Samsung is not as new as what most people perceive.
It’s been around for the last 46 years and has been dedicated to ‘making a better world through diverse businesses’. Today, their influence spans Advanced Technology, Semiconductors, Skyscraper and Plant Construction, Petrochemicals, Fashion, Medicine and related technology, Finance, Hotels, and more.
From its inception as a small export business in Taegu, Korea, Samsung Electronics (their flagship company) has grown to become one of the world’s leading electronics companies; specializing in digital appliances and media, semiconductors, memory, and system integration.
Today, Samsung is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, tablets and portable consumer devices.
Samsung India is the Regional Headquarters for Samsung’s South West Asia operations, which provides employment to over 8,000 employees with around 6,000 employees being involved in Research and Development alone!
In 2010, Samsung India achieved a sales turnover of US$ 3.5 billion.
Not one to rest on its laurels, and with its focus on being a cutting-edge innovator and strong supporter of the Internet Of Things, Samsung claims that all its televisions will be IoT devices by 2017, and by 2020, all Samsung hardware will be IoT devices!
Sony's Smart Contact Lens Will Blow Your Mind Away!
Sony’s patented smart contact lens technology seems straight out of sci-fi movie!
A diminutive little device, but unbelievably capable, Sony seems to have cracked many difficult stumblers (that larger brands hadn’t been able to, so far), to come up with something that is as scary as it is exciting.
A contact lens that can be worn as a regular lens is, but it comes with the ability to click photos and record videos, instantly play them back, store them internally and even transmit them to a nearby device. All in transparent, practically invisible form.
Seven inventors at the tech pioneer’s Japan office, are the brains behind the new patent, through which, Sony is going to be able to muscle it’s way into a game that so far featured players as big as Samsung and Google, and other independent intelligent minds working in different nooks and corners of the world.
The contact lens from Sony will come with the functionality of clicking photos and videos with auto focus and zoom capability, along with the ability to store them internally and play them back.
To achieve this the lens will use a combination of sensors – a piezoelectric sensor, infrared sensor and an acceleration sensor. Working in conjunction, these small electronic sensors will measure changes in pressure, temperature, acceleration and force, which the device will measure and translate into control instructions.
There’s more: the contact lens could also be equipped with gyroscope technology to correct tilted images, get rid of blur images, and control aperture.
Got your attention yet?
As exciting as it sounds, we must pause and consider the challenges and the triumph of engineering this little busybody.
The lens will be an intricate assembly of many delicate components like the main control unit, a wireless communication processing control unit, image pick-up lens and unit, antenna, sensors and a storage unit.
Once again, all that in a nearly transparent, near-invisible form! Amazing!!
The piezoelectric sensors will convert the mechanical energy from movement-nuances like pressure and force of a movement, into electrical energy which will be used to trigger and operate the lens’ functionality.
The most important part though, is controlling the lens, with no outwardly visible physical control. Here’s another mind bending achievement – the patent states that the smart sensors embedded in the lens are able to differentiate between an involuntary blink and a deliberate blink.
“It is known that a time period of usual blinking is usually 0.2 seconds to 0.4 seconds, and therefore it can be said that, in the case where the time period of blinking exceeds 0.5 seconds, the blinking is conscious blinking that is different from usual blinking (unconscious blinking)”.
Now, let me explain how will the lens work in real life.
The wearer’s eye movements will be used to guide and operate the lens as described in the patent. The patent elaborates, “the time period of the eyelid closure is sensed in accordance with output from a piezoelectric sensor provided in the lens unit“. The display control unit thus, will control the display direction of the captured image according to the tilt of the lens unit sensed by the tilt sensor.
An image pickup unit is configured to capture an image of a subject which is then stored temporarily in the storage medium; the integrated transmission unit will then transmit the captured image to an external device.
Power you ask? Well, the lens will not derive power from batteries. The power source could be a hybrid of power being generated using movement and electromagnetic conduction (where power can be drawn via radio waves or electromagnetic field resonance).
Apart from Samsung (who have patented a smart lens that can project images directly into the user’s eye), Google’s been in the smart contact lens Frey too – it’s been actively working on it’s research around contact lenses that are capable of detecting the wearer’s blood sugar levels, designed to help diabetes patients.
Taking the research further, Google filed a patent application, published earlier this month, devising contact lenses that could be injected directly into the eyes of the users!
Thus it’s safe to summarise that research around contact- and wearable-lenses is clearly gaining momentum. Time will soon tell, what technology or functionality takes traction and comes out of the labs to the consumers. This innovation will also help augmented reality to take a quantum leap forward – and that may explain the ever-growing interest in this category of products.
Will leave you with one for the road – Patent Literature 2 from Sony proposes a thin image display device in which a display unit and a lens array unit are integrally provided on a curved surface, the thin image display device being shaped to be fully wearable on an eye such as a contact lens. So Sony’s very serious about this one!
I know all this sounds very complicated and perhaps a little scary (to have a powered gizmo sitting on your cornea) – but think about it, it’s the same reservation that must’ve been felt (and later conquered) by regular contact lenses too. So, there is hope, and given the popularity of contact lenses and ever improving nano technology, this could well be a reality soon.
Commission Alleges Qualcomm Kneecapped Samsung's Exynos Chips' Sales
Qualcomm is super, super, super-huge in it’s domain and even bigger in it’s influence over the smartphone industry. However the one thing it is not, is well-reputed.
The brand seems to be egotistic, almost neurotic when it comes to the control it wants to exert over the industry. I think this perhaps stems from being poor self worth.
Given it’s tech prowess, proprietary advancements and innumerable patents in the world of processors, Qualcomm has become the supplier choice for almost every premium brand out there. But… it’s proclivity to demand and enforce self-serving clauses in the agreements has been noticed by Trade Commission and Courts earlier. Now, it’s in a soup again, for the same self-serving and monopolistic restrictions placed within it’s agreements with Samsung.
Qualcomm has been accused by the Korean Fair Trade Commission of illegally blocking Samsung from selling its Exynos SoCs to third party phone manufacturers. However, no direct action is expected from Samsung against its ‘partner’.
Qualcomm and Samsung have had a symbiotic relationship for a couple of years now. This relationship while beneficial to both, has not really been a friendly one for either of the companies. Yet, given the fact that both these legal entities have leverage over each other, the ‘partnership’ shall remain existent until something of major consequence happens.
To understand why such an accusation has been made by the KFTC, acquainting oneself with a brief history about the relationship between both the companies becomes imperative.
Here is the whole timeline of events leading up to the current relationship –
Qualcomm is currently appealing the fine, and it seems unlikely that Samsung will take any direct action against it for the Exynos sales to third party OEMs.
This might however change, if the regulators bring down the 1993 deal, leaving Samsung with the opportunity to sell Exynos processors to other smartphones without the risk of compensating Qualcomm with a high licensing fee.
Samsung might even turn into a strong competitor, on par with MediaTek, given the fact that it could add other components like memory chips and displays to the SoCs, which Qualcomm would not be able to match.
Why wouldn’t Samsung want to take direct action against Qualcomm?
As mentioned before, Qualcomm had agreed to let Samsung use both the Snapdragon (a Qualcomm product) and Exynos (a Samsung product) SoCs in its devices. In case Samsung decides to stop using Snapdragon processors while using only the Exynos processors, Samsung would be costing its foundry its Snapdragon orders. Both, stock and flow of Snapdragon orders, would instigate unnecessary revenue cuts.
Given the fact that Samsung’s growth in mobile devices has been stagnant, this would be a business blunder.
The relationship remains symbiotic between these two companies, but any aggressive move is unlikely to be made by Samsung unless the 1993 patent deal is struck down. On the contrary Qualcomm’s reputation has been declining significantly given the fact that Apple, a longtime customer is suing it too, for lop-sided licensing agreements, along with many other smaller manufacturers.
There’s no other way to say this – Qualcomm needs to get real. The world today doesn’t suffer autocracy too well – and while Qualcomm may be whistling it’s way to the bank for now, however given that Apple, Samsung, MediaTek and Intel are all investing hugely in devising newer (and often better) chips of their own, Qualcomm may just have to use these agreements as packaging paper in a few years. With the Internet of Things well on it’s way, and Automobile Automation being the big ticket for the next decade, this mayn’t be the best time for Qualcomm to play the my-way-or-the-highway card.
It might just find itself on a rather desolate, lonely and barren stretch of road, with no place to go.
Phone Brands Shifting Focus To Brick And Mortar Stores In India - Here's Why
The differences in the prices of smartphones between online and offline stores are expected to diminish soon, with the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) – which is due to roll out on July 1.
In preparation of this transition, smartphone companies such as Asus, InFocus, Xiaomi, Motorola, ZTE and Huawei have had to come up with a new and more efficient strategy to retain the demand for their smartphones, in the offline market.
Currently, when you buy a device online, you find it at least a couple thousand bucks cheaper than you would in a neighborhood store. For brands like Xiaomi, and Motorola, that have majorly stuck to online stores so far, this plays into their court; they already have comparatively lower prices, and they can sell their devices at a lower tax rate online.
Presently, online sellers based in areas like Bengaluru and Hyderabad sell smartphones at a lower VAT (Value Added Tax) i.e. 5%, than those who are based in locations where the VAT% on smartphone devices are much higher (usually in the 10-15% range).
The national average is about 12%.
It is this imbalance in the VAT levied, that will soon become uniform across the nation via the GST since it is a national tax, and not a state-drive one.
So, even though these brands have off and on, been working on their offline sales strategies, to sell to the larger group of Indians that are not online, their focus has been the urban educated buyer who is already online. A change in this focus seems around the corner now, but the reason might not necessarily be a want for further expansion into the market; the reason this time is the need to get a better grip on the offline market before the playing field is leveled.
These brands have chalked out some novel plans of action to enhance the sale of their devices in India’s challenging market. Direct distribution, a partnership with large-format retail, building separate models for the offline market, putting together their own stores, expanding marketing expenditure – are some of the ways in which the smartphone makers are planning their extension.
“There is a scramble amongst online smartphone brands to expand into offline retail. While a couple of brands like Xiaomi and Huawei are intensifying efforts, most others are making fresh attempts. With GST, the value added tax (VAT) advantage, which the online sellers enjoy, will disappear completely, making online and offline a much more level playing field”, announced cellphone retail chain Hotspot’s director, Subhasish Mohanty.
With the new approach that the brands are gearing up to adopt, they would directly sell the smartphone to the retail stores – not just any retail stores though – only stores that they have collaborated with.
Xiaomi, for the same, has recently collaborated with four of the major South Indian retail stores, namely, Sangeetha, Poorvika, BigC and LOT. The Chinese budget brand also plans to set up self-owned Mi Home stores in India, just like the ones they have in China.
Asus is another Chinese brand that has mostly had an online presence in the country so far, and is now planning on expanding into the offline market.
InFocus, a Foxconn-owned brand, which plans to invest big money in offline trade and marketing replicating the strategy of Chinese rivals, Oppo and Vivo, too, is re-launching its offline business and building a portfolio of models.
ZTE is also going into offline expansion, including expansion into smaller towns, and so is Huawei.
These changes are going to be interesting not just for the smartphones they bring, but also for the Indian e-commerce market, given that the business of smartphones is quite a chunk of it. It is because of that, that companies such as Amazon and Flipkart are drawing up plans to foray into the offline distribution of smartphones for brands like Coolpad, OnePlus and Lenovo.
This, altogether, could be an interesting change in the smartphone world. Bigger brands such as Samsung, LG, HTC etc., already sell through their offline stores heavily in India. Even Apple has third party reseller stores in the country and is soon opening up its own stores.
Thus, these “economical” brands might find it difficult to sink their teeth in to a market that is already quite populated, and to an extent, these brands may be outclassed by the larger ones.
On the other hand, they might also be welcomed open armed, given how well they’ve done through their online channels so far.
Bixby Voice Will Run To Catch Up With Samsung Galaxy S8 Later In The Year
Just a couple of days away from the much-awaited launch of Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, the new Samsung flagships, there’s some news that may drive you to grab a coffee and drink it in solitude.
You, like the rest of the world will have to wait a little longer to talk to Bixby, Samsung’s voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence-empowered assistant, that was going to be one of the highlights of the flagship devices.
While some features of the AI assistant Bixby, such as Vision, Home and Reminders, will be available on the devices starting April 21st, the company recently released a statement informing the world that the AI assistant will be released only later this spring.
“With its intelligent interface and contextual awareness, Bixby will make your phone more helpful by assisting in completing tasks, telling you what you’re looking at, learning your routine and remembering what you need to do. Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21. Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring“, the company said.
They did not give any reasons on why the full roll out of the Ai assistant is being delayed, but word has it that the software was still lacking in it’s English-abilities in the days leading up to the launch.
They had previously mentioned that Bixby might not come with the phones in certain countries, the U.K. being one of them, but now the South Korean megabrand is holding out on releasing the AI enabled assistant into other markets, including the U.S., as well.
The delay has only served to strengthen the speculation that Samsung’s voice recognition system in English is not nearly good enough and substantially lags behind Bixby’s performance in Korean.
In the light of their Note 7 fiasco, it is understandable that Samsung would be circumspect about half-baked products, and would want to put their absolute best foot forward. Customers are willing to love Samsung again, and their love would be immense, but the products have to be just right.
Bixby has been quite a big deal for Samsung, especially given the stiff competition that already exists for them in the market in this regard. Apple has their Siri, Google has its own voice-enabled Assistant riding on Android devices (the baseline OS that Samsung smartphones actually run on), Microsoft’s Cortana had its couple days of glory a little while ago, and there is Amazon’s Alexa that is making rounds now.
A lot of development has happened in the virtual assistant field, and there is a lot that Samsung will have to top to actually make its efforts noticed.
To be honest, they only gained enough confidence to enter the AI voice-enabled assistant battle after they acquired Viv Labs last October. Even then, Samsung is still quite behind in the game when it comes to AI voice-enabled assistants.
But if there are two characteristics that Samsung has demonstrated repeatedly, they’d be grit and determination. There’s not a bridge that Samsung has not overcome in it’s uncharacteristically tough journey in the forever-effervescent smartphones journey. And they’ve learnt the invaluable lesson of “product quality first, revenues later”.
So, while Bixby isn’t saying hello quite yet, we should take heart from the fact that brands that falter on product launches, and then have the gumption to pull them back post-launch (remember the Apple Maps bombshell?), do have the credo and the ability to resurrect and better themselves.
Bixby, we’re here for you. Whenever you’re ready!
The Galaxy Note 8 - Leaked Already?
A year back when the Galaxy Note7 was released, it was touted as a revolution in the smartphone market. However, with issues pertaining to batteries that would heat up very quickly coupled with some phones burning or even exploding, it turned out to be a tough year for the Korean electronics giant.
With the scheduled release of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ backed by the assurances of a healthy battery along with each unit of the products put for sale in the market, Samsung has managed to regain its ground, at least when it came to creating a hype in the market.
But perhaps what is really getting the market riled up is an alleged leaked image of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 which is poised to release around September this year. The image gives us an idea of how it might look – and going by the alleged “leaks” the Note 8 does not seem to have too many visible differences from the Galaxy S8 or S8+.
The sole reason for coining it as a possible Note 8 is the fact that an S Pen can be seen lying beside the phone in the leaked image.
What the leaked image has managed to do is, set the fuse for speculation and guesswork (oops! pun not intended!!). Given the fact that the Note 8 has to both be physically and virtually different from the S8 duo, here are a few features that might define the Note 8’s exclusivity:
Overall, the Galaxy Note 8 would need to be solid package if it has to tear people away from the Galaxy S8+ and the iPhone 8, not to mention the Xiaomi Mi 6 and the such like.
On paper, basis the leaks and our conjecture above, the Note 8 does look like, a reliable, sporty and sleek phone that would certainly be worth buying. The only issue that can be foreseen is that the iPhone 8 might overshadow the Note 8 given the proximity of its release dates.
The features of the iPhone 8 ‘seem’ far ‘better’, however, do keep in mind, that neither of the phones have any official creds from their respective manufacturers yet. Also, that the Note 8 has generally been slightly cheaper than the iPhone, it might eke a little bit of headroom there.
We’re all going to have to wait on this one, to see how much Samsung is able to bring to the party, before we can really establish if the Note 8 has enough going for it to swing the deal.
Samsung DeX: A Desktop Computer In Your Pocket
AirPlay happened on Apple devices, then Chromecast arrived, then Apple launched Continuity and Handoff, which made Microsoft launch Continuum on their recent devices. Evolution clearly needed the next avataar.
Say hello to DeX, that comes as a sidekick to the new new Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+.
If you’re interested in accessing your phone on your desktop, or to use it as a demi-computer, the new Samsung DeX dock enables you to connect your prized new phablet to an external monitor, keyboard and a mouse and use it for a variety of purposes – full-screen entertainment, gaming and even computing.
The DeX dock is supported by a tweaked OS that drives the phablet. While the UI is very basic, but it allows the consumer to use a majority of apps in full screen mode. It has a lock screen, a desktop, and a Chrome OS-based taskbar that displays tabs for open apps. Clearly, this tweaked OS was built specifically for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ as a lot of the onboard apps have scalable interfaces that work on the phone as normal, but grow into full-screen, featuring desktop-like layouts and are resolution-optimised versions for use on larger screens. The tweaks to the OS also enable individual applications windows to be resized and minimized, much like you do on laptops and desktop computers.
The Samsung DeX comes equipped with an HDMI port, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity and a wired Ethernet jack as well, which is surprising given the fact that cell-phones are innately wire-less.
It is also rumored to be having a cooling fan which presumably will keep the phone cool, and enable a more efficient, desktop-like experience.
Gratifyingly, the list of apps that work with DeX is not restricted to Samsung’s own apps. Cannily, Samsung has partnered with Microsoft and Adobe to bring Microsoft Office and Adobe mobile apps to the DeX interface. The DeX is also compatible with virtual desktop apps like VMWare, Amazon, Workspace and Citrix.
Phone functionality will remain untouched with the Galaxy S8/S8+ doing its own work in the background with no intervention from the DeX interface. Hands-free phone calls and text messages can be facilitated through the desktop too.
What is the market for the Samsung DeX?
Targeted specifically towards business-oriented work, the Samsung DeX provides employees and businessmen with a secure access to their digital workspace, coupled with all their requisite business apps and data, right at their disposal.
This device actually addresses a common yet critical problem faced by consumers around the world. Much like WhatsApp Web catered to individuals who wanted to chat informally or formally while accessing their desktop, the Samsung DeX brings us one step closer to importing our favoured communications device into a work-compatible desktop platform.
And, the professional in you would agree – there’s potential in this market, because there is an immense need for such hybrid and integrated solutions.
However benefits come with a price. The Samsung DeX would have to be purchased separately for a pricey USD 150. When we add up the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ is already an expensive buy, the DeX may often be foregone at the altar of Budgets.
In the end, it becomes a benefit versus cost decision.
As a precedence, the Samsung DeX might not end up to amounting for a lot of sales in this year – a consortium of companies like Linux and Microsoft Phone have already developed similar interfaces which enable mobile phone applications to work on their desktops – but the results haven’t been favorable for their offerings, either.
Anticipating that, Samsung clearly devised this product for premium and enterprise customers (who can surely afford the accessory), and given what the DeX can do, it does amount to a good buy if you belong to the said group. But, in order to sustain good margins and sales, it would have to stimulate the DeX for budget phones as well, which may also help budget-Samsungs pull ahead of the competition in that price range too.
Samsung's Still Perfecting It's Foldable Smartphone
We consumers have become rather difficult to impress when it comes to smartphones now. Apple came through by removing the headphone jack from their iPhone 7. And Samsung too is making a lot of efforts to do something new, particularly after the Note 7 debacle. Rumors abound that Samsung might be launching a foldable smartphone soon. How soon, we don’t know, but what we do know now is that they’re about to begin testing a prototype for a phone that they’ve named Galaxy X for the time being.
Chip-Monks had begun talking about this super-secret project at Samsung way back in November 2015, when we’d heard they were testing two smartphones bearing different processors. Time passed and the phones didn’t make an appearance.
Then in December 2016, we wrote about the device again, since the wind had it that Samsung would be unveiling their miracle at the CES or MWC shows in 2017.
The world then heard about this when some other websites reported that Samsung had applied for the patents for their technology. We wrote about that in February 2017, and you can read that article here.
Well, it’s time for another update.
Keeping with our first report on the matter, there’s validation that the prototype will be a foldable smartphone, with a horizontal joint in the middle of the phone. This joint will make it possible for the phone to be folded up to 180 degrees after usage. The hinge will hold together two OLED displays of 5 inches.
It’s worth noting though, that this isn’t a completely original design. We know that devices actually in the market, like the Kyocera Echo and NEC’s Medias W N-05E, have had similar designs for their foldable smartphones.
But like Apple, Samsung seems to be veering towards “being the best, is better than being first”. This has been a long term project for Samsung, and they haven’t spared any expenses in growing the tech before they launch it to the world.
They have another advantage too – they own Samsung Display – their very on display manufacturing division that can back them on all the experimentation, testing and redesign – for as long as Samsung needs. Plus there are none of the perils of outsource their research and development to third parties.
The Investor, a South Korean publication, reported that Samsung has placed orders for the production of only a limited number of prototypes, 3,000 at the most. We can expect this to be completed by the first half of this year.
“Samsung seems to be testing the waters with the dual-screen device to gather ideas about its upcoming foldable phone”.
And this is the right move too. There are bound to be some potholes and cracks that develop during testing. After the Note7 dud, Samsung will be loathe to ensure this new tech is sweated properly and all defects and opportunities so revealed be corrected effectively.
This will also allow the company to test out the potential of foldable devices. If all works out, we might see Samsung’s “newest” invention in the market in the coming two years or so.
With LG’s rollable panels in the works and Samsung’s curved displays already in the market, the South Korean tech company doesn’t have a lot of time to achieve its ambitions. While we might be anticipating foldable phones with enthusiasm, their usefulness and lifespan is still a question. Samsung will still need to add some promising new features in these smartphones to gain attention in the market, other than the foldable “novelty”.
The company has seen quite a lot of ups and downs, and is still well above water, but with growing disenchantment with “gimmicky” features on devices, Samsung definitely needs to get this right, by ensuring that the new capability comes with some uses, and isn’t developed in version 2 or 3 (like they did by releasing Edge displays that hardly did anything on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note edge, and only began to justify their existence with the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge a full one and a half years later!)
Samsung Creates Bendable Graphene Based Storage Chips
Bendable devices have been long time coming – with brands like Samsung, LG, Microsoft and even a little known brand, Moxi, rumoured to be readying various forms of smartphones and wearables.
Each of these brands obviously estimate that the Next Big Thing is going to be a device that can be folded or bent, to offer more utility and durability.
Now, some recent news on the matter is fanning the flames of the rumours some more. The rumour mill has it that Samsung has now developed technology to create a graphene-based storage chip.
This is an important milestone – because for a device to bend, all of it’s internals must support such adventure. Hence, each of these “internals” must be developed with that new personality in mind. And that will call for some innovative approaches and materials.
Most of us tend to think of memory as an abstract thing in most cases, not realizing that for the software on the phone to run, there needs to be a hardware component to enable the memory on which the software would run.
The current devices use what is called the flash memory, which is not made up of flexible material, and thus would not be well accommodated in a bendable device. Graphene is a flexible material and can bend as the phone bends, which makes this development key to the development of the impending bendable smartphones.
One of the most promising materials that will assist flexibility is graphene. We’d written an absolutely brilliant article explaining what graphene is, and I highly recommend you read it to fully grasp the concept.
Graphene being a strong conductor of electricity and given its bendable and flexible attributes, it is most likely to feature in the coming revolution of smartphones.
A Graphene based bendable memory chip not only provides the necessary flexibility, it also frees up some critical space for the manufacturer.
Given that its length is a mere 50 nanometers and its thickness is 8 nanometers, the chip will provide Samsung with a little bit more space to work with, and to shoehorn more battery or additional hardware.
But that’s not all! This hybrid oxide-titanium oxide memory chip only requires 5 nanoseconds to boot, write and read data. As smartphones use electricity to synthesize its processes, the graphene-based memory is ideally suited for them.
Given that Samsung has already made a strong investment in Graphene and has even been granted a patent for it, the previously-agreed partnership between Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Sungkyunkwan University is likely to bear fruit soon.
We can thus safely assume that Samsung plans to utilise this technology somewhere, sometime soon. If reports are to be given any cognisance then it is most likely that Samsung would release its first smartphone with a bendable display is 2019. Speculations have already been hinting that the smartphone is to be called Galaxy X and will most likely feature a flexible OLED display.
If this move is successful, it is bound to bring bendable devices closer to reality which might serve to be a breath of fresh air in the current market.
Meanwhile, back to our very straight and stiff devices for now! We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for Samsung’s bendable smartphones to soon be a reality!
Samsung's Tizen Filled With Security Flaws
Not all efforts yield the desired product – and Samsung’s clearly aware of that maxim. It might be feeling a little raw learning of it firsthand, after the discovery of numerous vulnerabilities in it’s proprietary mobile-device operating system, Tizen.
Samsung started working on Tizen around 2013, with visible sincerity. The open source mobile operating system was being created as an alternative to Android, given that Samsung wanted to limit its dependence on Google and also increase profitability by reducing licence costs.
Apparently, this reliance will not end anytime soon, as Tizen has proved to be the embodiment of code-related vulnerabilities, at the behest of amateurish coding.
An Israeli researcher, Amihai Neiderman revealed that he’d discovered as many as 40 vulnerabilities in the code base, which could easily be leveraged to enter into, and control Tizen-powered devices.
He said, “I found 40 bugs, and most of them look exploitable”.
At the Security Analyst Summit, Neiderman threw light on the issue saying, “It feels like 2005 in terms of the vulnerabilities I found”.
He kind of smashed another nail into the coffin when he added, “Tizen is not mature enough to be sent to the public like this. I found a few vulnerabilities in the first few hours of research. A dedicated Tizen researcher could find way more”.
Some of the code of Tizen has been taken from Bada, an older, more basic mobile operating system. Yet, the problematic code seems to have be written over the last two years and bears mistakes that the researcher says one could have expected ages ago.
Some of the issues flung at Tizen are that the communication setup is far from secure, data was found to have been transferred frequently without protection, and even the potential of hackers being able to wrest total control over a Tizen-powered TV via TizenStore.
That’s not the worst of it.
One of the major errors in code could allow an intruder to install malicious code via the inbuilt update mechanism. And this could happen despite a built-in authentication programme (which is supposed to prevent such a thing from happening in the first place).
Neiderman has shown that the authentication system can be overridden.
In an interview with Motherboard, Neiderman said it appears that the code has been written by an undergraduate who has overlooked all the important security features.
The scary part is that Tizen-powered phones Samsung phone have been sold in India since 2015. Not only that, they’ve also reached Bangladesh and Nepal. Neiderman claims that Samsung has already added language support for Sri Lanka, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana. So there’s clearly a long-tail roll-out plan that Samsung has in mind for this platform.
Worse, Tizen already runs on around 30 million TV’s!
What’s Samsung doing about this?
Well, initially, Neiderman only received an automated email response from Samsung when he wrote to them with his findings. After the report appeared in Motherboard however, Samsung claims it is “fully committed to cooperating with Mr. Neiderman to mitigate any potential vulnerabilities”.
Clearly, Tizen is not ready to be a competition to Android. Until the code is fixed, Tizen is a hacker’s delight.
Google Brokers A Consortium Amongst Top Android Partners To Increase Mutual Benefit
If you are a mobile manufacturing enterprise that produces Android-backed smartphones or tablets, then things just got sweeter for you!
Google and several top-drawer Android device manufacturing companies have agreed to a truce that will bring more openness into the Android applications and software market.
The agreement, namely the “Android Networked Cross License Agreement” has been melded together between a group comprising of Android giants Google, HTC, LG, Samsung, HMD, Foxconn and a variety of other companies. It pledges to share royalty-free patents amongst each other.
Licenses are going to be granted royalty-free to any company that manufactures devices with pre-installed Android applications which meet Android’s compatibility norms, with the condition that they join the group and adhere to the agreement.
The agreement is also being coined as PAX by executives at Google, which means ‘peace’ in Latin.
Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s Vice President of Business and Operations of the Android and Google Play wing said in an editorial, “It is with a hope for such benefits that we are announcing our newest patent licensing initiative focusing on patent peace, which we call PAX”.
On the PAX website, it mentions that any company that wishes to join, shall not be a party to interference, as all the other members will respect each other’s autonomy in their own affairs, as long-term freedom of action related to Google and Android shall be accorded everyone concerned.
What are the obvious benefits for signatories
The website also sheds light on certain facts such as that of the current member companies having a combined patent inventory of more than 230,000 patents. Hence, Google is quite excited and interested in welcoming other companies, large or small, to become signatories and reap the benefits of a sustainable, peaceful and friendly Android ecosystem.
Commercially, what the agreement will help the companies indirectly with, is the might to fight patent lawsuits collectively. As lawsuit rulings in favour of companies which acquired lawsuits amounted to a certain amount of income, the group might sue other companies together if the need arises. The direct benefits for companies are very high as there is no need to pay royalties to a ‘partner’ company.
Google, Samsung and HTC will really benefit from PAX. This is because, the Android ecosystem, owner by Google, will get a wider spectrum of companies of varying size in its family. Therefore, multiplying the acceptability of Android.
As a competitor of iOS, Google would really benefit. The smaller companies which feared litigation, would be exempt from it. Similarly, Samsung and HTC selling a huge number of devices integrated with Android and Google applications, looks to benefit the most. There would be hardly any risk form patent trolls given the nature of the agreement and the willingness to fight the lawsuits collectively.
However, it is not yet known what kind of patents will be shared or what threats these companies wish to defend against. That is the kind of details we would have to keep an eye out for.
Dual Display on Samsung Smartwatch - So?
Unless you’re an avid watch collector you’d agree that wristwatches (in their current avatar at least) are living on borrowed time.
The wristwatch is one of the select few objects, that still lives in public memory and reality -despite courting obsolescence.
Yet, for their nemeses – smartwatches – one has to forgo the very question of pragmatism!
A smartwatch is still a template of privilege, one that thrives not on any distinct capabilities, but on how many devices it can emulate (read: copy), not replace.
It is hard to tell if this is a troubling prospect or an encouraging one – the timeline of progress dictates the old to make way for the new. But if the new arrival is just an amalgam of the old, then it is novelty, not progress.
Whatever popularity (can’t call it success, yet) smartwatches have experienced, is not because they’re ingenious as a product, but because they’ve been able to act as a probable all-in-one solution for modernism.
For now, a smartwatch can at best serve as a makeshift backup option. OK for something, but not good for everything.
And thus, the quest to find a smartwatch’s USP must go on.
Someone at Chip-Monks termed smartwatches as “razzmatazz – whose time has not come”. I tend to agree – the smartwatch may have some reason for existence in the future, but at the moment, it doesn’t really make a spot for itself in the world crowded with devices and wearable fitness trackers.
Consider this – they are threatening to act in the same manner as smartphones.
A smartphone replaces the need of a stopwatch, timer, wall clock, thermometer, weather map, GPS and what not. In turn, a smartwatch aims to replace the smartphone itself. But it seems highly improbable, till the solution of a flexible display is found.
Different companies are working to that end – LG, Samsung, Microsoft and even a little-known entity called the Moxi Group from China. Each have their own novel approach, use different materials and perhaps have different outcomes in mind.
Samsung is one of the companies that has been working on a flexible displays for the longest period. They’ve now come up with a new approach to a smartwatch, and the prospect seems to be workable, in theory. We heard about this approach through a patent application that Samsung filed, titled “Display Device And Smart Watch”.
What is interesting about Samsung’s proposed watch is that it is made up of not just one but two displays. The primary display, a round screen dispenses the generic functions, while the second display is built around the rim of the watch. This means that there’s no real bezel on the watch (scratch alert on!)
As per speculations, this secondary display will use it’s ribbon shape to carry specific information that doesn’t need to be portrayed on the main display.
The big benefit being that the user would not need to turn on the display to view critical information like the time – she could simply glance on the rim of the watch! Other information that could be displayed here may be about the weather, date or notifications.
I am reminded of the edge display that Samsung’s current flagship smartphones carry – this ribbon display could well carry similar intimation-related info, and not so much interactive information.
But, as we mentioned at the top of this article, this is seems like another attempt to mimic and replace the smartphone. But the intent is baffling, for most of the users consider the smartwatch as a device of respite, a step away from their phones. Adding more and more smartphone-specific features belies the minimalist benefits of a smartwatch – and may make the choice confusing. At best, it mayn’t serve that basic purpose of respite. Much like the Yotaphone with the e-ink screen at the back – while it did something new, it didn’t do anything that we really needed or wanted, or were missing. Hence it never really went anywhere as a product, and disappeared sooner than it appeared.
The secondary display is a novel concept, we cannot deny it. But in the end, it is just a concept. The patent has been filed, but it is highly possible that this concept might not be a part of the production process anytime soon. But it will be highly interesting for us to watch the trends, eh?
Curious About The Samsung Galaxy S8 And S8+? Get Acquainted.
As the elder Wayne taught the not-yet-a-superhero Bruce, “Why do we fall?”, remember what he said said next?
”So that we learn to pick ourselves up”.
Well, someone has picked themselves again, kicking and thrashing their way to progress.
Just like Wayne Manor, Samsung was gutted with fire tests after Galaxy Note7’s volatile exit from store shelves across the globe. Then, with charges of nefarious involvements in South Korea, Samsung’s foundations were almost uprooted.
But now, with the release of it’s newest flagships, the Galaxy S8 and its bigger counterpart the Galaxy S8+, Samsung seems to have reinvented itself. While it did already seamlessly blend together technology and perfection, it’s added a new element into it’s wares – pragmatism.
The phones (they’re actually both phablets) don’t feel like run-on-the-mill phones. Both of them fill your senses like that supercar you dream about. Never before in the field of smartphones, has a phone been so beautiful.
On the “smaller” Galaxy S8 (we can’t really believe we’re using that adjective for a 5.8 inch screened device, either), a large Super AMOLED Quad HD+ display curves around the edges like a beautiful windshield meeting the metal sides, and then curving again, as the rear glass completes the device. It’s the same with the Galaxy S8+, the bigger brother of the two, with 6.2 inches of glass.
So proud is Samsung of these devices, and so sure of their identifiability that they’ve even foregone putting the brand name on the front of the device.
Interestingly, the biggest achievement from Samsung is that the some magic they’ve cast on the screens – a new aspect ratio (18.5:9) allowed Samsung to shoehorn in big screens into bodies the size of the Galaxy S7’s! The S8 is narrower than the S7’s, despite having a bigger screen! In fact the Galaxy S8+ is a complete shocker – it’s just about as wide as the Galaxy S7, but has a much bigger screen. Both devices thus tend to be taller than the outgoing glag.
As is usual with Samsung’s flagships now, they’ve decided to go with different processors in different regions. In Asian markets, Samsung is using its own Exynos 8895 chipset, whereas in the models headed to the U.S., they’re going with Qualcomm’s latest, the Snapdragon 835.
That said, the name don’t really matter – Samsung’s packed a tiger in the tank. The RAM is the same as on the Galaxy S7 – 4 GB; and both the new phablets come with 64 GB of internal storage that can be reinforced with an additional 256 GB of external memory.
The processors are going to be more efficient and kinder towards the battery as compared to other chips (since they’re made on the newer manufacturing process for chipsets).
The surplus battery can be used to power a desktop experience called DeX, which is basically a dock that enables the S8 duo to be used to power a monitor for a full-screen experience – much like Microsoft’s Continuum. The intent is to have this separately-sold dock convert the phone into a mini PC. Equipped with two USB-A ports and an Ethernet Connector, the experience is interesting.
Despite this piggy-backing by the screen and external keyboard etc., the processors allow no lagging to occur. Samsung’s apps too, resize according to your use between the phone and the monitor. If you are being adventurous, then you can stream your actual Windows desktop too! I won’t say that this can replace your desktop, but this is the best that stand in the middle.
As for hard external details, the visuals are eye-catching – the edges of the screen are almost invisible because of the borderless curved display. The fingerprint scanner is curiously placed next to the camera button from where you can comfortably smudge your camera again and again. So it might be tricky; but the facial and iris recognition are fast enough (more on that in our detailed reviews for the devices).
The phones come with IP68 dust and water resistance up to 30 minutes – so you can be a little cavalier with the handling, but don’t go deep!
I’m not going to cover every bit of the hardware and software mix that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus carry – I’ll leave that to our detailed write-ups for the devices. I only want to let you know about the things that has the world worked up into a frenzy, at this time.
Apart from the details, the launch event for the phone left out two things – the prices and the availability dates.
Estimations are already rolling. In India, the phones can be expected to crank a mean INR 50,000 for the S8, and upwards of INR 60,000 for the bigger S8+.
The release date is supposed to be April 21st in the U.S., but India might have to wait a little bit.
We also don’t know if us Indians would get the Gear VR headset with Samsung’s new wireless controller and an Oculus game pack for free, as the preorders in U.S. are receiving, but I’m pretty sure, Samsung would have something fairly for for us, the world’s second largest smartphone market, too.
It is Samsun’g vehicle for their redemption – and no one is taking it lightly, least of all, Samsung.
SIM Cards Rebooted - Say Hello To e-SIMs
The traditional SIM card has been dying a slow death over the last few years.
The normal SIM cards (now called “Macro SIMs”) that seem from prehistoric times now, set the ball rolling for mobile telephony. Then we got to micro SIM cards as smartphones arrived. As devices became bigger, the real estate within them became even more at a premium, hence smartphone manufacturers hit upon nano SIM cards.
Now, it’s time for better the technology in an even smaller card – called the e-SIM.
In light of this changing environment, the GSMA (who represents carriers and mobile companies around the world), has announced the specifications for e-SIMs, that are expected to be used in smart watches, fitness trackers, and even tablets. These SIMs will allow users the freedom to activate the SIM embedded in those devices on any carrier of their choice, as well as bring in the convenience of switching carriers and devices without swapping SIMs.
If everything works out as planned, the team behind the development of e-SIM suggests the new technology will be rolled out by 2018.
For now, the leaders of the smartphone industry are in talks with American and British mobile carriers with the intent of making e-SIMs a reality in those regions.
Apparently, conversations are already on with AT&T, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa and Teleónica – which are some of the biggest around the world.
The GSMA plans to roll out a similar standard for smartphones themselves in June, at which point the days of the SIM card could be numbered.
Since this specification is also backed by manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, LG and Huawei! The freedom and convenience that this welcome ability of switching operators will bring is best understood by device manufacturers – it drives better customer satisfaction and it frees up the manufacturer from having to kowtow to operator-demands. It even helps them move inventory around more seamlessly, instead of suffering the logistical nightmare they currently face – the device is operator agnostic, but since it was packed with a specific-operator’s SIM (at the factory), the manufacturer can’t lift and shift the inventory to other regions/stores/operators at will.
Once implemented, this universal tech will allow users to add mobile devices to a single subscription, in turn allowing them to connect directly to any mobile network. No separate SIM cards, no phone-as-a-middle-man, just an embedded SIM in each device, programmed to connect to a network all by itself!
Not that the GSMA sees it that way. It says “the initiative does not aim to replace all SIM cards in the field, but is instead designed to help users connect multiple devices through the same subscription and will help mobile device manufacturers to develop a new range of smaller, lighter mobile-connected devices that are better suited for wearable technology applications”.
Some Reactions From The Smartphones Industry
“The technology allows an individual to have both, a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number. People can switch between business and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards,” BlackBerry India Managing Director, Sunil Lalvani said at as per Tech First Post.
Well, Apple has already explored with its own SIM cards that can swap networks on flights and lets users choose from three different carriers.
For what it’s worth, the first example of a programmable SIM card, is already out there are – notably in Apple’s iPads. But it wasn’t officially recognised by the GSMA.
The GSMA notes there recently announced specifications as “the only common, interoperable and global specification that has the backing of the mobile industry“.
So, the integration of the e-SIM into upcoming iPhones seems like the next logical step for the Cupertino tech giant.
The world’s other smartphone giant also has intentions of using this “programmable” SIM in it’s smartwatch line.
So this isn’t technology that’s a way off-you might be using it yourself by the middle of the year!
Microsoft’s New Patent Hints At A Communication Device That Can Be Folded in Half
A patent filed back in 2015 by the tech giant Microsoft provides a telling hint of the direction that the company’s phone division might be heading towards, for a new range of mobile products in the possible future.
The patent is for –
The points above clearly shed light upon the key facets of the patent and provides significant indication as to where Microsoft wishes to devote their R&D resources.
However, Microsoft is not alone in following this direction – there already are products that have hit the market like Lenovo’s C-Plus (a bendable phone that can be worn around the wrist like a watch), or are almost ready for launch – Samsung is also scheduled to introduce a new bendable phone in the third quarter, and LG has been known to be working on bendable OLED screens for a while now.
Perhaps, the only credible difference between the intention behind Microsoft’s patent, and what has already been released in the market, is the focus on the “obscurity” of the hinges.
The patent clearly states – “In order to reduce and/or obscure the visibility of a support structure for a display panel, the present disclosure provides example display devices including curved or otherwise bent regions for directing light to a user’s eye when the user’s gaze is directed to a support structure at an edge of the display panel. In this way, when a user is viewing a region occupied by the support panel, the user may instead see light from the display panel showing the displayed objects”.
While it all seems the same, in the world of technology, even the smallest of changes can lead to tectonic shift in the field. But, what is much more important is that the intentions behind the filing of the patent are exercised upon!
The document has been filed by Timothy Large and Steven Bathiche, two Microsoft employees, who have filed other patents as well. However despite being published, no significant progresses have been made on those patents, and in some cases, have been stalled.
Similarly, thousands of patents are filed every year by resourceful companies but are not exercised upon with the same zeal. So, the expectation that rumored device would definitely be worked upon, and that a tangible product would emerge in the near future, is still a question that is begging to be answered.
Go do it, Microsoft – get ahead!
Samsung Pay Arrives In India
Demonetization taught India how to live with Digital Payments. And while Paytm made a strong case for onboard (digital) wallets, it was still a bit of a convoluted process to first upload money to it’s Wallet and only then be able to spend the money.
Uber and others did allow the addition of credit cards to their apps, but even those required an OTP or password to be entered, to be able to spend money.
All of that said and done, India tasted digital payments and wanted more. Life had suddenly become easier – the need to visit an ATM, or a bank, or ask Dad for a loan of currency notes, was gone. Every merchant large and small was suddenly amenable to digital payments.
Plus, with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay already thriving in international markets, it was just a matter of time before they arrived here.
Samsung today launched it’s payments tool, called Samsung Pay in India, beating Apple in the race to reach Indian consumers in this new, burgeoning space. And it’s exciting, because it simplifies life, and because it involves a bit of magic (you’ll see)!
What does it do?
Samsung Pay is a new digital payment service that absorbs all your credit cards, debit cards, and electronic wallets into one umbrella, which you can then use via your Samsung smartphone or smartwatch.
In simple terms, it replaces your plastic cards for transactions that you’d have made through swipe machines. It does not work for Online payments (i.e. websites or apps) just yet – though that is conceivably only a matter of time.
So, the obvious question is, how does it work?
Well, for starters, if your phone is one of the devices listed below, you will have to first install a service update which should be available over the air. Just head to the Settings section of your Android device and check for updates.
Here are the devices that are currently able to work with Samsung Pay in India:
Once your device is updated, you’ll be able to connect your payment method to the Samsung Pay application. This can be a card (credit and debit cards) or an electronic wallet (like Paytm) which will be saved to the device post verification.
No, really, how does it work? Won’t all merchants need new machines – which means that it’ll take 15 years for Samsung Pay to become usable?
A lot of things kill the acceptance of new services – complexity (during set up or usage), the need for new hardware (at the merchant or user level) and limited acceptability (remember how many merchants gripe when you want to use your Amex?).
In fact, the reason Paytm succeeded was exactly because it skated around all of the hindrances – it was ubiquitous, tremendously easy to use, and most importantly, because everyone was happy accepting payments through it.
There’s some magic in Samsung Pay!
Samsung has been truly brilliant with their approach. Knowing fully well that India (in fact almost all countries in the world) would take many years to change the current credit card machines to become NFC-capable, Samsung created and patented a technology that actually enables the Samsung device (smartphone and smartwatch) to mimic a magnetic card (like your credit or debit card).
Called MST (for Magnetic Secure Transmission) this patented technology replicates a card swipe by wirelessly transmitting magnetic waves from the supported Samsung device to a regular card reader. So, MST turns virtually every card swipe machine in the world into a contactless payment receiver, without needing any additional hardware or software upgrades!
Not only does Samsung Pay work with MST, it even uses the more advanced NFC protocol (when the device is placed near an NFC reader). Unlike MST, NFC works via Radio waves and requires a specialised “receiver” in the receiving machine,
They are both secure transactions, and both do not need any “physical” connection with the payment receiving machine.
Samsung’s ingenuity of allowing both, MST and NFC enables almost all merchants across the globe to accept Samsung Pay, thus making it one of the most accepted mobile payment services on the market.
So… you should be able to use your Samsung Pay-capable device anywhere you like in India (and 11 other countries) starting today (though some merchants may not be aware of it for a while). Expect stares, incredulous looks, double checks and many questions from bystanders too!
To use Samsung Pay, once the merchant has input the amount to be paid on his credit card machine or NFC terminal, all you have to do is swipe up from the bottom of the screen on your device, choose one of your saved payment instruments and then bring your device close to the payment machine. The phone should automatically connect to the merchant’s machine, and you should be able to see a prompt on your device, indicating the demanded amount. All you then have to do is enter your PIN as if you were swiping a card, and hit “Pay”.
The machine should start spewing out the paper receipt shortly (post approval from your card issuer). That’s it, you’re done!
Which all card issuers honour Samsung Pay in India?
The service will be available for users of Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Rupay payment cards, for now.
Banks wise, ICICI, HDFC, Standard Chartered, SBI, Axis Bank cards are already supported. As is Paytm!
We’re hearing that UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and Citibank cards will soon be supported too.
Thus, this should be quite a functional service in metropolitan areas in a country like India.
Why you should use it.
First, there’s no need of taking out your card (and inadvertently leaving it behind at the merchant’s location) or even showing it to the waiter/cashier (since your card’s security number is visible at the back).
Second you don’t have to carry your wallet everywhere.
Third, in addition to the ease and comfort, the service also offers promotions from banks on rewards points and offers from Paytm as well.
There don’t seem to any additional charges that Samsung is levying for using the service.
The application also comes in with built in support, in case you are lost or need help with the use of the service.
All this makes for quite a tempting package!
What’s in it for Samsung?
The launch of Samsung Pay at this time can be expected to give Samsung the first-mover’s advantage in the Indian market – a market that is the second largest smartphone market in the world, and where the South Korean megabrand already has been the leader for quite a few years.
The service was first launched in South Korea in 2015 and is currently available in 12 countries including the US, China, Spain and Australia.
Yet, (and I particularly love this part) it took the company about two years to bring the service to India, despite the leverage the Indian market holds for the company. This was perhaps because the Indian market is still pretty traditional in its actual workings, and so are the concerns of the possible Indian users.
“We focused mainly on the barriers which were holding back people from going digital. We picked up the key themes centric to the Indian consumers — technical issues, security concerns and the lack of acceptability presence, and then integrated mobile wallets, UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and debit cards to Samsung Pay. The idea was to make in India for Indian consumers,” said Asim Warsi, Senior Vice President (Mobile Business), Samsung India.
What is noteworthy is that Samsung has actually been stretching itself pretty thin for bringing this service to the Indian market. They have worked to include debit cards, and electronic wallets within the Samsung Pay ecosystem, where these are not options that are available on an international level. Clearly, these have been integrated specifically keeping the Indian user and our market’s dynamics in mind.
Now that the Samsung Pay genie is out of the bottle, the next few months should tell us how the Indian market responds to Samsung’s hard work!
Go out tonight, give it a try, once you’ve set up your Samsung device for this new service! Me, I’m off, hunting for a store that’ll swap my Windows 10 phone, for that delectable Samsung Galaxy S7 edge! Or should I wait for Apple? Hmm…
Samsung's Own Virtual Assistant, Bixby, To Power The S8. Should Siri Be Worried?
Apple had kicked off the Virtual Assistant craze through the launch of Siri (built into iOS 5) back in 2011.
Given it’s headstart, Siri ruled the space for quite a long time, standing alone as the Alpha.
But over time, Siri gained a lot of company – Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant – all joined in the fray of Artificial Intelligence based assistants.
Soon, this clique of assistants will be joined by Samsung’s own Bixby.
Those of us who follow Tech, have known Bixby was coming for a while now, through rumours and industry-trend-watchers.
Finally, Samsung confirmed recently that an early version of Bixby will launch alongside it’s next flagships – the Samsung Galaxy S8 duo.
Samsung is expected to officially unveil the phones at an event on March 29th and it should start to ship in April. The phones will have Bixby software baked in, along with a rumoured dedicated button on the side of the device that would let you activate the service when you don’t want to use a voice command.
Of course, the Galaxy S8’s will also be running the Google Android software, which means that you can use Google’s voice services too. But Samsung is hoping Bixby stands out thanks to its integration with Samsung products and a few additional features including the ability to give you full control over apps that support Bixby.
Once an app is Bixby-enabled, Samsung says anything you could do with touch commands can also be accomplished by voice too! That’s a big promise.
That hyperbole aside, Samsung itself says that when the Galaxy S8 launches, only a “subset of preinstalled applications will be Bixby-enabled”, but the company expects the list to grow significantly in a short span of time as Samsung intends to release a Software Development Kit to help third-party developers add Bixby support to their software.
It is the kind of a giant move that would probably be doomed to failure if it were coming from a company other than Samsung – why would Android app developers add support for a virtual assistant from HTC, Sony, or LG when they could just tap into Google Assistant to enable voice support across a wider range of current and upcoming Android devices?
But Samsung is currently the world’s top smartphone maker, so the company might actually have the clout to pull this off.
On the other hand, Samsung’s past attempts to run its own app store, video store, and other alternative-to-Google features haven’t always been successes.
I personally think Bixby could go either way as a virtual assistance, and an Artificial Intelligence based tool, even more so, just has to do a lot to stay relevant and in the customer’s mind. It’s a well known fact that not only is app fatigue a reality now (where customers are using lesser and lesser apps), but with the passage of time, people are even using the newer features included in each OS upgrade.
Truth be told, virtual assistants haven’t yet found much uptake by smartphone users across the globe, so if Bixby doesn’t light the world, it may not be it’s fault entirely. Assistants still have to find their place in the world. Just like Siri itself is struggling to.
Samsung Commits To Monthly Security Updates - Only For U.S. Phones
Following the reveal of some frightening security vulnerabilities in Android, a lot of smartphone manufacturers were quick to announce that they would be issuing monthly security updates to their devices, to ensure that their phones are constantly up to date against threats discovered in the interim.
The good news for Samsung owners is that if you live in the U.S. and you own an unlocked Galaxy handset, Samsung is committing to issue monthly security updates to your devices.
This isn’t to say that Samsung never cared about security, it’s just that their updates weren’t particularly frequent.
In a statement obtained by the folks at ZDNet, Samsung said, “Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing security updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis. However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis.”
Clearly this is good news and for some Galaxy handset owners; further Samsung has also revealed that it’s March security update should be coming soon for unlocked handsets like the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge – though it remains to be seen if it will include the Nougat update with it.
It also remains to be seen if Samsung will really be able to keep to this schedule for real.
Samsung’s Oscars Ads Are Basically A Promise That Its Phones Won't Explode Anymore
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 debacle and the legal woes that have befallen some of Samsung’s executive management are something that will not be erased from the media’s or the users’ memory for a long time. But, it’s not impossible.
Samsung disappeared into it’s shell a long time after the debacle, with hardly any new releases over the last few months, and even the few that did get released rolled out to the public, did so with nary any fanfare.
Now, Samsung is starting to walk out to the sunshine again. It seems to be doing a lot of small and big things to explain last year’s disaster taking a vow of sorts, to never let that happen again. Clearly, it’s efforts are aimed at re-instilling a sense of faith among its users.
Part of this ‘disaster management’ effort, Samsung spent a lot of money advertising its products at the recent Oscars ceremony. In fact, three commercials were run during the Oscars.
Two 30-second advertisements focus on Samsung’s promise of quality and the fact that its devices undergo rigorous security checks.
The first ad emphasised on the point that quality devices is something that Samsung has a reputation for, and that the company is all set to stake its reputation, promising that forthcoming Samsung devices will not explode in users’ pockets.
“Our phones are extensively tested, retested, and then, tested again,” the first ad claimed. “Innovation is our legacy. Quality is our priority.”
To drive home those words, the commercial sported images of Samsung handsets being exposed to various torture tests. The battery seemed to be a sturdy unit as it was able to tolerate majority of it as the phone was shown being baked in an oven, pierced, dropped and prodded by several contraptions that replicate all sorts of abuse.
The ad sure must have sent home the right message to all the audience present at the Oscars.
The second ad, on the other hand, showcased Samsung’s eight-point battery safety check, which Samsung terms as its harshest safety check ever.
The short commercial though didn’t let out any specific details about the process or the kind of cutting edge technology Samsung has employed, to make all new Galaxy handsets explosion proof.
But the tests indicated in the commercial do speak a lot about Samsung’s priorities in it’s recently revised manufacturing processes.
The sad part of it all is that neither of these two ads include even a minute sneak peak of the much-anticipated Galaxy S8. The ad featuring the eight-point battery test used Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge as illustrations, which still sport a Home button unlike the Galaxy S8 which is rumoured to have embedded fingerprint sensor under the screen itself, instead of a physical home button.
Greedy me – I kept scouting for any form of a sneak peek at the upcoming S8!
A third ad was also aired, but it was slightly different – starring filmmaker Casey Neistat, one of the most popular YouTubers ever.
It showed Neistat standing in a tux as he narrates “The Rest Of Us”, clearly an ode to remind us that most YouTubers don’t have fancy professional cameras or big money to cover production costs, yet they manage to create video content just because they want the world to know their ideas.
“We don’t have big awards shows or fancy cameras, but what we do have are our phones“, Neistat says.
Once again, we got a lot of shots of devices like Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the Gear 360, but still no Galaxy S8
The aim here seemed to be to strike a chord with the youth who thrive on neo-platforms especially social-media based ones, to present their creative content.
Neistat had played a major role in Samsung’s Oscars presence last year as he walked the red carpet with a prototype of the Gear 360 to demonstrate Samsung’s handheld VR camera to the world.
“Casey has been a partner of ours for some time“, said Samsung CMO Marc Mathieu in an email. Further, “he exemplifies our brand belief, which is ‘Do What You Can’t’. Today, empowered by technology and a can-do attitude, you can accomplish anything“, said Mathieu.
Samsung has lost a lot of goodwill (which is an even bigger hit than it’s USD 5.3 billion bleed) due to the Note7’s explosive demeanour – not many phones (or any other such consumer-level devices) have been banned on airlines, nor can I recall another incident of this magnitude that caused the eventual scrapping of a product altogether.
Samsung is recovering from a big hit to the solar plexus, and it’s recovery efforts seem will keep pecking at the subliminal message that Samsung devices can be trusted.
Mathieu says it best – “[There will also] be a focus on regaining consumers’ trust, reinforcing the role of our technology in their lives and successfully launching our next flagship devices, all anchored in placing the human—not just the product—first“.
Samsung will also place an increased impetus on customer care to “reinforce its emotional investment and commitment to consumers“.
“We are targeting this generation of doers, people who go out and make things happen“, Mathieu said. “Our goal is to ultimately empower consumers to realize their ambitions. If the phone in your pocket can do anything, so can you“.
Perhaps it is time to let Samsung out of the dog-house. Everybody makes mistakes, don’t they?
South Korea Tightening It's Regulations After Galaxy Note7 Fiasco
In what may become as a major blow to Samsung, South Korea has tightened battery safety regulations after the Galaxy Note7 fiasco. This will certainly add to the woes of the company (and other brands from the burgeoning economy), given that Samsung is still on its self-apology tour round the world after the Note7 debacle.
The news is especially aggravating since the South Korea is the home country of the company.
On 6th February, the South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy issued a statement highlighting its intent to provide more testing around the ubiquitous technology.
“We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation”, Vice Minister Jeong Marn-ki said in a statement .
The South Korean government published the results of its own investigation into the explosive phone, according to the The Korea Herald. Like Samsung, the state-run Korean Agency for Technology Standards too, concluded that the Note7’s volatility stemmed from its battery.
So, the government’s announcement of new, stronger regulations for smartphone battery safety issues could conceivably stem from it’s findings of the investigation.
The Agency tested 14 overheated Note7s, 46 stable phones and 169 batteries provided by Samsung over a three-month time frame. The tests concluded that the batteries exhibited “factors that cause explosions“, but said there were no flaws with the Note7 smartphones themselves. In other words, it wasn’t the phone that has caused the trouble, but solely the battery.
The South Korean government now plans to rejig a current law, which earlier only required the batteries to be inspected once before mass production. The revision, which should be in place this July, will require tests every two years.
A revision of the Phone Recall Process is on the anvil too. The intention is to empower the government to be able to issue cautionary advice to consumers against buying a certain product even before an official recall is instituted by the company in question.
The safety standards are now in line with those of the International Electro Technical Commission and European Union – but sources claim that in the near future, the country’s government will be adding new procedures to mimic the standard procedures of Japan and the U.S.
Also, the new measures will include requiring manufacturers to issue a certificate of the safety of Lithium-Ion batteries, that will be newly manufactured by a new process that doesn’t have the same errors as the previous one.
To me, all this sounds good. While naysayers may claim that government oversight will hamper the growth of the company that was quickly conglomerating itself into a new tech giant, I differ.
The best that these regulations have to offer is that they shall weed out unwanted developments that hinder consumer efficiency and threaten her safety.
While Samsung’s Galaxy Note may have put a dent in the trade reputation of the country which till now has been considered as a safe haven for companies, governmental interest in restoring (and thence, maintaining) the world’s respect and confidence in the nation’s products, is an excellent statement of intent and promise, by the South Korean authorities.
Last month, Samsung announced that its energy storage subsidiary, SDI, was working on a next-gen battery for electric vehicles that would allow for a range of up to 372 miles on a single charge. Being a well wisher of the company, we sincerely hope that these will be tested thoroughly before they find the vehicles reach roads and citizens around the world.
Samsung Inching Closer To A Foldable Phone
If rumours are to be believed, Samsung may finally bring out a foldable phone sometime this year. The Korean megabrand has been working on the concept for a couple years now, and new reports seem to suggest that the company may bring out a commercial product by the fourth quarter of this year.
The new reports come on the basis of a patent’s filing information that was recently leaked. According to recently submitted patents, dated 31st January 2017, Samsung is working on a flexible display device that folds in the middle. It would give the phone a book-like shape, allowing for the users to open the device up to make it larger.
This is not the first foldable phone design we have seen from Samsung. Earlier last year, Samsung was working on a similar design, going for a tablet that folds into a phone (which honestly seemed like a better idea than a simple folding phone).
Earlier designs for the foldable phone have rather been on the lines of the impractical, and the otherworldly. Samsung, at one time, explored quite an unusual design idea, that included cylindrical shapes, from which the display rolls out like a window blind.
Most recent designs however have been far more practical, and quite similar, seemingly inspired from the old flip phones from back in the days when Motorola was the class. In fact of late another concept of a foldable phone from Samsung was spotted, in exactly that shape – a flip phone from yesteryear.
A book-like design makes a lot of sense, when one does think of it. While on the one hand, the cylinder with a roll-down screen would be quite a novelty, the practicality of it simply does not exist. There are quite many components in a phone that will not, and cannot, fold, and they need to be housed somewhere. With a book-like design, there is ample flat space to house those.
The logistics of hardware however are not the only obstacles the company will have to tackle.
What one also needs to question with ideas of this kind is their practicality, and the market they might be appealing to.
While the ideas seem quite novel, the market for something of this kind, quite like the Blue Ray’s that lasted only a couple years after the floppies, can be quite short term and limited.
A fancy phone is a good show off and a play thing – but for how long before people tire of it and move on to the next?!
What can perhaps be an appealing idea can be a phone that can be unfolded into something else, like say a tablet. That can only function if the book-like phone does not need to be opened again and again to be used, instead it can be used as a phone when closed, and as a tablet when opened. For something of this kind there still might be a market, but if this turns bulky and heavy, one shouldn’t lay too many bets on it either.
Samsung is not the only brand to be working on something of the kind. LG has already marketed a flexible phone that bends up to a certain point. It also recently showed off a working model of an 18-inch Ultra HD screen that used a special film instead of plastic as backing, thus allowing the screen to be rolled into a tight tube for transport, much like a sheet of paper! This was back in 2014, and at the time, the screen was expected to be on devices in 2017. We however don’t have more news on it, yet.
Rumours about Samsung’s foldable phone have existed since late 2015, when the market was expecting a groundbreaking device in 2016. But as the year has shown, the company has simply not been ready for something of the kind to hit the market yet, and the Note7 disaster which simply won’t go away is not doing the company any more favours.
Bringing tech of this kind is quite obviously going to be an arduous task for Samsung. The project has been facing multiple issues, in the three years that it has rumoured to have been in existence. These include issues like not having the resources to mass-produce flexible displays, or finding ways to make essential components flexible.
With the rumours making the rounds again, we might be able to see something in the latter part of the year. Though, the truth is that even if we do, and even if Samsung goes ahead and brings the genie out of the lab, and launches it commercially – the feasibility of which has been under much debate – we probably won’t be laying hands on it until well into 2018.
We shall, however, keep an ear out for the news.
Samsung's Galaxy S8 Could Come With Wireless Headphones, But Will Also Have The Jack...
It was previously rumored that Samsung would be announcing an AirPods competitor with the announcement of their next flagship, the Galaxy S8.
Looking at the renders of the upcoming Galaxy S8 though, we’re delighted to see that Samsung has retained the 3.5 mm headphone jack (unlike Apple, in their iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus), giving users the option to adopt a wired or wireless headphone setup – whichever one suits them.
As far as the wireless headphones go, the company could be prepping a product to go with the Galaxy S8 announcement, however no one’s really sure if Samsung’s product will be competing against Apple’s AirPods.
These headphones are expected to feature active noise canceling technology, which is always a welcome feature when you want to experience nothing but the audio pulsating in your ears.
They earphones are expected to come in Black, Green, Red and Silver colours, providing users a whole palette to chose from, a choice Apple users do not have.
Unfortunately, these premium wireless headphones might also carry an expensive price tag, as they are expected to retail for 130 Euros, which translates into nearly USD 140 (~ INR 9,000)! Yet, that’s still cheaper than what the AirPods are currently retailing for.
Samsung may incorporate its own technology, that should help with mundane things like proximity-based pairing, as well as the activation/deactivation of the earphones depending on whether they’re in use or not.
The Galaxy S8 is expected to be introduced to the world on March 29, so we’re excited to hear of another product that’s going to be showcased with the flagship.
For now, take this info with a pinch of salt; you cannot believe everything that you hear, but we’ll keep you updated regardless.
Google Daydream Open To All Developers
The VR platform everyone had been waiting for is finally open to all developers. As of this week, any developer can make an app for Google Daydream.
Google had been arguably a little late to the VR party, but when it did arrive, it did not bring a device – it brought an entire ecosystem instead, something from where devices can be powered.
Google Daydream has been the center of curiosity of the many, ever since. Here’s a quick read, that should explain what Google Daydream is about.
The platform was announced back in May 2016 and has been live for a few months now but was only open to apps by a select few developers. For starters, the company was still in the process of testing the platform. Secondly, to ensure that the users appreciate the experience, Google had been quite particular about maintaining a quality standard for apps that were allowed to be available on the platform.
Limiting the number of developers they worked with allowed Google to work in close collaboration with partners and thus carefully curate, and manage, content for their new platform. But it of course also had a downside. It severely limited the number of apps one could download for the new headset ecosystem through the Google Play store. So while the experience was supposedly good, the variety was quite limited. Now that the platform is open to all developers, that is bound to change.
It would be interesting to see what this new move brings to the platform.
It would be interesting to see what this new move brings to the platform. While there are obviously many skilled developers waiting who have been waiting for the platform to open so that they can present their apps.
Similarly, of course, there also are many low-skilled developers who might end up pushing incomplete and low-quality apps onto the platform. Filtering then, in this new environment, would be an interesting task. Apps can be submitted through the Play Store, much like any other Android app is submitted at the moment.
Google, however, is still being very particular about the quality standard on its platform. The company has published a set of requirements for apps that can be published onto the VR platform. All developers must follow these requirements while submitting the apps, and the company expects to hold the standards high. These requirements include certain unique assets, such as 360-degree photosphere, a VR icon, and Motion Intensity Ratings.
This move has the capacity to dramatically shift the momentum in mobile VR. Especially given that the company is competing with the likes of Samsung Gear VR, which recently announced that they sold about 5 million VR headsets and Facebook’s Oculus.
Both of these have already made their way into global markets, and everyone has been wondering where Google’s Daydream is headed.
The apps on Daydream have been showing comparatively smaller download numbers. With more apps which can be expected to be available now, this can be expected to change, as users would have more options to choose from.
Google also announced Daydream View, a Daydream-compatible VR headset that was designed by Google, in October last year. The VR headset, Daydream View, for now has a limited availability, within the US. It is available at Verizon, Best Buy and the Google Store in the US.
As the ecosystem grows, more and more headsets and phones can be expected to be compatible with it. Even though that sounds like a given thing, the catch is that curation in VR is quite tricky, especially given the fact that design problems and slight glitches don’t just mean a broken app on your phone, these could leave the users feeling ill, and with severe nausea, headache, and the likes. It is therefore important to get it just right, even if it means stalling the process a wee bit longer.
The move to open to platform to all developers is not really an unexpected or surprising move; it was a logical step that everyone had been waiting for. Google had previously indicated that it would be opening the platform to all developers in 2017. The move, nonetheless, is quite welcome.
Snapdragon 835, The Processor for 2017 Flagships
Towards the end of last year, Qualcomm announced that it’s next prime jewel was going to be the Snapdragon 835. It also said that it’s new, next-generation smartphone processor chip would be built using 10nm FinFET process node in collaboration with Samsung. But that’s where the details halted and nothing else was made known to the world.
That announcement had it’s effect – curiosity and conjecture ensued, mulling the whats and hows of the Snapdragon 835 processor.
Then, at the recently concluded CES 2017 event, amid the unveiling of a lot of new cool gadgets, Qualcomm announced more details about the Snapdragon 835.
The company dwelled on some details regarding the forthcoming chip, shedding light on the clock speeds, core designs and upgrades on top of Snapdragon 820.
The official word is that the Snapdragon 835 will feature the Kryo 280 CPU with four performance cores running at up to 2.45 GHz and four efficiency cores running up to 1.9 GHz. The newest chip will feature LPDRR4X (a type of LPDDR4 developed by Samsung that uses 0.6V for I/O voltage (Vddq) instead of the standard 1.1V.
“The combination of the CPU, GPU, DSP and software framework support in the Snapdragon 835 offers a highly-capable heterogeneous compute platform,” the company said in a release.
In terms of connectivity, the Snapdragon 835 processor comes with “an integrated X16 Gigabit-Class LTE modem, with integrated 2×2 802.11ac Wave-2 and 802.11ad Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi, making it the first commercial processor equipped to deliver Gigabit-Class connectivity at home and on the go,” Qualcomm said.
To provide you with some concrete figures, the processor is claimed to offer 20% performance gain, and 25% faster graphics rendering.
The hardware-based user authentication on this new chip makes the smartphone eligible for uses like enterprise access, users’ personal data and mobile payments which are the need of the hour, all thanks to Demonetisation (in India).
The Snapdragon 835 is clearly aimed at supporting next-generation entertainment experiences and connected Cloud services for premium consumer and enterprise devices, including smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs and other devices running a variety of operating systems, smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs and other devices running a variety of operating systems, including Android and Windows 10, with support for legacy Win32 apps.
“Our new flagship Snapdragon processor is designed to meet the demanding requirements of mobile virtual reality and ubiquitous connectivity while supporting a variety of thin and light mobile designs,” said Cristiano Amon, Executive Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., in a statement.
The Snapdragon 835 also incorporates the new Adreno 540 GPU and Qualcomm Spectra 180 image sensor processor (ISP), taking your travel photography game to the next level with its amazing camera capabilities. This latest Qualcomm flagship processor can support up to 32-megapixel single and 16-megapixel dual-camera setups.
What’s more, the Snapdragon 835 is packed with Quick Charge 4 that can fill juice in the device for up to 20% faster charging and up to 30% higher efficiency than Quick Charge 3.0.
This clearly implies that the users can play more games and watch movies for a longer period of time on their smartphone without worrying about the battery. Additionally, there is word that the mobile platform has been shrunk and is 35% smaller in package size, thereby consuming 25% less power in comparison to its predecessor, which means longer battery life and thinner designs.
The improved performance on the newest chip is owed to the gains in the clock speed and not really any crucial micro-architectural changes. Most of us are aware of the fact that smartphones rarely run at their top frequencies for any length of time due to aggressive power management. If the new 10 nm chip is able to hold higher clock speeds than its 14nm predecessor, then it can definitely lead to better results in terms of performance.
This kind of rise fails to be prominent at times, simply because thermal and power envelopes limit their applicability to specific applications or workloads, and because efficiency improvements have naturally diminishing returns.
In addition to providing details about their latest processor, Qualcomm, in partnership with ODG, also launched the first devices powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor – ODG R-8 and R-9 AR/ VR smartglasses.
The processor is expected to be shipped in commercial devices in the first half of 2017, in fact some rumours suggest that Samsung Galaxy S8 might pack in this latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
I know that was a lot of technalese back there, but it’s hard to talk English when you one’s listing specs! Check back at chip-monks.com to know more as 2017 unfolds, and devices bearing this new benchmark of processing power, release to the world at large.
Google Ready To Ride The Cashless Transaction Wave In India
Three terms that all of India, and nigh almost every Indian got a crash course on in recently – demonetisation, cashless economy, and digital payment solutions; have become an intrinsic part of our new lives in the cashless economy.
December 2016, demonetization in India saw both, a lot of support and tons of criticism from the masses.
But the one industry that witnessed a hitherto unbelievable trajectory (post demonetization) is that of Digital Payment Solutions – where cash is transferred virtually, especially via mobile devices.
As digital payment becomes popular amidst users in India , there is word that Google may soon back this burgeoning technology.
In his latest statement, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai stated that the company was thinking of making such a move and that Google would work hard on offering some of its services on top of the Unified Payments Interface.
For the uninitiated, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is India’s intrepid project to make person-to-person and e-commerce transactions easier and more efficient.
The UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), amalgamating several banking features, uninterrupted fund routing and merchant payments under one umbrella.
UPI is built over IMPS (Immediate Payment Service), which makes the transfer of funds even easier than the new and revolutionary IMPS.
Like the IMPS, UPI’s new payment interface will still need payee details like bank name, branch, IFSC code and full name to be entered; the only relevant thing here becomes the Virtual Payment Address (VPA) which enables the user to send and receive payments.
Currently, UPI is only enabled on Android-based apps, without any information about its debut on iOS. Given the fact that Android is the most extensively used platform in India, Google’s move towards introducing a UPI-based payments solution definitely constitutes a sagacious move and is expected to relieve hassled consumers.
Already, some of the major UPI apps in usage include ICICI Pockets, Canara Banks’ ‘epower’ etc.
In fact, the Indian government has also taken steps in this direction and launched a common UPI app, called BHIM.
Talking about UPI, Pichai said in an interview, “I think it’s a bold and courageous move and it is a platform shift for the underlying economy to try and digitize how cash moves around and we are excited by it“, also adding that such moves work out “gradually”.
Currently, in India, the dissemination of bank accounts, and by extension, debit cards and credit cards remain fairly low. With UPI, the Indian government is trying to bring banking and financial services accessible for its entire population.
Another program called Aadhaar by the government seems to be an initiative to make it easier for the users to have one set of information work across abundant services.
“Maybe we will bring services from Google that will work on top of UPI which will make things work better for users in India“, Pichai said in the interview, adding, “We are working on it hard. Anything we can do to make payments easier for users in India. So we are trying to understand UPI stack, to bring some services, which will make things better for Indian users in terms of digital payments”.
This clearly implies that Indians will soon be able to enjoy Google-powered payments solution just like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay which could be either voice or biometric authentication-based.
Pichai’s comment gains perspective, when the fact that the Indian government has held talks with Google, Apple, and Microsoft to bring Aadhaar-enabled authentication system to their respective mobile operating systems is brought into the purview. Though at that time, the companies didn’t accede to the proposal.
Mr. Pichai showed his confidence in India being a global player in digital economy. “I think I am absolutely, with full certainty, convinced that India will be a global player in digital economy and it will be competitive with any country in the world in the digital economy. We have all the foundation“.
Google is also working on numerous projects like ‘Internet Saathi‘ to educate people on Internet and to get more people online, particularly in rural areas. Google was working on making its services available in as many local Indian languages as possible.
Pichai is of the view that, “English is spoken only by a small segment of the overall population. So just getting Google to work in other languages is a big focus. We have made progress today in Android, with search, we support many languages but we want to do all that better so that it works even in rural situations with the right dialects and so on”.
Google seems to have picked the right and most lucrative vein in India and is ready to make the most of this cashless era.
Is Samsung's "Beast Mode" The Antithesis Of "Battery Saver Mode"
What comes to your mind when you hear the term “Beast Mode”?
In most cases, it evokes images of the complete utilization of whatever that it is, with brute force thrown in for good measure.
You must be wondering in what context is all this relevant?
Well, Samsung recently got the term “Beast Mode” trademarked in the European Union.
Discovery of this trademark set the rumour mill abuzz, with lot of them mentioning that the South Korean tech giant is probably planning to introduce this feature on the next Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S8 that is expected to release sometime in the first quarter of 2017.
Although Samsung has made no official announcements about the specifications on the Galaxy S8, there are rumours that the phone might feature Qualcomm’s most powerful processor the Snapdragon 835, which, Qualcomm is believed to be working on in collaboration with Samsung.
There is also a possibility that some regional variants of the Galaxy S8 might house Samsung’s own next-generation Exynos processor as well.
Interestingly enough, both the processors are built by utilizing the 10nm process.
If you’re trying to recall where you’ve heard of the 10nm process, you probably heard of if being incorporated in the upcoming iPhone 8 set to release in 2017.
Coming back, in the context of the current article, it is in the processor arena that the alleged Beast Mode fits in.
Trademarked in December 2016, the term “Beast Mode” is explained in the trademark application to imply that it is supposed to cover all of Samsung’s devices including “…Smartphones; Mobile phones; Application software for smart phones; Computer software; Notebook computers; Computers; Tablet PCs; Portable computers; Netbook computers”.
There is no official word explaining the implications of this Beast Mode but as rumors suggest, it is possible that by turning on the Beast Mode on the Galaxy S8, the processor will be able to work at its maximum power.
This is to say that the processor would be able to realise its complete potential.
This further looks like an extension of Android Nougat’s Performance Mode whereby the users are given the options of four presets of high performance to choose from. Android users are now getting used to different modes on different smartphones like “Gaming Mode”.
It seems valid that by switching on the Beast Mode, the users won’t be able to use the Power-Saving mode, meaning that users will have to barter longer battery life for maximum results of the processor.
If Samsung Galaxy S8’s Beast Mode is for real, then it seems the upcoming iPhone 8 is in for a great competitor. History has it, the Galaxy Series by Samsung has never been able to outshine iPhones by Apple, perhaps Beast Mode by Samsung is the key to achieving this.
On another side of possibilities, the Beast Mode could also help gear the Galaxy S8 towards VR.
Other rumored specifications on the Samsung Galaxy S8 are wireless earphones, the absence of a physical home button and the embedding of the fingerprint sensor under the screen itself (a la the rumoured iPhone 8), with a 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM.
Perhaps, Samsung is trying to mitigate the Samsung Galaxy Note7 disaster by overcompensating.
However, it will be idealistic to assume that this “Beast Mode” is going to do all things good for a company like Samsung that is still dealing with the Note7 debacle. Odds are that the same Beast Mode could also overwork the processor in turn leading to more heat and higher battery temperatures.
And of course, no one would want their precious smartphones to explode. (Just saying!)
Introducing Samsung Focus, the all-in-one Productivity App.
There are tons of productivity apps available on Play Store, that are aimed at helping users minimise their work load substantially while also helping users plan their lives better.
Some of the most popular productivity apps are Evernote, Outlook and Google Drive.
There’s a new one on the Store, which is a smart time-saving app released by Samsung.
Called Samsung Focus, it is an all-in-one productivity app, designed largely for the needs of business users who virtually spent a lot of time doing their share of labour on different apps. Focus brings together a lot of these complementary things like email, memos, calendar and contacts under one roof, enabling the user through a hassle-free, streamlined experience.
We’d written about Samsung Focus as far back as May 2016 when we’d heard it was coming to the Note 6 (which was before Samsung leapfrogged the numbering chrono for their Galaxy Note series and went directly to Note7). Well, we were right about the call.
Focus sports a lot of features including a tabbed interface, support for multiple accounts, even honours keywords, and does smart things like prioritising your notifications.
To start with, unlike other productivity apps, Focus is not complicated, nor complex-looking. The app flaunts a simple yet appealing and un-congested design. The main screen shows all of your upcoming events as well as some recent emails.
You can add calendar entries and manage invites, create memos about important tasks and more, right from there. The app has tabs that carry information which are synced to each other via a tabbed interface.
There is a universal search tab option available, that primarily is a search engine which exultantly digs out information from related parts of the phone.
As I used the app, I realised that Samsung has spent quite some time understanding the nuances of work life. In fact, the next feature of Focus I’m about to showcase clearly validates it.
Considering the widespread Notification Fatigue on smart devices today (thanks to the hundreds of apps, social platforms and increasingly-mobile-first nature of business), Focus helps reduce the clutter.
Focus actually provides a summarised list of your major notifications in an easy-to-read card-like UX that can be customised to your preference and whims. You can customise the notifications according to what you wish to see, and who from.
Your VIPs (bosses, customers and the spouse) can be flagged as Priority Contacts. Notifications of activity from these VIPs can be set to different alert levels and tones.
You could even choose to be notified only about the emails from contacts you’ve flagged as important, fencing yourself from all the unwanted mess of commercial publicity emails that amass every other minute. However, it is worth noting that only Exchange ActiveSync (“EAS”) IMAP/POP3 email addresses are supported by Focus.
Another smart feature in the app is the Keyword Setup. This feature essentially lets you choose a few keywords around which the notifications of emails revolve.
For example, if the desired keywords you’ve set are “important”, “meeting”, “trip”, you’ll receive specific notifications of emails carrying those words.
Essentially, it is just another way to prioritise your alerts, this time with Keywords.
While the primary/normal view of the app notifies you of you upcoming tasks, appointments, messages, it also does something else that most other apps don’t – helps you set up a conference call with an email. Conference calls can then be easily joined simply by clicking a single button.
Given that it has access to all this information about you, your preferences and importantly, your work, Samsung has been smart to ensure that the Focus app saves all the data it gathers/uses about your life on your device itself, and does not transmit it to any Servers or external repositories.
Samsung also clarified that Samsung Electronics never shares any User Data. “Samsung Focus does not operate any cloud servers. It connects only to the actual mail servers. It stores your account’s data on the device, and Samsung Electronics never access any user data“, the company clarifies in a note in the app’s Google Play Store listing.
Okay, if you’re wondering if the app is supported on all Android phones… well, the name is a dead giveaway! The app is only supported on Samsung phones – that too, only on those that run Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) or above, as their operating system. Bummer! Well, another reason for you to upgrade, I guess!
Some say Focus is an app that Samsung sought inspiration from the BlackBerry Hub. Fortunately enough (for Samsung), it’s not an outright copy – the BB Hub is mostly about messages (emails and texts), whereas Samsung Focus appears to be emphasising on all things “productivity”.
But I’ll admit, it does look a little familiar (*halo shining*)
Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out
While the roll-out of Android Nougat 7.0 is still underway, Google has already started rolling out the beta version of Nougat 7.1.1 for certain devices.
The Nougat 7.1.1 version was put out in the developer preview in November, and was subsequently released for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 9, Google Pixel tablet, the Nexus player and other General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.
With the Nougat 7.1.1 update, Google is interestingly bringing some features that were initially seen only on the Pixel devices to the Nexus devices.
While Google has moved on, most other non-Google brands are still yet to roll out the Nougat 7.0 version entirely.
As budget smartphone brands, most of them Chinese, have been climbing up the charts for their products’ specs and capabilities, they all use heavily personalized versions of Android, to distinguish their products from the rivals in the market.
What this basically means for the users of these devices is that brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo, Coolpad and LeEco, are almost always among the very last to roll out updates to their respective devices.
This time around, however, with Nougat 7.0, things seem to be a little different.
And it is good news, as Android Nougat brings several improvements over the older versions of Android for the users.
All this is very impressive. Android has historically be infamous for the glacial reach across brands. With the 7.0 update in the market for over a month now, and the 7.1.1 version already starting out, it stands to reason that updates should be rolling out even faster, as more and more companies seem ready to bring it to their devices.
For more information on if the update is yet available on your device or not, check for the update on your device, or stay tuned for more information.
Will Synaptics Revolutionise Fingerprint Sensors?
2017 looks like a year that will have bezel-less smartphones pouring in!
What’s more, even the next iPhone from Apple is expected to abandon the physical home button for a fingerprint scanner embedded within the screen itself.
Back in October 2014, Synaptics acquired fingerprint ID provider Validity for $255 million, giving it an entry into the fingerprint identification market that had, for years, suffered in relative facelessness.
Not complete anonymity though. It was with the launch of iPhone 5 in September 2012, that biometric sensing to unlock the phone via fingerprints suddenly became the hot new thing. Once Apple did it, everybody else did it too. And devices changed forever.
Keeping in line with these rumours is the actual news of a new model of an optical fingerprint scanner called the ‘Natural ID FS9100’ by Synaptics.
Synaptics claims it to be the industry’s first optical-based fingerprint scanner for smartphones and tablets where the fingerprint scanner can be placed under a covering glass including a 2.5D glass that rides atop the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge etc.
This is quite a big breakthrough.
A fingerprint scanner that can work without a physical button, under glass, is a big deal as it can completely eliminate the space-hogging bezels above and below the screen, and make the face of the phone one complete sheet of glass. What a beauty the device would be!!
Additionally, eliminating cutouts and shaving of glass around the cutouts would result in cleaner industrial design and significantly reduce the amount of glass wasted due to cracking during production.
Synaptics elaborates on the functionality of its new fingerprint scanner on its website: “Under cover glass biometrics eliminates button cut-outs and glass thinning processes required by capacitive under-glass sensors, leading to glass yield improvements. The highly reliable FS9100 optical solution excels with wet finger performance, and being protected by glass, is durable, scratchproof, waterproof, and eliminates ESD concerns”.
Now you know what the FS9100 is capable of!
This is not all for the new-age sensor, though.
The company also highlights the fact that the sensor is equipped with PurePrint anti-spoof technology, which does the job of examining the fingerprint images through artificial intelligence, thereby enabling the sensor to distinguish between fake and actual fingerprints.
Just so you know, Synaptics is not the pioneer in the field of optical sensor technology. Earlier, Qualcomm had introduced Sense ID, which works primarily through glass, sapphire, aluminum, stainless steel, and plastics. The recently launched Xiaomi Mi 5s can be considered amongst the first wave of smartphones to feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID fingerprint sensor under glass.
Back to Optical Sensing Technology.
Les Santiago, Research Director for IDC elaborates upon the benefits of Optical sensing technology: “Optical sensing technology, which is very high performance and widely proven in other markets, has many advantages such as durability, scratch resistance, and resistance to ESD, but optical has not been widely adopted in smartphones and tablets due to form factor and power consumption limitations. Synaptics is enabling the elimination of the home button which is a critical next step to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays”.
“By bringing optical sensing technology with the right form-factor and power consumption envelope to smartphones and tablets, Synaptics is enabling the elimination of the home button, which is a critical next step to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays“, said IDC Research Director Les Santiago in a press release.
The fingerprint sensors will go into the mass-production phase in the second quarter of 2017, which almost overlaps with the current rumors of Samsung going bezel-less in its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, which is expected to hit the shelves late-March 2017 after being officially disclosed at the MWC 2017, in February.
If Samsung indeed chooses to opt for Synaptics’ optic-based fingerprint sensors, then it could kickstart a new trend in the smartphone industry and bezel-less phones imply a farewell to physical buttons on smartphones.
The rumours around the ‘iPhone 8’ also picking up steam are implying that Apple too, is opting for the fingerprint sensor to be directly embedded within the screen.
Synaptics first launched what we now call touchpads in 1995, and its capacitive touchpad technology is now used by most notebook PC manufacturers. However, with the announcement of FS9100 now, it seems that the company is inching closer towards its dream of being the independent supplier of fingerprint recognition technology to the remainder of the industry, as professed in 2014.
Samsung To Introduce Two Dual-Screen Foldable Smartphones In 2017
Samsung has been hounding the headlines almost through the entire annum of 2016 – be it for excellent product design, battery explosion incidents or upcoming launches, the South Korean mobile manufacturer has consistently grabbed attention.
Samsung is now making waves with news relating to its plans to introduce foldable smartphones by early 2017.
Samsung, has joined hands with numerous manufacturers including its own display manufacturing unit, Samsung Display, to launch a foldable smartphone.
Renowned as an innovator, Samsung has launched plenty of new tech and hardware in smartphones – improved RAM, storage, battery and many other mind-blowing features, but a foldable smartphone from the company could be a drastic first-mover advantage in the crowded smartphone industry.
The South Korean giant, has been developing the foldable-screen technology for the past ten years and it seems to have finally taken a step into the future, by nearing the public release of a foldable smartphones, soon.
Following several rumours, leaked designs, teaser videos regarding the device with a foldable screen, the company seems to be following through with the plan. ET News has in fact now reported that Samsung’s working on a ‘two-track strategy’ which implies a possibility of two separate dual-screened variants, expected to be released early next year.
According to ET News, the company will bring the ‘dual-screen’ smartphone to the market before it announces the foldable designs.
A dual-screen device implies one that has two different flat displays on either side of the device. According to the report, Samsung will go ahead with the foldable smartphone launch only if the dual screen device is a hit among the masses and hence will be manufactured in limited quantity.
They added that the initial foldable design will be launched in 2017 and another single flexible display smartphone will come forth in 2018.
The dual-screened smartphone is expected to be unveiled at CES or MWC in 2017.
According to a recently published patent, the tech giant appeared to have been planning for a new smartphone which can fold in half near the middle. The Samsung smartphone could also be one that folds like a flip phone of yesteryear, yet one could see a secondary display which works even when the device is folded.
In 2013, the company had had a limited launch of the Galaxy Round which had a curved OLED display. Then it announced the Galaxy Note Edge which took the market by storm as it was the first to have an edge display. The recent Galaxy S7 edge followed with a dual curved display.
This progression is indicative that Samsung has the resources and technology to bring in a foldable device.
Apart from Samsung, Lenovo too, is reportedly working on foldable smartphone prototypes as it had showcased a few at the Tech World conference this year; however, the company has not yet published a plan on bringing those devices to the market anytime soon. LG too is working on foldable screens, but there’s no news of them having attained the concept for smartphones yet.
So… Samsung clearly has an advantage and should be working to launch this killer feature at the soonest possible.
So, Samsung's Galaxy S8 Will Have Artificial Intelligence!
As devices and hardware reached a plateau of sorts in 2016 (and we hope that this levelling out is only in preparation of a great jump-off point for the next evolution of the devices), the focus saw some tilt from hardware to software and services.
The next evolution on the anvil seems to be the on software running the phones’ cameras and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Artificial Intelligence, a term used for the ability of a machine, computer or system to exhibit humanlike intelligence, and is widely expected to represent the next frontier of computing.
With that in mind, AI-powered voice assistants have suddenly become all the rage, offering a hands-free and more natural way to ask questions, find information and manage tasks to enable our busy lives.
Google has long dominated this sphere with Google Now, and took this up a notch with the launch of Assistant with its Pixel smartphones.
It looks like Samsung is up next with its own virtual assistant. Samsung had already confirmed earlier that the upcoming Galaxy S8 will feature an AI assistant. Sam-mobile has now reported that that the company will use its new virtual assistant, called Bixby, in mostly all the native apps that will come pre-installed in the Galaxy S8.
The announcement from the South Korean consumer electronics giant comes a month after they revealed their plans to acquire the artificial intelligence startup behind Viv, a voice assistant that aims to handle everyday tasks on its own.
Viv Labs, a US-based artificial-intelligence software company concocted Viv after developers at Viv Labs helped craft Siri, Apple’s voice-based digital assistant.
Clearly Samsung would be hoping that the digital assistant will help it rebound from the public relations and business nightmare created by the recalls and cancellation of Galaxy Note7, and also help Samsung devices stay relevant at the top-end of the smartphones mountain.
As a side note, last month, Samsung’s Mobile Division, the division responsible for the Note7, reported a decline in operating profit of about 96% – its lowest in nearly eight years.
The news about Bixby was conformed by Reuters when they reported conjecture indicating that Samsung plans to incorporate the platform into its line of Galaxy phones, home appliances as well as wearable devices.
It was further reported in late November that Samsung’s AI assistant will have male and female voice called Bixby and Kestra, respectively.
Samsung will replace S Voice with the more powerful, intelligent assistant and the new Viv-based voice assistant will try to go toe to toe with Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri with a system-wide reach and an API open for third party developers.
For example, it might prove handy inside the Gallery app where you can ask Bixby (or Kestra) to show you pictures and videos that satisfy particular criteria (similar to Google Photos and or Apple’s Photos app in iOS 10).
Clearly, in order to incorporate Bixby more cohesively into user-flows, Samsung will also update its native apps with a new UI.
According to the most recent rumor, the Galaxy S8 may pack a whopping 8 GB of RAM, using Samsung’s 10nm process. While the LeEco Le 2S may beat Samsung by introducing a smartphone with 8 GB RAM in the coming year, but this is still a huge endowment and will help power new interactions and apps that are more resource hungry and always-on apps.
Additional rumours suggest the Galaxy S8 may ditch the 3.5 mm jack and may integrate an optical fingerprint scanner, among other things.
Get ready for 2017, it’s going to be an interesting year! And maybe, we’ll get to a point where your phone will understand you when no one else seems to.
What comfort! Now, if only it’d brew a cup of Hot Chocolate of it’s own accord…
Samsung Is Buying Harman In An $8 Billion Bet On Connected Cars
Samsung has been in the electronics business for eons, and now, with it’s pole position as the world’s foremost smartphones manufacturer, most people forget that Samsung makes a whole lot more than just phones.
Well, Samsung never forgets. Least of all, it’s own it flourishing tree of products and product lines. Samsung is now all set to expand the spread of the tree.
The South Korean megabrand recently bought the American audio company Harman, in a cash deal worth about USD 8 billion. The acquisition is the largest that Samsung has ever done, and successfully places the company in the vanguard of the automotive industry.
But how? Audio company-electronics-automotive industry?! Doesn’t make sense!
The space of infotainment technology has been catching the interest of tech companies over several years now – as cars become more connected. Cars now not only have audio players, and surround sound, but screens, bluetooth, all kinds of devices, internet connectivity, and more. Gone are the days of listening to the busted radio!
Well, Harman has been supplying the biggest automotive companies with the infotainment technology for years now. You might be more familiar with the names like Harman Kardon, AKG, JBL – all of which are owned by… Harman.
So, with one acquisition, Samsung has all of these prestigious name under it’s umbrella; it is thus sitting on one of the most potentially viable resources in the infotainment space!
Harman’s appeal to Samsung may come from the connected car business of the company – this would include the operations that supply navigation services, onboard entertainment systems, and connectivity to cars across the world. But that is not all.
Of course, no deal is one sided. Harman is expected to double its revenue over the next five years. The firm recently struck large deals with conglomerates including Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, and as of June 30th last year had a backlog of orders worth approximately USD 24 billion.
The premise clearly is that Samsung’s expertise in displays, user interfaces and semiconductor technology would help Harman with its auto-parts business.
Samsung’s component businesses also stand to gain from the transaction, as connected cars are likely to increase demand for displays, memory and microprocessors. It could also help Samsung outside of just the numbers.
Samsung’s software engineering capabilities might get an enhancement, to some extent, as Harman has a team of roughly 8,000 software engineers who are working on cloud-based consumer and enterprise experiences, as well as end-to-end services for the automotive market.
“Harman perfectly complements Samsung in terms of technologies, products and solutions, and joining forces is a natural extension of the automotive strategy we have been pursuing for some time“, said Samsung’s CEO, Oh-Hyun Kwon. “[This acquisition] immediately establishes a strong foundation for Samsung to grow our automotive platform“.
The deal, which is expected to close mid-2017, could make Samsung a permanent in the automotive electronics market.
This comes at a crucial time, as Samsung looks to diversify revenues, when its bread-and-butter smartphone business has has been taking hits across the globe, putting the parent brand under immense pressure.
The deal marks the latest ambitious foray of a name that’s changing it’s focus from the developing generation of smart objects onto new arenas, like cars, that it could now monopolise.
And Samsung’s not alone in sensing this opportunity. Not too long ago, Qualcomm, the company that makes the processors that your phones run on, announced the acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, which would enable it to make a new generation of smart chips for smart cars.
This could well be the beginning start of what could turn into an industry-wide boom. Google, Uber and (reportedly) Apple are all jumping in the automotive fray – and we all know what these brands can do when there engines start growling at full throttle! Yet, even though much of the Silicon Valley’s focus so far has been on self-driving cars, outfitting vehicles with more prosaic connected technology could be more immediately lucrative.
Samsung is gearing up to tap into precisely that. Bring it on!
Introducing Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro
With the clouds of the Note7 storm seemingly ready to make way for some light, Samsung has finally launched their first new smartphone after the Note7 was officially declared dead.
Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro, the South Korean tech megabrand’s first major phone with 6 GB RAM is here. This is 2 GB more than even the last flagships of the company sported, including the Galaxy Note7, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. That is something that sounds promising, so let’s see what else the device has been empowered with!
The phablet comes with 6-inch Super AMOLED 2.5D curved glass screen with a Full HD resolution of 1080p, which quite certainly classifies it as a mid-range phablet.
However, the phone is aimed at providing an alternative for those who look for good features on their device but live within their means. The phone has a metal body, and is available in Gold and Rose Gold colour variants.
For the processor, the phone runs on a Snapdragon 653, which is a Qualcomm-made octa-core processor that manages a clock speed of 1.44 GHz. For the OS, the Galaxy C9 Pro has Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow, which is not the best on the market (after the release of Android 7.1 Nougat), but is admittedly quite impressive anyway.
Aside from the impressive RAM, the phone has 64 GB on-board storage, which is expandable up to 256 GB via microSD. For a fuel cell, the C9 Pro is blessed with a massive 4,000 mAh battery, that, admittedly, is not quite common in mid-range devices on the market.
It offers support for 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 and USB-C. Being a Chinese variant, there is also dual-SIM connectivity as well as a fingerprint scanner.
For it’s eyes, the Galaxy C9 Pro has something unique to offer. It brings to you 16 megapixel front camera and rear cameras! Both lenses have the same aperture of f/1.9, but it is only the rear snapper that ships with a dual-tone LED flash. The camera is obviously above average, and on paper beats the 12 megapixel + 8 megapixel combination that has been seen ever so often this year. However, the actual performance of the camera needs to be judged.
The latter portion of the year has been pretty hazy for Samsung, after their Note7 devices started combusting spontaneously. The company earned a lot of bad presss, a lot of losses, and an altogether unhappy situation after that. With those wounds so new, it would interesting to see if users actually flock back to Samsung for this device, or not, especially in a market where competitors are fast filling Samsung’s shoes.
The phone is currently only available in China, where it can be pre-ordered and will start shipping on November 11. It’s difficult to predict when the phone could be expected to hit the international markets, but we can certainly expect it to be soon, that is it all goes well with the phablet.
It is priced at CNY 3,199 (~ INR 30,000) at the moment.
Samsung Moves Features From Note7 To Galaxy S7 Phones
After several legitimate cases of Samsung Galaxy Note7 catching fire came to light, airlines took measures to ferry the devices (and the passengers) safely by introducing fire containment bags specifically for the Note7. This was followed by Samsung replacing the affected devices, till all hell broke loose and a total recall of the devices was ordered by Samsung.
The Note7 has since been officially discontinued for its explosive temperament and found its final resting place – it is now no longer in the hands of commercial users.
Samsung has updated the Always On Display (AOD) feature on the Galaxy S7 with functionalities imported from the Note7.
This update was reported by a user on the XDA Forums wherein Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge models will see an update notification (tagged v1.4.02) on the Galaxy Apps store with a new calendar option, a new digital clock with customizable customer text signature. The package isn’t complete as yet as the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge owners will also be able to view the currently playing music track using the Always On Display.
A word of caution before you run for the update – the user on the XDA Forums also cautioned other users that the new AOD software update has reportedly broken (rendered unusable) older, existing features that were part of the original feature set of these two devices.
Users have reported that notifications from the Samsung e-mail app do not show up on the S7 and S7 edge. Also, the distinguishing experiences that relied on the S-Pen on the Note7 aren’t present in this port-over as neither of these devices have the S-Pen functionality built in.
The biggest benefit of this update for the S7 and S7 edge users will be that the updated Always On Display will henceforth consume less than 1% of battery every hour, which is quite good!
Is Samsung trying to make an effort to console users who have switched from Note7 to move to the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge instead of jumping ship to another brand’s flagship? Perhaps. It may be a last-ditch effort to keep a small legacy of the Note7 alive and flickering till the Note 8 is introduced (if at all).
Samsung is going to really have to do a lot of thing to rebuild its credibility of being a tech mover-and-shaker by fixing the bugs and better incorporating the features to enable their users, who are sensitive to even the minutest of errors.
Also, when viewed in terms of competition, this strategy by Samsung looks like a smart move as it will help its remaining two flagships survive in the face of launch of competing top-drawer devices like the Google Pixel and Pixel XL earlier this month.
Samsung Galaxy S8 - Rumour Roundup
Samsung is all set to unveil the Galaxy S8 to the world in a few months. And, like it is with every new launch, there is a lot of gossip around the device and what the “upgrade” would entail.
Let’s help you get some clarity around what the most popular campfire talk is, at this time.
Following the hot trend of 2016, it seems that Samsung will ditch the 3.5 mm headphone jack on its Galaxy S8. Another interesting piece of conjecture that has been circulating regarding the S8 is that the company will bid farewell to the physical home button and instead go for a fingerprint scanner embedded into its new RGB Super AMOLED Quad HD display. There’s also talk of the USB Type-C making a return to Galaxy devices.
That’s quite a bunch of new functionality on the Galaxy S8.
Over the years, Apple and Samsung have dominated the smartphone market and it seems that both the companies have mutually encouraged each other. Very recently, Apple added a new water-resistant feature to its new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, this feature as we all know has been there on its flagship Galaxy S series from the past few years.
No 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
This time Samsung seems to have drawn inspiration from Apple and others like LeEco and Motorola that have dropped the 3.5 mm audio jack as there are rumours that on the new Galaxy S8, there’s no 3.5 mm audio jack port, perhaps in order to make space for a larger battery and to free up space in the smartphone to accommodate more components.
This move will also obviously push users to switch to wireless audio.
However, this is slightly ironical because if you recall the Samsung launch event of Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, then at that event Samsung took a dig on Apple’s decision of ditching the 3.5 mm audio jack as Justin Denison, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing, Samsung said , “Do you know what else it (Galaxy Note7) comes with? An audio jack. I’m just saying”.
Embedded Fingerprint Sensor To Replace Home Button
There have been rumours that the Samsung Galaxy S8 might have a near-bezel-less display, especially with minimal bottom bezels. One thing led to the other, and there were reports that the company will abandon the physical home button and the fingerprint scanner will be directly implanted into the screen.
Synaptics, one of Samsung’s suppliers of fingerprint scanners recently announced a new model of optical fingerprint scanners which according to Synaptics is suitable for “placement under the cover glass, including 2.5D glass, located in the front, bottom bezel of devices”. The Samsung Galaxy S8 with all the rumors and reports seems to fit this bill and you never know, the new optical fingerprint scanner might make its debut on the S8.
You might be wondering what’s such a big deal with the new fingerprint scanner?
The answer is that a tiny scanner can bring a lot of changes. The new sensor can work with wet fingertips, also making it waterproof, scratch-proof (unlike previous Galaxy sensors) and extra-durable because the sensor will be concealed behind the glass of the smartphone, while sidestepping electro-static discharge issues at the same time.
This also signifies a major change in terms of display as by increasing the screen-to-body ratio with minimum physical buttons impeding the spread of the display.
Since Synaptics has already made a lot of ground-breaking work in the field of optical scanner technology and it will be a welcome feature on the Galaxy S8 rather than employing a totally newer technology; however who’s to tell if Apple’s already signed on with Synaptics and thus taken it out of Samsung’s grasp?
However, there is a catch here. Synaptics has said that it will begin the mass production of the new sensor in Q2 of 2017 whereas Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy S8 in late February, 2017. This means either the S8 announcement will be pushed as far back as April or Samsung might employ its own line of in-house capacitive scanners in the S8.
Additionally, there are also reports regarding the fact that Samsung is planning to change to RGB Super AMOLED Quad HD display from its Diamond PenTile pixel arrangement that it has used on its current and previous handsets. This change to the display will provide sharper images and thus improved media quality.
The difference between the two displays can be indicated by producing some simple numbers that point out the superiority of RGB display between the two.
The Diamond PenTile layout used on the Galaxy S7 Edge comes in at 7,372,800 pixels, while an RGB arrangement will produce 11,059,200 pixels on the Galaxy S8. Keeping this in mind, it seems that Samsung will stick to 2K Quad HD screens on the Samsung Galaxy S8 as opposed to the rumoured 4K display.
USB Type-C Port To Make It’s Comeback On Galaxy S8
The Note 7 was launched with Type-C Port and this has also fired rumors that the Galaxy S8 might also abandon the micro-USB 2.0 port in favour of USB Type-C Port. This will of course enable quick charging, faster data transfer and make it compatible with the company’s latest Gear VR headset.
As for other exciting news regarding the S8, the front camera on the S8 is also rumoured to feature autofocus functionality as per a recent trademark filing. Samsung is also gearing up to compete and will strive to launch the Galaxy S8 VR compatibility out of the box.
The smartphone will come with 6 GB RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 or Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC.
There are no reports regarding the price of the device and it is expected to launch at a press event in late February 2017 as Mobile World Congress kicks off.
Samsung Galaxy On8 Announced On Flipkart
This year Samsung has rocked the Indian market with its budget smartphones like Galaxy J5 (2016), Galaxy J7 (2016), Galaxy J2 (2016), Galaxy J Max, Galaxy J5 Prime, Galaxy J7 Prime, Galaxy J2 (2016), and the Galaxy On5 Pro and Galaxy On7 Pro. Phew! It seems like Samsung has carved out a whole genealogy of budget smartphones in just one year!
Anyway a new addition to this ever-growing list is the new Samsung Galaxy On8, which was teased by Indian retailer Flipkart a few days ago. The teaser, however, didn’t give the game away as there was no actual name on the device, but the Big Billion Day sale event page termed it as Galaxy On8.
The Galaxy On series, to remind you was launched in India last year, in order to mainly compete with the online-only sales model followed by Chinese manufacturers.
Finally, now, all the speculations about the Galaxy On8 have been put to rest as Samsung launched the Galaxy On8 in India. The smartphone will be sold exclusively via Flipkart during the popular Big Billion Sale which begins on October 2 at 11.59 p.m. and the device is priced at INR 15,990.
Commenting on the launch, Manu Sharma, Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India said, “The Galaxy On8 is the perfect smartphone for consumers seeking an optimal mix of style, portability and powerful performance. The device not only looks stylish but also packs a punch with a superior consumer experience with powerful processor and vivid display. We are extremely pleased to announce the new Galaxy On8 exclusively on Flipkart’s Big Billion Day Sale“.
The most talked about and striking feature of the Galaxy On8 is that it comes with a classy diamond cut frame and a brushed metal finish. The phone will be available in Gold, Black and White colors. This phablet features a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) AMOLED display which was being teased about frequently prior to its launch.
Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the Galaxy On8 is powered by an octa-core processor clocked at 1.6 GHz coupled with 3 GB of RAM. The Galaxy On8 offers 16 GB of onboard storage which if required can be expanded up to 128 GB through a microSD card.
The device also packs a 13 megapixel primary camera and a 5 megapixel front camera for selfies. Both the primary and secondary camera have a f/1.9 aperture and LED flash. Usual connectivity options like dual-SIM support, 4G LTE support, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth find their place on the Galaxy On8. A battery of 3,300 mAh sustains the device.
Interestingly enough, the only feature that is now a days common with smartphones in this price category and is missing on the Galaxy On 8 is fingerprint scanner.
The smartphone has obviously been manufactured under the ‘Make for India’ initiative and has the UDS (Ultra Data Saving) and S-Bike mode. The UDS mode, to refresh your memory, was introduced first in the Samsung Galaxy J2, and it is claimed to deliver up to 50% data saving while freeing up RAM by 11% at the same time. The S-Bike mode was introduced with the Samsung Galaxy J smartphone, earlier this year. The feature works with an NFC tag that can be stuck on one’s motorbike.
If looked at closely, the Samsung Galaxy On8 looks like a rebranded Galaxy J7 (2016) with almost the same features. But with the diamond cut frame and a brushed metal finish, a phone that is “always on” and is meant for people who are always online, it’s worth a try.
Is Samsung Still Battling With The Ghosts Of The Exploding Batteries?
With new problems arising with the replacement phones, it seems like Samsung’s Note7 nightmare is not yet over. The South Korean company’s latest flagship smartphone Galaxy Note7 had caused a great deal of angst for the company when suddenly the batteries in the devices started exploding.
A recall was made for the devices that had been sold, and the company lost billions in value.
Now, about a month after the recall was made, the company has finally started providing users with replacement Note7 devices. But, there have been complaints that even the replacement phones’ batteries were reportedly overheating, and draining too quickly after use.
The reports come from YTN, a Korean TV news network, in Samsung’s home country.
Regarding these rumours, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to CNNMoney that the problems were not at all correlated to the earlier battery explosion problems, but were isolated cases that were a result of production issues.
A global recall of the smartphone was announced by the company on September 1st, due to the reports regarding batteries of the device turning to flame while charging. Around the world, about two dozen explosions were reported by customers of the new smartphone, within the first month of its launch.
Sources in the company had earlier reported that the phones with faulty battery are less than “0.1% of the production”, yet it is a major cause for concern. About 2.5 million devices were recalled, with the company not taking any chance with any of them. The company’s recall of the devices became a point to be played upon in the market.
A jibe was taken at the company by its fierce competitor LG. This was in the Indian market, that company’s customer care department seems to be randomly sending messages to users ahead of the Diwali festival with a friendly, stating “Heard the news of exploding products? At LG, our products go through multiple tests to ensure the safety of our most valuable asset – YOU. Have a safe Diwali with LG“. This is ahead of the LG V20 being ready for sale this month, with hopes that Samsung’s screw-up might give them more customers.
LG has not been the only one to take a jab at Samsung. In September, Motorola, now owned by Lenovo, had its own jab to take. Motorola offered free Incipio offGRID Power Pack with every Moto Z-Droid purchase with a quote that read “At Moto, our priority is safety first. Unlike some manufacturers, we adhere to the highest standards in quality and testing of all our batteries“.
One of the lighter puns on the company came from the popular video game Grand Theft Auto 5. In a video moderated version of the game, done by someone a modder known as HitmanNiko, a funny thing was recently spotted.
The game’s sticky explosives have been replaced with Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices, playing at company’s remarkable problem.
The problem, however, was, of course, being worked on by the company.
“Our highest priority is our customers“, Tim Baxter, Samsung Electronics America President and COO, had said in an apology video that was published by the company a couple weeks ago. “With battery cell defects in some of our Note 7 phones, we did not meet the standard of excellence that you expect and deserve“.
The company has taken their time with the device now, and hopes are that the replacement process will go relatively smoother. While it has already begun in certain parts of the world, it is expected to begin in most places within the first week of October.
The phone, in places that it is back on shelves, seems to be flying off of them now. The Korean Herald reported that over 30,000 devices were sold in the first two days of their return in South Korea. This is good business, given that a sale of 10,000 devices qualifies for above-average business on a regular day.
People’s appetite for Samsung devices still seems to be running pretty high.
What is to see now is how the company is able to deal with any new arising issues.
What Will Samsung Galaxy S8 Offer - Our Rumination
Life’s unpredictable, and unforgiving. When you’re in the public’s eye, even more so.
One misstep and years of euphoria vaporises.
Samsung announced the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge in March 2016, and received oodles of praise for design, powerful specs and great camera, when people got their hands on the device. Samsung had pulled off another coup d’etat. Then, as has happened for years now, Samsung followed it up with it’s left jab – the introduction of the Note7 in August. Ordinarily the Note series has been Samsung’s “serious” platform, which not only caters to the business folk, but to tech aficiandos, showcasing what power and utility really means on a handheld device.
But the Note7 crashed and burned (literally) so badly, that it’s left even the staunchest of Samsung loyalists shaken.
Undoubtedly Samsung would like to wake up from this awful dream, and put it behind them once and for all. Well, they seem to have taken the first step to move on – speculations of their next in the Galaxy S series have germinated.
Surely, they realise that the next Galaxy S device will be more than just an annual upgrade of the existing series, it will also be saddled with proving that the Note7 fiasco was an one-off blip and not a testament of any “waning” of Samsung’s technological innovativeness.
If Samsung follows previous release patterns, chances are we will see a Samsung Galaxy S8 launch at Mobile World Congress next year. The show takes place from 27 February to 2 March 2017, which would mean the potential launch date for the Samsung Galaxy S8 could be 26 February. There had been suggestions that the launch could be brought forward to regain consumer confidence after the issues with the Note7.
Time will tell.
The bigger question is, what will the S8 (if thats what it will end up being titled) host, to put Samsung back in the race?
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 edge followed their predecessors closely when it came to their design. A couple of refinements were made, which included reducing the rear camera bump in comparison to the S6 and S6 edge however, on the whole, the new flagships were similar to their predecessors. We’d expect the Samsung Galaxy S8 to change things up a little bit more in the design department.
What design change would those efforts culminate in, is difficult to predict as of now, however we could share what we would like to see included.
As USB Type-C was missed off the S7 and S7 edge spec list, we’d expect to see it on board, which will also help the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge (if there is one) improve their audio capabilities. LG and HTC, both have made moves in this area so it would be an obvious feature for Samsung to focus on, to stay with the competition.
We’d love to see the S8 slim down a little and it would be interesting to see what an all-metal build would do to Samsung’s standing, instead of the current metal and glass concoctions. With the S6 edge, Samsung had finally relented and moved to more upmarket materials in their devices (thank the Lord for that!).
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge both offer Quad HD displays with pixel densities of 575 ppi and 534 ppi, respectively. The S7 has a 5.1-inch size while the S7 edge has a 5.5-inch size and, if there are to be two separate phones again, we wouldn’t expect this to change for the S8, at least not by much.
That said, we’d love to see the screen to body ratios improve slightly, but in terms of overall size, we’d expect no change.
With VR becoming more and more popular, higher resolution displays are more important. The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium might be expensive, but if you’re into smartphone-controlled VR, its 4K display offers a great experience, and as Samsung is already in the VR business, it would make business sense to offer a compatible device with a higher resolution display for the Gear VR or any further VR devices. Chinese blogging sources suggest the company has shown off a 5.5-inch 4K AMOLED display offering a pixel density of 806 ppi, but whether this will appear on the S8 remains unknown for now. Fingers crossed.
To introduce a cat amongst the hypothetical pigeons, a leaked set of specifications now claims that the Galaxy S8 would offer a 5.2-inch display with a 4096×2160 pixel resolution. This would not only make it slightly bigger than the current Galaxy S7, but it would also put its pixel density at 891 ppi.
So it seems that the resolution is most probably getting a bump – the question remains though, do our eyes even recognise these high-resolutions? So is it worth it? Well, if we get it for free, then that’s just as well, we only hope that if the resolution is indeed increased for the S8 and S8 edge, it’s doesn’t come at the cost of battery life!
On the cameras front, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge feature a 12 megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/1.7 and larger 1.44µm pixels. The front-facing camera is 5 megapixel, also with an f/1.7 aperture.
Rumours suggest the company is working on a new 1/2.3-inch sensor with an f/1.4 aperture allowing for even better low-light photography capabilities than the current flagships cover. Samsung is speculated to deliver a 1/1.7-inch sensor eventually. Claims also suggested the Galaxy S8 might appear with an 8 megapixel front camera accompanied with a dual rear camera, with two different sensors – one at 12 megapixels and the other at 13 megapixels, something we have already seen on the LG G5, Huawei P9, and more recently, Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus.
Contradicting these speculations however is another, claiming the Galaxy S8 will have a 30 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, coupled with a 9 megapixel front-facing snapper.
Whichever way this particular set up is delivered, one is fairly sure that Samsung will deliver a killer punch as far as cameras go. They are the current benchmark in the Android world, with the spectacular concoction they delivered in the Galaxies 7
Processors: Ah! Samsung’s fiefdom this! The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge arrived in two models – one sported the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, while the other had the Exynos Octa 8 chip inside, both with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage with microSD support for further storage expansion. There is a 3,000 mAh battery inside the S7 and a 3,400 mAh battery inside the S7 edge.
With every new flagship, comes new hardware. A faster, more powerful processor will certainly be on board the Galaxy S8 and S8 edge, and possibly a jump in RAM – 8 GB? The Samsung Note7 was rumored to have 6 GB of RAM however only 4 GB was offered, so perhaps the increase will come in the S8 instead. According to one leak, we should expect a 3.2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 chip, supported by 6 GB of RAM.
Personally, I think this last bit of conjecture is the most compelling and plausible. But hey, if any one can solder on 8 GB of RAM onto a circuit board, it’s Samsung. So, I’ll be happy to be proven wrong!
Samsung will keep microSD support on board, as it didn’t go down well when it was removed for the S6 and S6 edge, though it has been claimed it would be offered in 64 GB and 128 GB models. This suggests the company still won’t offer support for Marshmallow’s Flex feature, allowing users to combine the phone’s internal storage with the storage of the SD card. Galaxy S8 could have a 4,200 mAh battery – a bigger battery capacity is always welcome, however we’d like to see software improvements to help with power management, along with predicted fingerprint and retina scanners to enhance security.
Vanilla Android will probably never happen and that’s okay, but it would be great to see the best of TouchWiz on top of a close to pure Android experience.
HTC launched it’s latest flagship with a refined version of Sense over Android and it works well, delivering a cleaner experience with less duplication. We’d love to see Samsung do this too for its next flagships. And w’d love to see some restraint from Samsung, for once. There’s no real benefit that most users see from Samsung’s “bloatware” that comes bundled with every one of their phones. So, if the customer doesn’t want it, why push it, Samsung?
What else will appear on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 edge? Who knows at the moment! We have months of wait ahead of us but it would be interesting to see a change in design for one, along with improvements in camera capabilities and software refinements.
Last words: Currently Samsung is the world’s #1 Android manufacturer, but the Note7 has left a gaping hole, and there are consequences of it that even the S7 and S7 edge are paying for the Note7’s temperamental nature. Samsung too, seems to be looking a little beleaguered these days. To top it all, there are at least a dozen manufacturers out there who are capable of as good devices as Samsung is, and they’ve all already laced up their running boots and hit the tracks. So, while the S8 may be a very good device, don’t be surprised if you find that it’s not the best, nor does it create quite the furore it’s forbearers did. A year is a long time in technology and Samsung might just learn that first hand.
Are Samsung Galaxy Note7's Happy Days Over?
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7, launched in New York on August 2nd, amidst great fanfare, was supposed to go on sale in India on September 2nd.
Now, from the looks of it, the flagship for the South Korean megabrand is headed to a very rocky life.
The Galaxy Note7 bears a lot of firsts for the company – it is the first Galaxy Note phone to feature a USB Type-C port along with their first ever Iris Scanner and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. The phone features a dual-edge 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display running on the latest version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1.
The phone is water and dust resistant and comes with a 3,500 mAh non-removable battery, which supports fast charging with both wired and wireless chargers. It also has a fingerprint scanner for biometric security, in addition to the Iris scanner.
Given all the above features, the phone was all set to be the next big thing in the market.
The dates for the India sale had been announced. Priced at INR 59,990, the pre-bookings for the device were to begin on August 22nd through to August 30th.
It would have been available in Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium, and Black Onyx color variants albeit the Blue Coral color variant, that is available in other countries.
But the company has posted a delay in the sale of the devices in India due to battery fire issues that have been reported for more that twenty occasions across the globe. Sources in the company have reported that the phones with faulty battery are less than “0.1% of the production”, yet it is a major cause for concern.
Around the world, customers of the new smartphone reported about two-dozen explosions, within the first month of its launch.
The company announced a global recall of their smartphone on September 1st. “We will share the findings as soon as possible. Samsung is fully committed to providing the highest quality products to our consumers,” the company said in an accompanying statement.
The shipments that are still in transit, like those headed for India and South Korea, have been delayed for security checks, and replacement of the batteries planned, if needed.
The devices that have already been sold have been recalled. The company is offering different options to the customers in different areas – In the U.S., one can either turn in their device and choose to wait for a return once the battery issues have been dealt with, or one can choose to opt instead for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge and get a refund of the difference in the billing amounts. The accessories will also be replaced.
To find out what the options in your country/area are get in touch with the retailer from who you ordered or reordered your Note7.
Some other problems with the smartphone have also been noticed and reported. Reportedly some users experienced ‘bricking’ whereby their phones would freeze during usage and then shut down and reboot, and this would happen once every few minutes, leaving the phone next to unusable.
Others have complained that the left and right sides of the apps, and the top and bottom of widescreen videos, are distorted because of the ‘edge’ on the left and the right side of the screen. A similar ‘edge’ is present in the Galaxy S7, but no such issues have been reported there.
People have also found the iris scanner of the phone an almost redundant feature. The phone has both, a fingerprint scanner and an iris scanner. Between the two, the fingerprint scanner found on the home button does not need any kind of ‘aiming’ to unlock the phone, thus is faster than the iris scanner and makes for a more convenient biometric authentication option.
Among other complaints were those around the durability of the phone.
Samsung refuses to give the phone a metallic body, which means that all the glass involved simply makes it very prone to damage even with a single fall. Lack of scratch resistance has made a lot of users quite unhappy. Users were also unhappy with the plastic construct of the S-Pen which takes away from the premium feel of the device altogether.
There has also been the argument that the phone is outrageously pricey, when compared to the other Chinese manufacturers of which Samsung is one.
However, running a comparison with the other recent devices in the market, say, for example, the OnePlus 3, highlights the question. The OnePlus 3 has the same specifications, more or less, and storage but with 2 GB more RAM, better software, and durable metallic body, and it costs about USD 400 less!
In the light of the above revelations, one has to question if Samsung Galaxy Note7 is indeed all the ‘promised land’ that it was supposed to be.
Did Samsung slip up, desperate to keep its numero uno (based on sales) position in the market?
From where I stand, the phone seems like a desperate attempt to ‘break ground’ which went horribly wrong. A lot will depend on how they handle the aftermath, which according to financial pundits can cost Samsung in the neighborhood of a USD 1billion.
Samsung And HTC Get The Android 7.0 Nougat Update
Finally, it’s showtime for Android 7.0 Nougat!!
Additionally, Android One devices will also be receiving the update.
Android 7.0 Nougat packs new features like customizable home screen widgets, split screen multitasking, expanded emojis and smarter battery usage via the Doze feature.
Data conscious users have also been kept in mind and the update packs in a Data Saver feature that will block background apps from accessing cellular data, helping you reduce on the excess usage of your data plan.
Across the pond, T-Mobile recently revealed a list of smartphones eligible for receiving Android 7.0 Nougat update, a little earlier than expected. We’re listing T-Mobile’s plans here, as they are indicative of how the roll-out will happen to devices from these brands, and the same mantra usually applies across the globe.
The T-Mobile list of devices as of now is small and over time will expand to include more devices. The current list contains eight devices: Samsung Galaxy Note5, Samsung Galaxy Note7, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, HTC 10, and HTC One M9.
There is a possibility that more devices will be added soon in the second round. We say so because, initially HTC One A9 was to be there in the list and its presence was confirmed by HTC however we find it has disappeared from the current list.
In fact, as per other reports, HTC has already begun working on releasing the new update to some of its devices and the company plans to initially roll out the Android 7.0 Nougat on the HTC 10 in the fourth quarter of 2016, before seeding it to the One M9 (unlocked) and One A9 (unlocked).
Interestingly enough, it is not Google’s upcoming Nexus device but LG’s V20, which will be the first new smartphone to be shipped with Android 7.0 Nougat!
The LG V20, a new introduction, powered by a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 processor, comes with a 5.7-inch main IPS Quantum Display and a secondary display. It boasts a dual rear camera with a 135-degree 8-megapixel lens complimented by a 16-megapixel 75-degree lens. The front has a 5-megapixel 120-degree lens for your selfies and video communications. You can read more about the LG V20 in our intro article here.
Despite the announcement, there are no exact dates that have been mentioned for the release of this update. However, it is speculated that devices from manufacturers other than Samsung and HTC will receive the update a little later while some will get it next year.
Samsung Wants Your Galaxy On Another Cloud
It’s been a sore point for a while – at Samsung, and with it’s users.
Apple has iCloud, Windows has OneDrive, and until now, Samsung users were dependent on either Google Drive, or third-party cloud storage services like DropBox, Box, Mega, and even OneDrive (since it is also available as an app across different operating systems).
Samsung Cloud, is, as the name suggests, a cloud storage service for specific Samsung Galaxy devices. While it is currently restricted to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, it’s a safe bet to make, that all Galaxy devices going forward, will enjoy the Samsung Cloud’s company.
It currently offers 15 GB of free storage space, beyond which it becomes a paid service (a lot like Apple’s iCloud – which gets you 5 GB of free space, and then becomes paid). Once connected to a compatible Galaxy device, it backs up your documents, pictures, files, and other sorts of content on its own. It also backs up some native apps including Contacts and Calendar and certain third-party apps.
Undoubtedly, the Samsung Cloud is an extension of the company’s Smart Switch service, which is meant to enable users to easily switch data from one device to another. Take note though, we mean another Galaxy device. Samsung’s site clearly states: “Samsung Cloud can only back up, sync and restore data across compatible Galaxy devices and cannot be used to transfer data from non-compatible devices“.
Users basically have the most recent copy of their data on the Cloud, which can be used as storage, or as a medium to transfer the data onto another device. This is where the additional features kick in when you try to transfer the data onto a new device. The home screen and user settings, including layout settings and shortcuts, are also backed up, which means that when you log into the new device, it feels familiar instantly. Your photos will sync, with notes, calendar, contacts, everything you can need, will sync with the new device!
One of the best features of Samsung Cloud (much like with the iCloud and OneDrive), the same Samsung Cloud account can be used with and connected to multiple devices. What this basically means is that all your data is collected in one place, and can be accessed easier, as long as you’re using the same Samsung Cloud account.
There is also an Auto Back-up feature, which enables automatic upload of the device’s state through a Wi-Fi connection every 24 hours. To ensure that this doesn’t hamper your usage of the device, this happens only when the smartphone’s screen is turned off and it has been charging for at least an hour.
One wouldn’t really say that something called Cloud Wars exist, mostly because there is simply no way to be the best Cloud storage unit. Some of the offerings are partially free, some entirely free, while some are completely paid. Most Cloud storage units are linked to certain brands and work as automatic out-of-device storage units, or backup storage units for them.
In such a scenario, what highlight a Cloud storage facility is the features it provides, and the pains it takes away.
This last bit, is where it becomes easy to say (and justify the lack of a clear winner) – there is no single service that currently exists that does everything well, across OS’, to be called a Winner. Each of the services we (Chip-Monks) has tested and experienced falter or have some lacunae or the other.
Samsung Cloud storage is for now, being appreciated a fair bit, with most critics and reviewers stating that it is “how an Android backup and restore system should be done”. Given all that Samsung has to offer, that sounds about right; but in the extremely restricted space of two compatible devices!
Samsung Cloud was introduced along with the unveiling of Galaxy Note7 last month. It is available on Note7 and users will be able to use it right out of the box.
Industry conjecture claims that people can soon be expected it to be made available for the Galaxy S6 series, and the Note 5 as well, however we at Chip-Monks read things differently.
We really doubt Samsung is going to extend this backwards – since it is an extremely potent tool to convince customers fence-sitting their upgrade decision currently, to finally make the jump. Why squander that trump card?
Update: The update for the S7 series – which brings them the Samsung Cloud – weighs about 150MB, and started rolling out in Italy first. The update also brings in a new Gallery app along with August security patch, as well as some performance and power consumption-related improvements. The update also includes fixes for cover recognition and flashlight/torch-related issues, in addition to these.
Recently, the update has reportedly started rolling out in India as well, starting this week. As it happens with every OTA, it takes a while for the roll out to entirely happen, but just in case you get impatient, you can always check for the update via your Settings menu.
An Affirmation Of Minimalist Life - Samsung‘s Tizen Based Z2 Released In India
One can’t help but yearn for times when things were simple, given this rampantly fast paced world where every next device seems to be bending the Time Theory with it’s immense computing ability, in a form factor slightly larger than a bar of soap!
Okay I know that didn’t make altogether complete sense without preamble. Let me try again.
Many of our readers admit to missing a life less complicated by brilliant colourful screens, and information of every form coursing through our conscious mind every second of the day. Many yearn for phones that were smart, yet not as smart!
That said, there are plenty of people in India who are still on those basic feature phones that have no semblance of ‘smarts’. Neither can they afford any form of smartphones nor are most of the features our (your and my) phones attractive to them. But there’s opportunity – for India to grow, for masses to be empowered, and for the economy to leapfrog into the next echelon of growth – through the dissemination of information and bringing these grassroot users ‘online’.
So, we can’t help but marvel and be excited by Samsung’s Z2.
The Z2 is a straightforward play to attract the country’s grassroot level smartphone-desiring users. It costs INR 4,590, or around $68 (just two dollars less than the average price of a mobile phone in India) and is powered by Tizen, Samsung’s home-grown mobile OS and is the first Tizen device to support 4G.
Let’s be clear. The Z2 is not a powerhouse – not with a 1.5 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB of internal memory, but it does provide an inexpensive way for consumers to get more out of their mobile phone. Since it is 4G capable, Reliance’s Jio has seen the opportunity it presents and has seized upon. it – the Z2 comes with a 90-day free trial for various entertainment apps from Jio. Users get free access (including data) to video calling, on-demand movies and TV shows, and a music streaming service.
Jio is presumably hoping that once customers are hooked on 4G content, they’ll start paying for the network themselves.
The Z2 runs Tizen version 2.4, and the user interface consists of multiple home screens along with an App Drawer that can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom.
At any time, the 8 most frequently used apps will rest comfortably towards the bottom on the home screen and you can manually change apps that show up there. Even when you pull out the app drawer — that houses all your installed apps — this frequently app window stays put, but moves up to show rest of the apps.
While in the Android ecosystem you can manually add custom apps and widgets to the home screen, in Tizen, the operating system does most of that work for you where the most used apps are right there on your main screen, always!
On the software front, the Ultra Data Saving mode claims to save up to 40% on Mobile Data with the help of data compression and the automatic blocking of apps that are deemed as not required to be running in the background. The OS even comes with default apps like My Money Transfer that is a payment system with support for all the major banks, enabling people make the move towards digital and cashless payments.
“We are delighted to roll out Samsung’s much-awaited launch in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market. The new Samsung Z2 will add significant value to the multiple exciting smartphone offerings available to Paytm users. With the reach that the Paytm platform enjoys, with a base of 130 million customers, the partnership allows consumers across the country to effortlessly shop for their favorite Samsung smartphone in a few easy clicks”, added Amit Bagaria, Vice President, PayTM.
In fact, this smartphone is selling for as low as INR 2,990 at this moment. However the current buyers are reportedly not the intended first-time smartphone users, rather are people picking up their second or third device, which they intend to use as a WiFI hotspot to benefit from the cheap data, or as an emergency device they leave in their bags.
But the target audience will respond, as Samsung’s vaunted Marketing machinery gets their might behind the effort.
In closure, the Samsung Z2 is an affirmation of minimalist life – once a person realizes that she can’t use more than 25 apps and doesn’t always need flagship models, such simpler phones and devices become more attractive.
The company has cast the bait, and the consumer base is busy sniffing, while some are nibbling on it. Will you get there? Let us know, when you make the jump!
Samsung May Use A New Chipset On The Galaxy S8
Barely has Samsung launched their Galaxy S7 series of smartphones, and already, there is conjecture in the wind regarding the next phone in the Galaxy series – the Galaxy S8.
Unofficial reports point to the South Korean megabrand being amidst testing of a new chipset, which is touted to be the heart of the next Galaxy phone.
This new chipset, Exynos 8895 uses 10 nm-manufacturing process and it would be the first time Samsung has used this process commercially. The current chipset that the company uses on its flagship devices, the Galaxy S7 and the Note7 is the Exynos 8890 which uses a 14 nm manufacturing process.
The Important Question:
How would this chipset affect the functioning of the Samsung smartphone?
Well, the sleeker 10 nm manufacturing process would allow for more transistors to be put into one chip, thus yielding better performance and power efficiency.
Samsung has reportedly achieved clock rates of 4 GHz with this new chipset, which would be 30% more efficient from what the company is using now. The chipset is likely to be limited to a lower clock rate when it finds its way into a launched device, to further enhance battery uptime.
To Bring You Onto The Same Page:
Processors work in two ways – low clock rate & high instructions per cycle units, or high clock rate & low instructions per cycle units.
Opinions in the tech industry vacillate about which one performs better and the topic is quite debatable.
Intel, for example, has had great success with a higher number of instructions per cycle processors. One can judge Samsung’s choice only after analyzing the option that they are going with, for which more information would be needed.
This, however, is not the first time that information regarding this new chipset has surfaced. Earlier, in July, a chipset of the same name was spotted on an Indian import/export tracking site Zauba.
The chipset should not be expected in the market before 2017. Going by past market trends, one would logically expect the chipset to be launched with the next Samsung flagship device, and that should be the Galaxy S8 at the Mobile World Congress in 2017. These are largely just ‘logical’ speculations rooted in market history. The company has not yet confirmed the existence of the chipset.
Given how Samsung’s hurting after the Note7 issue, one can safely assume that the company would not only need a major booster with their next big smartphone release, but would strive really hard to execute it to perfection!
Will Galaxy Tab S3 Woo The Masses?
So what if the Galaxy S8 is not being introduced by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress on February 26, there is something else that is! One wouldn’t expect the tech giant to not unveil anything in Barcelona now, is it?
Turns out, Samsung has sent out invites for its MWC Press Conference where it will apparently tease a device which netizens are saying will be a device with model number SM-T825. Some listings that mentioned this device with model number SM-T825 also mentioned that the device belongs to the “tablet” category running on Android 7.0 Nougat. Conjecture expands to say it might just be the all new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
Just when some people might have thought that Android Tablets were dying off, Samsung seems ready to introduce the world to a new tablet. Which is surprising, given slacking tablet sales.
The Galaxy Tab S3 would succeed the Galaxy Tab S2 that was launched way back in 2015. As is with any new launch, there have been a lot of rumours and speculations.
Galaxy Tab S3 is expected to be Samsung’s first tablet with Android 7.0 Nougat, that brings the ability of native split-screen support to Android. Samsung has been constantly trying to bake in a custom-rolled split screen solution for some time now, but Google’s standardised API which the developers are actually expected to support was playing truant and acting as a hindrance.
The Tab S3 is expected to sport a 9.6-inch display with a 2048×1536 pixel resolution, though there are also rumours that the Tab S3 will be launched in two variants – an 8-inch and a 9.7 inch screen size, similar to the Galaxy Tab S2, launched back in 2015. Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S3 might run a Snapdragon 820 SoC clocking 2.1 GHz coupled with 4 GB RAM. For shutterbugs, the Tab S3 is expected to feature a 12 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front shooter for all video calling and pouty-snaps needs.
There is word that Samsung might launch the device in two additional variants – one of them being an LTE model and another being a Wi-Fi only model (following Apple are we now, Samsung?).
The Tab S3 will apparently first hit the shelves in home country, South Korea at a price point of around USD 600 which more or less translates to INR 40,000. Customers in the United States will be able to purchase the Wi-Fi only model from Verizon and US Cellular. Availability of the device in other countries will be made clear once the device is officially announced by Samsung. In due course, the device will make its way to other markets around the globe as well, though no timeline has been unsealed as yet by Samsung.
The highlight on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 was it’s lithe form factor (being thin at 5.6 mm and light device at 392 grams). It seems that Samsung is going to continue to use the thin body of the device as its USP. The device is expected to be less than 5.6 mm thick and lighter than its predecessor. This of course has its own added advantage of making the tablet like a feel good handheld and an immensely portable device.
There’s a problem with a thinner body though – as it can imply scrimping on the battery’s size, which is not a welcome prospect for any user!
The Galaxy Tab S3 seems to have been enhanced from its predecessor in the RAM department though – RAM has been upped from 3 GB to 4 GB. The megapixels on the camera have also scaled up as the primary camera has gone up from 8 megapixels to 12megapixels.
However, these are not the only changes that can be noticed on the Galaxy Tab S3. We are referring to the absence of a separate slot in the device for the stylus, the S Pen. The S Pen on the Tab S3 will be sold as a stand-alone accessory for which you will have to shell extra bucks. Additional accessories like Book Cover case for the tablet and a Keyboard Folio too, will need to be bought to improve the functionality of the device.
There was conjecture earlier that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 might ditch the physical home button (as is said to happen on the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone) but with the invites that have been sent by Samsung for Mobile World Congress, it is apparent that the Tab S3 does have a physical home button.
The question we’re all left with is – is a tablet really something we’d get excited about? Is Samsung really licking it’s chops that bad after the Note7 fiasco that it’s holding off the (far more exciting) smartphone launches for the time being?
Samsung Galaxy Note7 Now In India, Officially!
Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note 7 to the world at their Galaxy Unpacked event in New York on 2nd August, with much fanfare.
Their flagship phablet was announced in India a few days later, with the promise that the device would become available here from 2nd September, and would be priced at INR 59,900.
Colours? The Note7 will be available in Gold Platinum, Silver Titanium, and Black Onyx color variants, however the Blue Coral color variant available in other regions, hasn’t been launched in India, at this time.
The Indian version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will have the hybrid dual-SIM feature, whereby one of the SIM slots could also be used for a microSD card (up to 256GB) instead of the second SIM card.
An Iris Scanner that will allow you to unlock the phone and also secure the folders through the iris pattern. This is part of the Knox Security suite on the Note 7 which leverages biometric authentication through both the Iris Scanner and fingerprint scanner to make the device impenetrable.
Samsung has made claims that its new Iris Scanner is safer than fingerprint sensors found on many Android smartphones, though we will have to wait and watch on this one.
The new Secure Folder associated with biometric security houses selected apps and their data in a secure, separate location and even allows the users to have two instances of the same app on the smartphone.
Apart from the security measures, the Galaxy Note 7 boasts of a dual-edge 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and comes with an IP68 rating, making it water- and dust-resistant.
Samsung at the time of global launch of the device said, “With the peace of mind that IP68 water resistant provides, the Galaxy Note 7 S Pen lets users jot down their thoughts without interruption, even when the screen gets wet“.
The phablet runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Samsung’s own skin atop. The variant launched in India is powered by a Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa SoC (four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and four cores clocked at 1.6GHz), coupled with 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, however, it has been reported that some regions including the US will receive a variant powered by the Snapdragon 820 SoC (two Kryo cores clocked at 2.15GHz and two Kyro cores clocked at 1.6GHz).
The device comes with 64 GB of inbuilt storage, expandable up to 256 GB via microSD card. A 3,500mAh non-removable battery powers the Note 7, which supports fast charging with both wired and wireless chargers, considering that the device is compatible with WPC and PMA wireless charging standards.
As for the shutterbugs, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with Dual Pixel technology enabling you to take better pictures in low-light and features phase detection autofocus (PDAF), optical image stabilization (OIS) with an f/1.7 aperture, dual-LED flash, and Auto-HDR feature. The front camera comes with a 5-megapixel sensor while it retains the f/1.7 aperture.
Not sure whether it caught your attention, however it did catch ours that Samsung has skipped a number in the naming series of the Note device from Note5 to Note7. In case you are wondering why, this move comes in the wake of unifying the whole product portfolio, to gel in all their devices together.
“There are a couple reasons why. First, the Galaxy Note7 will complement our Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and unify our product portfolio. Second, the Galaxy Note7 will minimize confusion about the latest mobile technology from Samsung, and provide full alignment with Galaxy S smartphone“, said the company.
The S Pen has also seen a lot of improvements including the ability to now create GIF image animations from videos using the Smart Select feature, apart from new Air Command functions to magnify and translate. The S Pen also provides easy access to Samsung Notes, a new unified app for writing notes, drawing, or editing memos, with the device having the capability to translate in 71 languages, including 11 Indian languages! Additionally, the S Pen just like a real ball point pen now has a smaller tip (0.7 mm, to be precise) than the previous one (1.66 mm), which in turn enables improved pressure sensitivity.
At the global event, the company also unveiled the new Samsung Gear VR, Gear IconX wireless earbud and Gear Fit 2 wearable. The Gear VR has slightly changed in design with a wider 101 degrees field of view. The device includes a USB Type-C port in addition to a micro USB port for compatibility with other Galaxy devices.
Pre-bookings for the Samsung Galaxy Note7 start from August 22 through till August 30, with the company having already made it clear that the units will be available in limited quantities during this period. So if you really want this phablet, be quick with your pre- bookings!
An added incentive to acquiring Note7 in the pre-booking offer (up till August 30) entitles the users to get the new Gear VR at a discounted price of INR 1,990 only.
To make the deal even more tempting, the company is also providing interested users an opportunity to avail of the Reliance Jio Preview Offer, which comes with voice and data benefits for 90 days, alongside access to the Jio Digital Life content service.
Bookmark 11th August - The Samsung Galaxy Note7 Launches In India!
Those of you who’ve been waiting on the Note7, or even those who’ve been happy with their current device, yet are feeling the itch, get ready for the 11th of August!
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7, the South Korean megabrand’s newest flagship which is seemingly is all set to rock the world gets out to the crowded Indian market in just a few days. The device comes after the much-loved Galaxy Note5, stampeded through the Indian business and professional-users’ market.
In order to keep symmetry in the nomenclature of their devices for the year, and to stay in line with the Galaxy S7 series, the successor is called Note7.
The device is a lot of firsts for the company. Here are just three of the significant changes:
Before we delve further into these, let’s quickly discuss the specs of the smartphone, shall we?
The phone features a dual-edge 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, which is in line with other flagships from the year, including the company’s own S7 edge. The display is, thus, amazing. The phone also features an ‘Always On’ functionality that allows you to see information like the date, time and notification icons onscreen even when the phone is locked or in sleep mode.
The Note7 runs on the latest version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, again a standard for the flagships this year. It also comes with a promised update to Android N soon, whenever that’d be out in the market, though.
The device is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor, which, again, is a standard for the flagships this year since it is arguably the best one out there as of now.
As for storage, the phone features a 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, and one can use a microSD card instead of a second SIM in the dual SIM slots.
For the camera, there’s a 12 megapixel & 5 megapixel (front) combination, with the 12 megapixel rear camera featuring Dual Pixel technology.
The back camera works well with low-light photography, along with phase detection autofocus (PDAF), optical image stabilisation (OIS), a f/1.7 aperture, dual-LED flash, and Auto-HDR feature. As for the front camera, it sports a f/1.7 aperture, which should be good enough.
All in all, the cameras are good, quite good for your everyday use, but it’s nothing that another device might not offer you. In fact some say the Galaxies S7 perform better on this front, than their more serious cousin.
The phone comes with an upgrade S-Pen and associated functionality; plus it is water- and dust-resistant. It comes with a 3,500 mAh non-removable battery, which supports fast charging with wired and wireless chargers. It also has a fingerprint scanner for biometric locking, along with the much-expected Iris Scanner.
Let’s talk about the Iris Scanner for bit. The idea altogether, of having an iris scanner on your phone seems quite compelling. The reality of it might not be the same, however.
While one must certainly appreciate the technology that brings an iris scanner to a smartphone, the idea of using fingerprints for your biometric security just feels easier.
The fingerprint scanners are embedded in the home button, and have been in use in Samsung devices for a while, and thus are tested and well equipped. They respond fast, and swift, as one would want for them to. With an iris scanner, however, this might not work that well, because, for starters, you have to aim for the reading to happen, and scanning a thumb or finger is much easier than scanning ones irises.
The fact of the matter is that critics have said scathing words about the iris scanner, calling it redundant. But for someone who is excited about the idea and the new technology, it might be an exciting thing.
As for the other ‘firsts’, the Gorilla Glass is just better protection and better display, and the USB Type-C port is just keeping in line with the future of technology.
Before we forget, one of things we at Chip-Monks are really excited about is the dual-edge display. Like in the Galaxy S7 edge, this device all has a curved ‘edge’ screen that displays your notifications, and it has the displays on both – the left and the right edges, and not just one (like on the S7 edge).
Some users have complained about it not going too well for them. If having the ‘edge’ on two sides is any better from having it on one is something we’ll have to leave to the users to decide.
On the face of it, the smartphone does sound like The Next Big Thing that Samsung is ready to bring out, and it seems more than equipped to meet the pent up expectations of the Samsung fan club, and more.
Look out, Apple!
Samsung's Turbo Speed Technology To Make Their Mid-Range Phones Feel Faster
Samsung released a video on its Samsung Mobile India page explaining a new feature, the Turbo Speed Technology (TST), included in their Galaxy J2 Pro 2016 smartphone.
TST is supposed to enable a fast, fluid and smooth smartphone experience for the users.
Samsung highlighted how the brainiacs behind this technology started with a fresh canvas to come up with software and hardware improvements aimed at improving smartphone experience even on a device that doesn’t have a cutting-edge processor or tons of RAM (why does this remind us of Apple devices which do the opposite?).
Some companies feel that having the latest processor on board makes their devices smarter and gives them a lead, others feel that additional RAM enables better user experience, so much so that Chinese smartphone maker LeEco is rumored to be working on a smartphone with an insane 8 GB of RAM.
Samsung, in the past has been no different – always promoting individual specifications on their smart devices, while the users shot them down for the experience while using said devices.
Through the TST-armed Galaxy J2 Pro, Samsung intends to send out the message that mid-range devices can be very powerful without packing high-end specs.
So you know, the Galaxy J2 Pro sports 1.5 GB of RAM (which is half of what the normal Samsung tribe carries today) and 8 GB of inbuilt storage and sits at an INR 9,890 price point.
In fact, if you ponder, the USP of mid-range smartphones is the mere fact that they are easy on the pocket. Addition of more RAM or a better processor simply implies a hike in the price, cancelling its membership of the mid-range phone club.
To support this cause of proving speedy experience irrespective of device, Samsung has rewritten some of the most used smartphone apps like Contacts, Gallery, Camera and Text Messages, others have been shrunk, to consume less RAM while in use. The aim of this project was for applications to load up to 40% faster than on a smartphone with double the memory capacity.
Turbo Speed Technology also includes a “Proactive App Management” feature that lets the phone automatically kill apps that aren’t being used much in the background so as to free up more RAM (why does this again remind us of Apple devices?).
Besides this, an “Intelligent Memory Control” feature is meant to rearrange and de-clutter the RAM, to make more RAM available when it’s required (now I cannot get Apple devices out of my mind, seriously).
The TST feature meanwhile is available only on the Galaxy J2 Pro, but it is expected to arrive on other Android smartphones from Samsung in the near future.
As an aside, wouldn’t Turbo Speed Technology coupled with 6 GB RAM and an inherently fast processor on the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note7 be an interesting fusion!
The only question that arises is that if Samsung is capable of delivering amazing performance without bumping up processor speed or adding more RAM, then why does it keep doing the same with every new Galaxy S and Galaxy Note model it launches? Oh, the irony..!
Apple Is The World's Favorite Company, Yet Again
FutureBrand just announced Apple as the world’s favorite company.
FutureBrand takes a look the world’s 100 largest companies and conducts an annual survey of about 3,000 consumers and industry professionals to rank them on the basis of a range of elements such as Personality, Consistency, Trust, Innovation, Price Premium, Resource Management, etc.
After providing them attributes to rank, the respondents are then asked to place the company on the basis of personal preference that ranges from Distant and Passionate at the extreme ends of the rung, with Indifferent, Close, and Admiration in between.
With Google’s reorganization, only parent company Alphabet has made it large and was able to make it onto the top 100 shortlist and Google itself didn’t even qualify.
Last year, the FutureBrand rankings had Google, Apple, Microsoft, Walt Disney, AbbVie, Gilead Sciences, Samsung, MasterCard, Celgene, SABMiller as the top 10 rank holders.
The two most likeable feelings that respondents showed toward Apple were passion and admiration. Apple was ranked highly for its attributes like individuality, authenticity, innovation and thought-leadership.
The remainder seven positions read like this:
We spy some lesser-known names and this clearly indicates the significant role that industry professionals play in the rankings.
Both Apple and Microsoft have risen higher in the ladder as they have jumped a place from last year’s rankings to stand 1st and 2nd, with Samsung jumping four places from last year to advance ahead of tech industry giants like Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com, Inc.
When asked where the respondents saw Apple three years from now, more than 75% believed that Apple has a linear progression and they expect it would continue to do so in the future. Half of them were ready to buy Apple’s devices and many of them were ready to work for the company. These views reflect on the high regard with which Apple is seen among industry professionals.
Coming back to Alphabet, it managed to bag the 21st place in the list probably because of the lack of brand awareness as Google. It could also be for the fact that since the company is so varied (businesses range from Android OS, to Phones, to Networking, to Search Engine, to their Special projects like Loon, Jacquard, etc.) that it was difficult for the respondents to assign the attributes to it and reflected in the response that they had.
While 25% of respondents said that they felt ‘close’ to Alphabet, the rest on the other hand felt indifferent and only 20% said that they admired Alphabet, with a minority of them feeling passionate about it. The two strongest attributes associated with the company were a sense of purpose and the quality of its people.
Apple definitely is stealing the show this time at the FutureBrand Index 2016. Apple seems to be the current favorite of many as it last week it sold its billionth iPhone.
The company is close to celebrating its 10th anniversary next year with major upgrades and overhauls.
The Tough Just Got Tougher: Introducing Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5!
This one goes out to all my clumsy comrades who keep dropping their smartphones from new heights and of course, to all you other more sapient creatures who’d like to know just how sturdy the next generation of touchscreen iPhones is going to be.
Corning is coming up with the King Kong of tough glass material, the “Gorilla Glass 5”.
Established in 1851, Corning Inc. is a veteran in the glass and ceramics manufacturing industry with the experience of over a century and a half under its belt, and the credit for developing the ion exchange and fusion process to make toughened glass – a kind of shatterproof glass with a high resistance to physical and thermal pressure. It is used everywhere from automobiles to buildings to cookware to bulletproof windows and even space shuttles!
Corning Gorilla Glass has been used on more than 4.5 billion devices worldwide, including more than 1,800 product models across 40 major brands! Some companies that use Corning Glass in their products are: Acer, Asus, HP, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung, Micromax and Huawei.
A standard feature of any smartphone worth its salt, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is a similarly toughened glass made especially for electronic devices and displays. Interestingly, it was used for the very first time in the first generation of iPhones that was launched in 2007 – months before Corning made it available on the market. While thin and lightweight, it is highly resistant to the battery of scratches that befall a smartphone on a daily basis.
Vice President and General Manager at Corning Gorilla Glass, John Bayne, states on Corning’s website that the new product will secure Corning’s position over those of its competitors.
According to a recent global study, over 85% of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once per year and 55% have dropped their phones three times or more. Additionally, more than 60% of smartphone owners reported dropping their devices between shoulder and waist height.
In addition to the ability to withstand unfortunate falls, the tougher glass promises an unmatched clarity and sensitivity while being thin enough for your smartphone to look as slim and slick as ever.
Mobile devices are the primary tools consumers use to capture, view, create, send and consume digital content, and the cover glass is the interface for touching, typing and swiping that content. Consumers count on their cover glass to deliver damage resistance, optical clarity, touch sensitivity, and protection from drops.
Gorilla Glass 5 is a marked improvement over its previous iterations. Where Gorilla Glass 4 could only survive falls of up to 3.2 feet, the new one can survive those of up to 5.2 feet. With more than half of all smartphone users dropping their cell phones at least thrice each year, and with most of those falls occurring from shoulder or waist height, the new glass is a much-needed advancement in prolonging the lifespan of our precious devices.
There has also been some speculation, ever since the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2014, over whether Apple might choose Sapphire glass, a harder material made of Sapphire crystal, over Corning’s Gorilla Glass. However, Apple has consistently refused to use it on its displays and with good reason.
Sapphire is costlier and bulkier than glass. It is also less transparent, which means that more light must pass through the display for it to be bright enough, putting a strain on battery life while making the iPhone bulkier and costlier. Sapphire is, however, practically immune to scratches and which is why Apple uses it on the camera and home button/fingerprint scanner of the iPhone 6.
In all probability, the upcoming series of iPhones will feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. Not only would this be in line with Apple’s plan to make a stronger build of the iPhone after the “Bendgate” fiasco, but it would also make sense given the fact that each successive generation of the iconic phone has used Corning’s high strength glass.
Even though Corning and Apple work in a rather clandestine fashion, and there has been no official statement on the matter, it would be rather safe to make that prediction.
New Samsung Galaxy J Smartphones Coming To India
Samsung’s Galaxy J series is their affordable-handset series. Received fairly well in price-sensitive India, it just got two new additions to it in the form of the Galaxy J2 and Galaxy JMax.
Both the smartphones will hit Indian shelves by end of July. The Galaxy J2 will arrive at a price point of INR 9,750, and the JMax will be available for INR 13,400.
Let’s tell you a little more about both of them.
Samsung Galaxy J2
The Galaxy J2 2016 is the successor to Galaxy J2 that was launched in 2015. The Korean smartphone company claims that the Galaxy J2 2015 edition was India’s top selling smartphone. We’ll take that with some salt, given all the other brands also having witnessed stupendous sales in 2015, across almost all price points.
But the real question here is how different will the 2016 edition be from the 2015 version?
Well, the new Galaxy J2 (2016) has primarily two new features and some upgrades to boast of, a new Smart Glow technology which comprises an LED ring around the rear camera which can be tailored as per the needs of the user for app notifications or individual contacts.
The users can even choose their own colour. It can also be used to alert the user if they are running low on battery, internal memory, or mobile data.
The Smart Glow LED ring can also be used to position the rear camera for higher mega-pixel selfies with the Selfie Assist feature. Isn’t that cool?
Second feature that props up the Galaxy J2 2016 is Turbo Speed Technology.
Samsung claims that this Turbo Speed Technology boosts the load time on native apps by up to 40%! The feature closes down all the idle background processes, clearing up the RAM using intelligent memory management. Samsung has rewritten native apps such as camera, gallery, and contacts, etc. that are most frequently used by consumers in order to make them as light as possible.
This ensures that your phone doesn’t freeze or hang even when you are using multiple apps consecutively or simultaneously.
As far as the specifications of the Galaxy J2 are concerned, the phone sports a 5 inch Super AMOLED display. The cameras on the J2 2016 have also got a significant upgrade from the previous year’s version as the primary camera has gone up from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels and the front camera has been elevated from 2 megapixels to 5 megapixels, with both cameras having f/2.2 aperture.
Under the hood, the phone is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad core processor coupled with 1.5 GB RAM.
Running Android Marshmallow, the smartphone packs in a 2600 mAh battery.
Three color variants- Black, Silver and Gold will be available for this phone.
Samsung Galaxy J Max
The Galaxy J Max promises to deliver entertainment and be a companion for those times when you are bored mindless. The phablet (I am not sure I can still call it that!) features a giant 7-inch WXGA display.
Under the hood, this phone is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad core processor and offers 1.5 GB RAM.
The device runs on Android Lollipop even sports an 8 megapixel rear camera along with a 2 megapixel front facing camera. This may be considered very skinny when compared to the Galaxy J2’s 5 megapixel front shooter, however, try and remember what it feels like to hold up a 7 inch tablet to take photos!
The device will be available in Black and Gold color variants. A whopping 4,000mAh battery breathes life into this device.
Both the phones, J2 and J Max come with the company’s “Make for India” S bike mode and Ultra data saving (UDS) features. The UDS is touted to help users to save up to 50% of their Cellular Data costs!
What’s more, with the Galaxy J Max, customers will get a Samsung Bluetooth headset in-box for a hassle free calling experience and can also enjoy a one year premium ad-free subscription of Viu which offers unlimited Bollywood and regional movies, TV shows and webisodes.
Both Galaxy J2 2016 and Galaxy J Max will enjoy a six month Cellular Data offer from Airtel where prepaid consumers can benefit from a double data offer worth up to INR 4,500.
Samsung sure seems to be going all out to help the sales on these newbies, and these packages are going be crazy exciting for the Indian market!
Meet “Ahead” - A New Wearable Display
Recently a patent filed in Korea by a giant tech multinational company surfaced in the Tech world.
Looking like a heavily modified set of eye glasses, it includes a camera, an in-vision projector and a sound system rolled into one. This is not Google, and it’s not Google Glass… this is Samsung and it’s called ‘Samsung Ahead‘.
A product from Samsung’s C-Labs, Ahead could find use in many places – construction, sports, bikers to suggest just a few. While Google Glass has had it’s share of affection and criticism, it has proved clearly though, that eye-based wearables, done right are product of merit.
Consequently, ever since Google Glass burst onto the scene three years ago, there have been consistent rumours of similar devices from other manufacturers and Samsung itself has been long-rumoured to have a rival product, but we never came across any solid evidence.
This new patent filing from Samsung could point to Samsung’s hat in the Wearables ring.
The patent, discovered by the Wall Street Journal, was filed in April 2016 and is labelled as being similar to “sports glasses”. A trademark has been filed for a product called “Ahead”. It is described as a wearable computer “in the shape of a helmet”.
The patent says Ahead is made for the fast lives of people nowadays and takes the form of a small triangular device that attaches to any helmet via magnets, and enables the user to communicate (make calls, listen to notifications) and use media over bluetooth, during workouts, and control their phone when their hands are busy.
It is speculated that another version will include “Push to Talk’.
Samsung Ahead, will have its own operating system, bear a display, include MP3 functions and much more.
As the details available are very vague and general, we don’t know with certainty what this device will do or look like, except that the device is a wearable paired with a display that is transparent or translucent with the graphics available to just one eye. The device acts as a companion to your smartphone while you operate it hands free.
This is a simple move – like the ones Samsung has made numerous times before, to prepare space for the company to enter a particular technology field, even if other players have been there for a long time. It’s also worth noting that this is a Korean patent, in Samsung’s home market, which makes it a little unusual as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and many others are also considering headsets and localising the patent to just the Korean market seems like a little underwhelming estimation of customer interest.
Since device details have neither been released yet nor have proper specifications yet been shared with the market, the limited information leads us to predict that Ahead will provide competition to the already-existing wearable glasses in the market, but we can’t say for sure where all the applicability of this device lies.. thus it is difficult to estimate the ripples this wearable could make in a marketplace that has already rejected Google’s own invention that intended to play in a very similar space.
For now, we can just wait and look forward to more information before we assess this device and it’s promise.
Samsung Galaxy Note7 To Launch Ahead Of Time
Excitement for the next range of devices has everyone doing excited jigs already. The device that now seems to be the center of attention is the Samsung Galaxy Note7. Traditionally, the device would’ve been expected in the market sometime in fall, but rumors say that it might be ready and out there as early as August 2nd this year!
The speculative inference about the Galaxy Note7 is derived from someone’s observation that the company’s website already hosts an additional page for listing the device.
This listing shows a user agent profile page for the model number ‘SM-N930F’.
Given that the listing for Galaxy Note 5 was SM-N920, and the Note 4 was the SM-N910, SM-N930F should technically be Galaxy Note7.
Well, before you jump to the obvious question of “what about Note 6?“, the company is said to be skipping one numeric in the Note series, to stay abreast to the numeric for their flagship range of Galaxy smartphones. Just to maintain the symmetry!
Despite a lot of leaks, not much is convincingly known about the phablet, except a major feature being Iris Scanning, which will enable the user to unlock the device by simply looking at it.
The phablet is said to have 5.8 inch QHD display, a Snapdragon 820 or Snapdragon 823 processor, along with 6 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage accompanied with a microSD slot.
It is also said to carry a 12 megapixel primary camera with a dual lens unit on the front. Expected to ship with a USB Type-C port and Android N out of the box, both of which would be a first for Samsung.
Why the early release, though?
Well, it could be a strategic move by Samsung to avoid direct competition with Apple, which traditionally hosts its releases in fall each year, and is expected to be on the clock this year as well. An earlier release would save Samsung a clash, something it learnt from last year, with the early release of Galaxy Note 5.
In other related news:
There might be a return of the ‘Edge’ version as well, something that Samsung ditched with the Note 5 because of issues with the stylus.
In more related news leaked:
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 might sport the dual camera setup, quite similar to what has been aggressively rumoured on the iPhone 7 Plus this year. If Samsung plans to go ahead with it, the camera would expectedly be built by Samsung Motors (Semco) and could feature a 4K video display.
So, if the rumours are to be believed, you might be able to get your hands on the Samsung Note7 earlier than expected. The event for the launch would be called Unpacked, and be supposedly held on August 2nd at the Lincoln Centre in New York.
Stay tuned, or be left out!
Samsung Gear S3 SmartWatch
It must be tough to be Samsung. Barely does it launch one product, that customer- and industry-aspirations force it to launch the next.
It must by now, have a conveyor belt of new products under-development.
Samsung’s marketing team may just about have reached home after the big launches at the Mobile World Congress just a couple months ago, and already, and they’re having to manage the news cycle for the Samsung Note7 and the ‘Galaxy S8’!
And it’s not only the case with phones… earlier this month itself, the company unveiled the Gear Fit 2 fitness band and their Gear IconX earbuds; and now the Gear S3 smartwatch seems ready for launch.
A project under codename Solis has been on at Samsung, according to a report by the trusted site SamMobile. Solis means ‘Sun’ in Spanish, and serves as a perfect nickname for the company’s newest smartwatch, the Gear S3. The Gear S2 was called ‘Orbis’, going with the same theme.
So Tell Us More About The Watch?!
Well first things first, the smartwatch, quite like its predecessor, is rumoured to ride on Tizen, instead of the traditional Android system.
Samsung, by sticking to Tizen for its wearables makes its commitment to Android Wear questionable. It also comes at a time when the company is already being put under the microscope for its commitment to Android, and there are rumours floating around that they might be looking at the possibility of turning their entire hardware to Tizen OS instead of Android. Samsung has refuted that however, and stated that it has no plans to do anything of the sort.
Regardless, the Tizen interface would be updated and would take advantage of the same rotating bezel control system the Gear S2 offers.
What Else Do We Know?
Not much else is known about the smartwatch other than the model numbers which are SM-R760, SM-R765, SM-R770, SM-R765V, and SM-R765S.
What Can We Expect?
One of the main things we can expect is for the 1.2 inch touchscreen to get a size upgrade. This would make the touch interaction more comfortable, for the times when the bezel is not used.
We can also expect the smartwatch to have a round face. After the success of the round-faced Gear S2, returning to a blocky design would hardly make much sense for the company.
Another thing we can expect is a better battery life.
For most of us, our electronic devices are becoming sources of stress and add to a neverending list of to-dos. Each new gizmo is one more thing we need to remember to charge. Adding a smartwatch to that daily list doesn’t really do anyone much good, nor does it excite potential users.
An extended life for less plug-in moments would also be a very valuable add-on.
Any Other Important Things We Might Be Missing Out On About The Gear S3?
Luxury jewellers de Grisogono recently revealed that they are working with Samsung to bring a higher-end and more style conscious Gear S3.
Now this might be a different model of the same smartwatch altogether, but it is still important, because it seems like Samsung’s answer to Apple turning its Apple Watch fashion conscious with the leather straps. Samsung seems to be catching on.
Also, the watch might be launched at IFA in Berlin in 2016, but that as well, for now, is a speculation.
A smartwatch is the in-thing in the market these days. Having started to gain importance in the market only a couple years ago, the smartwatch is attempting to turn into a must-possess accessory for most megabrands; the only thing that has it beat is a VR headset.
Samsung’s Gear S2 has proven itself in the market enough for everyone to be excited about the newer, and hopefully better version of it. It would hopefully be worth the wait.
All the speculations and information are based on already available data or the supposedly leaked images of Gear S3. The authenticity of the images has yet to be established or confirmed by Samsung.
We shall keep you posted about more information as and when we hear any.
Samsung's Future Lineup Including A Possible 4K UHD Display For Galaxy S8?
At the recently held Society for information display (SID) trade show 2016 in California, Samsung showcased a 5.5” 4K AMOLED display (3840 x 2160 resolution) with an 806ppi pixel density. Market analysts believe that the production of the same will increase in the coming months allowing Samsung to use it for its next flagship series.
“Considering various factors including the production yield rate for the next-generation display expected to improve in the coming months, the 5.5-inch AMOLED will be deployed in the next Galaxy Smartphone, presumably, named the S8,” said a UBI Research official via Korea Herald.
According to the report released by UBI Research, the display size of the Galaxy series smartphones has increased by 30% to 5.5in since the launch of the first Galaxy S handset in 2010. The research firm predicts the smartphones with 5in screen or larger than that would take up about 71% of the smartphone lineup of the firm. The company also came up with a new technology called Bio Blue which decreases the blue light levels to 6% which earlier displays can only reduce upto 32%.
If these clamours do come to fruition, S8 will be the company’s debut foray into the 4K high resolution display, though it won’t take the cake overall. In 2015 Sony unveiled its first 4K smartphone — Xperia Z5 Premium — at the international IFA event in Berlin, making them the first to brace the summit.
One might wonder why in all the time since 2015, no company announced any intentions to rival Sony’s spoils at 4K display smartphone. The reason, at least most of it, is that there is a limitation to the content that you can broadcast on a 4K display, so far that is, as the notion seems to be headed for 180 degrees turn.
The emergence of a new wireless connectivity standard like 802.11ad WiGig is gaining speed and could be the catalyst for a change. The WiGig ad standard, rumored to be coming with the iPhone 7 later in 2016, will allow for wireless transmission of 4K video files from or to a phone and a local docked device like a set-top box or 4K smart TV. WiGig has a range of only about 4 meters, or 12 feet but it at least creates a viable means of delivering 4K content straight to a smartphone with the correct display type.
The display will greatly enhance the virtual reality (VR) experience of the user. Most of the current virtual reality headset platforms that exist today have to be paired with smartphone devices to function. Virtual reality is already a hot topic and is widely regarded as the next big thing in the mobile world and all of the biggest tech companies are investing and developing their own variant of it. Google recently unraveled its next-generation version of Android N, which has Daydream VR support built in, and Samsung and HTC already offer their own VR headsets. Apple is also rumored to have a team working on an iOS-based VR platform.
It would be far from a wide stretch of imagination to say that Samsung’s Galaxy S8, owing to its high profile status, sales and frontrunning specs would be an ideal fit for a Daydream support interface, that is, besides Google’s own Nexus series.
Additionally, the rumour mills are abuzz with the following specifications for the yet to be announced S8:
The flat Galaxy S8 variant will likely have a 5.2-inch 4K display whereas the larger device will sport a curved 5.5-inch edge screen.
There is another speculation that says Samsung will be releasing a foldable device codenamed the Galaxy X in early 2017 as well. Lenovo had just recently showcased the bendable Cplus smartphone and foldable Folio tablet at the Lenovo Tech World 2016. While neither of the devices is fully developed yet, the company hopes to make the Cplus and Folio fully functional by the end of this year. LG too is also working on foldable display whereas Sony is said to launch the Xperia X Premium with a 4K HDR display. Suddenly Apple’s move to switch to OLEDs seems like one lost on its time.
Evidently, Samsung has a reputation of enhancing its display features every couple of years. The Galaxy S3 had an HD display while the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 both had a full HD display and the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S7 both feature a Quad HD display. If history is to be taken as testament then we have already caught on to your next move Samsung- an introduction to 4K.
Xiaomi Now The Top Wearables Vendor
Xiaomi with its flagship affordable fitness tracker, Mi Band, has managed to secure the top position with a 27.1% market share in the first quarter of 2016 for the Wearable category in India, according to research reports by IDC.
International Data Corporation (IDC) is a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.
The study puts GOQii at the second position with 18.1% of market share during the Q1 2016. Fitbit arrives third, with 6.2% market share in terms of units, however the brand leads in terms of market value share, with it being currently over 10% greater than its closest competitor.
Korean smartphone maker Samsung bagged the fourth position in the wearable segment with a 2.5% market share. But, Samsung has a 20.4% market share in the Smart Wearable category owing to the success of its Gear S2 smartwatch.
Motorola stands at number five in the list with 1.4% market share.
Smart Wearables (any wearable that is capable of running third-party application) were low at 12.3% as compared to fitness bands with 87.7% market share according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report.
“The smart wearables have not yet gained enough ground because of the higher price attached to them“, shared Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices at IDC Raj Nimesh.
“The wearable devices have become immensely popular in the past one year, and more players are expected to make an entry into the market in both the basic and smart wearable categories“, Nimesh said.
The first two positions here were bagged by Samsung and Motorola while surprisingly enough the global smartwatch leader Apple stood third due to channel-related issues.
“The increase in volume is giving more scope to the vendors to come up with better features such as display and NFC. Both Intex’s recently launched Fitrist and Xiaomi’s soon-to-be-launched Mi Band 2 come with a display at affordable prices“, IDC India Research Director Swapnil Bhatnagar said.
To recall, Mi Band which helped Xiaomi secure the first position with 27.1% market share in the first quarter of 2016, was launched at an amazingly low price of INR 999.
Compatible with iOS and Android devices, the Mi Band has two components – the band and a Bluetooth capsule that tracks your activity. The three LED indicators on the top of the Bluetooth capsule let you know about how close you are to achieving your daily step goal at any given point, and in addition the capsule is capable of tracking your sleep patterns, let you unlock your phone without a password when it is nearby (a feature enjoyed by the Android users), and vibrate to alert you about incoming calls and alarms.
Xiaomi has been active this year with a number of launches in their portfolio, ranging from smartphones, tablets, wearables (the Mi Band 2 was recently released), add-ons and even a drone. Now, they really are a force to reckon with.
Samsung's Gear Fit2 Fitness Tracker Now Entirely Waterproof
The market is flooded with fitness gear with brands like Microsoft, Fitbit, and Apple putting out several wares in each sub-domain of the Wearables category.
The Samsung Gear Fit2 Fitness Tracker is a new addition to this existing lot and looks a lot better than its predecessor Samsung Gear Fit.
Considering how fitness-conscious a lot of people are becoming these days, fitness trackers have become an important part of one’s lifestyle and even are an essential appendage for some.
For other it’s still just a matter of keeping up with the fitness trend but in style.
The new Samsung Gear Fit2 manages to deliver all that one would expect from a fitness tracker and comes with a 1.5-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen covered in Gorilla Glass 3. The display modules seamlessly merge with the silicone band which is available in Black, Blue and Pink colors.
The watch faces on a horizontal screen can be changed from the pre available options, thereby providing the tracker with a personalisation capabilities too.
At a competitive price of USD 179, the Samsung Gear Fit2 is packed with all the features found in a USD 200+ tracker – it tracks daily steps, calories, distance, floors climbed, sleep and to top it all you would never miss any notifications on your smartphone while sweating it out at your workout sessions.
This is possible because Samsung Gear Fit 2 allows syncing the phone to the fitness gear via Gear app, thereby allowing the users to not miss on any important notifications while the Samsung Gear Fit 2 is sitting on your wrist.
That’s not all.
Similar to Fossil’s Q companion app, you can manage which apps can send notifications to the Fit 2, change your quick message replies, switch and customize watch faces, change the layout of apps, and install more apps when they become available all through this one app. That’s being quite efficient folks!
The only thing that might not set well with some is the fact that the Gear Fit 2 is compatible with Android phone running Android 4.4 KitKat and higher. The Apple community might feel left out for the moment and won’t be able to sync their iPhones with the fitness gear.
The Gear Fit 2 runs on Tizen, and not Android which has been Samsung’s choice of operating system for its wearables.
The Samsung Gear Fit 2 is a comparatively lighter device at 30 grams which is like one-third less than the Gear S2 and less than a bulky Fitbit Surge.
The show stopper of it all is the IP68 water and dust resistance rating that the Gear Fit 2 comes brandishing. This makes the device very durable and is higher than other trackers like Microsoft Band at IP54. Well, to simplify this rating signifies that the wearable can stand for about a good 30 minutes in up to five feet of water. But of course going for a swim wearing this one doesn’t sound like a good idea and the company advises the users regarding the same.
This device is here to keep you in the pink of your health as it gives constant reminders when you have been lazing around for a long period of time. The device terms it as “health nudges” which can be enabled or disabled from the settings of the Gear.
A sweat session at the gym or a quick jog at the park gets electrified by an amazing workout playlist. In case of Samsung Gear Fit 2, you wish for it and you have it. All you need is the Spotify app that can be downloaded on the band and since the band is Bluetooth-capable, you can avoid all the hassle by using wireless headphones during those squats and lunges that you do.
Additionally, the band has 4 GB of onboard storage which makes it easy for you to have all your playlists in place. Not only that, the Spotify App comes loaded with a bunch of playlists curated by athletes, making your life even easier!
S Health on Samsung Gear Fit 2 is like your personal fitness coach. You can set targets, track your everyday activities like water intake, number of steps and push your limits everyday by breaking your own records and setting up higher fitness goals.
The Gear Fit 2 will be available from June 10 at a price point of USD 179 providing users with all that’s expected from a fitness tracker. As we said earlier, it’s better than the USD 200 Blaze which has a heart rate monitor but needs a phone to provide GPS.
The only place where Gear Fit 2 suffers a setback is its lack of compatibility with iOS, which deprives it of the kind of universality that Fitbit enjoys.
The Rough-And-Tough Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Announced
The new Tough Guy of the Samsung Galaxy Active series, the Galaxy S7 Active was unveiled in US and goes on sale from 10th June, exclusively on AT&T.
The Active sub-series from Samsung is their clutch of devices that pack a lot sturdiness yet carry the same specs as their counter-parts from the regular Galaxy line.
The S7 Active too, takes its lineage including the latest Snapdragon 820 SoC with a quad-core processor utilizing Qualcomm’s custom 64-bit Kryo cores and Adreno 530 GPU, from the Galaxy S7. The screen too, is the same 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, with the Always On display feature.
While quite a lot of features found in the Galaxy S7 can also be found on the S7 Active, yet, it’s not that the S7 Active is a carbon copy of the Galaxy S7, if that would have been the case then what’s the point of having a different series altogether?
So what’s all that jazz around Galaxy S7 Active?
First, the Shatter Resistant Screen. All Active series handsets are expected to go through a lot of rough handling during everyday use. Hence the devices are built to be robust.
In the case of the Galaxy S7 Active, the screen too, is built to be resistant to drops. An additional layer of protective polycarbonate enables the elimination of ‘stress concentrations’ and scratches to accentuate the shatter-resistance of the cover glass.
It does not mean you send your phone on a suicide mission by dropping it off from the 20th floor of a building – for such crazy handling you’re probably better off with the Cat S60 or the Handheld Nautiz X1.
Back to the Galaxy S7 Active smartphone.
The really appreciable part of the screen though, is that there’s been no compromise with regard to the clarity of the screen despite the extra treatment on top.
Second, the addition of a Fingerprint Sensor is an all-new for the Active series.
While the fingerprint sensor is not unique in regular, and pricey consumer-grade phones, however it’s addition to an ‘Active’ series device lends the Galaxy S7 Active a sort of contemporary status and provides the users with another layer of data security especially since their devices are usually left lying around in public areas.
Third, the durability of the phone makes it stand apart from the crowd.
Naturally, all this tends to make the phone heavier and bulkier and inconvenient for single-handed operation, but since all these additions are essential for making the device pretty much indestructible, most of the target customer segment won’t even notice the bulk!
The Korean company also claims that the Galaxy S7 Active passes the U.S. Military Standard (MIL-STD) 810G tests for a ruggedized phone, including those for exposure to high and low temperatures, salt fog, humidity, and shock, which entails dropping the phone in different ways onto two inches of plywood over concrete from a height of at least four feet.
Now you know why we called it a “Tough Guy”.
Let’s talk about other specs for a minute.
Like its ancestors, the Galaxy S7 Active will be an AT&T exclusive, available in 3 different colours – Cammo Green, Titanium Gray, Sandy Gold.
The Galaxy S7 Active is priced at $799 (roughly INR 53,000), but we’re not sure if its going to hit Indian shores in the near future
Samsung Working On 'Truly Wireless' Earbuds
VentureBeat recently mentioned that Samsung might be working on truly wireless earphones.
The magazine claims to have received information and some images of the device from someone within the company, whose working on testing the earphones. And there’s stuff interesting stuff that’s been getting attention.
What are these wireless earphones?
Earphones perhaps might not be the right word to use for these, ‘earbuds’ might be a better term, since that’s what these are. The set consists of two tiny earbuds that fit right into your ears, and that is it!
There won’t be any wires connecting them to each other or to the device. They would weigh almost as much as a 25 paise coin used to, and would have soft hooks to lock into place within your ears.
The earbuds, as reported, would be called Gear IconX. They are expected to be small, yet have touchpad controls, fitness tracking, and even 4 GB of onboard memory – all so you could enjoy you music while on the go.
How do they work?
Predictably, they are said to work with Bluetooth for connecting to a smartphone and to each other.
The IconX also has sensors to monitor movement, heart rate, and distance traveled, and can calculate calories burned, just like a wrist-worn fitness tracker. It can sync the data with the Samsung Health app and a handful of other third-party apps.
They would be controlled by a voice confirmation, as well as via an app on the phone.
They shall run on Android devices, running at least Android 4.4 and with 1.5 GB or more of RAM. They shall, however, not run on iOS devices.
If it is that simple, how has no one done it before?
What is surprising is that Bluetooth hasn’t really worked too well with earphones of this kind before.
Bragi had released wireless earphones in the last quarter of last year, and despite sounding really exciting initially, their product didn’t really do too well in the marketplace.
Bragi tried to pack too much into their earphones, much like what Samsung is doing – a fitness tracker, personal assistant and what not.
The hardware was beautiful and refined, and the simple fact that wires had been removed from the equation did a lot for the product.
But the earphones couldn’t handle all the pressure. The software would end up being stuck or being too slow, and that would just not make it work.
Let us hope Samsung does a lot better with their idea, which, honestly, is not much different from Bragi’s!
How are they different from wireless headphones?
For starters, wireless headphones (the ones that go over your ears, and have a band that travels over your head) are much bigger in size, and that gives them a lot of space to work with Bluetooth technology and other things. They are big enough to be an entire separate gadget all by themselves, with their own system and integration. Wireless earphones, on the other hand, are tiny and do not have all that luxury of space or bulk.
Can they be connected to other devices?
Yes, it can connect to phones and other devices wirelessly, via Bluetooth. It can certainly function as your regular earphones, despite having a storage space of its own. They shall, however (as mentioned above) not be compatible with iOS devices.
How different from a music playing device are they?
The Samsung earphones would be quite different in their functionality from a music playing device – because of their connectivity features, lack of a screen and the presence of fitness-tracking features. And, knowing Samsung, they might be deciding to add some other crazy stuff in there, as well.
More about the Samsung Earphones, please?
They are said to be dust- and water-resistant, and shall come in a small case that could also work as their charging pod. So when you are not using your earbuds, all you have to do is place them in their case, and voila, they’re getting juiced up and ready to go!
What else is out there?
Apple is reportedly also working on its own set of wireless earphones. Then there are companies like Onkyo that are working on similar stuff.
Not only that, there are various crowdfunding projects out there, like Dot, Phazon, Gogo-S, Nextear and more that are quite similar.
If all of them keep going the way they are, the market for wireless earphones is about to get really crowded really soon.
Samsung must the get its back straight and make sure they are ready to sustain all of that.
When, where and for how much?
The information we have from this source is all we have on the product right now, and there is nothing on the release dates for the earbuds yet.
The price is rumoured to be in the range of USD 199.
Samsung is also said to be working on a new smartwatch and the earbuds and the smartwatch might make it to the news and the market together.
We’ll keep our ears open (pun intended, only on Saturdays) and keep you posted.
More Rumbles That The Samsung Galaxy Note Is Skipping 'Six'
We’d written about this a few days back, and there’s more chatter that supports the belief that Samsung might just decided to jump a number.
Continuing a successful franchise while enhancing it with newer elements of business is a smart business move and Samsung seems to be headed there. The Korean giant’s upcoming sixth rendition of the Galaxy note is actually titled Galaxy Note 7.
Why you ask? It is the company’s attempt to streamline its high-end products in an easier-to-remember way for consumers. Its Galaxy S smartphone series is already running with it’s seventh version and one understands that Samsung perhaps wants to synchronise (since the Note so far has always had a one-back number).
The new business phablet already seems to have found a place on Samsung’s website: one of its model numbers: SM-N930F, which has a UA Profile page [i.e. a page on a website that captures the capability and preference of wireless device. This information is then used by content providers to produce content in formats appropriate for that specific device], shows up on Samsung’s website.
Now if this model (SM-N930F) actual turns out to be Note 7, it won’t quite be a total surprise, considering the fact that the Galaxy Note5 has the model number SM-N920, the Note 4 is the SM-N910, and so on.
Another interesting rumour that has been doing the rounds is that Samsung plans to announce the new Note in two variants – one with a usual flat screen and another that brings the company’s trademark curved (or edged) screen to its premium phablet.
The leaked images on internet seem to suggest that there exists a combination of glass and metal to accommodate the display, being between 5.7 and 5.8 inches, with other physical features following its predecessor Note5’s blueprint.
The good thing about having both edged and flat models is that it allows you to cater to a wider audience: The edged ones for the people with deep pockets looking to spend more and the flat screen for those not looking to avail the edge.
Other speculated features include:
The existence of USB-C presents Samsung with an opportunity to roll out something new given how well it works with Qualcomm‘s QuickCharge 3.0.
Also looking to be featured in the next Galaxy Note is a new way to authenticate oneself to the phablet. Previously PIN and fingerprints have been used, but a leak from Korean supplier Patron points towards Samsung’s potential use of Iris Recognition.
In fact, Samsung recently unveiled an India-specific tablet called the Galaxy Tab Iris.
Patently Apple report titled “Samsung Moves One Step Closer to Introducing Iris Scanning Recognition on Galaxy Devices” adds that “The Korean camera module firm reportedly won a bid months ago to supply the entire volume of biometric modules needed for the upcoming smartphone, which is expected to be unveiled on Aug. 2 in New York City.”
The report further noted that:
“Some of renderings of the smartphone have been leaked online, apparently showing that the Note 7 is fitted with two cameras — one for selfies and the other for iris scanning. Compared to fingerprint scanning technology, which works by recognizing 40 traits on a fingerprint, the iris scanner recognizes 266 traits on an iris, meaning the latter offers greater accuracy and security.”
Samsung has been spot-on with its marketing this year and as a result they have seen fairly good profits from their products. The buzz around the new Note is also a testimony to that.
But most of the listed features so far are just market rumours left unconfirmed by Samsung.
August 2 seems to be the date to wait for answers.
Samsung's New Tablet Scans Your Irises
Samsung just announced a new tablet that features iris-recognition technology.
Part of Samsung’s participation in the Make in India effort, this tablet is aimed primarily at government and corporate employees in India – those who are involved in sensitive work or are simply sensitive about their work, and the data that resides on their device.
One of the key uses this tablet is already seeing, is in the Aadhaar authentication drive, thanks to it’s inbuilt and highly secure biometric functionallity.
We believe this tablet will also enable cashless and paperless services in various applications and processes such as banking, with e-Governance services such as passport, taxation, healthcare and education. Samsung could be onto something here as financial institutions and other organizations that look for a better alternative to confirm the identity of their users, would be keenly interested in it’s authentication abilities.
The tablet features a built-in dual-eye scanner to authenticate people via their irises.
Passwords are last-century means of authentication now – people have a difficult time remembering them, and the passwords themselves are always at a risk to be stolen or hacked. Their deficiencies have led the way for biometric techniques, which are less-complex and far more unique as they are individual-specific.
People can now easily sign up and authenticate accounts at banks and other institutions using iris recognition regardless of language and literacy barriers.
As mentioned earlier, this tablet will be Aadhaar-compliant, which means it will team up with a program in India that assigns Indian citizens a unique 12-digit number as a way of identifying them for enabling access to certain services.
Also, Samsung hopes the Galaxy Tab Iris will be used for services such as E-PDS (Electronic Public Distribution system), MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) payments, pension schemes, tax filings, passport renewals, car registrations, and even passenger verification at airports or railway stations.
“The Galaxy Tab Iris addresses consumer pain points across many platforms such as banking, finance, education and various citizen services by bringing enhanced usability, versatility and reliability all through one device“, as Samsung India Electronics’ Vice President, Sukesh Jain aptly put.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Iris comes with:
Though the Samsung Galaxy Tab Iris may be the target of some controversy and reservations, India hopes it will enble banks and government agencies streamline their authentication process, as it negates the need for paperwork, signatures, and other time-consuming procedures.
India is home to many languages and dialects, which repeatedly causes problems, particularly for those traveling to other regions. Eliminating the continued problem of language across the vast and diverse Indian subcontinent would be a major achievement whose complexity and impact isn’t understood by most people.
The technology establishes itself better to a B2C scenario, where a tablet can be mounted roughly at head-level to allow a person to identify themselves speedily.
While there is still a great deal of mistrust among the citizens of the world i.e. their governments cannot be trusted with sensitive biometric data, however considering that this kind of technology would be implemented at scale in the coming years, Samsung clearly wants to be at the forefront of the eye-based security push.
The Galaxy Tab Iris is priced at INR 13,499.
Samsung To Skip "6" And Go Straight To Galaxy Note7
A recent rumour found its way out of Samsung’s native South Korea, regarding the release of its new Galaxy Note in 2016.
According to this speculation, Samsung is going to align the naming scheme of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines by skipping the ‘Note 6’ and calling this year’s model the Samsung Galaxy Note7. The primary reason for this move is apparently related with consistency. Samsung seems to want to name all of its flagships released in the same year with the same number – so if this pans out, in 2016 we’ll have the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, and Galaxy Note 7.
According to a source, “When a Galaxy Note that has its model number lower than Galaxy S7, which is the newest model, is released, it can give out a feeling that it is an outdated phone and to negate this perception, Samsung Electronics has made the numbers same to unify a premium image”.
Another thought could be thatGalaxy this might also be an attempt to make the company’s products easily comparable with Apple, which is expected to launch their next batch of phones with the ‘7’ moniker i.e. the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, later this year.
Once again, a Note 6 competing with the iPhone 7 Plus can been perceived as an older and outdated phone by people who don’t really follow the smartphone market religiously, but do have the disposable income to want new “top-end” phones.
So, it’s basically, a marketing play.
Besides from the naming bump-up, the new Note is said to come with a dual-edge screen, so we may not see a Galaxy S7 edge+ launching after the Note 7, just like last year with the Note5 and S6 edge+.
Furthermore, the Note 7 will also have curved glass on its back, just like its predecessor Note 5. If true, this will be the first time from Samsung, that both sides of the phablet will sport such a curve.
According to a prior leak, the Samsung phablet will be powered by the Snapdragon 823 chipset, (an enhanced version of the powerful Snapdragon 820). There is also some talk that Samsung will stuff 6 GB of LPDDR4 RAM into this device, and officially provide it an IP certification (which is a dust- and water-protection standard) for the first time.
As compared with Galaxy Note 5, the new phablet will certainly bring more speed, more memory options, larger display, and a premium outer surround that will prove to be a huge difference. The camera specs also, are certain to get an upgrade as the rear camera is rumoured to feature a 32 megapixels while the front is said to feature a 9 megapixel snapper.
Samsung will reportedly release the Note 7 in early or mid-August. Either way, it will become available before August 20.
The launch date is pushed forward once again, presumably to let the phone to be in the market for more time and also before Apple releases its new devices.
So, Samsung is doing everything it possibly can to provide their premium phablet with any manner of advantage over the iPhone duo. Let’s see how that works out!
Samsung Galaxy Note 6 To Borrow BlackBerry Features
Samsung is all set to release its new smartphone Galaxy Note 6 (maybe it’s going to be called the Note7) soon.
But that is not what this article is about.
The news is that Samsung’s newest business device will have a feature that’s quite similar to the Blackberry Hub that Blackberry has for devices like Priv, and Blackberry Z10. In fact it was so good that BlackBerry even released it as a standalone app in the Google Play Store called, BlackBerry Hub+.
Inspired, Samsung’s borrowed the feature is calling it Samsung Focus.
Samsung Focus is basically a central hub for all of your notifications. This enables you to integrate your calendar, email, contacts, memos and much more into one central location; exactly like Blackberry Hub does.
The feature is better than your everyday organiser. It allows yours calendar appointments to be grouped with those participating in the meeting giving you’re a more organised schedule than your average organiser would. You can also use it to reply to emails, from multiple accounts.
A number of customization options are also expected in the emails. This would include options like being able to prioritize emails based on certain keywords, and then obviously being able to deprioritize emails from social media of certain users by hiding notifications, helping you focus better on the tasks at hand.
The question remains – will Samsung Focus take the place of these features?
Basically, will these features then be available only through Samsung Focus or will the application work only to bring them together? Enough is not yet known about the app to be able to answer that. But details can be expected soon.
“From what we have seen, Samsung Focus has a clean and modern interface, unlike any previous Samsung app, although there’s no telling if the same interface will be used in the final version”, says the report on SamMobile (who first unbagged this news to the world).
This feature will only serve to make better, a smartphone already projected as a flagship device – especially one aimed at business users who have crowded days and are usually on the move, away from their office and a full-term computer.
The Galaxy Note 6 is expected to have top-notch features, in addition to being water resistant, have expandable storage, and wireless charging. It is expected to be packing a battery larger than 3,000 mAh, and a top-of-the-line Snapdragon processor (hopefully Snapdragon 820). The screen size would be 5.7, and the resolution Quad HD.
Samsung has so far had a good year. Its flagship launch of Galaxy S7 went better than expected, with good sales, and they are already staring right in the eye of the launch of Galaxy Note 6, a smartphone directed towards a more business friendly audience.
Maybe this is why the South Korean company is turning towards the standards that Blackberry has set in the arena of business friendly devices. Even though Blackberry Z10 and Blackberry Priv might have failed to do much for the company by way of device sales, however the Blackberry Hub and other such user-experience-oriented features were considered their best elements.
Blackberry has been seeing its demise over the last year, but that doesn’t mean the company was such since ever. Back in the day, and those days were in fact almost a decade long, the Canadian company ruled the market, with a solid grip on the business-friendly device sector. The company boasted of its privacy and security features, of its application that made it a lot easier for the business people to organize themselves and their lives. When you thought of a business phone, you basically thought only of a Blackberry. And it is exactly that standard that Samsung seems to now be aspiring for, with these attempts.
Samsung Note 6 is already one of the most sought after devices in the remaining of the year. This feature would certainly add to that lure, making it perfect to fill in the gap that Blackberry has left in the market for a flagship business phone. Or at least so can be felt on paper.
To know how exactly does it go for Samsung, we would have to wait for the launch, which is expected in the latter half of the year.
Rumor Round-up Around The Samsung Note 6
The unknown generates a huge amount of excitement and curiosity.
That’s exactly what’s happening in case of Samsung Galaxy Note 6. The rumour mill is abuzz with news about the specs of the new upcoming flagship phone. Everyone is trying to decipher Samsung’s plan for the new Galaxy Note 6 which might release in the latter half of 2016.
SamMobile reported that the Samsung Galaxy Note 6 might come with an IP68 certified body, the one found in Samsung Galaxy S7 also. An IP68 certified body indicates the ability of the phone to endure water. This is to say that the phone in consideration should be able to resist submersion in one and a half meters of water during half an hour. This obviously doesn’t mean that the user should send in their device for a swim!
Besides this, an interesting element about the Galaxy Note 6 has surfaced. GalaxyClub, has discovered that Samsung has shipped in an ‘iris cam’ into India for the R&D activities. One thing that is overt on that import package is the label which mentions ‘Samsung Mobile’. This obviously makes us ruminate on the fact that the iris cam might be a component of the upcoming smartphone range by this South Korean tech giant.
The possibility of the presence of iris scanner raises questions on the usage of the same. If the feature is considered into usage, then increased security apart from fingerprint scanning which could somehow extend to some of Samsung’s apps other than the likely lock screen bypass, definitely comes to mind.
It has also been reported that the Galaxy Note 6 will feature a USB Type-C port, reversible connector and all. Although, whether it will be USB 3.1 or an older standard USB port is debatable. It makes sense for Samsung to choose USB 3.1, because it is in true sense of the word, the port which is the king of kings. What makes us say this is entirely because of the fact that USB 3.1 supports USB Power Delivery 2.0 which in turn enables faster device charging and facilitates HDMI or Display Port video signals.
The usage of USB Type-C Port leads us to another premise:
Is Samsung coming up with a new Gear VR in conjunction with the Galaxy Note 6?
What leads us to this premise is the fact that the present version of the Gear VR comes with a microUSB port, therefore it is reasonable to expect a successor of the Gear VR with a USB Type-C connector.
After Samsung’s success with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the South Korean smartphone giant wants to tackle the upcoming iPhone with the successor to the Galaxy Note 5.
Rumour has it that the device could sport a gigantic 5.8 inch display, most probably AMOLED, as well as 6 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. Regarding the camera, there have been no reports as such. However, it is most likely that the 12-megapixel rear shooter and 5-megapixel front shooter (both with f/1.8 aperture) along with the ultra-fast dual pixel autofocus system, might be borrowed from its Galaxy S7/S7 Edge range.
As per the reports by SamMobile, Samsung is testing two variants of the Galaxy Note 6, one with a curved screen and one with a flat screen — both have Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution. In the Galaxy Note 6, Samsung is also looking forward to accommodate a larger battery of about 4,000 mAh. Its predecessor Galaxy Note 5, on the other hand, had a 3,220 mAh battery.
What’s interesting is that the Galaxy Note 6 might be the first to run on Android N, Google’s next version of mobile OS. Also, this would probably mark the potential return of the Note line-up in Europe.
All this while it should be remembered that all these are just speculations and Samsung could at any point of time make changes as the prototypes are still under development. However, with the rumoured specs Galaxy Note 6 looks packed with major updates and looks like that it will be able to shoulder the expectations that have been created after the immense success of Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Meanwhile, we at Chip-Monks, totally understand your excitement for this new Galaxy Note 6 and would keep you updated with all the legit information.
iPhones To Get Their OLED Display Panels From Samsung
Apple’s got a dichotomous reputation in the market – while some think of it as the world’s leading innovator and a proponent of new ideas, others think of it as merely a quick adapter of new trends and ideas.
The jury is still out on which claim is more legitimate, yet it is irrefutable that Apple, through its myriad movements and market achievements, has become one of those brands that is the swiftest and most receptive to change.
Sometimes they cause the change, at others, they embrace something that’s already out there in the marketplace – and juice it up to deliver an even better product than the original form.
One of the many talking points of Apple devices has been Apple’s insistence to continue using LCD panels on it’s iPhones and iPads. While the Android world is replete with OLEDs of every form and evolution, Apple has “lagged behind”, because of this affinity to LCDs. In fact, Apple’s eventual change to OLED that has been “predicted” many times over. Since it was something competitors were already doing so and also keeping in mind the advantages that OLEDs present compared to LCDs, it could very well be said that Apple was at a risk of falling behind.
That may be about to change as Apple seems to be making headway in that direction.
According to a new report from the Korean Herald, Samsung and Apple have signed a deal, basis which Samsung will supply around 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels to Apple, starting 2017. The 3 year deal is said to be worth USD 2.59 billion.
Apple’s previous attempts at switching to OLEDs were thwarted by the lack of a manufacturer who could cater to the busy outflow of iPhones. This time, Apple is said to have approached both LG and Samsung to vie for a supplier contract for these displays.
That Samsung was able to secure the deal is perhaps more to do with its image as the market leader in OLEDs than its supply capabilities.
The deal also comes at the back of LG’s announcement in January that it will boost its production capacity for curved display panels in 2017. That was a follow up of its plans from the previous year to construct an advanced facility for OLED production.
Considering that Apple is expected to ship approximately 250 million iPhones annually over the next couple of years, it would come as no surprise if Apple decides to go for multiple suppliers. In the wake of recent developments, LG would be a frontrunner.
Long-time Apple partner and iPhone assembler Foxconn is also expected to enter the fray to win OLED supply contracts. The Taiwanese giant acquired Japan’s OLED-maker Sharp recently, and could leverage its healthy relationship with Apple as a viable means to attract the iPhone-maker into a contract.
The report does not speak of OLED displays for the smaller 4.7 inch phones; this only-5.5 inch OLEDs is a peculiar twist. We (at Chip-Monks) think that only the Plus variants will carry the new screen tech for the first year – so as to further differentiate the phablet version from the 4.7 inch sibling (as the camera set up and battery size does currently). So, the screen capability could perhaps further enforce demarcation between Apple’s high-end and mass-appeal phones.
The general belief is that that the 4.7 inch ones drastically outsell the 5.5 inch ones with the ratio being 2:1 in favour of the smaller ones. This could perhaps be attributed to the lower cost price of the 4.7 inch ones with features that could sustain if not overly entertain the everyday user.
The lure of OLEDs is the display offers quicker response time and brighter colours, as opposed to LCDs. Moreover, its effective battery consumption improves battery life. It is for anyone to see that Apple could be vying to boost the sale of its 5.5 inch higher end phones.
However this move could backfire since it could cannibalise sales of the smaller handset, adn also clear the way for some customers to jump ship and consider similar sized options among other brands at a much more reasonable price tag.
Back to the deal. Samsung’s supposed contribution of 5.5 inch panels disrupts the coherency with predictions from noted insider Ming-Chi Kuo, who last month said Apple would market a 5.8 inch AMOLED iPhone as part of next year’s lineup. Per the leakster, the 2017 handset would bear a “glass sandwich” design reminiscent of iPhone 4/4s, but with a curved front and back.
Kuo had said the 5.8-inch AMOLED model will either be tacked on to Apple’s existing 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch iPhone formats, or completely replace the 5.5 inch TFT-LCD model, depending on supply.
The so called “revamp” comes at the back of the somewhat underwhelming sales of iPhones that Apple has had to endure. Apple is also said to be considering adding wireless charging and biometric sensors to its new iPhone in 2017.
Well, we’ll all have to wait to see how things pan out, but one thing’s for certain – it’s going to be yet another interesting year!
Samsung Patents Smart Contact Lenses With Built-in Cameras
In today’s world where technology changes faster than fashion, tech companies are scrambling to develop technology to power new innovative ideas and to create products to attract the market share of every form.
One such hot area is Wearable technology. And, Augmented Reality tools aren’t far behind.
And where there’s customer interest (read: money to be made) Samsung is at the door, with a large hat to throw in the ring, any ring. So why should Wearables or AR be ignored?
Having exploring the realm of Virtual Reality (VR) with the Samsung Gear VR, the south Korean company is now entering the Augmented Reality (AR) arena.
Confused between AR and VR? Let me help you.
In layman language, the main difference between AR and VR is that in Augmented Reality, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them. Whereas with Virtual Reality, the user is isolated from the real world while involved in a world that is completely artificial.
Clearer now? Good!
Proceeding, technology blog Sammobile reported that Samsung has been granted a patent by the South Korean copyright authority titled ‘Smart Contact Lens For Augmented Reality And Methods Of Manufacturing And Operating‘.
The patent is to develop smart contact lenses that can project images directly into the user’s eye, take photographs and be powered by a wireless connection to a smartphone.
The patent was applied for in 2014 and the image associated with the application shows a lens with a small display, a camera, an RF antenna, and multiple sensors to detect movement – all in that small button-sized form!
The company also certifies in the patent that image quality suffers while using an external surface like the lens of a spectacle. The smart contact lenses would provide much better image quality than existing smart glasses and will obviously be far less bulky.
What Would Constitute The Uses Of Smart Contact Lenses?
Quite a few, actually:
Quite “smart” isn’t it?
But the tricky part is blinking as a means to control ocular interface. It may become a hassle and give rise to a lot of creepy and awkward situations. To your rescue comes the option of controlling the interface through your smartphone, as an alternative.
To address another issue that plagued Google Glass, Samsung claims that the smart lens can overcome the narrow limited viewing angle of Google Glass due to its proximity to the retina and could make the need for eye-tracking redundant. These issues will be resolved by inserting a tiny OLED display between soft contact lens layers.
Now, let’s surprise you!
What Samsung is doing is not new! Many have tested the waters with Google leading the front most prominently.
Samsung further claims superiority over Glass by spending on research and development for eye navigation instructions and the ability to search the web for extra information on what the user is seeing through the lens.
The road might not be that smooth for Samsung.
With Google Glass already finding it difficult to get the acceptance of mainstream users due to its unsightly and alienating image, and the heated privacy debate will reach an entirely new height when tiny cameras will become completely hidden in contact lenses coupled with the vast avenues to post the captured visuals albiet at times against the person’s consent.
While people already feel that Google Glass is just for the geeky nerd, Samsung is yet to deal with the fact that people walking around with the ability to discreetly take photographs with the blink of an eye might creep out the general public and the stigma may be difficult to shrug off.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves.
History has taught us that all that is patented may not necessarily see the light of the day as a final product. It takes a lot more than just a concept and a prototype to produce a market-viable product.
We are still unclear whether the smart lens is a concept or if it is actually happening. The point to take note is that Samsung has also trademarked the name ‘Gear Blink‘ in the US and South Korea approximately around the same time it filled for the smart lens patent.
So, for Gear Blink to suddenly make an appearance in near future would be a safe bet to place, considering that Samsung’s facing the heat on it’s pole position as the world’s smartphone Goliath, and needs something to stay ahead.
Completely Transform Your Samsung Galaxy S7's Lock Screen
Very rarely do we see a phone maker voluntarily offering optional, sweeping changes to the interface (UI) of one of its major handsets.
I’m talking about Samsung’s launch of “Good Lock” on its Galaxy Apps Store for the Galaxy S7 devices.
Good Lock is described by Samsung as “the advanced Samsung System UI”, since this app provides a complete makeover to the Galaxy S7’s lock screen, while adding changes to the status bar, notification shade and recent apps menu.
Let’s list the changes Good Lock brings to the device’s lock screen:
The reworked UI brings a bunch of visual changes too, which well, are not really too pleasing to the eyes. Bright, vivid colors dominate, in stark contrast to the muted tones of the standard Galaxy S7 interface.
This mix of colors and animation styles, along with a potpourri of Samsung and vanilla Android visuals, makes Good Lock visually confusing initially and is also redolent of the Technicolor explosion seen on Samsung phones of the Galaxy S4 range!
Customization is important to most people as it makes user interaction with the device easy and smooth and Good Lock does well on that front, even if it’s only a lock screen app.
The Good Lock app is only available for Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge owners in the United States, at least for now and users can download Good Lock from the Galaxy Apps Store or side load it from APKMirror.
This optional transformation of the UI by Samsung via Good Lock app might also be Samsung’s move towards eliminating the tedious work from major Android firmware updates and packing them in easily updatable apps instead, something like HTC does with Zoe and Sense.
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S: Up Against The iPad Pro And Surface 4
The newest Samsung flagship to step into the tablet game is Galaxy TabPro S. But it’s not just another tablet from the company that seems to breed new products in a hyper-active hatchery.
It’s different, in oh so many ways.
First, the TabPro S is a hybrid device – a tablet and a laptop rolled into one (a trend we’re seeing lately), with its design and features inspired from and comparable with Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.
Second, it’s a Samsung product, with a Windows operating system. So? Well, it’s Samsung’s first ever Windows tablet, and it’s first Windows product since the Omnia M released way back in July 2012.
Coming up with the perfect Windows tablet, to beat not just the competition in the existing tablet market, but also challenge the burgeoning phablet market, has been something that a lot of companies, including Microsoft, have been aiming at for a while now.
How long is the while? Well, you’d be surprised to know that it was Microsoft that came up with the first tablet ever, yet somehow they failed to make it as big or as mind blowing as Apple’s iPad over which the world has been going gaga for years now.
But Microsoft’s been gaining ground – their latest, the Surface Pro 4 does quite a good job nonetheless. It’s got it all right – hardware, looks, capabilities and the world’s attention.
Against those odds. can Samsung beat Microsoft at its own game?
To even the odds somewhat, Samsung appears to have brought in the expertise of it’s two biggest competitors and hopes to gain leverage to get a leg over them both – Apple’s design and Microsoft’s operating system. It even seems to be highly inspired by Apple’s iPad Pro!
TabPro S is a 12 inch tablet, a little smaller than iPad Pro, and almost the same size as the Surface Pro 4. But to best them, Samsung laid it’s best display yet – the third first for the TabPro S – it is the first tablet in the world, to sport a Super AMOLED screen on a Windows 10 platform.
Going back to ‘inspiration’ – the TabPro runs on the same central processing (CPU) unit as the Surface Pro 4; Intel’s new Core M3 CPU. This particular chip from Intel enables users to glide over multiple browsing and multiple tasks simultaneously.
The TabPro S comes with 4 GB RAM and a 128 GB non-expandable memory and is priced in the neighbourhood of $900, less than both its competitors. To sweeten the deal, the TabPro S comes with a familiar keyboard cover to double as a laptop.
The TabPro S also seems a little thinner than both of its competitors and does not have the standard USB port, but only a Type C port that can be used for charging as well as data.
That’s the fourth first – the TabPro S is the first Samsung product released with the Type C port; not even the smartphones have it yet!
When asked about that, Jennifer Langan, the Samsung Director of Mobile Product Marketing said: “usually it’s the phones that get the latest and greatest features and then the tablets get them next. This is the one time where we got it backwards.”
Okay, what do we expect out of the hybrid device?
Well, to speak freely, we expect it to do double duty. On one hand we need it to be our everyday workstation for email, accessing and working on office documents; and on the other hand we expect it to give us easy tap-swipe-flick of an entertainment experience with media watching and playing games.
This is what makes it so difficult to bring an iPad alternative to the market. While the iPad Pro is not really positioned as a hybrid, but to counter it’s capabilities other manufacturers are forced to make hybrid machines, like the Lenovo Yoga series, which is a lineup of full-time-laptop-and-part-time-tablets.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro over its 4 generations has finally come considerably close.
TabPro S, however, may have struck it right, the first time around.
Should you buy it?
All said, the TabPro could be a good investment. It brings sleek design, features of an iPad Pro, and the Surface Pro 4 rolled into one with the Windows 10 workstation experience.
In terms of its Super AMOLED display, and Type-C port, along with the package-included keyboard, it has a couple more firsts that might go in its favor. The $900 price tag along with the familiarity of a Windows interface could do it good.
I’d only qualify this verdict with the sobering thought that there aren’t too many apps out there on Windows 10 just yet, and a smart device especially one with so much horsepower could get tethered to that stake for quite a while, and the racehorse may never break into a gallop.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2016) With 7-Inch Display
Samsung is on a roll again with a lot of refreshed models of their existing devices being released. The next addition to Samsung’s product range is going to be the new 2016 version of Galaxy Tab A (that was originally released in 2015).
Some folks got a sneak peak of the Galaxy Tab A (2016 version) as it was briefly seen listed on the company’s Dutch website this past week, without pricing and availability details though.
A keen observer caught the post and was able to grab the specs of the revised device (we’ll get to those in just a minute).
The original 2015 Galaxy Tab A was aimed at the middle-class user base – apparent through the fairly plain Jane features. So, the 2015 version was far from ‘groundbreaking’ as it ran more or less on average hardware as well as software.
The 2015 versions of Galaxy Tab A included two variants – an 8 inch and a 9.7 inch Wi-Fi and LTE-enabled version, priced in the neighbourhood of INR 17,000 to 18,000.
The tablets suited their portfolio in terms of the budget, with most upscale tablets priced at least two brackets of price over.
Now, let’s see what the new version of the tablet holds.
To start with the exterior, the tablet looks more or less the same as its predecessors, with the size being the major point of difference. The 2016 version of the Galaxy Tab A has a 7-inch TFT display with a 1280×800 pixels screen resolution and is a Wi-Fi only version, going by the details on the Dutch website of the company.
The tablet runs on Android Lollipop, with a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and 1.5 GB of RAM. It ships with 8 GB of internal storage, is expandable up to 200 GB using a microSD card and is powered by a a 4,000 mAh battery.
If there’s a photographer in you, the tablet has a 5 megapixel rear camera, with video capability at 1280×720 pixel HD resolution at 30fps, and a 2 megapixel front camera.
Weighing at about 283 grams, the tablet features Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GLONASS, and micro-USB as connectivity options.
While there would probably not be any S-Pen support for the tablet, but it comes with a Kid mode.
While the company hasn’t yet stated a price or the availability of the Galaxy Tab A 2016 version, one can however expect it to be priced similarly, and out soon, since it is already up on the Dutch website.
As for the competition it could expect to a face-off from it’s older sibling, the 2015 versions of the tablet. Apple’s iPad Mini, Lenovo’s Yoga 2, Acer One S1002, Asus ZenPad Theatre, Dell Venue 8, and Samsung’s own Tablet E and Tablet 4 make for its competitors in the current market.
This is the second time in the recent past that Samsung has done something like this with one of its product ranges. A few days ago, the 2016 versions of Samsung Galaxy J1 Mini and Samsung Galaxy J1 were also exclusively listed on the company’s website without price or availability details.
The 7-inch screen could be the USP for the tablet. With most tablets in the market at 9 to 11 inches, a person with 7-inch tablet needs ends up turning usually towards a phablet, most of which are priced in an upper price bracket. With a 7-inch tablet that could prove itself in the market, what Samsung might be looking at is utilizing the market need, for smaller tablets with substantial features.
Entrim 4D Headphones - The New Audibles To Virtual Reality Heaven
The future ain’t what it used to be, we can be quite sure of that!
Reaching there, at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, our Neo will need more than its eyes. That is what Samsung is tapping into.
Enter Entrim 4D Headphones, an innovation from Samsung’s Creative Lab, a startup nesting place for Samsung employees who harbour brain worms apart from their usual full-time jobs.
“Virtual reality shouldn’t be experienced only with the eyes“, says Samsung’s Steve Jung, the project’s mastermind and after conducting experiments on more than 1,500 people and developing 30 different movement patterns, the team unveiled their brainchild at South by Southwest tech, film and music festival in Austin, Texas.
Entrim apart from doing its main job of fuelling sound, boasts-of its ability to trick our brain into a sense of movement.
“With Entrim 4D, we hope that people can experience VR (virtual reality) the way it was meant to be—with their whole bodies“.
Still in developmental phase, the set up includes a compatible Samsung Gear Virtual reality set and a set of headphones that boast of “Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation“- a method used to train pilots and heart patients about balance.
Did you know that your ears are not only responsible for you hearing sounds but also play a critical role in you maintaining your balance.
A human ear consists of two parts, the cochlea, which is responsible for your hearing ability while the inner ear is made up of semicircular canals and vestibule, that are responsible for balance.
According to vestibular.org, the website of a society dedicated to understanding vestibular disorders, “Sensory information about motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation is provided by the vestibular apparatus, which in each ear includes the utricle, saccule, and three semicircular canals. The utricle and saccule detect gravity (vertical orientation) and linear movement“, behaving somewhat like the gyroscope and accelerometer in your mobile device.
In its press release, Samsung shared the working of the headphones – the Entrim uses electrodes to stimulate nerves in the ears, leading to a sense of motion. “Electrical signals—like the ones used to help restore balance in stroke patients—are delivered via headphones equipped with electrodes that correspond with movement data input by engineers. Users thus feel as if they are a part of the on-screen action, and can also sense direction and speed of movement and, when paired with the team’s Drone FPV, which utilises data from the drone’s motion sensors, they can even feel like they are flying.”
Jung says that he got the idea from a friend who is a medical professional.
Being one of the first technological innovations dealing with the auditory part of the Virtual Reality, the headphones are still in developmental phase. Looking like normal over the ear headphones, they consist of components which incite the ear nerves.
Participants who viewed the promotional video through this equipment stated that the presence of headphones provided a total immersion in the virtual world, enabling them to experience even the swaying sensation when the car (in the video) took turns around road bends.
Some participants, unfortunately, complained of feeling disoriented, like they were experiencing motion sickness, after sampling the headphones.
Although it definitely adds to the racing experience and the realism, Samsung has assured us that the product is completely safe. The company explains that since this is a novel experience sampled by the user for the first time, the entire experience will take some time to adapt to, and for the user to make the shift from the previous VR devices.
Since earlier devices didn’t influence or leverage the sense of hearing, this led to a certain “mental discrepancy” in the mind where the sense of sight didn’t necessarily compliment the user’s sense of hearing.
Although the pricing hasn’t been decided yet, there have been market speculations of it being priced around USD 100.
Entrim headphones are certainly novel in the ways that they work, and they will definitely usher in a new era of more immersive Virtual Reality. But they are the only ones.
Entrim will share the stage with HTC’s Vive Pre, a first-of-its-kind virtual reality system which allows the user to visually and physically experience sights and sounds. With Oculus Rift (from Facebook) ready to be shipped, the users will get to experience VR this year.
Let the battle of the VR devices begin!
Samsung's Smart Windshield For Two Wheelers
One of our key initiatives is our Radar section, that covers products and technology that don’t yet exist in the market or about products that people need really soon.
One of the products worthy of getting a mention and an article unto itself is the Samsung Smart Windshield – a windshield for two-wheelers, aimed at making driving safe and free of distractions from the ever-buzzing phone.
It is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The premise is simple: give the two-wheeler rider information in way that he doesn’t need to use his hands to access it.
Put together with the help of a small projector and a windshield glass, the Smart Windshield basically projects in front of the bike rider, all the information from his smartphone that he might need, or want, including notifications, messages, emails, and calls, of course, but it also includes things like navigation that can enable the user while riding.
The Smart Windshield connects to the user smartphone via an app, and the user can program the app to reply on his behalf to calls and messages, with standard programmed texts.
While just a concept at this time, it definitely is an exciting one! The concept comes from Samsung Italy, specifically aimed at reducing the number of distracted riders (of which there are many in Italy!).
Dash displays have been in existence in cars and trucks for a while now, enabling the driver to see similar information on their dashboards; some two-wheelers too, have even innovatively worked on the displays inside helmets. In fact, a headgear-related idea came from Reevu a little while ago, and from BMW who want to put in a helmet-integrated heads-up display.
While in principle, this is not principally very different from Google Glass either – getting prompts, directions and notifications as you walk around and go by your day, however the concept from Samsung seems far most feasible and has immediate real-world applications.
The Yamaha Tricity was the first vehicle fitted with a prototype, to see how the concept performs. Floated via a YouTube video, the concept is a part of Samsung’s initiative called Launching-People, to show how technology can help solve real-world societal problems.
A company like Samsung, or for that matter, other companies of equal caliber existing in the market do possess the expertise and the resources to make it happen.
The Samsung Smart Windshield is then one of the things that one of these tech-giants need to bring to the market soon to establish edge their way into the innovators list, as they have been in the manufacturers’ roll-call for a very long time.
microSD Returns To The Samsung Galaxy S7. Here's Why It Was Removed In The First Place.
Launched at the Mobile World Congress recently, both the S7 devices offer 32 GB internal storage and an option of expanding memory via the microSD slot that cohabitates with the nano SIM. This expansion allows you to have up to 200 GB on the device.
This reinstatement of the coveted microSD slot was celebrated by all Samsung aficionados, especially since the outgoing Galaxy S6 did not have expandable memory.
With the Galaxy S6, Samsung had removed the microSD slot from their phone, thus subscribing to the Apple, Nexus and HTC’s model of storage i.e. providing phones with multiple fixed-storage options. You could choose from three versions of the phone: with 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB internal storage.
The lack of expandable storage had been a huge disappointment for Samsung users as they felt it was an arm-twisting ploy to forced them to unreasonably pay more for storage (microSD cards are significantly cheaper than the difference charged by most brands for higher-memory variants). This absence of expandability not only became a huge bone of contention for a lot of people, Samsung was panned far and wide, and it is also said to have affected the Galaxy S6’s sales the world over.
Why did Samsung do so, especially when all its competitors (except for Apple, Nexus and HTC) were offering expandable storage?
Was Samsung trying to ape Apple in providing a range of devices with multiple storage options? Samsung clarifies:
“At the time we launched the S6, we upgraded all the performance within the device. We upgraded to UFS 2.0, we upgraded to DDR4 RAM… we believed that having a memory card slot would slow down the performance of the device” explained Kyle Brown, Samsung’s Head of Technology, Content, and Launch Management.
Was it the issue of space, since Samsung was trying to make its phone sleeker and lighter?
Perhaps not. Removing the SD card could have given them substantially more space to make a difference in the construct of the phone, but let’s be honest here, microSD cards are tiny and they can’t really be taking enough space for the company to decide to remove them altogether.
Another issue with the microSD slot that was the suspected overheating. That problem though, was later pinned to the phone’s processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 which was noted to heat up under certain circumstances and uses.
Panned for the unilateral decision, albeit on the back misconstrued and misunderstood reasons, Samsung invested heavily in innovating the best-case reimplementation of the microSD card especially since the S7’s were pushing a huge envelope – both devices were being designed to be water resistant, with no flaps for their various ports and buttons.
“A lot of people were very disappointed we didn’t have a (memory card) slot in the S6, and (its return) has been one of the most positive reactions to the S7. We’re really proud of what managed to achieve, adding a microSD slot and water resistant IP68 rating. It’s a really massive achievement for engineers,” said Brown.
It’s good to see proof of Samsung’s open mindedness to customer feedback and its determination to meet and exceed expectations, even at the cost of immense R&D and product innovation. Kudos, Samsung!
Side Note: Some advice from Chip-Monks:
While the microSD enables you to “overflow” apps (and their data) and other internal programs from the phone onto the SD card, we suggest you don’t “overflow” stuff. Having apps on internal memory and their data not he card sometimes causes performance issues while opening those apps up as accessing data saved on the SD card takes longer, even if only by a fraction of a second.
Opening up music tracks from an SD card is still not as cumbersome as using an app that is stored on the SD card.
We advice you to ensure that your apps stay on the phone’s memory, and other “item” data like music, videos and even photos reside on the SD card.
Samsung Remains on Top In India
India is a huge market and lots of international brands have descended upon this “goldmine” hoping to make a mark in it’s effervescent waters. And a lot of them seem to have hit paydirt.
In the past year, these budget brands have brought out flagship devices which have earned them fairly big shares in the already saturated market space. International Data Corporation (IDC) released data for the Indian smartphone market that shows 64.3 million units were sold in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is a drop of 11% from the last quarter and that of 5% from the previous year. This clearly signifies there’s some saturation setting in now.
That said, Samsung has managed to keep their lead in the market, retaining its number one position for the total number of devices sold. Given that Samsung is a brand that has a device for you in every single price bracket you can think of, from a feature phone to a flagship smartphone. With the J-series and On series, Samsung has managed to retain a little more than 29% of the smartphone market in the top 30 cities in the country.
Micromax, enjoyed a good run too, in it’s home-market, with a 14.7% share coming in at second position in the ranking, having gained credibility and trust in the Indian market over the last couple of years. It has however, suffered a loss of about 2.5% of it’s market share in the last six months, facing severe competition from brands like Intex and Lava.
With 10.1% market share, Lenovo and Motorola hold a joint third position in the market. With devices such a Lenovo K3 Note, Lenovo Vibe P1m and Motorola Moto G ( Gen 3), the brands have gained a “value for money” reputation, with both brands having moved up on the Brand popularity ladder.
Intex with 8.2% and Lava with 7.1%, bagged the fifth and the sixth position respectively. Both brands have slipped by a couple spots, having been nudged over by Lenovo and Motorola.
This is only the second time that Intex has featured on the top 5 list, and could be owed to its focused launches and increased retail presence strategies. Lava also seems consistent in its market presence, despite its slip in position this year.
One of the notable brand movements since the last quarter in the market was Apple, with 4.6% share of the overall market, managed to pass Xiaomi.
At the end of the last quarter, the ranking was the other way around. While Apple dominates the over INR 20,000 market with a 42% share, Xiaomi has turned into a big name in the budget smartphone market, bringing feature-loaded devices to people. It has managed to gain a 3.5% share of the overall market in spite of having received a ban on a certain handset, and other hiccups over the quarter with its online-only approach.
Xiaomi’s Head, Hugo Barra, reportedly said that they do not plan to focus on competing with Apple, nor have they been doing so as of now.
That’s an interesting claim since I (and quite a few others) feel that their detail to construct, and even their website has inspiration from Apple written all over!
Proving their quality, the traction that these Chinese brands, and their established citizen brand, Motorola are gaining in the market is impressive, even though their low-end prices continue to make some people doubtful of the said features. The technology in their devices and the promised user experience thereafter are gaining trust and popularity faster in the leading cities.
“There is a clear trend of migration from feature phones to low end smartphones in smaller cities and towns, making these markets the next growth engine for the smartphone industry. With the first time mobile phone users coming on a smartphone, it will be their only connected device which meets all of their internet and entertainment needs,” reportedly said Swapnil Bhatnagar, Research Director, IDC India.
One of the brands that has disappeared from the top ranking in the last six months has been Nokia. It was taken over by Microsoft last year and had been struggling to keep up with the current smartphone market, however things could change for them as they now enter into the ever growing Android ecosystem.
Looking at the data with regards to cities, New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, has managed to be the leading city in the country to having generated maximum demand. As per IDC’s monthly city level smartphone tracker, the top 30 cities in the country make for 51% of the smartphone market in the last quarter of 2015, with the top 5 cities making up about 60% of the online smartphone market.
Segments wise, Samsung has managed to be the biggest winner in the market, dominating both, the high-end as well as the budget market by sheer length and breadth of their product offering. Apple seems to be dominating the high-end market, while the mid-range Android smartphone market has Motorola, Lenovo and Micromax fairing well and Xiaomi for now seems to be dwindling between the midrange and budget segments.
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge Gets More Teeth With The Marshmallow Update
While the Android Marshmallow update started rolling out as far back as August 2015, with the Nexus 5 being the first smartphone to receive it, Samsung got cracking on adding its own features to this upgrade. And that is always a time consuming activity. Finally, after much delay, Samsung recently announced it’s rollout to the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.
Samsung is all set to provide the Marshmallow update to its devices starting with the Galaxy S6 edge on February 15, followed by other, compatible Galaxy devices.
‘Separate announcements will be made regarding the details for updates in different markets depending upon the market situation and carriers’ requirements’, says Samsung.
With the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow update, Samsung is introducing the ‘Enhanced Edge Screen’ and ‘New Edge Screen features’ that would make using Samsung’s Galaxy S6 smartphone much easier, and interactions a lot faster.
Here’s what we could cull out as the expected improvements in experience:
A lot of these are exciting features, and we shouldn’t overlook the unstated, yet implicit improvements in device performance and efficiencies.
Marshmallow Updates On Your Samsung Devices Are On Their Way
Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 has been eagerly awaited by almost all Android users. But for most Samsung users, the wait may be over as the Korean smartphone giant started rolling out the update for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ globally yesterday.
This comes right after the rollout of the update for Galaxy S6 edge+ in India and France over the last few weeks.
Thus, the rollout has now covered:
Being made available to each device as an over-the-air (OTA) update, it is still a heavy bit of code! The update is said to be about 1.3 GBs in size (for the Galaxy S6 edge+, for example).
Google had released the updated operating system last November, and Samsung has since been slogging towards the roll out, taking its time as it goes.
The process of a roll out is quite lengthy and cumbersome as each company invests time in customising the software to it’s varied hardware. Then the phone makers and wireless carriers both, have to thoroughly test each new version from Google for every device before they can plan and implement a rollout.
The Android Marshmallow update for the Galaxy S6 edge has brought:
“What next”, is obviously a question that comes to mind in the light of this new roll out.
The answer, however, can only be a speculation. It was in August last year that the Korean mega-brand had rolled out its flagship phablet Galaxy Note 5. The Note 5 came with Android Lollipop, the then latest version of the Google operating system, which can now be upgraded to Android Marshmallow. However, we are already hearing the rumours about Android N, a more advanced operating system.
Android N seems to for now only exist as a concept. But to be honest it is not far from reality. We already have rumours about its features floating around, it wouldn’t be too long before the operating system is ready to be out in the market.
If Samsung rolls out a Galaxy Note 6 soon, soon being sometime towards the end of this year or early next year, the device could possibly run on Android N. This would be not much different from how Galaxy S7 already came with Android Marshmallow before other devices started getting the update.
Till then, the global availability of Android Marshmallow is certainly something that users of the high-end Samsung devices across the world are rejoicing.
Even More Goodies For The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge Via The Marshmallow Update
Post our article announcing the imminent rollout of Android Marshmallow to the first Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy S6 edge, we spent some time with the refreshed device and found even more goodies stuffed in there. So, consider this an update on the update!
Well, Samsung’s Android Marshmallow 6.0 update has actually brought a truckload of positive changes for the Galaxy S6 edge, especially to its curved Edge screen.
To start with, here’s a forewarning: the update is close to 1.2 GB in size, so better be on a broadband connection when you download it!
Now for the good stuff, the update comes with adjustments to TouchWiz, a new vibration pattern, better battery management and granular controls over in-app permissions (allowing you to decide what resident apps can, and can’t access) and a redesigned App Drawer with a scroll bar.
Edge screen-specific changes abound – in fact, the new Marshmallow update will change the face of edge screen! Here are some things that stood out during our testing:
Overall, we were very happy with the new avatar of the Galaxy S6 edge. It almost felt like a new phone, and the utility and interaction experience is significantly better and feels more fluid and intuitive.
Finally, the increased utility of the edge allows us to feel vindicated of the choice of having bought an edge-device. Maybe it was ahead of its time back then, because its only now proving its worth.
Let’s see what else Samsung springs on us in the coming months!
Samsung's Secret Wearable Activity Tracker Revealed!
Samsung rumoured all-new super cool wearable, a fitness tracker that looks pretty similar to its Gear S2 smartwatch has been in news since November last year.
internally codenamed ‘Triathlon’, which refers to the sport (possibly implying the tracker’s multiple sports capability), is safely in the company towers, out of our sights at present.
The lesser we know, the more curious we are. And we aren’t the only curious ones of course!
Tizen Café, a Korean website, tweeted some interesting photographs of a hitherto-unseen Samsung product. Conjecture is that the device looks like Samsung’s fabled, new wearable SM-R150.
While the pictures were subsequently removed from Tizen’s Twitter account, the folks at SamMobile managed to get their hands on these images and have now hosted them on their own site.
The images feature a device that has a chic round dial with a rotatable bezel and a basic strap similar to that of Samsung’s Gear S2. The images suggest that this uber-cool metal based device will have a heart rate sensor and would also help you keep a track of your water intake along with helping count your exercise repetitions.
Going by the leaked images, the device should also be able to measure the wearer’s body fat (hey we aren’t judging the product, or you… we’re only reporting things as they are 😉
What’s more – there’s also an option of detaching the device from its strap so that you can attach it to your chest or any other part of the body as you may please – it seems to resemble the Misfit wearable in this regard.
As per Tizen Café, the device is backed with Samsung’s new Bio-Processor chip, a chipset showcased at CES-2016 by Samsung recently on its S-Patch prototype.
This mysterious device is alleged to be a competitor to Xiaomi’s Mi Band fitness tracker which is very competitively priced at USD 15. The price for Samsung’s SM-R150 is yet to be revealed by the company.
If this new wearable is priced well, it may well give the MI Band a run for marketshare.
There’s still no news on when this device will be available in stores, but we’re assuming that it would be unveiled along with Samsung’s gen-next smartphone, the Galaxy S7.
ARM-Based Mobile Chips By Lenovo And Xiaomi
Recent times have witnessed a growing trend where prolific smartphone manufacturers are designing their own systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) instead of equipping their devices with a Intel or Qualcomm chip.
Apple and Samsung have been in the business for long now. Inspired by them, quite a few other manufacturers seem to be attempting to enter this manufacturing domain.
With a clear intention to compete against Apple and Samsung, Lenovo and Xiaomi are likely to build their own adaptable SoCs.
While Xiaomi has partnered with a leading chip designer Leadcore Innovation for ARM-based SoCs to be fitted in Xiaomi’s 2016 devices, Lenovo has been constantly making serious efforts towards developing its own ARM chips in-house.
This can’t bode well for full-time chip manufacturers! With the world’s two largest brands having become self-reliant, the long-established chip producers have already witnessed significant losses in business.
In 2015, San Diego-based Qualcomm experienced a significant drop in shipments and if Samsung succeeds in fully replacing the need for Snapdragon processors by it’s self-made Exynos line, then the chipset maker could behold further plunges.
There’s another side to consider too.
With the increased competition in the chip manufacturing business from budding smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi and Lenovo, Apple and Samsung themselves need to gear up for some improvements, or it would not take China too long to assert their dominance in the chipset sector too.
Clearly, chip designing is a strenuous task which takes quite some time to get right and it demands continuous improvements from a set of skilled engineers working for several years to perfect the technique.
As the chipsets from Xiaomi and Lenovo get ready for launch, it’ll be interesting to watch how their products fare against those of the existing eminent specialists, and those of the behemoths.
Samsung's New Processor's Stats Leaked. You Should See The Scores!
Samsung’s new handset, the Galaxy S7 has been in the news of late. All manners of leaks – wishful and reliable have been bouncing around the internet.
Well, this article may or may not be about the Galaxy S7.
This time around the rumours are about Samsung’s Exynos 8890 processor which scored really crazily high numbers on AnTuTu tests (one of the foremost performance benchmarking tests used for measuring processor performance).
Seated in an unnamed handset with model number SM-G9300 (which is anticipated to be the Galaxy S7), the processor achieved a crazy score of 103662 on the AnTuTu tests.
It would be an understatement to say that the score of 103662 is high, it is way beyond just high. Just for comparision, the latest chip developed by Huawei known as the Kirin 950, scored 65,000 points on the same test, while the Galaxy S6’s processor had a score of 68,830 and the Galaxy S6 edge’s heart had a score of 64,474.
Back in September, the same Exynos 8890 chip broke all records and scored 5,423 points on the muti-core segment and on the single core test it scored 2,456 points, leaving all other chipsets way behind.
This chip produced by Samsung is made using the 14nm FinFET process.
Going by probable speculations, Samsung‘s Galaxy S7 is anticipated to run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC in the Chinese and U.S. markets and the new Exynos 8890 in other markets across the globe.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that Samsung is getting an exclusive version of Snapdragon – the Snapdragon 820 has been seen clocking in at different degrees, but we know it can easily go upto 2.2 GHz (which is what is expected to be powering the Galaxy S7).
While all this information is nothing more than conjecture (or a rumour) at present, the mere possibility of this being true is sure to excite Samsung lovers with the Galaxy S7 due for launch in the first quarter of 2016 (which is earlier that previous launches of this family of devices).
Clearly, Samsung believes that by pushing up its launch dates, it can compete with its competitors better.
Samsung’s new beauty will come in two variants – one will sport a 5.2 inch display screen while the other, a 5.7 inch curved screen. Folks are saying the smartphone will also have an iPhone-like pressure sensitivity display.
Samsung has always been popular as it usually includes stuff much beyond people’s expectations and several notches higher than competitors’ devices. We’re hoping that it continues this focus and that it doesn’t disappoint us like it did with the Galaxy S5!
Samsung's 2016 A-series Unveiled: Galaxy A3, A5 and A7
“At Samsung, we are committed to continued innovation, inspired by the feedback and needs of our wide range of consumers” said JK Shin, CEO and Head of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Business. “With the introduction of the Galaxy A (2016), we took the consumer feedback on our original Galaxy A models and made thoughtful and impactful improvements offering consumers a seamless convergence of style and performance for their everyday lifestyles.” – Words that announced the new Galaxy A Series.
The new series by Samsung will be available in China, mid-December this year and will make their presence felt globally later in 2016.
Samsung has used glass and metal in their second generation Galaxy A series to give the devices a premium “look and feel” along with visible technology improvements from their predecessors. The 2016 Galaxy A3 will have improved cameras (13 megapixel rear camera coupled with a 5 megapixel front camera), and the Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 models will come with fingerprint scanners, Optical Image Stabilization (for their rear cameras) and MST for Samsung Pay – making them stand out amidst the competition.
A closer look at the INR 22,000 Galaxy A3 reveals that it comes with:
While the Galaxy A5 and the Galaxy A7 have similar specs, there are minor differences in the screen size, RAM and battery capacities.
The 2016 Galaxy A5 smartphone has a 5.2-inch screen with 2 GB RAM, while the only phablet from the new lineup, the Galaxy A7 comes with a 5.5-inch screen with 3 GB RAM.
The A5 is powered by a 2900 mAh battery while the A7 has a 3300mAh battery and is heavier at 172 gms.
These differences spell the difference in the cost of the devices, with the A5 pegged at about INR 26,000, while the A7 is speculated at INR 30,000 or so.
The A5 and A7 share the following hardware:
All the phones have decent specs with superior build construct thanks to the introduction of glass on both, the front and back – inspired by Samsung Galaxy S and Note series.
Adding to the visual lure are the narrower bezels, that bestow the devices a sleeker look like their premium counterparts.
The smartphone will all be available in Pink Gold (a la the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus).
The question remains though, will these ‘refreshed’ offerings prove to be revolutionary or evolutionary – we’re going to have to wait and see the fairly finicky and spoilt-for-choice Chinese populace takes to these devices.
Samsung's Possibly Crafting A Tablet That Folds Up To Become A Phone!
Samsung has made a name for itself, for it’s brilliant technology and manufacturing prowess. Of very recent years, it’s also been noticed for it’s R&D and some of it’s biggest innovations have come from it’s R&D labs.
While Samsung is becoming game-changer in the world of technology one also realises that innovation in the field of smartphones (and not only those from Samsung’s stable) has been slowing down for a while now. There is only so much that a phone can do!
Now, Samsung seems to be doing something to the basic concept of a smartphone that will help it get a new lease of life, and perhaps be able to do more.
Samsung seems to be creating a phone that you can fold in and out like paper!
A foldable tablet-cum-smartphone, actually a phablet in the truest sense of the word possible.
We hear that the device would be a 5-inch smartphone that could be unfolded into a 7-inch tablet whenever needed. That is all that is known about the device as of now since the company has not yet released any information on the specifics of it.
But since it is Samsung, we can expect the specs to the top notch, at least the display, the design and the camera. We can expect good RAM, around 3 GB hopefully, and a microSD slot as well. We can also expect it to run on the latest available version of Android operating system.
The battery though, is something that might not make one as happy, but it perhaps wouldn’t displease us either.
Regardless, these are only assumptions based on Samsung’s track record in its devices.
We do not yet know when this new device would be out in the market. The company had recently mentioned that they plan to bring to the market foldable device “soon”. How soon, though, is a question we can’t answer.
We don’t see it happening this year at least. So maybe we can cross our fingers and hope to have our hands on something of the kind in the first half of the next year.
“It is going to mass-produce foldable display by the end of this year and is planning to sell Foldable Smartphones on markets starting from next year”, a Korean news site reported on 1st April.
If even more rumours are to be believed then SamMobile, a trusted rumour blog, reported that “anonymous sources claim the device is currently being tested in China”. The same source also claims that the device is being developed under the project codenamed Project Valley, in addition to claiming that he/she has great knowledge of the device itself.
Samsung has refused to confirm any of this information.
The technology for such a device would of course not be easy to develop. Samsung has reportedly had to partner with domestic and foreign researchers as well as other companies to put this one together. The lynchpin of it all though, would be the foldable bendy plastic screen that’s been reported earlier as being developed by Samsung’s own display division.
The idea of a flexible phone has existed in the market for a while. In fact, another Korean company is Samsung’s biggest competitor in this budding field.
LG has already marketed a flexible phone which bends up to a certain point.
Additionally, LG recently showed off a working model of an 18-inch Ultra HD screen that used a special film instead of plastic as backing, thus allowing the screen to be rolled into a tight tube for transport, much like a sheet of paper! This was in 2014, and at the time, the screen was expected to be on devices in 2017.
Subsequently LG also debuted a concept they called the ‘Wallpaper TV’. In physical form, it is an ultra thin unit that is less than 1mm thick, and weighs only four pounds (1.9 kgs).
The TV is so thin that it can be attached to the wall only using magnets!
This however, exists only as a prototype at this time and is not expected in the market anytime soon.
But the key difference between LG’s offers and Samsung’s current novelty is that a foldable tablet-cum-smartphone needs to fold at a sharp angle of 90 degrees (and not bend marginally).
It would also need to be able to bear comparatively more wear and tear, and thus need to be much stronger.
While we’re talking about the phone, let us also discuss it in the context of the technology that already exists.
There are companies already working on phones with holographic displays that allow you to see your phone’s screen as a virtual image display above your phone. Similar to projectable keyboards that are fully functional and virtual, and have been around in the market for a while now. There are others working on creating phones that provide a true 3D experience
The question I always have, is around the utility and the product life of something niche – like a foldable phone (or any of the above experimental projects).
Could these possibly live a short-lived life in the fast-paced world of technology, and die out soon, like CDs, having lived only for a couple years did, when data and music went cloud?
The question of the market also stands. Will current users of tablets want the utility offered by a folding (and smaller) device, when they have easy and economical access to 9 and 11 inch products? Not sure.
Prolific smartphone users who yearn for larger screens and don’t want to be saddled with a huge device in their pockets (or belts), on the other hand, might be the target for such a phone than can turn into a tablet. But there are other issues related to longevity of the hardware, the hinges, and even the utility of a screen that’s cut down the middle (where most of the action is usually concentrated in movies and videos)
Regardless – we don’t yet know when can we expect it in the market.
One thing, however, is for certain. With Samsung working on it, and LG (as per some unsubstantiated rumours), also working on something similar, we can expect something out in the market soon.
Whenever it happens, it would be fun to watch LG and Samsung battle for the market of foldable devices, as whoever else bags it first will probably be the one folding a big piece of the market into their pockets!
Samsung Working On Creating Foldable Devices
As per a patent published by the USPTO on November 26th, Samsung is reportedly working on the next big thing – smartphones with foldable screens called the YOUM screens.
For your perspective, a foldable screen is a screen that can be bent in any direction by the user.
The exciting part is that unlike other patents that are at a conceptual stage, it’s not just the idea that Samsung’s got patented – it even had the technology itself patented. So that means the discovery of the ‘how’ is finished, perhaps prototyping too! So they’re close to commercialisation!
After having achieved success in creating and delivering curved devices, Samsung is on it’s journey of creating scrollable, foldable, super-cool devices for the next gen of screens and (hence) devices.
Samsung has been working on for the past nine years – and this all-‘new’ development of flexible displays is actually the fruit of constant R&D, innovation and lots of failed attempts.
But this innovation will open the Tech world to a whole new range of products and that has been something that a lot of us have been waiting for!
As speculated by tech blog SamMobile, Samsung is currently working on a phone that would include a foldable dual screen display. The effort is internally called “Project Valley” or “Project V” and the mobile phone is said to already be in the testing phase.
The name Project V, I’m guessing is because this is the shape the phone would make when it bends!
In fact the Koreans are speculated to be testing two foldable devices with different processors –Snapdragon 620 and the more powerful Snapdragon 820 with 3 GB RAM; obviously driving two high-definition screens will take quite a lot of juice – so we’re guessing that Samsung is trying to establish the performance vs. battery dynamic, so that they’re not ridiculed later for a device that just doesn’t last long enough on a single charge.
Samsung’s Galaxy Round (2013) with the curved-display was their first step in their evolution toward foldable phones. Samsung had then unveiled two working models of smart devices with bendable screens – one resembled a lady’s compact, which snapped shut vertically, while the second device when opened up twice, transformed into a tablet.
The fascination for curved screen is not new, LG had also unveiled their progress on using bendable screens in the Society for Information Display (SID) conference in San Jose earlier this year, where they rolled up an 18 inch screen into a 6 mm diameter without affecting the functionality of the screen.
Samsung is also believed to be working on a flip phone with a bendable screen, where the screen can be bent in either direction. The phone will resemble the erstwhile clamshell Motorola Razor; however will have a bendable fluid screen instead of a disjoint screen and keypad.
The Korean company is planning to have invested close to 6 trillion Won for the production of foldable, bendable, roll-able, scrollable OLED display screens by using graphene and plastic, which will enable them to make perfect high resolution, unbreakable, bendable/foldable screens.
While some people will believe that Samsung’s intent behind this whole new discovery would be to increase it’s market share by introducing expensive and niche smartphones so as to regain the smartphone market lost to it’s arch rival, Apple, I disagree.
Samsung and LG both realise that the applications and uses of bendable/foldable screens are many, and the winner will take all – not just smartphones and tablets, but every other gadget category too. So rivalry seems a petty cause, in this landmark windfall.
Curved and/or foldable screens, apart from adding to the aesthetic appeal of to phones would also add significantly the device’s functionality and any brand would be able to convince audiences to buy this phone based purely on functionalities and new capabilities.
So far only prototypes of the bendable screen have been seen, but rumour has it is that Samsung is planning to launch it’s first product with a bendable screen in 2016.
They haven’y made any public statements about this product or it’s availability, so far.
Nonetheless, I for one, am eagerly waiting to see what Samsung is going to surprise us with next and how this discovery might just change the way I use my smartphones (and of course every other device so impacted)!
Samsung Launches Their Galaxy On Series Starting INR 8,990
The increasing popularity of smartphones in the low-priced smartphone segment has stimulated OEMs into manufacturing smartphones with advanced specs at competitive price. Keeping up with the spirit to capture a larger pie of the smartphone market, Samsung has introduced their “On” range with the Galaxy On5 and Galaxy On7 smartphones.
The Galaxy On series is launched at INR 8,990, targeting the middle income strata of consumers with Flipkart being their exclusive online sales partners. The On series smartphones come with the “Ultra Data Saving mode” (powered by Opera Max) that promises their users up to 50% savings in their data consumption, the same feature being advertised for their “Galaxy J” series phones in recent TV adverts. The Galaxy On5 is offered for INR 8,990 and the Galaxy On7 is for sale at INR 10,900, starting November 4th midnight.
The Galaxy On5 sports:
The second offering, the Galaxy On7 flaunts:
The South Korean tech giant has preloaded its Mix Radio App on both the smartphones, with the app offering multilingual options – Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Rajasthani and many more regional languages for the diverse Indian consumer demographics.
The “On” series is not new, it had been launched in China earlier this year and is now being introduced via online sales in India. Samsung, in the recent years, have launched multiple smartphone models in their mid-range price range – and now we have two additional smartphones added to it.
The pertinent questions that come to mind are:
Many OEMs like Nexus, Motorola and Apple have a limited product range with clear product hierarchy and is serving them well – should Samsung go the same route or continue flooding the market with new products to become the goliaths of the smartphone range by sheer brute force of their product range.
Gigantic 18.4-Inch Samsung Galaxy View Tablet At Your Service
A device’s screen size has become a crucial attribute that influences the purchase decision. The size consideration in turn, depends on what the user intends to do with her device.
While the tablet territory is steadily being encroached upon by smartphones that are now turning into larger and larger “phablets”, could this be a warning sign for the tablets? For many people, the answer would be a “yes”.
Having a larger screen on a handheld device that is always with you, is eating away at the tablet market, as it’s an additional device you need to remember to carry with you, and pull out of a bag. Most people prefer yanking out their most-used device and getting on with the task at hand.
So, yes. The tablet is at risk.
Thing is though, cleverly positioned, there are some devices that can essay some specific roles, given their construct.
Samsung’s created something that they are hoping will give a broader perspective to the tablet market – a new touchscreen device possessing a mammoth 18.4 inch TFT screen.
Dare we call that a tablet anymore, I wonder!
Samsung is promoting the brand new device as a portable television. Called the Galaxy View tablet, it’s massive 18.4 inch screen comes with Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) resolution and is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 7580 1.6 GHz octa-core processor and 2 GB RAM.
It is equipped with a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera for videos calls and thankfully, Samsung has refrained from including a rear-facing camera in such a huge tablet.
It would’ve been nice if the front camera could’ve had better capability and the ability to click wide angle photos, though.
The Galaxy View tablet comes a nano-SIM capability for 4G connectivity and has 32 GB and 64 GB options for in-built storage, that are both expandable up to 128 GB via a micro SD card. Powered by a 5,700,mAh battery, Samsung promises 8 hours of continuous video playback . Currently running on the Android 5.1 Lollipop, the device is the largest display to run the Android OS (Sony has TVs that run on Android TV, which is different from Android OS meant for smartphones).
The South Korean manufacturer claims that the gigantic display matches the feel of watching a 60-inch television. Driving their point of view, Dennis Miloseski, Vice President of Samsung Design America, said “It was never a slate. It was never just a big display”. Clearly it wasn’t a tablet.
“At Samsung, we are committed to creating new possibilities and bringing our consumers the best mobile experience”, said JK Shin, Chief Executive and Head of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Business. “We are very excited to introduce the new Galaxy View, providing an entirely new way of consuming mobile video and entertainment”.
With the new tablet weighing a healthy 2.65 kgs with approximately 12mm thickness, the one thing it is not is portable! So, I think the “mobile” reference in Mr. Shin’s remarks indicates that you carry it in a suitcase, and lug it out when you reach your destination.
Although the Galaxy View seems to be the first device to feature such a massive display, there have been others that haven’t created so much hype in the industry.
We need to hold back and see what Apple has in mind, with their recently launched 12.9-inch iPad Pro (which for the first time in it’s existence seems like a tiny tablet, when placed next to the Galaxy View!).
It’ll also be inserting to see the market’s reactions to this device. Will this new offering get brickbats from users who may shun it for the lack of enticing features or will the device change the user behaviour?
Samsung Pay Readies For Its US Launch
Samsung Pay has made a grand entry in the booming market of mobile payment solutions, already having crossed the 500K users mark ahead of its US launch on 28th September. The South Korean company’s take on mobile payments along the lines of Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay has already been used for 1.5 million transactions (in its first three months of existence), of which 60% were carried out by Galaxy Note5 users. Consider please, that the Note5 itself was released less than three months ago!
Mobile payments have really erupted in 2015 after Apple made a huge push into the space with Apple Pay and Google introduced their Android Pay. Samsung Pay is currently available only on Samsung’s 2015 devices i.e. Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, and Note5 and requires a one-time over-the-air update to work. The service will also be available on Samsung’s new smartwatch, the Samsung Gear S2 with the feature being made available on the watch, come November.
Samsung Pay made its debut in Samsung’s home country of South Korea on 20th August and it seems (as reported by Business Korea) that both Samsung and the ICT Industry were surprised to see these unexpectedly high adoption rate for this nascent service.
What makes Samsung Pay different from other mobile pay services is that it not only supports purchases via NFC (like Android Pay), but also allows payments using the Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology with the swipe of a fingerprint. This feature will permit Samsung Pay to make mobile payments at ‘most’ retailers that accept regular credit cards that are swiped through a card reader. Samsung acquired this capability thanks to their acquisition of LoopPay – which handles the backend technology and encryption.
Lets pause a second, to understand Magnetic Secure Transmission (we at Chip-Monks don’t like to rattle off jargon and not explain it). Magnetic credit card readers basically read the black strip at the back of a regular plastic credit/debit car as the plastic is swiped across the “head” of the card reader. MST basically generates a temporary magnetic field around the device, by changing magnetic fields over a very short period of time. This is accomplished by passing alternating current through an inductive loop, which is then received by the magnetic read-head of the credit card reader. The signal received from the device emulates the same magnetic field change as a magnetic strip card when swiped across the same read-head. Apparently, LoopPay works only within a 3-inch distance from the card reader’s head with the magnetic field dissipating rapidly beyond that point. In this fashion, the field thus exists only during a transmission initiated by the user.
Samsung Pay is gaining popularity for its multiple layers of security, guaranteeing its customers protection from online monetary thefts. Samsung Pay carries out the transaction without passing your credit card information through the retailer’s system, instead it uses a secure ‘token’. Additionally it exponentially increases the acceptability of this payment service, due to its interoperability with hardware existing in almost every retail store on the planet, and relatively low investment by the retailer.
At this point, Samsung is working on securing agreements with all of the largest banks in the US – Bank of America, US Bank, Citi, American Express, Visa as well as MasterCard as it gears up to launch the service in the US on 28th September. It is said that Samsung is also finalising its deal with China’s largest card issuer, UnionPay.
With countries like China, UK, Spain on its roadmap, Samsung seems almost completely ready to tap into the potential of mobile payment market. Trend analysts says that if the present adoption trend continues, Samsung pay will soon touch the coveted one million mark with Samsung Pay expanding its global availability even more with time.
Whether Samsung Pay will be a success in US where its rivals like Apple Pay hold a strong section of the market share is yet to be seen. Yet, its outstanding performance in South Korea is promising and indicates that Samsung Pay is shaping up strongly for the world market.
It also indicates that Samsung is evolving to look at Services as a viable revenue model. Which is extremely cool, as this altered focus alludes to Samsung’s growing maturity as brand and it’s desire to have an identity beyond just hardware.
Like other brands that branch out as they mature, Samsung definitely needs to become a more intrinsic part of their customers’ lives. And its a much-needed shot in the arm for a brand that’s becoming a little frayed around the edges, especially in 2014-15 where not much has worked in their favour.
Z3, Samsung’s Second Tizen Budget Phone
The South Korean tech giant stealthily unveiled a new smartphone series riding its very own Tizen OS – with their Samsung Z1 earlier in the year. The phone faired quite well in the Indian market, selling around a million units and ended up topping the charts in their first sales quarter.
Asim Warsi, India vice president, IT and mobile, for Samsung shared with IANS, ‘Tizen is the second-largest OS in the budget segment in India’. This claim can hold ground as apart from Android, very few manufacturers make and retail operating systems specifically created for budget smartphones (yes, it definitely rules out the marquee iOS ;-p).
Overall, the sales performance can be termed as a pretty decent start for a reasonably priced phone.
To understand the subtext of this Tizen push, consider: This, the second smartphone launched as a part of Samsung’s experimental initiative, Tizen, is aimed at reducing Samsung’s dependence on Google-owned Android OS which is currently running on all of the smartphones and tablets manufactured by Samsung. Clearly, this push to become independent is to allow Samsung to have a better control on their devices’ OS and user interface, which in turn would result in faster adoption rate of their OS and the release of updates, as is the case with Apple, Google and even Motorola. Additionally, it will help Samsung save costs via their own OS and integrated eco-system.
Samsung doesn’t want the customer’s interest to wane in this burgeoning segment, and is now launching the Samsung Z3 (they never released a Z2 model). The Z3 carrying a larger, sharper screen and plenty of enhancements to the predecessor appears to resemble Samsung’s bread-and-butter Android phones, albeit with a little less sparkle.
In the Z3, Samsung has substantially enhanced the specifications of the smartphone without a notable increase in price over the Z1’s, making the phone a pretty lucrative buy.
The Samsung Z3 flaunts a 5-inch super AMOLED display running at 720p, powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor. It has 1 GB of RAM and a 2,600 mAh battery. The device houses an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 5 megapixel selfie camera.
Furthermore, the Z3 offers microSD support up to 128 GB, in addition to the 8 GB built-in storage.
All these features comes at a fair price of INR 8,490.
As it runs the new Tizen OS which has lesser developer support and does not have many retail years under it’s belt, the users will not be spoilt for choice in the app store, yet. That reality notwithstanding, the device’s price and decent hardware might help Samsung increase the adoption rate of Tizen.
Overall, the Samsung Z3 is a well-equipped budget smartphone aimed at that part of the Indian population that is amenable to basic smartphones and don’t need a vibrant apps ecosystem.
The device is offered in three colour variants – Black, Silver and Gold and is expected to launch in India on October 21st, however nothing concrete has been shared about the launch of the device in other parts of the world. This clearly indicates that Samsung has targeted the diverse, yet price-sensitive Indian market for marketing its Tizen ecosystem.
Interestingly, during the same time period, Pepsi is introducing a budget Android phone in the China market.
Samsung’s initial phone launch attempts somewhat failed as the developers and carriers seemed disinterested in extending their support to the recently developed OS, however, Samsung’s continuous attempts in building a reliable OS could turn out to be fruitful, especially if the Indian populace gives it the nod. We are after all, the world’s fastest growing mobile economy!
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime VE Launched For Rs 8,600
Samsung recently launched yet another budget smartphone aimed squarely at the largest strata of the Indian population.
The brand-new device is a Value Edition (VE) variant of the Galaxy Core Prime 4G, that was launched last year.
While the Galaxy Core Prime 4G costs INR 10,000, the Galaxy Core Prime VE is priced at INR 8,600. The phone is listed on Samsung India’s e-store and comes in three colour variants – White, Grey and Silver.
The Galaxy Core Prime VE flaunts a 4.5-inch WVGA display with 800×480 resolution, and is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB RAM. The device is equipped with a 5 megapixel autofocus rear camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera powered by a 2,000 mAh battery.
The device also presents a ultra power saving mode which with a mere 10% battery offers a standby period of about 1.2 days. In addition to the 8 GB internal storage, the device’s storage is expandable upto 128 GB via a microSD card.
The handset supports dual-SIM, and surprisingly runs on Android 4.4 KitKat with a few modifications basis Samsung’s TouchWiz.
The device has a matte finish body with metal sides, giving it a premium look.
Samsung has not really tom-tom’d this device and have silently included it in their e-store – and seems to be timed right, in order to garner the Diwali festival sales.
Galaxy Note5 In India On September 7
Ever since Samsung announced the launch of it’s two brand-new flagships at its Unpacked event held in New York, users in India have been waiting eagerly for something truly exceptional.
The Galaxy S6 edge Plus, priced at INR 57,900 (USD 874), hasn’t seem to impress the Indian market much since its recent launch.
The smartphone appears to be an eye-catching novelty, rather than embodying practical use, with no indication about the launch of the awaited Galaxy Note5, it was a big disappointment for users who’ve an inclination for the Note series, until now.
The South Korean electronics giant now seems to have it’s ducks in a row for the launch of Galaxy Note5, in India. It has confirmed in a media event to launch its ‘most powerful and dynamic Galaxy yet’ in New Delhi on September 7 and is sending out media invites.
Apart from the curved display, the Note5 shares a lot of features with the S6 edge Plus.
Alternatively, the S Pen stylus, which always has been a distinct and appealing feature of the Note series, remains an important feature.
Samsung has not disclosed the pricing of the phablet, thus making the users wait for the actual launch price in India.
Samsung's Gearing Up To Challenge Apple Again
The South Korean tech giant is planning to launch a new smartwatch, the Gear S2, later this week. We hear it has put in a lot of effort to build an outstanding design in the budding Wearables category, to be able to outshine the offerings of its primary rival, Apple.
Samsung asserts that their watch is the first in its kind to serve as a standalone phone, equipped with ‘the first ever e-SIM technology with voice capability’.
Simple English: Wearers could perform quick functions without the need of their smartphones.
The Gear S2 runs the company’s in-house operating system, Tizen, while their previous devices ran on Google’s Android OS.
It’s a big move, that goes with Samsung’s implicit desire to better own it’s devices’ experience (a la Apple), and also to reduce its dependence on Android (thus, Google).
This though, could turn out to lower the watch’s functionality in the short term – until Samsung can draw hundreds upon thousands of committed app developers to Tizen, and build the ecosystem to something akin to the size and diversity of iOS/Android ecosystems.
Since its first smartwatch launched around two years back, Samsung has gained extensive experience in developing wearables. Gear S2 will be their seventh smartwatch release and Samsung is giving it’s best shot to revolutionize the nascent product category. None of the earlier ones managed to float too long.
The Gear S2 is an evolution, not an iteration from the original Gear S – it’s got much better materials, its classically circular, works with magnetic wireless charging, its thinner and its got much better protection (IP68 certified for water- and dust-resistance vs. the Gear S’ IP67).
All this aside, the single biggest change and perhaps the fillip that Samsung needed, is their discreet, but imminently usable rotating bezel. Its a charm to use, and extremely intuitive, fast, and well integrated across the OS and UI.
Options wise, the Gear S2 smartwatch comes in two basic models : Classic and Standard. While the Classic model offers a premium black case with black leather strap, the Standard model presents two combinations – a silver case with a white rubber band, and a dark gray case with a matching rubber band.
Samsung has said that, the Classic model targets users ‘who prefer a more timeless watch design’, in contrast to the Standard model designed for those users ‘who are on-the-go and have an admiration for minimal and modern design’.
Then there is the “one last thing” flourish – a third model, the Gear S2 3G. A slight variant of the Standard model this version bears a 3G radio to connect to cellular networks. This 3G capability elevates the device with a distinctive USP – the ability to be used without a phone.
This could be the catalyst that Samsung needed.
Both the non 3G models sport a round dial with 1.2-inch diameter, are 11.4 mm thick with a 360×360 resolution. The 3G is slightly thicker at 13.4 mm, to accommodate the e-SIM.
The device is powered by a 1 GHz dual-core processor and offers 512 megabytes of RAM with 4 gigabytes of storage space. The battery supposedly lasts a little upwards of two days on a single charge, outclassing the battery performance in the current Apple device.
Last, considering the current crop of smartwatches are largely miniaturised “connected” devices, the Gear S2 is well stocked – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and an e-SIM card.
Samsung hasn’t revealed anything about the launch date and the pricing details of the device yet. If the smartwatch is launched at a pocket-friendly price, it should give a stiff competition to all the available smartwatches in the market, not just the Apple Watch.
Huawei Watch Now On Pre-order!
The long awaited Huawei Watch, first unveiled at MWC in March and formally introduced to the world at IFA September’s event, will be out for sale in the U.S. starting 17th September.
If you can’t wait any longer to press the button, you can pre-order it starting 2nd September on Amazon and Huawei’s official site.
The Chinese tech giant, Huawei, arguably the third largest phone manufacturer has been a little late in joining the Android race of smart watches and their pricing has left a lot of consumers very perturbed.
Some background on the watch in case you’re just joining in.
The Huawei Watch is designed for an active lifestyle and the watch could be one of the most fashionable smartwatches in the market today with its round dial and the physical button being at the (much more convenient) 2 o’clock position from the mundane 3 o’clock position.
Convenience aside, it’s a design statement too.
The watch, will be available in an elegant Black color priced at about USD 450 (INR 30,000), a Silver color for USD 350 (INR 23,000), and a Gold plated model for a hefty price tag of about USD 800 (INR 53,000) aimed for those who like it blingy.
You also get to choose from a stainless steel strap or a leather one.
The smartwatch will however have a single model. Some say the company hasn’t been considerate about the people with small wrists, as the watch is a bit bulky at 11.3 mm. At Chip-Monks however, we’ll hold our opinion till we get to try it out in real life.
The Huawei Watch comes with a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with 400×400 pixel screen that has 286 pixels crammed into each inch. The screen is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal front, which also gives the device a superb finish.
The Huawei Watch’s internal specs include Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.1, and essential sensors like barometer, accelerometer, an enhanced heart rate monitor and sensors to track running, walking, and more.
The battery life is assured to be about a day and a half to a maximum of two days on a single charge, as it packs a 300 mAh power source (which is about par for the course, at the given technology levels).
The watch is compatible with most devices running Android 4.3 or later and also with iOS devices that run iOS 8.2 or later OS versions.
The best part is that the Huawei Watch comes riding the latest version of Android Wear (and is thus future proof for a while), along with numerous pre-installed watch faces and easily swappable bands.
The Huawei Watch seems promising, but may not be optimally priced, and this can be a major setback to the product – other Android Wear smartwatches with matching specs and features are more “reasonably” priced.
That said, the Huawei Watch could have an edge over the others with regards the design and especially it’s compatibility with iOS. It may even be able to give the Apple Watch a run for it’s money, if the compatibility is well integrated.
Samsung Launches Galaxy Tab S2, World's Slimmest Tablet
Samsung announced the launch of the world’s slimmest tablet, their Galaxy Tab S2, in India at INR 39,400.
Unlike other Samsung tablets which uses screens with 16:9 aspect ratio, the device sports a screen with a distinctive 4:3 aspect ratio, which is identical to that of iPad.
“Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is super-slim and ultra-light with a width of just 5.6mm and weighs only 392 grams,” Samsung said in a statement.
The premium design is one of the salient differentiators of the device. Packed with a lot of attractive features, the device is one of the more expensive tablets in the country.
The Galaxy Tab S2 tablet flaunts a 9.7-inch super AMOLED screen with a 2048×1536 pixels resolution and is powered by an octa-core Exynos processor with three gigabytes RAM. In addition to the built-in 32 GB internal memory, the tablet has a support for microSD cards of up to 128 GB, giving the user an option to expand the storage unlike the Galaxy S6 smartphones launched earlier this year.
The tablet also features a powerful 5,870 mAh battery, a 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and a 2.1-megapixel front camera.
“The Galaxy Tab S2 may be the world’s slimmest tablet, it however combines features that enhance productivity and usability for a complete user experience powered by 4G data capability. We believe that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is the most complete personal visual device designed for consumers to carry and use anywhere”, stated Manu Sharma, Director, Mobile Business at Samsung Electronics. He added, “Given our commitment to the Indian market, the Galaxy Tab S2 is another contribution of Samsung to the “Make in India” campaign. The product will be made in India and made for India”.
The multitasking option is introduced for the users, i.e. two apps can be viewed and run simultaneously on the device. A “Side Sync” feature is also added in the device through which the users can control a smartphone or a laptop directly. Using the Pop-Up window, the users can navigate between the multiple apps with ease.
The device is available in three different colours – Gold, Black and White.
Samsung Files Patent For Smartphones With Holographic Image Display Capability
Samsung has reportedly filed a patent with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) relating to the technology that enables a device to display holograms!
Despite the crazy number of patents that are filed at the USPTO, the recent patent filed by Samsung is was noticed for being very distinct and outlandish.
Tech enthusiasts will be extremely excited by the prospect of a device blessed with such next-gen capabilities. The smartphone will expectedly comprise a main body with a screen and a light guide member disposed above the screen.
An entrance optical member will be placed above the light guide member’s surface, with an image hologram placed over it. The image hologram and the entrance optical member will be laterally spaced apart.
When light is emitted by the area corresponding to the entrance optical member, the holographic image contained in the image hologram will be displayed above the light guide member.
Samsung filed the patent in Q3 2014, and it still hasn’t revealed whether it has started working on it or not. So, there is no specific target time for the launch of the device.
Although Samsung’s latest project is projected for only small holograms and icons, it could be one of the best ways to utilize and increase the limited space and resources available in the modern day smartphones.
And, with the awaited tech projects like virtual reality coming up, this experimental project could be of considerable significance for the tech industry.
Samsung has been working on diverse projects that are innovative and have the capability of moving tech to the next level. It was the first to design foldable displays and curved smartphones; they are also reportedly working on a huge 18.4-inch tablet.
All we can do is wait, and hope that Samsung makes it worth our while, and it’s a gimmicky feature included in some arbit smartphone that no one ever hears about, leave along buy!
Samsung's Note5 Launch In The UK?
Samsung’s Galaxy Note series have always enjoyed a reverence with Samsung aficionados. The launch of the next variant always precludes a sense of eagerness and curiosity a la Apple’s launches. It was no different with the Note5’s unveiling.
Launched at Samsung’s big Unpacked event recently, the latest 5.7-inch Galaxy Note5 is packed with some of the best features Samsung has ever provided, and a premium aluminium build. To most, the forthcoming device is the best Note that Samsung has offered till date.
Getting rid of the faux-leather plastic, Samsung has finally designed a premium phone that has awaited for long by its users. The device embodies a metal and glass construct and seems to be inspired by the Galaxy S6 design, which may or may-not add to it’s reputation.
The Korean tech giant has refrained from giving the Note curved edges, as given to its companion device, the Galaxy S6 edge+.
The device may not be an eye-catching novelty, however, is designed for the perfectionists who tend to prefer efficiency over appearance. Although the device is a little conventional when compared to the edge+, it looks pretty smart and targets the business crowd.
Samsung has clearly stated that it has excluded the European region for the Note 5 release, and the device is certainly not coming to Europe this year as the Galaxy Note5 release is restricted to North America and key Asian markets. The S Pen addicts across Europe would be hugely let-down by this unanticipated decision of Samsung. Although Samsung hasn’t given any specific reason for the same, it looks like it’s just a business strategy, and nothing more.
For the European customer base, they will meet the needs with the upcoming Galaxy Edge Plus.
S-Pen This Date - Galaxy Note5 Lands!
Samsung was the pioneer of phablets and the ensuing trend of “bigger is better”. Like all successful innovations though, others quickly jumped in the same pond.
In the last thirty-odd months, the phablet market has become extremely crowded, with increasingly diminishing product demarcations.
Despite all the competition, Samsung still ruled the empire it’d founded. Then Apple came to the party and suddenly Samsung needed to up it’s game. This stiff competition in the market from the amalgam of Apple’s large-sized iPhones and other brands’ aggressively-priced phablets has been eroding Samsung’s profits in recent months, leaving Samsung uncomfortably at the edge of a precipice.
Samsung thus needed to come up with something really exceptional, something that caught people’s fancy.
With it’s Galaxy Note5 it seems to have definitely made an impression.
Samsung claims its latest Note to be “the best Note ever made” – which is obvious. Any successor (especially a marquee) is supposed to better than its predecessors! It’s equivalent to me saying the ice cream I ate was cold…
Okay, I need some coffee.
The Note5 is an amalgamation of the best features from the old and the new, the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy S6 introduced this year. Stylishly designed and engineered to be a premier smartphone, the Note5 makes a distinct impact on its users and has thus already garnered a huge fanbase.
On the flipside, a few significant features such as removable battery and microSD card have been omitted from the Galaxy Note5, which might be a major let down for some users. Though like any good marriage, you end up feeling so happy overall that burnt toasts are just forgotten.
The phablet will be land at the Indian stores by the first week of September.
Hang in there!
Samsung Galaxy Note5 Leaked
The Galaxy Note was a revolutionary device – for Samsung as well as consumers worldwide. What’s even more impressive is that with each new variant in the Galaxy Note series, Samsung has managed to pull off something truly exceptional.
Over time, the Note series from Samsung has become their marque series, even eclipsing the vaunted Galaxy Sx range, on occasion.
The Galaxy Note 4 had some amazing features that managed to turn several heads; and to now produce a device that can be called a worthy successor for it… well, that would be no mean achievement!
Although Samsung are yet to officially release the Galaxy Note5 (which we expect to happen at IFA in September 2015), a steady stream of leaks are already flooding the Internet. The latest of such rumours is a bunch of 3D renders that display the highly awaited phablet from all possible angles.
These renders lend further credibility towards the belief that the Galaxy Note5 will feature a Galaxy S6-esque design.
The body is rumoured to boast a premium metal and glass layered structure. Other information regarding the body suggests a volume rocker and power button on the sides, and a microUSB port and S-Pen port at the bottom.
Additionally, the leaks and the aforementioned renders suggest that the Galaxy Note5 will flaunt a QuadHD Super AMOLED display.
Under the hood, this device is expected to feature an octa-core Exynos 7422 processor or a Snapdragon 810 chipset, depending upon the location of release. The processor is expected to be backed by 3 GB of RAM.
Samsung, known for incorporating good quality cameras into their products, be it smartphones or tablets, would possibly incorporate a 13 megapixel rear camera, an 8 megapixel front shooter and a massive 3,220 mAh battery.
Its difficult to really say now much of this deluge of “information” is wishful thinking, and how much is really based on credible sources. Let’s return to this question once the truth be told in September, when Samsung unveils the Note5 in the IFA 2015.
Till then, hang in there!
Sneak A Look At Samsung Galaxy A8's Rumoured Specifications And Pricing Details
A lot of things have been ‘leaked’ about Samsung’s Galaxy A8 including purported images and specifications. So it’s been in the news for a while.
Now, a new image, that seems to be a brochure, listing all the features and special specs of this device has gone viral on the Internet.
According to this brochure, the Galaxy A8 will feature:
If the dimensions rumoured about this device are correct, it will be the slimmest phone by Samsung yet – at a thickness of 5.9 mm!
This device is also rumoured to carry a fingerprint sensor embedded within the vintage-Samsung home button.
The Galaxy A8 is expected to be available in 3 color options – Black, White and Gold.
According to nowhereelse, the Galaxy A8 will be up for sale in China starting 17th July and on rather hefty price tag of USD 485 (INR 30,735).
Although no official details about the pricing or date of launch have been released yet, we’ll know soon enough, if the July 14th launch date holds true.
Samsung Galaxy J2 Leaked Specs Hint At A Superb Affordable-Handset
Samsung launched the Galaxy J1 in February 2015, barely 5 months back. Being an extremely low-end handset, the Galaxy J1 sported entry level specs and a modest design.
Affordable Smartphones is a space that Samsung focuses on, hence its no real surprise to hear of the next one in the series; and its called the Samsung Galaxy J2 (*drum roll please*).
Courtesy of SamMobile, a Samsung fansite, key specs have been established about the J2 – yet unlike most tech rumours, the information leaked about the Galaxy J2 is pretty extensive.
This device is rumoured to sport a 4.5 inch TFT LCD display with an 800x480p resolution. Under the hood, the Galaxy J2 is set to boast a 1.2 GHz Samsung Exynos 3475 quad-core processor backed by 1.5 GB of RAM.
Although the in-built memory on this device is a meagre 8 GB, expansion is always at your discretion thanks to the now-ubiquitous microSD slot. Other hardware include a 5 megapixel rear camera, a 2 megapixel shooter in the front and a 2,000 mAh battery to keep this phone going.
The Galaxy J2 is all set to run on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 according to several ‘anonymous’ sources, claims SamMobile.
The J2’s specs, if correct, are a huge upgrade over it’s direct predecessor as the Galaxy J1 came with a 4.5 inch display, 512 MB of RAM and a smaller battery. That said, the J2 isn’t expected to be as cheap as the J1.
Samsung’s Galaxy J series is essentially designed for casual smartphone users, those who want a budget device with reasonable specs and the Galaxy J2 fits this category perfectly. The quad-core processor and the generous RAM provided on this handset should keep everything running smoothly. If you have the habit of installing a lot of apps, there’s always the option to upgrade your memory via the microSD slot.
If the J2 is reasonably priced, it might prove to be a strong seller. No release date or price information is available yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see what Samsung has planned for the J2.
Smart Watches: The Next Big Thing?
The industry almost unanimously concurs, the next two generations of technology are undoubtedly going to be Wearable Computing and Smart Homes.
With the saturation of the smartphones market and the plateauing of innovation there, most companies big and small, are racing to make a splash in the Next Big Thing.
While Google Glass sank quite unceremoniously, it in no way indicates the death of head worn-wearable tech; conversely, it sets a bar that is a time-tested starting gun for a race in any new technological playground. Meanwhile, the recent release of Samsung Galaxy Gear shifted the limelight to the Smartwatch bullring.
The concept of a smart watch is not in any way a recent one. “Smart” watches have been around for decades now, though in very different forms from what you see being released now. While calculator watches had been around even earlier, the first real Smartwatch can probably be traced back to the early 1980s courtesy Seiko. Their NL C01 was probably the first watch with user-programmable memory, or “memory bank”. It was a great step at the time.
Gradually, these “Smart” watches evolved to interfacing with computers, receiving appointments and alarms from their larger cousins; with some even doubling up as pagers.
For almost two decades Wearable Technology continued to develop as iterations of this basic functionality – iterations involved increased memory, more capability, better functionality. But almost every product fell short, none of them making a substantial impact on the consumer market.
This can probably be explained with the simple reasoning that a wrist computer could never replace the desktop computer or the laptop. Not even in the way that smartphones and tablets eventually did. Smartwatches and their somewhat trivial capabilities just could not be considered significant enough to deem a product line unto themselves.
Amazingly, after a two decade wait, it was Microsoft that came out with the first real smartwatch. Produced in collaboration with the likes of Fossil and Tissot, the Microsoft SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) used MSN Direct network services to get information to the consumer, which was delivered across the United States and Canada based on FM radio broadcast signals in about 100 metropolitan areas. You could get information about the weather, stocks – heck, even control your coffee machine, but this product simply would not take off!
LG’s limited edition GD910, was released in 2008. With the ability to make video calls and use 3G, this watch phone should have been revolutionary. The user interface was good, and so was the functionality. The only place LG seemed to have gone wrong was the pricing of the device. At almost $800, the watch-phone attracted very few buyers and eventually suffered the same fate as the smartwatches before it – an ignominious death without much of a stir.
With the coming of Bluetooth, and bolstered by the rapid strides being made in smartphone technology, companies had the opportunity to remedy the situation. Watches no longer needed to be standalone products. Better batteries, touchscreens and low-power, short-range connections to extremely capable internet-connected devices such as smartphones allowed these watches to morph into what we see today – extensions of the smartphone.
This fundamental change is probably the fillip that smartwatches needed.
As standalone devices, it is understandable that watches were never able to make it big. They are, after all, extremely small devices and there is only so much hardware that manufacturers can stuff into them. Add to that, the fact that there’s a mandatory balance needed between aesthetics and the functionality of a computing device when worn as a watch. Size, weight and materials all become its Achilles Heel.
As a notification device (as it is currently used, as an extension of the smartphone) however, the smartwatch makes perfect sense, probably more for people who prefer 7-10 inch tablets over smartphones than anyone else. The ease with which you could check your messages and notifications all but eliminates the need to take out these rather large devices from wherever they’re being stored and this, in my opinion, is the most practical application for these devices.
Sony’s original SmartWatch was probably the first attempt by a major electronics manufacturer to enter the field in this avatar and purpose in mind. It was the first device which could connect to a majority of the Android devices available, looked sleek and futuristic while simultaneously enabling you to control your smartphone with a simple touch of your watch. It allowed you to read your texts, e-mail, Twitter feed, control your music player, get your calendar notifications, and a whole lot more.
This device was heavily criticised however, for its general execution. The user interface left much to be desired, often not responding to swipes or touches. Also, the complete lack of features when the device was not connected to a phone and the amount of time required to keep it running smoothly made it an easy target for critics and reviewers alike.
That being said, Sony should be given credit for the effort. Most of the above problems have been fixed in a software update and the watch’s second iteration, the Sony Smart Watch 2, making the product relatively better to use.
Oddly enough, the first ‘successful’ smart watch hasn’t been a product of the great minds at a major electronic multinational, instead it was the product of a fairly small project called the Pebble Smart Watch. The Pebble Smart Watch grew to become a consumer favourite owing to its easy to use interface, compatibility with both Android and iOS, and amazing battery life. Its simplicity and originality make it stand apart. Unlike Sony, who chose to have an LCD screen, the Pebble start-up decided to go for an “epaper” display, which helps save a ton of battery, enabling the Pebble Smart Watch to have a battery life of up to 7 days!
The most recent and probably the most “commercial” release in the smart watch arena, has been that of Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Galaxy Gear takes everything from its predecessors and adds more. Along with being a sleek looking notification device, Gear can be used to take calls, is voice-enabled and has a camera. Downside? A hefty price, coupled with the fact that the smartwatch is only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and soon the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Meanwhile, Apple is coming out with its own widely anticipated venture into worn technology with the Apple “iWatch”. There are plenty of rumours about this one, and almost no solid news.
While Apple has released no official statement, Apple’s registered patents have shed some light on some possible designs. Some patented designs indicate that Apple is looking to use flexible screens for their new device. A wristband-like design isn’t completely impossible, and would be rather welcome in a field in which the devices are already starting to look oddly similar. Other rumours include the use of Apple’s famous Sapphire Glass in its latest gadget, with the batteries encased in the wrist band. More recent rumours yield that Apple is using LG Display and RiTdisplay, a subsidiary of RITEK, to be the two producers for the iWatch screen.
Not far behind, Google’s rumoured Nexus ‘Gem’ will reportedly mark Google’s entry into the field. Having patented the Google Smart Watch back in 2011, this isn’t an altogether shocking move, and it seems the watch is nearing mass production.
The establishment of Google Now cards could see wide application in the watch, giving the consumer easily available information at the tip of their fingers.
Electronics manufacturers aside, it will be interesting to see how high-end watch makers and traditional smart watch makers such as CASIO respond to the encroachment of their territory. The CASIO G-Shock GB- X6900B, which is Bluetooth 4.0 enabled, marks a step in the right direction and allows you to program a custom button to run smartphone apps like alarms, music, world clocks and countdown timers, in addition to the current email and call notifications.
How much they are willing to compromise on traditional designs to make way for technology will be the question, if they see the smartwatch as a threat at all, that is. And while the possibility of competition between watch-making giants and electronics giants seems mouth-watering, I’d much rather see collaboration. This would open up the world of smartwatches to thousands of possibilities and may be the way forward into making the smartwatch a standard household device.
As the technology becomes more capable, we might soon see the incorporation of bendable batteries, screens into smartwatches. Most of the watches so far use fairly smartphone-like user interfaces to get around. What might push the smartwatch to the next level might be the development of a completely new way to interact with device.
Despite the fact that these watches have been around for as long as they have, the segment of worn technology can still be considered to be in its infancy. But it’s taking giant strides, and quickly! People are expecting that we will soon have smartwatches that could control just about anything you could put a sensor in.
This, and limitless possibilities of collaboration between technology and watch making giants, make them an exciting prospect. An Apple Rolex, anyone?
Tête-à-Tête With The Apple Watch
This is going to be a long read. Grab your coffee before you sit down with this.
To make things somewhat easier, we’re going to split this article (or an epic, some might say) into sections, to tell the story at our pace.
They Aren’t New
A smartwatch is a wristwatch bestowed with capabilities additional to just keeping time for you. But it’s not as simple as that. The expedition to make watches smarter commenced in early 1972 with the unveiling of the Pulsar Watch, conjured up by Hamilton Watch Company (now owned by Seiko). It had an elephantine memory bank of 24 characters.
Since then, many, many manufacturers campaigned the same trekking path, producing more watches with similar data-bank capabilities – you might remember some models from Casio – in fact, one of the most notable range came from them.
The next evolutionary jump happened when GPS was integrated into wrist pieces, along with advanced sensors to measure temperature, pressure, depth, altitude and a plethora of futuristic features. This evolution made them valuable companions for outdoor trips.
Fast forward to today. With smartphones becoming integral cogs of our rather busy lives, it was but inevitable for smartphone-features to spill over into wristwatches of today.
Samsung, LG, Motorola and Pebble have all released smart wearable devices, to varying degrees of acceptance and affection from Connected Citizens. While these smart wearable devices (of which smartwatches are but a subcategory) have all delved into similar consumer needs, some have sunk and some have shone bright.
Yet a lot of the Connected Citizens have been waiting for Apple to unveil their smart wearable device for years now. Fuelled by swirling rumors, supposed photos, articles that hypothesized and theorized, ad nauseam – very reminiscent of the state of affairs in the run up to the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007. They waited and waited for a launch. Then the clamor reached a crescendo since Apple’s Apple Watch announcement in September 2014. The wait since has seemed interminable.
Finally, the day has come for the Apple Watch to meet the curious humans.
Apple Watch, designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson, has just been released amongst four tons of fanfare and more than a handful of slick adverts.
While the literature capturing the curiosity of many, post-launch, the Apple Watch has earned a mix bag of accolades and brickbats from early adopters, fence sitters and critics.
Let us explore the Apple Watch for ourselves, to see where we at Chip-Monks stand.
Apple Watch Defined
As always, Apple Inc. created a buzz with their attention to detail, the design and most importantly, the materials used for their products. Such a mix has always allowed Apple to position their devices in the Premium segment.
The Apple Watch is a square watch by design and will come in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm.
It will have three models differentiated basis materials used. Construct though, is common across all models:
The options don’t end there – the three variants come in 9 models, 6 different types of bands and 19-color variations for you to choose from!
All three watches have extremely intricate finishes, right down to the laser-etched crown, but the materials used for each set them apart.
APPLE SPORTS WATCH
Apple Sports Watch uses anodized 7000 series aluminum, aluminosilicate glass screen and has removable rubber straps making it the lightest of the three siblings.
You will have two colors to choose from – Silver Aluminum and Space Grey.
Apple Watch uses stainless steel and comes in glossy metal – available in Stainless Steel or Space Black finishes. This variant has a sapphire crystal screen unlike the Sports version, making it a more durable screen.
APPLE WATCH EDITION
Apple Watch Edition has caught the eye of many, and rightfully so. It comes with an 18 carat gold case in two colors of gold – Yellow Gold and Rose Gold. Both come with matching color bands in leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.
These smart timepieces will set you back by USD 17,000.
To add to your customization neé personalization experience, Apple has created several proprietary bands for each variant, all of which can be swapped extremely easily.
The ‘Link Bracelet’ and the ‘Milanese Loop’ are both in stainless steel, the ‘Leather Loop’ and ‘Classic Band’ in leather, along with numerous colored fluoroelastomer bands.
Apple hopes that you’ll go ahead and stack up the bands, given that the bands are easy to change with just a click of the button – literally.
Apple Watch – In Use
Once we moved past gawking at the watch, we wanted to put it to test. And we were enthralled.
The Watch is definitely not an iPod scaled down to strap onto your wrist!
Apple Watch allows you to see time, monitor your fitness, enjoy your music wirelessly, use Apple Pay and communicate via messages, phone calls and notifications amongst other functionalities.
You’ll appreciate Siri even more – with her residing on your wrists and assisting you night and day. Simply raise your watch and say ‘Hey Siri’ to issue commands.
Testing Siri was fun, till I realized that I was flicking my wrists way more than I should and talking to my watch way more than I should – well you get the drift.
Another indulgence I succumbed to was taking photos. The Watch thankfully does not come with a camera on board – we really see no point in that save for FaceTime calls! The Watch instead acts only as a remote trigger for your phone’s camera, with the Watch’s itsy-bitsy screen doing a great job as a viewfinder. So, place your iPhone on a sold surface, and go join the group and smile! The Watch will help you click a selfie without your arms outstretched or your backs arched weirdly. A function, which will be worshipped by the “Selfie” addicts.
Accessing the functions of the smartwatch – was a valid concern of all prospective buyers, especially ones with broad fingers.
Apple’s design team came up with an ingenious solution of using the crown to scroll and select Apps and functions on the watch.
Interface wise too, the Apple Watch received a lot of thought and research. It has a carousal of icons which change in size and placement enabling the Apple Watch to accommodate more apps directly on one screen while retaining ease of access for all finger types.
The user winds the crown for scrolling, selecting and zooming and a new ‘forced press’ interaction to access secondary functions.
There’s a second button, beside the crown that can be used to access Apple Pay or quickly get to your contacts list.
Thankfully the Apple Watch is not festooned with buttons all over it’s existence. Instead it has just two, discretely placed but craftily empowered buttons. The Watch overall looks gob-smackingly beautiful!
Next, we tried the calling from the Watch and surprisingly, the recipient of the call could not differentiate if it was from a phone or the Watch! That said, holding your hand up to talk into your wrist can be tiresome and plain weird for people who haven’t yet been sensitized to a smartwatch.
The Watch itself communicates with you via notifications from your phone, seamlessly and discreetly, using a ‘Taptic Engine’.
Located at the top right corner of the Watch, beneath the screen, the Taptic Engine is a small mechanism that vibrates to notify the user-using minute, customizable vibrations.
Apple has currently included notifications relating to messages, phone calls, calendar, news, mail and the Activity app. There are more in the works, I’m sure, as are notifications from Third-Party app developers.
In addition, using the Taptic Engine and the heart rate sensor on the watch, one can send their heart beat rhythm to a fellow Apple Watch user.
While not extremely useful, however intimate couples might appreciate the feature.
Another feature which is a boon for the frequent flyers and nomads is the Wallet, which allows you to store and seamlessly use your data regarding travel, boarding passes, airline loyalty cards and tickets in addition to your credit cards, debit cards and even store loyalty cards!
So, you can have your financial information at your wrist at all times, making purchases without taking out your wallets.
With all loyalty card information in your Wallet app – you no longer need to stack your wallet with numerous physical loyalty cards.
One question crossed my mind though – with people now carrying lesser physical cards and currency, will the crime by mugging and stealing reduce?
A new technology included in the watch is the ‘Force Touch’. It’s an intriguing and interesting new technology. It allows different functions to be activated on the Watch, basis the intensity of force applied while touching the screen.
The technology allows the screen to differentiate between a light flick, a light touch (like a regular touch on your iPhone) and a hard press, thus allowing them to be allocated different functionalities.
Just to clarify, this is different from ‘Multi Touch’ – that’s the technology that allows user to interact with a device using more than one finger simultaneously (think of the two-finger pinch or zoom).
‘Forced Touch’ enables the user to access far more functionality via the itsy-bitsy touchscreen on the Watch than otherwise possible. The functionality is experienced while setting clock faces, messaging, clearing of notifications, while searching for a location on the map, in the music app to shuffle between music source, working the alarm and in accessing the details of your calendar!
One major drawback we came up against was the battery life of the watch. The Apple Watch has a 205 mAh, non-replaceable battery that Apple claims lasts 18 hours of mixed use. This duration can be stretched a tad bit by putting the Watch to sleep when not in active use. This ‘Power Reserve Mode’, as Apple calls it, puts all other functions to sleep, allowing the watch to function only as a humble wristwatch for the coming 72 hours.
However, our active fingers fueled by curiosity ran through a complete charge in less than 10 hours and we were not happy at all!
So if you have an active lifestyle where you exercise for an hour using the heart rate monitor and then get on calls post that, you will get to be intimate buddies with your Apple Watch’s wireless charger. Which is another peeve altogether – there’s yet another form of charger that Apple’s introduced. And with the paltry battery life, you’re going to have to carry it around too *frown*.
The ‘silver lining’ just to be slightly generous to Apple, is the Watch’s ability to charge to 80% in just 90 minutes, and to completely charge in 150 minutes.
Apple watch uses an inductive magnetic charger (designed along the same line with their Mag Safe notebook chargers) for charging wireless.
Making The Watch Your Own
Our fascination with customizing our Apple Watch kept us awake well past midnight, and we kept shifting between the nine watch faces Apple has pre-loaded.
While the ladies and the kids liked Mickey tapping, I preferred the simple modular watch face with adequate displays of notifications, battery life and calendar.
Customizing was easy – just Force Touch the screen and swipe to see different watch faces and choose. Going forward, we hope the next OS update allows the third party watch faces (Apple is currently blocking all third party watch faces being installed on the Watch) and also allow us to set pictures from our own photo gallery as wallpapers.
Is It Just A Glorified Fitness Tracker?
Late night to early morning was a very short time. We allowed the Watch to charge and a little before sunrise I strapped the Watch and got my rather out-of-shape self to put the fitness functions to test. I’ve not included a picture, lest I get hounded for scaring our readers with a weak heart.
The Watch does not discriminate – at least in functionality with the fitness levels or the lack thereof and tracks all manners of data diligently. Fortunately Siri knows her place, and made no bones about my bones.
The Watch pairs with all iPhones starting from the 4S, so most of you would be good to pair up with the Watch right away.
Interestingly, it’s worth a mention that the Apple Watch does not retail under the health and fitness equipment as it hasn’t yet cleared the Stress and Blood Pressure monitoring benchmarks set for certification of devices.
Having said that, Apple watch was pretty accurate when we put it to test.
Ideally, you should not compare the Apple Watch to advanced fitness trackers from Garmin, Fitbit or Polar, as those are specialty devices aimed at measuring just your basic exercise parameters. Apple Watch is a wearable device that brings basic health functionalities along with mobile communication capabilities. That said, the Watch’s price does make you question it.
Moving on, the Watch did coax us to keep moving. Like the Nike Fuelband, Apple aims to connect you to people around you and motivate you to start moving in step with a global community. The community is at your fingertips – you can communicate with them, while the fitness trackers track our individual data and performance in isolation. There’s a minimal sharing of data.
The Watch also tracks and notifies you of inactivity for an extended time period, using sensors that monitor the movements (steps, stairs climbed, runs, aerobics and a range of outdoor and indoor activities), heart rate, movement, exercise and even just standing up. All this pairs up and feeds into the Health App on your iPhone too!
I’d been reading about the concept of standing desks at work and even standing meetings – where just basic standing is promoted; guess what – your Apple Watch will also prompt you to stand for at least a minute for every hour.
It even has a workout app which tracks and notifies you of your milestones achievements and shortfalls. Another interesting feature I found was the ability to set goals based on distance (for outdoor activities), time or calories (allowing us to focus on the exercise and have a satisfying notification of burning the set amount of calories). The Watch uses distance, pace, speed, calories burnt and time to report the workout metric – both on the watch and on your iPhone. You can further add to the functionality of the watch with Bluetooth enables add-ons.
Did We Like It?
To change that question slightly, ‘was it worth it – the wait, the hype, the cost?’
Well, let’s put it this way – Chip-Monks sees, experiences, tests and validates new devices every singly day. Some are good, some outright excellent, while few catch our imagination any more though.
Not only did the Watch keep me up late at night, for a quite a few nights, it took over my days too.
It took me a quite while to come out of my mesmerized awe to objectively gauge the relevance of Apple Watch in my life.
It is not about what it measures, but how the watch reports and displays the information, allowing you to view, act, (more importantly) ignore, and share stuff that prompts you appreciate this device.
It may not be a complete health device, but unless you are an Olympian, the watch will serve you well, albeit the battery – and the wireless charger will become your next best friend.
All said and done, the Apple Watch is worth it, especially since you leave your phone in your pocket a lot more, and spend way more time away from fiddling with it. And Day 3 onwards, you stop fiddling with your Watch too, and leave it be, to let it do what it’s designed to – intimate you, intimately. And become your ubiquitous, subservient buddy.
Samsung Drops It's Name From Its Mobile Devices In Japan
Surprise, surprise… they S6 duo are going to be called by two different names for each model – the Docomo Galaxy and au Galaxy pair.
This is an unorthodox move, especially from an established manufacturer. Samsung plans to retail it’s prime devices under telecom carriers’ brand names – Docomo and au, omitting the Samsung brand altogether.
Samsung has had a problem gaining traction with their products before, when they launched their televisions in Japan.
Going back to 2006, when Samsung claimed domination in the land of televisions worldwide, they made barely a minuscule dent in the Japanese market. They could not get sufficient traction in the Japanese market and eventually pulled out to nurture other markets and retain a progressive brand image worldwide.
History seems to be repeating itself with the mobile devices, where sales for Samsung titled devices haven’t much taken off. Current Samsung mobile device share hovers in at roughly 4%, with Apple comfortably in the lead with greater than 30% market share and native Japanese brands like Sony and Sharp bite into the rest.
Japanese citizens have a pride and affinity for local products which cater to their high standards of quality (no wonder Apple could grow roots in the Japanese markets), and Samsung wants to overcome this by branding their products under the Japanese telecoms, giving the Japanese a sense of quality assurance they have come to expect.
So, Samsung has taken a smart course correction by branding their devices with the local Japanese telecom carriers.
Samsung team has even launched a Facebook page, under their Galaxy brand name (‘Galaxy Mobile Japan’), omitting the Samsung brand name.
The S6 and S6 Edge are now open to be pre-ordered and will be available for consumers starting April 23.
We certainly hope the gamble pays off and that Samsung has better luck in the Japanese markets this time around.
Xiaomi Beats Samsung In Their Own Backyard
Xiaomi has overpowered Samsung last year as the top smartphone company in China, having already amassed a 12.5% market share, according to a new report by the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
In the third quarter of 2014, Xiaomi became the world’s third largest smartphone maker, according to both IDC and Strategy Analytics and in August, it was entitled China’s top smartphone marketer by Canalys.
A total of 420.7 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014, with a subsequent rise in the shipments along the quarters. The fourth quarter of 2014 turned out to be splendid for Xiaomi with a continuous rise in their market share from 5.3% in 2013 to a whopping 12.5% in 2014. Concurrently, Samsung’s market share declined to 12.1% from 18.7%.
Xiaomi asserts that it has sold around 61 million devices last year, a rise in 227% from 2013.
The Chinese market is also experiencing the influx of Apple, who already govern the U.S. smartphone industry and have very aggressive plans for engagement of the Chinese market. Apple’s market share has grown significantly to 12.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and can be attributed to the company’s new flagship devices – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Xiaomi’s success is attributable to its marketing techniques – online flash sales, as well as modest pricing of their products. Hugo Barra, Vice President, told TechCrunch’s Jon Russell that Xiaomi manages to keep the prices reasonable through extensive sales with low profit margins while delivering a range of high-performance devices comparable to what Samsung or Apple provides.
The constant failure of the South Korean tech giant Samsung to bring about a revolution in the market with new technology, and also its overpriced flagship devices, attributes to the fall in its market share in a developing nation like China.
Although Samsung is in the second position overall, the huge drop should be a serious concern demanding immediate attention and implementation of relevant countermeasures. On the other hand, the strategy employed by Xiaomi is getting tough to crack and is its competitors sleepless nights, with gain in popularity and ever increasing fan base in China.
Xiaomi is all set to rule the market with its enchantment. The company is also performing competently in the other developing nations of Asia like India, and with the new investors willing to fund Xiaomi, the company can make substantial dents in the other markets in the coming year.
When Will Samsung S5 Get The Android 5.0 Lollipop Update
Google unveiled Android Lollipop 5.0 ( then under the codename Android L) on June 25, 2014 and was available “over the air” (OTA) in November 2014.
Google had made internal changes to the platform, with the Android Runtime (ART) officially replacing Dalvik for improved application performance. a lot of time has passed since and the owners of Samsung devices are still waiting for their smartphones to experience the latest Android OS, the Android Lollipop 5.0.
The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for Samsung Galaxy devices, the Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 4 had begun on December 2014.
While the Galaxy S5 may have been the first to get the update amongst the said devices in the Samsung stable, it is the Galaxy S4 that may get the upgrade first in India.
The updates started to roll out from Poland in December and hit the UK shores in January 2015 and then get introduced in Australia in February this year. While in the US, Verizon and Sprint have rolled out the update for Galaxy S5, it is the Galaxy S4, which is getting preference in India.
Samsung Galaxy S5 owners await the rollout with baited breath as 5.0 seems to be enabling them to have a longer battery life (about 10 hours of additional standby time which can translate to about 5 hours of additional talk time), a huge advantage in the current smartphone jungle.
I just wish, Samsung could be a little more predictable and organised in the roll-out of Android Lollipop 5.0 for their devices across the globe.
The waiting game is still on.
What Might Samsung S6 Bring To The Party?
Samsung, one of the leaders in the worldwide smartphone market, is expected to launch it’s new flagship smartphone in the Galaxy S series – Galaxy S6, in line with the rhythm of launching a flagship smartphone every year.
This launch will feature the sixth phone in the Galaxy S series, a series with more worldwide sales than any of Samsung’s other phones.
With the launch of the Galaxy S6, the tech giant is looking forward to gain sales traction, after its profits descended in the recent months due to a stereotyped product line and increased market competition.
There are speculations about the phone being launched at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event on 1st March. Samsung have built a lot of hype in the market and is dealing with it maturely this time around.
Samsung is sticking to its tried and tested ways to price the Galaxy smartphones, thus, we can safely assume device to cost somewhere in the region of INR 55,000.
In relation to ‘TheNextGalaxy’, Samsung has started using the lightning bolt as its new marketing material. That’s such a tease!
Having addressed the plastic build quality concerns, Samsung’s new smartphone will undoubtedly feature an all-metal unibody design with rounded sides, drilled speaker holes, a central microUSB port and a headphone jack similar to Apple’s iPhone, making it at par with its competitors in terms of looks and premium feel. The device is rumoured to have dimensions of 143.3×70.8×6.9 mm (which make it a pretty sweet, lithe device!).
The device is touted to feature a Super AMOLED capacitive screen, with a 587 pixels per inch and protected with a Corning Gorilla Glass 4.
Samsung is expected to be using its own Exynos 7420, a 64-bit chip with four Cortex-A53 and four Cortex-A57 cores in Galaxy S6 in contrast to the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor used in its other devices.
This will boost the battery life and the overall performance of the device.
The latest Galaxy S device will sport 3 GB of RAM and will run the latest version of the Android OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop with TouchWiz UI (of course). However, Samsung is cutting back on the changes to stock Android focusing on a smooth overall experience, in contrast to its previous devices.
Folks are saying the Samsung Galaxy S6 will feature a 20 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front camera.
If Samsung goes with the unibody design, as highly speculated, the device won’t come with a removable battery, which could be a huge turnoff for the loyalists. Going by the claims that the back of the device is the same colour as the phone itself, this seems to be a distinct possibility. The non-removable battery will also have a lower capacity of 2,600 mAh as compared to 2,800 mAh in the Galaxy S5.
The Galaxy S6 is said to house the same heart-rate sensor as in the Galaxy S5, however, Samsung is believed to be ditching the swipe-based fingerprint sensor for a touch based sensor (like the iPhones) for its next generation Galaxy S device.
The Samsung Galaxy S device will be available in 4 different colours: Charcoal Black, Copper Gold, Electric Blue and Shimmery White.
The device is said to come with a variant – Galaxy S6 edge, which the more caustic amongst us are saying is about showiness than higher productivity or any perceivable metric of usability. The S6 Edge flaunts two curved edges similar in design to the Galaxy Note Edge (which had a single curved edge).
The Galaxy S6 is rumoured to be the Next Big Thing as far as the Korean giants are concerned, will it prove to be that good?
BlackBerry Still On It's Own - A Denial On Reports Of A Samsung Takeover
The markets have been abuzz with rumors and speculation that Samsung and BlackBerry were locked in potential tie-up talks. But both companies have recently denied any such speculation.
That said, Reuters disagrees with the outright denial. It says there were indeed some grounds for the buzz.
Some reports yielded that perhaps this was a one-sided affair at the behest of Samsung, who wanted to develop its partnership with the Canadian smartphone maker so as to increase the use of the BlackBerry technology in its devices. There was no intention of any acquisition per se.
Yet, other reports had claimed that Samsung had offered to buy the company for as much as $7.5 billion, in hopes of gaining access to its patent portfolio. Samsung has recently been showing a clear interest to enter the enterprise business and also to launch mobile devices with flip screens and physical keyboards.
Now, official statements from the companies put paid to those rumors. Blackberry denied the rumors and clarified to the world with the statement: “Blackberry is aware of certain press reports published today with respect to a possible offer by Samsung to purchase Blackberry. Blackberry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry. BlackBerry’s policy is not to comment on rumors or speculation, and accordingly it does not intend to comment further.”
Samsung has also issued a similar statement.
Reuters though, have held their ground on their news of the executives representing both companies had met to discuss a transaction, with a high probability of a purchase.
BlackBerry’s stock price surged about 30 percent when the report claiming Samsung takeover bid was released, its biggest gain in more than a decade.
From the closing price of $9.71 on January 13th, the stock price spiked to $12.60 at the close on January 14th.
However, after the Samsung report was shot down, BlackBerry’s stock price tumbled 17 percent on January 15th to $11 per share.
This however is not the first time we have heard of a bid by Samsung. There have been speculations since 2012, when BlackBerry was still Research In Motion (RIM).
Samsung’s current strength lies in being one of the largest global smartphone makers, and in developing progressive mobile devices for the consumer market. But that market has become increasingly saturated in the past years. Hence with a takeover of Blackberry, Samsung could gain traction in a new market and focus successfully on a more lucrative and long-tailed enterprise business.
LG G Flex 2 – We Answer Your Reservations
As the notion of curved smartphones is gaining popularity, quite a few manufacturers are putting in determined efforts to build a viable curved device.
LG and Samsung had started the trend having built a pair of curved phones in late 2013, and tried to market curved phones as “the next big thing”. However, neither the LG G Flex nor the Samsung Galaxy Round did any significant business in the market.
LG kept at it, and has released a second attempt at it, hoping to build a niche for it’s new LG G Flex 2 – by making it sleeker, smaller and also prettier than its predecessor.
Let’s be fair. The first avatar, the LG G Flex actually was an enthralling phone as the curved screen of the device was stunning and it was built well. Despite it’s curvature the screen could also take a lot of abuse.
The rear was built to resist scratches and also heal itself from mild surface abrasions.
Good Stuff About The LG G Flex 2
LG has tried to improve its latest flexible flagship, LG G Flex 2, over its predecessor in almost every way that matters. The smartphone now offers a dramatic design refinement with some internal overhauls making it a gaming and video performance beast.
Unlike its predecessor, the new LG G Flex 2 has a removable rear cover – to allow users access the SIM and micro SD card slots. However, owing to the curve, the 3,000 mAh battery is not a single block now and has been made non-removable. The back cover also comes with an improved anti-scratch coating with more effective self-healing capabilities.
The camera has also undergone an overhaul compared to its predecessor and the battery performance has been enhanced enabling the battery to be charged at faster with a user friendly screen size.
The Flex 2’s edges seem to be completely empty with the exception of the microphone, headphone jack, a micro-USB port and an IR blaster up top.
The company has packed the volume and power buttons onto the phone’s back for the second time, below the main 13-megapixel camera and laser autofocus module.
LG has made some software changes to the OS which have left it devoid of some of the stock Android Lollipop’s features. LG’s custom-built user interface is a bit slower and dulls the user experience.
The front-facing camera also lacks the punch.
Overall, the device has a lot to offer to the huge smartphone user base with enhanced hardware features and a stunning design and display.
Although the phone has some not much needed software tweaks, the G Flex 2 is a radical change to the previous G Flex, a thoughtful refinement of everything that led to the failure of the predecessor, and is probably the best curved smartphones available in the market.
For the people who believe that the curved screen concept is a publicity stunt where the functionality has been compromised for the sake of a gimmick-enhancing design, we urge you to try an hand-on experience and then take a call.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 May Come With An Eye Scanner
Samsung marked its foray into the world of biometrics with Galaxy S5, which came with a rather fancy and fairly accurate fingerprint scanner. And, truth be told, it was one of the few compelling reasons for buyers to consider the Galaxy S5.
Now, if rumors are to be believed, Samsung plans to take yet another step in the biometrics domain with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The phablet, which is slated to be launched at IFA 2014 in September, is heard to be equipped with an eye-scanner.
A tweet by the SamsungExynos account has an image of a smartphone with an eye and something like a tracking target around it, along with the tagline ‘Unlock The Future’, which hints that this new technology.
Clearly aimed at enhancing security, this technology would be able to scan a user’s eye to unlock the device, pay bills at the supermarket, mobile bills, electricity bills etc.
The eye-scanner would make use of the phone’s front camera to track the user’s eye movement. Eye-based features were last used in the Samsung Galaxy S4, for the Smart Pause and Smart Scroll capabilities that enabled the smartphone to detect and pause videos when the user looked away from the screen.
Further fuelling the fire is the patent that Samsung filed in Korea earlier this year, which alludes to user interface elements utilised in Iris Authentication. While nothing is confirmed at this point, one thing is certain that with the plethora of devices available in the market, every company is looking for that x-factor that would put their device on the top.
And, if retina scanning is indeed realised, this could become a major selling point for Samsung.
Smartphones Pose A New Threat, Airports Tighten Security
They say technology complicates life. Well, while that remains open to debate, it sure has added yet another step to the already lengthy list of security procedures that one has to go through at airports.
Your smartphones and tablets are now on the radar of airport security and if your device is out of battery or you cannot turn it on for some odd reason, be prepared to leave it behind.
Reports suggest that militants belonging to a Yemen-based Al-Qaeda group are developing sophisticated and undetectable bombs which are disguised as smartphones and tablets. This has led to a tightening in security for US-bound flights, especially those originating in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
According to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft, as material for a bomb could be implanted in the battery compartment of the smartphone or tablet.
In case a traveller is found in possession of such a device, he would be required to undergo further screening.
This begs the question, that isn’t there a possibility that if the terrorist organisation is capable of developing such high-end bombs, they might as well fit them in with a secondary battery? This would render the security measures entirely ineffective.
Well, no one’s going to answer that one for sure, so we’ll all just have to put up with the premise that the security authorities know better than us!
Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy owners will be specifically targeted, as suggested by reports. The reason behind this is unknown, but one can only speculate that perhaps U.S. intelligence agencies have uncovered smartphone bombs mimicking these models.
In any case, while these additional procedures maybe cumbersome, there’s little one can do but comply. After all, it is a case of security and there’s nothing else that the US Government takes more seriously.
August Launch For Samsung Galaxy F
Samsung Galaxy F (also believed to be known as the Galaxy S5 Prime) could be headed for a September launch.
The phone is said to have a metal casing, sizing it at a 6 mm thickness. It is packed with an Exynox 5 octa processor or 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Quad core, a 16 megapixel rear camera with ISOCELL sensor and a 2 megapixel front facing camera with 3 GB of RAM.
The Samsung Galaxy F is said to be powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, have 32 GB storage and will be available in three colours – Gold, Black and Metallic.
Rumors mills have been active as to when this device will be unveiled to the public – earlier it was speculated to have been around March 2014, however, the time has come and gone and now the Samsung Galaxy F should be getting an September launch.
Reports suggest that the Galaxy F could very well be gunning for the iPhone 6’s launch to steal its thunder. It will be interesting to see how the battle pans out as they ready themselves to compete with each other once again.
We will have to wait for an official comment from Samsung to make sure that the Samsung Galaxy F does exist so as to prove this leak as accurate.
Samsung Unveils Four New 'Budget' Galaxy Smartphones
Samsung is on a roll as it comes out with four entry-level Galaxy smartphones – the Galaxy Star 2, Galaxy Young 2, Galaxy Core II and the Galaxy Ace 4.
Samsung has targeted these smartphones to lie within the ‘affordable’ range, though the exact prices remain unknown at the moment.
Each of these phones run on the latest Android KitKat 4.4 operating system and feature Samsung’s TouchWiz Essence skin, a watered down version of the interface that is present in the higher-end models.
Top of the stack is the Galaxy Core II, a dual SIM phone, which features a 4.5 inch WVGA TFT display and is powered by a quad-core 1.2 Ghz processor with 768 MB of RAM. Other specs include a 5 megapixel rear camera with LED flash, a VGA front camera, 4 GB built in memory and a 2,000 mAh battery. It also comes with support for 3G, Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0.
Closely following is the Galaxy Ace 4, which is available in two variants – LTE and 3G. The LTE version takes the lead with a dual-core 1.2 Ghz processor with 1 GB of RAM and a 1,800 mAh battery. On the other hand, the 3G variant has a 1Ghz processor with 512 MB of RAM and a 1,500MAh battery. Common specs include a 4-inch WVGA display, a 5 megapixel rear camera and a VGA front camera.
And finally, Galaxy Star 2 and Galaxy Young 2 are more or less identical, each featuring a 3.5 inch HVGA display, and powered by a single-core 1 GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM. However, Galaxy Star 2 sports a 2 megapixel rear camera compared to Galaxy Young 2’s 3 megapixel camera, and also doesn’t support 3G connectivity; something that may be problem later on. Both of the devices are packed with a 1,300 mAh battery.
In an attempt to attract customers, Galaxy Young 2 and Galaxy Star 2 also feature 8 downloadable Gameloft games for users.
What Is Wireless Charging And How Does It Work?
With everything (keyboards, mice, earphones, headphones et. al.) moving towards wireless – how can chargers be left behind? Chargers after all are by far the most fundamental appendages to our devices!
Wireless Charging commonly known as Inductive Charging, is a way of charging your device without the hassle of tangled wires or USB cords.
In simple terms, Wireless Charging works using magnets. There are 2 magnetic coils involved – one in the charging plate and one in your device. Energy transfer occurs with the help of an electromagnetic field created between the two coils due to mutual ‘coupling’. All you really need is two pieces of hardware with compatible technology – the Qi standard for example. Armed with that technology, all you really need to do is place your device on the charging pad and it should start charging!
Truth be told though, technically the term ‘wireless’ is a bit misleading since this entire process is not truly ‘wireless‘. There still needs to be a cable to plug into the mains power supply and the device still needs to be left alone and can’t be charged while in your hand! The reason the term ‘wireless’ is used is because there isn’t a wire connecting the charger and the device.
Some major advantages of wireless charging include ease of charging, no trouble of wires at all, lesser wire-breakage due to fatigue (especially in the case of Apple’s iDevices, where the wires are notorious for tearing apart with no abuse or misuse by the user)! Then of course, the durability of your device itself increases since there’s no repeated plugging and unplugging of wires. Additionally, there are large-size charging pads that accommodate simultaneous charging of multiple devices.
There are several cons too unfortunately. This mode of charging comparatively takes more time than the normal way of charging devices via a wire. Another disadvantage is that you cannot use your phone freely while it is on charging, which is not the case with wired-adapter-charging, since your phone can be moved within a respectable range. Lastly, inductive charging pads currently cost a lot more than an average charger.
Despite these limiting factors, major manufacturers like Nokia, LG, HTC, Samsung and Motorola recognise the potential of wireless charging and have already begun incubating it in their premium devices.
Just like Remote Unlocking became a norm in automobiles owing to clearly apparent benefits, there’s no question in our minds that all phones and tablets and add-ons will incorporate this mode of charging. Its just a matter of time.
The Galaxy S5 Comes With Wireless Charging Capabilities Out Of The Box!
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 flagship Android smartphone was to reportedly feature wireless charging technology, which included magnetic resonance wireless charging.
However it appears that users have to instead purchase additional accessories to be able to wirelessly charge their device.
An unintended consequence of its IP67 rating against dust and water ingress, is the presence of a flap covering the microUSB port, which causes inconvenience to the user, compelling her to remove that flap each time she needs to charge her phone.
But there’s a way around.
This limitation has supposedly demanded for an easier way to charge the device – which is wirelessly, via a Qi-compatible charging pad allowing you to charge your phone without messing around with USB cables. The phone is connected to a charging (a Qi charging) module, embedded in the accessory, which in turn connects to the device battery through the gold contacts and the battery is charged through electromagnetic induction by plopping it on a Qi wireless charging pad.
There are more than one alternatives for wirelessly charging your Galaxy S5. While Samsung has launched two wireless charging covers, there are a number of unofficial third-party wireless charging options available at very competitive prices.
Samsung has launched two different models to choose from – an S-View Flip Cover model and an S-Charger Cover model, both available for the S5 owners in white and black colours.
The S-View Flip Case by Samsung is a leather flip cover case with a square cut out on the front flap which allows you to access most on screen functionality.
It is very easy to use, just remove the existing back and the entire S-View Flip Cover assembly can be snapped in place.
The front cover has a see-through window which allows you to access your notifications, make calls, play with the music player or even access the camera, with the cover being closed.
The S-View Flip Case is compatible with the Samsung Wireless Charging Pad along with other Qi-certified wireless charging pads. The downside is its cost, as it will set you back by a whopping USD 70 (~ INR 4,000).
As another option, the S Charger Cover is only a few millimeters thicker than the standard back panel and costs a decent USD 30 (~ INR 2,000) and provides the same look and feel as the stock Galaxy S5 back cover and can be replaced by simply swapping the standard back panel of the Galaxy S5.
As we said earlier, in addition to the above, there are cheaper third party accessories in the market which can enable wireless charging, known as “charging pads”. These charging pads are small stick-on chips made up of a Qi coil, a controller board and contacts for connecting to the phone and can be easily installed by sticking them on the battery and connecting it to the device connectors.
Wireless charging is enabled without any extra thickness, however you may end up with a slight bulge in your phone. This option costs a mere USD 10, but it is not recommended to risk such an extravagant phone on a cheap third party wireless accessory!
2014, Apple Requests A Retrial
Apple and Samsung are back in the courts, yet again.
Earlier, legal reprieve had come to both in terms of monetary fines, where Apple was asked to pay a fine of USDS 158,400 to Samsung, and Samsung was asked to pay a fine of USD 119.6 million, this is in addition to USD 930 million another jury had asked Samsung to pay Apple (which Samsung is contesting).
Apple too, does not seem to accept the verdict, and has come back strong with a counter demand. Apple has requested a retrial, as they want the damages paid to go up substantially to the tune of USD 3.2 billion. Initially they had pegged their damages for the patent infringements at USD 2.2 billion, however in the renewed effort, they are demanding a much larger number, with another USD 6 billion as interest and USD 11,040 for each day Samsung delays in paying them their perceived dues.
While filing the retrial request, Apple stated that quite a few of the Samsung’s internal development documents showed deliberation to copy the patents and software features of the iPhone including “Slide to Unlock”.
Apple’s lawyers have again filed the case to address the monetary damage recovery as well as they are seeking for a new trial for all the five patents including those two for which the court earlier has ruled that Samsung is not found guilty.
On similar lines we don’t expect Samsung to sit quietly, Samsung has also filed a set of documents for getting its own damages adjusted.
We feel that while patents protect the technology and rewards the team who developed it, the fear of retribution they seem to be bringing to the table, might not be conducive to the development initiatives in the long run, especially from smaller companies.
Samsung Says No Product Planned For Health Event
Samsung’s invitation for a press conference left every one curious at the beginning of this month. It was known that the conference was related to health, but no other details were given, leaving the press in speculation whether a new product would be launched.
The Press’ curiosity was put to rest as Samsung’s Vice President, Stefan Heuser announced that they had no plans to reveal a new health related product during this conference. He simply put it as, “It’s not a product announcement”.
The event is to be hosted by Samsung Strategy and Innovation Centre also known as SSIC. The invites have been sent out just before Apple’s WWDC conference.
Reviewers are questioning whether Samsung is out to steal Apple’s thunder. In a way, that could be the motive, as Apple is anticipated to introduce the first stages of its new health-tracking family of innovations, beginning with the Healthbook feature for iOS 8 and later expand to include the iWatch.
But then again, the invitation was sent out by its SSIC arm so the conference could be about forthcoming sensors and components, rather than a Fit Version 2.
There was no further information provided as to what Samsung had up its sleeve for this event. But this move to snatch away press from the WWDC by the Korean Tech Giant just goes to show how keen they are to beat Apple to the punch, any punch.
The press aptly calls the invites a “tease”.
So we will all have to wait till the 28th of May to find out what exactly this conference will unfold.
Google Lays Down the Law: No More Device Launches With Dated Android OS
Apple has forever had an edge over the Android devices with regard to the high proportion of it’s user base that is on the most-contemporary iOS version.
Android on the other hand, struggles to overcome the highly fragmented adoption rate of it’s newer Android versions. Manufacturers are to blame, as is the overall ‘open source’ method of Android.
Android thus suffers poor users experience on it’s devices and Google has forever know that.
Now, Google might be taking their first step to regain some ground by introducing a policy applicable to all manufacturers utilizing Android OS for their devices.
The policy discourages them from releasing any new devices with an Android version which is 2 levels older than the current one.
Google wants to cull the fragmentation of Android OS at the manufacturer level and have taken a stand that they will not approve GMS (Google Mobile Service) distribution of devices nine months after the Android OS is released.
What this means to the manufacturer (and by extension, the users) is that if a brand’s device is found flouting this policy, it might not be able to access the Google Play Store at all, including the Google Mobile Service (GMS) which is a suite of all Google apps like Google Maps, Google Now, Hangouts etc., that are critical to the overall Android experience.
While the device will gunction normally even without the GMS, however it’s features and capabilities will be severely restricted as it will largely become an ‘island’ of a device. Can you imagine what the lack of access to the Play Store would do to your experience with your smartphone/tablet!
Well, here are the dates that Google’s specified:
The way we’ve heard it, Google will be enforcing this policy on budget phones and mid-range phones to start with, along with the top-of-line smartphones to follow suit.
They intend to apply the policy to cover not only the major players like Samsung, HTC, LG but also the upcoming brands and local brands that are flooding the market with their inexpensive devices that come with high-end specifications like Xiaomi, Micromax and Karbonn.
Should Google actually enforce this policy, one can envision a day when Google will unveil the latest version of the Android OS and all manufacturers will simultaneously launch it across their products on the same day rather than making their non-Nexus users wait months.
Here’s a beer to that!
Windows Phone By Samsung
According to a filing at the Federal Communications Commission (with FCC ID# A3LSMW750V), Samsung has teamed up with Verizon to produce its first-ever Windows Phone!
Samsung has reportedly applied for a filing of model number SM-W750V codenamed Huron.
Going by the application, it seems to pertain to what will be Samsung’s first ever Windows operated smartphone.
With the Mobile World Congress round the corner, speculations are abuzz that the latest from Samsung maybe unveiled at the event (alongside a possible unnamed Galaxy S5 and other Tizen-operated devices).
This is exciting at two levels – one, Samsung’s signature and fairly standard Android device range finally will get some variation and ingenuity, and second, Windows Phone may actually get a plump new device to crow about!
It looks like Samsung has teamed up with Verizon to produce this hybrid phone that will support Verizon’s LTE frequencies as well as run on CDMA frequencies.
The phone is touted to have a shell that resembles the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Windows creation will probably employ a quad core processor, have 2 GB RAM, carry a 13 megapixel camera and a probably sport a 5 inch display.
Verizon surely would have great expectations from Huron, so as to gain popularity as a Window’s Phone carrier and to expand in that nascent market.
How Samsung’s Windows Phone will stand up against the Lumia range remains to be seen.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Enters Indian Markets
Samsung’s latest, the Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched internationally last month, is finally going to be available to Indian users on 11th April. It’ll arrive in four colors – White, Black, Blue and Gold.
While there was a huge, almost tidal bout of collective bated breath in the run up to the public release of the device’s specifics, but with it’s announcement, there’s been a great lull. We’d peg it to deep disappointment, now that it’s finally here and the device isn’t all that people prayed it would be.
With a slightly larger 5.2 inch display, the Galaxy S5 has more or less the same structure and design as its predecessors in the Galaxy family. Opting for only a perforated back surface, perhaps as an effort to aid grip or simply to tackle the ‘plasticky’ perception that has come to be associated with this series, the smartphone does not feature a substantive improvement or redesign over it’s elder sibling.
While the evolutionary-not-revolutionary update may, by itself not been such a disappointment – but Samsung’s incomprehensibly unilateral decision to power the Indian version of the Galaxy S5 with a sub-par Exynos octa-core processor instead of the far more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 used in other countries has left most people miffed.
Thankfully, since the Galaxy S5 is Samsung’s launch vehicle of their foray into the world of biometrics, – introducing a rather fancy Fingerprint Scanner right at the lock screen and a Heart Rate Sensor, it does hence have two crowning features that give it some bragging rights.
Here’s the catch though: Priced at a whopping INR 52,000, without being able to justify that humongous a price tag, it may just be discouragement enough for a lot of people from going for it.
There’s little value-addition, basically just a few tweaks here and there, and less than a handful of usable, exciting new features. Dunno why, but one feels that Samsung’s missed the boat on this one and it might have been an expensive no-show considering Apple’s firing on all cylinders and HTC”s biting at the heels.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Finally Comes To India
The Samsung Galaxy S5, launched last month, is finally available to Indian users as of 11th April, 2014.
While there had been great brouhaha surrounding its arrival, there have also been some disappointments now that it’s finally here.
With a slightly larger 5.2 inch display, the Galaxy S5 has more or less the same structure and design as its predecessors in the Galaxy family, only opting for a perforated back surface, perhaps as an effort to aid grip or simply to tackle the ‘plasticky’ feel that has come to be associated with this series.
Another disappointment is the fact that the Indian version of Samsung Galaxy S5 is powered by Exynos octa-core processor and not the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 used for devices released in other countries.
This, for a country that has probably the most smartphone enthusiasts and technophiles outside of China, seems like a gloriously wasted opportunity, for a few pennies in savings.
With the Galaxy S5, Samsung has forayed into the world of bio-metrics, introducing a rather fancy Fingerprint Scanner right at the lock screen and a Heart Rate Sensor, possibly the two crowning features in this model. And if design isn’t all that’s at the top of your list, then S5’s brilliant display, powerful processor, stunning camera and certified water resistant build makes it a little bit of a better deal.
It is available in four colours – White, Black, Blue and Gold.
However, here comes the catch: Priced at a whopping INR 52,000, it may discourage several people from going for it, considering that there is little value-addition over its predecessor – with basically a few tweaks and a handful of new features here and there.
HTC Announces The New HTC One Ahead Of The Samsung Galaxy S5
HTC recently announced the new HTC One, called the HTC One M8. Folks are already considering the new device to be good enough to become the top-dog in the Android market.
Aimed to please the end user, while the features may not be that significantly different from last year’s model however the looks have been refined to quite a degree, and HTC says there are major changes in its software too.
The HTC One M8 has a 5 inch display with a 1080 pixel resolution. Under the cover is a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801 quad core processor with a 2 GB RAM, which should allow the user to breeze through all the tasks that she can throw at it.
The device comes in storage options of 16 GB or 32 GB, which can be further augmented by an additional 128 GB thanks to a microSD slot.
If things could not get better – Google is giving 50 GB of cloud space on it’s Google Drive for two years!
For your entertainment the HTC One M8 has a 5 megapixel front camera and a HTC UltraPixel-enabled rear camera, which should provide the user superior picture quality, capturing depth information with a wide array of special effects to photos.
The device has another “camera” like sensor in the back and it is called a “Duo Camera Array”, where the second sensor is not a camera but a depth sensor. This addition allows the user to significantly modify the photos and successfully blur the backgrounds post clicking the photo.
The flagship feature for entertainment purposes, the front facing speakers, have been upgraded too. The HTC team has placed the speakers differently, and even redesigned the inbuilt amplifier to belt out richer sound.
A sizeable 2,600mAh battery keeps the phone going for a good 20 hours of talk time and now also has a new “extreme power saving mode” enhancing the standby time to 40 days.
HTC is also offering a new case, the Dot View case which is a cover made of perforated rubber enabling the user to view notifications through this case, displayed in a dot matrix style point. It looks different but the enhancement to our phone-experience is brilliant!
But it’s not an easy spot to land.
Google’s Nexus 5 released last year has gained tremendous success in the market, and Samsung’s own flagships, the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 will definitely prove stiff competition with regards pricing and features.
Reviewers have been questioning whether the HTC One M8 will be worth the money and if it would provide and edge with its new features. The answer is a “Yes” – so far, as it has emerged to be more capable than the Nexus 5 and the Galaxy S5!
It has outshone the Nexus in almost all of the features – be it the camera, the software or even the design.
The only drawback versus the Nexus 5, could be the HTC One M8’s size, as the Nexus is more manageable, allowing the user to use the phone with one hand, while with the HTC One, the user would have to stretch out their thumbs to reach the top left of the screen.
Between the three said phones, reviewers have quoted them to be as “M8 boasts of Luxury, Nexus 5 has practicality and the Galaxy S5 plays catch up”.
HTC was able to get the One M8 into the market before Samsung S5, which is yet to hit the stores. HTC pulled a fast one by keeping the launch and sale date the same for this device, and making it available worldwide with 230 operators in over 100 countries!
The price of this flagship phone doesn’t come as a bolt from the blue; with the latest technology under its cover it definitely commands its price tag. This phone is going to retail for USD 650, unlocked.
So, in conclusion we can say that this phone is being considered to be one that will create a lot of divide with users and their opinions. That said, the LG G3 and the iPhone 6 cannot be left out of consideration as they are both brilliant in their own rights. The only thing that puts them on at a disadvantage is that they are yet to be announced.
So for the moment, the fight remains between Samsung, Nexus and HTC One, and we think we know which one’s ruling people’s mind at this time!