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Sony Xperia Z4 vs Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 – Specs comparison

Typically, this would be a two-part face-off. First, we’d take Sony’s newest hero device, size it up against its predecessor and explore all the changes and upgrades brought to the table. Then, we’d throw it in the cage with the Samsung Galaxy S6, fresh off a crushing win over HTC’s One M9, trying to conclude if the Xperia Z4 has enough moxie to play in the big leagues.

Sony Xperia Z4

The thing is the verdicts are so predictable, we see ourselves compelled to combine the two ordinarily separate comparisons into a joint one. Yes, Sony screwed up so badly there isn’t even an argument. The Z4 is literally the same exact phone as the Z3, and matching it up to the GS6 is a waste of time and web content space.

There, we said it and stand by it. Only in the spirit of fair chances and equality for all, we’ll waste your time and overanalyze the underwhelming Xperia Z4. Just because we genuinely like Sony and believe they can turn things around… someday.

Sony Xperia Z4 vs Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 – design and build quality

Xperia Z3

This writer loves his hyperboles as much as the next guy, but “literally the same exact phone” literally means that as far as the Z3 and Z4 are concerned. No exaggeration. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you get an infinitesimal profile trim, 8-gram bulk reduction and a few other BS microscopic tweaks no one will care about or notice.

At the end of the day, familiar glass mixes with metal for a premium yet worn out construction, and the “OmniBalance” design has become plain old boring.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Speaking of premium, although both the Z3 and Z4 are quite handsome and breathe quality through every pore, the Galaxy S6 is simply more attractive. Like, say, Chris Hemsworth next to Chris Pratt. Wait, I meant sexier like Kate Upton compared to Kate Moss. Machismo regained!

Pricing and availability

It may feel like we skipped a few chapters there, but really, this is the only chance Sony’s got to stay in the fight. The aging Xperia Z3 can be found on Amazon starting at $478 in an unlocked, international flavor coated in black. A copper gold model costs just 4 bucks extra, $510 buys you the Z3 in white, and a fancy silver green variant is a fairly steep $540.

Sony Xperia Z3v

Last but not least, you can get the erstwhile flagship in a repackaged version made exclusively for Verizon. The Z3v nowadays commands an on-contract price of $0.99.

It goes without saying the Z4 is unavailable anywhere in the world at the moment, and unfortunately, we don’t have the skinny on its MSRP either. Hopefully, it’ll hover around $550, $600 tops, since the vastly superior Galaxy S6 costs $765 SIM-free and $200 with Sprint, Verizon or AT&T pacts.

Display and cameras

They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but what if it’s simply… old and tedious? You don’t try to “fix” it anyway, at least that’s Sony’s motto. The Japanese OEM probably thinks it achieved perfection at 5.2 inches, Full HD screen resolution and 20.7 megapixels, or else they wouldn’t Xerox all that from the Z3 to its “sequel.”

Galaxy S6

Thank God the front-facing camera gets a little lift, to 5 MP, which is enough to tie S6’s selfie-friendly shooter. Samsung’s 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED panel is obviously better, while the 16 MP main photographic unit sounds like a featherweight, but performs stupendously in real life, thanks to optical image stabilization and so on.

Processors, RAM and battery life

Octa-core Snapdragon 810 vs. quad S801 vs. octa-core Exynos 7420. Who wins? The Exynos, no doubt, courtesy of improved frugality, energy efficiency and no overheating concerns. Still, Snapdragon 810 power ain’t half bad and it’s the one big thing the Xperia Z4 has over the Z3… if warmth doesn’t become a problem. Please, oh please, don’t let it become a problem, Sony!

Xperia Z4

Random-access memory? Nothing to analyze there, really, as all three devices should facilitate silky smooth multitasking with 3 GB RAM (each) in tow.

Autonomy? That’s an unanswered question for the time being, as you may have guessed, given the Xperia Z4 is barely a few hours old. On paper, things don’t look great for any of our three contenders. The cells are all non-removable, GS6’s is hands down the tiniest, and believe it or not, Z4’s is smaller than Z3’s.

Galaxy S6 Edge charging

2,550, 2,930 and 3,100 mAh are the precise numbers, for all you statisticians tuning in. With fast charging technologies across the board, plus wireless charging only for the Galaxy S6.

Software, storage and others

Let’s save the Android skin debate for another time. What’s important is Lollipop goodies are offered all around, in packages short of vanilla virtue. Also, none of the three gadgets is ready for 5.1 yet.

Sony Lollipop

What’s this, a duel Sony can actually prevail in? Why, yes, because the Z3 and Z4 both allow for microSD expansion beyond the 32 GB native storage mark. Samsung doesn’t, instead going all the way up to 128 GB internal space.

Don’t forget about Z3 and Z4’s IP68 shield against dust contact and water immersions, which the S6 abandoned when transforming S5’s all-plastic exterior. Still, we feel Sony slacked off between last September and today. Big time!

Xperia Z3 water

They have nothing new to show off in the “others” section, no fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor or homebrewed mobile payment service. “Aqua green” is a coat of paint we didn’t see the Z3 in, but that, alongside the beefier CPU and GPU and slightly better front cam, hardly justify Z4’s existence.

Back to the drawing board you go, Xperia architects, and perhaps in the fall, you’ll have something special to challenge the Galaxy Note 5 or LG G4 with.

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 LG G3/G Flex 2 – Specs comparison

Before they actually start shipping via online retailers, and before they pop up in physical stores nationwide, Samsung’s newest mobile powerhouses still have one final hurdle to clear. Make that two. LG’s unsung hero pair.

Galaxy S6 vs LG G3

Yes, the aging continuously maturing G3 and grossly overlooked 2015 edition of the original “banana phone”, aka G Flex 2. Now, we know exactly what you’re thinking. Samsung has much bigger fish to fry than perennial Korean number two LG.

Technically, you’re right, and Apple is the one the Android kings are after. But you can never be too careful fending off rising underdogs, and on that note, Sammy’s domestic arch-rival is perhaps its most dangerous global adversary as well.

Galaxy S6 Edge vs G Flex 2

Historical sales numbers speak volumes about LG’s slow but steady mainstream surge, and G3 shipments alone likely circle 10 million units. Compare that to HTC’s paltry, shrinking figures, and these G-series flagships have as much right as the One M9 to challenge the heavyweight champion of the world. And so it begins:

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge vs LG G3 and G Flex 2 – pricing and availability

Nowhere near as expensive as originally forecasted, the S6s are still twice as extravagant as a factory unlocked G3 on Amazon. Yes, a silky white, “international”, SIM-free D855 model, unfortunately with no US-valid warranty, costs only $362. Meanwhile, a “metallic black” version starts at $364, and a glitzy gold at $366.

LG G3

On-contract, you can have the 32 GB/3 GB configuration for no charge with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, in black or white. The Now Network also carries the gold G3, which likewise it gives away for free, and a limited red variant is $360, no pact needed.

Of course, the newer, curvier G Flex 2 is considerably pricier, but it’s a better deal than both the S6 and S6 Edge nonetheless when purchased for Sprint use – $150 with, $600 without carrier agreements. Finally, the unlocked international version is a no-go, at an outlandish $725 caused by import taxes and importer greed.

Design and build quality comparison

So the LGs are more affordable for the most part, but do they have something else going for them? Yes, just not in the aesthetics and construction departments. Don’t get us wrong, we dig the rear physical buttons, uber-slim resulting bezels, compact form factors and, above all, G Flex 2’s subtle yet distinguished loop and that one-of-a-kind self-healing back panel coating.

Galaxy S6 Edge

At the end of the day, the S6 is obviously more elegant and “premium” than the G3, and S6 Edge’s curves make more sense than G Flex 2’s single concavity. Keep in mind that the LGs are “fantastic in plastic”, whereas the Samsungs beautifully combine aluminum with glass for virtually unbreakable exteriors.

Last but not least, the S6 and S6 Edge are around 7 mm thin, and their lesser contenders roughly 2 mm chunkier. Such a comfortable win for the odds-on favorites!

Display and cameras

It’s not over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, until we pit the four screens against one another. Three of these are Quad HD, which is a fancy way of saying they deliver overkill 2,560 x 1,440 pixels resolutions. The fourth, on the G Flex 2, “settles” for 1,920 x 1,080p.

lg-g-flex-2

You have to appreciate the diversity in LG’s camp, although sticking to the cold, often unjust numbers, we’re forced to give a second point to Samsung. Their smaller footprints stem superior pixel density – 577 vs 538 ppi. Then again, some of you may favor sheer size over extreme sharpness, in which case 5.5 exceeds 5.1 inches.

As far as photo competency goes, the on-paper facts allow the GS6 makers to essentially book an early overall victory. No way can LG recover the three-point gap generated by an easy 16/5 MP vs 13/2.1 MP triumph.

Galaxy-S6-Camera

Just for the record though, G3 and G Flex 2’s main 13 megapixel snappers aren’t bad, with optical image stabilization, laser autofocus and dual-LED flash in tow.

Processors, RAM and battery life

Sorry, G3, your on-board Snapdragon 801 is simply too old to hold its own when confronted with snazzy new octa-core 64-bit Exynos 7420 chips. The S810 inside the G Flex 2? Well, it’s octa-core and 64-bit-capable too, but it’s not particularly energy efficient and overheating is still a concern.

Snapdragon 810

In the memory arena, it’s actually the G Flex 2 that bows out first, offering a skimpy 2 GB stateside. The G3 is a perfect match for the S6 and S6 Edge, at 3 gigs of RAM, and the final verdict on autonomy isn’t in yet.

Much like a fine, expensive wine and Nicole Kidman, it’s as if the G3 is getting better with age, lasting a reported 20 hours or so between charges in continuous use. The G Flex 2 should rock similarly impressive endurance, if not better, courtesy of the lower-res screen, whereas the S6 and S6 Edge are unlikely to go a full day without croaking. Their cells are after all 400 mAh or so tinier.

Software, storage and others

With Android 5.0 Lollipop across the board, some would be quick to call the software battle a draw. That’s not inherently wrong, but it’s essential to understand the L firmwares are heavily influenced by proprietary customizations.

lg-g3-lollipop

Alas, it’s recently been confirmed TouchWiz UI is as bloated as ever. LG’s own set of “optimizations” is far from subtle, so whatever your choice, you’re in for heavily skinned Android.

Storage options? For once, LG cleanly puts one in the win column, thanks to microSD expansion on the G3, as well as the G Flex 2. Too bad they don’t go over 32 GB internal space, compared to the 128 gig top S6/S6 Edge configs.

LG G3 microSD

Nor does LG provide fingerprint authentication, heart rate monitoring or any unconventional method of standing out from the pack. No water resistance, no BoomSound speakers, no nothing. They do have Dolby mobile audio enhancements, which is simply too little for number one… or two.

Three and four is probably good enough ultimately, especially as the G4 and G4 Note should break cover soon and launch a stronger charge on gold.

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

LG G4 rumor roundup and preview – the next big thing or next best thing?

Yes, it’s a little early to put LG G3’s hotly anticipated sequel under the microscope, what with the Korean manufacturer recently confirming the G4 isn’t headed for a Mobile World Congress introduction next month.

G4 concept

LG looked outright frantic when it echoed the “delay” compared to rumored timelines, stressing a Q2 itinerary following the direction set by the G3. Yet we’re only a couple of months away from the beginning of the year’s second fiscal quarter, and sometimes, the proof is in the pudding.

The pudding, for metaphorical purposes, being G3 and G2’s endless string of discounts. Rarely a coincidence, or consequence of gratuitous generosity from phone makers and retailers, this usually occurs for stock-clearing reasons ahead of new product launches.

LG-G3

Hence, the G4 is probably nigh. Possibly, nigher than LG lets on. And even if it isn’t, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 definitely are. It’s good to know therefore what to expect, in case, well, you don’t want to expect. For the G4, that is, and consider jumping the gun on the GS6 or M9.

Here it goes then, an early look at the prospective wow factor of the LG G4:

Design and build materials preview

There are two departments LG wants us to believe the G4 will be vastly improved in, although we’re ready to bet upgrades are due across the board. Chiefly, we’re looking at a new “visual approach”, and likely, “experimental” design elements too.

LG G2

Experimental was G2’s middle name, with that quirky physical rear button arrangement inaugurated back in 2013. Perhaps unexpectedly, the unique design caught on, and G3 did little else but refine it.

This time around, we’re anticipating something new, something unusual and groundbreaking in addition to the now established back keys. A curved screen a la the G Flex line, maybe? It’s a definite possibility. How about a fully flexible, bendable, Flubber-like handheld?

LG G Flex 2

That’s pushing it, and dreaming with our eyes open for a shortcut to the future. On the plus side, a build material overhaul is in the cards, with emphasis on actual metal instead of metal-aping plastic at last.

Display rumor roundup

They say once you go Quad HD, you never go back. They don’t?! Well, they should, because it’s true. There’s no way for LG to downgrade the G4 from G3’s staggering 2,560 x 1,440 pixel count to a “middling” 1,920 x 1,080 without looking bad. Battery gains or no battery gains.

LG G3 display

So then, why not go forward? To 2,880 x 1,620 pixels, aka 3K resolution. That would amount to a ppi of roughly 600 (!!!) on a 5.5-inch piece of glass, or 635 on 5.2 inches. So what if your eyes can’t notice the bump and perceive all the pixels? The heart wants what it wants.

Processor and RAM

An endorser of Qualcomm’s struggling Snapdragon 810 chips from day one, unlike we know who, LG was seemingly rewarded an early stab at a polished, fully working batch of the octa-core 64-bit monsters.

Snapdragon 810

They went to the G Flex 2, which performs just fine, and so the G4 is clearly in no danger of setbacks or overheating. Nor does LG ever thought about going an alternative route, like Nvidia or MediaTek.

Doubt is hovering over the memory territory, with several possible scenarios rumored. LG could A. “settle” for 3 GB RAM, B. up the ante to 4, or C. offer buyers the choice. Much like they did with the G3, which launched in 2 and 3 GB variants. Want to open door number three? Yeah, us too.

Cameras, software and battery

Will LG G4’s claim to fame be a hugely enhanced rear-facing snapper, with augmented optical image stabilization, a 20+ megapixel count, Tri-LED flash (!!!), laser autofocus, and maybe optical zoom? Again, LG wants us to think improving the camera experience is one of their main areas of interest, leading to nutty guesswork like that.

LG G3 camera

But really, optical zoom is a long shot, and overall, it’s going to be difficult for LG to stand out in the shutterbug-targeted arena. So once again, we reckon it’s much more likely you’ll be getting smaller but noticeable upgrades everywhere rather than a few major ones here and there.

Put a 5 MP front shooter on your list of predicted “minor” enhancements, as well as cleaner, smoother software (based on Android 5.0 Lollipop, of course), always ready to make the jump to 6.0… Marshmallow? Muffin? Macaroon? Whatever, LG will have your backs swifter than everyone else, as is currently the case with G3’s amazingly fast 5.0 update.

LG G3 Lollipop

As for battery capacity, it depends on a number of things, starting with screen size and chassis slimness. Anything under 3,000 mAh would be disappointing no matter what, and anything over 3,500 (with rapid charging) would make the G4 a must-buy.

G Pen support (?), fingerprint recognition (??), audio, storage and more

Remember that quote about “experimental” features? Stylus input would probably qualify, even if Samsung’s S Pen is already an oldie (and goldie). At the end of the day, a separate “G Pen” version is tipped for release later in the year, so odds are LG’s G4 experiments will bear a different fruit.

LG G3 Stylus

Maybe a fingerprint sensor to get with the crowd. But where would it be placed? Next to the power and volume rocker? No, thanks. How about a retina or iris scanner for phone unlocking and online payments at the blink of an eye?

Sounds game-changing but also somewhat gimmicky. A slew of audio revisions, culminating with a new Dolby mobile system and 2-watt stereo speakers, is certainly not gimmicky, though it isn’t awfully exciting either.

LG G4 concept

Finally, wireless charging, LTE Category 6 speeds, internal storage options capping off at 128 GB and an additional 128 GB space provided via microSD cards seem like near-guarantees. There’s even an outside chance the G4 will be constructed water and dust-proof to “experiment” with increased ruggedness and outdoor-friendliness.

Bottom line, the variables contained in the LG G4 equation are far too many to make a rash decision once the Galaxy S6 and One M9 see daylight. Let’s just wait and see before we splash the cash on the “next big thing”, shall we? You wouldn’t want to get the next best thing now, would you?

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?