Qualcomm claims Android always beats the iPhone to new features

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Qualcomm today published a somewhat self-congratulatory blog post that lauds the company and its Android partners for achieving a series of industry firsts that include wireless charging, dual-camera systems, OLED smartphone screens, edge-to-edge displays, and more.

If you’ve been following recent Apple rumors and leaks, you know that those are all things we expect to see spread across the new iPhones that the company will unveil tomorrow. (Some of the features Qualcomm mentions have already appeared in previous iPhones, but the company is still calling “first!” for Android on everything.)


Apple and Qualcomm are currently embroiled in what’s turning into a vicious, global patent licensing dispute. So the timing of this adulation for Android — one day before Apple’s big September event — doesn’t really strike me as coincidental. It can’t be. Qualcomm never mentions Apple by name; the closest the company ever comes is with this line (emphasis added by The Verge):

Inventions from Qualcomm lay the foundation for so many technologies and experiences we value in our smartphones today — on Android and other platforms.

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix is rightly credited as the smartphone that ushered in the era of barely-there bezels that has continued with the Galaxy S8 / Note 8 and LG G6 / V30. Qualcomm praises the Galaxy S8 for introducing iris scanning — but that was really the Note 7’s new thing if we’re being technical.

Qualcomm says its list “is by no means exhaustive,” and some of the picks do seem a little sloppy and ill-informed. This whole thing seems like the work of a quick Google session. The company cites LG’s not-yet-released V30 as being first to Bluetooth 5 when both the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 already have it. Samsung would probably also disagree with LG’s G Flex 2 getting a random shoutout for OLED technology. Qualcomm also seems to think the HTC One M7 had a dual-camera system; it didn’t. Lastly, I don’t quite understand how it’s fair to include a non-commercial “Qualcomm Reference Design Handset” in any of these categories, but hey.

It’s hard to dispute the general point that Qualcomm is making here, though. Android phones were certainly first to employ a lot of this technology. Apple’s response would be that it doesn’t aim to be first and that it only ships features when they’re up to the company’s standards. Either way, I wish Qualcomm had gone a little deeper with this list and fact-checked things a bit more to showcase Android’s impressive hardware evolution over time.

The blog post ends with a kicker that can either be read as another shot directed at Apple or perhaps just a healthy reminder of how competitive the mobile world has become.

We’re working on inventing the next set of world firsts and collaborating with partners across the industry to get them into your hands, on a band around your wrist, or with lenses for over your eyes. Here’s to the next generation of mobile device start-ups and innovators, competing to bring you the next wave of class-leading Android devices. As before, they’ll continue to pave the way for others to come.

We’ll see what Apple has to say about the new features of its iPhones 8, 8 Plus, and X — and how they might compare to the competition — tomorrow during the company’s live event.

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