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Today's tech news live: these budget earbuds could be the best of 2023

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The Fiio AW3 buds on a box next to the words Fast Charge
(Image: © Future)

Keeping up with the latest news from the world of tech is fun but a time-consuming and energy-draining challenge. That’s why we’ve set up our new Fast Charge liveblog to give you a blast of all the latest headlines in minutes and get you up to speed on today’s top stories.

Yesterday saw the arrival of Meta’s potential Twitter assassin Threads – a text-focused spin-off of Instagram – and over 30 million of us have been finding out how to use Threads and get to grips with the new platform. 

But that was yesterday; today’s top story is that Fiio is launching a new pair of wireless earbuds crammed full of hi-res audio tech, and they’ll only cost you $99 / £95 (approx. AU$180). At this price, they’re competing against the best budget earbuds yet Fiio’s new buds support a wild range of codecs, boast 96kHz and 24-bit audio support, and pack in a 10mm driver. According to one of our audio experts, Matt Bolton this is a “frankly ridiculous amount of audio finesse” for buds at this price.

We haven’t tested the new Fiio FW3 wireless earbuds yet, but in our Fiio FT3 review we handed out a five-star score – so we expect the FW3 buds will be impressive as they look on paper.

This isn’t today’s only important story however. For all of the latest news, plug into our feed below for a quick hit of all the breaking tech news today...

Currently running this live blog is:
Hamish Hector
Currently running this live blog is:
Hamish Hector

Hamish is a staff writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between.

The big five: today's biggest tech stories
1. These $99 wireless earbuds pack in so much hi-res audio tech
2. We may be getting the 16GB Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti GPU we've dreamed of
3. Your Samsung 4K QLED TV might not have the features you thought
4. Discovering new songs on Apple Music is about to get a lot easier
5. Sony's new speaker is a soundbar with rear speakers for your phone


A mobile phone on an orange background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Meta’s Threads has gone live (kind of)

The Threads app isn’t due to go live until tomorrow (July 6), but we were given a sneak peek of the interface earlier today. That’s because the web version went live early, seemingly accidentally as it's no longer available. A small band of influencers and brands were merrily posting away – no problem, Meta, our early invite must have got lost in the post…

I had a quick tinker and it’s, well, a text-based Instagram. You can go into dark mode by clicking the Threads logo at the top. And your options are mainly writing posts, liking posts and replying. But it’s clear this will give Twitter a massive shove when it’s already very off balance – this week we’ve already seen Twitter spring ‘rate limits’ on users with no warning, and put a new version of the popular Tweetdeck behind a paywall. 

This week’s rumblings are the real billionaire cage fight, it seems...

A mobile phone on a pink background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Has Meta’s Threads got snagged on EU laws?

In less good news for Threads (or anyone living in the EU), it looks like the app won’t be launching outside of the US and UK to start with. According to the Irish Independent, a Meta spokesperson has said that the Twitter rival won’t be rolled out in the EU “at this point”. We’re just confirming this with Meta and will update here when we hear back.

This explains why the app hasn’t been appearing in the App Stores of EU countries. The reason is apparently Europe’s tougher privacy laws – while the EU regulator hasn’t blocked the app, Meta seemingly needs more time to prepare it for a full launch in Europe. 

Still, a Meta spokesperson told Bloomberg that it’s preparing to roll out Threads in 100 countries with “more coming soon”, so hopefully it won’t be too long before the EU can join the chat.

iPhone 14 Pro on pink background

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Juicy iPhone 15 rumors suggest a battery life boost

If one of your main reasons for an iPhone upgrade is battery life (which is the case for most people, according to a new TechRadar survey launching tomorrow) then you’ll be happy to hear that the latest iPhone rumors are predicting a big boost in stamina  – for the whole series.

As the owner of an increasingly tired iPhone 11 Pro, that sounds good to me. One of the main temptations of a Plus or Max has been their battery life, but according to a Foxconn employee (reported by iTHome) even the iPhone 15 will get an 18% larger battery, with the iPhone 15 Pro getting a 14% boost in capacity.

The question now is whether or not to wait for the iPhone 16, which will likely cram the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s periscope zoom into a smaller phone – a decision that’s likely to give photographers a serious dilemma

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 logo handheld partially open

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Leaked: the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5’s lovely gapless design

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is expected to make its official debut at the Galaxy Unpacked on July 26, but as is tradition we’ve been given a good glimpse of its design thanks to some leaks. And the latest one has revealed a gapless design that means there’s no unsightly space between the two screen halves. Lovely.  

Since we wrote the story, WinFuture has also unleashed a torrent of press images of the Z Flip 5, alongside the Z Fold 5. As we’d seen before, the latter has a much larger cover screen that could help you do much more with your favorite apps (I’m particularly liking the idea of using Google Maps without opening the phone, while a Google Keep to-do list would be handy, too). 

Whatever kind of phone you’re after, it looks like July 26 will definitely be worth circling in your calendar.

A sloth in a chair reading a book next to a fireplace

(Image credit: Future)

Time-sink of the day: Picsart’s new AI GIF generator

It was only a matter of time until AI came for our GIFs – and that’s good news, if Picsart's new animated GIF generator (spotted by Engadget) is anything to go by. Rather than leafing through libraries of existing gifs, it lets you create your own by typing a description into the text box.

As you can see from my sloth creation above, the results aren't always perfect. And Nvidia's impressive text-to-video tech looks like it'll take AI-powered GIFs to another level. But Picsart's new tool is a free on its web, iOS and Android apps, and it's surprising how much time you can spend in it when you're supposed to be doing other things...

Four different colors of the Amazon Echo Pop speaker sat together

(Image credit: Amazon)

We review the Amazon Echo Pop (spoiler: wait for the discounts)

The reviews are in for Amazon's new entry-level smart speaker – and our Amazon Echo Pop review says that despite its "fun new form factor, great selection of colorways, and decently rounded sound for its size" the Pop just feels "a little too pricey for its specs".

While it's now certainly one of the best Alexa speakers around, it doesn't find its way into our list of the best smart speakers overall. That's largely because, at $40.99 / £44.99 / AU$79.99, it’s only marginally cheaper than the Amazon Echo Dot (Generation 5), which sounds better and has more features. 

In other words, wait for those possible Amazon Prime Day discounts before splurging...

Threads A-listers revealed

Back to that imminent launch of Meta's Threads, which will make its ring entrance tomorrow (July 6) for a social media cage match with Twitter. Thanks to mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi (above) we now have a list of some of the peeps who were given early access to the app.

Naturally, Mark Zuckerberg (@zuck) and Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) were the first two names on the list, with the rest being a mix of singers, actors, comedians and influencers with big Instagram followings. 

One of the big appeals of Threads is that Instagram users will be able to transfer their username over to the new app – so if you haven't got your handle in good order, now is the time. 

A phone screen showing a Twitter cartoon made by Twitterific

(Image credit: Twitterific)

Meanwhile, at Twitter...

Elon Musk has been notably quiet about Meta's antics today, other than posting a cryptic 'God Bless America' tweet. But he seemingly has other things on his mind, like stamping out the many fires that are threatening to engulf Twitter from within.

A few days on from sabotaging our feeds without notice with 'rate limits', which Twitter has now officially blamed on spam bots, it seems the under-fire social media site is now trying to roll back a change that forced us to be logged to view Tweets.

Conspiracy theories abound, like the possibility that Google limited Twitter's access to its cloud hosting services, but one thing's for sure – Twitter will definitely be looking forward to the weekend.

The Fairphone 4 on an orange background

(Image credit: Fairphone)

The Fairphone 4 lands in the US (in non-Google form)

The Fairphone 4 is one of the most easily repairable, sustainable smartphones out there – and it's finally landed in the US, albeit in slightly different form.

Unlike the standard Fairphone 4 (above), the new US version will run an operating system called /e/OS, rather than Google Play-enabled Android you'll find on the best Android phones. 

For some, this will make it way too niche, but for others it may give the phone an additional halo ring that makes it an ideal alternative to everyone else's identikit phones. You'll be able to buy the Murena Fairphone 4 for $599 with 6GB of RAM / 128GB storage, or $679 for for one with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage.

A countdown timer on a starry background for the launch of Threads

(Image credit: Instagram)

Threads: is it launching early?

Okay, so here's a slight surprise – the countdown timer to the launch of Meta's Threads has just jumped forward, with the app apparently now due to land in just over three hours.

That means those in the US and UK should be able to download the Instagram-flavored Twitter rival from 7pm ET / 4pm PT, or 12am BST on July 6 for those in the UK. 

If you haven't already, you can use the QR code in the bottom right-hand corner of the Threads countdown site to go to the app store (for iOS or Android) and pre-download the app. When it lands (seemingly now in three hours), it'll hit your phone immediately. Not long to wait now, then...

An iPhone on an orange background showing the App Store download page for the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Threads: some early sightings?

A number of people on Twitter are reporting that Threads is now available to download on their iPhone, but that they're unable to login.

The error message says "not permitted" and that the account doesn't meet the requirements to use Threads. This is surely just a case of a download jumping the gun before the app is ready – it's still just showing the "coming soon" message for me.

Not that we'll have to wait long until the app is officially available to download – the countdown timer is now showing just over two-and-a-half hours to go...

A phone on an orange background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Threads has officially landed

Meta's Twitter rival is now here – after a slightly underwhelming conclusion to the countdown page (which simply delivered the app's name), it's started downloading for those who set up the pre-order option.

I've downloaded Threads and so far it's understandably looking a little sparse right now. You get the chance to auto-follow the same accounts as the ones you do on Instagram, but as very few people are around it's serving me an equivalent of Twitter's 'For you' feed (full of recommended people and conversations).

Even though it's a close Instagram relative, Threads does currently feel a bit like the innocent first days of Twitter when everyone was simply happy to be chatting somewhere new. 

Some may see Threads' level of data harvesting as slightly less than innocent, but it's certainly not alone there – the question now is how many Twitter refugees it can attract with the promise of a more stable platform that doesn't feel like it's falling apart at the seams or trying get you to buy a blue tick. Interesting times ahead in social media-ville.

A phone on an orange background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Threads: first impressions

It's been a few hours since Threads landed prematurely, so what's it like? Right now, Threads is missing a lot of features compared to Twitter, but Meta is promising some updates soon. 

The main things I'm missing compared to Twitter are a proper search function (Threads only lets you search followers, not subjects), the lack of a chronological feed (it's currently algorithm only) and the fact that there are no bookmarks/lists. 

Lists in particular has my main way of cutting through the Twitter noise, but Threads currently has only about 10 million users, so it's still early days – and most of the conversations are about, well, Threads. 

On the plus side, it looks better than Twitter for photos (no annoying crops) and it's easy to get started if you're already on Instagram. We'll be posting lots more thoughts, but for now here's everything you need to know about Threads.

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Ti

The 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Ti in our testing bench (Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The 16GB RTX 4060 Ti is coming soon?

Nvidia has been teasing the launch of a 16GB version of the Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti GPU since May this year. Beyond a vague July release window we had no clue when it might launch, but two leakers might have given us the details we’ve been waiting for.

While all leaks should be taken with a pinch of salt leakers hongxing2020 and Zed__Wang both have decent track records, and they’ve both suggested that the 16GB VRAM Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Ti graphics card will release on July 18.

We’ll have to wait for an official word from Nvidia to know if these details are correct. What we do know is that whenever the GPU launches it’ll come in at  $499 (around £390 / AU$750), which is $100 more than the 8GB version of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 Ti.

Samsung QN90C showing green landscape

A Samsung QN90C TV (Image credit: Future)

Your Samsung TV might not have the features you thought it did

If you have one of the best Samsung TVs and you bought it from Best Buy, then it might not have all the features you thought it did according to allegations in a US class action lawsuit.

The suit, Rodriguez v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. et al, accuses Samsung and Best Buy of advertising 4K QLED TVs as having features when they don't. This includes Motion Xcelerator Turbo+, which reduces blur without increasing lag; FreeSync, which uses variable refresh rates to reduce screen tearing; and HDMI 2.1 ports. 

These features help to make the Samsung TVs that have them some of the best out there (especially for gamers), and we can understand why people would be frustrated if they bought a screen thinking it had these tools only to find out it doesn't. It's not currently clear which TVs are part of the claim nor how this supposed slip-up might have happened.

We don't yet know how this complaint will be resolved, but it does remind us to be vigilant when buying online. If you see some tech you like make sure to double-check its specs using reviews and the manufacturer's site to be absolutely sure it will live up to your expectations.

Sony HT-AX7 on a wooden table, with one satellite speaker held in a hand

The Sony HT-AX7 speaker in pieces (Image credit: Future)

Sony's soundbar for your phone

Sony has a new soundbar speaker, but it's not for your TV it's for your phone or tablet. The Sony HT-AX7 is a Bluetooth portable speaker with two moveable up-firing satellite speakers that rely on Sony's 360 Spatial Sound Mapping to create an immersive stereo soundstage. It's not Dolby Atmos, but with the movable speakers placed about  1m behind you it offers a very similar effect to the best Dolby Atmos soundbars.

If you aren't after stereo sound you can turn off the HT-AX7's Sound Field and play all three speakers in mono to create a party vibe. Or place the mini speakers back on their charging ports on the main one to create a regular Bluetooth speaker.

The battery life is pretty good – boasting 30 hours of charge in a single use, and a 10-minute recharge from zero will net you two and a half hours of playback – and the lag wasn't noticeable when we got hands-on time with the setup. Unfortunately, it's pretty pricey coming in at £499 / €550 (around $598 or AU$890).

There's certainly a lot to like, but we'll need to spend more time with the speaker to know if it lives up to its high price.

Mr beats stood next to a white car with the Threads logo on the hood.

(Image credit: Mr Beast)

You could win a free Tesla on Threads

Mr Beast, the YouTuber known for huge giveaways, is promising to hand out a free Tesla to one of his Threads followers. To take part, you just have to follow him on Threads before the 48-hour deadline passes. It's unclear exactly how the giveaway works, Mr Beast hasn't specified if it's open to people outside the US, but for the chance to win a free car it's probably worth following his account to be on the safe side.

The move is somewhat ironic considering that Tesla is owned by Elon Musk the current owner of Twitter which is one of Thread's biggest rivals. Twitter is currently experiencing some turmoil with limits on how many tweets you can see a day being the latest issue plaguing the platform; Meta is seemingly taking advantage of this situation by releasing Threads as a more reliable option to its competitor.

Mr Beast (real name, Jimmy Donaldson) was the first person to cross one million followers on Threads; he even beat the platform's owner Mark Zuckerberg to the milestone.