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Winners and Losers: Oppo’s groundbreaking innovation, and Spotify’s abysmal new tier

Need an easy catch-up of the biggest tech stories from the last seven days? Trusted Reviews’ Winners and Losers has you covered.

Well that Pixel 6 announcement came out of nowhere, didn’t it?

The sheer audacity of it, in being such a lacklustre unveiling of what might be one of the year’s most exciting phones could’ve earned Google both spots in this week’s W&L, but it’s a subject better left to our Deputy Editor Max Parker in his weekly Fast Charge column.

Instead, it’s a different smartphone manufacturer that earns this week’s Winners spot, as Oppo revealed some unbelievably futuristic front-camera tech.

Spotify on the other hand has had a less than stellar week, as it began to slowly offer its Spotify Plus subscription to certain customers, having them fork out whilst still receiving ads in return.

Oppo Logo

Winner: Oppo

As impressive as modern smartphones are, there is still one annoyance that everyone would love to see the back of: front-camera cut-outs and notches.

Apple’s humongous notch already feels like a bygone relic, and the camera cut-out that populates phones from Samsung and Google is difficult to ignore when trying to enjoy movies and TV shows on the go.

Some companies have tried to remedy this (remember the OnePlus 7 Pro’s pop-up camera?), but the most intriguing attempt was seen in the ZTE Axon 20 5G which packed an under-display camera. Unfortunately for the Axon 20, the front-camera was a mess and it was easy to see a very out-of-place block of pixels at the top of the screen.

Just when it seemed as though the concept of a truly hidden under-display camera was nothing more than a pipe dream, Oppo flipped the script this week with its very own version of the technology, leaving this journalist’s jaw squarely on the floor.

Oppo prototype phone under-camera

Of course, we won’t know just how proficient this technology is until we can get to testing it ourselves, but based on the impressive pictures that Oppo has shared, this could be an absolute gamechanger.

In a report by The Verge, Oppo explained that it has achieved a completely unnoticeable front camera by utilising smaller pixels atop the camera that offer the same level of clarity as the rest of the display, without compromising the camera’s view. Any potential errors are corrected by computational processing.

The camera hasn’t been attributed to one specific handset as of yet, but you can be sure that we’re very eager to see if this technology could change the smartphone industry as we know it.

How to get student discount on Spotify Premium

Loser: Spotify

I get the feeling that Spotify is just trying everyone’s patience right now. It’s bad enough that Spotify Premium users still have to hear adverts when listening to podcasts, but now the company’s broken new ground by thinking of something that only cartoon villains could come up with: a paid tier that still retains all of the adverts that plague Spotify Free users.

Brilliantly known as Spotify Plus, this brand new tier hasn’t quite made its way to the masses yet as Spotify’s simply trialling its potential popularity by offering it to a select number of users. Priced at 99 cents (there’s no word of Plus in the UK yet), the tier allows users to pick whichever songs they like and skip tracks as many times as they like, all whilst listening to the occasional advert for some completely irrelevant brand or service.

Instead of finding more ways to get users to listen to adverts, maybe Spotify could invest some time into figuring out how to pay the artists featured on its platform with decent remuneration, at least enough to pay the rent anyway.

The whole thing feels like another cash grab opportunity – even with its affordable price tag. YouTube has begun employing a similar tactic with YouTube Premium Lite, a cheaper way of ditching the ads without forking out for all the extras including offline downloads. Priced at €6.99 (roughly £5.93), Premium Lite is very much a solution to a problem that YouTube created by increasing the appearance of ads throughout its site over the last few years. Much like loot boxes in full-priced games, it’s company tactics like this that keep the Rage Room industry in business.

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