money— $46.5 billion to be more precise.

This week, WIRED’S Gadget lab The podcast features a lively conversation with Casey Newton, renowned journalist and creator of Platform on Substack, about the latest Musk vs. Twitter drama (and the controversial edit button.)


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