Samsung Galaxy S5: First Impressions

Mar 30, 2014

The long anticipated Samsung Galaxy S5 finally touched grounds in Amman, Jordan in an event held by Samsung LEVANT to reveal the device, during the presentation of all it's new features I got to spend about 15 minutes with the phone so here is my first impressions of Samsung's latest flagship:


So first of all the new specs including the revamped Exynos 5 Octa 5422 processor (Quad-core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7), 2GB of RAM, AC WiFi and the 16 MP shooter... nothing too insane under the hood here but definitely in the top tier, after all this is a high end flagship phone! on the front it's rocking a slightly larger 5.1" 1080p AMOLED display -bigger than the 5.0" Galaxy S4 -, the back of the phone feels a lot like the soft touch on the back of the Note 3 but without the stitches around the edges and they added a dimples-pattern on the back and I'm sure how to feel about this, but anyway the device is going to be available in four colors; the back with the black front, the white which has white bezels, the blue and it has black bezels & finally the gold.


Despite it's removable back and totally expandable storage and swappable 2,800 mAh battery the Galaxy S5 is IP67 certified, the 6 means it's totally dust proof -no matter how small the grain- and the 7 means it's water resistant but not waterproof (Big difference) but what's really impressive about this is that as I said the main components are still removable which only leaves me to worry about the speaker quality but I'll get to that when I get a review unit.


It took me a couple of minutes before I actually noticed that the font buttons layout has changed so now it's Back, Home and Multitasking button (Right to left) no more capacitive mini button, all the mini buttons will be in the software now on the screen. Also Samsung has put a finger print sensor in the home button which you need to swipe to use and once you're setup, you can log into certain secured apps like PayPal or even unlocking the phone itself, I'm not sure if we can use the scanner to log into other apps we use like Facebook, Instagram or even your accounts on Chrome but I'll do more investigation about that also when I get a review unit to abuse in my free time.


The S5 packs a 16 MP sensor and a new dedicated image signal processor which makes this shooter faster than the one you can find on any smartphone currently available at an average of 0.3 seconds to focus and it does show when you snap a couple of pictures, playing with the camera it definitely did feel like a quality high end phone camera and this is no surprise coming from Samsung really, the Galaxy S4 had a great camera and the note 3 had an even better camera and it only makes sense for the one found on the S5 to be a step up from it's predecessors, it takes UHD video as well and it has an awesome HDR processing, selective focus modes and SUPER FAST burst mode that took 30 shots in about three and a half seconds and a whole bunch more features, as we know Samsung likes to throw every feature in the world into their camera, we will be putting the camera under the microscope (once more) when I receive the review unit.


Overall messing around with the the Galaxy S5 I got the feeling that the performance is a little more smoother -as if the S4 wasn't that smooth already- but with 4.4.2 Android KitKat comes a lot of software changes, TouchWiz is now much much flatter and there are a bunch of tweaks here and there, yes it's still filled with Samsung's bloatware -which is not exactly a bad thing- but it's been tuned down a little.


Of course there is much more new stuff from Samsung but all to be covered in-depth in my full review (For the last time I promise) which I will get to when the review unit arrives, What do you think of the Samsung Galaxy S5? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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The Growth of YouTube Production in the Middle East [Infographic]

Mar 16, 2014

More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube and over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube - that's almost an hour for every person on Earth - and about 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US, and since YouTube is blocked in China amongst other Google services where does that leave us with the source of this enormous traffic? 


MENA region takes a big chunk off of that 80% and because of this huge and continuous growth a lot of people wanted to get in on that action whither it is entertainers, news networks or even a guy with a $300 camcorder that makes silly videos to post on YouTube, Startappz, In collaboration with some of the best resources on YouTube videos in the Middle East have recently published an infographic that details the latest status on the distribution of that traffic in the middle east, the source of this data was a combination of SkyScreen's (Previously Fatooosh) internal analytics, as well as a sample rate of a 100 -real-channels per country, enough talking, now let's take a look at that infographic!



Source: Startappz.
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10 Days With The LG G Flex [REVIEW]

Mar 13, 2014

LG has been slowly improving their line-up of Android devices, quietly enhancing their hardware over different models to the point where their flagship G line of phones are anticipated with much enthusiasm especially after the introduction of the G2 that we reviewed a while backSadly the review unite I received for the G Flex came without a box so I couldn't do an unboxing video or even talk about the curved box.

Smartphones have been a bit staid when it comes to design for quite a while so it’s been a lot of fun to play with something a little different. The phone attracts attention wherever you go, first with the massive 6 inch screen, then the curve, the flexibility and even still the rear mounted keys. With this phone, LG has thrown a lot of different design changes at the wall and will invariably be seeing what sticks.

Before we get started let's take a quick look at the specs:

Display: 
6.0 inch Plastic OLED HD Display at 1280×720.
Processor: 
2.26GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 SoC with Adreno 330 GPU.
RAM: 
2GB
Memory: 32GB on-board Storage.
Camera: 
13MP Rear Camera with LED Flash with UHD(3840x2160) video recording and 2.1MP Front-facing camera.
Connectivity: 
Bluetooth 4.0), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n Dual (2.4/5GHz), GPS, NFC, IR Remote.
Radios: 
2G (900/1800/2100/2600), HSPA (900/2100), LTE (800/1800/2600).
OS: Android 4.2.2, Jelly Bean.
Size: 160.5×81.6×8.7mm @ 177g.
Battery: 3,500mAh Stepped Li-Po Battery.



Hardware




The G Flex is a purpose built phone, it’s been designed with focus on the main feature of the phone – that curved screen, LG have stressed that there have been no compromises in the design and build of the G Flex and that’s evidenced in the high level laundry list of components that will impress even the most power hungry hardcore user, from the Snapdragon 800 CPU to the 3,500mAh battery it’s a finely polished and well thought out device.

The G Flex is a really large phone to start with – with a 6 inch screen you can’t get away from it and it’s one of the first downsides that a large number of people will target when they see it, but personally I love phaplates and I consider the big screen a plus, The G Flex is deceptively comfortable to hold for such a large phone. Perhaps due to the curve. Yes, the physical buttons arrangement is pretty hard to get over especially with a big device like this one, but it also has it's upsides... we'll get to that in a minute.

The front of the phone is dominated by a 6 inch display, and it’s the first Plastic OLED (P-OLED) screen to launch on a smartphone. On the front, above the screen you find the various ambient light and proximity sensors as well as the front facing camera, like the LG G2, the G Flex continues their unique hardware key placement of placing the volume rocker and power key on the rear of the phone beneath the camera lens, they also moved the IR blaster to the back next to the camera which I didn't dig because you're going to have to hold the device in portrait when using the remote control instead of horizontally (like all the other phones). The downside to the rear key arrangement is difficulty in taking screenshots and lowering the volume while watching videos, nothing major but it’s really difficult with this rear-key setup.





Build Quality





The build quality is nice, the usual test of getting flex from a device to test the durability is null and void with the G Flex. But even in this respect, once you’re over the fact you’re flexing your phone, it feels like its meant to flex. There is a creak when it does flex, but flexing a phone through the range of flexibility that the G Flex has available will elicit more than a creak in any other phone.

From the curved screen, with a plain understated front with protuberances on the sides of the device, even the microSIM tray on the left hand side can’t be seen readily. Anyway you look at it, the G Flex is a striking, memorable design and overall one that’s very pleasing to look at.



Screen





That 6 inch screen is without doubt the crown jewel in the G Flex. Yes, The low resolution and low pixel density are not exactly there to blow you away but the ability of OLED to deliver consistent blacks works particularly well on the curved screen, especially when watching movies is one of the primary use cases for this phone. Though it still has issues with whites, it’s not as noticeable given the darker theme on the LG Skin used on the G Flex and rarely during playing a movie.

The screen on the G Flex is bright and with the curve, seemingly doesn't pick up as much glare as a more traditional flat screen will, with very little light reflected off it making it easy to read under most conditions. That’s overstating it, the only time I had issues with reading the screen was in the midday sun and I've had far more problems with phones with better screens than the G Flex.

Camera




The camera is one part of the G Flex I feel doesn't quite live up to the ‘no compromise’ stance that LG has projected when speaking of developing the G Flex. As grandiose a statement as that is, there’s really only one problem with the camera on the G Flex and that’s the lack of Optical Image Stabilisation.

For a smartphone camera the LG G2 was one of the best smartphone shooters I had the pleasure to use, the G Flex camera uses the same 13MP rear camera module, but just lacks the OIS that made the G2 a stunning shooter in low light conditions.

At the end of the day, you probably won’t be disappointed in the G Flex camera. As far as pictures on the G Flex are concerned you will get a beautifully true to life colour correct shot, as long as you’re in good to Ok lighting conditions. In low light... there's nothing you can do really.



(Click to enlarge)



 


 

 

While the phone video recording is acceptable – it’s nothing flash, but it will certainly get the job done – the exciting news from the US is that the Android 4.4 update for the G Flex will bring a new feature to the camera – 4K video recording, but exactly when will we see that internationally is not certain.

Connectivity

LG phones have traditionally come with most kinds of connectivity and the G Flex is no different, with the exception of 802.11 AC Wifi and a 900MHz Radio for 3G calls, there’s little to complain about in terms of connecting the G Flex to anything. Bluetooth accessories connect quickly and have a decent range. NFC is also present.

Sadly since I live in Jordan and we have no LTE nor our 3G is decent, I can't judge the device's performance in that area.

Sound


The sound on the G Flex is decent, the sound works well through a headphone/earphone setup, likewise with a Bluetooth headset. As usual with a phone speaker, it’s an Ok experience but nothing to blow you away with awesome sound that you can use to show off videos on your new curved screen beast.

The G Flex has a single rear facing speaker on the back of the device. While you can cup your hand around the back of the phone while holding it, to direct the volume, it’s just not ideal. Who wants to spend time consuming media with your speaker facing away from you? The majority of the time you will of course be listening through head/earphones but still, it’s one decision I hope they revisit in any possible sequel.

Performance

With its Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2GB of RAM and while brilliantly coloured and good looking but low resolution screen, there’s little issues here with speed at any part of the interface on the G Flex. LG’s ability to fine tune even their admittedly heavy skin to perform buttery smooth is an amazing feat for a company who was releasing some less than stellar devices a few years ago.

Playing games like Asphalt 8 will occasionally see a dropped frame or two, but it’s not something you notice hugely unless you’re very attentive and overall games will perform quite admirably.
Software

Software has always been the point at which LG phones continue to let me down. But it’s not that they released it with Android 4.2.2, a more than 12 month old version, nor is it due to their lack of features, integration of tools or overall functionality, because LG excels at including all of those things, no, what LG has consistently failed to deliver is a good looking interface….until the G2.

With the G Flex, LG has done what I thought impossible up till recently, they've made me like the look of their interface and they did it by making one very easy change – they made a dark theme. Whereas the LG skin on previous phones has been light and repeatedly called cartoonish, by simple dint of giving dark overtones throughout their OS, the phone feels more usable.

 

The notification drawer is similarly still asking for some work, but as LG use the Notification Shade to show off QSlide Apps you can forgive them somewhat, because given half a chance, QSlide Apps can be extremely helpful. Similarly, the Quick Settings toggles are ordered to show off Quick Memo first and foremost, but unlike the seemingly useless and un-configurable quick settings from stock Android, the order of all these quick settings can be changed easily.

Overall, LG has done a nice job with the Optimus UI on the G Flex by making that one change. The software has functionally changed very little from the LG G2, with a few exceptions. LG has added a few features to their software which enhance the user experience further for those wanting to experience video on the curved screen of the G Flex.

First and foremost of these is Q Theater, a function which is activated by holding the phone in landscape and using your thumbs to slide out from the centre, like sliding curtains across a theatre screen you’re then taken straight to a multimedia hub where you can view pictures, video or YouTube.


Next they've implemented a multi-tasking service on top of the floating QSlide Apps option that you normally get. Press and hold the back button and you can run a dual window setup with one App at the top and one App below. The Apps you can choose from are mostly, but not limited to, QSlide Apps, which can still be used in their capacity as floating Apps over any running App. This dual-App screen is certainly handy for multi-tasking and really shows off that gorgeous 6 inch screen and just how much real estate you have there.





LG has also made a change to the soft keys adding a notification key which you can add from the settings menu. Where as previously you could always add in which soft keys you want – except multi-tasking – and the order they display in, you can now add a soft key which pulls down the notification shade. A really useful option for using a 6 inch device for people with smaller hands, even with my larger hands I found it useful.

Lastly on the lock screen you will notice that the accelerometer is active to show off a cool feature that just looks neat on the curved screen. Tilt the phone up and the view on the lock screen animation scrolls up, likewise for down. It’s just a cool feature.



Battery life



If you want a phone purely based on battery life, you can not go wrong with the G Flex. The LG Chem division in charge of battery technology has outdone themselves, cramming a 3,500mAh battery into a platform that is not only not regularly shaped, but also curved and flexible.

With the G Flex I was comfortably using the phone with every application and function I wanted to for over a full day without even worrying about where I was going to find a charger. This kind of battery life and integrity is something I haven't experienced since using the G2 last year and the G Flex kicks it up a notch from what I thought was an exceptional battery life on that phone.



The Verdict

Pros:



Excellent performance.
LG's launcherSkin (Optimus UI) has become extremely usable.

Very long battery life.

Cons:

No SD card slot.
No Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) for the camera.
No Full HD screen.

Bottom line

The G Flex brings together a lot of cool, innovative and futuristic technology – the curved screen, flexible design, self healing back – This device is all in all an experiment that LG created to test out the waters in terms of customer feedback and industrial design, It's something quite unique and special... and I can't wait to see more. 

Gallery

(Click to enlarge)

 

 

 






Video Review [Arabic]

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Samsung Galaxy S5 is now official [Roundup]

Feb 24, 2014

Big Sammy has just announced its latest flagship device, the Galaxy S5, at it's Unpacked 2014 Episode 1 event in Barcelona, Spain. This time around Samsung wanted to keep everything simple instead of bloating the device with advanced features, because they think that’s not what the average consumer wants. The average consumer wants an elegant device, fast performance, stunning camera and easy to use software, says Samsung.

Features and Specs:


The Galaxy S5 resembles last year’s Galaxy S4 in terms of design. But that is only true when you look at the front of the device, which is taken up by a beautiful 5.1-inch full HD AMOLED panel. It might come as a disappointment to some, but yes, the device has remain unchanged from what we saw last year in terms of resolution, it’s still a 1080p panel, no 2K display as we heard about in the leaks.

Turning the device over, we’re greeted with a dotted plastic design. Samsung has finally made the move and given up the glossy back cover for something new, and overall, it gives the device a better feel over the last year’s Galaxy S4, which is of course a good thing in our books. But really, we wished Samsung had gone metal this time around, but thanks to the overall plastic design, the device weighs in at just 145 grams, which makes the device extremely light when it comes to day to day use.


On the back of the device, we’re greeted with a new 16-megapixel rear facing camera, which is capable of shooting 4K UHD video at 30 frames per second. But the 4K bit isn’t what excites us the most; the camera is also capable of shooting video in HDR, and coupled with video stabilization, you can be rest assured that Samsung plans to take on the photo and video market with guns blazing.



Samsung is also introducing new features as part of its camera package, which includes HDR (Rich Tone) for even better and clearer HDR shots, along with Selective Focus, Virtual Tour Shot, Shot&More, enough to keep photo enthusiasts busy for quite a while in the days to come.

The Galaxy S5 is IP67 dust and water resistant, which makes it a tough device. We wouldn’t recommend taking it right away into the shower, or a swimming pool though, but the new certification hints at the fact that we might not see a Galaxy S5 Active variant this time around.


Rest of the features are pretty standard, and something which we come to expect from any device that is released in the present age; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac is there with MIMO technology, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3 support, NFC and an IR blaster.

Additional features include Download Booster, which uses cellular data + Wi-Fi to give downloads a mighty boost, S Health 3.0 with new and improved health and fitness related features, Quick Connect, Private Mode and Kids Mode.



In terms of hardware, the Galaxy S5 packs a great punch! Powered by a mighty 2.5GHz quad-core (Could be the new Snapdragon 801), coupled with 2GB of RAM to ensure that things are nicely ticking over throughout the day.

The device is powered by Android 4.4.2 KitKat right out of the box, which is great news for power-users and consumers alike. But Samsung has promised that the 4.4.2 update will also be available to other Galaxy devices in the days to come.

Galaxy S5 also comes with a heart rate monitor built right in. It’s situated underneath the camera lens at the rear, and monitors your heart rate by placing your finger on top of it. This could prove to be a great feature amongst those who are always out and about searching for new ways to keep track of their health, and hands down, Samsung has delivered in this arena.



And yes, the Galaxy S5 comes with a fingerprint sensor, but Instead of using a full frame fingerprint sensor, like the iPhone 5s Touch ID, the Galaxy S5 requires a swipe gesture to register a fingerprint, which in turn, unlocks your device. The fingerprint sensor sits in the hardware home button. Let this bit echo in your head for a while. Lawsuit incoming? We don’t know.


Samsung’s latest flagship device will come in a bunch of new colors at launch, which includes: Charcoal Black, Shimmery White, Electric Blue and Copper Gold. Apart from that, the device will be available in two memory configurations: 16 and 32GB, with option of expansion using microSD with support for up to 64GB.


In the battery department, Galaxy S5 offers a 2800mAh battery. Samsung claims that the device will spit out a standby time of 390 hours and talk time of up to 21 hours.

You can check out the full list of specs below:


Price and Release Date

At this point in time, Samsung is not talking about the price of the device itself. But if we were to take a guess, we would put the device in the $650 price region, which is pretty standard for flagship Samsung devices these days, with prices going further up depending on which memory configuration you’re going for.

Regarding the release of the device, the new Galaxy S5 along with Gear 2 and Gear Fit will be available on April 11th in 150+ countries. And yes, it will be available on all major carries in the United States, with pricing, as we mentioned above, unknown.

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Watch Samsung UNPACKED 2014 Episode 1 Right Here. [UPDATED]

Feb 24, 2014

Samsung introduced the Galaxy S5 during the Unpacked 5 event. If you want to watch the Galaxy S5 launch event, then we are glad to announce you that you can watch the playback of the event right here on AndroidBasha.com!.


The Unpacked 5 event took place Monday in Barcelona and it debuted at 20:00 CET (2 PM EST), 09:00PM Jordan time (+02:00 GMT).

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Samsung Gear 2 & Gear 2 Neo specs

Feb 23, 2014


Samsung has announced the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches. Both are compatible with Smasung's Android smartphones, but neither watch actually runs Android instead switching to Samsung's own open-source OS, Tizen.


The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo essentially are the same thing, only the Neo a tad smaller and lighter, has no camera and has different color options.

Here are the Samsung Gear 2 specs:

Display
1.63-inch Super AMOLED (320 x 320) 
Processor
1.0 GHz Dual Core Processor
Operating system
Tizen-based wearable platform
Camera (Gear 2 only)
2.0 Megapixel Auto Focus (1920x1080, 1080x1080, 1280x960)
Video
Codec: H.264, H.263; Format: 3GP, MP4; HD(720p, @30fps) Playback & Recording
Audio
Codec: MP3/AAC/AMR/Vorbis; Format: MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG
Camera Features
Auto Focus Camera, Sound & Shot, Location Tags, Signature
Fitness features
1. Heart Rate sensor; 2. Pedometer; 3. Exercise (Standalone Modes: Running, Walking; Companion Modes: Cycling, Hiking); 4. Sleep & Stress (Downloadable)
Music
Music Player with Bluetooth Headset and Speaker
Watch-on Remote
Remote Controller via IrLED Sensor
Basic Features
Bluetooth Call, Camera, Notification(SMS, E-mail, Apps)
Apps
Media Controller, Schedule, Smart Relay, S Voice, Stopwatch, Timer, Weather
Downloadable features
Calculator, ChatON, Flashlight, Quick Settings, Voice Memo
Gear 2 strap options
Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange
Gear 2 Neo strap options
Charcoal Black, Mocha Grey and Wild Orange
Ruggedness
IP67 Certified Dust and Water Resistant, Noise Cancellation
Featured apps
Banjo, BMW, CNN , Conde Nast, Expedia, eBay, Evernote, Feedly, GARMIN, Glympse, GM (Onstar 4GLTE), iControl, Line, Path, Paypal, RUNTASTIC, Volkswagen, Weather Channel, Under Armour (Map my fitness).
Samsung Services
Samsung Apps
Connectivity
Bluetooth® v4.0 LE, IrLED< 
Sensors
Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate 
Memory
512MB RAM
Storage
4GB
Dimensions
Gear 2: 36.9 x 58.4x 10.0 mm, 68g; Gear 2 Neo: 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm, 55g
Battery life
Li-ion 300mAh; Typical Usage 2~3 days, Low Usage up to 6 days
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