The WiFi Alliance’s primary intention is to certify hotspots. The specification it’s using is the result of cooperation between service providers and equipment manufacturers, with the aim of creating an industry-wide solution for shared WiFi access and roaming agreements.
Hardware manufactures like Cisco, Intel, MediaTek and Qualcomm have already received Passpoint certification. Once the hardware testing is complete, it will be up to the service providers to show a little spirit of cooperation.
Audiophiles have hotly debated whether the Samsung Galaxy S3 would come equipped with a Wolfson digital-to-analog converter for high quality audio output. This week, the Scottish electronics manufacturer stepped up to confirm that its WM1811 Audio Hub is the audio chip hiding inside the Galaxy S3. But wait, the US version is different. The US GS3 uses Qualcomm's WCD9310 instead of the Wolfson chip - apparently the Snapdragon S4 is at work here.
Wolfson provides a terrific product, Their Audio Hub promises "crystal clear voice call quality" and "enriched audio playback for music and video." It’s also packed with a 24-bit hi-fi DAC and active noise reduction circuits.
Just to show that some of us are never happy, some audio experts are claiming that the Galaxy S2 equipment is better. The GS2’s Yamaha DAC converts digital data into an analog signal that can drive a speaker (like the one in your headphones.) Good thing most of us can’t tell the difference.
The new Samsung Galaxy Note “phablet” is in the works as a follow up to the success of its first phone/tablet hybrid – the Galaxy Note.
The Galaxy Note was one of the key contributors to Samsung's success in the past year. Over seven million devices have been sold worldwide. That beats the company’s sales projections from back in March by two million units.
According to MK Business News, Samsung plans to release the new handset in October. Samsung apparently wants its new Note to go head to head with the Apple iPhone 5 that is also expected to enter the market in the fall.
The Galaxy Note2 will have a display that is rumored to be larger than the current Note’s 5.3-inches. It will up the technology bar with a display made from “unbreakable plane” (or “UBP”), a precursor to the flexible display. The Note II is also is rumored to have a slimmer design than the Note, a quad-core processor and an Android Jelly Bean OS.
No details on pricing have been provided by Samsung.
Android texting application Swype has been in the design phase for awhile, but its beta shows it has evolved into a sophisticated next-generation app with four-in-one keyboard and voice capabilities.
Chief among the app's redesign is the option of using one of four kinds of keyboards: traditional letter-to-letter swiping, while adding the ability to type with predictive text input, use an integrated Dragon button to speak the text, or rely on the old peck-and-hunt one-finger motion. Users can swap between any of the modes limitlessly.
Swype’s new features also include next-word prediction that allows the app to build on historical usage, compiling every word a user enters in emails, texts, or other posts. Swype's 55 language downloads allow users to communicate in any language they can speak. Swype can be installed on all Android based cell phones including the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S2 as well as HTC One X and Motorola Droid Razr
According to Michael Thompson, EVP and general manager for Nuance Mobile (the speech-recognition software building company that acquired Swype last October), "People use their keyboards every day in every way — so input needs to be fast and simple. The new Swype living, learning keyboard users in a new era of input, where the keyboard adapts to the user's unique way of communicating every time they swype, speak, tap, or write."
The Swype Beta for Android is available for download via beta.swype.com. There's also an SDK for other operating systems.
Apple’s request for a court order to block the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smartphones in the US has been denied by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California.
Apple wanted a court order which would have prevented the June 21st market launch of Samsung’s latest flagship device. Reuters reported that the judge claimed the case would overload her calendar - she is overseeing Apple’s high-stakes trial against Samsung that is schedule to begin in July.
Apple isn’t getting anywhere with its aggressive legal strategy. Koh’s decision comes shortly after a federal judge tossed out Apple’s upcoming case against Google’s Motorola Mobility.
In its attempt to limit growth of Android, Apple has waged an international patent war since 2010. Last year, Google’s Android became the world's best-selling mobile operating platform. Apple's opponents say the iPhone 4S maker is trying to use patents to dominate the market.
HTC refuses to offer cheaper handsets just to boost sales. Despite struggling to match the sales numbers of its competitors, the company is sticking to its strategy of producing only medium- to high-end handsets.
HTC CEO Peter Chou defended the company’s strategy in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We don’t want to destroy our brand image. We insist on using better materials to make better products that offer premium experience. Many consumers like that.”
Chou’s comments come at a time when many industry watchers are beginning to question HTC’s strategy. Motorola and Samsung are capturing the low-end handset market in the Chinese market, but Chao insists that HTC will not manufacture “cheap, cheap phones” to boost its market share.
HTC will increase its marketing efforts and expand its distribution network into emerging markets. Chou expects that 2012 Chinese shipments will reach three times last year’s total. Shipments to India and other emerging markets are steadily growing. Chou is adamant, “We think our strategy is successful.”
Now that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is in consumer hands, Samsung is telling how they were so good at keeping the details of the new device top secret. They were so tight-lipped that engineer Buyong-Joon Lee wouldn’t even admit what he was doing when asked by his 11-year-old son.
The lengths took to keep us guessing were extensive. Handsets were moved between facilities in locked boxes. One executive was charged with hand-delivering prototype devices to network partners. Samsung further befuddled watchers by producing three Samsung Galaxy S3 devices with completely different specs. Each model was designed and constructed as if it was the final product. Engineering teams had to build and rebuild components to accommodate each design, just as if all of them were the final model.
Of course had to get help from lots of internal departments to get the device to market, but even they were kept in the dark as much as possible. For example, just to set prices and buy components, the procurement department had to rely on written descriptions of parts, not the parts themselves.
Well, Samsung did the seemingly impossible task these days of launching a flagship device before the market knew all its secrets.
Ask anyone what Near-field communication (NFC) technology does and they’ll tell you it processes mobile payments. Now Samsung is going to give NFC a whole new meaning with TecTiles.
TecTiles are little “stickers” with a simple NFC tag inside. Each sticker lets the user “program” the sticker to have a specific response whenever any device with an NFC chip passes nearby. You designate a TecTile to perform a specific function like open a website, change a device setting, make a call, download a document, or whatever else you’ve told the sticker to do. When you tap the screen above the TecTile it will do what you programmed it to.
Unlike QR codes, NFC doesn’t require launching an app or using your phone’s camera — just put your phone on top of it and hit “OK.”
We hear the app is very easy to use, and within seconds we were able to program the TecTile with simple commands like phoning a specific number. As long as you don’t “lock” the TecTile, you can re-set it to other programs.
Samsung’s TecTile app runs on any Samsung phone with an NFC chip, including the Samsung Galaxy S 3 and Samsung Galaxy S 2, the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S, and the Galaxy S Blaze. The TecTile app will be available in Google Play. You can purchase stickers in packs of five for $14.99 from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Hey, T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 2 owners: your Android 4.0.3 is ready for you. If you want it, you’ve got to go and get it yourself. Samsung requires you use their Kies software from a computer to download and install the update, so it’s not available directly to your cell phone.
Now if you want to use it, you’ll need to work a little more to find what’s different about this Android version. Samsung’s TouchWiz touch interface looks pretty much the same as the last version, so the changes won’t be blatantly obvious.
The Android 4.0 update incorporates the majority of the new features Google introduced with the Ice Cream Sandwich version for new devices. Learn how to install ICS on your phone from T-Mobile’s support page. To learn more about all the changes included in the new OS, T-Mobile has put together a detailed “Top 10 things to know about TouchWiz Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS): Samsung Galaxy S II” page on its site as well.
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 has been an interesting one to watch. All the pre-market speculation and hype have rivaled what always ushers in a new Apple. Samsung is the leader in global smartphone sales, and, with the arrival of their Galaxy S3, they’ve proven they can create a device that is a serious Apple contender.
Let’s take an initial look at the Galaxy S3, and see if it lives up to the buzz.
The Galaxy S3 comes in two colors: marble white and “Pebble Blue” (although the blue has a distinctly blue-gray look). Its rounded-edges and HyperGlaze polycarbonate backing enhances the smooth (but not slick) feeling of having it in your hand. The Galaxy S3 is not a cheap-feeling phone. It's got a really solid Gorilla Glass 2 front, a well-packaged interior and a robust battery cover.
Samsung increased the screen size from the Galaxy S 2 ’s 4.3 to 4.8in for the S3. Its dimensions - 70 x 8.9 x 136mm - make it very slim. It weighs in at 132g, less than the Apple iPhone 4S. Compared to the weight of the One X, it’s almost identical. Overall, the S3 is nice to hold. Samsung has created a large device that doesn’t feel like one.
The display is a superb Super AMOLED with a 720x1280 resolution - identical to the HTC One X. The contrast is excellent and the screen looks very bright. Whites are more luminous. Animations look clean and crisp. You hardly notice the use of PenTile array technology.
On the downside, the auto-brightness setting makes for awkward transitions. The screen will notably dim and then brighten again despite there being no change in external lighting. The screen is readable in bright light, although not great in direct sunlight.
It’s nice to see a raised rather than recessed physical home button, though its short-and-wide, making it a bit more difficult to consistently activate. It might take some getting used to.
Sitting on either side of the home button are capacitive touch buttons for the menu and back functions. These are very sensitive. You might find yourself frequently backing out of apps by accident.
You can tell that Samsung really focused on optimizing the Galaxy S3 for performance.
The North American version of the device features a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC and 2GB of RAM. These specs ensure that the S3 will be LTE-compatible. By contrast, the international S3 has a quad-core Exynos processor and 1GB of RAM. Storage wise, there are 16GB and 32GB models available. Word has it that there’s a 64GB on its way.
It remains to be seen how performance is affected by the extra gigabyte of RAM. Samsung says that the extra memory won’t affect battery life. In a perfect world, more storage will improve app performance, load times and overall multitasking, but not draw a lot of juice.
While the Adreno 225 GPU inside the Snapdragon S4 SoC trails that of the Mali-400 that powers the international Galaxy S3’s Mali-400, CPU-based performance is still incredible. Single-threaded performance is a vast improvement over the Cortex-A9 of the quad-core Exynos 4212. The sacrifice is gaming performance.
Turn on the screen and swipe through the seven home screens. You’ll find that the swiping action is smooth in a way that no other Android handset has been able to achieve. Just looking at overall performance, Galaxy S3 is comparable to HTC One X, with the exception of a perceptible improvement to the smoothness of Android operation on the Galaxy S3.
The camera system has an 8MP rear lens as well as a front-facing camera. From a subjective viewpoint, the rear lens took some nice pictures, but that’s just an initial impression. There’s a burst mode and a “best picture” function that will nominate what the software regards as the “best shot” from a group. Video can be taken at 1080p and the macro functions were very impressive.
The Android 4.0.4 with TouchWIZ Nature UX software makes the camera easy to operate with Android. For instance, it’s very cool when you can swipe your palm over the screen to take a screenshot.
It’s too bad there isn’t a dedicated camera shutter button. Still, the interface is nicely updated and shutter performance is significantly improved.
The Snapdragon S4 SoC is a very efficient chip and based on early tests of the international version, Samsung has done a great job designing in features that maximize battery life. The Galaxy S3’s hefty 2100mAh battery is impressive. The North American Galaxy S3 should stay charged longer than the European quad-core Exynos processor, but it hasn’t lived up to the claims that it has double the life of the One X battery. In fact, we found the two to be almost identical. Take note that the Galaxy S3 has a removable battery. The HTC One X does not.
This version of S Voice is supposed to allow for greater voice control than previous iterations, but in testing, its performance was patchy. For instance, waking up the phone using spoken commands didn’t always work.
The Smart Stay function allows you to continuously read a screen without worrying about the backlight dimming. This is possible because of the impressive front camera.
A motion control feature allows you to automatically dial your contacts by raising the phone to your ear. Neither the Smart Stay nor the motion control functions were enabled by default, so you’ll have to dig through the settings on your phone.
Polaris Office is a nice feature for business users. It allows you to open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your phone.
Well done, Samsung. Despite the company’s pre-market theme describing a design “inspired by nature”, they’ve created a functional and fun smartphone that may have attracted a long-term following.
Serious competition among smartphone makers is always good for us users. It gives us more choices. Samsung’s Galaxy S3, the HTC One X and even the HTC One S might mean you’ll have a tough time going with only one new smartphone.
It’s nice to know that regardless of carrier or network speed, all S3 models are identical on the outside. The difference is on the inside. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, you might just want to wait until the Galaxy S 3’s June 20th release to make your decision.