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Samsung Shrinks its 200 Megapixel Camera Sensor for Phones

Thursday, 11:19 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung Electronics has announced a new camera sensor for phones with 200 megapixel resolution. While Samsung already makes 200 megapixel camera sensors, the new ISOCELL HP3 sensor has pixels that are 12 percent smaller, enabling "approximately 20 percent reduction in camera module surface area, allowing smartphone manufacturers to keep their premium devices slim." The sensor also has several cutting-edge features, including "Super QPD" auto-focus, where every group of four pixels can perform PDAF (phase-detection auto-focus) in both horizontal and vertical directions. The sensor also supports staggered HDR and a triple-ISO mode that can capture three different exposures at once, outputting 14-bit color depth. The sensor is designed to use pixel binning in most situations, and offers two different binning modes: combining four pixels into one for 50 megapixel output, or combining 16 pixels into one for 12.5 megapixel output. The Samsung ISOCELL HP3 is currently sampling, and "mass production is set to begin this year."


Dish Launches "Project Genesis" Standalone 5G Network in 120+ Cities

Jun 14, 2022, 3:25 PM   by Rich Brome

Dish has finally launched its own, from-scratch 5G Standalone (SA) network in "120+ Cities" spanning the US. The launch comes just hours before the FCC's deadline for the company to launch service covering 20% of the country. It's not immediately clear how much native coverage the network will provide in each city, but the company does provide customers with roaming service on other networks. Dish calls the network Project Genesis (sometimes written "Gene5is"), and the service "Smart 5G". Cities with service at launch include: Albuquerque, Boise, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Hartford, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Nashville, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Pueblo, Raleigh, Rochester, Salt Lake City, Spokane, Springfield, St. Louis, and Stockton. Dish currently appears to be offering only one phone option: the Samsung Galaxy S22 for $400 (50% off the usual price). This seems to be the phone of choice for 5G SA technology at the moment, as it's the same and only model that T-Mobile says is currently compatible with its new high-speed 5G SA service. Dish started offering commercial 5G SA service in launch city Las Vegas last month, after a beta period that started last September.


T-Mobile Achieves 3 Gbps Using Standalone 5G in Mid-Band

Jun 14, 2022, 11:06 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has successfully tested 5G triple carrier aggregation (NR CA) using 5G standalone (SA) and mid-band spectrum, achieving an impressive downlink data rate of 3 Gbps. Triple CA is not new, but non-standalone (NSA) 5G requires that one of those three carriers be slower 4G, limiting potential data speeds. SA mode allows all three carriers to be 5G, and two can even be in the same band. T-Mobile's band 41 mid-band spectrum is wide enough to allow that in some parts of the country. T-Mobile's test combined 100 MHz of band 41 (2.5 GHz) + another 90 Hz of band 41 + 20 Mhz of band 25 (1.9 GHz), for a total of 210 Hz of bandwidth. The test used a Samsung Galaxy S22, and customers with that phone can experience NR CA in some areas today. "This capability will expand across the Un-carrier's network and to additional devices in the near future."


T-Mobile Launches 5G Voice

Jun 3, 2022, 9:59 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has achieved commercial launch of VoNR (Voice over New Radio), the key technology that enables a phone to operate 100% on a 5G network, including voice calls, instead of relying on a 4G network. For now, the service is available only in limited areas of Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City. But T-Mobile "plans to expand VoNR to many more areas this year." The initial launches of 5G were wholly dependent on a 4G network, making use of 5G only for specific data sessions. The launch of 5G SA (stand-alone) technology allowed phones to operate mostly on the 5G network when available, including when the phone is idle. T-Mobile launched this technology nationwide in 2020. But phones still need to switch to 4G for voice calls. VoNR addresses that last missing piece, enabling a "pure 5G" connection. For customers, the only difference for now will be faster set-up times at the start of voice calls. But the technology lays the foundation for "advanced capabilities like network slicing that rely on a continuous connection to a 5G core." Currently, the only T-Mobile phone with VoNR enabled is the Samsung Galaxy S21. But T-Mobile promises that more 5G phones will have the functionality enabled later this year, including the Samsung Galaxy S22.


Visible Moving to "Fully eSIM-based"

May 19, 2022, 11:01 AM   by Rich Brome

Visible has added flagship Samsungs to the list of phones for which it supports activation via eSIM. New customers with a Samsung S22 series, S21 series, or Note20 series Samsung phone can now start mobile service with Visible "in as little as 15 minutes" by simply downloading the Visible app to sign up and activate their phone, with no physical SIM card required. Visible already supports eSIMs on newer Apple iPhones and Google Pixel phones. Visible says it has an "ongoing commitment to become a fully eSIM-based wireless carrier." Visible offers 5G service on the Verizon network, and the company is backed by Verizon.


Samsung Doubles Speed of its Flash Storage

May 5, 2022, 1:20 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung Semiconductor has announced its first UFS 4.0 chips, which will provide internal storage for future phones that its both much faster and more power-efficient. The chips will be come in capacities up to 1 TB. UFS 4.0 offers a speed of up to 23.2 Gbps per lane, double that of UFS 3.1, the existing standard. Samsung will start mass production of the chips in the third quarter of this year.


Cheaper Samsung Galaxy A13 Launches on AT&T Without 5G

Apr 8, 2022, 1:13 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 8, 2022, 1:47 PM

While AT&T (and Cricket) already offers the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G, the company has confusingly just launched a very different model called the "Samsung Galaxy A13" (no 5G). Besides lacking 5G, most of the specs are also different, including the display, cameras, processor, RAM, and storage. Instead of a 6.5-inch HD+ display with 90 Hz refresh, it has a 6.6-inch FHD+ display with 60 Hz refresh. It also adds a 5 megapixel wide-angle camera, but the front camera is 8 megapixel instead of 32. It's powered by a Samsung Exynos chip instead of a MediaTek. The RAM goes from 4 to 3 GB and the storage takes a hit from 64 to 32 GB. Both models do share a 5,000 mAh battery and 50 megapixel main camera. For all the downgrades, the new 4G model is only $10 cheaper from Cricket ($160 instead of $170). From AT&T, the new 4G model is available with prepaid service for $190 ($95 with a new line), while the 5G model is available to prepaid and postpaid customers for $250.


Samsung Launching Self-Repair Program

Mar 31, 2022, 2:10 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung will launch a self-repair option this summer for the company's most popular models, including the Galaxy S20 and S21 series. Customers will be able to order a kit that will let them replace their broken display assembly, back glass, or charging port themselves. The kits are being made in partnership with iFixit, and include genuine Samsung parts, repair tools, and intuitive, visual, step-by-step repair guides. The program also makes it easy to return used parts to Samsung for responsible recycling. Samsung plans to expand the program to more devices and repair types in the future.


Troomi's KidSmart OS Now Lets Parents Monitor Kids' Texting

Mar 30, 2022, 10:03 AM   by Rich Brome

Troomi — a phone and phone service designed specifically for kids as a safe introduction to phones — has introduced Remote Text Monitoring. Troomi phones are Samsung smartphones with Troomi's unique KidSmart OS. Parents can monitor and manage their kids' phones via the cloud-based Troomi Parent Portal, where parents can now view all texts and images sent and received by their children. KidSmart OS and the Parent Portal provide a number of expected features for this type of service, including real-time location tracking, remote activation of specific phone features, and the ability to control access to specific apps and contacts. A special web browser only allows access to white-listed web sites that are known to be safe for kids. A Troomi phone works with a Troomi service plan, which starts at $20/month for unlimited talk+text and 1 GB of data. Access to (curated) apps and the safe web browser requires a $30/month plan.


Samsung Galaxy A53 Coming to US in Two Weeks

Mar 17, 2022, 10:12 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 17, 2022, 10:49 AM

Samsung today fleshed out more of its 2022 lineup of affordable Galaxy A-series phones. The new Galaxy A73, A53, and A33 are nearly identical in design and features, differing only in a few display and camera specs. All three models have a full-HD+ Super AMOLED display with a thinner bezel. The A73 and A53 have 120 Hz display refresh, while the A33 is 90 Hz. The screen sizes are 6.7", 6.5", and 6.4", respectively. The A53 has a 64 megapixel main camera with OIS, 12 megapixel wide-angle camera, 5 megapixel macro camera, depth camera, and a 32 megapixel selfie camera. The A73 bumps the main camera up to 108 megapixel, while A33 steps down the resolution a bit with a 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, and 13 megapixel selfie camera. All three models have 5G, a large 5,000 mAh battery, 25-watt fast charging, expandable storage (up to 1 TB), and a fingerprint reader. The stereo speakers have been made louder and support Dolby Atmos. The body uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and provides IP67 water resistance. Samsung has brought some key camera features from its flagship phones to the A series for the first time, such as 12-frame night mode, auto frame rate for better low-light video, and enhanced portrait mode with better edge detection. The phones ship with Android 12 (Samsung One UI 4.1), and Samsung will offer an industry-leading four generations of major OS updates. Samsung calls the new design Ambient Edge; both the A33 and A53 (shown in photo) will be available in black, white, blue, and peach. Samsung also announced an A23 for markets outside the US that steps down the specs with 4G and an LCD display. Samsung isn't commenting on US launch details for the A73 and A33 just yet, but the Galaxy A53 will be available on March 31st at T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as AT&T and Samsung.com on April 1st. It will start at $450 and come with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB built-in storage. Pre-orders start today and are eligible to receive a pair of Galaxy Buds Live.


Samsung Brings S22 Features to More Galaxy Phones

Mar 16, 2022, 9:54 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung is starting to roll out its One UI 4.1 software to more phones, bringing new features to much of the company's lineup. The new features include Google Duo Live Sharing, grammar correction in the Samsung keyboard, and streamlined photo sharing. Samsung has also enhanced its Object Eraser for photos to intelligently handle shadows and reflections. Finally, the S21 series will gain access to the Expert RAW camera app, which gives users more manual control and a "DSLR-like experience". The update will be available first for the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3, followed by the S21 series and A series, followed by the S20 series, Z Fold, Z Flip, Note series, and S10 series.


Samsung to Give Users Control Over "Game Optimizing" Throttling

Mar 7, 2022, 12:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung was recently accused of limiting device performance ("throttling") for certain apps — but not benchmark apps — on recent Galaxy phones. Samsung says this is intended behaviour of its Game Optimizing Service, but will nonetheless provide new options for users to control these features.


Android 12's Dynamic Color Coming to More Phones

Feb 10, 2022, 12:11 PM   by Rich Brome

Google announced that its "Material You" interface design — introduced with Android 12 and launched first on Pixel phones — will soon launch on phones from Samsung, OnePlus, and more. Specifically, these phones will all get the "dynamic color" feature, which automatically matches the user interface color scheme to your chosen wallpaper. This personalized color scheme applies not only to the system interface and Google apps, but also within third-party apps that have been fully updated for Android 12. The new Samsung Galaxy S22 series will ship with this feature, and a forthcoming software update will bring it to OnePlus phones such as the OnePlus 9 Pro.


Samsung Extends Android Update Promise to Five Years

Feb 9, 2022, 1:30 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced a new commitment to offering "up to four generations of One UI and Android OS upgrades" — as well as five years of security updates — on its premium smartphones. The company previously only promised three years of upgrades. This industry-leading commitment applies to the Galaxy S21 series (including the S21 FE), the new S22 series announced today, as well as the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3. The promise will also apply to future S- and Z-series devices.


Google Duo Live Sharing Mimics Apple's SharePlay

Feb 9, 2022, 1:21 PM   by Rich Brome

Google and Samsung have announced a new "live sharing" feature of Duo, Google's video calling app. Much like Apple's new SharePlay in FaceTime, the feature lets people on a video call share specific experiences like watching a video. Live Sharing also supports Samsung Notes, Gallery, Google Maps, and Jamboard, Google's "digital whiteboard" app. The feature will be available first on the new Samsung Galaxy S22 series.


Samsung Refreshes Galaxy S Series with S Pen, New Cameras

Feb 9, 2022, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 9, 2022, 11:09 AM

Samsung today announced its lineup of flagship phones for 2022: the Galaxy S22 series. The top-end S22 Ultra sees the biggest changes as it essentially absorbs Samsung's Note series with an integrated S Pen stylus and a more Note-like shape and design, instead of the Contour Cut design of the other models. Those two other models — the Galaxy S22 and S22+ — have a reconfigured camera system that's more like the Ultra models, with the main camera having extra resolution instead of the telephoto camera like last year. The main camera is 50 megapixel, plus a 12 megapixel wide-angle camera and 10 megapixel 3x tele camera. All three models have new Adaptive Pixel technology that captures both pixel-binned and non-binned images and merges them so users don't have to choose between high resolution and better low-light image quality. A new AI Stereo Depth Map feature delivers portrait shots with well-defined edges down to the hair level, and works with both people and pets. Auto Framing can track up to ten subjects at once and adjust focus and zoom to match. The S22 and S22+ are slightly smaller and lighter than their predecessors, with slightly smaller displays and batteries to match. All three models use the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flagship chip from Qualcomm in their US variants. Other specs and features are mostly the same compared to last year's models, including 120 Hz AMOLED displays, 8K video capture, IP68 water rating, at least 8 GB RAM, ultrasonic fingerprint reader, and two-way wireless charging. Pricing and availability are also in line with last year.

  • The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a slightly shorter and wider shape compared to last year, but the display still measures 6.8" diagonally, and the battery is still 5,000 mAh. The camera configuration and basic specs are the same, including a 108 megapixel main camera, dual telephoto cameras (10x and 3x), and a 40 megapixel front camera. An exclusive Expert RAW app provides a "DSLR-like experience" and lets you capture 16-bit RAW images using any camera. The OIS (optical image stabilization) has been improved with wider correction angles. The S Pen has 70% lower latency compared to the S21 Ultra. The S22 Ultra also supports up to 45W fast charging. The starting configuration still costs $1,200 and comes with 128 GB storage, but only comes with 8 GB RAM instead of 12 like last year. (Samsung made a similar tweak with the S21 and S21+ last year.) Step-up options come with 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB of storage, all with 12 GB RAM. Color options are Phantom Black, Phantom White, green, and burgundy. Samsung will offer three additional colors exclusively through its web site: Graphite, Sky Blue, and Red.
  • The Galaxy S22+ has a 6.6-inch display, 4,500 mAh battery, 45W fast charging, and Wi-Fi 6E. It's more durable thanks to a body made almost entirely of two new materials: Samsung's own Armor Aluminum, and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+. The S22+ starts at $1,000 for 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, with a 256 GB option also available. It will be available in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold, and green. The samsung.com exclusive colors will be Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue, and Violet.
  • The standard Galaxy S22 is smaller, with a 6.1-inch display and 3,700 mAh battery. Other differences compared to the S22+ include 25W fast charging, Wi-Fi 6 (not 6E), and no UWB. But it keeps everything else, including the same camera system and advanced materials. The color and storage options are also the same. It starts at $800.
All three phones go on sale February 25th with all major carriers. Pre-orders start today, and include a free upgrade to the next storage tier (1 TB option excluded). Samsung is also offering a credit of $100–200 to spend on either a Galaxy Watch4 or Samsung's new Freestyle smart projector. Separately, but for a limited time, AT&T is offering 50% of select Samsung accessories with the purchase of any Samsung smartphone.

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Samsung Revives S21 Fan Edition

Jan 3, 2022, 9:04 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 4, 2022, 9:01 AM

A model previously rumored to have fallen victim to supply-chain issues, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (Fan Edition) is finally coming to market this month. Samsung will use the new model as the more-affordable alternative to the forthcoming S22 series, rather than keep last year's flagship S21 models on the market at lower prices as the company has done in the past. This new strategy should help the company address ongoing supply-chain issues. Compared to the standard Galaxy S21 model, the new S21 FE has a larger display (6.4"), larger battery (4,500 mAh), and higher-resolution front camera (32 megapixel). It still achieves a lower price point with less RAM (6 GB), a less-capable telephoto camera (8 megapixel instead of 64), and an optical fingerprint reader instead of ultrasonic. It keeps "fan-favorite" features of the S21 series such as the Snapdragon 888 chip, 120 Hz display refresh, triple rear cameras (including wide and tele), IP68 water rating, wireless charging, fast charging, NFC, and Wi-Fi 6. It ships with Android 12 and the US version will support both sub-6 GHz and mmWave 5G. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE goes on sale January 11th for $700 (with 6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage). A version with 8 GB RAM + 256 GB storage will also be available, for $770. It will be available in four colors: lavender, white, olive, and graphite. AT&T, Cricket, Verizon, and US Cellular will carry the phone, and it will also be available directly from Samsung's web site. Verizon confirmed that it will offer all four colors and both memory options, starting January 11th.


Samsung Shipped 4x as Many Foldables in 2021

Dec 31, 2021, 4:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has revealed that it sold more Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 phones in the first month of sales than all the foldable phones it sold in 2020. Samsung's total foldable phone shipments for 2021 were four times that of 2020.


Samsung Brings 5G to Almost its Whole Lineup

Dec 1, 2021, 11:59 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A13 5G, its most affordable 5G phone yet at $250. Typically, the two most affordable phones in Samsung's annual lineup are the A1x and A0x models, leaving the new Galaxy A03s as possibly the only model in Samsung's 2022 US lineup without 5G. Key features of the Galaxy A13 5G include a 50 megapixel camera, 90 Hz adaptive refresh display, 5,000 mAh battery, and NFC. It also has 15W fast charging, 64 GB of expandable storage, a fingerprint reader on the side, headset jack, macro camera, and depth camera. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip. It launches this Friday with AT&T and on samsung.com. T-Mobile will also launch it in January. The Galaxy A03s will sell for just $159. It has "a long-lasting battery, triple camera system, and fingerprint security". It launches in January with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.


Samsung Starts Rolling Out Android 12

Nov 15, 2021, 9:29 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has completed the beta period of its One UI 4 software for Android and started rolling out the final version to its phones, starting with the Galaxy S21 series. One UI 4 is Samsung's customized version of Android 12, which was finalized and launched by Google last month. One UI 4 includes many key features of Android 12, including improved widgets, visible indicators when the camera and/or microphone are in use, and a new privacy dashboard in the settings area. The S21 series will get the update starting today, while recent S series, Z series, and A series phones will get the update "soon". This includes the S10 series and newer, Note10 series and newer, all Z series and Fold models, and the Ax2 series models, from the A42 and higher.


Samsung Develops First LPDDR5X RAM

Nov 10, 2021, 10:47 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has announced a next-generation RAM chip that offers 1.3 time faster speeds while using 20% less power. This new type of RAM is called LPDDR5X, and the improvements are compared the best existing RAM technology for phones, LPDDR5. Samsung is the first company to announce chips based on the new LPDDR5X standard. LPDDR5X will offer data processing speeds of up to 8.5 gigabits per second (Gbps). Samsung's chip leverages a 14nm manufacturing process technology. The chip being announced is 16 Gb (gigabits), which is 2 GB (gigabytes). Samsung's multi-chip package technology will allow them to make parts that pack up to 64 gigabytes (GB) of this RAM into one physical component. AnandTech expects devices using these new chips to hit the market in 2023.


Samsung Lets You Design Your Own Galaxy Z Flip3

Oct 20, 2021, 9:27 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Flip3 Bespoke Edition today. For a $100 premium, Samsung will now let you choose your own frame color, as well as the outer cover glass colors. Samsung is offering five different colors for the outer cover glass (Blue, Yellow, Pink, White, or Black), which can be different for the top and bottom. You can also choose from black or silver for the metal frame. The Galaxy Z Flip3 Bespoke Edition is available today from samsung.com, starting at $1099. Samsung also announced a future service to swap cover glass colors "for a fee" "later on".


Samsung Intros 200 Megapixel Camera Sensor for Phones

Sep 2, 2021, 12:57 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung's new Isocell HP1 camera sensor features 200 megapixel resolution. That unprecedented number of pixels enables several specific new capabilities. The most important is variable pixel binning, which Samsung calls "ChameleonCell". While existing high-res sensors are designed with a fixed pixel binning mode of either 2x2 or 3x3, the HP1 can switch between 4x4 binning (offering 12.5 megapixel output), 2x2 binning (offering 50 megapixel output), or no pixel binning for full 200 megapixel output. The 4x4 mode combines 16 pixels acting as one, for better low-light performance. The 2x2 mode enables, for the first time, the capture of 8K video while benefitting from pixel binning for better quality. The HP1 is small enough that it "fits comfortably in today's handheld devices". The Isocell HP1 is sampling to device makers now. Samsung's first 108-megapixel sensor was announced in August 2019 and ended up in Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra the following February.


Samsung Foldables Include New Option to Extend Battery Lifespan

Sep 1, 2021, 10:40 AM   by Rich Brome

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 include a new "Protect battery" option that stops charging when the battery reaches 85%. The feature should extend the useful life of the battery over several years.


Vaccine Passes Coming to Samsung Pay

Aug 18, 2021, 11:43 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung has partnered with The Commons Project to enable digital COVID vaccine passports within the Samsung Pay wallet. Vaccine passes must be set up via the CommonHealth app.


Samsung Phasing out Ads in its own Apps

Aug 18, 2021, 11:40 AM   by Rich Brome

By the end of this year, apps such as Samsung Weather, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Theme will cease displaying ads. The change is in response to user feedback.


Samsung Updates Foldables with Water Resistance, S Pen

Aug 11, 2021, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 11, 2021, 9:06 AM

Samsung's third-generation foldable phones are slimmer, lighter, more durable, and more affordable. The Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 both feature IPx8 water resistance as well as bodies crafted from a new "Armor Aluminum" material and Gorilla Glass Victus. The flexible displays inside use Samsung's Ultra Thin glass, but with updated protective layers that that are stronger and more durable. The displays now offer adaptive refresh up to 120 Hz, including on the cover display of the Z Fold3. The Z Flip3 now supports mmWave 5G, and has a 4x larger outer display. The Z Fold3 now supports Samsung's S Pen stylus. A standard S Pen for the Z Fold3 runs $50, while a new S Pen Pro for $100 supports other Samsung phones and supports remote-control and mid-air gesture features. The Z Fold3 also has Samsung's first under-display camera, on the main (inner) display. Both phones sport Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 888 chip. The two phones are otherwise similar to their predecessors in design and features, including camera specs. The Galaxy Z Flip3 will come with 8 GB RAM and 128 or 256 GB storage, starting at $1,000. It will be offered in cream, green, lavender, and matte black. Samsung's web site will also offer it in pink, grey, and white. The Galaxy Z Fold3 will come with 12 GB RAM and 256 or 512 GB storage, starting at $1,800. It will come in green, silver, and black. Pre-orders for both phones start today, with full availability August 27th. Pre-order customers get a credit of $150–200 to spend with Samsung on accessories, etc. All three national US carriers will offer both phones. Verizon is offering a Samsung Fold Cover and S Pen bundle for free with the Fold3 "while supplies last".


Samsung Updates Watch, Buds

Aug 11, 2021, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced new smartwatches and Bluetooth earbuds: the Galaxy Watch4 series and Galaxy Buds2. Both feature a long list of small improvements over their predecessors. The Galaxy Watch4 has a smooth, thin design similar to the old Galaxy Watch Active, with an aluminum body. The Galaxy Watch4 Classic steps up to stainless steel and adds a physically rotating bezel. Both are available with or without 4G LTE, and in two sizes. The Watch4 series now includes more and better Google apps, faster automatic workout recognition, more accurate calorie counts, better sleep tracking, a sharper always-on AMOLED display, faster charging, and a thinner body. A new "BioActive" sensor combines optical and electric heart sensors, plus Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis, which offers body composition stats. The Watch4 series also has a Samsung Exynos processor that uses cutting-edge 5nm technology for greater efficiency. The Watch4 series is the first tangible fruit of a collaboration between Google and Samsung. The two companies have combined the best of their smartwatch technology to create "Wear OS Powered by Samsung". Samsung has added their own software on top of that called One UI Watch, which lets a Samsung phone, watch, and/or earbuds act intelligently as one system. Key settings and app installs are automatically synced between phone and watch. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Buds2 are 15% smaller and 20% lighter than their predecessor. They include ANC that can cut background noise "by up to 98%", and triple mics with beam-forming for clear outbound audio, enhanced with machine learning. The ambient audio feature is adjustable. The Galaxy Watch4 series starts at $250, or $300 with 4G LTE. The Watch4 Classic is $100 more. Pre-orders start today. The Buds2 are $150 and come in graphite, white, olive, and lavender. Both will hit stores August 27th.


Samsung Previews New Watch Software

Jun 28, 2021, 1:12 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced a number of specific features of its new smartwatch OS developed in collaboration with Google. That collaboration was first revealed at Google's I/O developer event last month. The new platform is based heavily on Google's WearOS, but will incorporate many technologies from Samsung's existing Tizen smartwatch software in order to deliver better performance, better battery life, and sensor readings that are both more accurate and more consistent. A new Samsung Galaxy smartwatch using the new software will be announced at an event "this summer". The watch will feature Samsung's One UI design to match the company's phone software. When users install an app on their phone that also has a watch version, the app will automatically be installed on their Galaxy watch as well. Certain data will automatically sync between phone and watch, such as world clocks and caller blocking. The watch will also support continuous heart rate tracking. Samsung has its own watch face design tool that it will release to Android developers later this year. Devloper APIs will continue to be Android-based, as with WearOS, and third-party apps will continue to be available via Google's Play Store. Samsung will continue to support its older, Tizen-based watches for three years from product launch date.


Google Reboots WearOS, Merges with Samsung's Tizen

May 18, 2021, 1:52 PM   by Rich Brome

Google today announced a major revamp of its smartwatch platform, combining its existing WearOS with Samsung's Tizen, together with a new health and fitness platform from FitBit. Although Samsung will use the new platform in its future smartwatches, it will be available to other manufacturers as well. Google is redesigning all of its apps for the platform. Google promises apps that are 30% faster, better battery life, and enough efficiency to offer continuous heart rate monitoring 24/7. The platform will utilize the Google Play Store for third-party apps.


Samsung's New Upcycling Program Gives New Life to Old Phones

Apr 21, 2021, 11:37 AM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today launched a beta version of Galaxy Upcycling at Home, software that enables people to put old Galaxy phones to use as smart-home devices. Samsung's Upcycling program is an environmental one. "By offering consumers a way to upcycle their products with new features and alternative purposes, Samsung is helping to extend the lifecycle of its products while diverting its users from contributing to global e-waste." Two modes are available at launch: a Light Sensor and a smart Sound Sensor. The Light Sensor uses the phone's ambient light sensor to automatically turn on lights when the ambient light level goes below an adjustable threshold. The Sound Sensor is more sophisticated, using machine learning to detect specific sounds such as a baby crying, dog barking, cat meowing, or a knock. When selected sounds are detected, the user receives an alert on their primary phone, and can optionally listen to a recording of the sound. These features are available starting today through SmartThings Labs, a feature within Samsung's SmartThings app.


Samsung Reveals Galaxy A42 5G, A02s for US

Apr 7, 2021, 10:18 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 7, 2021, 3:01 PM

Samsung today announced the US launch of five new phones in the company's affordable Galaxy A series, including three 5G models. The Galaxy A32 5G will be the most affordable 5G model at just $280, and will be exclusive to T-Mobile (and Metro) at launch. Samsung is able to offer 5G at this prince thanks in part to the MediaTek Dimensity 720 5G chip in the A32 5G, whereas the two pricier 5G models use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G. Samsung announced the A32 5G and A52 5G a few weeks ago, but withheld US launch details at that time. The Galaxy A52 5G will run $500 and come to both AT&T and T-Mobile (including Metro). New is the Galaxy A42 5G, which is similar to the A32 5G but adds mmWave 5G for Verizon. It also swaps the 90 Hz LCD display for a 60 Hz Super AMOLED display, switches to an in-display (optical) fingerprint reader, and has double the storage at 128 GB. Most other keys specs are identical to the A32 5G. The A42 has a unique design on the back divided into four equal parts. Verizon starts selling the Galaxy A42 5G tomorrow for $400. All three 5G models will be available by the end of this week. The two more affordable 4G models are the A12 and A02s. We reported on the Galaxy A12 for AT&T on Monday. That model will also come to T-Mobile this week, and Verizon on April 29th. The most affordable model is the new Galaxy A02s (shown), "starting at" $110, although Verizon will sell it for $150 and T-Mobile says "Stay tuned for pricing details." The A02s has the same 6.5-inch HD display and huge 5,000 mAh battery as the A12, but with expected cost-trimming on the cameras (13 megapixel main and no wide-angle), processor (Snapdragon 450), and RAM (2 GB instead of 3). The A02s also loses NFC and the fingerprint reader, but keeps 15W fast charging, USB-C, memory card slot, and the headset jack. The A02s is distinguished by its textured design on the back, divided into sections diagonally. Verizon starts selling the A02s on April 29th; T-Mobile has yet to announce a launch date.


AT&T Starts Selling Samsung Galaxy A12

Apr 5, 2021, 1:34 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 10, 2021, 1:30 PM

AT&T has started selling the Samsung Galaxy A12, a new entry-level phone, for $180. The A12 replaces the Galaxy A11 and has several upgrades, most notably a huge 5,000 mAh battery (up from 4,000) and the inclusion of NFC. The amount of RAM has also been bumped up to 3 GB and the processor is a MediaTek Helio P35. The main camera is 16 megapixel, a step down from the 48 megapixel sensor in the international version. The A12 also has wide-angle (5 megapixel), macro, and depth cameras. Other specs remain similar to the A11, including an 8 megapixel selfie camera, 6.5-inch HD display, 32 GB storage (expandable), fast charging, and a headset jack. Design-wise, the A12 switches to a notched display (from a corner hole-punch on the A11) and moves the fingerprint reader to the side of the phone. AT&T is currently only offering the phone in black, although red, white, and blue versions are available in other parts of the world. A new entry-level phone from Samsung is timely, as LG did well in this segment in the US. LG announced earlier today that it is leaving the phone business, leaving a void that phones like the A12 could fill.


Samsung A52 5G and A32 5G Coming to US

Mar 17, 2021, 12:08 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 25, 2021, 2:08 PM

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A52 5G, the update to last year's Galaxy A51 5G. Upgrades over the A51 include 120 Hz display refresh, 64 megapixel main camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), IP67 water resistance, and stereo speakers. Other specs remain similar to least year's model, including 6.5-inch FHD+ AMOLED display, 4,500 mAh battery, 25W fast charging, quad rear cameras, 6–8 GB RAM, expandable memory, and NFC. Samsung didn't reveal US launch details, but regulatory filings indicate that a US version is planned for multiple carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile. While the A51 5G was Samsung's most affordable 5G phone in 2020, Samsung's Galaxy A32 5G, announced in January, is likely to be the company's most affordable 5G phone in 2021. A recent FCC approval indicates Samsung is preparing to bring the A32 5G to the US market as well. The Galaxy A32 5G has a 6.5-inch HD display, 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, 5,000 mAh battery, 15W fast charging, 4–8 GB RAM, and a side-mounted fingerprint reader. Samsung also announced a 4G-only Galaxy A72 today. It's similar to the A52 but with a larger display and battery. There is no indication yet that the A72 will come to the US.


/e/ Starts Selling "De-Googled" Samsung Phones in US

Mar 5, 2021, 10:48 AM   by Rich Brome

Esolutions has started selling privacy-focused phones preloaded with the /e/ OS in the US. The /e/ OS is based on an open-source version of Android 10 (LineageOS, specifically) without any Google-controlled services that would enable tracking and data scanning by Google or third parties. /e/ replaces Chrome with its own Chromium-based browser, Gmail with K-9 Mail, and has its own app store and cloud storage service. Many popular third-party apps rely on Google Play Services for important functions like push notifications. /e/ OS includes a dummy API called MicroG to ensure such third-party apps don't crash, but those features like push notifications remain non-functional. Esolutions has offered phones pre-loaded with /e/ OS in Europe for some time, but has just started sales in the US for the first time. There are two refurbished Samsungs to choose from: a Galaxy S9 for $380, or a Galaxy S9+ for $430. The phones come with a one-year warranty and the e Foundation says "We aim to support with at least 3 years of software updates and security patches." The /e/ OS is also available for download for a number of other Android phones.


Samsung's New 50-Megapixel Camera Sensor Supports Staggered HDR

Feb 23, 2021, 12:15 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced a new camera sensor featuring a number of new technologies that will offer improved HDR, low-light performance, and auto-focusing. The ISOCELL GN2 is a 50 megapixel sensor with 1.4-micrometer (μm)-sized pixels. The GN2 supports staggered HDR, which lets a device capture short and long exposures simultaneously, for HDR images with fewer motion artifacts. Staggered HDR can also enable computational HDR for video. Support for staggered HDR sensors is a key feature of Qualcomm's latest flagship chip for phones, the Snapdragon 888. Samsung also claims that staggered HDR is 24% more power-efficient compared to the traditional HDR technique. The GN2 also sports Dual Pixel Pro, an improved auto-focus (AF) system that uses all sensor pixels for focusing. While previous dual-pixel AF systems can only detect pattern changes horizontally, Dual Pixel Pro splits pixel elements diagonally, so it can also use vertical information to lock focus quickly. The GN2 also has Smart ISO Pro, which does for ISO what staggered HDR does for exposure length. The technology "takes readouts from both high and low ISO to instantly create high dynamic range images with less motion-artifacts." It can also take and process multiple high-ISO frames quickly, for an effective maximum ISO of "close to one-million". For video, the GN2 supports full-HD videos at 480 frames-per-second (fps) or 4K at 120fps. The ISOCELL GN2 is already in mass production, meaning it should make its way into phones soon.


Samsung Commits to Four Years of Security Updates for Galaxy Devices

Feb 22, 2021, 10:49 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 24, 2021, 1:02 PM

Samsung today made a new commitment to provide security updates for its Galaxy phones and other devices for "a minimum of four years after the initial phone release." The promise covers phones launched in 2019 and later, including the S10 series, Note10 series, Z series, Fold, A50, A20, A10e, as well as newer models launch in 2020, 2021, and onward. Security updates protect users from security vulnerabilities discovered after launch. Such discoveries are relatively common. That means the longer a device has gone without a security update, the more vulnerable it is to hacking and malware. Security updates alone generally do not add new features nor update to a new OS version. Samsung made a separate commitment last August to provide three full OS upgrades for its higher-end Galaxy devices.


Samsung Adds New Features to Older Galaxy Phones

Feb 18, 2021, 4:56 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung today announced the availability of its One UI 3.1 software update, which brings select software features of the new Galaxy S21 series to most higher-end Galaxy phones from 2020 and 2019. New features include an improved "Single Take" camera mode, which captures a variety of still and video formats simultaneously. It also brings Object Eraser (shown), an intelligent photo editing tool to cut out unwanted parts of photos. "If you want to edit out distracting objects, simply tap the area you wish to remove and it will be automatically selected and deleted." Other new features include Private Share, to control who is allowed access to the content you send and how long it is available, and Eye Comfort Shield, which automatically adjusts the display's blue light output based on the time of day. Finally, there's Multi Mic Recording, which, when in Pro Video mode, allows you to simultaneously record audio through both your phone and a connected Bluetooth. The One UI 3.1 update is available starting today for the following Galaxy phones: S20 series, Note20 series, Z Fold2, Z Flip, S10, Note10, Fold, A71, A51, A90, A80, A70, and A50. All of those phones will receive the new Single Take, Object Eraser, Private Share, and Eye Comfort Shield features. Multi-Mic Recording will only be available on 2020 flagship phones: Galaxy S20 series, S20 FE, Note20 series, Z Fold2, and Z Flip 5G.


Samsung, Motorola Cut Foldable Prices

Feb 1, 2021, 4:12 PM   by Rich Brome

Samsung is permanently dropping the price of its Galaxy Z Flip 5G. Separately, Motorola is offering major discounts on its 2020 phones — including the 2020 razr with 5G — in the first half of February. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G is getting a $250 price cut, putting it at $1,200 unlocked or from AT&T. (T-Mobile is still offering the Z Flip 5G for $1,450.) Motorola is offering discounts on unlocked phones from today through February 14th in celebration of Valentine's Day. The razr (2020), edge, and one zoom are all on sale with $200 discounts. That brings the new razr down to the same $1,200 price as the competing Galaxy Z Flip 5G. Motorola is also taking $150 off the one fusion+ and one action. Finally, Motorola is offering $30–50 off last years' g-series models. All of Motorola's discounts are for its unlocked models and available through motorola.com, bestbuy.com, and amazon.com.


Samsung's Galaxy S21 Flagships are Prettier and More Affordable

Jan 14, 2021, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 19, 2021, 11:10 AM

Samsung today officially unveiled its Galaxy S21 series of flagship phones for 2021. All three models sport a distinctive new "Contour Cut Camera" design where the metal frame extends around one corner to surround the rear cameras. Each of the three new phones has a starting price a full $200 lower than last year's models. Samsung achieved this on the S21 and S21+ by reducing RAM from 12 to 8 GB and switching from curved QHD-resolution displays to flat FHD displays. Also, none of the S21 series has a memory card slot nor ToD depth camera. Naturally the processor has been updated on all models to Qualcomm's new flagship chip, the Snapdragon 888. Samsung is also using Qualcomm's new Gen 2. ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader, which offers a 70% larger sensing area and is 50% faster. The phones ship with Android 11 and have a number of software improvements to the camera, such as Director's View, Vlogger View, and multi-mic recording. Samsung has also used AI to improve Single Take, Portrait Mode, and Space Zoom. The camera hardware on the S21 and S21+ is nearly identical to that on the S20 series. The S21 Ultra has the most-upgraded specs of the three, despite starting at a lower price than last year's model.

  • Galaxy S21: The specs are very similar to last year's S20, including 4,000 mAh battery, 120 Hz refresh display, 64-megapixel main camera, 8K video capture, IP68 water resistance, fast wireless charging, and Wireless PowerShare. Unlike the S20, the S21 will come with mmWave 5G (including support for Verizon's "Ultra Wideband" network) from day one. It will come with 128 GB of storage, in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White, for $800. A 256 GB version will also be available in Phantom Gray for an extra $50. Phantom Gold and Phantom Red colors will be available exclusively from samsung.com.
  • Galaxy S21+: Its 4,800 mAh battery is larger than that in both the S21 and last year's S20+. It also adds UWB for directional tag-finding and wireless car keys. This is the first time Samsung has put UWB in its S-series. It retains all of the other specs and features of the S21, with a larger 6.7-inch display like the S20+. It will come with 128 GB storage, in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black, for $1,000. A 256 GB version will also be available in Phantom Black for an additional $50. As with the S21, samsung.com will be exclusive seller of Phantom Gold and Phantom Red colors.
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra: This top-end model keeps the curved-edge, QHD-resolution display, 12 GB RAM, 108 megapixel main camera, and 40-megapixel front camera of last year's model, while adding several new features, all for a lower $1200 starting price. New this year is Wacom technology bringing full support for Samsung's S Pen, previously only offered on the Note series. The S Pen is an optional accessory. It also adds UWB, Wi-Fi 6e, adaptive display refresh from 10 – 120 Hz for power efficiency, and the ability to use 120 Hz refresh at QHD resolution. The telephoto camera system now includes dedicated 3x and 10x cameras, both 10 megapixel with OIS and dual-pixel auto-focus. All five cameras (front and back) can now shoot 4K video at 60 fps. The 108mp main sensor now has 12-bit HDR and can capture 12-bit RAW photos. It also has laser auto-focus. Pricing starts at $1,200 for 12 GB RAM / 128 GB storage in Phantom Silver or Phantom Black. Versions with 12 / 256 GB (for an extra $50) or 16 / 512 GB (for $1,380) will also be available, in Phantom Black only. Samsung.com exclusive colors will include Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy. and Phantom Brown.
All three phones will launch on major US carriers as well as unlocked on January 29th. Pre-orders start January 14th at 11am ET. All pre-orders will include a free Galaxy SmartTag, and consumers who pre-order the S21 Ultra get a $200 credit to use on samsung.com or the Shop Samsung app.

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