The consumer version of Samsung’s Gear VR headset is out now and at $99 it’s priced well within reach of the average consumer. Initial response appears to have been great as both Amazon and Best Buy have sold out of inventory right now, though it’s still possible to purchase a unit from Samsung’s website. The company has released a new ad for the Gear VR which demonstrates just how easy the headset makes it to experience content in virtual reality.
This ad is part of Samsung’s “It’s Not a Phone, It’s a Galaxy”series, even with the Gear VR it won’t miss an opportunity to take a swing at Apple. It shows how easy the process is. Just push in the headset, only the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S6 edge, the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5 are supported, snap on the cover and you’re good to go. It really is that easy. There’s already quite a bit of content available for the Gear VR with Samsung working hard to add more. At $99 this really does make for a very interesting Christmas gift.
Are you sick of disappointing low light photos taken on your smartphone? Samsung might have a solution for you. At an investor conference in Korea, the telecommunications brand announced a new camera called BRITECELL that excels in darker conditions. The camera manages to achieve brighter, sharper results by getting rid of the traditional Bayer filter layout used in most smartphone cameras. This is a filter that turns pixels green and blocks light from hitting the sensors, making photos darker. Samsung has traded these green pixels for white ones that allow more light to pour through the lens. More light means brighter photos. Simple, right?
Samsung’s upcoming mid-range smartphone, the Galaxy A9, has reached Indian shores for evaluation purpose. According to the import listings of the device on Zauba, the Galaxy A9 has a 6-inch display. The device has been imported to India multiple times over the past one month.
The Galaxy A9′s specifications were revealed through GFXBench last month, and it is expected to feature a 6-inch Super AMOLED display with 1080p resolution, a Snapdragon 620 processor with a quad-core CPU and Adreno 510 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage space. It will most probably end up with a 16-megapixel camera as the Galaxy A8 has one.
Samsung recently imported internal components of the Galaxy A9 to India for testing. There’s no further information regarding the launch date of the device, but we will keep you posted on the matter.
Samsung has a plethora of phones and tablets in its lineup, and regularly releases firmware updates for various devices. These can include major updates, which bring a newer version of the OS to a particular device, or minor ones that improve performance and stability and fix bugs. Software updates for Samsung devices roll out in various regions every day, and you can find out which firmware updates were pushed out by the company over the last 24 hours through our firmware list.
As usual, you can download each of these firmware from our firmware section (simply enter your device’s model number to view all firmware for that device) in order to update to a new firmware manually, or as a means to return to your phone or tablet’s stock software.
There has been a lot of buzz around Samsung’s upcoming mobile processor, the Exynos 8890. Starting Q1 2016, it will go head-to-head with the best SoCs in the industry including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 and Apple’s A9X. In the previous weeks, we reported that Samsung is in the process of optimising its chipset for better performance as well as efficiency.
Now, it is being reported by Business Korea that the South Korean electronics chip giant will start mass producing the Exynos 8890 for the Galaxy S7 starting from December 2015 in its Giheung plant. The Exynos 8890 is an important milestone for the company as it will feature a custom CPU core for the first time in its processor lineup. Samsung will launch multiple variants of the Galaxy S7 with some of them featuring Exynos 8890, while others using the Snapdragon 820 chipsets.
With this introduction, Samsung will become the third brand after Qualcomm and Apple to introduce its own custom CPU cores, and that will improve the company’s position in the SoC segment. This is because it takes a lot of effort and experience in all forms of chip design including the manufacturing process. Till now, Samsung used generic ARM CPU cores in the Exynos chipsets, but starting with Exynos 8890, it will use homegrown M1 (a.k.a Mongoose) cores.
Samsung also has plans to introduce its own GPU in Exynos chipsets, but that will come at a later stage. The company is reportedly optimising Snapdragon 820 to fix its heating issues as the chipset will be manufactured by Samsung using its 14nm FinFET process. This is help the company in rising above other SoC players like MediaTek, Spreadtrum, and Huawei. Moreover, the company has reportedly hired AMD’s legendary CPU architect Jim Keller to design its next-generation Exynos chipsets.
4G LTE networks are still in the process of being rolled out in some countries and yet others are already looking towards the next level. Countries like Japan, US and China are working to commercialize 5G mobile technology and establish their dominance in the market but progress has been slow. Samsung is playing a pivotal role in the commercialization of 5G mobile technology, it has proposed a vision of 5G mobile communication system to a private organization that sets global telecommunication technology standards.
Samsung made its proposal at the 3GPP RAN 5G Workshop which took place in Phoenix, Arizona last week. For those who are unaware 3GPP is a private organization that decides technical standards and comprises of the major mobile communications providers and equipment firms from all across the globe. This particular workshop was attended by some 500 officials from the industry including officials from 60 mobile carriers. A phased standardization schedule has been proposed to set up the first standard for 5G networks including technologies of higher frequency bands above 6GHz by September 2018 with the timeline for the second standard set for December 2019. Many participating firms including but not limited to Samsung Electronics, Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson, SK Telecom and NTT DoCoMo have formed a consensus on this proposal since it lays down a path for effective standardization of 5G mobile communication technologies with multiple service options.
For Samsung Electronics, IFA 2015 in Berlin was all about the Internet of Things (IoT). And because the IoT is designed to encompass all aspects of our life, there’s an awful lot of great innovations and stylish devices that Samsung presented. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most notable and coolest things from this year’s IFA.
1. IoT Zone
To better explain the IoT, people don’t want to hear technology and numbers as much as they want to understand how the IoT will improve their lives, so Samsung put a creative IoT Zone at the heart of its IFA exhibit. With a series of 24 glass displays, created by architect and designer Ferruccio Laviani to resemble the pages of a popup book, the IoT Zone was a friendly and intuitive way to show people the infinite possibilities of the Internet of Things.
One new product that really woke up visitors was SleepSense, a sensor and sleep analysis system that tracks your sleep patterns and suggests changes to improve your sleep. Just a small, thin pad, SleepSense slips under your mattress, where it can track your breathing, pulse and other traits more accurately than anything else on the market. SleepSense can also work together with consumer electronics in your home to adjust your lights and alarm, to wake you up gradually, when your body is at the best point in its sleep cycle.
Anticipation was high for Samsung’s latest wearable device, the Gear S2, but according to the people who attended the high-energy launch showcase on September 3, the Gear S2 surpassed all expectations. The round design was stylish and fashionable, and the rotating bezel was an intuitive innovation just right for maximizing the usefulness of a wearable. Available in two versions—the Gear S2 and Gear S2 classic—the device is incredibly customizable, with various watch faces and a wide range of colorful straps that can be easily swapped. And with the Gear S2 being Android-compatible, its promises to be the most versatile and functional wearable yet.
At home, the SmartThings Hub can turn any home into a smart home, connecting all sorts of devices on an open platform. Now people can turn on the lights or change the temperature even when away from home, as well as get notifications about movement or potential problems (like smoke or leaks).
But the power of SmartThings goes beyond the home, too. In conjunction with cross-industry collaborators, SmartThings is connecting devices and people across industries, from retail to enterprise, and healthcare to transportation, thus growing an open IoT ecosystem across the world. For instance, BMW cars can now directly integrate you with your home while you are driving, giving you alerts right to your dashboard.
And thanks to the open platform SmartThings was built on, expect plenty more partnerships in the future. As Alex Hawkinson, the chief executive of SmartThings, said during the opening press conference on September 3, SmartThings is all about “peace of mind,” “flexibility” and “control.”
5. Connected Car
The IoT goes beyond our homes, and one of the most important part of our lives is the car. Now Samsung is bringing the IoT there, too. With the Car Mode for Galaxy app, you can use your smartphone or other wearable device to take calls, listen to music, get directions and even have your text messages read to you, all without taking your eyes off the road or your hands from the wheel. It makes the driving experience much safer and more convenient.
And with Car-Net e-Remote with Volkswagen, you can use your new Gear S2 wearable to integrate with your car. Using your Gear S2, you can see where your car is parked, turn on the air conditioning on a hot day, even stop and start the battery charger for electric vehicles.
6. Virtual Reality Experiences
With Samsung’s virtual reality headset, the Gear VR, people can dive into content like never before. And this year, for the first time, Samsung took advantage of the Gear VR to create a new type of exhibition experience. At four locations around Berlin, anyone could take part in Experience Zones to see for themselves what Samsung’s IFA exhibit was like. And at Club des Chefs, the partnership with four world-renounced chefs, visitors were able to truly immerse themselves in the food and cooking experience.
7. Curved – SUHD, UHD TVs
With 28 types of TVs, ranging from 32 inches to 105 inches, Samsung now has the right TV for every home, from the smallest apartment to the biggest home. The curved screens of the latest UHD and SUHD TVs are fashionable, too, fitting in with everyone’s home.
With UHD and SUHD TVs offering four times the resolution of traditional HD TVs, people are going to need content at that resolution, too, which is why Samsung is working with the UHD Alliance to create standards for the industry—and they say final certification is nearly ready. In the meantime, Samsung announced Gamefly, a streaming service that offers the latest and hottest games in UHD, as well as agreements with many partners to offer movies, TV shows and other content in the stunning, UHD format.
Behind all of Samsung’s innovations and creations is the dedication to making technology work for people and to fill their needs. With that in mind, this year’s IFA saw many collaborations with the fashion industry to customize people’s phones and wearable devices. In partnership with Montblanc, there was an artist tattooing leather cases by hand for Galaxy S6 edge+ phones. And Swarovski is offering glittering, crystal-covered cases for Samsung smartphones, too.
9. Smart Suit
Not only are Samsung’s devices growing more stylish and fashion-forward, but now fashion is increasingly growing more tech savvy. Samsung C&T brought four wearable outfits to IFA, including a suit that has an NFC tag in the wrist, allowing users to change their phone’s mode easily and discreetly, without ever taking it out of their pocket.
10. The Year of the Circle
The circle is nature’s perfect shape, without a beginning or an end. And at this year’s IFA, the circle turned up again and again in the designs and ideas of Samsung’s devices. The IoT Zone, at the heart of Samsung’s exhibit, was circular, with 24 displays arranged like the spokes of a wheel. The Wireless Audio 360 speakers are circular in shape, and their sound is likewise omnidirectional, coming from ring radiator technology.
But the biggest circle at this year’s IFA was undoubtedly the Gear S2 wearable. Not only is this Samsung’s first wearable in a stylish circular shape, but the round bezel actually rotates, serving as the key tool of the device’s interface.
Often we’re more interested with what goes on behind the stage than on the stage itself. Indeed, a well-prepared production is a feast for the senses, but more often than not, the backstory or the making of an event equally piques our interests.
Market leaders in the smart technology sector also have their own subplots, the unrevealed stories behind what they make. The form and functions of a device, the trial and error journey to the finished product, those stories strike our curiosity and cause us to fall in love with the product all the more.
At last, the Galaxy Note5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ are here. For now, many are still digesting the initial specifications and innovations of the much anticipated devices. But once this period of preliminary intrigue has subsided, more specific inquiries arise. The early adopters start to become accustomed to their devices but what experiences do they have? What stories can they tell? With new galaxies of possibilities now at our fingertips, we sat down with the designers of the Galaxy Note5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ to hear their first-hand experiences.
Q: Thank you for meeting us. First, could you give us a brief overview of the new Galaxy Note5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+; how they were developed and how that progressed? The biggest change I see is the size. They have a 5.7-inch display screen with a bezel that is noticeably thinner.
A: Tablet-size devices (smart devices with 5-inch or larger screens) are a global trend. To appeal to this need, as well as adhere to the unique visual language of the entire Galaxy line was of utmost importance to us. Our visual theme for 2015 is a future-forward minimalist look and feel based on perfecting the relationship between design and technology, in short Minimal Futurism. Having said that, it was equally important to have each device stand out on its own, in line with this design approach. Both products retain a strong fluid contour from the curved glass to the body, and as you mentioned, we streamlined the device for a sleeker, more compact feel.
Q: Although the screen size is the same, both of these devices have their own unique feel. Could you tell us more about these two products?
A: The approach for both devices was to maintain the overall visual language, but to build on that foundation. The wider curved glass of the Galaxy S6 edge+ allows a more immersive, digital interactive experience. For those who use their devices for entertainment or multi-media will quickly warm to this new feature. The Galaxy Note5 however, takes on a more formal look. The curvature of the display continues on to the reverse side for a better grip, while the S-Pen is now metal to complement the device itself. Also, as soon as you pop out the S-Pen, you’ll immediately see it’s been totally re-designed to assist you in all your creative activities.
Q: The bezel on both devices are noticeably thinner, almost as if the frame has disappeared.
A: A thinner device is fast becoming the norm. The Galaxy S6 edge+ especially has curved glass that seemingly overlaps its surroundings. The original form is the same as the Galaxy S6, but now it has a slightly thinner top and bottom finish to make it look even slimmer than it already is.
Q: Black Sapphire, White Pearl, Gold Platinum, and now Silver Titanium have been added to the range of available colors. After actually seeing them, the colors are much deeper and richer than originally anticipated.
A: Yes, we’re excited about the range of colors with this lineup. Like the previous colors, this selection also has slight variations in hue and saturation according to how the light hits it. Giving it this richer look will appeal to urban city dwellers constantly interacting with their devices.
Q: The metal and glass combination was quite natural. It’s nice to see that look has been carried over to these new models as well.
A: When you handle the device, you feel the density of the lines and curves that join the glass and metal into a seamless whole. The device itself feels well-constructed and well-crafted. That’s the feeling we wanted to convey, a reliable device, exquisitely designed.
Q: Beyond the exterior, what other things should we know about the newest models?
A: There have been big and small changes to the user experience. Detailed changes have been made to elements of the screen. This is because the increased size meant that things needed to be organized and spaced differently. We’ve also adjusted the keyboards and loading bars, among other things. As minute as this may sound, we underwent many revisions on a millimeter scale moving elements around ever so slightly so that they are positioned perfectly for users. We’re confident that although you may not notice these changes at first, once you start getting accustomed to the new model, you’ll notice the difference.
Q: The biggest changes I can see are the icons. The icons seem to all have a shape that is between a circle and a square. Is there a reason for that?
A: Yes, we call them squarcles! Obviously a word combining circle and square, this unique shape for the container of each icon is unique to Samsung devices and maximizes the touch zone without increasing in size. It’s an intuitive yet innovative way to convey consistency in our user design.
Q: This was introduced at the launch of the new models, the S-Pen has a new innovation. You can use it to write down things even though the screen is off.
A: That’s the screen off memo feature, without turning on the screen you can use the S-Pen to write down quick ideas or thoughts. For this, we needed a smooth interactive function that would notify the user that the screen off memo feature was activated when detracting the pen from the holder. That’s because frankly, it’s not common to write or sketch on a blank dark screen without any indication of what you’re doing. A tiny ink “plop” will appear when you detach the pen signifying that the function has been activated, while other basic function icons will appear, only muted. Once you’ve finished and have saved the memo, the writing itself will shrink away leaving you with a blank screen.
Q: As cute as that seems, it’s an ingenious way of solving a difficult issue with visual interaction.
A: To get to this small interaction took us numerous other ideas and actions. This is a prime example of all the many visual interactions and well as iterations we went through to get to the device you hold in your hands.
Q: I’m curious to know how you maintained consistency among all those different kinds of visual interactions.
Like the screen off memo function, the overall concept was for the interactions to be fluid. Another example of this is the change in the Air Command interface; from a geometric, almost rigid feel to a rippling effect as the various icons plop out onto the screen.
With the Galaxy S6 edge+ visual interaction, you can share content and musings with close friends. The camera and emoticons in particular have a fluid responsiveness. Inertia, elasticity and flow are all natural movements we see that should look and feel natural when emulated on the screen. The actions themselves are calculated mathematically and applied to complex physics models, but for the users it’s a natural reaction that is accepted immediately.
Q: Anticipation is growing with each new launch of the Galaxy series. I guess you could say that excitement stems from the globally recognized quality of the devices and innovations. Now, with the Galaxy Note5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ newly released, what could we expect next from the Galaxy series?
A: It was mentioned briefly when we were discussing visual interaction, but the design philosophy of Samsung Electronics is meaningful, human-centered design. The curved glass of the Galaxy S6 edge+ delivers a unique and limitless form of entertainment while the S-Pen of the Galaxy Note5 offers a highly specialized, yet creative workflow. All of our innovations start from the experience of our customers, satisfying the values and goals they deem most important. That is, as it’s always been, the direction forward for the Galaxy series of innovations. Ultimately, it’s not how high-tech it is, but how close it is to us and our everyday lives.
Thank you for the interview, we hope to talk again with newer Galaxy innovations and products.
The Gear S2 offers unprecedented style and functionality in a wearable device. But what exactly makes the design of the Gear S2 so special? And what are its most cutting-edge apps and functions? Samsung Tomorrow gets a unique insider’s perspective on the Gear S2.
This year, for the first time, Samsung Electronics is offering the public a chance to get an advanced taste of its exciting exhibition at IFA 2015.
IFA kicks off on Friday, but already Samsung has opened Experience Zones opened at four locations around Berlin, providing a preview of Samsung’s exciting new exhibition—in virtual reality.
One of those VR Experience Zones is at Boulevard Berlin, one of the city’s most popular shopping malls. Right there on the main floor, shoppers, students and other passers-by can take a break, sit, and explore the Samsung IFA exhibit using the Gear VR.
To see the Boulevard Berlin VR Experience Zone and how the visitors enjoyed immersing themselves in the virtual reality display, check out this video.