The New Samsung Note; Great or Not?

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Yesterday at Berlin Radio Show, as expected, Samsung released its biggest smartphone, a tablet-cum-smartphone or ‘phablet’ as it’s popularly known now, Galaxy Note II. Among other things that Samsung announced yesterday there is ATIV S, the world’s first smartphone running Windows 8 mobile OS. Galaxy Note II comes with slight advancements to the previous version. Let’s check it out here.

Comparison Between Note & Note II

Here’s a table comparing the features of the new Note with the previous one.

Feature Galaxy Note Galaxy Note II
Display Super AMOLED, 16m colors; 800×1280 pixels resolution; 5.3 inches (285 ppi) Super AMOLED, 16 m colors; 720×1280 pixels, 5.5 inches (267 ppi)
Processor Dual-core 1.4 GHz, ARM Cortex A9 Quad-core 1.6 GHz; ARM Cortex A9
Memory 2GB RAM; Internal storage: 16/32/64 GB; MicroSD: up to 32 GB MicroSD up to 32 GB; Internal: 16/32 GB; 1GB RAM
Camera 8MP with geo-tagging, face & smile detection, image stabilization; front-facing 2MP 8MP with all the features in Note 1; front-facing 1.9MP
Battery Li-ion 2500 mAh giving up to 820 hours stand-by on 3G Li-ion 3100 mAh
Body features 146.9x83x9.7mm; weight: 178g 151.1×80.5×9.4mm; weight: 180g
Operating System Android Gingerbread (originally released with) Android Jelly Bean 4.1

Are you disappointed looking at the features here? The display is substandard compared to the first version although it is larger. A larger display needs a larger resolution and pixel density to perform better, and both are not available in Note II. This display will have increased level of pixelation. There is no noticeable upgrade to the memory or processor settings as well.

However, with the large battery and upgraded bug-free versions of software, I suppose the Note II could give you a better battery life. Also, this Note is thinner and longer.

The most attractive feature of Note, the S-pen is there in this version as well. Samsung has upgraded the driver software for this device and its design is also slightly changed. The S-pen can be used now to preview email messages and open frequently used applications.

Besides these, it’s Android Jelly Bean that powers this Note. This is a more responsive and visually stunning version of Android.

Conclusion

How the new performs with the larger screen with smaller resolution remains to be seen. Also, Jelly Bean and larger processor will make the Note one of the fastest devices out there.

[Image credit: GSM Arena]

Court Case Between Apple and Samsung : An Analysis

apple vs google

In California, yesterday Apple won the lawsuit against Samsung as the court ordered Samsung to pay 1.05 billion US dollars in damages. This is another reason to enjoy for Apple, which has become the most valued company in the history of all businesses recently. This lawsuit is very significant in the cell phone market today. This court case is something that we have been looking forward to for a long time.

Android-based Samsung devices (tablets and smartphones) have been competing severely with iPhone and iPad. Consumers know the quality and features available in the devices by both of these companies. However, the future may be significantly different for Samsung with this verdict.

The Beginning of the Lawsuit

 

Last year (2011 April) Apple started its legal battle against Samsung with a demand for 2.5 billion dollars toward reparation. The spat between these two stalwarts in the mobile market was regarding infringement of Apple’s design patents. Look at the image below, published by BBC, aptly describing the issue:

apple iphone vs samsung

 

It looks as if Samsung was woken up abruptly from a slumber (by iPhone) and started developing products conforming to the latest, hot design standards.

Two quotes made by Samsung should be mentioned here at this point:

It (the verdict) will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices.

This decision should not be allowed to stand because it would discourage innovation and limit the rights of consumers to make choices for themselves. : by Samsung lawyer, John Quinn.

I would like to note here that Samsung didn’t innovate in the design front; it was Apple that came up with a new design first and Samsung merely followed that trend.

Technology Theft

 

The Galaxy series of tablets and phones look not so different from iPad and iPhone. Almost two dozen models from Samsung were found to be guilty of design theft. The specific models hit include Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S series, Mesmerize, Fascinate, Infuse, etc., which look suspiciously similar to iPhone. Also, from a distance, who can identify between the popular iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab?

Other user interface options that Apple claims Samsung copied include ‘bounce back’ feature that makes menus and icons bounce back when you tap through them.

Apple also claims Samsung copied the tap-to-zoom feature from iPhone.

Other Lawsuits

 

If you look at the array of lawsuits between these firms, you know that each has in fact stolen from the other. Recent verdict in a Seoul court made Samsung pay Apple 25 million won and Apple, 40 million won in return. The Seoul court had found out that Apple had violated two patents by Samsung while Samsung had violated one.

In another lawsuit in the UK, the British court had invalidated Apple’s claims of violation of their patents by Samsung.

In Australia, it was Samsung’s victory over Apple, and Galaxy tab had thrived there over iPad.

Strategies & Thoughts

 

Apple began the battle back in 2011, showing the obvious design theft done by Samsung. In return, Samsung had filed a case against Apple claiming around 400 million. Now, it’s clear that to a bystander it would seem that Apple had the genuine cause. Looking at the evidence too (the devices by Samsung that look a lot like the popular iPhone), anyone would be compelled to support Apple rather than Samsung. The return lawsuit by Samsung might have given it a suspiciously offensive outlook. They probably thought offense is the best defense. Probably that lawsuit made Samsung less favorable to the current jury.

Samsung’s latest addition to the Galaxy S series, Galaxy S3, has a predominantly different design among the entire line of smartphones by the company. Also, Samsung marketed it with the tagline ‘designed for humans’, and tried to send a blow to Apple by saying ‘there are no straight lines in real life’. These gimmicks are obviously the direct reverberation of the continuing lawsuit.

Now, Apple has the upper hand, and it can demand removal of over two dozen models by Samsung from the US market of smartphones. Google Android will get a hit if this happens as most of the popular devices in this operating system are manufactured by Samsung.

In terms of other hardware specific details, Samsung phones have always excelled over the iPhone. They come with impressively large displays mostly based on AMOLED technology; some phones have mobile payment technology based on NFC (what is this?) and Google Wallet; high-speed multicore processors; and they are remarkably cheaper than iPhone.

In this legal win for Apple, one of the most important opinions was made by Christopher Marlett, CEO of MDB Capital Group that specializes in intellectual property:

I don’t know if $1 billion is hugely significant to Apple or Samsung. But there is a social cost here. As a company, you don’t want to be known as someone who steals from someone else. I am sure Samsung wants to be known as an innovator, especially since a lot of Asian companies have become known for copying the designs of innovators.

legal pleading

Apple had an impressive strategy to win this case. They established facts and convinced the jury that they believed in a product like iPhone to invest a billion and four years for its design and marketing. They were able to prove without doubt that their product designs have been copied. Even one of the witnesses by Samsung was made to concede to the supremacy of Apple in the design front.

On the other hand, Samsung’s arguments centered on their ‘pressure’ in the market after the launch of an innovative product like iPhone; it looked like Samsung was clueless in its pleadings. The lawyers probably didn’t focus on the obvious necessity for a design similar to Apple’s for bringing out devices with large displays. They probably also didn’t discuss other areas of innovation that Samsung has an upper hand on, such as the display technology and hardware superiority.


[Update: ]

The district court judge, Lucy Koh presiding over the Apple Samsung lawsuit has ordered that the penalty Samsung needs to pay to Apple be reduced by 450,514,650 dollars. Hence, now Samsung needs to pay only 598,908,892 dollars. There is a detailed analysis done by FOSS Parents blog.


 

Conclusion

 

This particular win for Apple will create awareness among cellphone designers out there. We will probably be seeing innovative designs and user interfaces from other companies. Google will also probably make radical changes to Android to ward off any other possible lawsuits based on technology. Although at present there is no danger to Google or Android, the future is difficult.

Apple’s lawyers, led by Harold McElhinny, have requested a pullout of infringing Samsung devices from the market, and increased damages closer to 4 billion. On the other hand, lawyer, John Quinn of Samsung has requested the verdict to be nullified. Hearing for Apple’s move for sales injunction will be held on September 20.

How to Install Incompatible Android Apps on Your Phone?

android unlock

In Google Play store, there are about half a million applications, paid and free. As the owner of an Android phone, you may have a number of preinstalled apps and some apps that you installed. Some of these preinstalled apps are collectively known as bloatware.

I don’t know about you, but on my Android phone I would want to remove unnecessary bloatware and install some advanced apps most of which are incompatible with the phone. This is a procedure that requires root level access to your Android device as well as editing some of the important system files. In this article, let’s see how this is done.

In order to make your Android device compatible with all the apps out there, you should have your device ‘rooted’. This is a process that could void its warranty and render it inoperable. If you are an advanced user, you may already know the side effects of rooting and flashing new firmware to your device—you could brick it! (that is turning it into a glittering black brick, literally).

What Is Rooting?

 

Android runs on Linux kernel; if you know or have used Linux, you know the administrator account is known as ‘root’. Linux, unlike Windows, doesn’t provide you with system level access. This is one of the reasons that make Linux highly secure.

When you get root access on Linux or Android, it essentially renders the device insecure. This is one of the reasons why Google Wallet gives you an alert when you try to use it on a rooted device.

Also, you should know if your phone is capable of handling rooting process. Phones like HTC One X, One S, Desire, Inspire 4G, Evo 4G, Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S2, S3, Galaxy Nexus, etc., have all been found to root successfully. For specific information about rooting and to see if your device supports it, go to XDA-Developers forum, CynogenMod Wiki, or RootzWiki. It goes without saying that you should back up your phone’s important data before proceeding.

After rooting has been done, install an app to explore and edit files on Android (similar to Explorer on Windows)—ES File Explorer is the popular one used by power users.

ES explorer

 

You have to edit the bulild.prop file in order to make your device compatible with incompatible apps. Build.prop as you know is like a registry to Android, and editing it without proper knowledge is not going to do anything good to your device. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully and research on Android support forums and blogs before attempting it on your phone.

Edit Build.prop and Set Device Name

 

Within the ES File Explorer Settings, put a check to ‘Root Explorer’ and ‘Mount File System’.

Browse to build.prop file, located within the System directory. This file identifies your device to Google Play store. Hence, editing it and changing the device name would actually fool the app store thus enabling your device to download the necessary app. Back it up first and then open it within ES Explorer. If it doesn’t open properly, press on the icon longer and select ‘Open As’; select text and open with ES Note Editor.

editing build.prop

Within this text file, you will see ‘ro.product.model’ field and ‘ro.product.manufacturer’ fields. Change them to whatever you would like to use in order to change the identity of the phone. For example:

If you have Nexus S and want to change to HTC One X, then change it in this way:

Ro.product.model=One X
Ro.product.manufacturer=HTC

Save the file and you are done!

In order to actually test the app, however, you have to restart the device. Sometimes, you have to also clear the cached information stored by Google Play store on your device—go to Google Play app ‘Manage Applications’ page and clear the offline storage from here.

Although this is a workaround to get apps running on your device, the system doesn’t impart an actual compatibility, does it? So, you can’t expect any app to run on your device. If the app is literally not compatible, there is no way you can get it to work.

Upgrading Your Samsung Galaxy S3 to the Latest Firmware

galaxy s3 and jelly bean

Samsung Galaxy S3 is the latest addition to a famous line of smartphones. They run on Google Android mobile operating system, the latest version being v.4.1, Jelly Bean. However, S3 comes with the previous version, Ice Cream Sandwich. You may be anxious to update the operating system to the latest version.

Jelly Bean official update for Galaxy S3 should be available in the near future.

You can either get the official updates from Samsung directly or you can go for an available custom firmware. Here are the things you need to know.

Before any sort of software update, you have to back up all the important data on your phone. Otherwise, an erroneous update will render your phone useless. Samsung software, Kies could help in backing up all your data. This is the in-house solution. Also, you can go for third party backup tools such as Backup Master, Titanium Backup, etc. Also, you need to have enough battery power to complete the flashing process. At least 80 per cent of battery power is required.

After backing up the device data, connect it to the computer using the provided USB connector.

samsung kies

At this point of time, you should be running the Samsung Kies software that is used to download and update the phone with the Samsung official firmware. Kies is available for Windows (XP and later) and Mac (10.5 or later). Make sure you have faster than 2 GHz Intel processor and at least 512 MB RAM. Kies can be downloaded from here.

Kies not only helps in firmware update, but also for syncing contacts, wireless connection to the mobile phone, and transferring multimedia content.

Installing the Official Firmware

 

As the newer versions of Android get released, Samsung may develop device-specific firmware that will update your device. The demo video below shows how to update to ICS using Kies software:

After connecting the Galaxy phone to your computer, start Samsung Kies. Once your phone has been connected to the software, Kies will show you the available software update. All you need to do is device backup and download the firmware through Kies. Make sure you don’t disconnect the device during the update. You only have to follow the on screen instructions.

Custom Firmware for Galaxy S3

 

You can get the latest custom firmware for Galaxy S3 from Androidfirmwares.net. Of course downloading custom firmware and updating your new device should be done with extreme caution. It will obviously void the warranty of your phone and may cause little or no improvement from the factory setting. However, people continue to update to custom firmware and customize their devices for optimum performance.

As a first step, find out the firmware version you are using on your Galaxy S3. On the keypad of the phone, type ‘*#1234#’ (this code will work with other phones too). It will give the phone’s firmware in this format: ‘I9300AABB5’ (AA indicates the region of the firmware and BB indicates the release date; the number indicates the version).

Here’s the list of region codes:

BD: Cyprus, Greece
BH: Central Europe
CE: Belgium, the Netherlands
CP: Finland
DB: Vietnam
DC: Thailand
DD:  India
DT: Australia
DX: Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam
DZ: Malaysia and Singapore
JA: South Africa
JC: Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia
JP: South Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Morocco
MT: Switzerland
PO: France
XA: Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK
XE: Denmark, Sweden, Norway
XC: Portugal and Spain
XD: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia
XE: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine
XF: Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania
XG: Germany
XX: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the UK
XP: Several European countries
XW: Australia, UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands
ZC: China
ZH: Hong Kong
ZT: Taiwan

In order to download and update the Galaxy S3 using custom firmware, you need a tool known as Odin. After installing Odin, download the required custom firmware and extract the contents to a folder (it will give you a file with ‘.tar’ extension).

galaxy s3 odin

 

Here are the steps to install custom firmware, as detailed at RootGalaxy S3iii.com (This is completely unofficial information and Samsung or publishers of either of these websites will not take any responsibility for errors):

1. Enable USB Debugging option on your phone (Go to Settings->Developers)

2. Turn off the phone and turn it back on with Volume Down key, Power button, and the Home button pressed simultaneously. Keep them pressed until you get to the Downloading Mode.

cellphone connected to pc

3. Now connect the phone to the computer through USB cord and open Odin. Wait till it detects the phone (indicated by a COM port number on the top left-hand side).

4. Now, point the PDA part of Odin to the firmware file downloaded earlier (.tar file).

5. Click on Start on Odin, and it will install the firmware to your phone.

Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy family in general are great smartphones available today. Google Android is a developer’s operating system with loads of features. Advanced users would love to take advantage of the features offered by this operating system through custom firmware. It is also important that you download stable firmware with good reviews.

Apples Retina Display Vs. Super AMOLED From Samsung

RainbowIf you own an Apple product such as the latest iPad, iPhone 4S, or MacBook Pro (the latest version), then you have seen one of the boldest advancements in display technologiesRetina Display.

[Update: There are other phones with better than Retina Display now]

This is the Apple standard of displaying content with pixelation that human eye cannot detect. That means if you view your Apple screen from a natural viewing distance, you will not be able to distinguish any pixels. This makes Retina Display a ravishing new development as far as display technologies go.

On the other hand, Samsung has pioneered in developing new display technologies for handheld devices, and they have come up with Active-Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) technology (an improvement over the OLED system). ‘Super AMOLED’ and ‘Super AMOLED Plus’ are variants of this. You will find a comparison of Retina and AMOLED here.

Architecture of Mobile Displays

AMOLED as the name suggests is a display based on organic compounds, which luminesce on contact with electricity. The display has an organic layer above a thin film transistor (TFT) substrate that injects electricity into the organic layer, making it generate the necessary colors. Look at the image here.

amoled technology

The individual pixels on AMOLED are capable of creating their own light, and hence they don’t require a backlight unlike other liquid crystal displays. This is one of the reasons why AMOLED gives the best possible black levels.

Retina display by Apple employs the traditional LCD TFT with IPS (In-Plane Switching, made to widen the display angle, pioneered by Hitachi) technology, but they have made the pixels too tiny to notice (78 micrometers as claimed by Apple). Thus iPhone 4S is capable of displaying more pixels per square inch. iPhone 4S has a ppi ratio of 326, one of the highest among smartphones today. To get some advanced information about Retina display, go to Jonesblog.

Power Consumption

LCD displays require a dedicated backlight to generate colors. This is also the reason why LCD doesn’t give you perfect black levels (even to display black it needs backlight!). This obviously increases the power consumption level of LCD.

Winner: AMOLED

Clarity & Color Reproduction

 

clarity and color reproduction on samsung vs iphone

Viewing the image on an LCD screen and an AMOLED screen and then judging the consistency of clarity would easily suggest the superiority of LCD over AMOLED.

The latter has a problem with sunlight. It doesn’t display well under it. In fact you wouldn’t be able to recognize if the phone is turned on or not under sunlight. This is the reason why Samsung innovated and developed a variant known as Super AMOLED that displays better under sunlight.

AMOLED has another issue. It gives an oversaturated image and doesn’t come up with the naturalness in colors. However, LCD screen generates the most natural of colors. Considering the pixel density and brightness of Retina display, Apple has scored here.

Winner: Retina Display

Pixelation

You will not notice any pixelation on iPhone or the latest iPad. High ppi ratio and small size of pixels make the display lifelike. On the other hand, you can notice a slight amount of pixelation on AMOLED phones like Samsung Galaxy S3. Although this is not exactly a display technology issue, we still rate it here.

Winner: Retina Display

Display Thickness

As you saw earlier, OLED displays lack one layer, the backlight. This makes the display much thinner than the Retina display.

Winner: AMOLED

Viewing Angle

 

viewing angle

OLED displays have no bar on their viewing angles. Retina display on the other hand employs IPS technology to improve their viewing angles.

Without this innovation, LCD screens have just the same viewing angle as old laptops. The clarity goes down as you move to a side.

With LCD IPS, Apple has achieved excellent viewing angle on iPhone. However, AMOLED display is like a printed paper when viewed from the sideit’s clear and blemish-free.

Winner: AMOLED

Brightness and Contrast

Apple iPhone 4S is brighter than Samsung Galaxy S3 at the first look. The Retina Display regulates brightness of the screen efficiently so that you get the best battery life and the best brightness. However, if you go higher on brightness or try to achieve the same amount of brightness on both the devices, you will find AMOLED screen on S3 to be slightly brighter. Check this image out from Engadget…

samsung galaxy s3 vs iphone 4s


Winner: AMOLED (due to savings on battery life).

Conclusion

Looking at the display technologies available today, you can expect to see several developments in the coming years. Also, there are a lot of other technologies out thereOLET, SED, QD-LED, FLD, etc. Difference between AMOLED and Retina is that the former is one of the best new technologies and the other uses the best possible improvement on an existing technology.