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Quad HD smartphones

LG G4 vs G4 Stylus vs G4c vs G4 Beat/G4s – specs comparison

And just like that, LG managed to overshadow arch-rival Samsung for a change. Unfortunately, product confusion and brand dilution aren’t departments one would want to “prevail” in, especially when an exceedingly dense mid to high-end roster could generate serious market cannibalization issues.

LG G4

Even at first glance, there’s plenty to underline the “standard” G4’s superiority over its pen-capable and compact siblings. But can you also tell off the bat the 5.5 incher is considerably better than the just-announced 5.2-inch G4 Beat, aka G4s?

And if so, doesn’t that make the latter way too similar to the G4c? Not to mention how convoluted things might get if the oft-rumored G4 Pro materializes with a display diagonal circling the 5.7-inch footprint of the G4 Stylus, labeled G Stylo at T-Mobile.

G4 Beat

All in all, LG was obviously wrong to hatch so many marginally different members of the same smartphone family, but since we can’t convince them to axe a few G4 derivations, we’ll try to understand each and every variant’s strong points and flaws, as well as their overlapping target audiences.

How? Through a tried-and-true comparison process, which this time doesn’t aim to uncover a winner. It’s crystal clear who that is, now we’d like to know why and by what type of margin:

LG G4 vs G4 Stylus vs G4c vs G4 Beat/G4s – pricing and availability

LG G4 leather

Retail costs aren’t the definitive contrast elements, but it’s good to get this out of the way early and gauge the exact tariff gaps. A factory unlocked flagship G4 can be purchased from Amazon for as little as $540 in brown leather, $567 in black leather, $568 in metallic gold and $578 in metallic white.

On-contract, the Quad HD handheld is available for $0 down with AT&T financing, or $200 at Sprint or Verizon. Meanwhile, the G4 Stylus is slightly harder to come by stateside, except for its T-Mo-exclusive G Stylo incarnation, which costs $330 outright (no upfront payment needed).

LG G Stylo

The G4c has recently gone on sale in Europe starting at €250 or so, and the G4 Beat will apparently debut in countries such as France, Germany and Brazil in a matter of weeks, maybe days at an as-yet undisclosed rate. Fingers crossed for $300 tops when or rather if it ever swings by America.

Design and build comparison

Essentially, all four G4 models look the same on the outside. Brushed plastic constructions – check across the board. Subtle curves? They all got’ em. Rear physical buttons? Do you even need to ask? Optional leather covers? Those are limited to the base G4, and chiefly make it a premium proposal.

LG G4 plastic

Then there’s the issue of size, with the G4 Stylus leading the ranks, at 5.7 inches, followed by the 5.5-inch G4, 5.2-inch Beat and 5-inch C. Unsurprisingly, the Stylus is the tallest and widest quartet constituent, while the G4c is the thickest, measuring 10.2 mm in depth.

The thinnest? The G4 Stylus by a hair, at 9.6 mm. The lightest? The G4c, of course, weighing 136 grams.

Display and cameras

See, this is where things get a tad confusing. LG advertises the G4 Beat as a mid-range soldier, but with 1,920 x 1,080 screen resolution and 423 ppi, it’s almost as sharp as the G4. Probably not on paper, given 2,560 x 1,440 and 538 ppi sound a lot more impressive, yet in real life, you’ll never, ever tell Quad from Full HD apart in these circumstances.

LG G4 camera

And the G4 Stylus and G4c aren’t half bad either, touting 720p IPS LCD panels.

As far as photography is concerned, the G4 easily stands out, thanks to 16 and 8 MP shooters. Tied for the silver medal, the Stylus and Beat offer 13 or 8 megapixel rear cams, depending on region. Dead last, the G4c lacks the 13 alternative and caters to selfie pros with a 5 MP front snapper that’s also slapped on Stylus and Beat’s faces.

Processors, RAM and battery life

Short of remarkable compared to, say, Samsung’s homebrewed Exynos 7420 SoC, the hexa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 inside the G4 runs circles around G4 Beat’s octa-core S615, or G4 Stylus and G4c’s quad S410.

Snapdragon 808

The significantly prevalent 3 gig memory count should help you better understand why the G4 is roughly twice as expensive as the 1 GB RAM G4c. The G4 Stylus lets you choose between 1 and 2 configs, and the G4s sits in the middle, with 1.5 gigabytes of the good stuff.

Now, as you can imagine, it’s tricky to estimate the day-to-day autonomy of relative newcomers G4c and G4 Beat. The G4 and G4 Stylus both pack 3,000 mAh cells, reportedly good for close to 20 hours of continuous 3G talk time on a single charge.

LG G4 battery

At 2,540 and 2,300 mAh respectively, the G4c and Beat may fall a little behind. Not too much, though, particularly in the former’s case, considering its less power-demanding hardware.

Software, storage and others

Android Lollipop everywhere. 5.0 on the G4 Stylus and G4c, 5.1 for the G4 and G4 Beat. With a number of LG-proprietary tweaks and add-ons mainly on the latter two.

LG G4c

MicroSD external storage expansion capabilities are naturally one more point where the four meet, albeit “locally”, the hoarding room differs quite a lot. The G4 allows you to save 32 GB of movies, apps, videos and photos sans a secondary card, the G Stylo cuts the ROM in half on Magenta, and the “international” G4 Stylus, G4c and G4 Beat further reduce that by 8 gigs, sticking to only 8.

Any other “small” things you should take into account before deciding which G4 flavor to buy? Perhaps optional Qi wireless charging and standard Quick Charge 2.0 technology, both features squarely present in G4’s bag of tricks.

LG-G4-Stylus

Or maybe it’s worth highlighting once again the G4 Stylus provides a touch of extra functionality, courtesy of pen support. Bottom line, it’s easy to distinguish the G4, G4 Stylus, G4c and G4 Beat/G4s… if you know where to look.

Google/Huawei Nexus 6P vs LG Nexus 5X – specs comparison

They say the smartphone space is slowly but steadily getting too crowded for anyone besides Apple to post a constant profit. Tablets are dying, and conventional PCs linger in purgatory, yet an obvious market saturation seems to prevent handhelds from further growing.

nexus-5x-nexus-6p

As such, it’s no wonder companies like HTC or Microsoft badly want to streamline their mobile product rosters, reducing the number of eerily similar Lumia and One models released year after year. Meanwhile, BlackBerry seeks an Android Hail Mary pass in utter desperation, and Samsung may soon need to enforce cost-cutting measures of its own to stop an abrupt, free fall in revenue.

Bottom line, everyone acknowledges the industry’s identity crisis, acting in accordance with various austerity tactics, except for Google. The search giant has adhered to the conventional 11 or 12-month hardware upgrade cycle and one phone a year launch standard since the very inception of the Nexus program, but all of a sudden, that’s no longer enough for Sundar Pichai & co.

nexus-5x-nexus-6p-2

Enter the Huawei-made Nexus 6P and LG-produced Nexus 5X, the first duo in the family’s history to get a simultaneous announcement, and target different audiences. In case you’re confused regarding exactly what’s different, and what’s not, let us clear the air for you:

Nexus 6P vs Nexus 5X – design and build quality comparison

As the name suggests, the N6P is larger. Specifically, 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm vs. 147 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm, as far as the N5X is concerned. So, 12 mm taller, 5 wider, and remarkably enough, around half a millimeter thinner. Also, 42 grams heavier (178 vs 136), and most importantly, half an inch larger in screen diagonal (5.7 vs 5.2).

But of course, the aesthetical distinctions don’t stop there. In fact, size is the least important of them, with build material contrasts much more relevant for your buying decision. The higher-end, bigger Nexus 6P is arguably handsomer as well, courtesy of anodized aluminum use, compared to “premium injection molded polycarbonate.”

Translation – plastic for the Nexus 5X, and the same type of metal alloy employed in the aeronautical industry on the 6P. Too bad the latter’s rear camera looks God-awful, even though we wouldn’t exactly call the former’s main photographic unit a beaut either. Both stick out like a sore thumb, and the slimmed-down chassis around them seems a huge waste of space. Why oh why didn’t Google just make them thicker overall, and add extra battery capacity in the equation?

Display and cameras

No more racking their brains to come up with the “sweet spot” in terms of footprint and screen real estate for Google engineers! There’s no such thing, by the by, which is why it’s great phablet lovers and fans of smaller phones alike can finally come together.

The only catch is, if you’re into “diminutive” Androids, you’ll have to settle for 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution, LCD technology, 423 ppi, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The jumbo-sized new Nexus ups the ante across the board, to 2,560 x 1,440, AMOLED, 518 pixels per inch, and Gorilla Glass 4.

But surprise, surprise, the two primary cams are identical. Truly so, with the same 12 MP sensors, 1.55 μm pixels for superior details in low-light conditions, f/2.0 aperture, laser autofocus, dual LED flash, and 4K video recording capabilities at 30 fps.

Google-Nexus-6P-camera

Selfie addicts are better served by the Nexus 6P, which sports a pretty amazing front-facing cam too, despite lacking flash illumination. You get 8 generous megapixels, f/2.4 aperture, and 30 fps HD video capture, whereas the N5X barely offers 5 MP.

Processor, RAM and battery life

In the octa-core Snapdragon 810 vs hexa SD808 battle, the question is not who wins in the raw speed department, but whether the fiery hot 810 can at last be contained and cooled down. Hopefully, in a 2.1 iteration, it will.

Snapdragon 810

Likewise, the accompanying Adreno 430 GPU easily eclipses the 808’s 418 inside the Nexus 5X in graphics performance, yielding no stability concerns fortunately. The memory duel takes the Nexus 6P one step closer to total N5X annihilation, as the updated 5.2 incher merely matches the RAM count of its two year-old predecessor, at 2 GB.

In addition to packing 3 full gigs of the good stuff, Huawei’s rookie Nexus effort also touts the significantly heftier cell – 3,450 mAh, compared to 2,700. We’ll obviously have to wait for real-life battery tests before concluding which device lasts longer, but the good news is you get rapid charging features either way.

Nexus USB charging

The Nexus 6P should be able to keep the lights on for around 7 hours after 10 minutes of juicing activity, while the N5X can provide 4 hours or so endurance in the same timeframe.

Software, storage, and others

Say hello to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, possibly the most energy-efficient, security-focused variant of the world’s most popular mobile operating system, and hopefully, the smoothest, fastest, most stable too.

As you can imagine, Google doesn’t play favorites on this front in 2015 either, and loads up the same stock goodies on both new Nexuses. You have your intuitive Now on Tap function, Doze frugality, App Standby enhancement, customizable permissions, zippier and smarter Google Camera and Photos apps, plus native fingerprint recognition.

Nexus 5X fingerprint

Needless to highlight that latter feature would be useless without actual fingerprint sensors, located on the back of the 6P and 5X, and endowed with something called Nexus Imprint that “gets smarter with every touch” by “incorporating measurements each time you use it.”

What else? Well, since you predictably can’t expand the internal storage space via microSD cards, it’s vital to note the smaller handheld accommodates 16 or 32 GB data, whereas the Nexus 6P allows you to store up to 128 gigs, starting at 32 instead of 16.

Nexus 6P

Then you have dual stereo speakers on the 6P, and a single audio player slapped on N5X’s face, three microphones with noise cancellation for each model, LTE Cat. 6, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, dual-band across the board. Oh, and let’s not forget the two’s reversible USB Type-C ports, which help make super-fast charging possible.

Pricing and availability

Up for pre-orders straight from Google, the vanilla Android powerhouses look like phenomenal bargains, commanding tariffs of $379 and $499 respectively in “entry-level” configurations. Considering all the Nexus 6P’s fortes listed above, the 32 GB flavor isn’t a lot pricier than its 5X counterpart, which sells for $429.

Nexus 5X

Craving for 64 or 128 gigs of digital hoarding room? Then be prepared to spend $549 or $649. The ultimate deal sweetener comes in the form of free 90-day Google Play Music access, and complimentary $50 Google Play credit for orders placed before October 25. And yes, you’ll be able to activate the Nexus 5X and 6P on all four major US carriers, including Verizon.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ vs Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge – specs comparison

Originally, we intended to take things very gradually when explaining Samsung’s new high-end smartphone roster, first spelling out the differences between the just-announced Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+, then pitting the latter against the “standard” S6 and S6 Edge, and finally comparing and contrasting the Note 5 and its faux leather-clad predecessor.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

But we think we’ll skip the GNote 5 vs GS6 Edge+ post, given the two are basically the same exact device, with S Pen functionality on the former and a dual edge display on the latter. That’s it, and it’s all you need to know before choosing one or the other.

Which brings us to the S6 Edge+ vs S6 Edge vs S6 “battle.” At first glance, there’s not much to talk about here either. The key distinction between the S6 and S6 Edge is given away in their names, and the Plus simply widens the screen real estate. Or does it?

Photo: Android Central
Photo: Android Central

Well, let’s take a more thorough look at the three’s designs, dimensions, specifications and features, and see if there’s more than what meets the eye to the Galaxy S6 Edge+. It better be, considering the price premium.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge vs Edge+ – pricing and availability

If you’re looking to cut a lucrative deal, the non-edgy GS6 is definitely the way to go. It costs $570 factory unlocked in blue, $574 in white, $575 in black, or $585 in gold. With two-year carrier contracts, you can drop the tariff to $200 for Verizon, or $100 at Sprint.

galaxy-s6-blue

Meanwhile, the S6 Edge isn’t as prohibitive as back in the day, but it’s still a far more extravagant buy than the S6, at $648 and up unlocked, $200 on-contract with Sprint, or $300 for Verizon.

Extravagant? Hah, you ain’t seen nothing yet, as the S6 Edge+ starts at $768 outright, or $32 a month, through America’s largest wireless service provider. The second largest, AT&T, charges $815 free of contractual obligations, or $300 with pacts.

Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge

Then you have Sprint, where the curved phablet is cheaper on full retail ($792), and pricier with lengthy agreements ($350), and finally, T-Mobile, which merely lets you pre-register for “the next big thing”, but promises an uber-attractive Netflix promotion. When the Uncarrier kicks off sales, the S6 Edge+, along with a year of Netflix, will set you back $860 and up.

Design and build quality

“More elegant, understated, and finely crafted” than the S6 Edge. That’s how Samsung describes the Edge+, but we call BS. It’s exactly as elegant and “finely crafted” as the original, which is by no means an insult. On the contrary, we applaud Samsung for not trying to fix what was obviously not broken.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ rear

Kudos for keeping bulk in check too, with a skinny 6.9 mm metallic frame and 153 grams weight. The 5.7-inch S6 Edge+ is only 15 and 21 grams heavier respectively than the 5.1-inch S6 and S6 Edge, which sounds like a tough and rare engineering feat.

Alas, the glass rear, while beautiful and robust, is even more slippery when jumbo-sized, and so the first thing you may want to purchase after the S6 Edge+ is a good old fashioned protective cover. Unless you’re into that painfully clunky physical keyboard case.

Display and cameras

Let’s make it extremely easy for you. Like gigantic phones than don’t fit into your pocket? Then pick the S6 Edge+. Favoring a compact form factor and sharper screen? The S6 and S6 Edge are smaller and better, with their Quad HD resolution capable of producing 577 ppi, compared to 518 on the Edge+. And yes, the Edge+ is Quad HD, aka 2K-gifted also.

Galaxy S6 Edge display

Cameras? Don’t worry about them, they’re identical across the board. 16 megapixels around the back, with optical image stabilization, LED flash and autofocus, 5 MP for selfies, with auto HDR and 1,440p video recording support at 30fps.

Processor, RAM and battery life

All-in-one Exynos 7422 SoC? Samsung said nothing of such an upgrade for the S6 Edge+ or Note 5, so they’re probably sticking to conventional 7420 solutions. Conventional but wickedly snappy, not to mention energy-efficient, thanks to 14 nm architecture.

Speaking of frugality and power-saving potential, all three phones need all the help they can get, considering they pack comparatively tiny cells with strenuous internals and super-sharp screens. Namely, 2,550 mAh inside the S6, 2,600 for the S6 Edge, and 3,000 mAh as far as the S6 Edge+ is concerned.

You’re right to be worried of sub-24 hour endurance numbers, but on the bright side, you get fast charging from the entire lineup of Androids, and even fast wireless charging from the Edge+. Prepare to go from 0 to 100 in under 120 minutes, no cables required.

Wireless charging

With 4 GB RAM in tow, up to 3 on the S6 and S6 Edge, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is the ultimate multitasking champion, breezing through the most difficult and diverse tasks, including hardcore gaming, multimedia and photo editing.

Storage, software and others

No microSD expansion possibilities anywhere in sight. Such a bitter disappointment! Predictable but bitter. What wasn’t quite easy to foretell, and makes little to no sense, is the absence of a 128GB internal storage configuration for the S6 Edge+. Some people just can’t make do with 32 or 64 gigs of data depository. And no, the cloud ain’t always an option.

MicroSD card

Moving on to software, the roots are all the same… if you got the Android 5.1 Lollipop update on the S6 and S6 Edge. Even so, the UIs aren’t interchangeable, with TouchWiz adding a bit of extra edge functionality to the S6 Edge+. You’ll also notice a few generic tweaks in notifications and icons, but nothing extreme.

What else? LTE Cat.9 connectivity? We’ve stopped caring a long time ago. No USB Type-C? We’re a little disgruntled, but we expected that. Samsung Pay support? Finally, though it’s probably set to work on all recent flagships, so it doesn’t help the GS6 Edge+ stand out.

Photo: Forbes
Photo: Forbes

Fingerprint recognition technology? It’s become a standard, boring feature. No IR blaster? Who watches TV nowadays anyway? Bottom line, it’s hard to recommend the Galaxy S6 Edge+ as a triumph of innovation. It’s way too familiar… and expensive.

Our advice? Swim against the tide and score an “aging” S6 or S6 Edge. They’re practically as powerful and capable, plus cheaper.

Best contemporary HD (720p) Android smartphones

Quad HD handheld display resolution is overkill, and everybody knows that. Including the device manufacturers trying so hard to sell the “feature” as something that’s not – useful and groundbreaking.

Quad HD TV

Well, yeah, sure, it’s innovative and all on paper, but the end consumer needs a magnifying glass to tell the difference between 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. And even then, it’s marginal. Don’t get us started on 2K content, still fairly hard to come by for living room TVs, let alone portable miniature gadgets.

Meanwhile, you can’t argue with the sharpness advantage of Full HD smartphones over their 720p ancestors. Yet we’re certain there are mobile enthusiasts around who’d be happy “settling” for HD, aka 1,280 x 720 panels.

1080p 720p

Besides, the ppi makes the stills and clips pop first and foremost, so if the display is small enough (but doesn’t require constant squinting), HD res can produce excellent pixel per inch tallies. Lastly, it’s good to take into account the affordability factor in a time when $700+ “powerhouses” no longer feel thrice as impressive as sub-$250 “low-end” affairs.

Without further ado, and in order to please the most Android aficionados, we give you one candidate for the title of best 2015 720p smartphone from ten different household names in the industry:

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $379 and up

Xperia Z3 Compact

They say this muscular but diminutive 4.6-inch Lollipop soldier will soon be replaced by a slightly larger 1,080p soldier. Replaced? Never! It’s perfect the way it is, with a remarkable 319 ppi count in tow, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor inside, 2 GB RAM, 20.7 MP photography beast, 2,600 mAh battery and (relatively) reasonable price point.

The only good that can come out of a Full HD, 4.8-inch or so upgrade is a discount to, say, $300 bucks. Boy, would the Z3 Compact look irresistible then!

HTC Desire 820U – $308

HTC Desire 820

A lot bigger than the 4.6-inch contender above, at 5.5 inches, the plasticky, playfully colored Desire provides a sub-par 267 ppi pixel density. It’s also in dire need of a software renovation, as it runs 4.4 KitKat, and the 2,600 mAh cell feels a little on the light side given the footprint and juice-demanding octa-core Snapdragon 615 CPU.

But the 13 MP and 8 MP cameras, as well as the 2 GB RAM make the compromises all worth it. Let’s hope Lollipop is nigh, though.

Samsung Galaxy A5 – starting at $276 GSM unlocked

Samsung Galaxy A5

A premium full-metal chassis, excellent 71 percent screen-to-body ratio, bright and vivid 5-inch Super AMOLED glass, 2 gigs of memory, 13 and 5 megapixel cams, microSD capabilities and super-slender 6.7 mm profile.

All for the low, low tariff of 276 US bucks in black, or $282 in white. The only thing missing is Android 5.0, which should make its way over-the-air soon. Perhaps more than 2,300 mAh battery capacity too, but alas, a software update can’t bring extra autonomy to the table.

LG G3 Beat – $185

LG G3 Beat

Also known as G3 S, this inexpensive 5 incher offers 294 ppi and a similar albeit obviously inferior construction compared to the standard, stylish G3. You got your rear physical buttons, slim resulting bezels, surprisingly robust plastic build and overall lackluster specs: Snapdragon 400 chip, 8 MP LED flash main shooter, 8 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, 2,540 mAh battery.

Pre-installed KitKat as well, though Lollipop will “import” Material Design goodies before long, according to official manufacturer statements.

Huawei SnapTo – $178

Huawei SnapTo

This is by no means a flagship, or even unexpectedly solid budget challenger to Moto G2’s throne. But unlike all the phones listed so far, it’s sold directly by Amazon, with Huawei’s express permission and thus no concerns as to US network support, lengthy shipping or faulty packaging.

Not exactly a looker, the SnapTo rocks a decent 5-inch IPS LCD panel with 294 ppi, quad-core 1.2 GHz S400 SoC, 1 GB RAM, 5 MP/2 MP cams, non-removable 2,200 mAh battery, 8 GB ROM, microSD external expansion and Android 4.4. Yawn!

Motorola Moto G second-generation – $172 global GSM unlocked

Moto G second-gen

Speaking of the devil, i.e. the world featherweight low-cost champion, it’s still available extremely close to its MSRP almost a full year after its commercial release. But the third-gen is on the way, and soon enough, you should be charged $150 tops for the OG Snapdragon 400 5 incher running close-to-stock Lollipop backed by a 2,070 mAh juicer.

Asus Zenfone 5 – $139

Asus Zenfone 5

The name is no doubt misleading. Obviously, the Zenfone 5 doesn’t outdo the ridiculously cheap, high-end Zenfone 2. It’s actually a 5-inch forerunner of the 4 GB RAM monster, with a quarter of the random-access memory, 294 ppi screen, Intel Atom inside, 8 and 2 MP cameras.

Essentially, standard features for the sub-$150 segment, so it’s up to you and maybe your aesthetic sense to embrace or pass on the 10.3 mm thin matte plastic phone.

Sharp Aquos Crystal – $129 with Boost Mobile; $132 for Sprint prepaid

Sharp Aquos Crystal

It’s not fair to compare prepaid and completely unlocked prices, since the former arrangements come with strings attached, but the Aquos Crystal is a steal, no matter how you look at it. Of course, the 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution isn’t the display highlight here, but instead the no-border artful conception.

Art is really the best way to describe the 78.5 percent screen chin-tastic Crystal. If only the Now Network would finish “optimizing” Lollipop already, helping the 1.5 GB RAM/S400 hardware config perform at its finest.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S – $127

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

It’s always risky to throw your hard-earned money at “Generic” (literally), obscure importers, but Xiaomi’s one-year-old may well be worth it. Despite sticking to Jelly Beans when Lollipops are flavor du jour.

It’s simply too good cheap to be true refused, at 4.7 inches, 312 ppi, quad-core 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 400 velocity, 1 GB RAM, 8 MP LED flash photo skill and 9.9 mm waist.

BLU Life One 4G LTE – $99

BLU Life One 4G LTE

Technically not yet released and squarely up for pre-orders ahead of a July 17 bow, the LTE-enabled, Lollipop-upgradeable 5 incher is the ultimate bargain. At least at the moment, because next week, it should leap to its “normal” SIM-free tariff of $149.

You can activate it on AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS and any other GSM carrier you can find operating stateside, and everything from design to cameras to battery screams $200+ value.

Somehow, BLU managed to pull off both a 7.5 mm supermodel figure and respectably spacious 2,420 mAh cell, plus 13 MP LED flash rear camera, 5 megapixel selfie pro, 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor, 1 GB RAM and microSD support. Cue slow clap!

Everything you need to know about Motorola’s 2015 product release plans

With only a second-gen $120 Moto E launch and limited second-gen G 4G dispatch to its name in 2015 so far, it’s crystal clear the year is barely starting for Lenovo’s new daughter company. And boy, will things get crazy on the Motorola-branded product introduction front over the next couple of months, if rampant rumors pan out.

Motorola-a-Lenovo-Company

We’ve already tackled the juicy 2015 Moto X gossip, at least the parts that transpired until a few weeks ago, but of course, “Lenovorola” has several different market segments eyed for imminent aggressive charges and diversification.

Arguably their most thrilling facelift of a (semi-) successful 2014 device should see the 360 timepiece reach its full potential, going up against the quickly rising Apple Watch with an improved design (hopefully), and longer battery life (pretty please).

Cash-strapped smartphone buyers, meanwhile, are probably bursting with excitement at the mere thought of an even better Moto G. And then you have the tricky high-end handheld niche, where the third-gen Moto X will likely receive aid from a pair of Droids, at the very least. But let’s not spoil all the surprises so early, and take these strapping Android soldiers one by one:

Moto X 2015

When – any day now. Literally, the formal announcement could go down tomorrow. Or next week, or next month, or at worst, sometime in September. By the end of the first fall month, the 5.2 incher should also go on sale, at north of $600 outright, if last year’s hardware compromises are indeed left out.

Moto-X-2015

What – a highly customizable Quad HD powerhouse with Snapdragon 808 inside to expunge overheating concerns, optional leather and wood construction, standard plastic exterior, 3 or perhaps 4 GB RAM, 16 MP OIS rear camera, 5 MP secondary selfie shooter.

Still not enough to give the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 a run for their money, let alone the S6 Edge Plus, Note 5 or G4 Pro? Keep in mind Lenovo will be in charge of advertising and marketing this time around, so gear up for fancy billboards everywhere, TV and film product placement, as well as viral online campaigns.

Moto X 2014 leather

While you wait – the 2014 edition costs $299.99 GSM unlocked in black leather or white/bamboo. Must… resist the urge! Or not.

Moto G 2015

When – roughly a year on the heels of its non-LTE-capable predecessor, so likely in September too. Maybe August.

moto-g-2015

Whatit essentially looks the same, save for the snazzy rear camera – M logo connecting metal… thing, and it’s only supposed to marginally upgrade the processor and snappers without bumping up the RAM count, screen size and resolution or battery capacity.

But here’s the (delightful) kicker: it should offer 4G LTE connectivity as standard, and cost no more than $250. $200 is an outside possibility, while $220 feels like a reasonable guess.

Moto G 2014

For now – you can purchase the unlocked 8 GB G+1 for $175, the original starting at $139, or the high-speed 2014 version by coughing up $176. Oh, oh, oh, and the OG prepaid Moto G is an unbelievably low $38 with Verizon, but no microSD external storage expansion.

Moto 360 second-gen

When – hard to say, given the erstwhile rowdy “361” rumors suddenly went quiet recently and were never kicked back into gear. Technically, September would seem like the safest bet here as well.

Moto 360 2

But why uncover everything you’ve got up the sleeve all at once and basically hinder your own spotlight potential? It doesn’t sound wise, so don’t be surprised if the 2015 360 enjoys a “premature” debut, as soon as this month.

Whatno “flat tire”, a “perfect” circle, Android Wear 5.1.1 software pre-installed, standalone Wi-Fi functionality (no free web access, though), Snapdragon 410 processing power, sharper, always-on screen and upwards of two days’ worth of cell endurance.

It’s not a fanboy’s utopian wishlist, it’s a feasible inventory of features for the sequel to perhaps the most lauded first-wave Android smartwatch. Fingers crossed this time stellar reviews translate into satisfactory sales numbers. Otherwise, Cupertino may gain an early and authoritative domination over yet another industry sector.

Moto 360

While you wait – not long ago, the “imperfect” first-gen 360 was reduced to an all-time low price of $150. $175 is clearly a worse deal, but compared to, say, the $300 and up LG Watch Urbane, it’s still a bargain. With a cheap stone grey leather band, obviously, as the dark and light metal variants fetch an extra $50 and $85 respectively.

Or you can go the flamboyant cognac leather route, in exchange for $231. Last but not least, swanky champagne gold metal configurations will set you back $260. Being fashionable is expensive, what can we say?

Droid “Kinzie” and “Clark”

When – would you find it annoying if we ventured a September guess for the umpteenth time? Okay, then how about October? That’s when the Turbo turns one, and with the recent Android 5.1 Lollipop update delays, we figure Moto and Verizon can’t quite speed up the follow-up’s R&D.

Droid Turbo

Whata Turbo 2 and… Mini 2? Ultra 2? Tough to anticipate once again, as 2014 saw Big Red settle for the one Droid roster addition. Personally, I’d like to believe compact flagships have a bright future ahead of them not only as far as Sony is concerned. So, a Snapdragon 808 sub-5 inch Droid Mini 2015 with Full HD display res sounds positively ravishing.

It’d certainly be nice for both new Droids to get global spreads soon after their VZW releases, albeit the so-called Kinzie might cannibalize third-gen X demand with similarly top-notch specs: Quad HD 5.5-inch panel, octa-core Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 20 MP/5 MP cams.

Droid Mini

Right now – the 3,900 mAh Droid Turbo goes for $49.99, $149.99 or $199.99 with two-year pacts in 32 GB metallic black, 32 GB black ballistic nylon and 64 gig black ballistic nylon configs respectively. Or $50 in metallic red. Or between $600 and $650 outright. Not bad as Lollipop further smooths out the zippy Snapdragon 805 chip, 3 GB RAM and 21 MP photography beast.

Perhaps surprisingly, the two year-old Droid Mini is also available at $0.01 on-contract or $400 sans carrier obligations. Worth it? Absolutely not! Just wait.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs LG G4 Pro – rumor roundup and preview

Call us rash, call our efforts premature and the venture into speculation territory pointless, with so many unknowns to the Galaxy Note 5 vs LG G4 Pro equation. Nothing to argue there, given one phone’s ETA remains up in the air, while another’s very identity and existence can’t be authenticated at the moment.

LG G4 vs Galaxy Note 4

But someone has to tackle the “next big things” early, so as to assess their prospective potential and current Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and LG G4 worth. Otherwise put, should you jump the gun and board one of those fancy yet soon-to-be-dated bandwagons, or wait a few more months?

Always a tricky predicament, since there’s always something better on the horizon. The question must therefore be how much better? Well, let’s see what the magic 8-ball tells us, based on recent rumors, good old fashioned detective work and common sense:

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs LG G4 Pro – the background factor

The OnePlus One is perfect living proof you don’t need history to make it in today’s competitive, uber-crowded mobile landscape. But it certainly helps to slap a name people easily recognize and greatly respect on a newborn flagship smartphone.

Galaxy Note 4

Besides, keep in mind even OnePlus barely sold a million One copies to date, which feels like a milestone real heavyweights should hit within days of their commercial debut. But we digress. The point is the Note 5 will ride a remarkable wave of enthusiasm on the back of its hailed predecessor and a rapidly rising “cousin.”

Meanwhile, the G4 Pro, thanks to that very moniker (if it holds water), will be instantly associated with the “standard” G4. Pretty impressive on paper, the leather-clad 5.5 incher could however fizzle by the time its Pro heir bows, especially if next-gen iPhones break out.

LG G Pro 2

And don’t forget this isn’t part of a long, proven and fruitful dynasty, as its S Pen-capable rival. Quite on the contrary, with the Optimus G Pro and G Pro 2 generating mostly sad memories of affordable, mediocre phablets. Maybe it’d be a good idea to just choose a different suffix. Max? Plus? Ultra?

Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent innovation

That’s now how the saying goes, we know, and it’s definitely not how device manufacturers approached things these past few years. Ask them, and they’ll tell you there’s little room for true innovation, which is why we should settle on iterative upgrades.

Iris recognition

Pardon our French, but what a load of crock! Clearly, iris recognition is ready for primetime, taking biometric authentication to the next level. Innovative feature idea #1. How about a universal wireless charging solution offered for free instead of $35 or $55?

While we’re on the subject, if you even think of snubbing USB Type C connectivity until next year, Samsung and LG, get ready to lose. The groundbreaking one-cable-fits-all tech will also enable accelerated charging, and reaching 100 percent battery capacity in, say, half an hour likely headlines many wishlists for late 2015.

USB Type C

 

Okay, what else? Well, we haven’t heard much of flexible displays in a while. As in, curvable, not curved out the box. But it’s no doubt too soon for a wide-scale Youm spread. Still, the bottom line is if they want to innovate, they can find ways. They can enhance autonomy without hurting slimness and form factors… somehow, improve security via eye and fingerprint scanning, boost mobile payment support with the help of Android M and Android Pay.

Note 5 vs G4 Pro – the numbers’ race

It’s nice to dream with one’s eyes open once in a while, but at the end of the day, it’s sensible to put both feet on the ground and admit this duel’s outcome, like so many before it, depends on the iterative specification revisions we so love to hate.

Galaxy-Note-5-concept

Beyond small novelty elements, gimmicks and the works, beyond even marketing expenses and brand recognition, what weighs the heaviest is who will produce the sharpest screen, fastest system, most gifted cameras and largest cell.

The rumor mill alludes to a predictable tie in the display resolution department (2,560 x 1,440 pixels all around), an impossible to rule CPU bout (Exynos 7420 successor vs Snapdragon 820), and most likely, another draw as far as the RAM count is concerned (4 gigs across the board).

LG G4

Then there’s silence on the Note 5 camera front, and mystery surrounding G4 Pro’s ticker size. But we “know” the former will pack a gigantic 4,100 mAh pacemaker, and the latter should thrill with a one-of-a-kind 27 MP rear shooter.

Really, really hard to name an early frontrunner, as screen diagonal is tipped at 5.8, 5.9 inches for both, and LG has its sights set on a construction approach switch from plastic and leather to “genuine” metal. We’ll tell you this though – if you feel bigger is better, don’t compromise and go for the GS6, S6 Edge or G4. Just wait.

All about timing?

This isn’t real estate, and location, location, location is unimportant, unimportant, unimportant, but the when of the equation feels hugely relevant. Samsung ultimately rises as the odds-on favorite once again ergo, with the Galaxy Note 5 scheduled to go on sale in September. Perhaps as early as August.

ifa-berlin

The G4 Pro? Well, LG needs the Snapdragon 820 chip to discard the scorching 810 and laggy 808, so the best case scenario is October. Worst? November. Too close to the holidays, and probably behind both the GNote 5 and iPhone 6s/6s Plus duo.

Motorola Moto X 2015 preview and rumor roundup

It’s high time Motorola stepped up its game and stopped catering merely to cash-strapped audiences or power users on Verizon. That’s not only our view, and everyone else’s in love with the company’s unique designs, dedication to customization or stock, clean as a whistle Android.

Moto X 2014

Lenovo’s big cats, including CEO Yang Yuanqing himself, have recently made a point of getting that exact message across, teasing a number of “exciting” future Moto launches. Of course, one of those will likely be the second-generation 360 smartwatch, and for many, a new Moto G phone with a similarly low price as last year’s version, but higher-end specs would definitely qualify as exciting.

At the end of the day though, the most thrilling 2015 addition to the American-based yet China-owned product roster should be a sequel to the 2014 Moto X. Ideally, accompanied by global Droid Turbo and/or Ultra follow-ups. Alas, that latter part is a stretch.

Moto X

Fortunately, a premium third-gen X feels extremely feasible, on the back of a steady stream of fantasy-stimulating leaks and rumors. Here’s a quick roundup of all the inside information purportedly revealed, as well as hunch-reliant confidence ratings:

Late summer announcement

The OG Moto X, available in a developer factory unlocked GSM edition on Amazon at $299.99, went official in August 2013 and hit (some) stores the same month. More than a year later, a vastly improved 5.2 incher went on sale, now going for $399.99 and up.

Moto X august

A logical sequence of events would call for a September or maybe October X+2 unveil/commercial rollout, especially since the second-gen was far less of a dud than its predecessor. Only new management has new, bolder goals, and they likely require speedier development, swifter turnouts and wider spreads. Hence, we feel like August is the most plausible ETA. July is also possible, but we’ll grade the final month of summer with 7 confidence points out of 10.

Revamped design; but how so?

There’s probably no reason to go nuts with aesthetical changes, despite both Samsung and LG having drastically renovated their flagships recently. People love metal, but they also dig wood and leather… and choice, so perhaps more options would be better.

Moto X 2014 options

How about an all-aluminum Moto X 2015 variant and a few plastic models with swappable back covers? One can certainly dream, though lacking any substantial visual evidence makes us rate our (semi-) educated guesses a four. Five, tops.

Snapdragon 810? Red alert

Look, we have nothing personal against Qualcomm (though we’d have liked it if they didn’t monopolize mobile chip supply), but when you mess up, you mess up and you won’t get a free pass from us just because you knocked it out of the park so many times before.

qualcomm-snapdragon-810

Ah, the good old days of fast and furious yet cucumber cool Snapdragon 800, 801 and 805. Now, it’s S808’s moment in the spotlight, like it or not, with system stability a bigger focus than scorching raw speed. 7 confidence points for Snapdragon 808.

Also, 6 for 3 GB RAM and 4 for 4. Not only as it sounds fitting, but because Asus hasn’t managed to convince us phones need so much random-access memory. For what, simultaneously playing Angry Birds, Temple Run and Cut the Rope?

Quad HD overkill? So what?

Unlike 4 gigs of RAM, mobile consumers have started warming up to tiny, pixel-packed 2,560 x 1,440 screens. And since Motorola Lenovo will probably go with a sizable 5.2-inch piece of AMOLED glass here, there’s almost no alternative to 2K resolution.

Moto-X-2014-Display

What’s that, 1,080p is better for battery juice conservation? Maybe, but no one will get to find out, judging from HTC One M9’s disappointing box-office performance.

No more crappy cameras

Quick, what’s your number one gripe with the first two Moto X editions? Well, sure, lack of software support as far as the original is concerned, but next up, we bet it’s underwhelming photography prowess.

Motorola-X-back-camera

It’s embarrassing how far behind the S6 or LG G4 the 13 MP rear shooter on the X2 is, but luckily, a more than welcomed upgrade to 16 megapixels is being cooked up in addition to OIS inclusion and dual-LED flash enhancements. Also, you’ll get 5 MP for selfies. Trust us on that, we’re 90 percent certain of the cam improvements.

Give them the finger

So, HTC squarely treats its Chinese fans to biometric authentication functions, LG acts like they’re not a thing, and Samsung almost never mentions Galaxy S6’s fingerprint sensor in promotional materials. Tough one to predict, so let’s say there’s a 50 – 50 chance Motorola will integrate a fingerprint recognition solution somewhere underneath the 16 MP camera, possibly as part of the Batman-like M logo.

moto-x-3rd-gen

Iris, retina or any other kind of eye identification? You can file that under too soon to support technologies, next to reversible and universal USB Type-C connectivity. They’re simply not ready for mobile primetime yet. Iris recognition, definitely not, USB C, probably not. Let’s give the latter a 4 trust level, so as not to shatter all your sweet fantasies. It’s not impossible, it’s just unlikely.

Turbo-like energy? In your dreams

Camera notwithstanding, we’ll bet second-gen Moto X proprietors are peeved most by below-average autonomy. With a skinny 2,300 mAh cell backing a Snapdragon 801/FHD system, what do you expect? Once again, Lenovo has its sights set on big revisions, albeit X3’s ticker will still fall short of Droid Turbo endurance figures.

Droid Turbo

At roughly 3,300 mAh capacity, rumor has it, you should get a nice couple of work days’ worth of continuous life. Particularly if Android 5.1 Lollipop smooths out the UI, which will 100 percent be the case.

Any bad news to wrap up the Motorola Moto X 2015 preview and keep your feet firm on the ground? Sadly, microSD storage expansion capabilities and a user-removable battery remain hundred-to-one shots. More like ten-to-one, but you get the picture.

LG G4 vs LG G3 vs LG G Flex 2 – Specs comparison

Quick show of hands, who here is disappointed by the knife LG just brought to the gunfight against Samsung’s “explosive” Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge? That many, huh? Well, we can’t blame you, as our gloomy recent G4 predictions essentially all panned out.

LG G4 vs LG G3

It’s like LG, HTC and Sony resigned themselves to eternal underdog status, and they’re not even trying to stay in the race for gold anymore. But maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way. It’s pretty obvious the G4 has nothing on the GS6 dyad, yet if it at least improves on last year’s phenomenal G3 and this year’s remarkable G Flex 2, it’s worth a bit of praise.

Evolution is good after all, no matter how marginal. So, is the G4 better than its predecessor and curvier “cousin”? Let’s dig in:

G4 vs G3 vs G Flex 2 – pricing and availability comparison

This wild rumor from last week called for a G4 tag exceeding the base S6 valuation and, until now, LG hasn’t come out to confirm or disprove it. Which could be interpreted as validation of its own. Yes, ladies and gents, the genuine leather version will most likely cost a whopping $800+ outright stateside in late May.

LG G4

Meanwhile, metallic gray, ceramic white and shiny gold models (read plastic-made variations) should be able to considerably lower the ask. $100 is the minimum gap, $150 seems like a possibility too, whereas $200 is a bit of a stretch. Bottom line, the no-contract G4 shall start at $650, give or take. With carrier agreements, we’d expect standard fares of $200 and $300 respectively.

It’s no shock ergo that both the G Flex 2 and G3 hold the affordability advantage, although you may find the two surprisingly inexpensive compared to the new Snapdragon 808 flagship. The former goes for $600 unlocked in red and silver and $690 in black via Amazon, as well as $100 with Sprint pacts in “platinum silver” and “volcano red.”

LG G Flex 2

The G3? It’s a bargain, a steal, and it’s this close to rivaling Moto G-grade budget heights. Silk white factory unlocked variants are $360 a pop, 9 bucks extra will buy you a G3 in metallic black, and the SIM-free gold config is $378. No charge needed if tying up to a 24-month contract ain’t a problem, regardless of your preferred network between Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

Design and build quality face-off

Despite a series of incremental performance upgrades, G4’s main claim to fame is without a doubt the reformed visual approach. You have your optional leather rear cover, which only one other OEM offers, base scratch-resistant “ceramic” coating, 3D back patterns, slightly arched chassis and an overall boxier, sharper vibe than G3’s.

LG-G4

A winning combination? We’ll see, but as elegant as LG deems natural leather, it’s no match for Samsung’s uber-premium glass-and-metal blend in terms of robustness and style.

Set side by side with its ancestor, G4’s “personality” clearly stands out. As for the G Flex 2, we’re afraid the “fully” curved phone has a big ace up its sleeve: self-healing rear protection.

LG G3

Dimension-wise, the three are extremely similar, sporting 5.5-inch displays with fairly narrow bezels. Still, the G4 is a couple of mm taller than the G3, 1.5 mm wider and 0.9 mm thicker. It’s also 6 grams heavier. Sounds like a step back to us.

Display and cameras

Wondering what a Quantum IPS screen is? According to LG, it’s 25 percent brighter, delivers 50 percent greater contrast and 20 percent superior color reproduction. We call BS. There’s no way you’ll be able to tell G4’s Quad HD panel apart from G3’s Quad HD display. Sure, pitted against G Flex 2’s 1,080p glass, you’ll notice better contrast and color reproduction and whatever. But that’s probably it.

LG G4 display

Moving on, we have two vastly improved photography champs that make G3 and G Flex 2’s 13/2.1 MP cam duos look ridiculous. Namely, a highly gifted 16 megapixel shooter on the fresh spearhead’s posterior, endowed with phase detection, laser autofocus, an enhanced optical image stabilization system, dual-LED flash and ultra-wide F1.8 aperture for cutting-edge low-light performance.

Plus, an “industry-leading” 8 MP front cam for “selfies good enough to frame.”

Processors, RAM and battery life

Here’s where things get… sensitive. Qualcomm says Snapdragon 810’s heavily publicized overheating woes did not lead to LG’s S808 adoption for the G4. In fact, the chip maker claims the call was made months ago.

LG G4 benchmark

Whenever it happened, we’d much more like to know why. As in, why in the world did LG settle for a processor that’s clearly not the best? It’s decently close, with six cores and 64-bit capabilities, but according to benchmarks run by GSM Arena, it’s behind the 810, Exynos 7420 and even S801 (!!!) inside Sony’s Xperia Z3 in certain synthetic speed tests.

Maybe it’s record-setting autonomy the G4 is after? Maybe, although LG modestly expects the “new” 3,000 mAh battery to last 20 percent longer than the “old” 3,000 mAh cell. Speaking of, the battery remains user-removable, unlike the one under G Flex 2’s hood.

LG G4 camera

A RAM war is basically futile, given the G4, G3 and G Flex 2 all pack 3 gigs of the good stuff. On the plus side (or maybe not), you no longer get a downgraded 2 GB alternative.

Software, storage and others

Hello there, Android 5.1 Lollipop! It’s good to check you out in the flesh in non-stock attire before you can replace the 5.0 builds on the G3 and G Flex 2. The “human-centric” proprietary UX 4.0 is at the moment exclusive to the G4 too, bringing neat add-ons to the table such as Gesture Interval Shot, Quick Shot, Manual Mode, Quick Help and a revised Smart Notice notification system.

lg-ux-4-0

At the end of the day, the list of software modernizations isn’t impressive, and they’re all headed to older LG flagships anyway. But if you want them now (read next month), the G4 is the only way to go.

With 32 GB on-board space and external microSD support up to an additional 128 GB, the G4 matches its kins and nothing more. Then again, storage is a department you can’t tremendously boost right now.

LG G3 wireless charging

Any “other” features you should know about before concluding the G4 isn’t that big of a deal? Optional wireless charging, perhaps, plus Quick Charge 2.0 functions and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. Yawn!

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?

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.