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Galaxy S4 review: Samsung’s superphone

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the best phone Samsung have ever made. But can it stand up to the iPhone 5 and the HTC One? Matt Warman says yes.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Samsung Galaxy S IV

A Samsung employee displays the Samsung Galaxy S IV for a photo March 14, 2013 in New York City. Photo: GETTY

Just nine months ago, Samsung released the Galaxy S3 – it was the first phone to really claim that it could rival Apple’s iPhone. With the S4, now Samsung hopes to say it has overtaken its rivals.

The Korean giant is certainly throwing everything at it: the S4 is so packed full of new features that some have said it forms an incoherent mass rather than a unified product. There’s a 13MP camera and a 5” screen packed into a smaller, lighter, thinner body than the S3, and there’s new eye-tracking technology that simply means you have to tilt your head to scroll on the screen. It’s not perfect but it works. Hovering your finger above a photo or email lets you preview more of it, which works rather more consistently. And there are health features that track how far you’ve walked, a built-in remote control and a deal to print out your photographs. Just in case you feel the need, you can now even take pictures with both the front and the rear cameras at the same time.

So does the S4 feel like the ultimate superphone or like a flabby mess? Is Samsung trying to do everything and succeeding at nothing?

The short answer is no. The S4 is a superb device that does more than any previous mobile phone, but doesn’t force any of its features upon its users. It is rivalled only by the HTC One.

So it packs more screen into the hand than has ever been possible before, and that 5” display offers more pixels per inch than any previous device, and more than the eye can see anyway. It’s compelling in a way that is becoming standard on top of the range mobiles, regardless of the specifications.

There are, however, features where its chief Android rival beats it – such as on sound quality, because the HTC One has dual speakers on the front rather than the S4’s single one on the back. Personally, however, I value sound quality through headphones far higher than volume out loud.

But where the S4 is challenged by both the HTC One and the iPhone 5 is in the most obvious department – the overall design. The argument, however, is simple: metal, from HTC and Apple versus plastic from Samsung. Put so baldly, who would go for plastic? And Samsung clearly know the issue is a fraught one because they have seriously beefed up the build-quality from the S3. The S4, therefore, is among the most premium pieces of plastic you’ll ever hold, but if you’re hung up on the idea that only metal can feel really luxurious, and a luxurious feel is what you want from a mobile phone, then you may simply not be able to get over that plastic.

For myself, I had no problem with the plastic of the S3 and the S4 feels a lot better. The design of devices we have with us for almost every minute of the waking day clearly matters enormously – but I think Samsung’s design is excellent, and focusing purely on plastic is to value style over the substance of features, camera, battery life and more. Some of Samsung’s own software, such as the enhanced calendar and email, are useful, but the S4 is a piece of hardware first and foremost.

The camera, indeed, is possibly the single greatest improvement over the S3. Most improvements are incremental, but this isn’t: at 13MP the pictures are more detailed than on any other Android phone. I disliked the HTC One in part because of the marketing hype over its ‘ultrapixel’ camera – it felt almost dishonest to claim it was a step-change – but the One outclasses the S4 only in low light. In all other conditions it’s equalled if not bettered by the S4, and Samsung has borrowed the interface from its range of cameras to provide an easy to use way to get to filters that can erase people, take burst shots and more. They even encourage users to tinker with at least some of the settings. The chance to use both those front and back cameras, or to see automatically created albums, are nice touches that I doubt many will use. But they will be appreciated when they are.

The Samsung’s battery life is the best I’ve ever encountered on an Android phone, but its performance again is an improvement rather than enough to get me through a day from 6am to 1am without getting nervous.

That vast library of exotic features, however, doesn’t help Samsung on the battery front: some I found I used a lot because they worked, such as waving my hand over the screen to change music tracks or move through a picture gallery. Similarly I hovered my finger over the screen to preview photos too. But the smart scroll, which tracks your eyes to browse websites, didn’t work often enough to feel compelling. But it does feel like a feature that will become a standard, as does the ‘Smart Pause’ feature that pauses video if you look away from the screen.

The S4 is an incremental improvement on the excellent S3, and it does more than either the HTC One or the iPhone 5. Will you instantly use all its whizzy features if you buy one? No. Will you have the option to? Yes. It’s the best looking, most capable, fastest phone Samsung has ever made. As I’ve spent more time with the HTC One I like it more and more, but I think choosing between the two is now a matter of personal preference rather than a straightforward choice between good and best. Both have to be seen to be believed.

Manufacturer’s sepcifications
Dimensions: 69.8 x 136.6 x 7.9mm
Weight: 130g
Screen: 5” Full HD Super Amoled Display; 441ppi

Battery: 2,600mAh (v2,100mAh for the S3)
Memory: 2GB RAM
Camera: 13mp autofocus 1080p/2mp rear camera
Colours: White frost/black mist
Storage: 16/32/64GB + microSD
OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean

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Tech News

SAMSUNG WATCH ACTIVE 2 SPECS IS ONLINE

SAMSUNG WATCH ACTIVE 2 SPECS IS ONLINE, While Samsung is gearing up to launch the Galaxy Note 10 series on August 7,

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While Samsung is gearing up to launch the Galaxy Note 10 series on August 7, there are reports about the arrival of a Galaxy Watch Active 2. It’s unclear if whether the company will launch the wearable with the new smartphone series, or if its launch will be moved forward. Despite this, more and more leaks are surfacing and revealing details about the Watch Active 2.

A couple of pictures were revealed today by the popular leakster, Evan Blass, from evleaks. According to another report from SamMobile, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 will come in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm. The former has a 1.2-inch screen, while the latter will be equipped with a 1.4-inch display. Both displays will boast AMOLED technology plus Gorilla Glass DX+. Last but not least they’ll sport 360×360 pixels of resolution. Join GizChina on Telegram

Galaxy Watch Active 2

The smaller model will weigh 31g, while the bigger one scales at 36g. They will arrive in either aluminum or stainless steel case, both are built to comply with MIL-STD 810G durability standards. According to reports, Samsung will equip the newer models with a touch-sensitive bezel. Therefore it will allow users to interact with functions without having to touch on the screen. That’s an interesting feature, after all, smartwatches displays are usually too small so it’s hard to interact with a touch-sensitive display without covering the content.

The Watch Active 2 will carry Samsung Exynos 9110 SoC underhood. The smartwatch boasts 768 MB of RAM on the Bluetooth-only model and 1.5GB on the LTE-capable variant. Both versions will boast 4GB of Internal Storage. Reportedly, the 40mm unit will have a  247 mAh battery. The 44mm model will fit a larger 340 mAh cell. As previously rumored, ECG and fall detection are both on board. However, the former can take some time to arrive at the shelves.

Last details include Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and a plethora of colors for the aluminum variants:  Silver, Black and Pink Gold, while the stainless steel color will arrive in Silver, Black and Gold. Worth noting that the LTE variant will only be available with a stainless steel finish.

Source: https://www.gizchina.com/2019/07/23/samsung-galaxy-watch-active-2-specs-surface-online/

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Hardwares

MacBook Pro 2019 will be a 16-inch LCD laptop

MacBook Pro 2019 will be a 16-inch LCD laptop, New report affirms rumors and points to $3,000 starting price

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New report affirms rumors and points to $3,000 starting price

We may have already seen new MacBook Pro models refreshed for 2019, but the true MacBook Pro 2019 is expected to land this October as a 16-inch LCD laptop, according to Taiwan’s United Daily News (UDN).

Given that this would be Apple’s largest MacBook Pro laptop since 2012’s final run of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, the company reportedly plans to slap a gargantuan baseline price tag onto this year’s model – which could rise above $3,000 (about £2,450, AU$4,350).

This laptop will likely be pushed heavily toward content creators and developers as a demonstration of Apple’s sincerity in serving those audiences. Here’s to hoping it will somehow satisfy the cross-section of folks that also like to game on their workhorse machines.

MacBook Pro 2019 backs down from OLED

This report corroborates one published by London-based market analysts IHS Markit, adding the pricing element to the mix. More importantly, this is the second report to state that the 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019 display will not be an OLED product.

Instead, it will be an LCD to the tune of a 3,072 x 1,920 pixel resolution, which would give the display a rather competitive 226 pixels per inch (ppi) rating and a total of 5.9 million pixels. LCD or not, this is going to be a sharp 3K display.

Will that alone be enough to justify such an exorbitant starting price? Hardly. There are surely other features that Apple has cooking for this device.

We know that Apple is planning to allow this MacBook Pro up to 32GB of memory (RAM), which is already possible on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. 

And, of course, every report mentions an entirely new design likely focused on smaller screen bezels.

Exactly what kind of processor technology will be inside these laptops is also up in the air. Is Apple’s supposed ARM laptop processor to be finished in time for these new laptops? Or, will Apple go all in with AMD considering Intel’s faltering pole position in the laptop computing space?

We’ll almost certainly see more about these missing MacBook Pro 2019 details as we get closer to October 2019.

Source: https://www.techradar.com/news/macbook-pro-16-inch-2019

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Tech News

Google pays users to help build its FaceID

Google pays users to help build its FaceID, Google’s Pixel 4’s moderately sized bezel has been rumoured to be hiding

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Google’s Pixel 4’s moderately sized bezel has been rumoured to be hiding a powerful secret — its own take on FaceID. Much like how Pixel Imprint is Google’s version of TouchID, Google is expected to add an additional form of biometric authentication to the Pixel 4 and 4 XL with this year.

As per a report from ZDNet, men on the street have been approached by Google employees and asked to capture different angles of their face in exchange for a $5 Amazon or Starbucks Giftcard. The images were taken with a phone in a case which obscured its design likely the Pixel 4 or 4 XL (or a prototype of one or the other.)
The firm is said to be doing this for multiple sites across the US to gather a large number of pictures with which to train its Pixel’s authentication system before launch.

Google previously offered facial recognition for its Android devices in the past. This method is likely to be more secure and 3D based than before.

Source: Google is paying users $5 to help build its FaceID competitor

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