Samsung Unveils Galaxy S5 and Gear Fit, With a Focus on Simplicity


Samsung must have made a New Year’s resolution to stay more focused.

The company has often been criticized for being gimmicky and loading as many features on its devices as it can — and for sparing no pennies in marketing them.

Samsung highlighted the improved camera and battery life for its new Galaxy S5 smartphone.

Samsung highlighted the improved camera and battery life for its new Galaxy S5 smartphone.

But its new flagship smartphone and smartwatch, both announced on Monday at a relatively subdued media event here at the Mobile World Congress, focus on being good at just a few things.

Samsung highlighted improved battery life and camera on its new smartphone, the Galaxy S5. For its new watch, the Gear Fit, Samsung focused on health-monitoring features.

“Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology,” J. K. Shin, Samsung’s chief executive of mobile communications, said at the event. “What they want is durable design and performance. They want a simple yet powerful camera. They want faster yet seamless connectivity.”

To that end, Samsung said it had spent a lot of time making the Galaxy S5’s camera software smarter. It streamlined the photo-editing tools to make it easier to alter a photo after it has been taken. It also made some improvements to hardware and software to capture richer and more vivid colors.

And to expand battery life for the Galaxy S5, Samsung developed a power-saving mode, in which the screen display is in black and white and can run only a few apps that the user chooses, like email and Internet browsing. Samsung says this mode cuts power consumption in half.


An annual event that showcases the latest devices, accessories and trends in the mobile industry.

The company has not yet announced prices for either product. But past Galaxy S phones have sold for at least $200 with a contract. Both are to be released around April.

Samsung’s last flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, did not sell as well as the company had expected, as its rival Apple regained ground at the high end of the smartphone market in recent months. It was unclear whether the disappointing performance of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 resulted from a highly saturated high-end smartphone market, a fading Galaxy S brand, or both.

While the Galaxy S phones are crucial for Samsung, the company firmly maintains its lead as the largest handset maker in the world. That is because it sells many different types of phones at different prices for various markets, from the low end to the high end.

By contrast, Apple’s iPhones are positioned as midtier and high-end phones. That is why even though Apple sells significantly fewer phones than Samsung, it makes the most profit. In the last quarter, Apple took more than three-quarters of all of the mobile industry’s profit, while Samsung took the rest, according to analysts.

The S4 was jam-packed with all kinds of new software features, like the ability to answer the phone by waving a hand above it, or the ability for the user to scroll down a screen by tilting his or her head. Critics panned many of the features, calling them technology for technology’s sake.

Jan Dawson, an independent telecom analyst for Jackdaw Research, said that Samsung’s strategy shift was “a recognition of the increasing maturity of the smartphone industry in particular, where we no longer see big leaps forward in core features.”

He added, “But it’s also disappointing to see Samsung so humbled by the relatively poor performance of the Galaxy S4 that it appears to have given up on inventing its own new ideas.”

The smartwatch Samsung announced on Monday, the Gear Fit, also has fewer features than its predecessor. It has a small, 1.84-inch curved touch screen. Like the exercise bands made by Nike and Fitbit, it can count a person’s steps. It also has a heart-rate sensor — an infrared light flashes on the user’s wrist to show when his or her blood vessels contract as the heart beats.

Samsung's Gear Fit, which has a small, 1.84-inch curved touch screen.

Samsung’s Gear Fit, which has a small, 1.84-inch curved touch screen.


The Gear Fit lacks a camera, and does not run Google’s Android software system. Instead, it runs a bare-bones operating system that Samsung does not yet have a name for. Because the software is so lightweight, the watch is able to have a battery life of at least three days, according to Samsung, about triple the battery life of the Galaxy Gear.

The watch can also synchronize with some Samsung phones to receive text message and email notifications on the screen.

The new phone can do some other tricks, too.

It supports a new cellular data technology called carrier aggregation. The technology essentially allows the phone to download data from multiple radio channels simultaneously, instead of from just one channel, which can increase the speed of data transfer significantly.

Samsung said it also designed the new phone to be waterproof in up to a meter, or slightly more than a yard, of water, protecting the device from a waterlogged fate that has prematurely ruined cellphones of all stripes. Rubber seals embedded inside the case help protect the vital parts of the phone, like the battery and SIM card.

Although the company will almost certainly market the new phone aggressively, it has told analysts it would tighten the belt on its huge marketing budget for its mobile products this year. Samsung’s low-key introduction of these products on Monday, and two other smartwatches that it announced in a news release, is a reflection of that lower spending.

Still, a smaller budget does not necessarily mean small.

Samsung introduced the devices in front of a huge audience at the Mobile World Congress. Though the event was not as lavish as past presentations, the company hired a string orchestra to play a 10-minute prelude before the event started.

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Samsung’s Next Galaxy Phone Will Probably Have A Fingerprint Sensor Just Like The IPhone 5S


Samsung Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4.

Samsung will likely release two versions of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S5. It’s the latest of several such reports we’ve heard in recent months.

According to a research note from KGI Securities, which has a great track record of predicting future products, the two Galaxy S5 phones will be designed to attack both the high and low ends of the market. 9to5Google first had the report.

The entry-level device will have a 5.2-inch screen, 16 MP camera, and 2 GB of RAM. Previous rumours have said that the device will have a plastic body.

The premium phone, which KGI calls the Galaxy S5 Prime, will have a faster processor and 3 GB of RAM. It will also likely have a fingerprint sensor similar to the one on Apple’s iPhone 5S. Other rumours have said the Prime model will have a metal body.

Finally, KGI says the Galaxy S5 Prime will have “3D gesture support,” which is likely an upgrade to the touchless gestures on Samsung’s current flagship Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 lets you swipe through screens and answer calls just by waving your hand over the device.

Samsung has already said the Galaxy S5 will launch by April along with a new Galaxy Gear smart watch.

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Phablets Are Officially A Thing, With 20M Shipped In 2013

by  (@jordanrcrook)

God help us. Phablets are officially a thing.

According to Juniper Research, phablets are expected to hit 120 million units shipped by 2018, up from the estimated 20 million phablets shipped last year (2013).

Samsung validated the trend with the super-sized Galaxy Note series, which has gone on to be surprisingly successful for the Korean electronics giant.

The growth in the space is obvious when you look at Samsung’s numbers.

With the first Galaxy Note, launched in late 2011, the company sold 2 million units in the first four months. Samsung’s most recent iteration of the device, the Galaxy Note 3, sold 5 million units in a week.

But Samsung isn’t the only company to push out giant phones. LG recently released the G Flex, with a giant, curved display, Nokia has the Lumia 1520 running Windows 8, and HTC has the One Max (to name a few).

Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t have a phablet per se. However, as phablets have grown in popularity, Apple has made slight changes to its products to accommodate these growing trends, such as the release of the iPad mini and the extension of the iPhone screen from 3.5 inches to 4-inches.

The term “phablets” rose to prominence over the past two years, connoting a tablet-smartphone hybrid. Juniper believes that the screen must be 5.6 inches to meet phablet requirements.

So we now know that phablets are here to stay. But riddle me this: Is “phablet” too popular a term to swap it out for “tablone?”

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (SM-N900) KitKat update rolling out



The Android 4.4.2 KitKat update is now available for the Galaxy Note 3 (SM-N900). Currently the 4.4.2 update is only live in Russia, but should be rolling out across the globe over the comings days. As usual carrier banded devices will have to wait a little longer, or you could always flash the update yourself when it shows up. The Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005, that’s the Snapdragon 800 CPU version, received the same Android 4.4.2 update last week.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the new KitKat features, but for a quick recap here are some of the more Samsung specific ones:

  • The UI changes will be the most instantly noticeable differences. The update switches out the more traditional Touchwiz multi-colored look for the new clean white KitKat status bar icons. Although the toggles in the notification dropdown preserve the old green-themed style.
  • Samsung has made a few changes to the lock-screen, adding a camera shortcut directly on to the lock-screen for quick access. Album art also now shows up on the lockscreen in full screen when playing music.
  • The built-in Samsung keyboard layout has been improved for use in landscape mode, paying particular attention to improved gesture typing.
  • Performance has also been generally improved with KitKat. There’s is a decent looking increase in overall benchmark scores after the update.

As with all Samsung devices, updates can be downloaded and installed by connecting your Galaxy Note 3 to your computer and using Samsung’s Kies software. Alternatively, to manually check for an update over-the-air head on over to Settings > More > About Device > Software update > Update.


Apple and Samsung make up two-thirds of the U.S. smartphone market

Apple and Samsung make up two-thirds of the U.S. smartphone market


Motorola, LG, and HTC are getting left in the dust, according to new data from research outfit NDP Group.

According to a study, Apple and Samsung account for a huge 68 percent of the smartphone market in the United States — and that’s a trend that’s only being magnified as time goes by.

You want a chart? We got a chart:


As you can see above, wins for Apple and Samsung add up to losses for exactly everyone else.

iPhones alone captured 42 percent of the market, up from 35 percent in 2012. Samsung bumped up 4 percent year over year from 22 percent to 26 percent.

In terms of OS market share around the globe, however, Android is still the clear winner, capturing a whopping 81 percent.

HTC saw the biggest losses in terms of market share, and the all-time loser of 2013 was — drum roll — BlackBerry.

The report also shows a correlating spike in data usage from 5.5 GB to 6.6 GB per person a month between 2012 and 2013.

Also, more smartphones and more data usage mean one more big increase: streaming media. For streaming music alone, the percentage of people who stream media on their smartphones rose from 41 percent at the end of 2012 to 52 percent at the end of 2013.

“It’s not surprising that hardware manufacturers such as Beats are leveraging partnerships with carriers like AT&T to break into the streaming music market,” said John Buffone, an executive director, industry analyst, for connected intelligence, in a statement on the results.

“This allows AT&T to offer subscribers more of what they want in the way of innovative music apps and provides Beats a partner capable of driving trial in a market where consumers already have an affinity for the music services they use.”

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Study shows Galaxy S III is Samsung’s most popular phone


SUMMARY: Samsung’s Galaxy S III accounts for more web traffic in North America than all three Galaxy Notes combined. 

There’s a ton of Samsung smartphones out there, but do you ever

photo: Samsung

wonder which model is the most popular? The results might surprise you: Online ad network Chitika has compiled Samsung smartphone- and tablet-based online ad impressionsin its network to show which phones accounted for the most traffic in North America, and which size tablets are the most popular.

Chitika Samsung phones

You might have expected to the see the newer Galaxy S4 at the top of this list, but the Galaxy S III takes top billing, account for 33.9 percent of catalogued impressions from December 1 through December 29, 2013. The Galaxy S4 does come in at a relatively close second, at 23.8 percent. I was surprised by this for a second, but then it made sense. After all, the Galaxy S III has been on the market for nearly two years, so there are bound to be plenty more devices in use than the Galaxy S4.

What I am more surprised by, however, is the margin by which Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone line trounces the Galaxy Note “phablet” competition. The Galaxy Note 2 accounts for a pretty respectable 8.6 percent share of traffic, which is more than the Galaxy S II. But overall, traffic from all three Galaxy Note handsets only account for 13.3 percent of overall traffic.

This goes to show that, while phablets are gaining in popularity, they still don’t present a major threat to the more standard-sized smartphone. This line might start to get a little blurry, though, as Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is expected to feature a 5.25-inch screen, which would place it firmly within the phablet territory. I get the feeling that it’s the Galaxy S brand that sells smartphones more than the screen size, so phablets might soon seen an ever greater surge in popularity.

Chitika Samsung tablets

Another interesting bit of information in the study is the breakdown of Samsung’s tablet traffic by screen size. As you can see, 10.1-inch tablets (the same size as Apple’s iPad Air), account for more than half of all Samsung’s tablet traffic. 7-inch tablets (that’s the same size as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD), meanwhile, account for 40 percent of the traffic. All of the in-between sizes don’t fare so well. That’s not surprising, as tablet sizes seem to be a little more consistent than smartphone sizes right now.

It’s important to note that this data is based on a single ad network. And even though it’s a rather large ad network, these numbers still don’t give us any concrete numbers for market share. Still it’s a pretty good indication of current trends.

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Moment lenses are the latest attempt to make your smartphone’s camera better

By Dan Seifert

Moment lens for smartphones

Smartphone have essentially changed photography as we know it. The always-with-us devices have enabled more people to take more photos than ever before. The top four most popular cameras on Flickr bear this out: they are all iPhones. But as popular as smartphones are for taking pictures, they are saddled with a variety of limitations, including fixed focal length lenses. Subsequently, an entire industry of accessory lenses has cropped up, all of which aim to expand upon or improve your smartphone’s camera.

Moment is the latest company to attempt this feat, and its wide-angle and telephoto lenses are designed to complement an iPhone’s, iPad’s, or Samsung Galaxy’s built-in camera lens. Launching on Kickstarter today, the company has the backing of Marc Barros, formerly of Contour Camera, a company that produced GoPro-like action cameras.


The wide-angle Moment lens offers an 18mm field of view, while the telephoto version provides a 70mm field of view (an iPhone’s typical field of view is about 32mm). Both are constructed of machined metal and glass, as opposed to plastic, and are designed to feel like the premium lenses you might use with a high-end still camera. Moment promises that the lenses are made to exacting standards that minimize distortion and chromatic aberration.


To get the lenses attached to your phone, Moment is providing mounts compatible with the Apple iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, and Samsung Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy S4. The mount is a thin metal plate, which lets you screw the lens onto the back of the phone, much like you would mount a lens onto a DSLR. Moment says that the mount works with or without a case, and emphasizes that the lenses are fast to attach and easy to use.

Moment isn’t the only third-party lens you can get for your smartphone — Olloclip has been making similar accessories for years. But the company hopes that its emphasis on build quality and image quality will enable it to win over some of the more dedicated smartphone shooters. Interested buyers can back the project on Kickstarter starting today, with shipments expected to begin in May or June of this year. The company is looking to raise $50,000 to support its efforts, and backers that pledge $49 or more will receive either a wide-angle or telephoto lens, while a $99 pledge earns both versions.

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