Samsung announces Galaxy S4 mini: what's different?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 30, 2013 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Galaxy S4 mini

Because there is a cellphone SKU for everyone, both in design and in direct quantity.

The latest big release, the Galaxy S4, arrived just about a month ago with its 5-inch 1080p screen and potentially dual quad-core processors depending on where you buy it. You could wait until late June and purchased on from the Google Play store containing the full Google experience. If that does not suit you, how about a 4.3" 960x540 version? That would be the Galaxy S4 mini, or at least one of the localized versions they will invariably make for multiple carriers.

But is the only difference the screen? Of course not.

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Image, Samsung via Samsung Tomorrow.

Btw, why does Samsung watermark photos on their company blog? Anyone?

One of the constants between the computational hardware of each Galaxy S4 version is the 2GB of RAM; basically everything else differs between specific subversions of the flagship phone. Not the mini! For whatever reason, the S4 mini backs off on the RAM by half a gigabyte leaving it with 1.5 GB.

One of the main selling features of the large S4 is the eight-core (quad-core A15, quad-core A7) SoC developed by Samsung. It was available in the international version, the American version instead having a quad-core processor from Qualcomm. The mini, on the other hand, will contain a slightly lower-clocked dual-core processor.

In the other features: the battery is about 27% smaller albeit with less power-hungry components; the rear camera drops from 13 megapixels to 8 megapixels, whether or not that is worse picture quality is unknown; and the internal storage is 8GB (5 user-accessible), down from the minimum 16GB of the not-mini.

So beyond the name, there does not seem to be many similarities between the regular and the mini S4. It is basically software which links the two devices. The mini has access to services such as S Translator and S Health, although there does not seem to be any discussion of other services like S Travel and OCR software.

Samsung will officially unveil it, with hands-on demos to various press members, on June 20th in London.

Where have all the PC sales gone? Samsung's got them.

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2013 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: slight exaggeration, Samsung, dram market

We have been reporting on the declining global sales of the traditional desktop PC; with one of the major culprits being the increase in sale of smart or super phones which can do just about everything some mainstream consumers want.  Samsung's Galaxy series certainly contribute to this decline and also the decline of Apple's iPhone sales as according to DigiTimes almost 1 of every 3 phones sold globally was made by Samsung.  Apple claims a mere 17.3% of the global market for those who are curious.  The increase is not only from stealing customers from providers such as Lenovo, the market its self is growing and will likely continue to do so as new phones and promotions are launched throughout the year.

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"In the first quarter of 2013, smartphone shipments increased steadily worldwide, with total shipments reaching 216.4 million units for a 9.4% on growth. Since the beginning of 2012, smartphone shipment figures have been up every quarter despite seasonality, indication the electronic device is here to stay, according to DRAMeXchange."

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone Is Coming

Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, jelly bean, galaxy s4, exynos octa, android 4.2.2

Samsung recently launched its new flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, and users will be able to pre-order it from several US carriers later this month.

AT&T customers will be able to pre-order the 16GB Galaxy S4 for $199.99 and 32GB model for $249.99 beginning April 16. Those prices are contingent on a two-year contract. US Cellular will also be carrying the new flagship smartphone, but has not announced how much it will cost. Customers can register to be notified when it becomes available, however. T-Mobile is also going to offer the Samsung Galaxy S4, but customers will need to pay full price. According to UK mobile site Phones Review, T-Mobile will offer the smartphone on its new no-contract plans for $99 plus a $20 per month fee until it is paid off starting May 1. Regrettably, there is no word on when (or whether) a Verizon or Sprint-comparable model will show up.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone i9500.jpg

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers up the following specifications. On the outside, the phone features a 5” Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and Gorilla Glass 3 protection. A 2MP webcam and 12MP auto-focus camera with LED flash are also included. The internals of the phone are also impressive, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD cards). The 2,600 mAh battery seems a bit weak compared to the one in the Galaxy Mega 6.3, but space constraints likely limited the battery size despite the beefier processor and higher-resolution display. Sensors and I/O include accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, and gesture. Wireless radios include a cellular modem (4G LTE, 3G HSDPA), A-GPS+GLONASS, dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Qualcomm 600 SoC consists of a quad core Krait 300 processor clocked at 1.9GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU.

Note that the US version does not use the higher-performance Samsung Exynos 5 Octa SoC. For reference, the international model's SoC has the following features:

The Exynos 5 Octa consists of a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU and both a quad core Cortex A15 clocked at 1.6GHz and a 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor with four cores. The two ARM processors are configured in big.LITTLE configuration, so technically it is still a quad core phone--but the lower-power Cortex A7 cores will be used for background tasks and/or to save power while shutting down the Cortex A15 cores when CPU load allows.

The Galaxy S4 will come in White Frost or Black Mist colors. It is an impressive phone and one that I’m considering for my next upgrade pending good reviews. Another good consequence of the S4 launching is price reductions for the Galaxy S3, which may be an option if you don’t have impending upgrade pricing and can’t justify paying the approximate $600 full price of the S4--but still want a new Android phone.

Source: Samsung

Samsung Launches Two New Galaxy Mega Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | April 11, 2013 - 11:09 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, Samsung, galaxy mega, galaxy, android 4.2

Samsung recently officially unveiled its new line of Galaxy Mega smartphones. The new phones (there are currently two on tap) run Android 4.2 and feature relatively gigantic screen sizes. As rumors suggested, and likely in order to keep costs down, the Galaxy Mega phones come without a stylus (like the Note series). Also, the displays are lower resolution than the flagship Galaxy S 4’s 1080p display.

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Galaxy Mega 5.8. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 measures 167.6 x 88 x 8mm and weighs 199 grams. On the outside, the smartphone features a black glossy finish, a 6.3” 720p display, an 1.9MP front-facing camera above the display, and an 8MP rear camera. The phone is powered by a 1.7GHz dual core ARM SoC, 1.5GB of RAM, and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage (which can be expanded via microSD cards). Further, it has a 3,200 mAh battery.

GALAXY Mega 6.3 Android Smartphone.jpg

The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 includes accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Poximity, and Gyroscopic sensors. It is compatible with LTE 100/50Mbps, and HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks. A Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (supporting Wi-Fi Direct), Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS/GLONASS, and NFC radios round out the smartphone’s wireless connectivity options. The phone also features USB 2.0 and MHL support for getting an HDMI output via a powered adapter.

GALAXY Mega 6.3 Android Smartphone Camera.jpg

The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 drops down in physical size and weight to 162.6 x 82.4 x 9mm and 182 grams respectively. The phone also drops MHL, NFC, and 802.11ac support. The Galaxy Mega 5.8 has a white glossy finish surrounding a 5.8” TFT touchscreen display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. A 1.9MP camera serves video calling duties while the rear of the phone hosts an 8MP camera for taking higher-quality stills and video.

GALAXY Mega 5.8 Android 4.2 Smartphone.jpg

The smaller (but still huge) Galaxy Mega 5.8

Internal hardware includes a dual core ARM processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2,600 mAh battery. Wireless connectivity includes a cellular modem compatible with HSPA+ 21/5.76 networks, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS+GLONASS. There is no 16GB SKU, but storage space can be expanded via microSD cards.

Samsung has not released pricing information, but the two new Galaxy Mega phones will be available globally. Europe and Russia will be the first countries to get the new smartphone, which will be in May. From there, the phones will gradually roll out to other markets. Users can expect the hardware to cost less than both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 as the Mega has lower-cost hardware despite the physically larger display. If you just want a large display without paying for the extra horsepower of other flagship smartphones, the Mega series should be a decent option. I would estimate AT&T will sell them for around the $150 mark on contract when they do make a US appearance.

More information along with photos of the new mega-sized Galaxy Mega phones can be found here.

Source: Samsung

Big Flashy news from Samsung

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2013 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, flash memory, 10nm

A process shrink to 10nm wasn't enough for Samsung, they also doubled the density of their MLC flash storage to 128Gbits at a physical size of 170.6mm2.  They claim write speeds of up to 18MB/sec and 400Mbit/s bandwidth through their toggle interface.  Even better news for consumers is that this should be even cheaper than current MLC flash which will help continue to drive the price of SSDs down.  Samsung didn't tell The Inquirer when we can expect to see these in devices but it should not be too long from now that we are doing longevity testing on this new Flash.

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"MEMORY MAKER Samsung has announced that it is producing 128Gbit 3-bit multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash chips for solid-state disk (SSD) drives"

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Source: The Inquirer

DRAM makers emulate the HDD business by devouring the competition

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2013 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: DRAM, micron, ssd, Samsung, Hynix

It is perhaps not obvious to many because of the huge number of DRAM resellers but there are only three major manufacturers of DRAM left at this point.  Apart from Micron, who claim top spot in this article on The Register, Samsung and Hynix are the only other big players left supplying DRAM.  Considering the instability of memory and SSD pricing it seems odd that it is a component with only three possible sources, the instability could be coming from the fact that many of the mergers are still rather recent or in the case of Elpida, not quite complete yet.  One very interesting comment from Kipp Bedard, Micron's investor relations VP, might also explain the volatilty of flash, "there simply isn't enough NAND fab capacity to store even 20 per cent of the data people are generating."   If demand outstrips supply by that order of magnitude you can dictate almost any price you wish.

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"When I first started at Micron, there were about 40 to 50 DRAM companies in the space," said Bedard. "And we spent most of the '80s with the Japanese deciding they wanted to own the DRAM space which they went from 10 per cent market share to about 90 per cent, [and] took all of the US companies out except for two, us and Texas Instruments."

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Source: The Register

All I know about the Galaxy S4 ... was not learned on the live stream

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2013 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s4, exynos 5, bad acting, Android 4.2.1

It is a close race between Blackberry and Samsung as far as which company provided the most stilted and uncomfortable launch of a new smartphone but those who survived it managed to pass on details about the brand new phone.  We have not seen it dissected yet, nor blended, but we know inside the phone you will find an Samsung Exynos 5 5410 Octa 8-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz, a PowerVR SGX 544 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of firmware flash and runs Android 4.2.1, similar to the S3.  On the outside is a 5" Gorilla Glass 3 Super AMOLED screen at 1920 x 1080 resolution, or 441ppi which is certainly higher than others but close enough to the limits of a perfect human eye as to make very little real difference.

Connectivity can come through WiFi, BlueTooth, HSPA+ 42Mbps, 4G LTE and even infrared transmitter for remote control functions.  User interaction sees some new tricks however, eye tracking software will scroll webpages and documents as you read through them and those who despair over smudges on their screens will like the ability to control the phone with a finger hovering over the screen, not quite touching it.  It bears two cameras, a 13MP on the back capable of recording at quite respectable resolutions as well as a 2MP front facing camera for video calls.  On this translated page, the only connectivity seems to be a microUSB port, but there is is mention of  MHL which can provide HDMI out, or you might be able to use the infrared transmitter to send your pictures and movies to another device.  Charging can be done wirelessly via Qi in theory, though that did not work so well during the demonstration.  You can follow the various links for a bit more detail but until a reviewer can get a Galaxy S4 in hand to benchmark it and perhaps tear it apart we don't know exactly how this phone will fare against the competition.

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"Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available from the second quarter globally including the US market, partnering with telecom carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, as well as US Cellular and Cricket, Samsung said. In Europe, Samsung Galaxy S4 is partnering with global mobile operators such as Deutsche Telecom, EE, H3G, Orange, Telenor, Telia Sonera, Telefonica, and Vodafone."

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Source: DigiTimes

Not quite an ultrabook but more than a tablet, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2013 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, win8, digital audio converter, ultrabook

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T is a convertible tablet with aspirations to be an ultrabook, it is 1.97 lbs, with an 11.6" 1080p touchscreen powered by a Core i5-3317U with 4GB of DDR3-1600 in single channel configuration.  For connectivity you get a a MicroSD port, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports on the dock, Micro HDMI and analog audio with Wi-Fi, WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0.  The Tech Report tested its battery life for both surfing and playing 720p video, seeing 6 hours in the first case and 5 hours in the second with very little difference when tested docked.  The final verdict was mixed, while it is almost an ultrabook and almost a convertible tablet in many ways it inherited the worst of both worlds; though if you find yourself needing both devices in your life this ATIV might be a good compromise for you.

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"This Windows 8 convertible has x86 ultrabook guts, an 11.6" 1080p display, and speedy solid-state storage. Attach it to the bundled keyboard dock, and it turns into a quasi-ultrabook. Is this the ultimate Windows 8 mobile machine, and is it worth the nearly $1,200 asking price?"

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Checking the non-Pro version of the Samsung 840

Subject: Storage | February 22, 2013 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: Samsung 840, Samsung, ssd, 120gb, Samsung MDX

[H]ard|OCP just wrapped up a review of the 120GB Samsung 840, using their own ARM Cortex R4 based MDX controller and TLC memory for storage.  They compare the speed of this drive to the 256GB 840 Pro, Kingston's V300 120GB and the Intel 335 240GB to contrast the difference the type of NAND used can make to performance.  This is especially evident on the write and latency benchmarks, which fall well behind the competition.  From [H]'s testing it is apparent that TLC memory is very vulnerable to reduction in size, the reduced channels really hurt performance and put the 120GB model far behind the larger sized 840s which they have tested with much better results.

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"The 120GB Samsung 840 Series SSD features the powerful 8-channel MDX controller and TLC NAND. While this value SSD comes at a very good price, it also features much lower speeds than its larger capacity brethren. We put this value SSD through our suite of steady state tests to see if it can pass muster."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Samsung's take on the Surface Pro, the ATIV Smart PC 500T

Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC 500T, Surface Pro, tablet

Samsung has produced a Surface Pro tablet they call the ATIV Smart PC 500T, which comes paired with a keyboard/docking station.  Powered by an 1.5GHz Atom Z2760 and 2GB of DDR2-800 with a 64GB e.MMC iNAND SSD for storage the device the performance will beat a WinRT tablet but it is not going to compete with a laptop.  Strangely one of the most advertised features, the S Pen, was not present in the Canadian package so it is not included in this review.  Silent PC Review noticed that Samsung are working on the 500T's page, though they do not know if it was to correct the erroneous text stating the S Pen comes with the basic model or simpy to give time to have S Pens shipped and attached.  The 11.6" 1366 x 768 screen was washed out in comparison to the Microsoft Surface Pro and it did not seem as sturdy as the Microsoft product either.  Check out the full review to get a better idea how this tablet performs.

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"Windows 8 is making possible a new class of mobile convertibles that flip between tablet and notebook. The Samsung ATIC Smart PC 500T is one example, based around a new Atom core and built around a big (for tablets) 11.6" screen, but there's an Ivy Bridge upgrade available in the 700T. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Surface Pro shows us a different vision of the convertible."

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