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Samsung's New Display Senses Fingerprints and More Across Whole Surface
Samsung has revealed "Sensor OLED", a new display panel technology that has many tiny light sensors embedded directly into the whole OLED panel surface. This allows the panel to read fingerprints anywhere on the display, as well as check cardiovascular health. Current in-display fingerprint readers utilize a seperate sensor module under a small part of the display; this new technology is embedded directly in the display itself and covers the whole display area. When placing two fingers on the display, (one from each hand,) the display "can measure the user's heart rate, blood pressure and stress level". Samsung also showed off several new foldable phone concepts using its flexible display technology. One is called Rollable Flex, a display that unrolls like a scroll to become five times larger, essentially transforming from a slim phone to a large tablet.
Apple and Google Collaborate on Anti-Stalker Tech
Apple and Google have announced a new industry standard that will enable cross-platform alerts when people are potentially being tracked without their consent using any popular Bluetooth location-tracking device, regardless of manufacturer. For example, this would allow someone to receive an alert on their Android phone when an unknown Apple AirTag seems to be following them, or the same for an Apple iPhone and a Samsung SmartTag. Current anti-stalker features are either siloed in one company's ecosystem or require the manual download and use of a special app. This new standard will eventually come baked right into both iOS and Android. Besides Apple and Google, "Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for the draft specification, which offers best practices and instructions for manufacturers, should they choose to build these capabilities into their products." Today marks the start of a three-month comment period on the draft standard. The companies plan to finalize the standard by the end of 2023 and implement it "in future versions" of iOS and Android.
BMW Brings Enhanced Digital Car Key to Android
BMW is rolling out its Digital Key Plus feature to compatible Android phones with UWB, such as the Samsung Galaxy S23+ and Pixel 7 Pro. The feature is already available for Apple products. The enhanced "Plus" version lets you keep your phone in your pocket, whereas the earlier Digital Key feature (already available for select Android phones) requires that you tap your phone on the door handle. Cars with the feature produced since November 2022 are compatible with Android, while a future remote software update will add compatibility to older cars. Older Samsung and Google phones are compatible as well, as long as they have the necessary UWB feature. This includes most Plus and Ultra Galaxy S phones, Samsung foldables, and the Pixel 6 Pro. Digital Key Plus is based on an industry standard from the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC).
AST Completes Voice Call via Satellite Using Regular Cell Phone
AST SpaceMobile has successfully completed a test of the first full two-way voice call using a standard, off-the-shelf cell phone connecting directly to a satellite in orbit (instead of to a land-based network.) Other recently-announced space connectivity solutions have focused only on messaging, not voice calls, and/or require new phones with added satellite technology. This test used an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 connecting directly to AST's BlueWalker 3 test satellite in orbit. It took place in Texas using AT&T radio frequencies; AT&T plans to use AST's system to provide coverage in remote areas. AST has completed additional tests that "confirm the ability to support cellular broadband speeds", as well as multiple cellular technologies from 2G to 5G. Tests also confirm compatibility with a variety of different phones and other cellular devices.
Samsung News is a Pivot from Free Content App
Samsung is launching Samsung News, an app offering free news content. The app is not entirely new, but rather a relaunch of the Samsung Free app, which previously offered video and game content as well. The new app is more focused, offering just news articles and podcasts. Despite the app's new name, the podcasts section will still include both news and entertainment podcasts. On the articles side, the app will offer a customizable feed as well as twice-daily curated "Daily Briefings" of top headlines. Samsung is working with Upday to source the syndicated content, which currently includes Bloomberg Media, CNN, Fortune, Fox News, Glamour, GQ, HuffPost, Money, Newsweek, New York Post, Parade, POLITICO, Refinery29, Salon, Slate, Sports Illustrated, The Daily Beast, TheStreet, USA TODAY, and Vice, with more to come. The rollout of the new app starts today on select devices and for existing users of Samsung Free. It will be available for "all addressable devices" "in the coming weeks".
Major Security Flaw Affects Google, Samsung Phones
Google has discovered and disclosed a set of severe security vulnerabilities in the Samsung modems found in many recent Google Pixel phones and some recent Samsung phones, mostly A-series models. Software updates made available this month fix the issue, but are not yet available for all models. The flaws allow an attacker to remotely compromise a phone with no user action, knowing only the victim's phone number. Users of the Google Pixel 6 series should immediately disable Wi-Fi Calling and VoLTE until a software update is available for those models. A software update has been released to address the issue on the Pixel 7 series. Also affected are the Samsung Galaxy A71, A53, A33, A21, A13, A12, and A04 series.
Samsung's Galaxy A54 Sports Premium Design
Samsung's new Galaxy A54 5G launches April 6th for $450. This mid-range phone has nearly identical specs compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy A53 5G. The design is significantly updated, however, more closely resembling the company's flagship S series. The body and display are more rounded, with a flat back punctuated by three cameras aligned vertically. Like the A53, it has a FHD+ AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh, 5,000 mAh battery, IP67 water rating, 6 GB of RAM, 5G, NFC, memory card slot, 12 megapixel wide camera, and a 32 megapixel front camera. The main camera is 50 megapixel instead of 64. The Galaxy A54 5G will be available in graphite or violet. Pre-orders start March 30th and entitle buyers to the Galaxy Buds Live earbuds for $50 (normally $100 – $150).
T-Mobile Makes Upgrades to its 5G Network
T-Mobile has announced two key steps in upgrading its 5G network to be faster and more advanced. First, the company has successfully tested four-carrier aggregation with 5G SA (stand-alone). In the test, this technology allowed a Samsung Galaxy S23 to hit peak speeds topping 3.3 Gbps. The test combined two channels (carriers) of 2500 MHz spectrum (band 41) and two channels of 1900 MHz spectrum (band 2/25), creating an one effective channel of 5G SA that was 225 MHz wide. "Customers with the Samsung Galaxy S23 will be among the first to experience four-carrier aggregation later this year with more devices to follow." The other announcement is the deployment of VoNR in six cities. VoNR is 5G-native voice calling; currently, most voice calls are still made over 4G LTE. The six cities that now have VoNR enabled are: New York City, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Salt Lake City. Consumers are unlikely to notice a change, although voice call setup time should be slightly faster. Behind the scenes, VoNR allows phones to stay connected to 5G continuously, which in turn enables 5G SA features like network slicing (for enterprise customers). VoNR is also necessary to enable the eventual phase-out of 4G LTE, although that is not expected any time soon.
Samsung Phones Gain New Protection Against Malicious Messages
Samsung today announced Message Guard, a new security feature that protects Galaxy S23 phones (which go on sale today) against zero-click attacks delivered as images in messages. Samsung will update other Galaxy phones with the feature later this year. Message Guard intercepts incoming images before they reach Samsung Messages and Messages by Google, sandboxing and inspecting the files before they can carry out an attack. Only once Message Guard ensures a file "cannot infect the rest of your device" does it become available to the messaging app for viewing (processing an image for viewing is when this kind of attack can occur.) Samsung also committed to extending Message Guard to third party messaging apps "at a later date".
Samsung One UI 5.1 Brings New Features to Older Galaxy S Phones
Samsung has started rolling out an OS update that brings several key features of the new S23 series to older high-end models such as the Galaxy S22, S21, and S20 series. The update is also rolling out for the S21 FE, S20 FE, Z Fold4, and Z Flip4, and soon the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3. The One UI 5.1 update adds Expert RAW features as part of the Galaxy Camera app, bringing new pro-level options and a new Photo Remaster tool. (Only higher-end models will get this feature.) Samsung Notes with Google Meet offers new real-time collaboration tools. The update also includes new connectivity and integration features with Galaxy Book laptops. There's also a new weather widget, and "Modes and Routines have expanded to enable custom wallpapers, ringtones, touch sensitivity and fonts".
Samsung Puts its Best Camera Yet in the Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung has officially unveiled its new flagship phones for 2023: the Galaxy S23 series. The S23 and S23+ have modest upgrades over last year's models, while the S23 Ultra has a significantly upgraded main camera. All three models are powered by a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 "for Galaxy" chip, with an accelerated CPU and upgraded GPU compared to the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powering other flagship phones this year. Samsung will use this chip from Qualcomm in all S23 variants worldwide, instead of using its own Exynos chips in some markets as in past years. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 200 megapixel main camera, which can output full 200 megapixel images or use 16-pixel binning for very low-noise photos even in low light. An Astrophoto mode lets users capture the night sky. The main camera also has wider OIS, meaning the camera can now move up to 3 degrees to compensate for hand shake, reducing blur. All three models have an AMOLED display with adaptive refresh up to 120 Hz. On the S23 Ultra, it's a 6.8-inch panel with QHD+ resolution. The edges are curved, although the curve has been reduced compared to the S22 Ultra. The battery stays at 5,000 mAh, but Samsung claims up to 20% better battery life thanks to the more-efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip. The Ultra still has an integrated stylus. All three models come with 8 GB RAM standard, although a 12 GB option is available for the Ultra. The Galaxy S23+ and Ultra both come with 256 GB storage standard, up from 128 GB last year. The Galaxy S23 and S23+ both have slightly larger batteries (an extra 200 mAh for each) and upgraded front cameras (now 12 megapixel). The design is more unified across all three models, with the Contour Cut design scrapped in favor of "floating" cameras on matte glass, with the same four color options for all three models: Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender. All three feature Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (front and back) set in an Armor Aluminum frame. Most other specs and features carry over from the last year's S22 series. This includes dedicated wide and telephoto cameras (3x tele on all, plus a second 10x tele camera on the Ultra). All three also include IP68 water rating, mmWave 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader, fast charging, and two-way wireless charging. The S23+ and S23 Ultra also include UWB and faster wired charging (45W instead of 25W). Like last year, the standard and Plus models have flat FHD+ displays and 50 megapixel main cameras. The Galaxy S23 starts at $800 (128 GB storage; 256 GB also available). The Galaxy S23+ starts at $1,000 (256 GB storage; 512 GB also available). The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,200 (256 GB storage; 512 GB and 1 TB also available). Pre-orders start today, with widespread availability on February 17th. Pre-orders include a free upgrade to more storage, and pre-orders through samsung.com also include a $100 credit to spend with Samsung. Samsung.com is also offering four additional exclusive colors: Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, and Red.
Samsung's New Flagship Phones Coming Next Week
Samsung will hold its next Unpacked event next week, on February 1st. The winter Unpacked is usually when the company reveals its next flagship phones, expected to be the Galaxy S23 series. Samsung is offering a $50 store credit to people who place a reservation for a pre-order before February 1st. The credit is toward any additional purchase when placing the pre-order for a phone, not a discount on the phone itself. Samsung will live-stream the event at 10am PT on Wednesday.
Cox Launches Cox Mobile
Cable company Cox has formally launched its mobile service, Cox Mobile. Like Comcast's Xfinity Mobile, Cox Mobile is only available to customers of Cox home internet service. Rather than a bundle offering, customers will receive a separate bill for the mobile service. The service is available via two different plans: "Pay As You Gig" is priced at $15/GB of data, while Unlimited is $45/month. Both plans include unlimited talk and text, as well as 5G. Customers can easily switch between the two pricing options as often as they like, with no limits, commitments, or activation fees. Cox Mobile offers a full lineup of Samsung phones, from entry-level to the Z Fold. Cox is operating as an MVNO, using Verizon's 5G and 4G network. Cox operates its cable/internet service in 18 states.
Samsung's Galaxy A14 Offers 5G for Less
Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy A14 5G, its most affordable 5G phone to date. The new phone shares most specs with its predecessor, the Galaxy A13 5G. The biggest upgrade is the front camera, which goes from 5 megapixel to 13 megapixel. The display is also slightly larger at 6.6 inches. Other features remain the same, including a 50 megapixel main camera, 5,000 mAh battery, and a fingerprint reader. Cricket's price is $190, while AT&T is offering the phone for $2/month over 36 months (to both new and existing customers, no trade-in required. Both brands will start selling the phone on January 13th.
Samsung Updates Advanced Camera Apps, Intros New Privacy Feature
Samsung is rolling out new versions of its advanced camera apps for the Galaxy S22 phones, as well as a new feature to protect user's data when select Galaxy devices are handed over for repair. The Expert Raw camera app gains two new "Special Photo options" in Settings: Astrophoto and Multiple Exposure. Astrophoto is for "professional-looking photos of stars and dark sky activity", including a "Sky Guide" feature which can pinpoint constellations. The Multiple Exposure feature takes multiple shots and combines them for better photos. In the Camera Assistant app, new options (also available from the main camera app) let you customize which features are active. Features you can now disable this way include: Auto lens switching, Auto HDR, Soften pictures, Video recording in Photo mode, and Faster shutter. You can also now choose how many photos are taken in timer mode, and how long before the camera app times out. Separately, a new feature for Galaxy devices called Maintenance Mode lets you essentially create a temporary guest account on your phone that repair staff can use to diagnose issues and verify repairs. This keeps your private data and apps locked. When your device is returned to you, you confirm your identity to exit Maintenance Mode, which wipes the temporary account (and any apps downloaded during repair), returning your device to its previous state.
Google Messages Gains 2-Way Reactions with iPhones
Google has announced a variety of new features for Messages, its messaging app for Android based on the RCS industry standard.
- In addition to correctly displaying certain emoji reactions from iPhone users over SMS, Messages will now let you send reactions to SMS messages sent by iPhone users, and display them correctly on the Android side.
- Another new feature will you reply to a specific message in an RCS thread, so it's clear what you're replying to in a busy conversation.
- Google will also bring Voice Message Transcription to more phones. Originally announced for the new Pixel 7 series, the feature can present an audio message as text, for situations where it might be difficult or inappropriate to listen to the audio. The feature is coming to the Pixel 6 series as well as the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Fold 4.
- The app will now make even more pro-active intelligent suggestions based on your activity. These include birthday and anniversary reminders; prompts to "star" messages that appear to contain important info like addresses, door codes, and phone numbers; and shortcuts to make calls or add things to your calendar when receiving relevant messages.
- You will now be able create your own reminders without leaving the app. "Remind yourself to call Mom on her birthday, or [to] schedule that appointment during regular business hours."
- The app can now play YouTube videos without leaving Messages.
Verizon Launches Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro
Verizon is now offering the "enterprise-ready" Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro to business customers for as little as $50. The full price is $600, but a two-year agreement brings that down to $300, and an instant discount (available through the end of this year) brings that down to $50.
Samsung Reveals One UI 5
Samsung has revealed the design and key features One UI 5, the company's own spin on Android for its Galaxy phones. Besides a design refresh (including an iOS-like lock screen), several key features have been added. Bixby Text Call lets you participate in a phone call by typing text, which the phone converts to audio. The feature is designed for environments where a phone call would be difficult or not allowed, such as a loud concert, theater, or library. One UI 5 also includes a new video wallpaper function. Widgets can now be stacked, enabling fewer, tidier home screens. The software also makes it easy to extract text from images and paste that text elsewhere.
Samsung Brings Galaxy XCover6 Pro to US Businesses
Samsung will bring its newest rugged phone for enterprise customers — the Galaxy XCover6 Pro — to the US next month. The XCover6 Pro replaces the original XCover Pro, which launched with AT&T in late 2020. The XCover6 Pro has a wide range of features designed to appeal to business users in a wide variety of industries. Compared to the original, it sports (sub-6) 5G, a larger 6.6-inch FHD display, a better main camera, and better durability thanks to Gorilla Glass Victus+. Like the original, it has a durable, waterproof body, replaceable 4,050 mAh battery, side fingerprint reader, 8 megapixel wide-angle camera, expandable storage, and a headset jack. The new model is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip paired with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. It supports Wi-Fi 6E as well as NFC designed to support the phone's use as a PoS (Point of Sale) payment terminal. The main camera is now 50 megapixel and supports "enterprise-grade" barcode scanning. The display is designed to work with gloved and/or wet fingers, and the phone has a "significant increase" in maximum speaker volume when using VoIP apps. It supports fast charging, including via pogo pins (for use with a dock). It also supports Samsung DeX for "PC-like productivity out in the field or in a vehicle". Samsung is providing industry-leading OS support for the XCover6 Pro at four OS upgrades and five years of security updates. Samsung did not announce which US carriers would offer the XCover 6 Pro, only that "select carriers" would offer it in the US starting Oct. 20th. Both AT&T and Verizon offered the original model, although the version approved by the FCC recently seems better suited to AT&T's network, including support for AT&T's new 3.45 GHz mid-band spectrum.
Google Fi Beefs up International 5G Service
Google Fi has improved the international roaming offered with its plans, and improved overall iPhone compatibility. Google tripled its 5G coverage abroad, bumping the number of countries where users can roam on 5G from 26 to 39. (Full-speed 4G is available in over 200 countries.) Fi's Unlimited Plus plan has no extra roaming charges, so all your 50 GB of monthly full-speed data is available even overseas. Google also extended international 5G service to Samsung phones, instead of just its own Pixel phones. For iPhones, Google added international mobile hotspot and Wi-Fi calling, features that previously only worked with Android phones on Fi. Google Fi plan pricing remains unchanged.
AT&T Starts Selling the $300 Samsung Galaxy A23 5G
Another affordable 5G phone from Samsung has launched in the US. AT&T has started online sales of the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G for $300, in both postpaid and prepaid channels. The A23 5G is a small step up from the A13 5G, which AT&T sells for $250. For that extra $50, you get a sharper FHD+ display instead of HD+, and an 8 megapixel selfie camera instead of 5 megapixel. It also adds a 5-megapixel wide-angle camera on the back, and is powered by a Snapdragon 695 chip instead of a MediaTek Dimensity 700. Other features and specs are similar, including a large 5,000 mAh battery, NFC, expandable storage, fingerprint reader, and a headset jack. AT&T's web site currently shows delivery dates starting Sept. 7th.
Samsung Refines its Foldable Phones
Samsung has announced its newest generation of foldable phones: the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Flip4. Both have similar designs and features compared to their predecessors, with a slew of small updates and refinements across the board. Both have been updated with Qualcomm's newest, best Snapdragon chip: the 8+ Gen 1. Both also have upgraded main cameras that perform better in low light. Both have a "slimmer hinge", although the difference appears to be slight. Both are constructed from Armor Aluminum and Gorilla Glass Victus for durability, in addition to IPx8 water resistance.
- The Galaxy Z Flip4 has slightly slimmer bezels on the main display, a larger (3,700 mAh) battery, and 14% faster charging. The cover display has been enhanced with more functionality, including SmartThings home controls and Quick Shot in camera mode. Similarly, Flex Mode — when the phone is half-folded — now provides a special split-screen interface for more apps, particularly third-party social and video apps. Like the Z Flip3, it has dual 12 megapixel rear cameras, display refresh up to 120 Hz, mmWave 5G, and two-way wireless charging. Also like the Z Flip3, the Z Flip4 will start at $1,000 for the base model with 128 GB storage (and 8 GB RAM). A 256 GB version will also be available, as well as a new 512 GB option. It will come in Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold, and Blue. On samsung.com, a Bespoke Edition will allow users to mix and match frame and cover colors in 75 different possible combinations.
- The Galaxy Z Fold4 is slightly lighter and more compact than the Z Fold3, while offering wider displays inside and out. The 7.6-inch main flexible display panel is brighter, 45% "stronger", and better hides the under-display camera. The main camera is upgraded to 50 megapixel, while the telephoto camera is now 10 megapixel instead of 12. The software has been overhauled thanks to Android 12L, Google's new version of Android optimized for foldable and large-screen devices exactly like this one. A new task bar floats at the bottom of the main display, and there are new options for split-screen multi-tasking and Flex Mode. Some apps can now be opened in two side-by-side instances of the same app. Other features and specs are similar to the Z Fold3, including the 6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED outer display with 120 Hz refresh, UWB, S Pen compatibility, 12 GB RAM, and two-way wireless charging. The Galaxy Z Fold4 will start at $1,800 with 256 GB storage. It will also be available 512 GB or a new 1 TB option. It will come in Graygreen, Beige, and Phantom Black, as well Burgundy exclusively from samsung.com.
Samsung Upgrades its Wearables
Alongside its new foldable phones, Samsung has revealed its newest smartwatches and Bluetooth earbuds, each with significant engineering improvements. The new Galaxy Watch5 has a 13% larger battery and 60% more durable face compared to the Watch4. The new Galaxy Buds2 Pro are 15% smaller and filter out 40% more outside noise compared to the original Buds Pro. The company has also introduced an all-new "Pro" watch model.
- The Galaxy Buds2 Pro are not only smaller and block more outside noise, but improve comfort with improved air flow to reduce unwanted pressure, and a revised design to prevent rotation, helping them stay in the ear more securely. They also support 24-bit Hi-Fi audio, Bluetooth 5.3, and are "LE Audio ready". Misplaced buds can be located with SmartThings Find. They can also connect directly to the newest Samsung TVs. The buds alone provide up to eight hours of continuous music, or five when using ANC (Active Noise Cancellation). The charging case provides up to 30 hours total play time. The buds are made from 90% recycled plastic. The buds will cost $230 and come in three colors: Graphite, Bora Purple, and white.
- The new Galaxy Watch5 not only has a large battery, but 30% faster charging as well. The body sensors now make better contact with the skin for better accuracy, and are joined by a new temperature sensor. The watch no longer has a physically rotating bezel, but it is more durable, with an improved Sapphire Crystal glass face, Armor Aluminum case, IP68 water rating, and pressure resistance up to 5ATM. Updated software will support full navigation mode in Google Maps without a smartphone. Other features include an always-on Super AMOLED display, Bluetooth 5.2, dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, and 16 GB of storage. The watch comes in two sizes: 40mm (with a 284 mAh battery) and 44mm (with a 410 mAh battery). Both sizes are available Graphite or silver, plus one other color; the smaller version is available in Pink Gold, while the larger one is available in Sapphire. All of these options are available with or without 4G LTE cellular. The LTE models start $330, while non-LTE models start at $280.
- The all-new Galaxy Watch5 Pro is similar to the larger Watch5, but with an even larger 590 mAh battery and a titanium case. It will come in black or gray, starting at $450 without LTE, or $500 with LTE.
Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro is Rugged, Ready for Business
Samsung has revealed the Galaxy XCover6 Pro, a new "enterprise-ready smartphone powerful enough to support today's most demanding businesses". Its rugged design carries an IP68 water and dust rating, and MIL-STD-810H certification for drops, altitude, humidity, immersion, salt fog, dust, and vibration. Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ protects the display, which is designed to work with gloves and wet fingers. The phone also has a removable 4,050 mAh battery, yet is only 9.9mm thick. The body includes two customizable shortcut buttons and POGO pins for dock charging. DeX support lets the phone offer a PC-like experience by connecting an external display, keyboard, and mouse. The phone comes with Android 12 plus four OS upgrades and five years of security updates. Specs include a 6.6-inch LCD display with 120 Hz refresh, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, and a fingerprint reader. It has 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, expandable via microSD card. The main camera 50 megapixel, paired with an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera and 13 megapixel front camera. North America is not in the list of markets where the phone is launching this July, but Samsung promises "availability expanding to other regions at a later date". A version has been approved by the FCC with excellent support for US 4G and (sub-6) 5G networks. AT&T has offered the XCover series in the past.
Arm's Next-Gen v9 Architecture Focuses on Mobile Gaming
Arm has revealed 2022 Total Compute Solutions (TCS22), its next-generation CPU and GPU designs for mobile devices including phones, with a focus on improved mobile gaming performance. All-around performance of this year's solution is up to 28% better, with up to 16% power reduction. The new second generation Armv9 CPUs are designed to improve performance, efficiency, and scalability across the board, but "especially for gaming". Complementing those are a new range of Arm GPUs for advanced 3D graphics, including a new Immortalis brand for flagship GPUs that are even more powerful than the Mali line. The Immortalis-G715 is the first Arm GPU to offer hardware-based ray tracing support on mobile, while the new Mali-G715 supports Variable Rate Shading. The new Mali-G615 improves on the Mali-G610 and rounds out the lineup. All of the new GPUs offer a 15% performance improvement compared to the previous generation. On the CPU side, the new Arm Cortex-X3 delivers "a 25% performance improvement compared to the latest Android flagship smartphone". The new Cortex-A715 replaces the A710, offering 20% better energy efficiency and 5% better performance. For context, this matches the performance of the Cortex-X1. Meanwhile, an updated Cortex-A510 "little" core offers a 5% power reduction. A newly updated DSU-110 interconnect supports 50% more CPU cores (up to 12) and supports a high number of Cortex-X3 cores. With TCS22, Arm is also introducing two new security technologies to address memory safety vulnerabilities: Asymmetric Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) and Enhanced Privileged Access Never (EPAN). Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and Google all use Arm's designs and technology as a starting point for their own processor chips that power essentially all of today's phones.
Samsung Shrinks its 200 Megapixel Camera Sensor for Phones
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.