If you’ve followed any of the major leaks leading up to the reveal of the Galaxy S20 or Galaxy Z Flip, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across Max Weinbach’s Twitter account.
This 18-year-old tech enthusiast and XDA Developers writer managed to get the scoop on some of the biggest news around Samsung’s latest phones, posting photo samples, software shots and renders well before the handsets hit the market. He jokingly embraces his recent status as a notable leakster, with a Twitter cover photo that superimposes his face onto a Samsung press conference screen with the words “this man is our enemy.”
But in reality, Weinbach is just a young freelance writer and student excited about new gadgets. He founded his own site in 2017 dubbed SamCentral, tipping off major Samsung announcements by digging into software teardowns. After going viral by leaking the Galaxy S9’s Intelligent Scan feature, Weinbach caught the attention of XDA-Developers editor-in-chief Mishaal Rahman and began writing for the developer-focused news site in 2018.
“I had done a teardown of an app and found all the information and posted that on SamCentral,” said Weinbach on his first big scoop. “It absolutely blew up and was being covered everywhere.”
The ways of a leaker
So how does Weinbach discover so many products and features before they’re publicly announced? Many of his scoops come out of digging into an APK, or Android Package, which is a file format that can sometimes contain information on upcoming handsets.
Ok. First photo is out of the main sensor and second is 30X zoom. Both from the S20+. https://t.co/YQLgusmdhE pic.twitter.com/nEEhhPhFizFebruary 10, 2020
“Samsung has certain files in certain places where they put information about devices they are working on developing. I've found all those places and have been able to datamine it for a lot of information about new products or features,” said Weinbach “I also have sources at different companies related to products. These sources... will tell me whatever they can about new devices and I'm fortunate enough to be able to share a lot of it.”
While Weinbach has been datamining Android software for hints of new products for years now, it’s his discoveries around the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Z Flip that have made him a household name in the tech media space as he currently boasts 34,000 Twitter followers.
pic.twitter.com/8DrDvZnijVFebruary 9, 2020
Weinbach started getting the jump on Samsung’s new phones around October of last year, and it all snowballed from there. He recalls his recent photos of the Galaxy S20 Plus as his “favorite leak,” as he considers it the one that put him on the map.
“By the end of November, I had found basically every camera feature Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S20 and Z Flip along with confirmed support for the 108MP sensor,” said Weinbach. “In January, I got a picture of the S20+ sent to me and that's when everything really started.”
Samsung’s worst enemy?
While you might think someone like Weinbach would constantly draw the ire of big companies like Samsung for leaking their products, that’s not the case.
“Every time I tweet or publish an article about a device, I expect an email or phone call from the company about it. I haven't gotten a single email or phone call,” said Weinbach.
“The only mention I've had of any leaks from a Samsung representative was having a buddy of mine tell me Samsung would refer to me as "leaker man" or "that guy," Weinbach continued. “I'm not sure why, but I find this very funny.”
It'd be easy to assume that Weinbach might have grown bored of phone reveals after digging into so many big products before they're announced. But he has a different perspective.
"I feel like leaks have brought more fun into phone launches. It gets you something to get excited about before you even get the phone to then see demos when the phone actually comes out," said Weinbach. "I know it's a different way of looking at it and most PR teams hate me for it, but I just find it more fun this way."
So, what’s next for the man responsible for some of the biggest phone leaks of the year? Weinbach has no big-time goals, and seems to simply be having a good time continuing to contribute to XDA while completing his studies. He’s particularly excited about getting his hands on the Galaxy Z Flip (“normal rectangles are no longer cutting it for me,” he says), and is looking forward to doing more of the kind of writing and discovery he’s become known for.
“I have no idea where my career is going to go, but I can only hope it goes in the right direction,” said Weinbach.
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