Weekly roundup: Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Xiaomi Redmi 2, and other …

29 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Galaxy S6 And Galaxy S6 Edge Hide Samsung’s Broken Promise.

In a statement, Globe said that as of Sunday, units of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge have been made available in the following Globe stores: Greenbelt, Glorietta, Shangri-la, SM Megamall, Rockwell, Trinoma, SM North EDSA, SM Mall of Asia, Robinson’s Galleria, Alabang Town Center, SM Dasmarinas, Ayala Center Cebu, Abreeza Mall, Limketkai Mall, and SM Baguio. “Aside from giving our postpaid customers the privilege of being the first to experience the latest Samsung smartphones with our myLifestyle Plan,” Globe’s vice president for postpaid business Erli Valdez said. “We are also enriching their mobile experience with free access to entertainment content such as Spotify and HOOQ as well as a free premium item when they pre-order online until April 5.” Earlier this week, Globe announced that it has opened a pre-order site for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge for Globe postpaid and Platinum customers. This includes unlimited calls and texts to Globe/TM subscribers, GoSURF499 inclusive of 3GB mobile internet, free access of Facebook, free Spotify Premium for three months, free HOOQ for three months, free Gadget Care and Navigation Bundle for one month, and free 1GB of Globe Cloud.

Once you get past the initial shock of seeing a smartphone that appears somehow “bent,” the curved sides looking as if the screen has somehow begun to melt away, you start to wonder, what it can do? Where the S6 is the more vanilla handset of the pair announced at Mobile World Congress this year, the S6 Edge is the handset that shows the ambition of the South Korean company’s design team. But that strip along the right edge provided a cornucopia of extra features: There was a handy app drawer, notifications came in at the edge, “chrome” on various apps (say, a camera shutter button) appeared there, and there was even a clever ruler. The company has had a tough year in mobile; its last flagship, the Galaxy S5, was a disappointment, and Apple seized the advantage with its blockbuster dual release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

But even before then Samsung’s fortunes in mobile were on the decline, weighed down by uninspiring designs and features nobody wanted (smart scroll, anyone?). It’s not because it has great features or a beautiful design (although it definitely has those), but because Samsung finally gets it: Features don’t matter as much as the complete package. Building a halo effect with fewer sales means there is even more reliance on critical reviews, and it’s those initial reviews that I am want to look at today. Is that enough to justify a purchase, let alone one that costs about $100 more than the regular Galaxy S6? (Read our review of the regular Galaxy S6 here.) With part of each side taken up by a curved screen, the metallic rim on each side is considerably thinner than on the Galaxy S6.

However, waterproofing meant that all owners had to suffer opening and closing the plastic tab over the microUSB port every single time they wanted to charge the damn thing. Thomas Tamblyn cracks open the poetry on The Huffington Post: Imagine you went on a night out in Venice carrying a circuit board, and in quick succession drunkenly stumbled through the window of a master glassblower’s and then finally — out of sheer good luck — collapsed into a vat of ultra-high purity aluminium.

It runs on a 1.8 GHz Hisilicon Kirin 925 octa-core processor along with Mali-T628 GPU, 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage which is expandable up to 128GB. While you’ve severely irritated both a master glassblower and a metallurgist what you’ve ended up with is the best-looking phone Samsung has ever made. Because the metal strip is thinner, your skin on your fingers actually folds over in more places, putting a little more surface area on the phone itself. That’s not to say the new Galaxy doesn’t have its share of new features — it does — but it’s clear Samsung put in only the things that would make the phone better or easier to use, and left out the rest.

This isn’t actually much greater than the Galaxy S4 and S5, which also have about 8GB of non-removable bloat, but it remains a far cry from the image of super slick, stripped back software that Samsung is selling. When I saw the curved display for the first time, my biggest fear was that it might distort imagery — that videos and photos in particular would look warped along the top and bottom if you moved or looked at them off-angle in any way. That fear turned out to be misplaced; Samsung did a good job, through a combination of ever-so-subtle letterboxing and designing the curve just right, to ensure media doesn’t look weird.

It has exactly two functional differences from the regular S6: You can access your favorite contacts with a swipe in from the right side when you’re on the home screen, and when you set the phone on a table it can light up notifications or a clock you’ll be able to read with your head on a pillow. The seventh generation of the Kindle, the Kindle Voyage, with the thinnest build and higher resolution and contrast than its predecessors has been launched in India. There are also clearly deals in place with the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook – useful apps to most, but also non-removable – which hark back to the worst excesses of PC crapware.

While we’re still waiting for the full price breakdown from carriers around the world as they apply subsidies, the UK SIM-Free pricing gives an idea of the difference in price of the handsets. Arguably therefore this improvement is the most vital aspect (and iOS is no angel with a secret app in iOS 8.2 creating a total of 32 non-removable apps). The headphone jack moves to the bottom — the kind of seemingly random relocation that Samsung once poked Apple about, but nothing anyone really cares about.

The choice may boil down to ‘curved screen’ or ‘the next storage tier’ – would you take a 32 GB S6 Edge, or a 64 GB vanilla S6 at the same price? With the same specifications and the lack of true innovation in the Edge software, I suspect many will plump for the larger storage option – and I’m sure the latter option will be more profitable for Samsung in the short-term. Because the display has Quad HD resolution (2,560 x 1,440), it has a pixel density of 576 pixels per inch — that’s the highest of any smartphone we’ve ever seen. It’s also packing Samsung’s latest Exynos octa-core processor, the Exynos 7, a departure for the company since it usually puts Qualcomm chips in its U.S. models. The advanced processor enables convenience features like a “trigger command” — just say, “Hey, Galaxy” (or any other customized phrase) in the phone’s vicinity and it’ll come alive, ready to listen.

Admittedly, the phone did get quite toasty when running our benchmarks, but it easily outstripped almost every other Android handset we’ve tested, including the 64-bit HTC One M9. The Night Clock will automatically show the time along one of the sides (you can choose which one) for a set period of the day, for a maximum of 12 hours.

In BaseMark OS II, for instance, it scored a massive 1,845 overall, placing it 400 points higher than the One M9 and, strangely, 200 points above its flat-screened S6 sibling. It is small, there’s a lot going on with the electronics, and while more time is needed for testing almost every reviewer is wary of the battery life. Outside of night mode, the side-panel clock is of limited usefulness (why not just press the home button to see the time — a much more intuitive gesture). The other information is fine, but again, it would be hard to train yourself to do anything other than simply unlocking the phone and launching an app.

It’s a pretty remarkable feat that Samsung was able to fit OIS in a phone that’s not a “phablet,” but one look at the camera module and you can see how: The bump makes the phone look like it’s developing a wart. You can even customize the colors to go with specific people, although finding out how to do so (switching up the color in their contact profile) isn’t obvious in the slightest. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been frightened to tap the Settings button on Samsung’s cameras, lest I be confronted with an incomprehensible grid of options. It’ll certainly get customers to turn their heads and ask, “What’s that?” But if you throw in the Note Edge’s panel and all its bells and whistles, suddenly that intrigue could turn into intimidation. In the S6, you instead get a well-organized and familiar list, a nice example of how Samsung is working to turn back the clock on the feature creep that’s plagued its devices.

While this is a feature that is hugely popular in the Eastern countries, it has never been high up on the list of features in American and European devices. It has the same 16-megapixel resolution as the S5 and retains that super-quick phase-detect autofocus, but this year adds a wider aperture and optical image stabilisation. That’s actually a good litmus test for almost any new feature, and if Samsung is using that standard, it shows a maturity in its mobile design that we haven’t seen before. It isn’t vastly superior to the iPhone 6′s camera, but it’s as quick and a better all-rounder in tricky light; we particularly love the live HDR feature, which displays on the screen, in real-time, what your processed photo will eventually look like.

With a 4.7-inch display and a 0.27-inch thick profile, Apple’s iPhone 6 is larger and, where the iPod Touch offers a 1,136 x 640 Retina display, the new iPhone introduces Apple’s 1,334 x 750 “Retina HD” display. The S6 Edge’s biggest benefit might be to give buyers tacit permission to buy a similarly priced Galaxy S6, which will be the next tier up in the storage sizes as mentioned previously.

The similarly sized Samsung Galaxy S5 does not have the iPhone’s spectacular design, but with a plastic, puckered back and rigged sides, it’s unlikely to slip out of anyone’s hands. I don’t particularly care for these design elements, but they’re necessary: The pieces of the body serve as the phone’s antennas, and the plastic is necessary to separate each of them. Unlike the old typing suggestions I used to get on iOS 7, the keyboard offers a gray strip of ever-changing word suggestions right above the keyboard as I type.

It works so hard at finding the right words that you can have some fun by typing nonsense and letting it daisy-chain together suggested words for a nonsensical but not-complete-nonsense story. The app works with the iPhone’s activity sensors and the new M8 motion coprocessor (an update to the M7), which collects data from all those sensors. Eventually the Health app will serve as a hub for a host of third-party health devices and should work quite nicely with the Apple Watch, which will ship in 2015.

Apple’s decision to stick with an 8-megapixel sensor for its iSight camera was surprising, especially considering the 13MP and even 20MP cameras found on competing smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 1520. Combined with new continuous autofocus, the iPhone 6’s 240-fps slo-mo is now a powerful cinematic tool that can add drama and interest to just about any scene. This Wi-Fi standard is theoretically four times faster than 802.11n, but your experience will depend on whether or not your home router and other hotspots you connect to support the faster standard.

Thanks to hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from, it’s a fun gaming device, an able productivity tool, a powerful still and video camera, a portal to a world of information and content (movies and TV look excellent on it) and an impressive measurement and tracking tool. Health is good for what it is, but right now it’s mostly unrealized potential until third parties start integrating with Apple’s new HealthKit framework.

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