The Galaxy Note 8 hands-on impressions

IMG_1736

Bwahaha!

Samsung showcased the Galaxy Note 8. Now believed to be 100% less prone to spontaneous combustion.

After the disaster that was the Note 7, it appears that Samsung is making a strong comeback, hitting harder and stronger with the Galaxy Note 8. It should come as no surprise that Samsung jumped in to the whole dual camera thing and quite honestly, I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen thus far.

The Galaxy Note 8 features a 6.3-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED screen. That means the resolution is really, really high. It’s Samsung’s phone with the biggest screen after the Galaxy S8+, which has a 6.2-inch screen. Yeah, it’s only bigger by .1 point. Big deal, Samsung will still brag about it.

Two 12MP rear cameras with a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. It has this sassy Dual Capture mode that takes two photos at the same time, one standard, everyday shot, and a close-up shot.

IMG_1710

The 6GB RAM is cute but the 64GB-only internal memory is not. According to Samsung reps, Southeast Asia will only be getting the 64GB storage while Korea gets to have that juicy 128GB version. That’s fine, I suppose, the Samsung reps are optimistic, saying it has an expandable storage with a memory card up to 256GB storage. If you’re willing to shell out a phone this expensive, a few extra bucks for a memory card shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

In terms of firepower, the Note 8 is said to have the same Exynos processor as the Galaxy S8+. In fact, you can mistake the Note 8 for the S8+. So what separates the two? The Note 8 has a bigger screen, of course. It features front and back Gorilla Glass 5. It two cameras in the back. And it has the almighty S Pen.

The S Pen is a nice piece of hardware that goes with the Note 8. You can’t have a Note 8 without the S Pen. The two co-exists that way. If you don’t care about the S Pen, then dive for the S8+ instead. The two are practically the same anyway.

Now the S Pen’s new tricks involve translation to 71 different languages and currency converter, which is real nice if you’re quite the traveler. No need to use that awful Google Translate, yah?

I wish I was able to take a better photo. You know, hold it in a portrait fashion, and take a photo in that style. I know, I suck, so this will have to do. In any case, the two 12MP rear cameras are top-notch. You can never expect anything less from Samsung. They love their cameras. And cameras is the phone’s lifeblood that can persuade a customer into getting the phone or not.

IMG_1732

For the Note 8, Samsung introduces Live Focus, where you can basically blur out background image while focusing more into your subject. You do this real-time while the camera app is on and before you hit that shutter button. You can, of course, blur backgrounds after the photo has been taken.

Live Message is a feature that is quite similar to what Apple gave us. You can send animated texts and GIFs. Yay, so fun.

IMG_1726

 

If you’re wondering what else can the Note 8 do. Well, there’s the App Pair feature. It’s when you have two apps do the fusion dance, similar to what Goten and Trunks do in “Dragon Ball Z.” To clarify, you combine two apps to make a new icon. You tap this icon and two apps will split your screen in half. This is otherwise known as multi-tasking. It’s handy. With this feature, you can tweet your damn “Game of Thrones” spoilers without ever switching apps. Douche.

 

Samsung is talking a lot about their digital assistant, Bixby. It’s like Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. Samsung wants to be in the game. I suppose this makes sense, considering Samsung has a bunch of appliances. It makes sense that they want to create a universal system to build your smart home and your Samsung phone will be the nexus of it all. Imagine a future where you open up Bixby and ask the contents of your Samsung refrigerator? Ask Bixby how your kids are doing and it will open up your Samsung home surveillance cameras. Tell Bixby to cancel your subscription of Netflix because of that kinda-awful-but-fun “The Defenders.” It’s fun to think about all those things because we see that kind of technology in science-fiction films and people of today keep saying the future is here. But you got to consider, it’s scary too when that happens, cybercrimes is happening, and you wouldn’t want strangers gawking at you, in your own home, through your cameras, while they sit thousands of miles away. Thus far, Samsung’s security is airtight, so you got little to worry about, for the time being.

Bottom line is, the Note 8 is basically a slightly upgraded S8+. You’ll be paying a bit more for the Note 8 and I believe there will be people who are going to regard the extra camera and the S Pen to be worth it deals.

In any case, you get all these pretty neat stuff for the cost of college tuition fee for your favorite child for one semester.

Advertisements

Now, this is my type of galaxy


One of my bosses in my day job was invited to an event in Singapore to learn more about Samsung’s newest tablet, the Galaxy Book.

It’s a device that’s designed to go head-to-head against the Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

I got my hands on it for a little while and the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is for a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good portable device and lighter than laptops. And, according to my boss, comes with its own stylus and keyboard, unlike Apple where you need to get the Pencil and the Smart Keyboard separately. 

The keyboard that ships with the Galaxy Book is without its flaws. But it’s something you can really type with on the get-go. From my experience, the early moments of the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro’s keyboards were a little jarring and I needed to get used to it, much more than other foreign keyboards I’ve worked with. It also has those satisfying clicks whenever you punch them down.


It also runs on a Windows 10 platform, something I’m familiar with. Though it’s likely 1000x susceptible to malware infection, depending on your online activities. But that’s more of a cybersecurity matter. 

In Philippine peso it’s priced around 40K, about a little more than $1,000. It’s almost carries the same price tag as an aged Apple MacBook Air, which I still consider a really damn good typing machine.

In any case, I like the Galaxy Book. Consider this Certified DAMN!

Press release follows:

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest offering in the workbook segment boasting of combined power and mobility for the go-getters. Working on the go will be a breeze as this workbook is powered by Windows 10 Operating System, pre-installed with a Microsoft Office Suite, and comes with a full-keyboard cover case.


If you’re one who loves taking notes down old-school style, you will surely love the S-Pen. The Galaxy Book’s Advanced S-Pen has a fine 0.7mm pen tip for precise note-taking and drawing. Its high-pressure sensitivity provides a realistic writing experience that will surely delight he writers out there.

The Galaxy Book also helps you keep that corporate style on point. No need to lug around your bulky laptop in that extra bag. This new innovation comes in an elegant all-metal body–only at 8.99mm thin, and lightweight at 648g.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ goes into orbit

IMG_0746

For this article, images of the Samsung Galaxy S8+ are used.

With a lot of love and support from people all over the world, I was loaned Samsung’s newest flagship phones: The Galaxy S8 and S8+. And impressions over it have far exceeded than what we had expected.

After the entire Galaxy Note 7 disaster, Samsung comes back strong and hitting hard with the Galaxy S8 and the S8+. During their Unpack event, which was held in March 29 at New York, Samsung executives spoke at length about the new screen.

They call it: The Infinity Display. It sounds like Samsung is cashing in on Marvel’s next year’s almost-guaranteed hit “The Avengers: Infinity War.” In reality, the Infinity Display is just a fancy name for an improved dual-curved, pseudo-bezel-less screen. It’s OLED, meaning the pixels popping out of that screen emit their own light, which, in paper and in the ears, sounds cool. And honestly, it is.

You can even configure the screen into three different settings: 720p (HD+), 1080p (FHD+), and 1440p (UHD). Samsung even warns you that tuning up the screen into UHD with increased brightness will drain battery life faster. Well, no shit Sherlock. That’s among the reasons for giving us fast charging and fast wireless charging, right?

Part of what makes up the Infinity Display is the absence of a physical home button. This allowed Samsung to design the new Galaxy S phones with a much larger screen without bloating them up to incredulous levels. The home button is not missed as much as I thought I would, as the basic home, back, and menu buttons appear on screen already. If you think about it, a physical home button that does the same thing as the one on screen is a bit of a redundancy, right?

In the right side of the screen is a virtual drawer that you can slide out and bring out some Edge features, like People Edge and Apps Edge, which acts as shortcuts. It’s something that I personally never found useful, as there are simpler and faster ways to reach your favorite contacts list, and apps shortcuts can be sorted out anyway. Suffice to say, the People and Apps Edge only gives you a nice-looking, more organized way of navigation.

IMG_0749

I am a huge fan of stock Android. Just plain, bland, boring vanilla Android, for reasons that should really be obvious if you know your tech. And it finally seems Samsung has started listening to people. The Galaxy S8’s UX is all Samsung. And yet it looks so much like stock Android, simple and clean, it makes it hard to let go.

You can bring out all your apps by swiping up or down, which is really damn nice. Again, everything feels so clean and simple, navigation has never been this smoother on a phone. Also, it’s nice to point out that Galaxy S8 has 3D touch features. Tap and hold on to the app to bring out a pop-up menu that allows you to do choose a couple of things. Though, there is still a lot of room for further developments here.

My major complaint about the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and this is something I’m not alone, is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. Look, Samsung, we understand you have your own thing here, and you refuse to join the club of putting fingerprint sensors at the back of the phone, right beneath the camera, so instead, you put your sensor on the right side of the camera. It’s rather brilliant really. Actually – it isn’t. It’s annoying. I’m a left-handed person and it takes my hand a bit of a stretch to reach the fingerprint sensor. This is an even bigger concern for people using the Galaxy S8+, which is a bigger phone. However, when using my right hand, I didn’t find any problem with using the sensor, at all. So I suppose Samsung expects you to meet them halfway, eh?

There are even concerns that before people will be able to hit the fingerprint sensor, they would end up smudging their camera with prints. This wasn’t the case on the unit lent to me. I squeezed out the grease between the microscopic creases of my fingers and rubbed them all over the camera and it didn’t affect the picture quality.

However, the unit, black, or whatever bullshit shade Samsung has decided to call their version of black, is a fingerprint muncher. Only mere moments of admiring the phone, running my fingers along its glass finish, it was smeared with prints all over. It’s quite a nasty thing to look at, which is a shame, cause when cleaned, the Galaxy S8 and the S8+ look fucking good.

It’s amazing to note that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ are the first phones to integrate Bluetooth 5.0.

Thus far I have not encountered issues with the fingerprint sensor, unlike my experiences on other devices, where it takes repeated tries for the phone to unlock. This is based on a single 24-hour experience with the phone. Nonetheless, I found the fingerprint sensor to be the most effective and convenient layer of security. I dislike the facial recognition and the iris scanner tech that Samsung is so proud of, simply because it makes you look like you’re taking a selfie. It might be Samsung’s way of gamification of things, but I just don’t like it. I’m not into selfies and it bugs me that Samsung is actually encouraging me to.

IMG_0750

Oh, speaking of selfies, picture-taking, whatnot, Samsung has integrated their own Snapchat-ish features onto their camera, both in the 12MP dual-pixel rear camera and the 8MP front camera. We don’t know why can’t you just use the other apps that does the exact same feature. In the light of things, I suppose it’s because Samsung is trying to save you time, effort, and memory space by providing something on the get-go instead of downloading them first in the Google Play Store.

It’s amazing to note that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+ are the first phones to integrate Bluetooth 5.0. This means a lot of things for the future. This means your paired devices can have a much farther range from each other. It also means fast wireless transfer speeds. But the best of them lot, is having enough bandwidth to allow two of the same device to pair to the phone. For instance, you can pair two Bluetooth headphones on a single Galaxy S8 unit. No need to share earpieces with your significant other. You can also pair two different speakers. It’s a technology geared toward the bubbling developments of the Internet-of-Things.

One of my least explored features of the phone is Samsung’s own digital assistant, Bixby. It functions the same way as Google Assistant and supposed to be better than Apple’s Siri, and something to go head-to-head against Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. Bixby is like the old S Voice that everyone hoped would just die and Samsung buried it long before that happened, hoping no one would even remember it. But Bixby is different. So Samsung says. Considering Bixby is Samsung’s own design, the AI is designed to do a lot more in in your phone such as change settings. In the Samsung website, it listed Bixby as “It’s constantly learning your ways so it can get better and better.” That’s so vague and scary at the same time.

In the left side of the phone below the volume rockers is a Bixby button. For Samsung to go this far as to put a physical button to summon the AI, we get the sense that Samsung has the intention to blow minds here. I get the sense that Samsung here intends to create a smart hub, integrating all Samsung electronics: TVs, refrigerators, washers, etc… into your mobile phone, with Bixby at its heart. My concern with Bixby is, do we really need it? Anyone who might want to connect their Samsung appliances to their phones, maybe. But for other people? I doubt everyone will want to use Bixby, let alone any digital assistants, save for a few bored questions. And in such cases, I wish Samsung had allowed the customization of the Bixby button into another application that you’d rather use most of the time. Going in-depth about Bixby requires an article of its own, so we’ll let this simmer down a little and go back into admiring the phone.

Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the S8+ packs the best Android hardware you can have. Four gigs of RAM, Snapdragon 835, and 64GB internal storage that can be expanded using microSD card. It’s a flagship device, so of course everything in it was put together to give a full-throttle experience. It’s also IP68, so yup, take that phone with you to the pool.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and the S8+ is a great phone. Our local telcos will be happy to create promos and plans to rip you off when it launches in the country, which isn’t too far now, especially with pre-orders starting real soon. And if you pre-ordered, you can even get a wireless Bluetooth speaker. Give Samsung a clap folks. If the Galaxy Note 7 had damaged Samsung’s reputation, the Galaxies S8 and S8+ will redeem them.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review

Hurrah! First ever image here!

Hurrah! First ever image here!

A few days ago, Samsung flew me off to New York City — via invitation to the newspaper I work for — to attend their Samsung Unpacked event, where media people around the world got to preview the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+.

Along the way, they loaned us one of their sample units, the Galaxy Note 5. As much as I can say about it, it’s a well-built device. Probably something Samsung needs to step up from their glorious cascading down the waterfall. For one thing, the chassis is all metal, front and back are Gorilla Glass 4, with the latter having an extra layer of coating (or so Sammy says) that reduces fingerprints. My experience, the fingerprints are still ever present, though they don’t really get into your face as much. And I’m really glad they ditched the false leather used on previous Notes — premium-look my ass. The back paneled glass does its job right in making money’s worth, to the very least.

“premium-look my ass”

The one thing Samsung executives kept saying was the screen is bigger but the phone is smaller. It’s actually true, surprisingly. It doesn’t feel like a phablet, it feels like a slightly big phone, which feels damn good in the hand. And another surprise, Sammy finally decided to ditch all the stupid bloatware that everyone just takes off as soon as they power up their devices. No more crappy gimmicks, just straightforward boring with no additives whatsoever. They threw in the Screen Off writing menu, where you click out the S Pen and jot stuff down in the screen even while the Note 5 is asleep. I found this practical, and is probably the only cool and useful feature Samsung has ever put in their device, ever.

The last interesting thing for the Note 5, is the S Pen. They added a useless “click” mechanism in order to bring the spirit of a ballpoint pen as close as possible, and as useless it is, it just adds some “fun value” to it, which is kinda sweet honestly.

Galaxy S6 Edge+

I wish I also have a sample unit of the S6 Edge+, but that went off to someone else. But I did get to play with it for a while. The thing about the S6 Edge+ is it’s basically just the S6 Edge, only bigger. If you aren’t familiar with it, the S6 Edge and Edge+ have this thing called People Edge, where swiping the curved part of the screen will bring out your favorite contacts. The Edge+ amplifies this by letting you “poke” those fave contacts by sending them emoticons or doodle-stuff. Another thing the Edge+ has is the Apps Edge, which is this time around, your fave apps. It’s all for novelty really. If you wanted to text one of your fave people, there’s a good chance they’re all ready on top of your list of Message app. That “poke” BS only works if the person you’re poking also has an Edge+ device. Also, despite having two curved edges, only one side can be used as once, and whichever side is used is up to you if you’re a lefty or a righty.

“That “poke” BS only works if the person you’re poking also has an Edge+”

My verdict: The Galaxy Note 5 is an awesome device. If you think it’s about time to update, then sure, the Note 5 is a solid option, no questions asked. Get the Edge+ if you like a new Samsung device that’s pretty fancy. There’s other stuff to talk about with these two devices. The 3,000mAh battery for instance, with the ridiculous Quad HD screen and it’s power hungry specs sheet, of course the battery won’t last long — especially if you’re up for gaming and movie watching. But hey, at least they’ve got fast charging and wireless fast charging (wireless charger sold separately) — and for Samsung, that’s good enough to compensate for the battery.

Techspot

As a technology journalist I feel compelled to do this, every once in a while. Jot up some of the newest techs — rather, gadgets, mostly smartphones and tablets — and provide my two cents. Though, I’m not much of a techie, and techie’s will certainly make fun of me when I slip up, but that doesn’t matter. I guess. I’m looking at this as an average dude that doesn’t much of an idea about the technology world.

  •  Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge

They’re both gorgeous. Finally, Sammy got rid of the plastic and pushed through with building something metallic – which actually feels premium on hand. They’ve managed to do so, without actually putting too much weight on the devices. The Gorilla Glass panels are nice, but anything other than white, leaves a bad smudge of fingerprints. Also, the S6 edge has a few cool gimmicks like the Edge Lighting. But ultimately, I’m not interested in Samsung. The prices for these two in this back alley country are ridiculous – and they’re trying too hard to compete with Apple, and with the obvious design similarities, Samsung is proving that Apple is a leader in the smartphone industry. In the end, people are just paying the high price for the looks, when they are other smarter options.

  • ASUS Zenfone 2

The Zenfones 4, 5, and 6, had been amazing, and everyone pretty much got caught off guard with its more than ok specs and its really awesome price. I’ve got two buddies buying the Zenfone 5 and one Zenfone 4. I’ve seen people in trains, out of 10 of them, I could spot at least 1 or 2 each day using the Zenfone 5. I’ve never seen much use the 4, but I’ve never seen anyone use the 6. There was one girl that’s part of the ASUS team who does, I don’t know if that counts.

Anyway, now the Zenfone 2 is out in some countries, and since I’m not writing for the newspaper this time around – I can openly say, without remorse, the Zenfone 2 lacks the ambitious achievement the previous ones had. For starters, features like Kid Mode is nothing new, I don’t know who started that but I’ve been seeing it as far as 2012 with Samsung’s Ativ S. Touch gestures that opens a specific app while the device is asleep, is also nothing new, China-peeps like Oppo has done that already and more often than not, those stuff is a disappointment. Oppo’s only working touch gesture shortcut thing only worked on their camera app and nothing else. I’m not sure how much ASUS has improved on that, but please, it’s nothing innovative. SnapView is another thing, Samsung has Knox, which is pretty much identical – it opens up a different interface with a different password to protect private data. Again, nothing mind blowing. Double tap to wake up the device, again, it’s nothing fantastic, cause LG has been doing that, and it’s quite irksome while in the pocket.

Then there’s the design, it features a metallic hairline finish that feels premium on hand. I love it, holding it is solid, and steps on most devices made with plastic. But the thing is, the button placements have been shifted. Volume buttons have been moved from the side to the back, where the index finger could reach it with no hassle (or more of a hassle, it’s a love-hate thing, as far as I’m aware of, personally I love it – G3 user here!). The thing is, back buttons have been around, I could be wrong,  but if my poor memory serves, this crazy idea to put buttons at the back of the phone started with LG’s G2, which made headlines a few years back. The difference is the power button, which has been placed on top of the Zenfone 2. That button is darn hard to press and is a bit hard to reach. But the happy thought is, you don’t need the power button since you can double-tap the screen. So, the Zenfone 2’s power button firmness issue, not a big deal, and the button itself isn’t really necessary — unless the phone crashes.

ASUS has carefully selected features from other flagship devices, leaving out some of the useless ones (fingerprint scanner, seriously, only Apple has done that right), and summed it all into their very own, Zenfone 2. Now here’s the kicker, the Zenfone 2 will price is the mind blowing part. You get all these awesome specs, pretty features, but it’s always the price that will set this thing apart from the rest. In a recent event, I flew all the way to Indonesia for the release there, and the 4GB RAM version roughly costs 5 million rupias, which is about 350 US dollars. I haven’t checked actual prices from other countries, a high-spec smartphone with a cost of 3 or 4 Galaxy S6 edges? Worth it.

  • Macpower Marketing’s Pacquiao vs Mayweather Jr

Okay, this is more of an unofficial advertisement for a friend of mine. He works at this place called Macpower Marketing, which is a distributor of gadget accessories like Fluxmob, that Woodford lightning cable thing, and MB Quart Bluetooth speakers, for example. They’ve been having it tough for now, well, mainly because they’re stuff are expensive. In this back alley country, just cause you got a freaking iPhone don’t mean you’re a person of wealth. In this back alley country, a lot of people with low income has an iPhone, or the most expensive Android device out there. People find ways, sometimes dirty. So anyway, this Macpower people, they’re sponsoring tickets for the Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr fight, this May. If you’re around this back alley country, give those dudes’ FB page a like. They’ve got awesome stuff, just expensive.

  • Sony Xperia Z4

Oh man. This stuff is an embarrassment. Don’t even bother Sony, just, get rid of the Xperia line for good. You’ve ruined it for all eternity. When Sony released it in Japan only, they even bother putting up a huge event as they usually do. It’s like, they’ve accepted defeat, and just threw this lame product out there. Don’t get me wrong, the Z4 has some pretty awesome specs. But if you know Sony’s history, what the hell is the deal with releasing flagship devices every 6 months? And the leap between devices hasn’t been that great as well. Sure, the jump from the Sony-Ericsson line to a the first Xperia Z was brilliant. Then Z1 came out, and it’s awesome! Z2 came out 6 months later, and it’s not much different from the Z1, and it just pissed people off. Z3 came out, and it looks different, but the innards are only a slight upgrade, which pissed more people off – if you’ve never owned a Sony Xperia, then it’s brilliant, otherwise, it’s crap. Then now, Z4… Sony, I really want you to succeed, and I’m darn sure am not alone in this, but you’re making it way too hard for us to love your phones. But this isn’t working. You’ve gotten rid of your Vaio laptops, and humor has it, even the Bravia line. Okay, fine, just don’t give up on the PlayStation consoles! It’s my entire, sad, gaming life. Also, from what I’ve learned, Sony will be exploring more onto VR technology, so, let’s see.

  • LG G4

I have nothing to say about it. I haven’t checked its specs, its leaked stuff, or whatever. All I know it’s coming out this week or the next, the ASEAN release will be held on Singapore, if memory serves. Ever since I’ve shifted from Samsung Ativ S to a more measly LG L70, and upgraded to an LG G3, I’ve never been happier with my mobile device. I’ve never bought a phone before, ever, and most of the devices I used were from the office. But the G3 has been the exception, cause I believed it was high time to get my own stuff, which I did a few weeks ago. A part of me wished I got the G3 Stylus instead, it’s got lower specs but with longer lasting battery life. But the few thousand-shedding made the difference. So, anyway, I’m placing blatant faith in LG to bring out a really awesome phone in the form of G4.