Archive for November, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Nexus LED video

Here’s short video I made to show you how the LED notifications work on the Nexus. Remember, these aren’t the only colors, so when the device gets launched, other apps might use different colors for the LED 🙂

 

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Proud to be a Samsung Mob!ler

Yup! Very proud, actually! Thanks to all the guys that supported me and were patient enough to read my review or watch my video, I’m now going to Korea, at Samsung HQ, as one of the guys that are representing the Romanian Mob!lers team 🙂 I’m really looking forward to that and I’ll do my best to keep you updated with what’s going on at Samsung HQ and what goodies they have in store 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to post some new tests with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, so… stay close 🙂

Samsung Galaxy Nexus versus Samsung Galaxy SII – video comparison

Samsung Galaxy Nexus – first impressions

Even though the year is almost over and you came to believe that everything that can be launched is already launched, it seems that Samsung and Google don’t give up and still manage to surprise us. After Samsung released the new Note, the first phone with a 5.3” display, with the new S-Pen stylus and the 800*1280 screen resolution, it’s now Google’s turn to show us what they have in store. So they got together and started working and that’s how Samsung Galaxy Nexus was born, the first phone with the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, a.k.a. Android 4.0. Also, the Nexus has a chance to be the first phone with a display resolution of 720*1280 ever, in case the S2 HD LTE or the LG SU640 won’t be launched before.

But let’s get back to the Nexus. Many people were expecting that the technical specs on the Nexus will be better than the ones on the, let’s say, Samsung Galaxy S2, but apparently Google had a different opinion on this. Therefore, the new Nexus uses the same 1.2 GHz dual core processor, just like his “older” brother, S2, the difference between the 2 devices being in the chipset used. And because we’re talking about a Samsung device, the display is one of the big advantages on this phone.

We’re talking here about a Super AMOLED display, 4,65” which has a screen resolution of 720*1280. Also, the display is a bit curved, so that the phone will “fit” better on your cheek, when you’re talking on it. The phone has the same RAM capacity as the S2, which is 1 GB, and this should ensure a great experience in running the new ICS. Or so they say… So far, from what I’ve noticed in the 3 days I’ve owned the phone, they’re pretty much right. The phone runs really smooth, the transition between the menus is very fluent, with no delay.

The internal memory the phone supplies is of about 16 GB, but only 13 are available to the user. The rest are for the applications and for the operating system. Unfortunately, there’s no card slot, so we’ll have to settle for the internal memory. For those that think that 16 GB is not enough, Samsung has a 32 GB version ready. So no worries, there’s plenty of space for everybody :). Another pretty new technology present in the Galaxy Nexus is the NFC, which will help you transfer data much easier. Other than that, the phone comes along with the classic smartphone features – Wi-Fi b/g/n, HSDPA+, HSUPA, LTE, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS (who gets help from a barometric sensor as well, in order to give you a better lock on) and a 5 MP camera.

All these live happily in the case of the 135 g phone and receive their “life” from a 1750 mAh battery which, unfortunately, is pretty small. A bigger battery would’ve been preferred, but in that case, the phone would’ve probably been bigger / thicker and it would’ve interfered with the design of the phone. Still, even with this battery, the phone manages to survive about one day of intense using. Now that I started with the design, I should finish… With this phone, Samsung really went out of its way to make it as “buttonless” as possible. The phone has 1 button on the right, which is used to power on and off the phone / display, 2 buttons on the left, for the volume and… that’s pretty much it. The 3 buttons (that are actually sometimes 4) that are also present on the Nexus (these being Home, Back, Task Manager and, from time to time, Menu) are integrated in the display. Thanks to this, now the buttons move as well when you tilt your phone. On the top of the phone we also find the 1.3 MP camera for video calls, a light sensor and a proximity sensor, and on the bottom, we find a notifications LED. On the back of the phone we find the 5 MP camera (which takes photos at 5 MP and, in its free time, shoots video at 1080p resolution), the LED flash and the loudspeaker. On the sides of the phone we find the above mentioned buttons and, on the right side, we have 3 pins that are used to connect the phone to a dock. On the top side we have… well, nothing, and on the bottom side we have the Micro USB slot, the 3.5 audio jack and the microphone.

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And now, the time has come to talk about the operating system that will use all the technologies above, and that’s the new Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The first thing you notice after you turn on your phone is the new lock screen and the new font, called Roboto. After you unlock the device, you notice the Google search bar, which is present on all the home screens, the 5 icons below (that are customizable, well, actually, at least 4 of them are, because the middle one, “All apps”, isn’t going anywhere), as well as the fact that you can’t “pinch to zoom” anymore and you can’t add / remove any screens. Five screens were installed by Google in ICS, five will remain! On those five screens you can add widgets to your heart’s content, but there’s a different way to do that. You don’t hold and press the home screen until the “add widget” option appears, you now have to go in the menu, go in the “Widgets” section, pick the widget, hold it and only after that you’re allowed to put it in the home screen. That’s kind of complicated, if you ask me, but… that’s how they created it, that how we use it. Also, as an added bonus, because they made the adding so complicated, the editing of the widgets is much better. I’m talking here about the fact that the widgets are resizable, meaning you can add more (small) or less (big) widgets on the same screen, according to your needs. Another thing that bothers me is the fact that the shortcuts from the notifications tab are now gone. You can’t switch on and off the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, adjust the screen brightness with just one click, now you have to go in the settings and modify it there. Anyway, moving along, the phone comes with the Google suite preinstalled. We’re talking here about a new version of Gmail, a new version of Google Calendar, Maps is now updated to 5.11, Youtube, Gtalk, Google+ and the new Google Earth. Also, Google thought that it’s very important to focus on the multi tasking (well, seems right, they did a dedicated button for that, didn’t they?), therefore, when you’re pressing on the “Recent apps” button, some nice thumbnails with the recent applications appear on screen, making it easier for you to pick the needed application. Other interesting features existing in the new ICS… we have the “face unlock” option, which allows you to unlock your phone with face recognition, we have a new counter for data (so we can leave the 3rd party apps like 3G Watchdog aside). The browser is also improved, resembling Google Chrome from some points. Other existing features are new renamed, like the Contacts from Gingerbread is now People.

Notifications Home Screen Google Folder Task Manager Menu transition Data counter Battery usage Android OS Face recognition Screenshot 2011 10 30 21 01 14 Storage Applications Screen rotation Processor Sensors New Gmail New Calendar Google Earth Widgets Browser tabs Browser options Incognito Tab Home screen 2

To draw the line, we can say that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a very good phone. Samsung and Google managed to put in this phone the best there is. The dual core processor, the Super AMOLED display and the Android 4.0 make this phone a pioneer, a road opener. If we have something like this now… the future looks bright!

The ones above were the objective opinions (or at least more objective then what’s coming) about the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. So now let’s get to some personal opinions, experiences with the phone, etc. Because the phone wasn’t officially launched on the market and the operating system is so new and has its differences compared to the Android 2.3, I must confess that I’ve had some compatibility issues with the existing applications. I managed to crash the device 3-4 times because of some applications that weren’t perfectly compatible, but it always came back to life. This, I take it, is a sign to wait until it’ll be officially out on the market, so that the developers will be able to optimize their applications for it :). Another thing that I’ve noticed is the fact that Samsung wasn’t very involved in the “branding” of the device, software-wise. Therefore, you won’t find the Samsung Apps or the Hubs that are available in the rest of the Samsung phones. Actually, come to think about it, the only thing that tells you that you have a Samsung phone is the fact that on the battery cover is written… Samsung.

The 4,65” display can come as a burden to some, might scare others but, actually, the size difference isn’t that big between this model and others, and the HD display actually comes in very handy at certain times (a HD movie during a train travel or a boring college lecture, let’s say 🙂 ). The headset comes with intra auricular headphones, and these paired with the HD display… you sometimes actually forget that you’re watching movies on a mobile phone.

Another new feature that amused me in the new Nexus is the face recognition. Used with the normal unlock modes, I said that it’s time for a change, so I should try the “face recognition”. So I went in the settings, set the unlock mode, the phone recognized my face and… it was testing time! And surprisingly, it actually works. A very good thing is the fact that, if you’re in a dark place and there isn’t enough light for the phone to see your face, there is a backup pin with which you can unlock your phone. Obviously, after you get used to this, it’s pretty difficult to go back to the normal unlocking methods, so I found myself looking for a couple of seconds to my Samsung Galaxy S2, until I realized that I have to sweep the screen to unlock it 🙂

A pleasant surprise was with the camera, as well as the derived applications : the camera interface, the gallery and the movie maker. First of all, this camera has the fastest shutter I’ve seen on a mobile phone. Second, the camera comes with a dedicated “panorama” mode, which is very interesting. You don’t have to take 3 pictures, then wait for the phone to fix them together and get one wide picture. No, now you select the “panorama” mode and slowly spin the phone from left to right, the phone doing the rest of the work. Aside from these, there are certain interesting features, like setting a scene for the movies, adding effects to the photos / movies, that could only make me happy.

In the end, I can say that the phone satisfies me in a 90% proportion. The only problem with it is the fact that the battery won’t last nearly as long as I expected, thing that will probably be solved with a software update, as well as the compatible applications issue, which, as well, will probably be solved after the phone will be available worldwide. Other than that, the phone is currently one of the best models to be launched and the exclusivity provided by the ICS, as well as the rest of the technologies existing in it, make it worth every coin!

Samsung Galaxy Nexus – primele impresii

Desi este aproape sfarsitul anului si credeai ca tot ce se poate lansa, s-a lansat, iata ca cei de la Samsung, impreuna cu cei de la Google, nu se lasa si tot reusesc sa ne surprinda. Dupa ce Samsung a lansat noul Note, primul telefon cu un display de 5,3”, cu noul sau stylus S-Pen si cu rezolutia de 800*1280, a venit randul celor de la Google sa ne arate ce pot face. Asa ca s-au pus pe treaba si au scos Samsung Galaxy Nexus, primul telefon cu sistemul de operare Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a.k.a. 4.0.  De asemenea, Nexusul are sanse sa fie si primul telefon cu rezolutia de 720*1280 lansat, asta in cazul in care S2 HD LTE sau LG SU640 nu ies inaintea lui.

Dar sa revenim la Nexus. Desi multi asteptau sa aiba specificatii tehnice mult mai bune decat, sa zicem, Galaxy S2, iata ca nu acesta a fost si planul celor de la Google. Astfel, Galaxy Nexus foloseste acelasi procesor de 1.2 GHz ca fratele lui mai “batran”, S2, diferenta dintre cele doua modele fiind la chipset. Pentru ca vorbim de un telefon facut de Samsung, in defintiv, display-ul este unul din punctele forte ale telefonului.

Avem de-a face cu un display Super AMOLED de 4,65” care, dupa cum am spus mai devreme, vine cu o rezolutie de 720*1280.  Deasemenea, display-ul este un pic curbat, astfel incat telefonul sa se “muleze” si mai bine pe obraz in momentul in care vorbesti la el. Telefonul are aceeasi cantitate de RAM ca si S2, adica 1 GB, care, spun ei, ar trebui sa fie suficienta pentru o experienta cat mai buna in rularea ICS. Si, din cate am vazut eu in cele cateva zile de cand am telefonul, au dreptate. Telefonul se misca foarte bine, tranzitia intre meniuri este fluenta, fara lag, fara delay, fara sa “agate”.

Memoria interna cu care vine este de 16 GB, din care doar 13 GB sunt disponibili utilizatorului, restul fiind rezervati pentru instalarea de aplicatii si sistemului de operare. Din pacate, slot pentru card nu exista, asa ca va trebui sa ne multumim cu cat avem. Pentru cei carora 16 GB nu le ajung, Samsung mai are pregatita o versiune cu 32 GB memorie interna, asa ca nu trebuie sa va impacientati, va fi destul spatiu de stocare pentru toata lumea. Alta tehnologie destul de noua prezenta in Nexus este NFC, tehnologie cu ajutorul careia se pot transfera fisiere mult mai usor. In rest, telefonul vine cu toate chestiile cu care vine un smartphone din zilele noastre – Wi-Fi b/g/n, HSDPA+, HSUPA, LTE, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS (care, ca noutate, este ajutat de un senzor barometric, pentru a putea fi localizat mai repede) si o camera de 5 MP.

Toate acestea convietuiesc linistite in carcasa telefonului de 135 grame si primesc “viata” de la o baterie de 1750 mAh, care, din pacate, este cam mica pentru ce se cere de la ea. O baterie mai mare ar fi fost de preferat, dar probabil ca in acest caz, telefonul ar fi fost mai gros si mai greu. Totusi, chiar si cu aceasta baterie, telefonul reuseste sa reziste aproximativ o zi de butonare intensa. Butonare la modul figurat, pentru ca butoanele aproape au disparut si mai avem doar doua; unul pe partea stanga, pentru volum, si unul pe partea dreapta, pentru pornirea / oprirea telefonului si… cam atat. Cele 3 butoane (care de fapt sunt 4 uneori) care mai sunt prezente pe Nexus (si anume Back, Home, Recent Apps si, din cand in cand, Menu) sunt parte integrata a display-ului, rotindu-se cu acesta in functie de pozitia telefonului. Si daca tot suntem la capitolul “design”, putem spune ca in partea de sus a telefonului mai gasim o camera de 1.3 MP, pentru video calling, un senzor de lumina si un senzor de proximitate (pentru inchiderea displayului in timpul unei convorbiri), iar in partea de jos avem un mic LED pentru notificatii. Pe spatele telefonului gasim camera de 5 MP (care face poze la 5 MP si, in timpul liber, filmeaza la 1080p), un blitz LED, si difuzorul. Pe laterale avem butoanele mentionate mai sus, iar pe partea dreapta avem in plus 3 pini, care vor fi utili in momentul in care se va conecta telefonul la un dock. In partea de sus nu avem nimic, in schimb in partea de jos avem conectorul pentru Micro USB, jack-ul de 3.5 si microfonul.

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Si iata ca a venit momentul sa discutam si despre sistemul de operare care se va bucura de toate tehnologiile de mai sus, si anume noul Ice Cream Sandwich. Primul lucru pe care il remarci cand pornesti telefonul este lock screen-ul (care vine cu un shortcut predefinit catre camera, dar si cu posibilitatea de a vedea notificatiile fara a mai debloca) si noul font, Roboto. Dupa ce deblochezi device-ul, remarci bara de cautare Google, care este prezenta pe toate ecranele din “home screen”, cele 5 icon-uri de jos (care sunt customizabile, cel putin 4 din ele, pentru ca cea din centru, adica “all apps”, ramane tare pe pozitii), precum si faptul ca nu mai merge “pinch to zoom” si nu mai poti adauga/sterge din ecranele existente. Cinci au fost instalate de la Google, cinci raman! Pe ecrane poti pune widget-uri, doar ca acum nu mai tii apasat cu degetul pentru a scoate meniul de personalizare, ci trebuie sa te duci in all apps si sa remarci ca ai o noua sectiune, si anume “widgets”. De abia de acolo iti selectezi widget-ul, tii lung apasat pe el si il poti plasa pe ecran (si, ca un bonus, il poti face si mai mare sau mai mic). Un pic cam complicat comparativ cu versiunile mai vechi, parerea mea, dar… asa l-au gandit, asa il folosim. Alt lucru care ma deranjeaza este faptul ca nu mai sunt shortcut-urile din bara de notificari. Avem un shortcut mare si lat catre settings, dar nu mai putem porni / opri Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc cu un singur click. Din nou, au complicat aiurea, parerea mea. Trecand peste micile neajunsuri, telefonul are vine cu “suita” Google preinstalata, si aici vorbim de o versiune noua de Gmail, un nou Calendar, Maps care a ajuns la versiunea 5.11, Youtube, Gtalk, Google+ si noul Google Earth. De asemenea, cei de la Google au pus mare accent pe multi tasking (doar i-au facut si buton dedicat, pentru ca aparent apasarea mai lunga pe tasta “home” nu era de ajuns), astfel incat in momentul in care apesi pe “recent apps”, apar niste thumbnail-uri dragute cu toate aplicatiile deschise recent. Alte treburi interesante pe care le aduce ICS… Avem optiunea de “face unlock”, cu ajutorul careia iti deblochezi telefonul prin recunoastere faciala, avem un contor pentru traficul de date consumat (deci putem sa nu mai folosim 3G watchdog sau alte softuri asemanatoare), Browserul nativ este si el imbunatatit, semanand, sa zicem, cu Google Chrome. Alte functii existente in Gingerbread au fost preluate si redenumite, cum ar fi… Contacts in People.

Notifications Home Screen Google Folder Task Manager Menu transition Data counter Battery usage Android OS Face recognition Screenshot 2011 10 30 21 01 14 Storage Applications Screen rotation Processor Sensors New Gmail New Calendar Google Earth Widgets Browser tabs Browser options Incognito Tab Home screen 2

Ca o concluzie, putem spune ca Samsung Galaxy Nexus este un telefon reusit. Cei de la Samsung si cei de la Google au reusit sa inglobeze in acest telefon crema cremelor. Procesorul dual-core, ecranul Super AMOLED de 4.65” si sistemul Android 4.0 fac din acest telefon un pionier, un deschizator de drumuri. Daca acum avem asa ceva… viitorul suna bine!

Cele de mai sus ar fi parerile obiective (sau cel putin mult mai obiective decat cele care urmeaza) despre noul Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Dar acum, sa trecem si la niste pareri subiective (sau asa numitele, scoateri in lume ale telefonului) experiente cu telefonul, etc. Pentru ca telefonul nu a fost lansat inca oficial pe piata, iar sistemul de operare este atat de nou si diferit fata de Android 2.3, trebuie sa marturisesc ca am avut mici probleme de compatibilitate cu aplicatiile. Am reusit sa crashuiesc de vreo 3-4 ori device-ul primit din cauza unor aplicatii care l-au blocat, dar acesta si-a revenit intotdeauna. Acesta banuiesc ca e un semn ca trebuie sa astept pana se va lansa oficial, pentru ca dezvoltatorii sa optimizeze toate aplicatiile pentru el :). Alta chestiune pe care am remarcat-o este ca, desi este un telefon Samsung, Samsung nu prea s-a implicat (nu prea in sensul ca deloc) in personalizarea ICS-ului, lasand aceasta placere celor de la Google. Astfel, nu veti gasi nici Samsung Apps, nici Hub-urile pe care le aveau cei de la Samsung instalate. De fapt, daca stau sa ma gandesc, singurul lucru care iti spune ca ai un telefon Samsung este faptul ca pe capacul bateriei scrie… Samsung.

Displayul de 4,65” ii poate speria pe unii, facandu-i sa spuna ca e prea mare, dar te obisnuiesti repede cu marimea si la un moment dat chiar o apreciezi (un film HD prinde foarte bine intr-o calatorie cu trenul sau la un curs plictisitor la facultate 🙂 ). Castile cu care vine telefonul sunt intra-auriculare, redau sunetul bine, iar impreuna cu display-ul HD… aproape ca uiti ca vizionezi filme pe un telefon mobil.

O alta noutate cu care m-am distrat in noul Nexus este functia de face recognition. Obisnuit cu modalitatile vechi de unlock, am zis sa schimb putin si sa testez si “face recognition”. Zis si facut. Am intrat in meniu, am setat, mi-a recunoscut telefonul fata… si la teste! Si surprinzator, chiar merge. O chestie buna e ca, in cazul in care telefonul nu iti poate vedea fata (sa zicem ca e intuneric undeva), ai ca backup un pattern sau un pin. Evident, dupa ce te obisnuiesti cu el, e cam greu sa treci la alte telefoane, asa ca m-am trezit uitandu-ma cateva secunde la un Samsung Galaxy 2, pana sa imi dau seama ca trebuie sa “trag” de ecran ca sa il deblochez :).

Alt lucru care m-a surprins intr-un mod foarte placut a fost camera, precum si lucrurile derivate din aceasta, si anume interfata camerei, aplicatia Gallery si aplicatia Movie Maker. In primul rand, camera are cel mai rapid shutter pe care l-am vazut eu pe un telefon mobil. In al doilea rand, camera vine cu un mod “panorama” foarte interesant. Nu mai trebuie sa faci 3 poze, urmand ca telefonul sa ti le uneasca si sa iasa o singura poza. Acum, pornesti modul “panorama” si rotesti telefonul usor din stanga in dreapta, telefonul facand restul treburilor pentru tine. Pe langa acestea, au mai fost adaugate diferite facilitati (cum ar fi posibilitatea de a seta un background predefinit in filme, adaugarea de efecte filmelor / pozelor etc) care nu au putut decat sa ma multumeasca.

Oricum, per total pot spune ca sunt multumit cam in proportie de 90% de telefon. Singura problema pe care o am cu el este legata de baterie, care deocamdata se consuma prea repede pentru gustul meu, lucru care probabil ca va fi rezolvat cu ceva update-uri ale ICS-ului, si cu aplicatiile compatibile, care din nou, cel mai probabil vor fi rezolvate odata cu lansarea oficiala. In rest, telefonul este in acest moment unul dintre cele mai performante modele si exclusivitatea oferita de ICS, precum si restul tehnologiilor inglobate in el, il fac sa merite banii!