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Samsung Galaxy A8 will have dual front cameras and infinity display, according to leaked manual

Samsung’s most recent Galaxy A-series models were released at the start of this year, way back in January, so it’s safe to assume the next generation will make an appearance around the same time early next year. There have been plenty of rumors about the mid-range lineup, and we’re pretty sure the naming convention will be changing, with this year’s A5 and A7 becoming the A8 and A8+.

New information coming from a leaked user manual confirms that the new A-series devices will have dual front-facing cameras and a Galaxy S8-esque ‘Infinity Display’ – or an 18:9 screen with minimal bezels. The two cameras on the front will be used for portrait mode-style selfies, where the background is blurred to emphasize your duck face.



As well as the long screen with its curved corners, the images also point to a few other design aspects. The fingerprint scanner is finally being moved below the camera module, which will be sure to appease fans and reviewers alike. The rear camera module includes just a single lens, unlike what we see round the front. There’s also mention of an ‘earphone jack,’ in case anyone was worried that Samsung was about to do away with it.

The manual doesn’t go into to too much detail about internal specs, although it does point out that the phones will be shipping with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which is disappointing yet unsurprising considering they are mid-range devices from Samsung. None of this is set in stone, of course, but we should find out soon enough. Expect an announcement from the Korean company in the next month or two. In the meantime, take a look at these leaked images and see if you think they’re the real deal?

After years of copying the iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 will finally copy Apple’s smartest strategy

Samsung wrote the book on copying Apple… literally. No, seriously — back when the company was still trying to break through in the smartphone market, Samsung actually created a 132-page internal document to help its designers and engineers copy the iPhone pixel by pixel. The South Korean conglomerate isn’t the only company that ripped off as much as it could from Apple and its iPhones, but Samsung was the first and clearly the most successful.

In recent years, Samsung has pumped the brakes a bit. The company’s flagship smartphone designs veered away from Apple’s iPhone lineup when the started to feature curved displays, and Samsung has become a bit more selective instead of ripping off every new iPhone feature and every strategic move Apple makes. There is one part of Apple’s smartphone strategy that Samsung has curiously never copied, but it looks like that will finally change with the upcoming Galaxy S9.

In doing some research for another article, I came across an old scoop from Venturebeat’s Evan Blass, who reported on the Galaxy S9 toward the end of November. Most of the details in the post were merely a reiteration of rumors that had already been swirling for weeks or even months, but confirmation from Blass always helps to firm things up.

There are plenty of interesting tidbits in the article, but one area is of particular interest to me. Here’s the excerpt:

Other than their screen sizes, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were nearly identical in every way. Not so this time around, according to the briefed individual. Besides a bigger screen, the S9+ will reportedly offer more RAM (6GB versus 4GB) and a second rear camera, similar to the Note8. Both models pack 64GB of internal storage, supplemented by a microSD slot, and both leave the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack intact.

Blass is citing a single source here, which is never a good thing. That said, earlier reports had already made the same claims: Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will not be the exact same phone in two different sizes. What’s so interesting about that? Well, it just so happens that avoiding feature parity on its iPhones is one of the smartest strategic moves Apple has ever made.

Apple is the most profitable consumer electronics company on the planet thanks to the iPhone. The company pockets billions and billions of dollars each quarter by selling pricey smartphones with sky-high margins. And generally speaking, more expensive iPhone models carry higher margins — do you really think a 256GB flash memory chip costs Apple $150 more than a 64GB chip? Of course it doesn’t.

Apart from the higher margins on models with more storage, Apple is also believed to enjoy higher margins on its “Plus” model iPhones. Apple charges an extra $100 for each Plus model compared to its smaller iPhones, but the difference in cost to Apple is much less. For example, market research firm IHS estimates that each 64GB iPhone 8 carries a BOM of $247.51 for Apple, while the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus costs Apple $288.08 to make. That’s a difference of $40.57, and yet Apple charges $100 more for the Plus model.

From a business standpoint, it’s brilliant. Consumers are clearly willing to pay a premium for the extra size and additional features, and Apple is cashing in. Well, beginning in 2018, it looks like Samsung will finally start to cash in, too.

What are the biggest differences between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus aside from screen size? Apple includes a dual-lens camera with cool effects in the 8 Plus as opposed to the iPhone 8’s single-lens rear camera, and it includes extra RAM as well to help process all of those cool camera effects. Guess what Samsung will reportedly do in order to add some extra appeal to the Galaxy S9+ next year. Yup, it’s going to add a dual-lens rear camera and extra RAM.

Using unique features as a way to encourage customers to purchase pricier, higher-margin phones is a big part of Apple’s iPhone strategy. Like most other things that Samsung has copied from Apple, I expect this strategy to work wonders for Samsung as well.

RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger Review: Power for iPhone or Samsung Galaxy

Apple has finally gotten on board with inductive charging, building this feature into all its 2017 phones, including the iPhone X. Samsung has been using this technology in its high-end handsets for years, of course, including its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note8 . Both these device makers picked the Qi (pronounced “Chi”) standard, so the RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger will work with either company’s products.

We tested this accessory with an iPhone X and can report on its charging speed and overall performance. Is this $49.99 charging pad right for you? Read on to find out.

RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger: Build and Design

29a29_RP_FWC_Pad_Ed-300x300 RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger Review: Power for iPhone or Samsung GalaxyThe design of this inductive charger is simple: it’s a round pad for the smartphone to sit on. All that’s necessary to get a compatible device to charge is place it on this pad.

The diameter is 3.5 inches, and it’s 0.6 inches thick. That makes it smaller than many of its competitors, so it takes up less room on one’s desk.

Black is the only color option, and the entire exterior is plastic, but the general appearance is still acceptable, especially as the RAVPower logo on the top is subtle. The Fast Wireless Charger will look fine on just about anyone’s desk, even a CEO’s.

There’s a ring of silicone on the top to help keep the phone from slipping. This does a decent job, though the slickness of so many handsets makes this challenging. The silicone material does attract dirt, though. Rubber feet on the bottom help prevent the charging pad itself from sliding around.

Build quality is good. The product feels solid, and we could neither bend nor twist it.

An LED on on side of the Fast Wireless Charger gives charging status. It pulses orange during standard charging, or pulses green during fast charging. This LED briefly glows red when the charger itself is plugged in, and the manual says it will pulse red when “a foreign object [is] detected”, though we couldn’t make this happen.

29a29_RP_FWC_Pad_Ed-300x300 RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger Review: Power for iPhone or Samsung GalaxyUSB Cable and Wall Plug

Despite it’s name, the RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger itself needs a wire to get power.  There’s a microUSB port opposite the charging LED, and this accessory comes bundled with a 4-foot fabric-wrapped USB cable that’s quite the nicest we’ve ever seen.

The USB charging plug is a bit bulky, but it’s capable of sending up to 10 W to a compatible phone so maybe the extra is justified.

RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger: Performance

Our tests with an iPhone X showed that it’s not necessary to carefully place one’s phone on the charger pad in order for it to start charging. The handset does need to be somewhat centered, but as long as the phone is approximately in the middle of the pad, and the pad is close to the center of the phone, current will start flowing. After just a bit of practice, placing the handset down so that a wireless connection is made every time becomes second nature.

Inductive charging doesn’t require taking off the phone’s case. We did all our tests with our handset in a Mujjo Leather Wallet Case with credit cards inserted and it had no effect on the charging process. That said, don’t try it with a case that includes metal.

29a29_RP_FWC_Pad_Ed-300x300 RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger Review: Power for iPhone or Samsung GalaxyWe did multiple test runs, charging the iPhone X with the RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger to determine how quickly the handset gets powered up. Averaging the various results, 30 minutes of charging garnered about 20% of charge. Two hours of charging resulted in 70% charge of Apple’s phone. That’s a faster charging rate than many of its rivals.

The status LED is supposed to turn green when the handset’s battery gets to 100%, but this didn’t happen with our test iPhone.  RAVPower says this is because “iPhones do not send any signal to the wireless charger”. Don’t be concerned that this means the battery will get overcharged though, as iPhone batteries do not allow this to happen.

iOS 11.2 and Fast Charging

In standard charging, the phone is getting between 3W and 5W. As its name implies, RAVPower’s accessory supports Fast Charging in which the handset receives between 7.5W and 10W of power.

We thought we were going to be able to test this feature with the iPhone X, as the recent release of iOS 11.2 was supposed to bring support for 7.5W charging to all Apple’s 2017 phones. However, this didn’t happen. Despite installing the latest IOS version on our test device, Fast Charging was not enabled.

We don’t know which device is causing the problem, but we tend to think it’s the iPhone X. iOS 11 has been loaded with bugs from the day it was released, and iOS 11.2 was rushed out to fix a serious problem in an earlier version, so it’s most probable that the iPhone is the source of difficulties. It’s likely a future iOS update will fix this.

Just so there’s not any confusion, we experienced no issues doing standard wireless charging with the iPhone X; it’s only Fast Charging that isn’t working.

29a29_RP_FWC_Pad_Ed-300x300 RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger Review: Power for iPhone or Samsung GalaxyRAVPower Fast Wireless Charger: Final Thoughts

Now that Apple is on the bandwagon, iPhone users can finally take advantage of a feature that Samsung users have been enjoying since at least the Galaxy S6 and the Note 5. Not having to fumble around with wires to keep one’s phone charged isn’t a life-changing experience, but it’s especially nice for people who often forget to plug in and regularly find themselves with a dead battery.

And the RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger is well designed for this task: it’s not persnickety about only working with the phone in exactly the right spot, it charges fairly quickly, and it looks professional. At $49.99 it isn’t the cheapest charging pad around, but it just might be the best. 

Pros:

  • Small and professional looking
  • Charges devices quickly

Cons:

  • No Fast Charging with iPhone

Twitter data shows Samsung users are happier with their phones than iPhone users

Are you loyal to your iPhone?  Ever thought about getting a different device but don’t know if you will be happy with it or not? According to LikeFolio analysis of consumer sentiment on Twitter, Samsung Galaxy phone owners are happier with their phones than Apple (AAPL) iPhone customers.   

LikeFolio uses social-data research to discover consumer trends on public companies, in this case measuring how positively consumers are reacting to the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones. The chart below shows that tweets about a Samsung Galaxy phone are significantly more positive than tweets about an Apple iPhone.

3fbb3_spaceball Twitter data shows Samsung users are happier with their phones than iPhone users3fbb3_spaceball Twitter data shows Samsung users are happier with their phones than iPhone users

iPhone vs Galaxy

That huge dip on the chart for Samsung in the fall of 2016 is from the S7 exploding battery recall. Although iPhone’s sentiment has been very consistent around 60%-70% positive, Samsung has recovered in the eyes of consumers and has had a higher percentage of positive sentiment throughout the last year.

Bottom line, Samsung is creating happy consumers with its Galaxy line of phones.

Lower sentiment for the iPhone X

While the new X has a beautiful display, outstanding camera capabilities and new facial recognition, Apple still might have some work to do. The lower sentiment for the iPhone is likely due in part to the X still having a lackluster battery life and it not being very durable, which can result in costly repairs or replacements. 

After all the hype around the release of the iPhone X, we are now finding out that,  according to Consumer Reports, the iPhone X ($999.99-$1,149) is not the best smartphone you can buy despite being Apple’s best iPhone yet.

Samsung still took the first three spots in the Consumer Reports ranking, with the Galaxy S8 ($724.99), S8 Plus ($849.99), and S7 ($594.99). These large price differences could be one reason that iPhone customers seem less thrilled with their device than Samsung Galaxy owners.

The good news for Apple is that the shortcomings of the iPhone X could actually benefit the company. Analysts encourage investors to buy Apple because the iPhone X will lead to a super long cycle for the company. 

Analyst Michael Olson, from Piper Jaffray, expects Apple will release three iPhones next year with the X’s better OLED displays. In addition, he notes 3D sensing component suppliers are being asked to increase their volume by three times next year, according to the firm’s checks.  “iPhone X ‘offspring’ can expand upgrade interest to a larger portion of iPhone Users in Fall-18,” he wrote. “As options for the ‘X’ generation iPhone expand, the ‘shots on goal’ for upgrading increases.”

We still think Apple will continue to dominate with their iPhone X but when it comes to creating happy smartphone users, Samsung seems to be doing things right.

See also:

New retail winners emerged in the Black Friday fight against Amazon  

Here’s a big clue that Amazon will continue to dominate with the iPhone X

These 2 companies could be bucking the devastating real-estate trend

Samsung’s Game Live Android App Gets Galaxy Note 8 Support

ceeac_4 Samsung's Game Live Android App Gets Galaxy Note 8 Support

Samsung Galaxy S8 gets refreshed design as Android 8.0 Oreo update release nears

If we take a look at last year’s Galaxy S7, most users in the UK began receiving the update in March.

This was mainly due to Samsung releasing the update but the networks then taking their time to test it before pushing it out to consumers.

Speaking to Express.co.uk earlier in the year an EE spokesperson revealed: “Like the majority of UK networks, we’re working with Samsung and hope to have an approved nougat O/S file to roll out to our Galaxy S7 customers shortly.” 

The same is likely to happen with Oreo as Samsung will have to complete their checks before it then being made available to the networks.

So, if your an S8 or S8+ owner don’t expect to see an update before the Christmas.

In fact, with the Galaxy S9 expected to be revealed in February, this looks like the most realistic time for Samsung to push out an operating system upgrade to all of its users.

Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay: Pros and cons

When you go shopping this holiday season, many of you might be tempted to ditch using your credit cards, or even cash, in favor of one of the mobile payment systems that’s available for smartphones. Starting with Apple Pay, which launched in 2014, and joined later by rivals like Android Pay and Samsung Pay, it’s become more and more popular to pay with your smartphone, whether you are at a physical retail store or online at your favorite shopping web site.

aa57f_Andoid-Pay-vs-Apple-Pay-vs-Samsung-Pay-5-840x473 Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay: Pros and cons

But which online payment system is right for you, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each system? In this article, we take a detailed look at Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, including their pros and cons, in order to give you a better idea of which of these mobile payment services may work best for you.

What is Apple Pay?

aa57f_Andoid-Pay-vs-Apple-Pay-vs-Samsung-Pay-5-840x473 Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay: Pros and cons

Apple Pay was first announced by company CEO Tim Cook as part of its iPhone 6 press event in September 2014.  The service itself didn’t launch until October, with the iOS 8.1 update, and only worked at first on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Later, the service expanded, in terms of native hardware support, to the first generation Apple Watch, and has since been included out of the box for all of the new iPhones, Apple Watches and recent editions of the company’s MacBook Pro laptop that use Touch ID. Apple Pay is also available on the company’s iPads, but only via an app, with no native hardware support. Owners of the company’s Mac PC products can also access it, via the Safari web browser.

In very basic terms, Apple Pay allows owners of the most recent iPhone or Apple Watch devices to add their own credit or debit cards, via the Wallet iOS app, for use in Apple Pay. Apple Pay also supports storage of gift cards and retailer rewards cards. Using those devices’ native NFC (Near-field Communication) hardware, you can take your iPhone or Apple Watch to any retail store that supports the service, and tap on its point-of-sale terminal to pay for any item at the store. You can also use Apple Pay in any app that also supports the service. Apple says that it uses “Device Account Numbers” for each credit or debit card that’s stored for Apple Pay use, and each transaction made with the service is also supposed to have its own security code. In theory, this means hackers should not be able to detect your credit or debit card numbers or bank accounts each time you use Apple Pay.

Pros

Because it got started first, in 2013, Apple got a head start on its two biggest rivals in terms of adding banks, retailers and country support for Apple Pay. Currently, the service is supported in over 20 countries and territories. making it the most widely supported mobile payment service. In a recent presentation during the Money20/20 business event in Las Vegas event, current Apple Pay head Jennifer Bailey said that just the United States, where it first launched in October 2014, Apple Pay support has expanded to over 50 percent of all retailers. All of the major banks in the US support Apple Pay for their credit and debit cards, and the number of smaller banks and credit unions that support the service also continues to grow.

In addition to the previously mentioned security features for Apple Pay, owners of iOS devices with Touch ID can add a further layer of privacy by only allowing Apple Pay to work when users put their fingerprint on the Touch ID sensor. In the recently launched iPhone X, that kind of security is replaced with that phone’s Face ID system, which uses the owners own face to confirm payments for Apple Pay.

Apple is also not done with adding features to Apple Pay. In the upcoming iOS 11.2 update, which is currently available as a beta release as of this writing, the company will launch Apple’s Pay Cash. Similar to other services like  Venmo, Apple Pay Cash will allow users to send money to others, via the iMessage app. Those payments will be sent from your stored credit or debit card. The update will also let users receive money from others, which will go in the “Apple Pay Cash” card, a virtual card that’s accessible via iOS’s Wallet app.

Cons

The biggest issue with using Apple Pay is one that’s a familiar reason for most of Apple’s services. Apple Pay can only be use on the company own devices and apps. If you use an Android phone, you are out of luck. In addition, if you still use an older iPhone 5, iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c, Apple Pay will only work in retail stores if you also use an Apple Watch to connect to the phone and complete the payment.

In addition, if you use a smaller bank or credit union in the US, you may also not be able to add your credit or debit card yet to the Apple Pay service, although the company regularly added new banks on a pretty frequent basis. While 50 percent of all US retailers may support Apple Pay, that also means the other half does not.

What is Android Pay?

aa57f_Andoid-Pay-vs-Apple-Pay-vs-Samsung-Pay-5-840x473 Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay: Pros and cons

 

Google first revealed Android Pay its 2015 I/O developer conference, and it officially launched in September, 2015 in the US. Like Apple Pay, Android Pay is a mobile payment system, designed to let people purchase items and services both online and in the real world. It also uses NFC hardware on Android phones, and also stores credit and debit card information. A single from the  NFC hardware from a compatible Android phone or Android Wear-based smartwatches to a retailer’s POS terminal completes the purchase. Android Pay can also be used online, with supported apps, and some retailers also support purchasing items online via Android Pay from Google’s Chrome web browser.

How to use Android Pay – What is it, what banks support it?

While it launched first in the US, it has since expanded its reach and is now available from banks and other financial institutions in a total of 17 countries It is scheduled to launch later in 2017 in South Korea and Slovakia. Earlier this year, the company launched a separate payment service, Google Tez, in the huge market of India. It works with the Indian government’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for mobile transactions.

As with Apple Pay Android Pay uses near field communication (NFC) technology on supported Android smartphones and Android Wear watches. If their bank or credit union supports it, a user can add their credit or debit card information on their Android Pay account. When they want to pay for an item at a physical retail store, they take their phone or watch and place it near the retailer’s point-of-sale terminal. A signal send through NFC hardware send the payment information from the phone or watch to the POS terminal. Android Pay can also be used on some NFC-enabled ATMs so users can get cash money from their bank account, again without having to pull out their credit or debit card.

aa57f_Andoid-Pay-vs-Apple-Pay-vs-Samsung-Pay-5-840x473 Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay: Pros and cons

Again, as with Apple Pay, many Android apps support purchasing products with Android Pay as well. You can also store and use a number of gift cards and retailer rewards cards on your Android Pay account. For an additional amount of security, you can set up Android Pay so that, if your phone has a fingerprint scanner, it can be used to verify the payment within the app.

Pros

While Apple Pay is restricted to a limited number of devices, all made by Apple, Android Pay works on the vast majority of Android smartphones and Android Wear smartwatches, including ones from Google itself as well as third-party devices. Indeed, it works on any NFC-based phone that’s running Android as old as 4.4 KitKat.  That means many more phones are supported for Android Pay in comparison to Apple Pay. In addition, Android Pay users can also type in a passcode to enable a payment if their phone does not have a fingerprint reader.

About 1.5 million retail locations in the US currently support Android Pay, with more being added all the time. Over 1,000 banks and credit units in the US, including all of the major ones, support Android Pay, and again, more of them are being added all the time.

Cons

As we have said, Android Pay expansion continues in more countries and banks. However, the sheer number of markets and banks that support Android Pay doesn’t not yet current match those of Apple Pay. Therefor, if you own both an Android Pay-based phone, and an iPhone that supports Apple Pay, the chances are better that your bank will have support for Apple Pay. If you live in Canada, that issue is a bigger consider as two of that country’s large banks, RBC and TD Bank, support Apple Pay but not Android Pay.

What is Samsung Pay?

 

aa57f_Andoid-Pay-vs-Apple-Pay-vs-Samsung-Pay-5-840x473 Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay: Pros and cons

Launched in 2015, around the same time as Android Pay, Samsung Pay is currently available to be used on a number of the company’s recent high end and mid-range Galaxy-based smartphones along with its Gear S2 and Gear S3 smartwatches. The biggest difference between Samsung Pay and its two rival services is that, in addition to supporting NFC-based terminals, users can also take their supported phone or watch and make payments on POS systems that use the older Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology. This is the same tech that’s used on credit and debit cards, with their magnetic stripe on the back.

Samsung has put in a magnetic coil inside some of its recent Galaxy smartphones, and the field created by that coil, combined with the Samsung Pay app, can be used to transmit payment signals to normal credit and debit card terminals with the MST tech. In essence, Samsung Pay make those terminals think they are being accessed by a normal magnetic strip found in credit and debit cards. As with the other two systems, Samsung Pay transmits a unique number, rather than giving out your credit or debit card information, when it makes payments, keeping it secure.

Pros

The biggest advantage in using Samsung Pay is that users don’t have to rely on retailers having NFC-based POS terminals. They can use Samsung Pay at pretty much any store that has an old fashioned MTS-based credit or debit card reader. Thus, Samsung Pay users should, in theory, have many more options for using it in physical stores, especially during the holiday season.

Cons

As with Android Pay, Samsung Pay is currently supported by all of the major banks in the US, but the sheer number of banks and credit units it supports does not match that of Apple Pay, at least not yet. As with Android Pay, more countries and banks are added with Samsung Pay support on a regular basis. The biggest issue with Samsung Pay is that it only works with a certain number of Samsung-made Android smartphones, (all of which also support Android Pay) and just two of its smartwatches. Finally, Samsung Pay requried the use of a fingerprint scanner to complete translations, unlike Android Pay which can also use a passcode.

Conclusion

As you can see, the three major mobile payment systems all have their distinct features, along with their own advantages and disadvantages. Do you go with Apple Pay, with its greater reach of banks and markets, but limits on the number of devices? Do you pick Android Pay, with the widest number of devices supporting it but not as much support from banks. Do you pick Samsung Pay, which can be used by nearly any credit or debit card reader, but also suffers from a limited number of devices? Let us know which one you would want to use in the comments!

 

Android Oreo Beta Leaked for the Snapdragon Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Galaxy Note 8 was announced on August 23, and launched internationally on September 15. It still ships with an Android Nougat-based version of TouchWiz, Samsung’s custom skin, but Samsung recently launched an Oreo beta program for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in select markets. Previously, trying out the beta required enrolling in Samsung’s preview program, but this week, Android Oreo firmware leaked for the Snapdragon variant of the Galaxy Note 8. Redditor mweinbach discovered a link to the update on Samsung’s servers.

The Note 8, for the uninitiated, ships in two configurations: The Qualcomm Snapdragon variant available in the US and China, and the Exynos 8895 variant available in the rest of the world. The leaked firmware is for the former.

In order to flash the leaked Android Oreo beta, mweinbach notes that Snapdragon Note 8 users have to update to Samsung’s official Nougat-based 2BQK2 firmware. Only the Verizon variant of the Note 8 as received it so far, but there’s a workaround — with a bit of elbow grease, you can manually install the update on any US unlocked Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8 units using ODIN.

If you’re planning to give it a go, be forewarned that the Oreo beta’s likely unstable and might cause crashes. You’re prefectly welcome to try the bleeding-edge route, but if you’d rather not put up with bugs, you might want to wait for Samsung to launch the Oreo beta program stateside.


Source: /u/mweinbach

IPhone X is inferior to Samsung’s new phones, Consumer Reports says

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c7a9b_104832996-GettyImages-869823674-iphone-x.530x298 IPhone X is inferior to Samsung's new phones, Consumer Reports says

So much for the iPhone X being the best phone ever. At least according to Consumer Reports.

The influential publication just released its full review of the $1,000 device, and concludes that Samsung’s latest smartphones, and even the cheaper iPhone 8 series, are better options for most people.

“Taken as a complete package, this phone ranked a bit lower than Samsung’s S8, S8+, and Note8, mainly because of their superior battery life,” Consumer Reports said. “But many longtime iPhone users aren’t interested in switching to Android, so the real question for them is whether to save a few bucks — or, actually, a couple hundred — and go with an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus instead.”



c7a9b_104832996-GettyImages-869823674-iphone-x.530x298 IPhone X is inferior to Samsung's new phones, Consumer Reports says


Consumer Reports scores the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 highest in its rankings, each with an overall score of 81 out of 100. The Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8 Active, Galaxy S7, LG G6 and iPhone X were each given an overall score of 80.

Consumer Reports said the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were “more resistant to breaking” in its tests than the iPhone X, and added that consumers will appreciate the “familiar Home button.”

The iPhone X received praise for Face ID, which worked well in Consumer Reports’ tests, as well as the advanced cameras and display.

Read the full report from Consumer Reports.



c7a9b_104832996-GettyImages-869823674-iphone-x.530x298 IPhone X is inferior to Samsung's new phones, Consumer Reports says


c7a9b_104832996-GettyImages-869823674-iphone-x.530x298 IPhone X is inferior to Samsung's new phones, Consumer Reports says

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Samsung Unspoil Me tried to hypnotize me through my computer …

It’s not every Tuesday morning that I sit at my desk, headphones on, eyes closed, willing myself to fall into a trance. But some mornings the internet sends strange things your way.

On Tuesday, Reddit tipped me off to Samsung’s Swedish site, which featured a hypnotherapy service called “Unspoil Me.” It’s an unusual bit of marketing, but the company said it worked with two hypnotists to develop the site. It claims that you’ll “experience your favorite TV series as if it were the first time.”

Sign. Me. Up.

I decided to see if the service could help me forget the HBO mini-series “Big Little Lies,” partly because it’s the best thing I’ve watched this year and partly because it was pictured on the “Unspoil Me” page. 

I put my headphones, ticked a box confirming that I was “fully mentally healthy” and clicked through to start the hypnosis.

Down the rabbit hole

A lilting Swedish voice told me to relax and focus on the swirling image on my screen. I concentrated for a few minutes before it occurred to me that I should probably let my colleagues know what I was up to. 

I took my headphones off to tell them I was being hypnotized by my computer and not to disturb me. Still, throughout the whole hypnosis I was anxious someone was going to tap me on the shoulder. This constant low-lying anxiety got worse every time I was told to relax. Go figure.

The voice told me to close my eyes and count backwards from 300. While I was counting, the voice told me a lovely story about trees, which made it almost impossible to concentrate on the numbers. I got to about 282 before I was told to imagine going down 10 stairs to a place of greater relaxation.

Directions for when I should go down each step were precise and weaved into a moralistic story about an emperor and a chess player. It was during this story that I first had to try really hard not to think about “Big Little Lies.” 

The harder I tried, though, the more I kept picturing Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste Wright in the show. I couldn’t stop thinking about how tall she is, especially compared to co-star Reese Witherspoon. No wonder so many scenes featuring both of actors were filmed with them sitting down.

2b2a6_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung Unspoil Me tried to hypnotize me through my computer ...

One of many convenient sitting-down scenes in “Big Little Lies.”


HBO

The voice said something about the importance of counting, but I know it had skipped step six and step four … and maybe also step two? I felt like the voice was trying to trick me, and by picking up on it I had passed a test. Or maybe I failed because I clearly wasn’t in a trance.

Every step the voice sent me down doubled in height. By the time we got to the final step, I was picturing myself hanging off the edge of a cliff. I let go and fell into the darkness. The landing was nice and soft, like a mat from gym class.

I rolled over, stood up and immediately saw Witherspoon’s character Madeline vomiting all over her ex-husband’s new wife Bonnie, played by Zoe Kravitz. Bonnie tried to be patient with Madeline, but boy was she mad.

2b2a6_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung Unspoil Me tried to hypnotize me through my computer ...

Poor Zoe Kravitz. First Reese Witherspoon’s vomit, then no Emmy nomination.


HBO

The voice told me I should be physically and mentally relaxed by this point. I checked to see how relaxed I felt physically. My fingers, which had been laced in front of me on my desk since the beginning of the hypnosis, now felt totally numb, almost like I had one big hand instead of two.

Concentrate, I told myself. The voice guided me through different light tunnels — red, yellow, purple, and white. I wondered if I could remember the “Big Little Lies” theme music, but I could only picture Witherspoon driving over Bixby Creek Bridge.

Concentrate, I told myself again as I heard a colleague laugh on the other side of my headphones.

Now I was standing on a timeline of my own life. In front of me was supposed to be the future, but all I could see was a staircase sweeping down into a double-height, glass-fronted living room and the Malibu coastline beyond. I tried to remember which bits of “Big Little Lies” had actually been filmed in Monterey, California, where the series is set.

Then I tried to not remember any of the show. But in my mind, I could still see Witherspoon’s hair blowing in the wind as she gazed out over the Pacific ocean. 

2b2a6_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung Unspoil Me tried to hypnotize me through my computer ...

Mother-daughter vibes.


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

The voice told me to float back to the point on my timeline before I watched “Big Little Lies” and turn around, looking ahead to the point in the future where I wanted to watch it again for the first time. I felt like I was floating over the penultimate scene of the show, the one where everything is revealed, trying not to see the spoilers.

I used all the mental strength I could muster to banish it from my mind as the voice ordered me to zoom back up my timeline to the present day. Then the voice sent me into the future. Enjoy the feeling of anticipation as you sit down to watch your show again, said the voice. The memory of watching it before should be fuzzy, the voice said.

Kidman’s supersized face floated back into view. She was giving that me that suspicious, super-intense look she does so well. Giant Nicole Kidman knows the truth, I thought. She knows it isn’t fuzzy.

The voice counted me out of my trance. I felt hugely relieved. The anxiety in my chest immediately vanished.

Afterwards

The recommendation is that you sleep on it before rewatching your show of choice to allow the hypnosis work its magic in your dreams.

But I didn’t sleep. I sat down to write this piece. Straight away I remembered everything about “Big Little Lies” I had been trying to repress, as well as some details about the show I had previously forgotten.

2b2a6_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung Unspoil Me tried to hypnotize me through my computer ...

She’ll never leave me now.


Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Who knows, perhaps I sabotaged my own chances of forgetting by reliving my hypnosis. Perhaps I will wake up tomorrow and have forgotten everything about “Big Little Lies” after all. Perhaps I will feel a strange, inexplicable urge to go out and buy a Samsung TV.

More likely, my dreams will now forever be haunted by Nicole Kidman. Every time I close my eyes, there she will be, judging me, reminding me that I couldn’t forget.

Thanks a bunch, Samsung.

Rebooting the Reef: CNET dives deep into how tech can help save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The Smartest StuffInnovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

The iPhone 8 goes up against the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Either would make a great gift to yourself or someone else, but it all depends on what you’re going for. The iPhone 8 looks a little ho-hum in terms of standard old design, but acts zippier because of the new A11 bionic chip, which Apple claims makes it 25% faster.

Alternatively, maybe you love Samsung or are just now open to one because of Apple’s no headphone jack policy. The S8 and S8 Plus have a slick design that our own phone reviewers absolutely love and its display (a dazzling 2,220 x 1,080) compared to Apple’s (a meh 1,334 x 750) really put it at the top of the visual appearance heap.

And then there’s the camera test. While on paper the smartphone’s cameras seem very similar, (Apple with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 12-megapixel back; Galaxy S8 Plus with 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 12-megapixel back), in practice, the selfies from the Galaxy S8 Plus seem far superior.

After testing set-up, call quality, video downloading time, playback, visual appearance and cameras on each of the phones, we picked the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus as the winner of this particular head-to-head challenge. Let us know in the comments what we should test next!

This article was briefly removed from the site to update the video thumbnail and pricing. Prices now reflect MSRP rather than Amazon’s “Buy Now” option in our database.

The iPhone 8 goes up against the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Either would make a great gift to yourself or someone else, but it all depends on what you’re going for. The iPhone 8 looks a little ho-hum in terms of standard old design, but acts zippier because of the new A11 bionic chip, which Apple claims makes it 25% faster.

Alternatively, maybe you love Samsung or are just now open to one because of Apple’s no headphone jack policy. The S8 and S8 Plus have a slick design that our own phone reviewers absolutely love and its display (a dazzling 2,220 x 1,080) compared to Apple’s (a meh 1,334 x 750) really put it at the top of the visual appearance heap.

And then there’s the camera test. While on paper the smartphone’s cameras seem very similar, (Apple with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 12-megapixel back; Galaxy S8 Plus with 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 12-megapixel back), in practice, the selfies from the Galaxy S8 Plus seem far superior.

After testing set-up, call quality, video downloading time, playback, visual appearance and cameras on each of the phones, we picked the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus as the winner of this particular head-to-head challenge. Let us know in the comments what we should test next!

This article was briefly removed from the site to update the video thumbnail and pricing. Prices now reflect MSRP rather than Amazon’s “Buy Now” option in our database.

Samsung just hypnotized me through my computer screen

It’s not every Tuesday morning that I sit at my desk, headphones on, eyes closed, willing myself to fall into a trance. But some mornings the internet sends strange things your way.

On Tuesday, Reddit tipped me off to Samsung’s Swedish site, which featured a hypnotherapy service called “Unspoil Me.” It’s an unusual bit of marketing, but the company said it worked with two hypnotists to develop the site. It claims that you’ll “experience your favorite TV series as if it were the first time.”

Sign. Me. Up.

I decided to see if the service could help me forget the HBO mini-series “Big Little Lies,” partly because it’s the best thing I’ve watched this year and partly because it was pictured on the “Unspoil Me” page. 

I put my headphones, ticked a box confirming that I was “fully mentally healthy” and clicked through to start the hypnosis.

Down the rabbit hole

A lilting Swedish voice told me to relax and focus on the swirling image on my screen. I concentrated for a few minutes before it occurred to me that I should probably let my colleagues know what I was up to. 

I took my headphones off to tell them I was being hypnotized by my computer and not to disturb me. Still, throughout the whole hypnosis I was anxious someone was going to tap me on the shoulder. This constant low-lying anxiety got worse every time I was told to relax. Go figure.

The voice told me to close my eyes and count backwards from 300. While I was counting, the voice told me a lovely story about trees, which made it almost impossible to concentrate on the numbers. I got to about 282 before I was told to imagine going down 10 stairs to a place of greater relaxation.

Directions for when I should go down each step were precise and weaved into a moralistic story about an emperor and a chess player. It was during this story that I first had to try really hard not to think about “Big Little Lies.” 

The harder I tried, though, the more I kept picturing Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste Wright in the show. I couldn’t stop thinking about how tall she is, especially compared to co-star Reese Witherspoon. No wonder so many scenes featuring both of actors were filmed with them sitting down.

af77e_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung just hypnotized me through my computer screen

One of many convenient sitting-down scenes in “Big Little Lies.”


HBO

The voice said something about the importance of counting, but I know it had skipped step six and step four … and maybe also step two? I felt like the voice was trying to trick me, and by picking up on it I had passed a test. Or maybe I failed because I clearly wasn’t in a trance.

Every step the voice sent me down doubled in height. By the time we got to the final step, I was picturing myself hanging off the edge of a cliff. I let go and fell into the darkness. The landing was nice and soft, like a mat from gym class.

I rolled over, stood up and immediately saw Witherspoon’s character Madeline vomiting all over her ex-husband’s new wife Bonnie, played by Zoe Kravitz. Bonnie tried to be patient with Madeline, but boy was she mad.

af77e_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung just hypnotized me through my computer screen

Poor Zoe Kravitz. First Reese Witherspoon’s vomit, then no Emmy nomination.


HBO

The voice told me I should be physically and mentally relaxed by this point. I checked to see how relaxed I felt physically. My fingers, which had been laced in front of me on my desk since the beginning of the hypnosis, now felt totally numb, almost like I had one big hand instead of two.

Concentrate, I told myself. The voice guided me through different light tunnels — red, yellow, purple, and white. I wondered if I could remember the “Big Little Lies” theme music, but I could only picture Witherspoon driving over Bixby Creek Bridge.

Concentrate, I told myself again as I heard a colleague laugh on the other side of my headphones.

Now I was standing on a timeline of my own life. In front of me was supposed to be the future, but all I could see was a staircase sweeping down into a double-height, glass-fronted living room and the Malibu coastline beyond. I tried to remember which bits of “Big Little Lies” had actually been filmed in Monterey, California, where the series is set.

Then I tried to not remember any of the show. But in my mind, I could still see Witherspoon’s hair blowing in the wind as she gazed out over the Pacific ocean. 

af77e_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung just hypnotized me through my computer screen

Mother-daughter vibes.


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

The voice told me to float back to the point on my timeline before I watched “Big Little Lies” and turn around, looking ahead to the point in the future where I wanted to watch it again for the first time. I felt like I was floating over the penultimate scene of the show, the one where everything is revealed, trying not to see the spoilers.

I used all the mental strength I could muster to banish it from my mind as the voice ordered me to zoom back up my timeline to the present day. Then the voice sent me into the future. Enjoy the feeling of anticipation as you sit down to watch your show again, said the voice. The memory of watching it before should be fuzzy, the voice said.

Kidman’s supersized face floated back into view. She was giving that me that suspicious, super-intense look she does so well. Giant Nicole Kidman knows the truth, I thought. She knows it isn’t fuzzy.

The voice counted me out of my trance. I felt hugely relieved. The anxiety in my chest immediately vanished.

Afterwards

The recommendation is that you sleep on it before rewatching your show of choice to allow the hypnosis work its magic in your dreams.

But I didn’t sleep. I sat down to write this piece. Straight away I remembered everything about “Big Little Lies” I had been trying to repress, as well as some details about the show I had previously forgotten.

af77e_cq5dam-web-1200-675-2 Samsung just hypnotized me through my computer screen

She’ll never leave me now.


Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Who knows, perhaps I sabotaged my own chances of forgetting by reliving my hypnosis. Perhaps I will wake up tomorrow and have forgotten everything about “Big Little Lies” after all. Perhaps I will feel a strange, inexplicable urge to go out and buy a Samsung TV.

More likely, my dreams will now forever be haunted by Nicole Kidman. Every time I close my eyes, there she will be, judging me, reminding me that I couldn’t forget.

Thanks a bunch, Samsung.

Rebooting the Reef: CNET dives deep into how tech can help save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The Smartest StuffInnovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) looks great in leaked pictures

92cae_Samsung-Galaxy-A8-Plus-leak-header-840x472 The Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) looks great in leaked pictures

One year after redesigning its Galaxy S lineup, it looks like Samsung will do the same for the Galaxy A lineup. New leaked pictures of the Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) showed up on Weibo and show that the device will be rocking an Infinity Display like the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, and Galaxy Note 8.

Display specs: the good, the bad, and the completely irrelevant

What’s not readily apparent is the aspect ratio. While the Galaxy S and Note devices released earlier this year use an 18.5:9 display ratio, earlier leaks of the Galaxy A series point to an 18:9 ratio. Regardless, the pictures do show a tall display with curved edges, both characteristics of Infinity Displays.

Samsun Galaxy A devices of the past have had flagship-level design with mid-range internal specs. At this time, we don’t have reliable leaks on what specs we might see inside the Galaxy A8 Plus (2018). But,  based on the leaked pictures, it looks like the design will continue this trend.

92cae_Samsung-Galaxy-A8-Plus-leak-header-840x472 The Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) looks great in leaked pictures

92cae_Samsung-Galaxy-A8-Plus-leak-header-840x472 The Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) looks great in leaked pictures

One significant change we could see this year is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. According to leaks, the fingerprint sensor will be located more towards the middle of the back of the phone. Since the phone has an Infinity Display, there will be no capacitive buttons. In the Galaxy S lineup, Samsung has pivoted to on-screen buttons and a fingerprint sensor next to the camera sensor. This led to complaints that it is hard to locate accurately and calls for it to be moved down like on the LG V30 and Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. If the leaks are accurate, it looks like Samsung is listening.

See also: Galaxy A5 and A7 (2018) renders reveal bezel-less design and dual front-facing cameras

We shouldn’t have to wait for too long to find out if the rumors are true. The Galaxy A lineup has released in either December or January the last two years.

What do you think of the Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus? Would you be willing to buy a Samsung phone with flagship design and mid-tier internals? Let us know down in the comments.

Samsung includes its VPN service in latest Galaxy Note 8 update

b3df0_Galaxy-Note-Review-15-Feature-840x473 Samsung includes its VPN service in latest Galaxy Note 8 update

Samsung might have updated its Galaxy Note 8 with the November security patch, but arguably the more important feature of the update is the company’s inclusion of its Secure Wi-Fi service.

For the uninitiated, Secure Wi-Fi is Samsung’s VPN service that lets you securely browse on public Wi-Fi networks by encrypting your internet traffic and preventing apps and websites from tracking your usage. Secure Wi-Fi has been featured on previous Galaxy J smartphones, but this is the first time it makes its way to the Galaxy Note 8.

There are a few things to keep in mind, the first being the price structure. Those who want to keep their money as close to them as possible can opt to pay nothing and get 250 MB of internet access each month through Secure Wi-Fi. Alternatively, they can pay either €0.99 or €1.99 for 24 hours or one month of unlimited browsing, respectively.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) looks great in leaked pictures

The other is availability. Secure Wi-Fi is not an app you can go to the Play Store and download — it is baked into the actual software, so the only way to get it is through a software update from Samsung. That’s my subtle way of saying that not every Galaxy Note 8 has Secure Wi-Fi — according to SamMobile, only the international unlocked Galaxy Note 8 has the VPN service baked in, though we’ll see if that changes.

If you meet the criteria, however, make sure to visit Settings, then Connections, then Wi-Fi, and then Advanced. From there, you can enable Secure Wi-Fi and go through the setup process. If you don’t meet the criteria, remember that there are plenty of VPN options through the Play Store, including Express VPN, which we believe is the best all-around VPN service available.

Samsung W2018 Android Flip Phone With Bixby Integration and F/1.5 Camera Lens Launched

Samsung has announced the W2018 as its new high-end Android flip phone in China. The South Korean company has partnered with China Telecom to launch the new smartphone on its 25th anniversary in the country. The new smartphone is the successor to the W2017 that was unveiled last year with a dual-display setup and a fingerprint scanner.

As showcased at an event in Xiamen, China last week, reported by Chinese news agency Sina, the Samsung W2018 features two 4.2-inch AMOLED display panels with full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) resolution. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, paired with Adreno 540 GPU and 6GB of RAM. Further, Samsung has provided 64GB and 256GB storage options along with microSD card support (up to 256GB). The handset runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat operating system with a proprietary skin on top and offers Bixby virtual assistant support in Chinese.

The Samsung W2018 sports a 12-megapixel camera sensor on the back with a largest, f/1.5 aperture lens – the largest seen yet on a smartphone camera. There is also optical image stabilisation (OIS) support to reduce blurs even when the shots are captured with some jerks or shakes. Moreover, the handset has a 5-megapixel camera sensor on the front with f/1.9 lens. The back camera sensor also supports 4K video recording, while the front sensor has full-HD (1080p) support.

Samsung has opted for a hybrid dual-SIM configuration on the W2018 with two Nano-SIM card options and microSD card support. The smartphone packs a 2300mAh battery and includes a fingerprint scanner as well as a heart rate sensor. In terms of connectivity, there is 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, and USB Type-C.

The Samsung W2018 comes with a 3D glass and metal design and has been made available in Gold and Silver colour options.

Price and availability details about the Samsung W2018 are yet to be announced. However, considering the previous models (including the W2017 and W2016), the new smartphone is expected to come with a premium price tag and be exclusive to the Chinese market.

This was meant to be the year of the Apple “supercycle,” but Samsung’s phones were better

Since the underwhelming launch of the iPhone 7 in 2016, the world has been waiting for what analysts called a “supercycle” in 2017, where Apple was set to launch a litany of new products, including a new, redesigned flagship iPhone.

That more or less came to pass, with Apple releasing the iPhone X (as well as the iPhone 8, for some reason), new MacBooks, iPads, Macs, watches, and TVs to great media fanfare. And while there were legitimate complaints to be made about many of the devices (the computers are missing ports, the iPads definitely aren’t computers, the watches are niche products), Apple had an excellent year, returning to revenue growth, and selling some 216 million iPhones in the process.

But the iPhone X, which Apple has referred to as “the future” of the iPhone, didn’t feel particularly futuristic when I tested it. It was expensive, featured a very buggy operating system, and forced me to change the way I’ve used smartphones for years for no particularly good reason. It has some positives—the large, sharp display and the truly excellent camera chief among them—but for all the hullabaloo around the phone, it didn’t feel like a device that was head-and-shoulders above the competition, as Apple’s phones have been so clearly in the past. In fact, I found the two flagship devices Samsung released this year—the Galaxy S8 and Note 8—much more compelling.

Here’s a quick rundown of what made the Note 8 stand out where the iPhone X didn’t:

It still has a “home button” (even though there’s no physical button). The Note 8 has a massive screen that takes up most of the front of the phone, like the iPhone X, but Samsung still kept an on-screen home button that’s in the same place the home button has been on all its devices. This is likely partially due to the Android design, but Apple’s replacement of its home button with awkward swiping continues to frustrate me nearly a month into owning the iPhone X. Samsung’s device still has a massive display, and doesn’t force its users to change their behavior.

It still has a headphone jack, even though it’s water-resistant. One of Apple’s arguments for removing the headphone jack when it launched the iPhone 7 was that it made it easier to make the phone water resistant, as there were fewer holes that needed to be sealed. That may be true, but Samsung, and other manufacturers, figured out how to do it without removing one of the oldest electronics standards still in use.

It has a similar display as the iPhone X, but bigger. The OLED display for the iPhone is made by Samsung, and is quite similar to the one for the Note 8, although it is arguably sharper. But the Note 8’s screen is no slouch, and it’s absolutely massive: The 6.3-inch screen (compared to the X’s 5.8-inch screen) feels like holding a widescreen TV in your hands. If you can hold this thing with ease, it’s simply the largest, best screen you can carry around with you.

USB-C is the new standard. Apple has sort of agreed as much by replacing all the ports on its MacBooks with USB-C ports. USB-C cables can throughput more data than standard USB cables (and can be inserted in any direction). But then, the iPhone X still uses its own proprietary Lightning cable to charge. I can charge my Mac and a Note 8 with the same cable—it would be nice if I could do the same with my iPhone.

Excellent camera, similar features. The iPhone X has my favorite cameras of any smartphone I’ve used this year, but the Note 8, along with the Google Pixel 2 XL, were close seconds. Like the X, the Note 8 features two rear-facing cameras, which allow it to create impressive portrait shots with shallow depth of field that look like they were taken on a professional camera. Other than the bizarre stage-lighting camera modes Apple recently introduced, Samsung’s newest phone cameras can do just about everything an iPhone’s can.

The S Pen is occasionally very useful. It might seem pretty gimmicky, but there are definitely times where the Note 8’s included stylus actually comes in handy. Writing quick notes on the lock screen, adding captions to photos to post on Twitter, or even signing documents are all much easier to do with the giant screen of the Note 8 and the stylus.

The always-on screen for time and notifications is great. Apple and Samsung use similar displays on their devices, but only Samsung chooses to display information when the screen is locked. The Note 8 has a white clock and notification badges that requires almost no power to display, as the vast majority of the pixels on the screen are still off in this mode. It’s the same way it handles taking notes on the lock screen, and it’s just downright useful.

Google Assistant works much better than Siri. Even though Siri was the first voice assistant to be included in a smartphone’s operating system, she’s still pretty terrible at understanding what we ask her, or giving us useful information. Google Assistant, on the other hand, is about as useful as Google itself. (But let’s not mention Samsung’s Bixby, which is also on the phone, and also pretty useless.)

Many of these features also apply to the Galaxy S8. It’s a list of a lot of little things, many of which Apple will likely emulate in the future, but to me, it was off-putting enough to find Apple playing catch-up to Samsung this year. Apple continues to hint that the X is just the start of a reinvention of the iPhone, so perhaps we’re in store for a device in the near future that feels as revolutionary as the original iPhone did 10 years ago. But if you’re considering which phone to get right now, the answer should probably be a Samsung.


Read next:

The Quartz review of the Samsung Note 8

The Quartz review of the iPhone X

Best Buy Launches ’20 Days Of Doorbusters’: MacBook Pro Gets Price Cut — iPhone, Samsung Later

Credit: Apple

Apple 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.

On Saturday, Best Buy launched a MacBook Pro sale, part of its 20 Days of Doorbusters.

Best Buy slashed $200 off a bevy of the latest (mid-2017) MacBook Pro models on December 2. Models range from the 128GB base model, cut to $1,099.99 from $1,299.99, to the 256GB model, reduced to $1,299.99 from $1,499.99, to a 16GB/512GB model, on sale for $1,999.99, down from $2,199.99.

Credit: Best Buy

Best Buy “Doorbuster’ deals change every 24 hours. On Saturday, it’s MacBook Pros.

Most of the MBP models on sale don’t come with the OLED Touch Bar, which, for some consumers, may be a gratuitous feature anyway.

All Deals will go live in the wee hours (U.S. time) each day and will continue until everything is sold out or until 11:59 p.m. CT each day.  The details of each deal day won’t be revealed until the deal starts.

Here’s an excerpt from the Best Buy press release:

The day’s featured doorbuster is guaranteed to be the lowest price you’ll find at Best Buy all season long.

But we’re keeping the deals a surprise, so you won’t know which product will be featured which day until the morning it’s announced.

Other deals worth noting include touch-screen laptops on Day 5 (December 5), Big-screen Smart 4K TV on Day 6, Samsung cell phones on Day 10, iPad on Day 11, wireless security cameras on Day 12, and iPhone on Day 17.

And Best Buy has ongoing deals here.

Credit: Best Buy

Best Buy ‘Doorbuster’ schedule.

Samsung’s new ultra-premium flip phone launched in China with f/1.5 aperture camera and Bixby

b6b7b_samsung-w2018-840x514 Samsung's new ultra-premium flip phone launched in China with f/1.5 aperture camera and BixbySamsung has unveiled its latest ultra-premium clamshell phone at an event in Xiamen, China, and it’s an absolute monster. As is usually the case with Samsung’s flagship “flip phones”, the W2018 will only retail in Asia and is expected to cost upwards of $2,000.

The South Korean giant’s new W-series phone is a successor to last year’s W2017, not the Leader 8 which was announced just a few months ago. The W2018’s launch also marks the range’s tenth anniversary, as well as Samsung’s 25th in the Chinese market in general.

As for the phone itself, we’re looking at an unmistakably high-end device built from a combination of metal and glass. It comes in two colors – Elegant Gold and Platinum – and weighs in at 247 g. For some context, that’s significantly heavier than both the Galaxy S8 (155 g) and Galaxy Note 8 (195 g).

The W2018 sports a pair of 4.2-inch AMOLED touchscreen displays, each with a 1080 x 1920 resolution. For those that prefer a more traditional clamshell experience, the phone also features a full keypad and navigational buttons.

Like its recent Galaxy S siblings, the device is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset backed by a chunky 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage (expandable up to 256 GB). It also comes with a dual-sim slot, a 2,300 mAh battery, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and Samsung’s Bixby assistant (and yes, it does have a dedicated Bixby button).

As well as becoming the first clamshell phone to feature a digital assistant, the W2018 also claims a much more impressive ‘world first’ thanks to its rear 12 MP camera. While that doesn’t sound too exciting at a glance, the juicy part is the single sensor’s f/1.5 aperture – the lowest we’ve seen to date on a mobile phone, beating out the LG V30’s f/1.6 camera aperture.

On the downside, the luxury phone only runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, although Samsung promised that an update to Oreo (8.0) is on the way in 2018.

What do you make of the Samsung W2018 and its bizarre mix of high-end specs, extravagant design, and old school form factor? Let us know in the comments.

Best Buy Launches ’20 Days Of Doorbusters’: MacBook Pro — iPhone, Samsung Galaxy Later

Credit: Apple

Apple 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.

On Saturday, Best Buy launched a MacBook Pro sale, part of its 20 Days of Doorbusters.

Best Buy slashed $200 off a bevy of the latest (mid-2017) MacBook Pro models on December 2. Models range from the 128GB base model, cut to $1,099.99 from $1,299.99, to the 256GB model, reduced to $1,299.99 from $1,499.99, to a 16GB/512GB model, on sale for $1,999.99, down from $2,199.99.

Credit: Best Buy

Best Buy “Doorbuster’ deals change every 24 hours. On Saturday, it’s MacBook Pros.

Most of the MBP models on sale don’t come with the OLED Touch Bar, which, for some consumers, may be a gratuitous feature anyway.

All Deals will go live in the wee hours (U.S. time) each day and will continue until everything is sold out or until 11:59 p.m. CT each day.  The details of each deal day won’t be revealed until the deal starts.

Here’s an excerpt from the Best Buy press release:

The day’s featured doorbuster is guaranteed to be the lowest price you’ll find at Best Buy all season long.

But we’re keeping the deals a surprise, so you won’t know which product will be featured which day until the morning it’s announced.

Other deals worth noting include touch-screen laptops on Day 5 (December 5), Big-screen Smart 4K TV on Day 6, Samsung cell phones on Day 10, iPad on Day 11, wireless security cameras on Day 12, and iPhone on Day 17.

And Best Buy has ongoing deals here.

Credit: Best Buy

Best Buy ‘Doorbuster’ schedule.