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LG G4 preview (updated) and quick Samsung Galaxy S6 comparison

This was supposed to be yet another rumor roundup. A closer to reality version of our rash LG G4 preview from back February, but still highly reliant on speculation, guesswork and unconfirmed gossip.

LG G4

Only the manufacturers of last year’s critically acclaimed G3 essentially put “professional” leaksters out of business. With one noteworthy exception, “inside” sources became useless as the Korea-based OEM gradually revealed sans any restraint G4’s display, cameras and Android-skinned user interface.

What’s left to do now is gather all the sure-fire and near-guaranteed intel and see how LG’s next big thing could stack up against 2015’s phone to beat. Yes, Samsung’s sizzling hot Galaxy S6. Here goes:

LG G4 – what we know for sure

  • April 28 – the big day. “See the Great, feel the Great”. New York, London, Paris, Seoul, Singapore and Istanbul. Six venues, one hour, one phone. A little too much fuss for a device that’s already so out in the open? Perhaps, but maybe some surprises are in store.

lg-g4-invite

  • 5.5-inch True HD-IPS+ LCD screen with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (aka Quad HD) resolution. Sounds familiar? Well, the numbers are identical to the ones boasted by G3’s panel. Diagonal size, pixel count and, obviously, ppi – 538. What’s new is 30 percent improved brightness, 50 percent “higher than conventional” contrast ratio, and “richer and more accurate colors.” With no impact on energy consumption, allegedly. Also, a subtly arched profile. It’s time we stopped caring so much about overkill figures, and concentrated on real-life enhancements, don’t you think?
  • 16 MP rear-facing camera with f/1.8 aperture. Again, at first glance, this doesn’t seem like a huge upgrade. Just three more megapixels than last year? Come on, LG, even HTC can do 20 MP these days. Yes, but HTC and Samsung’s aperture technology is inferior, so the G4 may well prevail in low-light photo activity.

LG G4 camera

  • 8 MP selfie-friendly front snapper. Now that’s a spec bump everyone can understand and support. 8 is bigger than 2.1, hence self-portraits should look better than ever.
  • Android Lollipop with LG UX 4.0 on top. Not sure about the pre-installed L version yet (it could be 5.0 or 5.1), but the proprietary UI is rather pretty. “Human-centric” and intuitive, it’s a bit on the intrusive side. Still, it favors camera customization and aims to bring important notifications and news closer to every particular user.

LG G4 – what’s yet to be confirmed (but looks fairly certain as well)

LG G4 leather options

  • Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 CPU + Adreno 418 GPU. Not quite as zippy (on paper) as the 810/430 combo, it’s really LG’s only choice if the Snapdragon 810 indeed still suffers of overheating woes.
  • 3 GB RAM. Just 3, no 2 gig option this time around. No leap to 4 either, probably to keep production costs as low as possible.
  • Plastic construction with optional leather back covers and the same iconic rear physical buttons. Sad LG isn’t following Samsung’s suit on the premium metal path? We bet, but at least G4’s battery will remain user removable, and microSD support isn’t going anywhere. Also, how cool is genuine leather? Granted, Motorola did it before, but it’s still gorgeous… when not painted in pukey brown.

LG G4 battery

  • G Pen? No G Pen? Separate G Pen variant? That’s a key question we can’t answer at the moment.
  • 3,000 mAh battery with Qi wireless charging functions and Quick Charge 2.0. Nothing altogether revelatory or innovative, nothing disappointing here either. Autonomy should be decent, not record-breaking
  • 32 GB and up internal storage. The age of 16 GB flagship phones is finally reaching an end. Probably. Hopefully.

LG G4 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 – preliminary specs comparison

We’ll of course be back with a more comprehensive, rigorous versus post once the G4 goes official, but for now, let’s explore a few of the areas LG could handle the heavyweight bout in.

LG G4 front

Firstly, it’s obvious the expandable storage and replaceable battery will be extraordinary advantages. Cell capacity should also be a plus, at 3,000 vs 2,550 mAh. Then you’ll likely have a superior front cam, matching native storage space and slimmer bezels, resulting in a 75 percent or so screen-to-body ratio (the Galaxy S6 sits at a similarly respectable 70.7%).

In the screen sharpness department, it’s too early to proclaim a winner, though the slightly smaller footprint should stem a better ppi on the Galaxy S6. Under the hood, the Exynos 7420 chip will almost certainly outpace the Snapdragon 808, while the main photographical unit looks like a delicate subject we’d rather not approach so soon in the game.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Oh, okay, we have a tie as far as the megapixel count is concerned, and optical image stabilization across the board. But phase detection, laser autofocus and a wider aperture might allow LG to put another precious one in the win column.

Last but not least, there’s the retail cost matter. Since the G4 is clearly less premium than its arch-rival from a design standpoint, we wouldn’t be surprised if it were to go for roughly $600, which is $150+ south of Galaxy S6’s factory unlocked tag via Amazon. Bottom line, the race to gold is wide open.

Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 Edge vs Galaxy Note 4/Note Edge – Specs comparison

Samsung has sure come a long way in just 12 months or so. The “more of the same” program came to a depressing end with the bitter disappointment that was known as the Galaxy S5, and the Note 4, Note Edge, GS6 and S6 Edge mark the dawn of a new era.

Galaxy S6 vs Note 4

 

An era of innovation (don’t laugh), radical redesigns and, market analysts project, colossal financial gains. Above profits though, the mobile overlords seem concentrated on delivering a superior user experience, which you can feel, touch and bask in sans a number of counterproductive past bells and whistles.

As we found in S6 and S6 Edge’s head-to-head comparison against HTC’s One M9, there’s no such thing as a perfect phone. But clearly, the four that come the closest are Samsung’s latest “compact” and phablet-sized flagship duos.

Galaxy-S6-Edge-Galaxy-S6

Footprint notwithstanding, a certain target audience overlap is unavoidable, and so, it’s important to clarify to our power user readers what are the essential differences between these giants, and each one’s fortes. Here goes:

Galaxy Note 4 vs Note Edge vs Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge – pricing and availability

The prime distinction here is more than obvious. Two of our heavyweight contenders can be purchased and delivered in a matter of hours, while the other two are still on standby. Slated for a global debut on April 10, the S6s might be a little hard to find at first. And yes, they’ll be pricier than the Note 4 nowadays.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Specifically, $700 and $850 respectively outright (or so we presume), and $200 and $300 with carrier agreements. We mean, of course, “entry-level” S6/S6 Edge configurations, packing 32 GB internal storage space and no expansion possibility.

A factory unlocked international variant of the GNote 4 with octa-core Exynos 5 punch costs $619 on Amazon in white, $624 in gold, and $632 in black. Swapping the Exynos for a quad-core Snapdragon 805 SoC and tying yourselves to 24-month pacts will lead to much lower price points, namely $200 with Sprint, or $230 at Verizon and AT&T.

Galaxy Note Edge vs S6 Edge

Finally, the Note Edge remains quite the extravagant buy – $750 and up factory unlocked.

Design and build quality comparison

They say appearances can be deceiving, but not as far as Samsung’s ultra-high-end quartet is concerned. These bad boys look special, and are special. They’re all elegant and robust, with metal frames across the board, soft-textured plastic back covers on the Notes, and glossy glass rears for S6s. Point S for style and Gorilla Glass muscle, and points S6 Edge and Note Edge for, well, edges.

Galaxy S6 S6 Edge back

Which is handsomer? The S6 Edge by a landslide, as it prolongs the central screen on both sides, keeping things glamorous and subtle with uber-slim secondary panel strips chiefly meant to improve aesthetics, not productivity.

Another point for S wasp waists (6.8 – 7 mm vs 8.3 – 8.5 mm), and a gold star for lightweight skeletons. Sure, the S6 and S6 Edge are a lot smaller, at 5.1 compared to 5.7 inches, but the weight gap is staggering nonetheless: 132 grams for the S6 Edge, 138 for the standard S6, 174 and 176 grams for the Note Edge and Note 4 respectively.

Display and cameras

Before sinking our teeth into the four’s non-construction-related specifications, let us highlight the S6 and S6 Edge on one side and Note 4 and Note Edge on the other are architecturally identical.

Galaxy Note Edge

That said, coincidentally, screen resolution is the same all around. Quad HD, 2K or 2,560 x 1,440 pixels x 4. Of course, the S6 pair has the potential to produce much sharper images and video than the Note dyad, courtesy of superior pixel density: 577 vs 515 ppi. The technology used is Super AMOLED everywhere, and Gorilla Glass protection has leapt from generation 3 to 4 between last fall and now.

The main photographic unit on the S6 may look like more of the same, as it clones Note 4’s 16 megapixel count, but in reality, it should be faster activated and slightly better for low-light performance. Besides, as the reviews start coming in, HTC One M9’s 20 MP “beast” is apparently no match for S6’s 16 MP “featherweight”.

Galaxy S6 camera

Selfie addicts, rejoice, and prepare your prettiest duckfaces, which the new, revised 5 MP front snappers promise to capture in great detail. Surely, greater than the 3.7 MP secondary cams on the Note 4 and Note Edge.

Processors, RAM and batteries

Snapdragon 805, Exynos 5433 or Exynos 7420? While it may feel premature to call this, we’ll go ahead and jump to conclusions. The 7420 is number one. It’s 64-bit-capable, 14 nm-based, octa-core, clocked at 1.5 and 2.1 GHz, and it’s terrific both for power-demanding and more casual tasks.

Exynos 7 Octa

Paired with 3 GB random-access memory, like Note 4’s S805 and Exynos 5, this can become a Speedy Gonzalez in need or slow down and save juice. Which you’ll be obligated to do pretty often, since the 2,600 mAh cell sounds a little on the skinny side. At least compared to Note 4’s 3,220 mAh behemoth, and Note Edge’s hearty 3,000 mAh ticker.

Wireless charging is however one of S6’s strongest suits, with fast charging also reportedly ameliorated.

Sensors, storage, connectivity and others

No S Pen, no microSD support, sealed battery and no noticeable connectivity upgrade. Good thing we’re so impressed with those design innovations and the CPU revision, because otherwise the Note 4 and Note Edge would have come out on top overall.

The expandable storage advantage alone makes the aging phablets pretty smart purchases to this day. True, the S6 and S6 Edge offer up to 128 gigs of space locally, or twice as much as the most generous Note Edge and more than thrice the only Note 4 config out and about.

Galaxy S6 Edge fingerprint

Connectivity-wise, there wasn’t much the GS6 could have added in the mix. You have your advanced LTE options, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC and microUSB 2.0. Also, a heart rate monitor and fingerprint recognition tech perfectly matching Note 4’s sensor range.

On the bright side (for future S6 buyers), the “next big thing” replaces the glitchy swipe fingerprint system with a much smoother (on paper) touch-reliant solution.

Software and conclusions

Technically equal in the eyes of Google, the almighty god of software support, the four rivals/siblings differ in subtle but relevant ways. The S6 and S6 Edge shall see daylight with pre-loaded Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, while the Note 4 and Note Edge, launched on KitKat, are slowly being brought up to date.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

More importantly, a good deal of TouchWiz bloatware is removed on the former duo, with a resulting UI that’s not only cleaner and more minimalistic, but also smoother and zippier. Bye-bye, clutter, bye-bye, unnecessary “proprietary add-ons”.

Wrapping up, we probably don’t need to point out the Galaxy S6 isn’t to the Note 4 what it is to the S5. It’s just marginally better, plus a lot more compact, and it merely improves a few areas. But look at the S6 Edge. It’s so jaw-droppingly beautiful! You can’t look away now, can you?

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S6 Edge vs HTC One M9 – Specs comparison

Judgment day is here at last. The clash of the H1 2015 Android titans went down live on the Barcelona stage at the Mobile World Congress, and now it’s time to give the winner its well-deserved crown.

Galaxy S6 One M9

Wait a minute, we don’t have a winner yet. Yes, Samsung snatched the spotlight and far more headlines than HTC with a two revolutionary designs, plus its typical marketing juggernaut behavior. But the One M9 is still in this fight, and hopes to win the whole thing.

After all, Sammy reformed GS5’s bland look because it had to, whereas HTC, say many, merely settled for not messing with perfection. Meanwhile, sans Note Edge’s functionality add-on, the GS6 Edge is a doomed gimmick, according to Android conservatives.

Galaxy S6 S6 Edge

Finally, as far as the numbers race is concerned, the Galaxy S6 puts its creators in the ideal position to hit a home run, but (there’s always a but) a few of the specification upgrades are deemed unnecessary by some.

Here at The Droid Guy, we like to stay as objective as possible, so today, we’ll pit the One M9 against the S6 and S6 Edge, offer both sides of the “who’s best” debate, and leave the verdict all up to you.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. S6 Edge vs. HTC One M9 – design comparison

While we’ve certainly had our fair share of evenly-matched contests in the past, this three-way aesthetic duel takes the cake. Good thing we’ve already warned you we won’t pick a victor.

Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9

With plastic now a distant, lamentable memory, Samsung can match up at last to HTC’s exquisitely robust constructions. This is an aluminum vs. aluminum bout, though the S6 and S6 Edge blend metal with glass for a swankier, glossier vibe.

In the opposite corner, HTC does what it knows best – refinement work. The M9 is essentially a polished copy of the M8, which in turn looked a lot like the M7, just slightly more premium. The S6 Edge of course adds dual curves in the equation, and is therefore bound to catch the eye of fashionistas and people seeking attention in general.

Galaxy S6 Edge slim

At 6.8 mm, the standard S6 is the slimmest of the three, the S6 Edge affixing an unnoticeable 0.2 mm on top of that. The M9 measures a chunky 9.6 mm in depth, and is unsurprisingly 19 and 25 grams heavier than the S6 and S6 Edge respectively, at 157 grams. If you ask HTC about it however, they’ll tell you all that fat has all the noble goals in mind – extra strength and higher battery capacity.

Display showdown

On paper, M9’s screen doesn’t even play in the same league as the impeccable Super AMOLEDs on the GS6 duo. At approximately equivalent diagonals, the former delivers 1,920 x 1,080p resolution, and the latter(s) turn heads and break records with 2,560 x 1,440 pixel counts.

HTC One M9

Resulting density? 441 vs. 577 ppi. A no-contest triumph for the next big thing(s)? Not so fast, as HTC will argue the human eye can only perceive so much clarity and pixel mass.

In other words, they’ll tell you the Quad HD panels on the S6/S6 Edge are overkill. Can you dispute that? Not really, at least not until we see all three phones in the flesh playing vids and games at the highest quality they’re capable of.

Processing speed clash

Say what you will about Samsung, but it took guts to give Qualcomm the cold shoulder and go the Koreans’ own way out of the blue. Will the Snapdragon 810 – Exynos 7420 swap pay off? Preliminary benchmarks are looking good, but it’s way too early to write the S810 off.

Exynos 7420

Besides, Exynos production has been in full swing for a few years, but until now, it’s never had to deal with global Galaxy S demand. Ergo, there’s a chance the OEM’s chip-making division won’t handle the extra workload very elegantly.

The S6 Edge in particular is in danger to hit delays or limited, staggered launches. But if everything goes according to plan, the 7420 has energy efficiency as a big advantage at the very least. It’s a 14 nm-based piece of silicon, so put simply, it’s more frugal than the 20 nm 810.

Snapdragon 810

Both are octa-core big.LITTLE concoctions, with separate clusters for high-power and lighter tasks. And they’re naturally both 64-bit-capable.

RAM and storage

Despite rampant speculation in the months leading up to the announcements, no one went overboard in the memory department. 3 gigs of RAM is enough for Android “computing”, and we’re glad Samsung and HTC acknowledged that.

HTC One M9 microSD

But boy oh boy, did the mobile champions from Seoul goof up storage options. We get it, you had to seal the battery up, and bolt down the rear cover. But there are ways to do all that and permit microSD expansion, you know? Just look at HTC for “inspiration” next time.

Good thing you can at least get local 64 or 128 GB space on the GS6 and S6 Edge, although we don’t want to imagine how much the highest-capacity “edgy” handheld might cost. 1,000 bucks? 2,000? Why even toy with such a crazy concept when you could purchase the 32 GB One M9 for $650 or so, and throw in a cheapo 64 or 128 GB external card.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. S6 Edge vs. HTC One M9 – software and battery life

Don’t you just hate it when rumors spoil a delightful surprise like the TouchWiz bloatware dilution on the S6/S6 Edge pair? Granted, early demos and hands-on previews star a UI still a little stuffier than purists would like.

Galaxy S6 Edge software

But the evolution and simplification are obvious, and for once, TW completes Android instead of suffocating it. Android 5.0 Lollipop, of course, the same software iteration found on the M9 alongside Sense 7.0, the prettiest yet possibly most intrusive version of HTC’s proprietary UI to date.

Back to Samsung’s particular set of skills goodies, let’s underline (again) the S6 Edge has far fewer aces up its sleeve than the Note Edge, but can still display things like a night clock on the curves without having to unlock the main, central screen.

HTC rapid charger

As for device autonomy, like raw speed and display excellence, we’ll need to wait and see how the three behave in real-life conditions. In theory, the M9 should prevail, with a 2,840 mAh cell that’s a massive 300 mAh or so larger than the tickers inside its two main rivals. HTC has the “edge” in fast charging tech as well, while Samsung counter-attacks with wireless charging.

Cameras, sensors and prices

We’re likely about to badly piss you off, but the camera fight can’t be settled just yet either. It’s simply too close to call it. On one hand, HTC has the superior megapixel count – 20.7. But Samsung is close enough, at 16 MP, to make up lost ground with optical image stabilization.

htc-one-m9-camera

Interested in selfies first and foremost? You have another tough choice to make – 4 Ultrapixels or 5 megapixels?

Alas, HTC has no answer for Samsung’s vastly improved, PayPal-certified, touch-based fingerprint sensor, or the heart rate monitor on both the S6 and S6 Edge. Then again, the Taiwanese may come out on top with off-contract affordability, and a swifter turnaround.

Galaxy S6 back

The One M9 is expected out later this month starting at roughly $650, while the S6 and S6 Edge should cost north of $700 and $800 respectively and roll out in April. Overall, do you think timing and a familiar, acclaimed build will help HTC dominate, or is Samsung unbeatable, thanks to the risks they’ve taken?

Images via PC Mag, Pocket-lint, The Verge, Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S6 (and S6 Edge) preview and rumor roundup

Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time of year again. The time we really don’t know anything about the way the mobile industry will be shaped, transformed and, hopefully, innovated over the ensuing eight to ten months.

Samsung-Galaxy-S6

Not for sure, though we can’t help but feel fired up for what’s to come. And speculate, and gossip, and engage in incessant rumormongering. Then, the world heavyweight title contenders go official, and comparisons galore.

Before long, the cycle reboots, and the rumor bonanza starts all over. It’s irritating in a way, yet it keeps us perennially busy and always looking forward to more, to better, to “the next big thing.” Speaking of, that’s what we want to tackle today. The Samsung Galaxy S6. The highly anticipated sequel to an underwhelming faux pioneer.

Samsung Galaxy S evolution

And its trend-setting, “edgy” sibling. Trend-setting or gimmicky? Let’s see what the rumor mill has to say about it, and we’ll think it through:

Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge preview – design and functionality

Yes, and functionality. For once, we don’t care awfully much what build materials Samsung is going with. Not as far as the Edge is concerned. We’re interested in the execution, and how the dual side screens around the main, central display aim to improve the user experience.

It’s said they’ll be capable of pushing various notifications, similar to the single such perimeter on the Note Edge, as well as pull some neat new tricks, like lighting up upon receiving calls and whatnot. A higher degree of customization is certainly on deck, and right-hand users and lefties can program which of the two to primarily work with.

Galaxy Note Edge

The standard S6? It’ll either be full-metal, and follow in the footsteps of the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7, or settle merely for an aluminum strip a la the Galaxy Alpha and Note 4. If the latter turns out to be true though, metal will blend together with glass, not plastic, so either way, this baby should be quite the looker and leave the “polycarbonate” age decidedly behind it.

Processor dilemmas: Snapdragon 810 or Exynos 7420… or both?

According to a recent Digitimes report, the overheating glitches of the S810 Qualcomm wouldn’t be caught dead corroborating could lead to Samsung initially selling Exynos and Snapdragon S6 variants on a 90-10 percent split. As in, 90 percent would pack Exynos, and only 10 Snapdragon.

Galaxy-S6-Exynos

The goal is then to gradually bring the numbers closer and ultimately crank up S810-powered GS6 production to surpass Exynos models as the former CPU mends its flaws. Sounds reasonable, however Bloomberg just debunked the theory, saying there will be no Qualcomm-based Galaxy S6 flavor. Period, end of story.

Ominous scenario for the global leader in mobile chip supplying, but maybe not so bad for us end users. As long as Sammy can yield enough 7420s, odds are they’ll be more frugal than and at least equally as zippy as S810s. Also, 64-bit-supporting, and octa-core, on big.LITTLE architecture.

Screen size and resolution, RAM and cameras

The Galaxy S3 is 4.8 inches, the S4 bumped that up to a cool 5, the S5 unnoticeably added another 0.1 inch on top, so it makes perfect sense for the S6 and S6 Edge to follow the same trend, and stop just outside of phablet territory, at 5.2 inches.

Galaxy S6 concept

With Quad HD, aka 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, resolution, producing roughly 565 ppi density. And a better screen-to-body ratio, hopefully, as 69.6 percent is no longer good enough with the LG G3 sitting at an impressive 75.3%.

Speaking of not good enough, 3 GB RAM. As outlandish as it sounds, the age of 4 GB memory smartphones is upon us, and Samsung might be forced to match LG, Asus and Meizu there to preserve its cutting-edge reputation.

It’s entirely possible some S6 versions will come with 3 gigs in tow, and others with 4, or we could see the S6 Edge opt for the latter, and the “normal” S6 for the former.

Samsung RAM

Rear camera megapixel count seems a given at 20 across the board, and it only remains to be seen if optical image stabilization will also be offered. We figure yes, and for selfie addicts, a 5 MP front snapper should do, as long as it’s intelligently optimized.

Software, battery capacity, storage and other features

“Project Zero” is reportedly how Samsung’s engineers codenamed the in-progress Galaxy S6, and aside from a new design language, a drastic change should see TouchWiz heavily subdued. We never thought we’d say this, but a near-stock Android-running, non-Google Play Edition Galaxy S is on the way. With Lollipop pre-installed, of course.

Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition

The battery is a huge question mark at the moment, with absolutely no hint on size surfaced online, but what’s almost certain (and extremely vexing) is we’re looking at a sealed, non-user-removable cell.

16 GB is ergo to be scrapped from the internal storage configurations, which will instead start at 32 and possibly cap off at as much as 128 gigs. Unless somehow Samsung allows external expansion sans access to the battery.

Galaxy S6 waterproof

Meanwhile, an attractive S5 feature that’s tipped to be lacking from S6’s bag of goodies is the IP67 certification for water and dust resistance. The fingerprint scanner should stay in place, and gain touch-based authentication, and sound quality might be improved too, albeit the specifics are unclear.

Release date and pricing preview

Since the pre-MWC introduction(s) in the early stages of March is a near guarantee, all that’s left to be revealed is the ETA on store shelves. Or rather ETAs, because we highly doubt the S6 and S6 Edge are to enjoy simultaneous, swift launches.

Galaxy S6 concept-2

For that matter, you shouldn’t hold your breath for a very wide-scale S6 Edge rollout, as the curvy handheld is still deemed a limited, extravagant experiment. Possibly priced at $900 or so outright.

The non-edge S6? It’ll probably see daylight within a month of its announcement, if everything goes according to plan with CPU mass manufacturing, and cost $600 to $700 off-contract, and between $200 and $300 with two-year Verizon, AT&T and Sprint pacts.

Samsung-Galaxy-S6-concept

A steal? A little on the expensive side? Just right to turn S5’s ill fortunes around? It all depends on the as-yet unconfirmed details. 3 or 4 GB RAM? Snapdragon 810 or Exynos 7420? MicroSD or no microSD? All-metal or also glass to balance things out? The answers to those questions could be the difference between hit and flop for Samsung’s Galaxy S6. Stay tuned.

CES 2015 recap: All the new Android smartphones showcased in Vegas

Don’t let your calendars fool you. Even though the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show is technically scheduled to run through January 9, the glamorous unveiling festivities are very much over.

CES

And I know what you Android addicts are thinking. Man, this was a disappointing trade fair. No next-gen Samsung Galaxy S flagship, no LG G4, no HTC “Hima”, and not even a new member of the high-end Sony Xperia Z family, despite all signs and teasers. By the way, that was so not cool on Sony’s part.

But we digress, when the fact of the matter is the show wasn’t all that lacking in high-profile Android announcements. The world’s first 4 GB RAM-packing phone debuted on the Las Vegas stage, the first truly exciting curved handheld too, and smartwatches and fitness trackers were flying all over the place.

CES LG booth

A fair share of smaller industry actors shined in Sin City as well, and we’re here to give them the attention they deserve. This is the ultimate CES 2015 recap, where you’ll find all the sizzling hot, spanking new Android smartphones… that count:

LG G Flex 2

Endowed with a “modest” 3 gigs of random-access memory, the second-gen “banana phone” was hands down the biggest show-stopper at CES 2015. Need reasons? There are countless, and they’re detailed here, but by far, the number one feat pulled off by LG is that unbelievably complex self-healing back cover.

lg-g-flex-2

The flexing battery too, and the design on the whole is just mouth-watering. Too bad you’ll probably have to pay an arm and a leg to get an early ticket to the future of mobile.

Asus ZenFone 2

Let’s be realistic. There’s really no current smartphone use scenario that could require or benefit from a PC-busting 4 GB RAM. But soon enough, we may well need the extra memory for further multitasking improvements and whatnot.

Asus ZenFone 2

It’s why Asus fully deserves all the praise it’s getting, and more. Future-proofing your devices is the first step towards showing you’re serious about real progress and innovation.

Asus ZenFone Zoom

We’ve been warned for months, maybe years 4 GB RAM handhelds were coming, but this? This was a little harder to anticipate. Sure, Samsung slapped an amazeballs camera with optical zoom on phones before (or rather a so-so phone on an exceptional point-and-shoot).

ZenFone Zoom

The difference lies in the execution, which is much smarter and a lot more practical on the ZenFone Zoom. It looks like Asus’ shaky experiments are finally done, and the company is ready to seize and stay in the spotlight.

HTC Desire 826

Sorry, power users, the One “M9” must wait. But while waiting, maybe HTC can interest you in one of the greatest upper mid-range phablets around. Yes, the Desire 826 feels familiar, a little too so, highly resembling the 820.

htcdesire826

But that UltraPixel front camera is a beaut. And don’t get us started on the near-flawless overall quality-price ratio. This is smart, HTC, going after the budget crowds with much better hardware than the competition.

Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro

A selfie “pro” and aesthetical standout, the Vibe X2 Pro, much like the Desire 826, stuns with exceptional hardware at a reasonable price point. What Lenovo’s low-cost soldier has going for it is a sturdier construction, with aluminum everywhere, and impressive screen-to-body ratio.

Lenovo-Vibe-X2-Pro

The octa-core 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor, though soon to become standard in the price range, is another one of X2 Pro’s key fortes. On the not so bright side, US availability seems out of the question, so the world conquering bid of the 5.3 incher is quashed right off the bat.

Lenovo P90

Shall we even say it? Fine, if you really want to twist the knife, here it goes – the P90 isn’t headed stateside either. And no, this bad boy ain’t as stylish as the X2 Pro. It’s perhaps just as zippy though, with quad-core Intel Atom power inside, and it’s a battery champ, thanks to a gigantic 4,000 mAh cell.

Lenovo P90

It truly boggles the mind why Lenovo’s so reluctant to take a leap of faith with high-tech-seeking American audiences. You’ve even got Motorola in your corner, guys, why so shy?

ZTE Grand X Max+

A marginal upgrade over the not-so-old first-gen X Max, the Plus subtly improves everything that didn’t quite work on the OG, yet somehow keeps the price bar low, at $200 off-contract on Cricket Wireless. The Cricket exclusivity that’s shaping up is a major inconvenience for most US mobile consumers, but making the sacrifice and settling for the minuscule prepaid carrier may well be worth it.

zte-grand-x-max-plus

For crying out loud, ZTE’s selling here what its more established rivals are charging nearly double for – 6 inches of beautiful 720p glass, a quad-core Snapdragon 400 chipset, 2 generous gigs of RAM, a 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front snapper, 3,200 mAh battery, and Dolby Mobile sound enhancements.

Archos 50 Diamond

Speaking of what two Benjamins can buy these days, meet the 5-inch, 1,080p, octa-core Snapdragon 615-powered, 2 GB RAM-touting, 16 and 8 MP camera-sporting 50 Diamond. No typos, no jokes, no strings attached.

archos-50-diamond

That’s what French budget guru Archos is planning to offer at a “sub-$200” price point (read $199.99). And no, the pre-installed Android 4.4 KitKat isn’t ideal, but with such an amazing 64-bit-supporting chip under the hood, 5.0 Lollipop is certainly nigh.

Alcatel One Touch Pop 2 family

It’s hard to imagine these humble Alcatels will ever set foot on US soil, and even if they were to roll out globally, there’s no way they could be priced competitively, given what the $200 Archos 50 Diamond and ZTE Grand X Max+ bring to the table.

alcatel-pop-2

Of course, nothing’s impossible in the beautiful Android universe, and the race to the bottom could always heat up with, say, a $100 or so 5-inch 720p gizmo running 5.0 out the box, and packing Snapdragon 410 heat.

The Pop 2 5 Premium would qualify for that slim possibility, with the lower-end Pop 2 4.5 and Pop 2 4 then dangerously close to be given away for free. Yeah, no, we don’t see that happening, so maybe try again, Alcatel.

Alcatel Pixi 3

And try they did. The Pixi 3 trio is just as mysterious in the retail cost department, and keeps the secrecy going as far as tech specs go too. Their key selling point is a one-of-a-kind disbelief in OS fidelity, with the choice between Android, Windows Phone and Firefox OS left entirely to Pixi 3 buyers.

alcatel-pixi3

How will that work exactly? And is it really a selling point, or a weird way to secure 15 minutes of fame before going the DOA route? Only time can tell, but at the moment, let’s say we’re intrigued. Curious, at the very least.

Kodak IM5

Once upon a time, there was this photo and printing titan that managed to completely monopolize the industry. But the digital revolution came, and Kodak barely survived it. Now, whoever’s left spooning water out of the sinking ship is trying to milk the erstwhile celebrated name, and bring it to the 21st century with a timid stab at the lucrative smartphone action.

Kodak IM5

Now, the IM5 isn’t necessarily a crappy device, it’s simply lackluster and bland, with a price tag of $250 and overall ho-hum features: 5-inch HD screen, octa-core MediaTek processor, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB internal storage, 4.4 KitKat pre-loaded, 13 MP and 5 MP cameras. Call a time of death already, Kodak, and move on.

BLU Vivo Air, Studio Energy, Studio X and X Plus, Studio G and Life One series

When you can’t shine with quality, at least make a splash with quantity. That seems to be the motto of BLU Products, a fledgling Miami-based mobile phone manufacturer that’s starting to make a name for itself in the budget unlocked mobile arena.

blu-life-one

On their way to Amazon in the coming months, all these new BLU handhelds are fairly respectable, but once again, there’s something missing. A sense of pizazz. The slightest hint of originality. But hey, the 5-inch, quad-core Studio G is set to cost $89 unlocked, and you probably don’t need a lot of razzle-dazzle to seal that particular deal.

And so our coverage of Android smartphones introduced at CES concludes, but stay tuned for a recap of all the tablets and wearables brought to light these past few days. We’ll be back!

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G3 – Specs comparison

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally come. Samsung has thrown its hat in the high-end phablet ring once again, and LG is in trouble. Not that Sammy wasn’t well-represented already in the jumbo-sized smartphone supremacy battle.

Galaxy Note 4 vs LG G3

Unsurprisingly, its Galaxy Note 3 aged more than gracefully, likely keeping the G3 threat at bay thanks to a well-oiled advertising machine that chugs along unperturbed by a reported dip in overall Galaxy sales.

But it’s perhaps the same dip that convinced the makers of the mostly underwhelming GS5 they needed to bring their aesthetical A game to the “Unpacking” of the Galaxy Note 4 in addition to the traditional software and hardware improvements.

Which they certainly did, albeit haters are still gonna hate, fueled by Samsung’s questionable mix of premium aluminum and chintzy plastic on Note 4’s construction and the limited use of the curved side display on the Note Edge.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Regardless, this semi-aluminum beaut has more than enough pizazz to give the LG G3 a run for its money, and hopefully, make Apple’s hotly anticipated “iPhablet” intro feel redundant and utterly useless. For now, let’s explore in great detail all the ways the Galaxy Note 4 is superior to the G3:

Design and build quality duel – a no contest

Bet you were just about ready to lose hope of ever hearing this: Samsung’s flagship is one of the best-looking, awesomest built mobile devices around. HTC’s One M8 may be the only rival capable of holding a candle to it, but the all-metal bad boy doesn’t have the screen real estate, resolution or raw power to otherwise go for Note 4’s jugular.

Galaxy Note 4 LG G3 back

Meanwhile, the G3 isn’t ugly, not in the least, and the microscopic bezels, wasp waist and rear physical buttons partly keep its chances of ultimately prevailing alive. Only no matter how you spin it, metal beats plastic. Even metal frames in a combination with a faux leather (read plastic) back cover.

Galaxy Note 4 vs. LG G3 – display showdown

Gimmick or no gimmick, Quad HD display resolution is about to become the norm for upper tier Androids. And yes, we have reason to believe Sony will itself go down the same route as early as H1 2015.

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-4-vs-LG-G3

Back to our spec wars, it’s tough to pick a winner here, as both heavyweights sport amazing 2,560 x 1,440 pixel counts. Since the G3 is 0.2 inches smaller, its ppi is slightly greater, at 534 (vs. 515). But Samsung uses Super AMOLED technology in lieu of LCD, and besides, a bigger panel is an upside for many.

Verdict: draw

Processing speed, RAM and storage

Blame it on release timing, but the LG G3 can’t possibly keep up with the GNote 4 in power-demanding tasks despite packing the beefiest CPU at the time of its debut. In the meantime, Snapdragon 801’s sequel, the higher clocked S805, became available, and Sammy took full advantage.

64-bit

That said, it’s a smidge disappointing the Qualcomm-based 32-bit Note 4 version, which US carriers among others will be scoring, isn’t ready for the next step in mobile computing. The Exynos flavor, however, is, thanks to a brand spanking new 5433 unit built on 64-bit architecture and rocking eight cores, four at 1.9 GHz and four at 1.3. Let Android L come.

Moving on, the G3 and Note 4 are deadlocked in RAM and storage, each offering 3 gigs of random-access memory, 16 and 32 GB space options and external microSD expansion possibilities. Wait, come to think of it, LG narrowly edges this one out, as it can accommodate up to 128 gigs of external storage, double Note 4’s maximum capacity.

Software and battery life face-off

4.4 KitKat is a necessity, nay, a guarantee on high-enders and even Android mid-rangers nowadays, so naturally, there’s nothing to separate our two title contenders there. Unfortunately for LG, their skin applied on top of the stock Google-powered mobile OS is really a featherweight next to TouchWiz.

Galaxy-Note-4-Battery

And yes, it’s a little less intrusive, but to hell with purism, as Sammy’s add-ons and optimizations so obviously improve the user experience. Fast charging, S Pen-dedicated apps, fitness and health tracking functions, camera effects, presets, detection systems and so on and so forth, they’re all part of the great Galaxy Note adventure.

Ultra Power Saving Mode above all. Speaking of, Note 4’s juicer might not be heavily larger than G3’s, at 3,220 mAh (vs. 3,000), but we fully expect it to deliver better autonomy. It’s yet another department where Samsung excels these days.

Cameras, sensors and accessories

Although still incapable of competing in the same league as Nokia’s PureView snappers, or Sony’s G Lens imaging monsters, Note 4’s rear-facing camera is a major upgrade over Note 3 or S5’s counterparts. And not just in the number of megapixels.

Don’t get me wrong, 16 MP is a lot, but what makes this cam exquisite is the optical image stabilization system (finally!), the ISO control, HDR mode and all the other modes, scenes and effects. Also, 4K video recording.

samsung-galaxy-note-4-vs-lg-g3-cameras

G3’s main shooter is itself adorned with OIS, however at 13 megapixels, it’s really no rival for Note 4’s 16 MP bad boy. Ditto as far as selfie-friendly front cams are concerned, with Samsung trumping LG 3.7 to 2.1 MP.

And the best is yet to come. From the GNote 4, that is, which stands out from the crowd, G3 included, not only with S Pen support, but also Gear VR compatibility, a built-in heart rate monitor and fingerprint recognition sensor.

Samsung Gear VR

No fancy monitors or scanners on the LG G3, and no virtual reality transforming capabilities, which once and for all seal the fate of this not-so-evenly-matched duel. The Note 4 is the best, so scr…, um, forget the rest.

Availability and pricing

This may seem weird after the 1,000 words spilled to make the G3 look like a pushover opposite today’s (and tomorrow’s) phablet champion, but I’d still recommend LG’s spearhead to a number of mobile tech consumers.

Namely, those who can’t afford or don’t want to cough up $300 with two-year contracts, or $800 outright for the Note 4. Also, those unwilling to wait a few weeks, maybe a month or two. More importantly, those who aren’t fixated on always owning the very best of the best gizmos.

LG G3

Fit the description? Then know the G3 starts at $79.99 on Amazon with Verizon pacts, $99.99 on Sprint or AT&T, and goes for as little as $525, yes, $525 in a factory unlocked variant. Happy shopping to you, and happy… waiting to future owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Either way, you’re blessed.

Benchmark exposes first 64-bit Samsung smartphone: entry-level SM-G510F

More than “true” octa-core power, 3D effects, fingerprint recognition and even Quad HD screen resolution, 64-bit processors are the next must-have feature of high-end smartphones. Make that low-end too, as it appears one of Samsung’s first devices to support the evolved architecture, maybe the absolute first, will be a fairly lackluster SM-G510F.

64 bit

The model number is a genuine enigma and makes the handheld’s identity a very tough nut to crack, however the specifications are nearly set in stone, thanks to the all-knowing GFX Bench database. Assuming the benchmark results and data are legit (which they are), the SM-G510F shall sport a large but low-res 4.8-inch 960 x 540 pix res display and 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm chip.

The CPU’s identification isn’t immediately apparent, but since it’s doubled by an Adreno 306 GPU, it can only be a Snapdragon 410. Remember the 410? Qualcomm introduced it back in December 2013 as its very first 64-bit solution, promising sampling will be available in the first half of 2014.

That put gadgets powered by the S410 on track for an H2 launch, and if this SM-G510F test is any indication, we won’t need to wait until the holiday season. July, maybe August is when the 4.8 incher is most likely to see daylight, possibly for a price as low as $150.

At least that’s what Qualcomm said it was eyeing with Snapdragon 400’s evolved but frugal brother, a 28 nm SoC with an ARM v8 instruction set, top clock speeds of 1.4 GHz, built-in 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth and GPS support.

SM-G510F

Oh, and fret not about GFX Bench listing SM-G510F’s processor as an ARM v7-based unit. That’s likely a typo. Meanwhile, we sure hope the camera sensors aren’t typos, as 8 and 5 megapixels would be pretty outstanding features for the expected price range.

The on-board 1 gig of RAM ain’t bad either, and Android 4.4.2 is for all intents and purposes identical with 4.4.3, the newest, hottest, tastiest KitKat build. Also confirmed by Zauba to carry a 4.8-inch screen and sensible price point (INR 9,000, or $150), the SM-G510F entered India for R&D a couple of weeks back and testing and evaluation earlier this week, signaling fairly advanced development work and an imminent commercial release in emerging markets. Stateside as well? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

For the record, the closest we’ve been able to dig to the SM-G510F alias has been through Galaxy Trends and Cores (model numbered SM-G3xxx) and Galaxy Grand 2, aka SM-G710. So again, no idea how Samsung plans to brand the 64-bit beast low-ender. Any guesses?

Via [GFX Bench], [Zauba]

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 wishlist and things to expect

The first-gen was an experiment, the second-gen an instant classic, the third-gen a refinement of an instant classic and all-around force of nature, so obviously Samsung has a lot riding on the success of the forthcoming Galaxy Note 4.

Galaxy Note 3 S Pen

Will the pressure get the better of the latest entry in a franchise that practically invented the word “phablet”? Could Galaxy S5 Prime development, if real, hinder Samsung from focusing on the Note 4? Are we in for a full-on upgrade or minor rehash?

I wish I had answers, but unfortunately it’s too early. Way too early, as the Note 3 is barely seven months old. Sure, a precocious Note 4 launch is always a possibility, yet again, if the S5 Prime exists, this high-end portfolio expansion has to take a toll on manufacturing cycles.

samsung-galaxy-note-4-concept

Bottom line, the best case scenario calls for a September introduction in keeping with tradition. But forget timetables. We’re far more interested in what Samsung has in mind as design, hardware and software updates and tweaks and here are a few scenarios based on existent speculation, history and, well, hunches:

Galaxy Note 4 wishlist – the cautious scenario

Even the most pessimistic Android geeks have to be envisioning next fall’s S Pen-toting big kahuna as packing 4 GB of RAM since the technology is all ready and, while not quite desperately needed, certainly welcomed.

Design-wise, if Sammy decides to play it safe… one more time, the Galaxy Note 4 shall rock a plastic exterior, maybe with a perforated back pattern a la the GS5 or a faux leather rear unchanged from last year. Where might innovation enter the picture? Remember, this is the cautious, safe outline, so it doesn’t call for innovation across the board.

samsung-ram

And yeah, it sounds like potentially half-assed work and a great disappointment in the making, but the S5 is hardly innovative from an aesthetical standpoint and I don’t hear buyers complaining that much.

Moving on, the least we can expect from the GNote 4 in processing speed is to ditch its predecessor’s Snapdragon 800 chip for an ever so slightly punchier 805 clocked at 2.7 GHz. Likewise, the rear camera will definitely get a megapixel bump, at worse to 16 MP.

Galaxy Note 4 concept

What else? Oh, yeah, the footprint could stay the same or grow by around 0.2 inches, water and dust resistance is clearly a must, an on-board 128 GB storage option may be added in the mix, microSD support isn’t going anywhere, and battery capacity will increase to 3,500 mAh. Worst case scenario.

Galaxy Note 4 wishlist – the optimistic version

The great strides made between Note and Note 2 releases and subsequently Note 2 and Note 3 allow Samsung to put the brakes on Note 4 development a little. But only a little. As such, a combination of our realistic and optimistic sides predicts the Koreans will look to take one or two gambles come September.

Galaxy Note 4 concept-2

The safest bet is of course a shift in build materials we’ve been anticipating ever since… 2012, with aluminum replacing plastic at long last. Then again, one of the very few rumors already floating around vis-à-vis the Note 4, and a credible one at that, says the jumbo-sized smartphone may sport a so-called “three-sided” display.

Aside from the obvious advantage, of extra screen real estate and the ability to illustrate short messages on the handheld’s sides, that entails the first-time using of flexible Youm panels on a wide scale. Naturally, we don’t expect a fully bendable device right off the bat, however the plastic’s malleability should help it handle drops with extra elegance and strength.

Also sitting somewhere between realism and optimism, we have a 20 MP camera with optical image stabilization. And a purer copy of Android, probably 5.0 or 4.5, with less Touchwiz-specific “bloatware”. Speaking about software, air gestures need to be improved, S Health as well and the user interface… nah, it’s okay the way it is.

Galaxy Note 4 wishlist – the mind-boggling fanciful scenario

Okay, it’s time to let our imaginations run wild. Were Samsung to go crazy in the forthcoming months, throw all caution aside and decide to design the ultimate ultra-high-end Android, how would that look?

Fully flexible, bendable, curved panel, along with a stretchy battery and internals to result in an ensemble you can literally roll up your sleeve? We’re probably years away from seeing anything resembling such a futuristic gizmo, but we can always dream.

galaxy-note-3

Ultra HD display resolution, aka 3,840 x 2,160 pixels? That’s skipping a logical step, namely Quad HD, or 2,560 x 1,440, but again, there’s no one stopping us from daydreaming. 64-bit processor? It’s not as bonkers, unless we’re talking one of Qualcomm’s explosive Snapdragon 808 or 810 CPUs, expected out in “H1 2015”.

By the by, should Samsung decide to make the move from 32 to 64-bit, what’s its best option? That’s a toughie. The Snapdragon 610 and 615 will roll out for sampling in Q3, but they’re not exactly high-enders. Which only leaves the Koreans a homebrewed Exynos concoction, or an Intel-made SoC. Snapdragon 805 it is then.

Back to our fantasies, maybe the Galaxy Note 4 will incorporate both a fingerprint sensor and another biometric security feature – eye scanning technology. And maybe, just maybe solve the nasty Android top dog battery life conundrum somehow.

samsung-eye-scanner

Want to hear something crazier? How about a 41 MP camera with OIS to rival Nokia’s PureView shooters? Octa-core 64-bit power? 6 inches of bezel-less glass? 6.5? Alright, I’ll take a breather now, but if you can think of anything else, feel free to sound off below.

Google Nexus 6 wishlist and things to expect

The Android landscape has been taken over by the spring fever, as Samsung’s Galaxy S5, HTC’s One (M8) and Sony’s Xperia Z2 lock horns with each other disputing the high-end mobile crown. But a feeling of slight unease and anticipation for something yet to come makes many a power user reluctant to settle.

Nexus 5 back

Settle, yeah, I said it, and stand by it. All those three flagships, while clearly the best of the best nowadays, feel like transitional devices. Something to help pass the time until the real spearheads of 2014 roll out.

You know, the Galaxy S5 Prime, LG G3, Galaxy Note 4 and, last but not least, Google Nexus 6. Thus, as eager as we looked forward to spring, autumn becomes the season to anticipate, save money for and depend on for a new phase of the mobile revolution. Heck, maybe a new revolution entirely.

nexus6concept

And sure, Nexus gadgets continue to be deemed by some ideal for hardcore geeks, not so much for the masses. But my gut tells me N5’s sequel will once and for all alter that distorted view. How? If you’re listening, Google, here’s what I think would seal the deal for non-geeks while keeping the existent fan base intact:

Keep your eyes on the prize price

In other words, don’t overdo it. A number of upgrades are to be employed, of course, but no one expects the Nexus 6 to edge out, say, the GNote 4 in raw speed. It’d be nice, sure, however if you need to sacrifice affordability in order to do it… don’t.

Nexus 5

The market is over flooded with “top-tier” smartphones that look the same, pack identical sets of specifications and cost an arm and a leg, so no reason to follow the crowd. Be smart, Big G, be original, keep it simple, keep it cheap. $400 outright, tops.

Don’t let Apple slip through your fingers

Just when we thought the iPhones were down, Cupertino baffled us all by launching the world’s first 64-bit-powered handheld. Let’s not beat it around the bush, Google, you didn’t see that coming. But now you know better than to underestimate Apple ever again.

Nexus 6 concept

Bottom line, be ready for anything and everything, including an iPhablet release in the summer, and do your thing while keeping a close eye on Tim Cook and the gang. Learn from their mistakes, polish their strong suits, and the sky is your limit.

Namely, get a 64-bit-supporting Android 5.0 copy done by August, fit a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip inside Nexus 6’s hood, along with at least 3 GB RAM. I realize all that would come at a cost, but you can cut corners elsewhere.

Aluminum unibody? Fingerprint sensor? Iris recognition? Quad HD display? No, thanks

Look, Google, the Nexus 6 doesn’t need to be fancy. Forget revolutionary or groundbreaking. Or, rather, forget revolutionary in the conventional sense. You can start a revolution opposing trends as much as following or initiating them.

Personally, I’d love, love, love it if HTC was invited back in the Nexus game and the N6 would resemble the One (M8) aesthetically, with a beautiful all-metal chassis. But is it the wise thing to do? Don’t think so.

HTC Nexus 6

Designing and producing metal gizmos is time-consuming and money-grabbing and, if the N6 is to take over the mainstream mobile world, Google needs to manufacture millions of units fast and cheap. Period. Besides, was there anything inherently wrong with N5’s design or build quality? In short, no.

Meanwhile, upping the display resolution ante to Quad HD, or adding bells and whistles such as fingerprint or iris recognition in the mix would make even less sense as long as Mountain View targets a sub-$400 price point.

nexus6-concept

Also, a quick wake up call. Quad HD ain’t a real, palpable, beneficial upgrade. It’s a worthless gimmick. That goes double for the ultra-hyped finger and iris sensors.

Energy is the future

Show of hands, who’s sick and tired of having to plug their phones in every frigging evening to get them through the next day? Better yet, who carries around their chargers everywhere they go fearing these little wickedly fast computers could yield under the pressures of quad-core chips, Full HD displays, etc., etc. any minute?

Nexus X

Everybody? Then why don’t Google, LG, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Apple, someone get it through their thick skulls already people want autonomy, not spec wars? Endurance, not Quad HD resolution. And don’t tell us you can’t pull it off. You can, you just don’t want to.

But maybe the Nexus 6… Now that would be an ideal way to usher in a new revolution. The age of the super-battery phones. We’ll work on the name.

The devil is in the detail

Last year’s Nexus 5 was an outstanding slab of silicon, with an incredible bang for buck factor, stunning design and solid hardware. Was it perfect? They never are. But besides the weak battery, LG and Google didn’t mess up any major features.

nexus-6-concept

Instead, they got a few minor details wrong. For one thing, where’s Verizon’s N5? You do know Big Red is the nation’s largest wireless provider, eh, Google? 105 million potential customers you lost with that stunt. Don’t let it happen again.

Also, I get this is somewhat against your policies and whatnot, but you’d show a lot of flexibility, boldness and initiative if you’d just pack a microSD card slot on the Nexus 6. Alternatively, maybe offer versions with 64 and 128 GB on-board storage, though that’s clearly not the same thing.

Nexus 5 camera

Finally, camera. This is one of the departments you can probably afford to cut a few corners, but not too many. Don’t even think of ditching optical image stabilization, be sure to bump up the sensor to 13 megapixels and, oh, bring 4K video recording to the table.

Got all that, Google? Good, now get cracking and make the Nexus 6 legendary. Purists and light Android users will flock to the Play Store come October. Or September. On second third thought, make it August. Who’s with me?

Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime: is it still on, when is it coming, and do we still want it?

No reason to beat it around the bush any longer, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is not what everyone expected it to be. It’s not the monumental flop haters are relentlessly trying to make it look like, but it’s clearly a lemon, barely edging out the six-month-old LG G2 in a head-to-head comparison and bowing down to Sony’s Xperia Z2 in their spec duel.

galaxy-s5-metal

Yet maybe, just maybe, Sammy deliberately surrendered its upper hand against still low-profile rivals LG and Sony to ultimately catch the bigger fish. Yes, tipsters and self-proclaimed “insiders” dropped the ball when predicting two GS5 variants, a Standard and Prime, would see daylight at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress.

But could they all have been so wrong as to essentially fabricate a non-existent device? Are we dealing with the mobile industry’s biggest hoax in history? I don’t buy that. Not for a second. Here’s why I think the Galaxy S5 Prime (aka Galaxy F) is very much real and on its way, and here’s why you should continue to care:

The rumor factor

Okay, so many tech-related rumors flying around the interwebs this time and age are, pardon my French, hogwash. Basically, either someone assumes something, extrapolates and people pursue the speculations as “word from the inside” without checking their sources, or attention whores decide to go after their 15 minutes of fame with total disregard to facts or the truth.

samsung-galaxy-s5-back

Take this cesspool of 21st century journalism blogging too seriously, and you risk ending up in a mental institution. Take a step back, and carefully choose what kind of “sources” to trust, and you’re onto something.

For instance, I tend to put my faith in Russian journo Eldar Murtazin, Korean online publication ET News and Sam Mobile. All three have suggested an ultra-high-end S5 version is indeed in the works, and I highly doubt they were all treated to false intel.

Galaxy S5 announcement

Furthermore, not only did Murtazin and ET News hint at a Galaxy S5 Prime prior to the MWC intro of the standard S5, they also renewed their “beliefs” after the latest Unpacked event wrapped up. Surely they’d be reluctant to go any further if they had the tiniest shred of doubt as to the veracity of their claims, right?

The Apple factor

Look, I like Sony, LG and HTC as much as the next tech-savvy guy, and I appreciate especially the recent strides made by the first two. But right now, Samsung has bigger fish to fry. Namely, Apple. Cupertino is allegedly planning a major overhaul of the iPhone line, with an emphasis on size for a change. Also, diversity.

Sounds crazy, I know, yet there’s a solid chance we may see two, three or even four new iPhones rolled out in 2014. Starting, you guessed it, as early as June. Which brings us to Samsung. Timing is everything in the mobile landscape nowadays, and putting all 2014 Galaxy S cards on the table in February would have simply been too risky.

GalaxyS5-vs-iPhone5S

Instead, doesn’t it make a lot more sense to unveil a slightly disappointing but still solid high-ender to fend off the minor Sony, LG and HTC threat at first, and then come out guns blazing in May with a full-metal, cutting-edge S5 Prime/iPhone 6 “killer”?

The manufacturing factor

Regardless of how appropriate a Galaxy F launch close to iPhone 6’s intro sounds like, we all secretly hope Samsung’s first ever aluminum-clad top dog will land early. As in… next month, maybe? But here’s another reason why that’s not possible. Building enough metal frames to satisfy the regular demand for Galaxy S handhelds takes time. A lot of it.

Galaxy S5 promo

Hence, the Korean OEM wants to stall for as long as possible before actually shipping these first S5 Prime units. Not only to make sure there won’t be huge delays once they get the ball rolling, but also to provide a window for the existent S5 to sell. After all, they don’t want that to be a massive box-office flop either, plus if, say, 10 million people purchase it, that’s 10 million less potential orders for the Galaxy F.

The wow factor

Question: should you still be interested in Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Prime if it hits store shelves in May, June or, God forbid, July? Short answer: yes. Long answer: hells yeah. Provided, of course, the big guy will be as spectacular as reports suggest.

samsung-galaxy-s5-promo

Just picture it. A sexy, robust and durable metal chassis, Quad HD display (overkill, I know, but 2,560 x 1,440 pixels!!!), 3 or maybe 4 GB RAM, probably a larger footprint (5.5 inches is my guess), definitely an optical image stabilization-packed rear camera, water and dust protection, fingerprint recognition, built-in hear rate monitor, and beefy 3,500 mAh or so battery.

Meanwhile, a truly upgraded quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor should make the entire ensemble blazing fast in everything from gaming to browsing to 4K video capturing to 2K video playing. Or, who knows, a 64-bit “true” octa-core Exynos chip. It’s high time Exynos processors lived to their potential, eh?

Galaxy S5 in hand

All said, does the Galaxy S5 Prime sound as dreamy to you as it does to me? On that note, could it be that we want it so badly it’s clouding our judgment and we’ve started seeing things? One last question: would you buy it if Samsung priced it at $1,000? We’re all ears.

CES 2014 Preview and Rumor Roundup (Revisited and Updated)

In a way, the scheduling of the year’s first major electronics and technology event just as everyone is struggling to sober up recuperate after Christmas and New Year celebrations is legitimately unfortunate. More so as it’s become a tradition for many key CES players to jump the gun and lay all their cards on the table before the actual trade show begins.

CES 2014

So while technically the 2014 Las Vegas spectacle gets underway on January 7, most of the glamorous product announcements are to go down on the 6th. Some as soon as January 4 and 5. Bottom line, you have roughly 72 hours to go from relaxed, eventless, maybe internet-free mode to take-in-as-many-new-cutting-edge-fresh-gadgets-as-you-can system.

Sounds like quite the challenge, however if you’re not in the business of informing the world on tech developments and news (like yours truly) and just enjoy keeping an eye on things for the kick of it, it can be a treat. Think of it as a continuation of the holiday season. Minus the paid vacation days.

CES

All said, let’s see exactly what Android gifts we should expect under the CES tree:

The certainties

A lot has changed between three weeks back, when we compiled our first CES preview and rumor roundup, and today, but we remain unusually light on facts and sure bets. Which is odd, yet somewhat refreshing. Don’t you just hate it when everything about these shows gets uncovered weeks ahead of time?

I know I do, so I’m pissed as hell the Sony Xperia Z1s is such an open book. And it’s been that way for so long. But maybe Sony has both a Z1s and Z1 mini in the pipeline, and the former will actually be special somehow. Granted, if it’s to be called that way, it’ll probably be an unexciting Z1 rehash of sorts.

Sony Xperia Z1

Then there’s the Xperia E2 (yawn), yet another Asus PadFone model (likely to be dubbed PadFone X), and quite possibly, a pair of stripped-down Samsung Galaxy gizmos, namely the Note 3 Lite phablet and Tab 3 Lite.

On the slightly more exciting side of things, LG is to surely showcase and detail further availability details for the G Flex in Las Vegas, whereas Huawei is bound to intro a spanking new ginormous Ascend Mate with octa-core power.

LG G Flex

Alcatel, Acer and Lenovo have themselves confirmed they’ll be present in Sin City to take the wraps off fresh Android-based devices, albeit I probably shouldn’t have listed the trio here since their actual upcoming products are big, fat enigmas. All I can predict they’ll enrich the Idol phone family in Alcatel’s case and focus on affordability for Acer and Lenovo.

The maybes

Welcome to “everything’s possible” land. Where dozens and dozens of gadgets are to end up battling it out for the spotlight. Like LG’s G2 mini, Samsung’s Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and 10.1. All three sound more MWC candidates than CES material, but remember, we’re in “maybe” territory, so don’t you rule anything out.

Here’s a (not so) wild theory. What if CES 2014 will be more about top-shelf mobile chips than high-end mobile devices? After all, Samsung is unlikely to bring the Galaxy S5 to light, yet fairly reliable sources suggest the Exynos 6 and Exynos S 64-bit processors are to go official.

samsung-exynos-ces

LG’s extraordinary-looking octa-core Odin can’t keep a low profile much longer either. As for Qualcomm, they’ve unveiled a Snapdragon 800 follow-up, christened S805, already, however they need to get with the program and join the 64-bit game soon, so why not hope for a Snapdragon 900 or 1000 next week?

Or how about Nvidia’s return to grace, courtesy of a Tegra 5 CPU (aka Logan)? Wouldn’t that be something? Mind you, if Nvidia does indeed plan to debut a new SoC, it’ll probably also show off a Shield or Tegra Note sequel.

Tegra-Roadmap

Oh, I almost forgot wearables. Like it or not, they’re the future, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a Samsung Galaxy Gear 2, Sony Smartwatch 3 and/or LG “G Arch” making the Vegas rounds. Asus, whose name came up timidly in the certainties department, deserves a much more substantial mention here, as there’s no doubt the Taiwanese will unleash a flurry of new, quirky products before long.

A smartwatch of their own? Maybe. One or two Chromebooks? Definitely. Some sort of Android/Windows dual-booting tablet? You bet. Also, fresh Transformer Pads, the long-rumored MeMoFone and an international flavor of the PadFone mini.

The what ifs

I have a dream. That rumors of Samsung heavily shortening Galaxy S5’s production cycle will prove authentic. And in response, that LG, Sony and HTC will be forced to do the same and throw their next-gen flagships, the G3, Xperia Z2 and M8 (aka One Two), in the heavyweight ring.

Am I crazy? Like I said, you shouldn’t rule anything out. True, even if we take the S5 precocious launch gossip for granted, it’s hard to believe Samsung will not want to organize the “next big thing” its own presentation event. The same goes for the G3, Z2 and M8, though LG, HTC and Sony (especially Sony) have been much kinder to expos like CES and MWC in the past.

Galaxy S5 concept

While we’re in sweet dreams turf, let’s also tackle the Galaxy Round 2 and G Flex 2. They’re real, incoming, spectacular and more flexible than their predecessors, make no mistake, but it’s probably too early for them to break cover. The Galaxy Band, hybrid “Hit”, sapphire-made HTC and LG spearheads? Likewise.

Now, I’d like you all to allow yourselves to dream and sound off your craziest, most unrealistic, sweetest CES expectations below. Anything goes.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Now Rumored To Use 64-Bit Exynos 6 CPU and Whopping 4 GB RAM

I’m pretty sure there are more than a few Android aficionados out there that feel like Samsung has been all talk and no action of late, with rumors building up a great amount of hype surrounding the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 and the end products looking… well, slightly underwhelming.

samsung-galaxy-s5-concept

But not this time. And by this time, I mean next year’s Galaxy S5. Cornered by Apple, as well as Sony, LG or HTC, Samsung can’t afford to roll out another half-assed upgrade of one of its flagship devices, so, albeit it’s much too early to call it, chances are the Koreans will go all in on both hardware and software for the S5.

A fairly reputable news outlet over in Asia, namely Korea’s Digital Times, has earlier today published a report, which once again rounds up speculation via a number of different sources. And up to a point, these say mostly the same things we’ve heard regurgitated by so many other “tipsters”.

Specifically, that the S5 will pack a 64-bit Exynos processor and therefore take on Apple’s iPhone 5s in the raw speed department. But here’s the kicker. The latest word around the block is Sammy’s first 64-bit CPU won’t be a member of the Exynos 5 family, but instead break new ground in the form of an Exynos 6 line.

How believable is that? Well, there’s no solid proof supporting it, if that’s what you mean. Yet it makes perfect sense. The move from 32 to 64-bit is said to be major, so what better way to differentiate the sizzling hot new SoCs from “raggedy old” ones than through branding?

Exynos-6

And besides, the Exynos 5 series has had its run, with three versions out and about already (the dual-core 5250, octa-core 5410 and 5420), so it’s probably time to move on.

Of course, the first ever Exynos 6 processor is bound to pack eight cores as well, only it should also be able to use them all at once courtesy of so-called Heterogenous Multi-Processing Capability.

But wait, there’s more. Also according to Digital Times, Samsung will pair the fresh CPU with, get this, 4 GB of RAM, making the Galaxy S5 a kind of beast I didn’t see coming until, like, 2020 or something. How do you like them apples, Apple, with your pitiful dual-core SoC and aging 1 gig of RAM?

Before wrapping up, let’s mention the Korean publication has nothing else on the GS5 at this moment, playing it so safe as to pinpoint its release to “the first half of 2014”.

Via [Digital Times Korea], [RB Men]