Big gets even bigger: The Samsung Galaxy S4

GALAXY-S-4-Product-Image-12It is no news that the Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones have changed the way we view mobile phone technology today; rivaled only by the Apple iPhone and a few others. Everyone was very content with the revolutionary Galaxy S3 smartphone and with the lasting impressions its predecessors had, everyone would expect the new Samsung Galaxy S4 to be from outta space.

A straight to the point fact is that Samsung did not disappoint with the unveiling of the S4 – a phone boasting specs to further establish Samsung’s dominance of the mobile world. It’s a 5-inch beast, packing a full HD screen, a searingly powerful quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a host of Samsung software extras, a 13-megapixel camera and 4G LTE connectivity for super fast data speeds.

440x330-samsung-galaxy-s3-controlsScreen & Design

Taking a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 from the front, you’ll have a tough time telling it apart from the S3. Samsung has a bunch of new sensors scattered around the Galaxy S4’s body, but the general layout of controls is largely unchanged. Below the Screen, we find the typical physical Hardware sandwiched between the capacitive menu and back keys as on the Galaxy S3.

There’s some extra functionality upon a long press too – the Menu key handles Google Now, while the Home key brings up the task switcher. Pressing and holding the back button brings the side bar for the Multi- window feature (if it’s enabled), and if you click the home key twice the Samsung S voice virtual assistant kicks in.

The traditional ambient light and proximity sensors are joined by an IR gesture sensor, which enables the cool Air gestures in applications such as the web browser and music player. There’s also a 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and a status LED. The volume rocker is on the left side of the Samsung Galaxy S4, while the power/lock key is on the right. Despite the proper camera upgrade on the Galaxy S4, the new flagship is still missing a dedicated camera key; and though the volume rocker can be used for snapping photos, it can’t quite match a two-stage button.

The top of the Galaxy S4 features the 3.5mm audio jack, the secondary microphone and the IR blaster that allows you to use the smartphone as a remote control for your home appliances. At the bottom, sits the primary mic alongside the microUSB port which is used for both data connections and charging. Not only does it support USB host, The Samsung Galaxy S4 also comes with support for the new MHL 2.0, enabling 3D 1080p output and TV connections without an external power source. The back of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is where the 13 megapixel FullHD- capable camera lens is located. As on the Galaxy S3, the LED flash is right beside it, but the loudspeaker grille has been moved to the bottom left edge of the device

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One of the most important updates that the Samsung Galaxy S4 brings is the new 5 inch Super AMOLED screen of 1080p resolution. While it does have a PenTile matrix, the 441 ppi pixel density makes sure you enjoy the screen. Its impressive contrast and almost perfect viewing angles make everything on the screen pop, regardless of your viewpoint. The color saturation is beyond the reach of any LCD out there, which makes even the dullest of images appear remarkably vibrant. For non-fans of the over-saturated look of AMOLEDs, Samsung gives you the option to tune down the saturation to more natural levels and enjoy the best of both worlds. There’s a dedicated Adobe RGB setting that gets this done.

Interface, Software and Apps

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is powered by Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean – the latest release of the Google platform available at the moment – and a laundry list of new TouchWiz features. The Galaxy S4 combines the best of both worlds and while it seems familiar, there’s plenty new below the surface – so much in fact that you’d need a couple of days just to get accustomed to all the phone has to offer:

We start with the lockscreen, which features the new lockscreen widgets introduced with Android 4.2, though Samsung fiddled with them a bit. The default lockscreen shows the time along with a personal message overlaid on beautiful photos pulled from TripAdvisor (with text at the bottom about where the photo was taken). Samsung replaced the water ripples by a lens flare effect, if you prefer, you can switch back to the old one or disable it all together. Another cool feature is the Quick glance option we first saw on the Samsng Galaxy Note 2 which uses the proximity sensor to detect you reaching for the device and lights up the screen that shows the time, missed call and message counters, battery charge and music track info.

At the top is the notification area which offers quick toggles (five or eight in landscape mode) to enable and disable features. There are more than five toggles, you can swipe horizontally to get to the others. Or you can tap the new button that reveals a grid of all the shortcuts, 20 in total. You can rearrange this grid (the top row toggles are always visible). A two finger swipe directly opens the grid of toggles.

The Galaxy S4 comes with the multi-window feature. This allows the use of apps (two apps) side by side on the screen and you can adjust the division line giving one app more space; something similar to the “snap-in” function of Windows 8. Only compatible apps can be used with the multi-window, and that means mostly the ones that come preinstalled on the phone. You can move the small arrow that brings up the drawer with the multi- window apps to make it easier to reach with your thumb. You can also move the whole drawer to the other side of the screen. The settings menu has been redone in the latest TouchWiz version. Instead of a scrollable grid of icons and sections Samsung has went with a tabbed interface. On top you get four tabs – Connection, My device, Accounts and More. you can find relative features in their corresponding place – display, for instance, is in the My Device tab. It makes navigating the settings menu much faster and more intuitive.

With the Galaxy S4 comes a lot of advanced features:
The first is Air View, which debuted on the Galaxy Note 2 and worked with the S Pen. There’s no S Pen on the Galaxy S4, or a need for it because the phone can detect your finger hovering over the screen. This enables information preview, previewing videos just by pointing to a spot in the timeline, moving to the next track in the music player by hovering over the next button (works with previous button too), previewing folders, speed dial contacts, and even magnifying links in web pages. Air view detects fingers 1cm away from the screen. Another set of “air” features are the Air Gestures. Quick Glance is one of them, but there’s more. The rest of the air commands are triggered by waving your hand over the Galaxy S4. Air Gestures turns the S4 into a mini-Kinect. Air Gestures can detect your hand up to 7cm and might prove useful in some situations. The sad part to this feature is that it only supports native apps and third party apps will not work with them (inclusive of Google Chrome that comes preinstalled on the phone). The familiar Smart Stay and Smart Rotate features are enabled too. Smart Scroll is one of the two new features on the Galaxy S4. It allows you to scroll up and down by tilting the phone or by tilting your head. The second new feature is simpler and more useful – Smart Pause. While watching a video, it uses the front- facing camera to track your face and will automatically pause the video when you look away. Look back and the screen and the playback continues.

Camera and Video

If the promise of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel images doesn’t wow you, Samsung is hoping that its refreshed interface and enhanced features will. Perhaps the face and will automatically pause the video when you look away. Look back and the screen and the playback continues.

If the promise of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel images doesn’t wow you, Samsung is hoping that its refreshed interface and enhanced features will. Perhaps the most out-there would be the dual-shot mode, which takes photos and video from both the front and rear facing cameras, and combines them into one. The background shows the capture from your main camera, while the foreground — whatever you take from the front-facing camera — lays on top. You
can choose to change the window size and shape on top, say a postcard stamp, an oval, or a simple window. You can also swap camera positions so that rear-facing gives you the inset and the front-facing image forms the background. More new modes include Sound & amp; Shot, which takes a picture and captures up to 9 seconds of audio and Drama Shot, which combines all the actions from a burst shot into a single frame. If someone is jumping, for instance, you see all stages of the leap in one shot. Then there’s Cinema Photo, which lets you animate just one portion of a video and keep the rest static, and Eraser mode, which can erase an unwanted person from a shot. You’ll also find Story Album, which gathers friends into a single photo album. You can add more location-based detail, and you can print any album through self-publishing platform Blurb.

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Processor, Memory and Battery

The Galaxy S4 features an Exynos 5 Octa 5410 Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor with a 2GB RAM. It comes in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage options (expandable to 64GB via micro SD).

As for battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is packed a large 2,600mAh , but also a larger screen and even more features to compromise performance. Smart Stay and S Voice both drain the battery more quickly.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S smartphones have always been a dominant force in the smartphone world and with the release of the Galaxy S4, Samsung is here to stay at the top. With such stunning features already discussed, this phone is a beast! Possible downsides of the phone would be its wallet shrinking price, its plastic design and the fact that there’s no FM radio. If you’re interested in a super phone, a strong gaming phone or possibly the ‘best’ android phone there is… the Samsung Galaxy S4 is surely the phone for you!

Read even more at GSMArena

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 2 N7100- Big…is better!- Part 2

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Interface and Software

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a TouchWiz UI. It features the standard tap and drag in any direction to unlock affair with ripples accompained by a water-drop sound. There are five customizable shortcuts which are available at the bottom of the lockscreen. Dragging any of the shortcuts upwards launches apps without going through the homescreen. There are several options like the face unlock, face and voice unlock, unlock by touching the screen and phone tilting unlock.
There’s a new feature called Quick glance which gives you at-a-glance info on missed calls and message notifications as well as the battery percentage, music track info and upcoming alarms. The notification area offers quick toggles for Wi-Fi, GPS, Slient mode, Screen rotation and Power saving. There are five more toggles just off screen-Blocking mode, Mobile data, Bluetooth, AllShare cast and Sync. Further down we get the Brightness Slider with an Auto checkbox. This allows you to adjust the screen’s brightness even if it’s in auto mode.image

The screen of the Note 2 is big and typing experience might not be an easy task. Luckily for us Samsung knows this and that’s why they’ve added a few settings to make it easier. You can have the QWERTY keyboard, phone keypad and in- call buttons, calculator and unlock pattern moved to one side of the screen (left. Or right, whichever you prefer), to make them easier to use with one hand.

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Another cool feature you can find on the Galaxy Note 2 is Smart Stay. This feature uses the front-facing camera to detect the user looking at the screen, so that it never dims or locks while you’re reading. This makes reading web pages and ebooks very comfortable, even if you’ve set the screen timeout low to preserve the battery. Another clever camera twick is the Smart rotation. When enabled, the Note 2 will try to orient it’s screen in relation to your eyes not the accelerometer.

Processor, Memory and Battery

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 features a Samsung- made Exynos 4412 Quad chipset with four Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB of RAM and a Mali-400 GPU which manages the Note 2’s graphics. Like the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 2 comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB storage options with up to 64GB of external storage.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is packed with a 3,100mAh battery (up from 2,500mAh on the original Note) which yields Up to 35 hours of 2G Talk time and Up to 16 hours of 3G Talk time.

Phonebook

The phonebook is virtually unlimited storage capacity. There are four tabs on top accommodating the Phone app, Groups, Favorites and Contacts. Samsung has kept swipe features for the phonebook. The Quick contacts feature is there too, displaying, upon a tap on the contact picture, a pop up menu with shortcuts to call, text, email or Google Talk. There’s a built-in reject list which acts like a third party blacklist app and blocks the numbers on it from calling you. There’s a new feature which lets you choose a specific vibration pattern as an incoming call alert, just like you would a ringtone.

Messaging and Text input

This being an Android handset, you cannot fault the amount of messaging options in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Firstly, there’s Mail, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with two flavours built in. One is the standard, excellent Gmail app found on all Android handsets. The second is Samsung’s own Mail app, which accommodates Gmail as well as virtually every other POP3/IMAP and Exchange option you care to chuck in its direction. The Gmail app is brilliant. It was overhauled for Android Ice Cream Sandwich, so if you have the original Samsung Galaxy Note (and you haven’t updated from Gingerbread), you’ll very quickly notice the difference. It looks better, it acts better and it gives you a widget too. Turning the phablet landscape activates the split view- the left side of the screen shows the list of emails, while the right side shows a message. This works rather well on the big 5.5 inch screen.
For tapping out messages, you’re really spoiled for choice. There’s a Samsung included keyboard. Google’s voice dictation is also brilliant, and you can use that in place of a keyboard. When dictating messages on Google Voice Typing, it’s really quite good. The beauty is that the words appear as you speak, which gives you a little more confidence to dictate longer messages. There is a problem in that punctuation can be a bit of a headbanger. Saying ‘period’ (US English) instead of ‘fullstop’ (British English) is fine – we got used to that easily enough. But saying ‘comma’ can lead to anything from ‘mama’, ‘kama’ or ‘korma’ appearing when you’re just trying to punctuate a sentence. Also, the S-Pen enables you to tap out words by just scribbling them on a virtual pad at the bottom of the screen. This is scarily accurate, and relies on actual handwriting. It even manages to decipher cursive writing!

Gallary and Multi media

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with a brand new, eye-candy rich Gallery app. It opens up in Albums view but you can choose to sort your pictures by Location, Time, Person (photos with tagged faces), Group and Favorites. You can also switch between three view modes – rectangular grid, a grid that’s spread out in 3D space and a 3D spiral. When you view a photo with people’s faces on it, the Galaxy Note 2 will try to detect them automatically. The Gallery also features social tag. This feature works when a face is recognized in a photo. After recognizing the person in the photo, it makes you see the person’s status message which will allow you to call or message them easily. Also, there’s Buddy Photo Share. This function allows photos to be easily and simultaneously shared with all your friends pictured in an image directly from the camera or the photo gallery.

The Galaxy Note 2 uses the TouchWiz music player. Equalizer presets are enabled (including a custom one) along with  Sound Alive technology, which features 7.1 channel virtualization. Music is sorted into various categories, but the most interesting one is called Music Square. This feature automatically rates a song as Joyful or Passionate, Calm or Exciting and place those songs on a Square. The Galaxy Note 2’s player is also DLNA enabled.
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Camera

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has an 8 megapixel camera and can capture photos at a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. The video recording of the Galaxy Note 2 is very impresssive at 1080p. The Frame rate is 30Fps, this will make the captured video smooth enough. The front camera features a 1.9 megapixel camera and it records videos at 720p.

Web Browser and Connectivity

The Galaxy Note 2 is powered with a Jelly Bean version of the android browser. The Browser supports both double tap and pinch zooming along with the two-finger tilt. The browser supports text reflow, find on page, save for offline viewing, request desktop site and so on. A neat trick is to pinch zoom out beyond the minimum – that opens up the tabs view. The Web browser comes with Incognito mode, which lets you surf the web without the browser keeping track of your history or storing cookies. As you can expect, the S Pen is not left out when using the browser. It works like mouse when hovering over an internet page. You can also use the S Pen to do quick web searches. The Print option is another cool feature which lets you print out web pages straight from your phone. Unfortunately, this only works only with Samsung printers. There’s obviously the usual bundles of radios as well, including 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS, GLONASS, FM radio with RDS, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE, A2DP, EDR and NFC), GSM 850 /900 /1800 /1900, HSDPA 850 /900 /1900 /2100 and LTE 700 MHz Class 17 / 2100 – N7105.

Conclusion

There’s no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is one beast of a droid and a major step forward for the class it represents. It does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality. If you want to shop for a larger smartphone or a small tablet, there really is no better device. Many thanks to the GSM Arena team and the guys at Tech Radar.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 2 N7100 – Big…is better!

The Galaxy Note 2 looks mostly like a lager Samsung Galaxy S3, which is acceptable considering that the Galaxy S3 is a great device. Described as a significant leap forward, the device’s breakneck speeds will easily supplement user experience with an ehanced S Pen functionality and apps. Compared to the Galaxy Note 1, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 brings twice the processing power, bigger and better battery and screen.
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Design

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 measures 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm which makes it slightly taller and slimmer than the Note 1. Considering the size of the Note 2, it’s reasonably easy to fit in a pocket! The weight has remained virtually unchanged at 180g compared to the Note1’s 178g. The Galaxy Note 2 comes with a 5.5 inch Screen, so, as expected, the screen takes up most of the front panel. On top is the earpiece, with the proximity sensor and the 1.9 MP front-facing camera to the right. On the left side of the earpiece, you find the ambient light sensor and the status LED. From the settings you can choose the types of events that light up the LED, either when charging the phone or during low battery, missed calls and during voice recording (only if the screen is off). By using ssuitable apps from the Play Store or from developers, you can add more events or customize the colours for the preset events.

Below the screen, sits the typical physical hardware Home key sandwiched between the capacitive Menu and Back keys.

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The volume rocker is on the left side and the Power or Lock key is on the right side of the device. As with the S3, the Note 2 lacks a dedicated camera key. There’s a secondary microphone along with the 3.5mm audio jack found on the top of the Note 2. The secondary mic helps in noise reduction and stereo sound recording

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At the bottom, sits the primary mic (which is directly opposite the secondaary mic) alongside the microUSB port for charging and data connections. It’s MHL-enabled, so, HD video through an HDMI adapter is allowed. It also supports USB Host. The stylus slot is at the bottom too, with the top of the S Pen curved to fit the shape of the Note 2

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On the back, you’ll find the 8 megapixel camera lens, LED flash and the loudspeaker near the bottom.

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Screen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 features a 5.5 inch Super AMOLED screen which comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection. For a screen this big, the resolution had to be altered to accommodate the change. Compared to the Note 1 which has a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, the Note 2’s 5.5 inch Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. One would think getting rid of that 80-pixel-wide strip would result in a poor screen quality. With the pixels density slightly lowered to 267ppi (Note 1’s screen 〓 285ppi), the screen quality should be poor. But with the PenTile matrix gone, the new matrix, however, more than makes up and the perceivable sharpness of the screen is actually higher.

S Pen

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Samsung did a good job making the S Pen feel more like its name. It feels more like a pen and less like a stylus. The S Pen is about 11.3cm in length and 7mm in thickness. The button on the S Pen now has a ribbed pattern, making it easier to locate by touch.
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The Galaxy Note 2 can detect when you pull the S Pen out and brings you a contextual page, which offers shortcuts of your recent S Notes. You can also snap a portion of the screen with the S Pen and use it in an app like the email, S Note e.t.c. The S Note can be launched by double tapping with the S Pen while holding down it’s button. The Note 2’s redesigned S Pen can sense 1,024 levels of pressure, that’s four times the original (Note 1). This means you can press lightly or hard for different results. Since there’s nothing linking the S Pen and the Galaxy Note 2, it uses it’s accelerometer to detect if you’ve walked away from the S Pen, making it to notify you if the stylus isn’t in its slot. There’s no need worrying about false alerts since this feature is finley balanced. It will only alert you if you’ve truely misplaced the S Pen and walked away from it!

S Voice and Google Now

S Voice has been Samsung’s answer to Siri before Google came out with its own solution. S Voice can do things like, search the web, make calls, send texts (which Android natively supports and so does Vlingo), but you can also use it instead of the notification area toggles, answer or reject incoming calls, start the camera and take a photo, control the music player and FM radio and stop or snooze alarms all with voice commands.
S Voice on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 can accept hand-written queries too, which is great for noisy environments. S Voice has plenty of options. It’s also a tool for quickly looking up facts. It’s powered by Wolfram Alpha (which handles some of Siri’s answers too). It has an enormous database covering topics ranging from Culture and Media to Physics. S Voice can also be used as a calculator.
Android Jelly Bean also gives you the fantastic Google Now. It’s a great assistant app that learns from you as you use it. The idea is that it accesses all parts of your life but then helps you out. So, for example, it tells you what the traffic is like when you’re about to head to work, home or somewhere else.It displays the information as ‘cards’ and even pops bits of important info (such as the weather) in your notification bar. Siri trumps Google Now when it comes to voice actions. Sending a text or an email via Google Now is possible, but it’s not as intuitive, fun or easy as it is with Siri. They both have their strengths and weakness here – but we’d say Google Now complements, rather than rules the platform, and falls below Siri in a lot of ways. One big advantage of Google’s Jelly Bean is that the voice typing functionality doesn’t require an internet connection to work. You can enter text by speaking anywhere you can use the on-screen keyboard – be it the Messaging app or a note taking app – without the need for a data connection as long as you have pre- downloaded the needed language packs (and those only take about 20-25MB of your storage per pack). Making voice typing available offline also made it faster as it’s not dependent on your connection. What’s even more impressive is that the transition hasn’t cost it anything in terms of accuracy.

For more on interface and software, processor, memory and battery, phone book, messaging and text input, gallery and multi media, camera, web and connectivity click on this link