Posts tagged “Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy S9 Initial Thoughts

It’s that time of the year, Mobile World Congress 2018 and Samsung releasing another device to take the mobile world by storm — or will it?

Quick Thoughts

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus look stunning and carry over essentially all of the outside features from the S8 and S8 Plus, except the camera is reportedly improved and the fingerprint sensor is under the camera lens system this year, which is where it should have been since this design was drafted last year (way to backtrack Samsung).  Hardware is something that Samsung has been getting right for years now and it should come as no surprise to anyone that this thing looks solid as a rock.

Expect the normal array of colors with an all new Lilac Purple version upon release.  The display is still beautiful, as should be expected from Samsung with it’s patented Infinity display, which happens to look better than the iPhone X’s ugly notch, sorry.

Samsung-Galaxy-S9

Photo: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus


Camera

Let’s talk about the major change in the 2018 device, the camera.  And it’s not just your regular camera, it is one that can shoot in multiple apertures, which is notable because smartphone cameras are usually fixed; which could lead some shots appearing soft — well Samsung aims to fix that this year — hands on tests will tell.  The amazing part is that when taking pictures, you can see the lens shifting to a different apertures to capture images in, which is perfect for light and dark shots — being more narrow in increased light and opening up more in low light.  It is notable and impressive that this is the widest aperture (f 1.5) ever included in a smartphone.

Lastly, AR Emoji, which utilizes the front-facing camera, allowing you to take a picture of yourself and creating a lifelike emoji of yourself that you can send to your friends.  Just like Animoji on iPhone X before, I wonder how many days it’ll take new Galaxy S9 owners to forget about.


Services

Smartthings and Samsung Health.  We’ve seen how the health apps work, and Samsung is stepping it up this year with sensors to help check blood pressure.  Camera integrations with Bixby to let you scan in foods and log caloric data into the Health app.  Additionally, with Smartthings, which is huge for those who are integrating connected devices in their lives, will be baked right in.

Check out a condensed version of the S9 event below:

Source: The Verge


Final Thoughts

You should be very impressed with this device.  The hardware is essentially flawless now with an improved camera, which was already one of the best.  However, the only thing that could hamper the experience would be Samsung’s version of Android and how it will hold up over time.

Hands on coming soon as  this device will be hitting stores on March 16th!

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 First Impressions

Enter Galaxy Note 8.

There is a lot of chatter about this phone; however, one statement that is not being put out into the atmosphere is, “This is not a good device.”  The Galaxy Note 8 is a wonderful device through and through.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.


Hardware

The Galaxy Note 8 feels great in the hands and it is simply amazing that Samsung managed to package a 6.3″ screen into a body of this size (close in size to an iPhone 7 Plus).  Since the device has a glass front and back, it is very grippy and easy to hold — so although it’s size may be unwieldy to some, is easy to hold in one hand.  Additionally, although the screen is large, it is slimmer than most devices coming in at only 74.8mm wide.  We are looking at a smartphone that has 6 GB of RAM, 12 MP dual-camera system (OIS on both sensors), USB-C, a headphone jack (yes, I have to mention it), S-Pen (more on that later), IP 68 water and dust resistant, a bottom firing speaker that actually sounds really good, Fingerprint scanner (in the wrong place right next to the camera,  this is the only part of the design that is flawed, which ruins the look of the back of the device) along with a Super AMOLED display that is simply one of the best, if not best, in the business.


Performance

You can put the best specifications in the world, the most RAM the fastest processor and still have a terrible smartphone experience, many Android OEMs have been guilty of this in the past, including Samsung.

Not this year.

With my time spent with the device, the phone flat out screamed from the moment I picked it up, until I put it down.  One area of the operating system in Samsung’s “Samsung Experience”, renamed from TouchWiz that appeared to be much more optimized was simply opening the Camera app.  Nearly all Samsung phones of the past would experience a little lag when opening the app — yes, it’s a big deal a moment is exactly that, a moment and something that you do not want to miss out on one.  Opening apps, closing apps and multitasking were absolutely painless making  this phone very performant.  One of the only pain-points I saw in regard to performance was swiping to the Bixby page at the left of the launcher, nearly every time (even when it was loaded into RAM) it opened the phone was met with stutter and dropped frames.


Samsung Experience

Most Android OEMs add a few apps, launcher changes and more to differentiate their flavor of Android from it’s competitors and Samsung does it in a very tasteful and refined manner on the Note 8 with highlights on two in particular.

Edge Apps

Because of the Note 8 screen technology, wrapping over the edges to meet the bezel, Samsung makes use of this with “Edge Apps”.  Edge Apps allows to to select from certain “predetermined” apps on the device and create shortcuts to those from anywhere in the operating system.  Really love that Samsung Notes app?  Put it in the edge and you’ll be able to take notes from anywhere in an instant.  Additionally, we now have App Pairs, which were introduced with the Note 8 and this allows you to pair commonly used apps together in a “pair” that will be launched together in split screen mode (6.3″ screen here, really making use of the extra real estate).

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Samsung “App Pairs” shown, above. (Note: In my experience the device did heat up a bit when two apps were on the screen in App Pairs.)

S Pen

While it is unknown of the actual usage statistics of Samsung’s S Pen, it is certainly a valuable addition to the device and where it gets its “Note” name from.  The S Pen makes it easy to jot down notes quickly and efficiently.  The phone doesn’t even have to be awake.  Need to capture some info?  Pull out the S Pen from the device, and start writing on the screen with “screen off memos” — these will be saved to a new note ready for you to reference later.  The S Pen does have it’s drawbacks, as the input lag is real here when drawing lines on screen and is somewhat intermittent when swiping between homescreens.

Source: Tim Schofield


Camera

Since when have you ever known of Samsung to slouch in the camera department?  It started this year, kidding.

The Note 8 takes fantastic shots.  With my experience, under Best Buy lighting, the pictures were crisp, focused and contained plenty of detail.  Video capture was nice and smooth as well; however, playback appeared slightly choppy on the Note 8.  Check out this very thorough camera review below:

Source: Andru Edwards


Nitpicks

There is so much to like about this device; however, I’m yet to have a perfect smartphone experience (seen my rants on iOS 11 lately?).

Let’s get this over with:

  • Smaller battery than the smaller Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus (likely due to battery issues in the Note 7)
  • Some photos appear to be over saturated, while pleasing to the eye, these pictures are not the most “true to life”
  • Disappointing S Pen performance lag

TLDR

Right now, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android phone that you can go into a store and buy, period — no questions people.  The overall package of performance, camera quality and excellent build make it an all-around winner.

Just skip the Galaxy Note 7

The Note 7, such a wonderfully crafted device by Samsung, would be on my instant  recommend list for my productivity needing friends, whom also needed a large screen device;however, since these so-called replacement devices are also STILL duds and catching fire — I can no longer recommend this device and maintain any dignity for myself.

Photo of a damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

These “replacements” are the phones that customers thought would be safe and finally free them from this horrible storyline of “Samsung phones catching fire”. Well, unfortunately the story is not yet over because this problem is still not resolved. For a company of this magnitude, this is unacceptable and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The question here is what went wrong this second time around? Should other Samsung customers be worried? This company has been making great devices for years and this simply brings all of that into question.

Bottom line: This ship has sailed. DO NOT BUY THE GALAXY NOTE 7.

Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung’s latest flagship device is here, the bold and beautiful Galaxy Note 7 and I’ve had the chance to spend some time with it.  Starting at $850 this is one of the best Android devices that money can buy.  With that being said, I will break it apart and highlight the good, bad and potential pitfalls that I see in the device.  We must remember, that no device is perfect, but it can be “perfect” for us.

Let’s get reviewing, shall we!?


Screen & Body
The first thing that you notice when you pick up the device is how sleek and sexy it is.  Yes, devices can be sexy too!  The curves on each side of the screen make it rest very well in the palm of your hands and does not appear to be too slippery without a case.  Looking around the outside of the casing you can admire the variety of colors that it comes in: Black onyx, blue coral, silver and gold.  In short, the blue coral is stunning to see in person — this version has a nice contrast with gold edges surrounding it while the black onyx color way follows up in a close second.  When you press the power button, you are greeted by one of the best displays, if not best display, that is on a smartphone.  This 5.7″ screen is packing a display at 1440 x 2560 pixels coming in with 518 PPI (pixel per inch) — this means the images you see on the device will be crystal clear with essentially no chance of you discerning pixels with your naked eye.  The screen technology is Super AMOLED, which gives you very rich blacks and Samsung usually tweaks their displays to be a little more saturated than others on the market, which will make colors “pop” a little more than usual.
Galaxy Note 7, retail in hand.

Galaxy Note 7, retail, in hand.

Camera Technology
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Samsung stuffs some of the best camera technology into a device and the Note 7 is no slouch here.  The rear camera comes in at 12 MP with F1.7 aperture.  The camera features optical image stabilization, RAW image capture, HDR (High Dynamic Range, just leave this setting on or at least on Auto) and more effects within the app itself.  The front-facing camera is a respectable 5 MP shooter that can create a clear image and looks great through the on-screen viewfinder.  Through the tests performed, shutter speed is quite fast (note: some Android devices struggle here, the Note 7 is more than capable of taking many pictures in succession).  The only issue that could arise is if you are trying to quickly open the Samsung camera app quickly after closing another app, there were a few instances where it stuttered to open from memory; however, once open it performed like a charm.  Saved pictures and video look fantastic on the 5.7″ display.  Video is also smooth with OIS certainly aiding in any handheld shots that you get.  Colors are very vibrant and make any image or video captured look fantastic.  If a camera on a device is any driver for a purchase, then go ahead and get that credit card ready my friend.
User-Experience
Samsung is calling the iteration of TouchWiz on the Note 7 “Grace UI” and for the most part it is graceful.  Samsung has been scaling TouchWiz back more and more over recent years because of customer complaints and dreadful performance over time.  Having a lighter user-interface makes the device perform quicker and usually those performance increases come with a lighter overall “weight” on the outward facing interface.  Grace UI is light on it’s feet and light in colors that are easy on the eye.  One of the best parts of the Note 7 and it’s UI are the built in “edge apps”.  With a quick swipe in from the edge of the screen (can be repositioned in the settings) the user can access apps, contacts, news and more from a pull out on the edge of the screen.  If any of you are familiar with the Android app SwipePad, think of it on steroids.  Great innovation here by Samsung that makes the Note 7 experience that much better than another rival smartphone and can certainly help to drive the purchase decision — yes, they are that good.
Galaxy Note 7 displaying Apps Edge, which house many unique features to the Note 7.

Galaxy Note 7 displaying Apps Edge, which house many unique features to the Note 7.

The reason that we buy smartphones are to increase our productivity and applications built into the edges of the display do that and more.  The S-Pen, as usual, is fantastic, easy to use and feels great once it hits the screen.  Samsung has done a few good things here to ensure that S-Pen use is easy, from making it virtually impossible to put it in in reverse and making the screen detect it’s location mere millimeters away.  All writing and drawing with the S-Pen is lag free and keeps you focused on the task at hand.
Another important part of the user experience is going from one app to another in our day to day lives and this smartphone gets the job done with minimal stutter, there is some to be found when opening certain memory-intensive games, opening the camera app, or swiping into Flipboard briefing (which is just awful and should be disabled) from the home-screen, which should be noted.
Take a look at this full review of the Note 7 from Android Authority:

Overall Impressions
Pros:
There are not many bad things that one can say about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7.  The device is beautiful inside and out with power, grace (Grace UI) and plenty of features to keep you happy.  If you are coming from a Galaxy S5, Note 4 or lower — I’d be confident to say that this is a must upgrade for you.
Cons:
The $850 price tag can serve as quite the significant barrier to entry for some buyers, especially with other high-performing Android smartphones like the Nexus 6P, One Plus 3 and others coming in at $400.  Remember that this device comes with a lot of extra features that are useful — IF you make use of them.  If you’re looking for just another “big screen device” you can get that elsewhere.  Additionally, if you are looking for a lag free device, the Note 7 is not it.  While Samsung’s latest flagship offers minimal lag, the weight of the skin and additional apps can show when opening the camera app or opening memory-intensive games.
Bottom line:  If the Note series has a feature-set that you enjoy and you are due for an upgrade, this is a no brainier.  With a camera, screen, companion apps and set of hardware specifications that are almost second to done, it’s easy to see why this device will sell.  Additionally, if you’re just looking for a powerfully monstrous device that will last for years, look beautiful and perform with the best of them look no further — just be ready for your bank account to take a hit.

Galaxy Mega…. Too big or too right?

A 6.3″ screen attached to a device that is actually a phone.  Is this something that you’d use?

I have big hands and an affinity for devices and honestly this seems like the perfect device for someone like me.  Personally, I own a Galaxy Nexus and a Nexus 7 — if I owned this device I could seemingly par my load down to just one without carrying a phone and tablet everywhere I go.

On a another note, what really makes this a good device? I’d say it is a combination of it’s form factor, specs and functionality. No device is completely useless — hence why there are so many different sizes, prices and storage capacities of smart phones.  The only cause for alarm with this device is the fact that it has mid-range specs; it is apparent that Samsung is not pushing this as an all-star device — although it has the potential to be.

Bottom line:  This device is an excellent device for someone who is looking for sheer screen size; however, for the enthusiast who wants the fastest mobile processor and the most RAM — look elsewhere.  That being said, my excitement is still high for this device.