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Android Authority this week – August 30, 2015

Posted by wicked August - 30 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

oneplus 2 review aa (9 of 38)

This late summer is hotter than anticipated, and we couldn’t be happier. The week before IFA brought us sneak peeks at smartwatches coming from Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, and LG. We’ve spotted the “Moto X Play for USA” a.k.a. the Droid Maxx 2. More details leaked out about the Huawei- and LG-made Nexus. The BlackBerry Venice revealed itself from all angles. We’ve got a glimpse of the Xperia Z5. And “Pengate” flared up, before predictably fading away into the annals of ridiculous tech scandals.

Inside AA HQ

Tickets have been reserved, accommodation has been arranged, meetings have been scheduled. IFA 2015 is coming and Android Authority will be all over it! This year, we’re sending a bigger team to Berlin, even though Samsung, the usual star of the show, decided to jump the gun.

Even without a new Note, there’s a lot of hot stuff to look forward to next week, from Sony’s latest Xperia(s), to a bevy of Android Wear smartwatches, and Huawei’s new Mate flagship. Josh Vergara, Lanh Nguyen, and Nirave Gondhia will be there, accompanied by yours truly. The show starts on Thursday, but all the good stuff will probably be announced the day before. Stay tuned!

Our reviews of some of the most anticipated phones of this year are progressing nicely. We’ve already brought you our look at the OnePlus 2, and our Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus reviews, from Josh and Lanh, are coming very soon!

This week, we have an extra giveaway for our loyal readers! We’ve teamed up with Huawei to give out three Honor 7’s. And don’t forget about our beloved Sunday Giveaway: today, we’re giving away an Oppo R7 Plus (and a selfie stick!). Good luck!

OPPO R7 Plus-24

The stuff you shouldn’t miss

Top news of the week

Smartwatches are coming

Samsung Gear S2 Instagram

Droid Maxx reborn

droid-maxx-2-1

(Update: leaked photos!) Motorola DROID Maxx 2 and Turbo 2 rumors – huge batteries, unbreakable displays and more

Next Nexus news

nexus-5-lg specifications

BB Venice leaks some more

BlackBerry-Vince-Proto-011

Don’t stick it backwards

samsung galaxy note 5 first look aa (13 of 41)

Xperia Z5 press images

Xperia-Z5-Press_3-640x451 

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 S Pen walkthrough

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

samsung_galaxy_note_5_white_front_s_pen_out_screen_on_TAEarlier this month, Samsung launched its Galaxy Note 5 flagship smartphone. It includes all high end specifications and is currently one of the best smartphones you can buy so long as you’re willing to pay the cost.

Samsung brought some new tricks to the Note series with its updated S Pen stylus. Some include a newly designed air command menu, scrolling screenshots, better sensitivity and an all-new spring to pop the pen out easily. The only negative is putting the S Pen in your phone backwards which could result in damaging your smartphone. The Galaxy Note 5 also brings the same useful tools as seen on the Note 4. Meaning you will still get access to screen write, smart select, quick notes and more. It also comes with a new feature giving users the ability to take a note without having to turn on their phone. Listed below is our hands on experience with the Galaxy Note 5 and everything you can do with the enhanced S Pen.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Come comment on this article: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 S Pen walkthrough

Hands on with People Edge on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

samsung_unpacked_2015_galaxy_s6_edge_plus_edge_contacts_TAWhen Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S6 Edge+, they also brought with it one new feature that it’s smaller sibling doesn’t have. That new feature is App Edge, which is an expansion on People Edge.

Like the old People Edge feature, you can swipe from the top right or left of the edge screen (depending on what you picked in the settings) and out will slide a menu. This will show you your top 5 favorite friends and will let you call or text them directly. Any contacts can be added and colors can be changed for each one. The new App Edge is exactly the same, only with apps. To open it, open People Edge and swipe one more time. The menu will now show your favorite apps. Select your favorite top 5 apps and you now have quick access to them no matter where you are on your device.

Click here to view the embedded video.

While this feature is definitely wanted by many, it’s not as good as Glovebox. I have written a full guide on how amazing Glovebox is and why I love it on my S6 Edge. It does basically the same thing, but can also add widgets, more apps, folders, almost anything you would like. Plus, it works on any Android device. However, for those of you who don’t want to install any additional apps, App Edge is a great new feature.

Come comment on this article: Hands on with People Edge on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Deal: Samsung Fast Charging Car Chargers just $12.99

Posted by Kellex August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Most of you probably have a Turbo Charger or two laying around your house, thanks to a handful of decent deals on them over the past year. But do any of you have a fast charger for your car? If not, you can pick-up a brand new, Samsung Fast Charging Car Charger for just $12.99 over at Groupon (USB cable included).

Groupon is claiming that you are receiving some massive 68% discount, but that’s kind of a lie. These chargers can be had at Amazon from around $15 with a USB cable. Still, saving a couple of bucks on an already-cheap fast charger for your car isn’t something to complain about.

Like with the fast wall chargers, you can grab up to 50% charge in just 30 minutes time.

Groupon Link

Deal: Samsung Fast Charging Car Chargers just $12.99 is a post from: Droid Life

Samsung Gear S2 hits the FCC suggesting two models, a standard and classic

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Samsung Gear S2 Instagram

While Samsung might not have a Note-worthy announcement at IFA this year, the company still has a few tricks up its corporate sleeve. Not only is Samsung gearing up to go big with Internet of Things, we also expect a brand new circular smartwatch.

Dubbed the Gear S2, the circular watch is the next evolution the Gear family and hopes to bring a more premium experience alongside side a much more robust SDK and user interface. There’s still a lot of unknowns about the specific hardware and features offered by the S2, but two new filings from the FCC suggest the company will offer at least two models: “SM-R720” and “SM-R732”. While the former is said to simply be called the Gear S2, the latter may reportedly launch as the Gear S2 Classic.

So what are the differences here? Based on the FCC filings, both watches will require a connection to a phone to operate, so more than likely the differences are in the design and material choices. The “Classic” could be the metal-clad darling that we’ve seen in recent teasers from Samsung, while the standard could be of a cheaper material (plastic?) or perhaps simply sport a more modern look. It’s also possible there could be some additional minor differences in the hardware and software features.

With the Apple Watch doing fairly well and several new Android Wear watches on the way, can a circular premium Gear win the hearts of consumers? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Pengate blues? Video shows how to safely get the Note 5 S Pen out

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has quickly become the subject of its own “gate”, pengate as some are calling it. If you haven’t already heard, inserting the S Pen backwards on the Note 5 will cause it to get stuck inside and removing it could break an important S Pen sensor. Thankfully, a new video demonstrates a way to get your pen out safely without damaging the sensor.

Basically, a piece of paper can be pushed into the hole and used to safely lift the sensor. Once this is done, you can pull out the S Pen without a problem. The video goes into a great length of detail about how the sensor gets stuck, how far you have to insert it, and more. You also get to see the inside of the Note 5, making it much easier to follow along.

Is Pengate a big deal?

Is this really S Pen drama really a big deal? Personally, I don’t think so. Sure, it is a design flaw, as making it impossible to fully insert the S Pen backwards would have been a good failsafe to prevent people (or, more likely, young kids) from doing stupid things with an $800 device. That said, the odds of this happening to your Note 5 are pretty slim and we have a feeling most of the reports of stuck pens came because people were curious if the “pengate” claims were legit.

For what it is worth, I currently have the Note 5 in my possession, and while I’m not foolish enough to fully insert the pen in backwards, I did test putting in just the “eraser tip” and can tell you that, even if you aren’t looking while inserting, you should be able to feel/hear the difference in my opinion.

It is true that there is no resistance or forcing needed to put it in backwards, but it still feels and sounds differently. The pen side slides in without fully touch the sides, while the Note 5 eraser goes in easily but you can slightly feel/hear it touching the sides thanks to the metallic plate with the “Samsung” logo on it. While it would be possible to ignore or miss this, those that are careful probably would detect the difference before fully inserting into the holder deeply enough for it to get stuck.

What do you think, is this S Pen drama being blown out of proportion or do you think that Samsung really messed up big here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

The traditional flagship is sinking, but don’t count it out just yet

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off
Perhaps the game isn't over yet, but the $800 flagship is running out of health points.

Perhaps the game isn’t over yet, but the $800 flagship is running out of health points.

Smartphones are getting cheaper all the time. Sales of high-end $700 or $800 flagships are generally declining. More people are bypassing carriers and buying directly from OEMs, or picking up unlocked devices from online retailers. Could we be looking at the end of the traditional, expensive flagship phone? Can Samsung, LG, or even Apple keep asking us to pay big bucks for their latest offerings?

What’s going on?

If you look at the last round of flagship releases it’s difficult to see where the innovation is. We haven’t seen many compelling new features in the last few years. The flagship line-up has started to look pretty homogenous and almost everyone owns a smartphone now. When the market stagnates, one of the few remaining options for manufacturers looking to stand out is to drop prices.

Midrange smartphones 2015-7

People have learned that affordable phones don’t feel necessarily cheap.

The average selling price for an Android phone has plummeted from $441 in 2010 down to $254 last year. That’s partly because of the abundance of budget Android smartphones on the market. The platform has improved and hardware has reduced in price dramatically over the last few years. Budget phones are now perfectly usable, and some mid-range offerings, in terms of price, are competing with the high-end flagships, in terms of specs.

If we take a look at something like the OnePlus 2, which starts at $329, we can see the pressure in the market. It’s not really “the 2016 flagship killer” OnePlus suggests, but it doesn’t look out of place next to this year’s crop.

Price drops come quickly

It used to be that flagships would be sold for nearly a full year at the release price, or very close to it. The prices would only start to drop within a month of the next version in the series, but nowadays they begin to fall pretty quickly after release. The LG G4 has dropped from $600 to $480 on T-Mobile and $470 unlocked on Amazon. You can pick up a Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge for $550 now. The Nexus 6 has dropped to $500 from Google and $490 on Amazon now.

flagship smartphones aa (11 of 18)

No room for yesteryear’s smartphones where we’re going.

This is yet another reason not to lock yourself into a two-year contract and pull the trigger on the latest flagship on release day. You quickly end up in a negative equity situation, but you’ve still got to pay your smartphone off at the original inflated price.

What are the pros and cons?

There’s really only one big pro that matters – cheaper smartphones for all. But it’s also potentially great for customers to be able to shop around on carriers. In theory, it should drive them to offer better deals for service.

For manufacturers, there’s really only one big con that matters – reduced profits. But is that bad for consumers? You could argue that it will lead to a reduction in R&D, maybe there’s a knock-on impact in terms of reduced innovation, but that could also be self-defeating for the OEMs.

android chorus smartphones google

Together, and often the same.

Bucking the trend

There will always be a minority of people willing to pay top dollar for the latest thing. Realistically, that’s based on a mixture of alluring hardware and effective marketing. Looking around for an exception to the dwindling profit rule, Apple is an obvious elephant in the room.

Even the average selling price of the iPhone has declined since 2010. It has gone from $702 to $657 in 2014. But for the most part Apple still fits the old model. It sells its flagship at a premium price and only discounts when the next version is released. The fact it has its own exclusive platform, a strong brand, and high customer satisfaction and loyalty are just some of the reasons.

It’s difficult to argue the demise of the traditional flagship in the face of the iPhone’s continued success, but the Android smartphone market is clearly a different beast.

samsung galaxy s6 vs apple iphone 6 aa (19 of 29)

Can Apple buck the trend indefinitely?

Shifting strategies

We’ve seen a couple of strategies to try and combat this general demise from Samsung, the master of the multi-pronged approach. Two of them look like they might have legs.

First, the trend towards bigger displays as phablets take off has largely been driven by the success of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. People seem to be willing to pay more for bigger devices and phablets are taking over as the new flagships. LG went as far as to merge the two, with the G3 and G4 being clear flagships that are also phablet sized. Apple jumped on that bandwagon too, because the 6 Plus is clearly superior to the standard iPhone 6.

Second, the innovative curved display design of the S6 Edge led to better sales than anticipated. Apparently, Samsung expected the normal S6 to outsell the Edge significantly, but it didn’t. Considering the Edge was also more expensive at release, there’s clearly still a hunger for sexy new devices that innovate. It will be interesting to see what happens with the S6 Edge+ as it combines both trends and is now the most expensive smartphone in Samsung’s line-up.

Galaxy-S6-Edge+-Gold-Hands-On-AA-(7-of-20)

Samsung has an Edge over the competition, but for how long?

Still kicking

There definitely is a decline in the traditional flagship phone model. We can see it clearest if we look at something like the HTC One M9. Manufacturers can’t get away with releasing the same phone as last year, no matter how gorgeous the design may be. People want some new features or design tweaks they can clearly identify, even if they are a bit puffed up by the marketing department, or balanced with steps backwards in other areas.

Flagship territory and pricing has also been an uphill struggle for Sony. And none of the up and coming field in the OEM charts, including Lenovo (and Motorola), Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, and Alcatel sell phones in the $700 or $800 price bracket.

Having said all that, there’s still room for a sizeable niche of premium-priced phones that offer a mixture of cutting edge features, gorgeous design, and clever marketing. The traditional flagship may be sinking, but you can’t count it out just yet.

Samsung opens beta testing for Samsung Pay for qualified parties

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Samsung Pay is set to launch by September 29, but as early as now, you can sign up and be a beta tester. There are certain requirements that you need to meet in order to qualify for the program, specifically regarding your Samsung unit, having an active account, having a qualifying credit card, and lastly, which carrier you’re currently subscribed to. It’s also a given that you understand that beta testing is meant as a dry run and so not all the spokes and wheels might turn, so frustration with the service is a given.

First of all, to be able to use Samsung Pay, you would need to own any of the following devices: Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+, or Galaxy Note 5. The device needs to be under service with any of the following carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular. Verizon seems to be the only major exemption. You also need to have a “qualifying credit card” from Bank of America, Mastercard, Visa, or U.S. Bank Visa.

Of course, you would need to have an active Samsung account and your email address here would be where they would notify you that you have been accepted into the program. Before you submit your email address and sign-up, you have to agree to the Beta program terms and conditions. It says there that the use of Samsung Pay is subject to the Samsung Pay Terms of Service and since we’re dealing with money here, you better read that document, when you get it, first.

Samsung Pay is different from other mobile payment solutions in that it can recognize both NFC and magnetic stripe card readers. We don’t know if Google’s soon to be announced Android Pay will also be able to do so.

SOURCE: Samsung

Samsung teases IoT goodies for IFA

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

samsung galaxy logo mwc 2015 4

IFA will no doubt be brimming with new handsets for us to get our hands on, but Samsung has already announced latest flagships. Instead, the tech giant is planning to unveil the “future of IoT”, according to its latest teaser video.

Unfortunately, the teaser doesn’t give us any hints about exactly what Samsung has planned. The company has already announced that it has a new SmartThings Hub is on the way in September, so we may see some more products focused around home automation. Alternatively, Samsung may have something entirely new to show off.

The teaser also reveals that customers be able to watch Samsung’s IFA event using its VR headset. The rest of us will also be able to follow along with our smartphones or tablets online. Samsung says that it will bring IFA to us “through a new and exciting IoT experience”. Interesting.

Samsung is also expected to unveil the final details about its Gear S2 smartwatch at the event. We have already seen numerous pictures of the smartwatch, but we still don’t know too much about any new hardware or software features that Samsung has in developed for the Gear S2.

Will you be tuning in to Samsung’s IFA announcements next week?

Site shows details on why putting S Pen wrong will damage your Galaxy Note 5

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

There have been endless discussions, heated debates and finger pointing regarding the supposed “design flaw” of the Galaxy Note 5 that obviously damages your device when you put in your S Pen backwards. But whether Samsung should have designed it better or people should be smarter when using their devices, some may be curious about what does happen when you put it in wrong and why it will sometimes irreparably damage your phablet. 9 to 5 Google gave a great explanation as to the process and what you can do (if anything).

Inside the S Pen slot, there is a small plastic lever that is triggered when the pen is inserted and it then tells the device that there is a pen and so it turns on some features like Screen-off memo and Air Command menu. Above that, there is another lever that helps hold the pen and its “click side” in place. Sticking the pen in backwards will cause it to get caught behind that second lever. That will make the actual removing extremely difficult, and at times, as we’ve seen some complaints, almost impossible.

But even if by some miracle you were able to remove the S Pen, that doesn’t mean your problems are over, because there’s that other lever. When the “clicky side” of the pen passes it over, then the damage has been done. And then forcing the S Pen out will damage it even further, as it is made of plastic and it is inside something soldered to the main board. And if it is damaged, then you might as well get a new phone since this one will not be able to detect the S Pen anymore.

While we don’t discount the possibility of a child using your phone and putting it in the wrong way, or something happens that you accidentally do so, those incidents are few and far between. Maybe Samsung should have done something better, we don’t know. All you can do for now if you have a Galaxy Note 5 is to be very careful and conscious about how you use your S Pen.

VIA: 9 to 5 Google