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Noteworthy: Is it time for Samsung to make a Galaxy Note…Mini?

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off
samsung galaxy note 5 color comparison (16 of 22)

The Galaxy Note is certainly deserving of some smaller consideration if the Galaxy S is worthy of a larger one.

Since its inception, the Samsung Galaxy Note series has always been about one thing: big screen productivity. The device gave birth to the whole phablet genre and revived the hallowed stylus for modern times. And yet. Each installment has always held true to a stubborn staples, namely size increments of at least 5.5 inches or greater. To this day, nine models exist: 5 phablets and 4 tablets. To this day, no one has ever contested that size isn’t everything, even if the pen is mightier than the sword.

What I am about to propose is mind-boggling. It’s so outlandish that it just might seem logical. And in truth, it is. The claim to fame? It’s time that Samsung unveils the Galaxy Note…Mini.

If mainstream can go big, why can’t niche go small?

For years now, Samsung has built its key brands on a simple yet effective premise: the Galaxy S series is comprised of mainstream, “standard-sized” products. The premiere flagship is the standard “S” release. As the industry screen size average began to increase (which was largely Samsung’s doing) a more portable variant was introduced, starting with the Galaxy S3 Mini. By the time the Galaxy S5 hit last year, we had the Active line, which offered better support for more rugged use. In some cases, the specs were altered, however Samsung still opted for the S naming nomenclature instead of using a different letter.


Does the Galaxy S6 Edge+ have a legitimate reason for being big? The Note Mini would have the same one for being small.

This year, we have the Galaxy S6 Edge+. The device, which has polarized some of us, is a large Galaxy S6 Edge. Absolutely nothing more, and nothing less, especially now that its sole unique feature has been ported to the smaller size option. Samsung had never felt the need to make a large non-Note flagship before, yet so convinced this is what customers want, it has actually, deliberately, chosen to deny Europe the opportunity to buy the Galaxy Note 5.

If Samsung has decreed that the Galaxy S can go big for no reason other than because there isn’t a big Galaxy S, by that very same logic the Galaxy Note should go small for no reason other than because there isn’t a small Galaxy Note.

Logic…and lots of it

While the equation I’ve just created might seem almost comical, in truth the idea at hand is quite logical. Consider for a second, that stylus-based devices had originally been significantly smaller than the products we’re using today. Some 20 years ago, long before smartphones were even a possibility, we had PDAs. These devices, Personal Digital Assistants, were basically digital organizers that came with some media functionality, perhaps more depending on the OEM that produced it. These devices were also one of the most mainstream products to feature a stylus, as in dealing with screens that were smaller than kids these days can even imagine, users needed a small tool to poke away at the resistive touch screens.

Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung had tried to justify the return of the stylus -reimagined as the Wacom-powered S-Pen- by offering it with a large screen smartphone, but there isn’t any reason it couldn’t include one on a smaller form factor. Indeed for any number of people, even 5 inches is still a gigantic display size to deal with. These potential customers, who may actually be interested in the idea of the Note, will never actually buy one simply because they either can’t operate such a large device, or else they simply don’t want to. There is, as a result, a potential market of untapped cash to capitulate.

Aside from the LG Vu series, no other mainstream legacy OEM has come forth with a “small” Note-type device. Even LG itself arguably struck out given that the Vu, or Intuition as it was known in the USA, opted for a 4:3 aspect ratio that while easier to write on, was not appealing to customers long since acclimated to widescreen. Again, Samsung can thereby be first again with the Note series, and actually make consumers rethink the product line itself, something that at the very least, will generate buzz.

The software side

samsung galaxy note 5 vs galaxy note 4 quick look aa (9 of 16)

Now I know what you’re thinking at this point. “The contention is stupid. This post is pointless.” The basis? Inevitably some of it will have to do with software. Samsung has, since the beginning, made the Note series all about productivity. And who could possibly be productive on a small device. Putting aside the entire PDA genre mentioned, a genre that lasted for about a decade for reference, there is a valid point to be made for software. One of the Galaxy Note series staples is its multitasking ability: split screens and pop-up apps.

And yet, has anyone stopped to realize that basically all of Samsung’s products do this now? While some of the more budget-friendly variants lack the horsepower needed to run simultaneous split-screen applications, the Galaxy S flagships most certainly have Multitasking now. And notice what reviewers typically point out with regards to it: “While it has multitasking we don’t know why you would want to use it on such a small screen.” Perhaps you might not know why, but clearly Samsung feels someone will want to use it.

The Galaxy Note Mini will never appeal to those with phabletitis, but then again it’s not meant to.

If the Galaxy S6 supports multitasking, and has all the horsepower and RAM technically needed to run the Galaxy Note SDK (consider the Note 4 also had 3GB of RAM) then there is no reason it couldn’t. And really, no reason it shouldn’t. Would Galaxy Note users be smitten with this idea? No, but then again this proposed product isn’t meant to target those customers in the first place.

A chance to shine

sony xperia z3 compact review aa (16 of 21)

Sony’s Xperia Z3 Compact (pictured) offered flagship specs in an impressively small size.

Despite everything said so far, there is one caveat that needs to be addressed: typically OEMs equate small sizes with smaller specs. The aforementioned Galaxy S Mini series for example, has managed to clone the body of its big brother, but it’s what inside that counts. A Galaxy Note Mini could very well be Samsung’s chance to not only break ties with all its existing definition of “small” but also offer up a true power-packed product that goes head-to-head with the larger form factor.

Consider for a moment, that last year’s Xperia Z3 Compact was thoroughly praised because Sony actually did something different. Rather than make a middling product that simply had a nice camera, it was small in size only, yet spectacular when it came to specs. This is but an exception though, and not a rule, and Samsung would again be in a winning position for offering consumers looking for smaller devices that pack a punch.

Of course, given the presence of the Galaxy S series, this might mean the Note Mini would need to be even smaller, although it could just as well come in at around the 5-inch mark (or thereabouts) and still be considered relatively petite.

Plan B: sell the S-Pen

Perhaps my idea should be expanded to an even larger one: rather than make a Galaxy Note Mini, perhaps what Samsung should actually do, is make its S-Pen compatible with the Galaxy S line on the whole. Not only would this potentially spike the demand for the S-Pen, but it could actually charge a nominal fee to customers to download the “Note Suite for S” or else build it into the cost of the “S-Pen for Galaxy S.” This would immediately allow customers who want extra productivity options to get such from Samsung. This would also allow Samsung to have another edge over its competitors, at least for the time being, and it would allow for such with basically no real R&D costs whatsoever.


Consider, for example, that the low-end Galaxy Tab A actually has a variant that comes with the S-Pen. The tablet, which is really equivalent to the Galaxy E series of smartphones, is able to run the Galaxy Note software suite without any real problems, and it has but 2GB of RAM. The problem has never been one of specs really, just Samsung’s decision to limit the form factor to which it’s compatible.

This idea would also work wonders on those who feel the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has wasted the opportunity to put the extra screen real estate to good use, and it would immediately calm down -at least to some degree- those who feel slighted their country isn’t deemed “worthy” to get the Galaxy Note 5 this year. In fact, it would actually negate the existence of the Galaxy Note series as a whole, a crusade that some critics are accusing Samsung of having begun with last year’s Note 4.

A Mini for the rest of us


While the Galaxy Note Mini will never manage to capture the hearts and wallets of those afflicted by phabletitis, it would provide for an entirely new market for Samsung to market to. Provided the screen was around 5 inches or so, it wouldn’t even be that obscene to imagine. Granted a larger prospect will always have an advantage in terms of productivity, but not all hands are created equally. Furthermore, the ability to sell a Galaxy Note Mini at a lower price range, perhaps add in extra accessories or options, and Samsung could conceivably have a win up its sleeve.

What do you think? Would the idea of a Galaxy Note Mini sell? Do you know anyone who might want it? Should it have flagship specs or something less? Leave us your comments below!

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Unboxing-15

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 is many good things. Stunningly beautiful, curiously curved (along the back), made of metal and graced with glass. It’s also host to some more controversial elements, including the removal of microSD, the IR blaster, and a user replaceable battery. One solid staple however, is the S-Pen, the Wacom-powered pointing device that gave birth to the phablet genre and gives the device its’ namesake. The Note 5 saw the introduction of a new, patented, spring-loaded eject mechanism.

One of the staff members at Android Police has discovered a major flaw with the Note 5 and the S-Pen, though this will not occur for anyone who uses the device correctly. The problem, it seems, is that if you insert the S-Pen backwards into the silo used to house it, the phone will no longer be able to detect when the pen has been inserted or removed. This basically means that no sound or vibration will occur, and presumably (though not mentioned) and relevant software-related action that the device is set to trigger upon removal.

samsung galaxy note 5 vs galaxy note 4 quick look aa (7 of 16)

The previous designs of the S-Pen (and Note phablets themselves) made it almost impossible to insert the S-Pen incorrectly.

The problem specifically originates from the fact that the S-Pen itself can be inserted in either direction without any resistance to prevent the user from doing such. This is markedly different from the previous four Note incarnations which all were designed such that if you tried to insert the stylus “eraser first” the more bulbous end would only go so far before meeting resistance. David Ruddock, who made the report and subsequent video, actually demonstrates this, and the difference is quite obvious.

For anyone who uses the device correctly, this is a total non-issue.

Here’s the video for you to consider the problem at hand:

Note that much of the video is actually spent with David trying to remove the S-Pen from the Note 5 itself, something that he indicates -via annotations- was actually not possible to do; the device is still broken at the time of this post going live. He does mention having tried this several times however, thus initially it would appear it was possible to eventually remove the S-Pen, though the point was raised that whatever mechanism is used to detect the removal was damaged the first time it happened.

Given the propensity for the meme-adoring members of the internet to attach “-gate” or “-ghazi” to any and every kind of issue possible -regardless of how distasteful such might be- it will likely follow that Samsung will quickly be accused of “Pengate” or “Penghazi” and perhaps rightly so. Still, let’s make one thing clear: for anyone that correctly operates the device and stows the S-Pen as it is intended, this problem will seemingly never occur.

With that said, as the video makes light of, the problem will occur sooner-or-later for someone. Small children, for example, or even adults that become distracted, might hastily insert the stylus into the device, and due to the fact there is no resistance, it will indeed slide in.

What does this mean

samsung galaxy note 5 color comparison (18 of 22)

The newly redesigned S-Pen looks beautiful, however there is a major problem in hand for those who accidentally stow it “eraser first.”

Without a doubt, this problem has the potential to be a very big one for Samsung, at least from a PR perspective. Irrespective of what is necessary to replicate it, the fact that the issue is so easy to reproduce, and so fundamentally problematic means that at the very least, an immediate change to the design of either the phone, or the S-Pen is required.

This might mean something as simple as adding a tiny tab or protrusion onto the tip of the stylus, or it might mean modification of the entire patented part of pen chamber. It might mean a recall, or a free repair, or something different altogether.

The idea that Samsung has presumably tested this device through all kinds of permutations and possibilities prior to manufacturing calls into question just how something this easy to do was missed, and all the more so given that the previous models didn’t allow the user to do it.

Some will be quick to accuse Samsung of Pengate or Penghazi despite how the vast majority of users will never even know it exists.

The potential problem at large

Perhaps in a larger reaching scope however, this issue also brings into question just how durable the actual spring-loaded eject mechanism is in-and-of-itself, as well as the very sensor used to detect the S-Pen. What happens when of it the part gets bent or worn out?. Likewise, even if the spring itself doesn’t break, its possible that the sensor might eventually and thus even if the device is correctly used, the long term durability might still be an issue.

It may follow that, in the coming days or weeks as this story presumably becomes a wider-spread concern, someone will take apart the unit piece by piece, and investigate exactly where the sensor is, and what is actually going on.

Wait and see

samsung galaxy note 5 color comparison (8 of 22)

Android Police has indicated that it has reached out to Samsung for an official reply on the matter. We will make sure to update this post when any additional news breaks, or if/when Samsung itself makes an official press announcement.

What’s your reaction to this “Pengate” problem? Should the user be blamed 100%, or should Samsung bear the brunt of the responsibility for having made incorrect insertion so effortless? Leave us your thoughts below, as well as what kinds of solutions might be able to solve the potential problem.


10 most iconic mobile phones of all time

Posted by wicked August - 18 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Ask people what their favourite phone of all time is and chances are you’ll get a wide variety of answers, with a select few being chosen by many people. Everyone has a particular device they remember, but what devices have defined mobile phones as we know them?

The word iconic has been branded to a lot of different devices and innovations but is there a particular device that has withstood the test of time to remain as iconic as the day it was first released? Here’s 10 phones (some of which you probably know of) that have defined the mobile industry as we know it.

Nokia 3310

1. Nokia 3310

When it comes to mobile phones, very few are as iconic as the Nokia 3310. Simply put – you either had one, or you know someone who had one. In fact, you probably had one – just about everyone had either the Nokia 3310 or its predecessor, the Nokia 3210. These were the phones that made Nokia the mobile phone king.

The handsets brought Nokia’s XpressOn Covers and the iconic game, Snake (as we know it, with the image of a snake) and permanently changed what we considered to be a mobile phone. Built like a brick with a battery life that people crave today, the Nokia 3310 was the first mobile phone to radicalise an entire industry.

motorola-razr-v3 WhatMobile

2. Motorola RAZR V3

Where the 3310 made Nokia, the RAZR V3 made Motorola. Before the V3, the concept of a slim phone was alien and even the 3210 and 3310 were bricks compared to this ultra-slim metal-clad mobile device.

The design proved so popular that Motorola continued using it for years and not only was it ultra-slim, but it proved that flip phones could be cool. It forced Motorola’s rivals to reconsider what could be possible with mobile design and brought about an era of manufacturers attempting to make sexy smartphones.


3. Nokia N95

There’s a pattern here and for good reason; Nokia, Motorola and RIM (now known as BlackBerry) were the undisputed kings of the mobile phone industry. The smartphone industry is an entirely different kettle of fish, as you’ll see below, but the Nokia N95 began defining what it meant to be a flagship smartphone.

Nokia’s N95 takes its place on this list for one reason and one reason alone; it heralded a fiercely contested battle (that still rages today) about mobile cameras and gave birth to an entire market devoted to cameras for mobile devices. Add in the cool design, powerful (for its time) OS and tons of neat tricks, the N95 was another device that sold in the tens of millions and is iconic for so many people.



4. Apple iPhone 3G

Let’s be completely fair – it wouldn’t be an iconic phones list without the iPhone. However, unlike other lists, we’re not talking about the original Apple iPhone here. In my personal opinion, the iPhone 3G deserves the plaudits, as it fixed a few basic bits of functionality that were missing from the original iPhone and added a feature that defines smartphones: the App Store.

The rest… is history

Before the App Store, the concept of applications was a myth to most but within six months, it was legendary. When the App Store launched in July 2008, it offered 552 apps but this had swelled to 15,000 apps by January 2009 (when the App Store hit its 1 billionth app download). In September, there were 85,000 apps from 12,500 developers and the App Store had hit 2 billion downloads. The rest, as they say, is history.

The first iPhone also introduced the concept of a touch-friendly OS, unlike RIM and Nokia who had attempted to make non-touch platforms friendly for the new trend of touchscreens. Indeed, Google had been planning a BlackBerry-like platform for its devices but went back to the drawing board after it saw the iPhone; Android was born and it set off down the path towards world domination.


5. T-Mobile G1

To combat the new incumbent iOS, the Open Handset Alliance (with Google as its leader) debuted the Android-powered T-Mobile G1, made by Taiwanese manufacturer HTC. The first real Android handset, the G1 was the first step in the rise of Android, with the platform now firmly dominating the smartphone market.

The G1 was iconic not just for being the first Android handset but because it aimed to also cater for those who may not be ready to give up the keyboard. The unique slide-out keyboard was a concept that faded with time – although some manufacturers are aiming to bring it back through unique accessories – but Android certainly hasn’t and shows no signs of abating for years to come.



6. Samsung Galaxy Note

We said there was a trend and there certainly is; the first iPhone saw incumbent heavyweights such as Nokia and Motorola replaced mainly by new challengers from Asia. We’ve already had HTC front the Android movement and while the G1 was iconic, the impact of the Samsung Galaxy Note is still felt today.

nexus-6-vs-galaxy-note-4-aa-9-of-30 The new Note is coming, but is it still special?14415461

The Galaxy Note is iconic for one main reason; it invented the phablet industry. The current trend in the market is for big screen devices but before the Galaxy Note, a 5.5-inch display would have been ridiculed. The Galaxy Note showed that it was possible, it was what customers wanted and out of nowhere, Samsung began on its own journey towards domination.


7. Samsung Galaxy S II

From the big-screen Galaxy Note to the Galaxy S II, and the smartphone that many believe made Samsung the behemoth it is today. Before the Galaxy S II, we had the HTC Desire which was an excellent device but the Galaxy S II was slim, powerful and resembled the iPhone better than anything before it.

The Galaxy S II was soon followed by a spate of new devices from Samsung, with each attempting to be more powerful and with more features than the one before it. The Galaxy S III sold in the millions, the Galaxy S4 even more and after a flop with the Galaxy S5, this year’s Galaxy S6 attempts to continue the trend.

Motorola Moto G aa 8

8. Motorola Moto G

Where Samsung set about revolutionising the flagship market, Motorola looked at the low-end and the company’s next big innovation after the RAZR V3 took the market by storm. Simply put, the Moto G redefined what was possible from an entry-level smartphone.

The excellent design, the removable covers and the close to stock Android platform, which delivered a superfast platform, were all refreshing at a time when manufacturers were loading devices – both flagship and entry-level – with bloatware, resulting in poor performance. Since the Moto G, we’ve seen the lower mid-range market become as fiercely contested as the flagship market is and it shows no signs of abating with competition from everyone higher than ever before.

Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has made it a mission to dominate this market and its new Redmi Note 2 does this, by offering flagship specs with a $140 price tag. No wonder Xiaomi sold 800,000 handsets in just 12 hours, setting a new Chinese record.

samsung galaxy note 4 air command aa 3

9. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Putting this handset on this list was interesting as it is rather subjective but it made it on the list for one very big reason; as discussed in our podcast a couple of weeks ago, Josh and I both agreed that the Galaxy Note 4 camera rocks! There is a lot to like about Samsung’s phablet flagship last year and while the bloatware and performance left a lot to be desired, the camera was the first time that mainstream Android smartphone cameras were truly unflappable.

Qualcomm hybrid auto focus camera Who’s who in the smartphone camera business1515723

The Galaxy Note 4 camera is particularly impressive as Samsung finally adopted Optical Image Stabilisation in its smartphone cameras and in doing so, righted everything that was wrong with the Galaxy Note 3 camera. Even now – almost a year later when the Galaxy Note 5 has already been announced – the Galaxy Note 4 camera continues to perform brilliantly.


10. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung has dominated the later parts of this list for one main reason; it came from nowhere to become the world’s largest smartphone and mobile phone manufacturer. It emulated sunken behemoth Nokia to capture the two coveted crowns and it was largely thanks to the Android-powered Galaxy line.

The last eighteen months however, has been extremely difficult for the Korean manufacturer and after the failures of the Galaxy S5, this year’s Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge bought about one of its most radical smartphone designs yet. In the space of a year, the plastic clad Galaxy S5 was replaced by a premium (in every sense of the word) smartphone that’s unlike any other. Not the Galaxy S6 but the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Last year saw Samsung release the Galaxy Note Edge and while that didn’t take off too well, the dual-curved Galaxy S6 Edge is, without doubt, an iconic device. Why, I hear you ask? Simple: it’s the first time a curved smartphone has become widely available and had Samsung made more, it would probably have sold tens of millions more.

samsung galaxy note 5 vs iphone 6 plus aa (1 of 13)

Notable Mentions

Given that hundreds of thousands of different devices have been released over the years, picking the iconic devices list was certainly a challenge. Many devices have come close to the list but the ones that stick in the mind range from early basic devices to some of the most powerful and recognisable modern day devices.

Top Phones of 2015:

The first mention has to go to the Motorola DynaTAC, which was the first phone used to make the world’s first mobile phone call in April 1973. From there, we move to the Nokia 2110, which was released in 1994 and was the first time we heard the iconic Nokia Ringtone, which has gone on to become a cult classic.

Its well documented that Nokia was too slow to respond to the iPhone but when its first big response did come, it managed to sell over 130 million Nokia 5230 handsets. It wasn’t enough however, as the Apple iPhone 4 the following year redefined the iPhone again and reaffirmed Apple’s dominance of the flagship market. It was followed by the iPhone 4S, which introduced Siri, sold better than its predecessor and remains one of the most iconic iPhones of all time.

In response to this, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S II (above, which followed by the Galaxy S III a year later) and 40-50 million of each handset. Since then, we’ve seen the market become ever more saturated and the past twelve months has seen the introduction of devices like the OnePlus One, Huawei Ascend Mate 7, LG G4, HTC One M9 and Xperia Z3 Plus as manufacturers aim to dominate once again.

oneplus 2 vs oneplus one aa (27 of 27)

What was YOUR most iconic device of all time?

That’s our list of iconic devices and there were definitely at least 50 other devices that could have made it onto the list. Making a smartphone standout in the here and now is certainly something that many manage to do but very few remain iconic for years and generations to come.

Chances are you’ve had some of the phones on this list (I’ve still got a RAZR V3, N95, Moto G and S6 Edge which all still work); if so, which ones did/do you have and do they still work? What did/do you like most about them? Let us know your views in the comments below and don’t forget to vote for your most iconic device!

Phablets and Their King: No Longer Note-Worthy?

Posted by wicked August - 17 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off


dell-streak-goneJune 4th, 2010. As far as dates go, this was a rather normal day for the world at large. But for people who call themselves “smartphone enthusiasts”, this date is of some significance. It is on this day that Dell began sales of the Dell Streak 5, the smartphone with a 5″ display running Android 1.6 Donut (later upgraded to Android 2.2 Froyo). The phone was more of an experiment rather than a product, as it did end up failing in the market with its disappointing sales. While Dell did move on to announce a few more phones going upwards in screen size, they discontinued the humble “little tablet of its time” on August 15th, 2011.

The Dell Streak was indeed rather forward-thinking and ahead of its time as far as screen size is concerned. Dell played a high risk move by releasing a phone with a 5″ display in 2010, at a time when Google’s own offering, the Nexus One, was released with a 3.7” display in January 2010. Market and critical reception for the Streak was poor mainly due to qualms with its price, the screen size as well as its resolution of 480 x 800 which offered a poor pixel density of roughly 187 ppi. The phone was often mentioned as being stuck in the middle of two worlds, for it was quite big for a phone and too small for a tablet.

And thus, the phablet was born!

The category was quickly written off by many a reviewer for trying to do too many things at once – and its mediocre performance in all of them. The tablet boom was in full swing in 2010 and 2011, and phones tried to stick within the range of 3.5” to 4” for their screen size. Android still was in its infancy as far as multi-tasking and actually utilizing a bigger screen was concerned, as Android 3.0 Honeycomb itself was launched much later in February 2011. The phablet was born and quickly forgotten.

It wasn’t until September 2011 that phablets made a comeback, with the Samsung Galaxy Note spearheading their campaign. Samsung decided to take the screen size risk again, but this time, it improved upon the Dell Streaks mistake by going above the market’s expectations in terms of specs. This was very much in the middle of the specs race in Android, so Samsung did a fine job at sending out a mid-year powerhouse. Here is a quick spec comparison between the Dell Streak 5, the Samsung Galaxy Note and the Samsung Galaxy S2 (which was Samsung’s flagship released in the same year):

Dell Streak 5 Samsung Galaxy Note Samsung Galaxy S2
Release June 2010 October 2011 April 2011
Screen Size 5″ 5.3″ 4.3″
Screen Resolution 480×800 800×1280 480×800
Pixel Density (ppi) 186.5 284.8 216.97
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S1;
Single core clocked at 1GHz
Exynos 4210;
Dual core clocked at 1.4GHz
Exynos 4210;
Dual core clocked at 1.4GHz
RAM 512 MB 1 GB 1 GB
Internal Storage 16 GB 16/32 GB 16/32 GB
Battery Capacity 1530 mAh 2500 mAh 1650 mAh

As it becomes clear when you compare the Galaxy Note with both the Streak 5 and the S2, it outperforms both in terms of pure specs. This is understandable as the phone was released much later than both, the Streak 5 and the S2. However, the Note cemented itself in the phablet category by offering the best in terms of specs for the year. It worked on providing users with the best of both smartphones and tablets, and did a very decent job at both. Added to this mix was the S Pen, which improved functionality and gave the Note its most distinctive feature which set it apart from numerous other smartphones in 2011. And to take advantage of the larger body to house the bigger display, Samsung massively bumped up the battery capacity. Some part of the capacity increase was nullified due to the 5.3″ S-AMOLED display taking a decent chunk of it with added resolution to boot, but the fact remained that the Galaxy Note was amongst the few and rare phones of 2011 that could actually last a full day under heavy usage.

The Galaxy Note ticked all the right boxes when it came to being a “power user’s” choice of an ideal smartphone. It had a big and beautiful screen for multimedia consumption, it possessed top of the line specs and a battery to handle the abuse. What’s more, it also came in with some additions in the form of the S Pen as well as a removable battery and a microSD storage, both of which ensured that the device could upscale if the user so desired. And the hungriest of the power users often did want more, meaning the Galaxy Note quickly rose the ranks as a “no-compromise” device. It did cost more than what Samsung’s “flagship” S series cost, but the target audience – the power user – was willing to pay more for a device that could handle his or her needs.

Over the years, the Galaxy Note series evolved to become a flagship lineup by itself. Often released in late Q3 of the year while the flagship S series was released in late Q1- mid Q2 of the year, the Note lineup bumped up the specs of the S lineup, thereby creating a cycle of a fresh powerhouse device from Samsung every ~6 months. It did target a different set of consumers than that of the S flagship line, and the audience set also evolved in terms of what it expected from the Note lineup. Here are some more comparison tables, comparing previous Note releases to that years S flagship (Qualcomm Snapdragon based models have been skipped for brevity):

2012 Samsung Galaxy S3 Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Release May 2012 September 2012
Screen Size 4.8″ 5.5″
Screen Resolution 720×1280 720×1280
Pixel Density (ppi) 305.96 267.02
Processor Exynos 4412;
Quad core clocked at 1.4 GHz
Exynos 4210;
Quad core clocked at 1.6 GHz
Battery Capacity 2100 mAh 3100 mAh
2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Release March 2013 September 2013
Screen Size 5″ 5.7″
Screen Resolution 1080×1920 1080×1920
Pixel Density (ppi) 440.58 386.47
Processor Exynos 5410;
Quad core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15
+ Quad core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
Exynos 5420;
Quad core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15
+ Quad core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7
Battery Capacity 2600 mAh 3200 mAh
2014 Samsung Galaxy S5 Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Release April 2014 October 2014
Screen Size 5.1″ 5.7″
Screen Resolution 1080×1920 1440×2560
Pixel Density (ppi) 431.94 515.3
Processor Exynos 5422;
Quad core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15
+ Quad core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7
Exynos 5433;
Quad core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A57
+ Quad core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A53
Battery Capacity 2800 mAh 3220 mAh

The specs speak for themselves. The Galaxy S series primarily competed against the iPhone and flagship releases from other Android manufacturers, all of which tried to push the boundaries of acceptable display size little by little. The Galaxy Note series, on the other hand, carved out its own niche in the competitive market, combining the multimedia experience of tablets with the connectivity and usefulness of phones–while still going over and above to please those who wanted more. Samsung even marketed it towards business executives, focusing plenty of its advertisement towards the “business & enterprise” end of the consumer spectrum.

There was a reason why the Note lineup quickly grew to become the premier choice for people who wanted to get more work done on the go, without necessarily carrying another device. The S Pen primarily enhanced the workflow of productive tasks as it allowed a different and more precise interaction with the display. The Note lineup also received love from TouchWiz (surprisingly!), which lent it some nifty multitasking features to better utilize the screen real estate. The faux leather feel on the back did attract its fair share of fans, who preferred the “premium yet durable” feel it gave to the phone. Along with these, the option to increase memory of the phone as well as a removable battery gave the Note lineup a very strong hold on the phablet market.

Once Samsung tasted success with the Note, other manufacturers also tried to jump on the bandwagon. The HTC One Max, HTC Desire 816, LG Optimus G Pro, Sony Xperia Z Ultra and even Samsung’s own Mega lineup failed to impact the mainstream success of the Notes. But with the release of Galaxy Note 5, the top might just be within reach of others.

As was the case with the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy Note 5 is a far cry from the usual fare that fans have come to expect from Samsung products. While we half expected the “glass back” trend to carry over from the Galaxy S6, it is rather disappointing to see Samsung move away from the power user features in a bid to attract consumers who prefer a more premium feeling phone. The new Note ended up sacrificing some of the most crucial aspects of its popularity in its year-on-year upgrade cycle, while stagnating over a few others.

Here is a Note series comparison to showcase this better:

Note Note 2 Note 3 Note 4 Note 5
Screen Size 5.3″ 5.5″ 5.7″ 5.7″ 5.7″
& Pixel Density
800×1280 (285 ppi) 720×1280 (267 ppi) 1080×1920 (386 ppi) 1440×2560 (515 ppi) 1440×2560 (515 ppi)
Processor Exynos 4210;
Dual core clocked at 1.4GHz
Exynos 4210;
Quad core clocked at 1.6 GHz
Exynos 5420;
Quad core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15
+ Quad core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7
Exynos 5433;
Quad core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A57
+ Quad core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A53
Exynos 7420;
Quad core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
+ Quad core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53
Storage 16/32 GB
(expandable to 64 GB)
16/32/64 GB
(expandable to 64 GB)
16/32/64 GB
(expandable to 64 GB)
32 GB
(expandable to 128 GB)
32/64 GB
Front Camera 2 MP 2 MP 2 MP 3.7 MP 5 MP
Rear Camera 8 MP 8 MP 13 MP 16 MP 16 MP
Battery 2500 mAh
3100 mAh
3200 mAh
3220 mAh
3000 mAh

The Galaxy Note 5 can still be looked upon as an overall upgrade to the Note 4 in terms of pure specs. However, it did regress on features that had become synonymous with the Note lineup. For starters, the faux leather back has been entirely replaced by a curved glass panel on the back, thereby bringing the Note closer to the Galaxy S6. The loss of the microSD card slot will also be felt by many power users, as Samsung has informed that there will be no 128GB storage option available at this time.

Furthermore, the Note 5 opts for a sealed, non removable battery thanks to its new redesign. While the loss of 220 mAh capacity may not make a lot of difference on screen-on time (especially given that the Note 5 features extra optimizations), it does affect the longevity of the device itself as swapping out a degraded battery is no longer child’s play.

The recent decisions taken with the Note 5 point towards Samsung bowing to mainstream consumer pressure for “beautiful” phones, the same user base that would happily trade battery capacity for phone that’s 1mm thinner. This newfound pressure comes with more and more devices moving towards bigger, phablet screen sizes while still retaining the phone moniker. Customers have become acclimatized to bigger screens in their pockets, a far cry from the Dell Streak 5 era.

As a business entity intending to make a profit, Samsung has perfectly executed a ‘bait and switch’ strategy by offering power users a device they did not know they needed… And when they became comfortable (or even addicted) to it and the device was made popular, the company switched it for, in favor of, a more mainstream device to appeal to the new consumer base.

The Note series is no longer a power user device first. For those who are looking for an absolutely no-compromise device and are willing to drop top dollar for it, there is suddenly a void created by the disappointment from the Note 5. Other manufacturers have taken note, but will they be able to deliver to the needs of this crowd?


Will the real Note please stand up?
We’re gonna have a problem here.


Do you think the Galaxy Note 5 is the true successor in the Note lineup? Will any other OEM’s capitalize on the demand for a “no-compromise” smartphone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature image possible thanks to DailyInforgraphic

Check Out XDA’s Note 5 Forum >>

The new Note is coming, but is it still special?

Posted by wicked August - 12 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

samsung galaxy note 4 multitasking aa (6 of 12)

Look at the current smartphone industry trend and you’ll see that smartphones have progressed towards bigger, more vibrant displays. But this wasn’t always the case.

No more than four years ago, the concept of a large-screen phone was unheard of and most smartphone displays measured around 3.5 to 4.0 inches, with the latter considered larger than most people needed. However, at the end of October that year, Samsung unveiled its first Galaxy Note and in doing so, it not only created an entirely new product range but also shaped the industry for years to come.

With Samsung set to launch its new Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus smartphones tomorrow, we’re asking – the new Note is coming, but is it still special? Before we look at the new Note, let’s look at what made the Note so special in the past.

A big-screen era


Nexus 6 vs Galaxy Note 4 – two BIG screen devices

I can still remember the first Galaxy Note and the general reaction that it was far too big, it would never sell, and big-screen devices would never become the norm. Oh, how hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The truth is that once the Galaxy Note 2 was announced the following year and sold in the millions, Samsung’s rivals realised that big-screen devices were the way to go. As with most ‘trends’ in this industry, it usually takes one company to push the boundaries, and once Samsung experienced some success with its Note range, its rivals turned their attention towards developing rival products.

Until a couple of years ago when every manufacturer began delivering big-screen devices, the Galaxy Note range was the default device customers turned to when looking for a handset that bridged the gap between smartphone and tablet. Even though manufacturers have developed big-screen devices, Samsung still has one key item in its arsenal that other manufacturers have been unable to contend with: Samsung Display.

The Galaxy Note display has always been a Super AMOLED panel, and while other manufacturers have managed to offer similar resolution to the Note, the display on the Note range has always offered better vibrancy and colours (at least in my opinion). In a big-screen era, where manufacturers offer the same displays (on paper), it can often come down to the quality of the display and this is something that Samsung has never failed to deliver in the Galaxy Note.

The S Pen

The Galaxy Note was iconic not just because it introduced a big screen era, but also due to the S Pen; styli are certainly not new and are a throwback to PDA devices of the past, but the S Pen on the Galaxy Note arguably made styli cool again.

Some manufacturers do offer a stylus for their devices and there are thousands of third-party after-market styli that you can purchase. But the S Pen is more than just a stylus as Samsung has incorporated a range of features into its Note handsets to make the most of the S Pen.

The S Pen is also unique as it is housed in the handset itself, meaning you don’t need to remember to carry it with you. As a Galaxy Note user since the first generation, I’ve found the S Pen to be somewhat useful, but the fact it is always with my phone has made it a lot more useful than if I had to carry it separately.

With each generation of Galaxy Note, the S-Pen was improved with additional features and better responsiveness and in the Galaxy Note 4, the S Pen was the best its ever been. Touch responsiveness and handwriting recognition were almost as good as if using a normal pen and the S Pen is the first “accessory” to replicate the experience of writing on a piece of paper but on a touchscreen handset.

TouchWiz features

samsung ui perception The “revamped TouchWiz” we all forgot was a real, beautiful concept261561

The Galaxy Note range stood out not just for the S Pen but also for other features that Samsung had built into its TouchWiz interface to make the most of the much larger display. Many manufacturers have developed large devices, but very few have optimised the interface to make the handset a lot easier to use, especially for people who have come from smaller smartphones.

For Samsung, the answer to making the most of big screen devices like the Galaxy Note is two-fold; one-handed mode shrinks the entire OS to fit into a section of the display to make it easy to use with one hand; meanwhile, Multi Window lets you arrange two apps side-by-side to make full use of the large display.

Multi Window especially is a feature that other manufacturers have tried their hardest to offer similar versions of, and while some have come close, the Galaxy Note Multi Window works best when used with the S Pen. Just like with Windows PCs, the dual screen arrangement is easy to use, and at least with the Note 4, it came with the ability to easily share content between windows, resize the windows, and shrink them to pop up windows that overlay anything else on the device.

With past Galaxy Note devices, the handset was made for power users and the ability to run two apps side by side certainly increased the appeal of the handset. While Samsung’s TouchWiz interface and icons don’t appeal to everyone, the specifically designed features on the Galaxy Note were made to make the most of the large display and its something that Samsung’s rivals are yet to replicate as well.

Is the Note still special?

That’s what made the Galaxy Note range so special, but what about this year’s handset? Tomorrow, Samsung is taking to the stage in New York (and a special event in London) to unveil its new devices, and with all the leaks and rumours, it’s pretty certain we’ll see two new devices – the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

Samsung’s past Galaxy Note devices were also iconic, as they usually came with large batteries and for the times when this wasn’t enough, you could easily swap the battery out. This year’s devices won’t have either, with the battery expected to be smaller than the Galaxy Note 4 and non-removable as well.

The key problem for Samsung this year is how to differentiate the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus from the competition. We’ll talk about the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus below but aside from the metal and glass design of the Galaxy S6 which should make its way to the Galaxy Note 5, there’s very little to set the handset apart from the competition.

Yes, Samsung’s Super AMOLED display is without doubt, one of the best on the market, but the problem for Samsung is that, with these devices set to cost more than ever before, the display may not yet be enough to persuade customers to buy the handset. The Galaxy Note has always been a special device, but a high price tag in the face of massive competition may mean it has lost its extra appeal.

The S Pen is and will always be an interesting addition to a smartphone, but the lack of removable battery – coupled with fears of the battery life thanks to the battery life reported on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge – means Samsung’s Galaxy Note may not command the aplomb in the marketplace that past generations have.

Is the S Pen, a stylish design, and an excellent display enough to justify the lack of removable battery and the high price tag, especially with so many other devices that offer the same size and resolution at a lower cost? As much as I would like to say it is, I have a feeling that the new Galaxy Note 5 won’t have the appeal of past devices and if this is the case, Samsung has a real problem.

Is the Edge Samsung’s secret weapon?

Last year saw the introduction of the Galaxy Note Edge, which had all the Galaxy Note 4 features but added a curved display on one side. Without doubt, the Note Edge had its faults, and the dual curved edge on the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus should right the biggest of these, but it has one big issue.

The key difference between the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus is expected to be the lack of S Pen on the latter, and, although it gains a dual-curved edge, it drops the feature which set the Note range apart from the competition. The lack of S Pen makes the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus nothing more than a larger Galaxy S6 Edge and while this will certainly appeal to some users, an S Pen would have given the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus market appeal unlike any other device.

Of course, Samsung is likely to announce several other features (most likely software-based) of the handsets during its launch tomorrow and we’ll come back and update this piece accordingly but what do you think? Is the Note range still special or has it lost its appeal? What would you buy instead? Let us know in the comments below guys!

samsung logo x x mwc 2015

A couple of weeks ago, we covered a story on Samsung’s rumored Project Valley, a purported foldable device rumored to be in development behind closed doors. As the rumor went, the project was not a sure-fire candidate for release, and may be scrapped at any time. Today, we have a new patent filing with the USPTO and the schematic looks surprisingly like what one might expect from such a device, apparently a Galaxy Note variant given other pictures’ inclusion of a stylus.

The device described in the patent has two screens and a body that folds in half, and comes across as a design not unlike that which Toshiba used for its final/most-recent Libretto, NEC used for its Medius W, and Sony experimented with for the Tablet P.

Patently Mobile

It’s important to note that a patent filing doesn’t mean anything more than a desire to protect an idea or design that has been created. There is no guarantee this will end up in stores, of even behind the scenes. At the same time, given the rumor from last week, it would certainly seem possible that Samsung is working on a foldable tablet of sorts, at least behind the scenes, and this design more or less represents that.

Would you be interested in the prospects of such a device? Does it actually add anything unique that hasn’t been done before?

Samsung will not release the Galaxy Note 5 this July

Posted by wicked May - 21 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Despite the strong rumors (or maybe that was just wishful thinking on their part?) that Samsung will break tradition and release the new version of their phablet earlier, an official statement from the Korean OEM’s president seems to have debunked that. Samsung President Shin Jong-Kyun confirmed that there will be no June or July announcement of the Galaxy Note 5, although there is still no definite date as to when that will actually happen.

With the expected success of the new flagship devices, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, people were expecting that Samsung would ride on this renewed excitement for their products by releasing the Galaxy Note 5 earlier than scheduled. This rumor was further fueled by sources who were saying that they were actually able to finish the prototypes of the new phablet and that they were even putting up the product for pre-orders. And if they did release it in July, they will even be ahead of the annual announcement of archrival Apple and whatever new iPhone they will be introducing this year.

But it was Jong-kyun himself who said that it won’t be happening anytime soon. He also denied reports that despite the warm reception the Galaxy S6 has been receiving, that sales figures are not reflecting that, and it is in fact, struggling. He believes that the recently released flagship devices will be “strong engines” for the company.

Early rumors about the Galaxy Note 5 is that it will have the all-in-one solution in Samsung’s own Exynos 7422 chipset. The phablet may also sport either a 2K resolution or a UHD 4K resolution, and will most likely have a 3GB RAM, a 3220 mAh battery, and a 13MP/8MP main and front-facing camera respectively. Now that the June/July announcement has been denied, we can once again expect it to be sometime this September.

VIA: SlashGear

Montblanc accessories for Galaxy Note 4 break cover

Posted by wicked October - 24 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

One of the coolest features of the Galaxy Note series of smartphones from Samsung is the S Pen and the S View Cover. The big screen of the Note series beg for people to write on them with a stylus. If you like writing on the screen of your device, but wish for an S Pen that is a bit more substantial, check out what Montblanc and Samsung have teamed up to produce.

Montblanc and Samsung teamed up to produce new writing instruments and leather covers for the Galaxy Note 4. Montblanc is famous for making very nice pens and has unveiled the Montblanc e-StarWalker and Pix pens.


Both of these pens can be used to write on the screen of your smartphone or on normal paper. The special covers for the Note 4 have a digital ID chip inside that automatically provide the owner access to Montblanc digital content like an ink-inspired 3D unlock effect, special edition S Note, and five screenwriter nibs.

There are two styles for the cover with one looking woven called the Montblanc Extreme leather cover and the other called the Montblanc Meisterstuck soft grain leather cover with a smoother leather grain finish.

SOURCE: Samsung

Samsung offers extended warranty for selected Galaxy devices

Posted by wicked October - 10 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Damaged smartphones and phablets, especially the ones that you bought for a lot of money, are a living and very real nightmare for gadget owners. No matter how careful you are in handling your phone, accidents will happen. You will drop your phone. You will spill something on it. No matter how tough your phone supposedly is, there will be damage at one point. And if your warranty is expired, good luck then. Samsung is now offering a product that will somehow set your mind at ease when it comes to this problem.

Samsung’s Protection Plus Mobile Elite is a service that will extend the warranty of your device to two years after your original 1-year warranty has expired from the time you purchased it. For now, this only covers four Samsung devices: the Galaxy S4 and S5 and the Galaxy Note 3 and Note 4. This is understandable, since they are some of the more expensive smartphones/phablets out there. There isn’t any word yet if they will also be offering this product to cover other Samsung devices, although the higher-end tablets should probably come into consideration,

During the coverage period, when your device suffers from such things as accidentally cracked displays (deliberately cracking an expensive device is a no-no supposedly) or liquid damage, you can make up to three claims. Samsung promises 24/7/364 days support (we don’t know what is that one day where they cannot offer customer support) and a speedy resolution to your damaged product. They should also probably offer a short lecture on how to protect your gadget when you’re in it for the third time.

You can avail the Protection Plus Mobile Elite plan for $99 for the Galaxy S4 and S5 while you need to pay $129 for the Galaxy Note 3 and Note 4. But it’s not exactly free as you need to pay $75 (Galaxy S4 and S5) or $95 (Galaxy Note 3 and Note 4) plus applicable tax everytime you make those three allowable claims. But that is probably better than having it fully repaired or replaced on your own.

SOURCE: Sammyhub

Galaxy Note 4 three-point bend test uses a robotic butt

Posted by wicked October - 2 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Lots of talk about bending smartphones has been going around after some iPhone 6 Plus devices turned up bent after being carried in pockets. Apple’s response was to say only a few devices have actually bent, but the negative press affected the image of the device and led to a number of other smartphone makers feeling like they need to prove their devices won’t bend.

Samsung has performed a bend test on its phablet device, the Galaxy Note 4, and the smartphone came away unfazed by the testing. Samsung performed a basic three point bend test using a machine that put about 25kg of pressure on the screen of the phone.

The device distorted a bit, but snapped back to its original straight shape when the pressure was removed. The coolest test performed involved a robotic butt. This test had a machine with a couple butt cheeks on it wearing denim jeans.

In this test the robot butt sat on the Galaxy Note 4 several hundred times and simulated a 100kg man’s butt. The Note 4 survived the robot attack without lasting physical injuries.

SOURCE: Samsung