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13
Aug

Google reveals details about monthly security updates in new Android Security Google Group


Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 1.45.40 PM

The last few weeks have been pretty crazy in the world of Android security, and it all started with that pesky Stagefright exploit that came to light last month. In wake of the far-reaching vulnerability, Google, quickly followed by Samsung and LGannounced its plans to issue monthly security-focused over-the-air updates to Nexus devices, in addition to regular platform updates from here on out.

At the big Black Hat security conference that took place recently, lead engineer for Android security at Google Adrian Ludwig announced that Google would be more transparent with its security updates in the future. The company plans to do this by detailing all security-focused updates in the newly-created Android Security Updates Google Group. Basically, if you’re looking for more details about what’s in the current update for Nexus devices, this new Google Group is your go-to.


Google-logo-aa16x9See also: How is Google fixing the Stagefright vulnerability that affects 95% of all Android phones?1310633

Looking through the Group, it’s easy to see that Google is taking this stuff seriously. All of the updates in the Group so far are a tad confusing and technical, but all of the information is there if you’d like to learn more.

13
Aug

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ availability – what we know so far


samsung galaxy note 5 first look aa (27 of 41)

Samsung has just announced its new Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ handsets here in New York. If you can’t tell by the photo attached above, these are some really nice smartphones. And if you’re already wondering where you can pick one up, we’ve got you covered. Just note that since Samsung announced these phones a few hours ago, some carriers and retailers have yet to announce their plans to carry the devices. We’ll be sure to update this post as we learn more.

Both devices will be available on Friday, August 21st, and you can place your pre-orders starting today at 3pm ET. Here’s a list of carriers and retailers who have announced plans to sell the devices:

United States availability

Verizon

Samsung Galaxy Note 5:

  • 32GB – $29 per month for 24 months, $696 full retail
  • 64GB – $33 per month for 24 months, $792 full retail

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+:

  • 32GB – $32 per month for 24 months, $768 full retail
  • 64GB – $36 per month for 24 months, $864 full retail

T-Mobile

Samsung Galaxy Note 5:

  • 32GB – $28.50 per month for 18 months, $29.17 per month for 24 months, $699.99 full retail

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+:

  • 32GB – $25 per month for 18 months, $32.50 per month for 24 months, $779.99 full retail

You can also score one free year of Netflix if you purchase either phone through T-Mobile. All you need to do is pre-register at this link before August 20th and place an order for your phone by September 30th.

Sprint

Samsung Galaxy Note 5:

  • 32GB – $249.99 with two-year contract, $25 per month on Sprint Lease, $30 per month on Sprint Easy Pay, $720 full retail
  • 64GB – $349.99 with two-year contract, $30 per month on Sprint Lease, $35 per month on Sprint Easy Pay, $816 full retail

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+:

  • 32GB – $349.99 with two-year contract, $30 per month on Sprint Lease, $35 per month on Sprint Easy Pay, $792 full retail
  • 64GB – $449.99 with two-year contract, $33 per month on Sprint Lease, $37 per month on Sprint Easy Pay, $888 full retail

You can also score a $200 trade-in credit if you turn in your old phone for one of the new Galaxy devices. You can also get a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 with activation and a new two-year service agreement.

AT&T

Samsung Galaxy Note 5:

  • 32GB – $249.99 with a two-year contract, $739.99 full retail
    • Next 24 (30 months) – $24.67 per month
    • Next 18 (24 months) – $30.84 per month
    • Next 12 (20 months) – $37.00 per month
  • 64GB – $349.99 with a two-year contract, $839.99 full retail
    • Next 24 (30 months) – $28 per month
    • Next 18 (24 months) – $35 per month
    • Next 12 (20 months) – $42 per month

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+:

  • 32GB – $299.99 with a two-year contract, $814.99 full retail
    • Next 24 (30 months) – $27.17 per month
    • Next 18 (24 months) – $33.96 per month
    • Next 12 (20 months) – $37.17 per month
  • 64GB – $399.99 with a two-year contract, $914.99 full retail
    • Next 24 (30 months) – $30.50 per month
    • Next 18 (24 months) – $38.13 per month
    • Next 12 (20 months) – $45.75 per month

New customers can get a $100 bill credit and $200 buyback credit if they turn in their old phone to AT&T and purchase a new Galaxy device. Current customers on AT&T’s Next program will get at least a $200 trade in value for a new Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6 Edge+.

U.S. Cellular

Samsung Galaxy Note 5:

  • 32GB – $199.99 with a two-year contract

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+:

  • 32GB – $299.99 with a two-year contract

As of right now, there’s no word as to how much each 64GB variant will cost, or installment plan options. We’ll update this section as we learn more.

United Kingdom availability

As we reported earlier, Samsung has no plans to bring the Galaxy Note 5 to the U.K., let alone all of Europe. The reasons for this decision are currently unknown but we’ll try to reach out for more clarification.

As for the Galaxy S6 Edge+, pre-orders will commence in the U.K. on August 18th, with the handset officially launching on September 4th.

Know any others?

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus Hands On-33

Those are all the regions and carriers we know so far, but we’ll keep updating as we learn more. Did we miss something? Make sure to let us know in the comments. Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the new smartphones, feel free to check out our previous coverage that we’ve linked below.

13
Aug

Apple Releases New Diversity Numbers, Hired Over 11,000 Women in Past Year


Apple has released updated diversity numbers that provide a breakdown of the company’s workforce based on gender, race and ethnicity in 2015. The new data reveals that Apple hired over 11,000 women globally over the past year, a 65% increase over the previous year, in addition to 2,200 Black employees, a 50% year-over-year increase, and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66% increase over the previous year.

applediversity2015
Apple says that is has hired more diverse candidates in 2015 than any year to date, with the percentage of new hires in the past year broken down as follows: 35% Women (Global), 19% Asian (U.S.), 13% Hispanic (U.S.), 11% Black (U.S.). Apple’s global gender split is now 69% male and 31% female, a marginal change from last year’s 70% male-30% female split.

Apple-diversity-2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook:

Diversity is critical to innovation and it is essential to Apple’s future. We aspire to do more than just make our company as diverse as the talent available to hire. We must address the broad underlying challenges, offer new opportunities, and create a future generation of employees as diverse as the world around us. We also aspire to make a difference beyond Apple.

Apple’s overall race and ethnicity breakdown in the United States is now 54% White, 18% Asian, 11% Hispanic, 8% Black, 2% Multiple, 1% Other and 6% Undeclared. The data reflects the past year through June 27, 2015 and varies when broken down into individual categories including tech, non-tech, leadership, retail and retail leadership.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


13
Aug

Speck Announces New CandyShell Inked Luxury Edition Cases for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus


Popular iPhone case maker Speck today debuted a new set of cases in its CandyShell lineup, the Inked Luxury Edition. Like other CandyShell cases, Speck’s Inked Luxury Edition cases offer a dual-layer design that combines a rigid plastic outer shell with a rubber interior to offer protection from drops without a huge amount of additional bulk.

speckcandyshell1
We were able to check out the Inked Luxury Edition cases in person ahead of launch. They’re quite similar to Speck’s existing Inked CandyShell cases, but the designs incorporate metallic colors. There are eight different designs available, ranging from floral to geometric, and the designs wrap all the way around the cases. Design wise, there’s a lot of variety to suit different tastes.

speckcandyshell2
According to Speck, the Luxury Edition cases underwent a “highly technical” printing process that ensures the patterns on the case are resistant to fading and scratching. Speck has also had a third-party test the cases to make sure the metallic finish would not interfere with signal strength.

For those unfamiliar with the CandyShell cases, they’re not quite as thin as the Apple leather and silicone cases, so they do add some bulk to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The cases are in no way minimal, but they don’t add as much extra weight and size as something like an Otterbox case. For those who don’t mind cases, the CandyShell is a solid compromise between protection and bulk.

speckcandyshell3
CandyShell cases offer protection for the volume and power buttons in the form of rubber covers, and there’s a rubber lip that extends up over the edges of the phone to protect the display when it’s placed face down on a surface. The case is also thick enough that it protects the protruding camera in the back.

speckcandyshell4
The CandyShell Inked Luxury Edition cases are available today from the Speck website and in Best Buy stores across the United States. The iPhone 6 version is available for $49.95, while the iPhone 6 Plus version is available for $54.95. Speck’s site is currently offering orders through Best Buy at 25 percent off, bringing pricing down to $37.49 and $41.24 respectively.


13
Aug

Fixing ‘Stagefright’ flaw on Android is harder than we thought


The Stagefright vulnerability for Android won’t seem to want to go away. According to Exodus Intelligence researchers one of the patched issued by Google could still allow access to Android devices. The researchers told Engadget via email, “the summary is that the Stagefright vulnerability is still exploitable and the 4-line patch that was implemented is faulty. We have been able to trigger the fault that still affects over 950 million Android devices.” The issue with the patch was reported to Google which open sourced the patch for the patch this morning.

Google told Engadget,”currently over 90 of Android devices have a technology called ASLR enabled, which protects users from this issue. We’ve already sent the fix to our partners to protect users, and Nexus 4/5/6/7/9/10 and Nexus Player will get the OTA update in the September monthly security update.”

Of course, like with all things Android, outside of the Nexus line, it’s a wait and see situation when it comes to updates from phone makers. Hopefully they’ll be hitting phones and tablets in the near future. But with only six days notice, Exodus Intelligence didn’t give Google or its partners much time to get the patch ready.

Traditionally, researchers give companies 30 days notice about a security issue. This gives both parties adequate time to work on a patch and share information. In the post about the patch issue, the researchers explained that it decided to forgo the usual 30 days because the original issue was reported over 120 days ago, Google was still issuing the faulty patch and the amount of attention the original vulnerability had attracted.

So keep on the lookout for this new patch to fix the old patch.

Filed under:
Misc, Software, Google

Comments

Source:
Exodus Intelligence

Tags: Android, ExodusIntelligence, google, security, Stagefright, vulnerability

13
Aug

Where kids can hack without getting in trouble


In a ballroom in Bally’s Vegas casino, kids are lined up on either side of a table with soldering guns melting metal to metal. Their small hands deftly join LED to circuit board, while a few feet away other children are learning the basics of developing. In the back of the room, a group of children and their parents watch two preteen girls give a presentation on the cryptography found in a TV show. This is R00tz Asylum, the kid-friendly portion of the Def Con hacker conference. From the first-timers ripping apart various electronics to see what makes them tick, to the teenage hacker “CyFi,” who revealed her first zero-day exploit at age 10, R00tz is exposing children to the world of white-hat hacking to make the future digital of our world a bit safer.

This conference within a conference started five years ago. Teenagers had been attending Def Con for years, but according to co-founder Nico Sell, the idea of bringing young children was a subject of controversy among veteran attendees. While the event is designed to be inclusive, it’s also adult-oriented with first-time speakers having to take a shot on stage and language that’s more at home in Mad Max than The Lego Movie. The R00tz sessions are designed to explain hacking in a way that kids new to the scene can understand. It’s less intimidating than the regular conference, but it doesn’t skimp on the technology know-how, either.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sell estimates that 500 kids and parents participated in R00tz Asylum this year and that 80 percent were the children of veteran Def Con attendees. The recommended age range is 8 to 16, but I saw kids who were almost certainly younger than that. All that matters is that the child can grasp the concepts being presented. Regardless of age, it’s not a day care center; parents need to stick around. But from the looks on the faces of parents sharing their love of technology with their offspring, that wasn’t an issue. Also, like their adult counterparts, the kids are told to adhere to a code of conduct and only hack their own devices. It’s a code that will hopefully stick with them as they eventually move on to the larger Def Con convention as adults. But when that happens, R00tz Asylum will become off limits; adults are only allowed when accompanied by a child.

The Tesla and garage door hacks that made a huge splash at the Def Con conference (and in the media) were also presented to the children at R00tz Asylum. In addition to hacking, the program touched on larger issues, including a talk with author Cory Doctorow about abolishing DRM. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also shared its work on privacy and civil liberties.

Whatever the topic — whether they were watching a presentation or trying their hands at lock picking — the children were completely focused on the task at hand. It was actually weird. I expected at least a few kids to seem bored, wishing their parents would just let them play on their tablets. I thought there’d be at least a few rambunctious girls and boys running about causing problems. Instead, the only running I saw was between workstations and the only voices I heard were questions about soldering, lock picking or hardware components.

It turns out children really love learning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The end game is to get kids excited about a career or at least a hobby in security research (aka hacking). But it’s not exactly presented that way. “If you say to a group of kids, ‘Hey, who wants to learn about security and privacy,’ two kids raise their hand,” said Sell. “If you say, ‘Who wants to learn to eavesdrop on cellphones or hack a Tesla?’ every kid will raise their hand because it’s fun.”

That’s a good thing, because as more and more devices get embedded computers, there’s going to be a bigger need for more security researchers. And that, says Sell, presents a problem. “We have a huge shortage of hacking skill set in the adult population,” she said. Indeed, the think tank Rand Corporation highlighted the security researcher shortage in the US and its impact on national security in 2014. Those researchers have to come from somewhere and right now it looks like they’re not coming from the nation’s schools. In particular, according to the Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. More alarming, the US is ranked 25th globally in math and 17th in science among industrialized nations.

“I’m into building and destroying.”

Plus, there’s the issue of diversity. While I saw more female attendees at Def Con than at other tech events, it was still heavily male-dominated. The R00tz area, at least, looked to have a 50/50 split of girls and boys both attending and presenting.

I spoke to a few of the kids while they worked on their projects. At least I attempted to talk to them. Only one child actually gave me her full attention and that was only because someone was fixing an issue with her LED sign project. The eight-year-old was here with her parents and spent last year ripping electronics apart. This year she spent most of her time at the soldering workshop, “I’m into building and destroying,” she told Engadget. It was her second project of the day. The first was an Ethernet sniffer.

After a minute or so, she wanted to get back to her project. Chatting with a journalist isn’t a priority; solving problems and building things are far more important.

Filed under:
Misc

Comments

Source:
R00tz Asylum

Tags: DefCon, defcon2015, hacking, r00tsasylum, R00tzAsylum, security

13
Aug

‘I Dream of Wires’ synth documentary is streaming on Netflix


Lowlands Festival Day 1

Looking to learn about the history of modular synthesizers? The documentary I Dream of Wires serves as a primer and it’s now streaming on Netflix in the US. If you don’t happen to live in the States, the film from Robert Fantinatto and Jason Amm is also available on-demand from Vimeo and for purchase over at iTunes. Featuring interviews with Trent Reznor, Gary Numan and others, the documentary focuses on “exploring the passions, obsessions and dreams” of those who are smitten with the instruments. Sounds like some solid weekend viewing if you ask us.

[Image credit: Mark Venema/Getty Images]

Filed under:
Misc, Home Entertainment

Comments

Via:
Synthtopia

Source:
Netflix

Tags: audio, instrument, modular, modularsynthesizer, music, netflix, streaming, synth, synthesizer, vimeo

13
Aug

Hands-on with Samsung’s clever Keyboard Cover for phones


One of the biggest surprises announced at today’s blowout Samsung media event was also one of the smallest gadgets: An $80 accessory called the Keyboard Cover. As the name suggests, it’s a cover that also lets you add physical keys to the Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+, and the smaller Galaxy S6 phones. It consists of two parts, a rear panel that offers some basic protection, and a keyboard panel that snaps onto the front of your phone. We fought through the crowds to get our hands on the Keyboard Cover, and came away mostly impressed. Slideshow-312538

First off, the Keyboard Cover simply feels great. It doesn’t add much heft to the phone, and the keys themselves are well separated and offer a decent amount of feedback. It’s not as fluid as BlackBerry’s keyboards, but I was able to start typing easily with very few errors (and I’m not exactly a master of tiny phone keyboards). The process of attaching and removing the Keyboard Cover was also very simple. Samsung’s phones will automatically readjust their displays to make room for the cover (it relies on sensors to be detected, not Bluetooth), and it stows away easily on the back when you don’t need it.

I’d have to spend more time with the Keyboard Cover to make a final judgement, but overall it seems like a particularly smart product for Samsung. It addresses an issue with a (small) portion of its users, and it’s also surprisingly well implemented. The cover doesn’t feel cheap and the typing experience is pretty satisfying. I’ve gotten used to dealing with software keyboards, but it honestly felt refreshing to have traditional keys under my fingers again.

While it’s hard to imagine many people will shell out $80 for an accessory like this, it might be just the thing diehard keyboard fans might want. If anything, it should be appealing to the productivity crowd that the larger Note phones already target.

Filed under:
Misc, Mobile, Samsung

Comments

Tags: KeyboardCover, keyboards, mobilepostcross, samsung, SamsungUnpacked2015

13
Aug

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Note 5: a thorough comparison


Samsung is definitely trying something new with the Note 5. I guess they weren’t satisfied with the Note 4 sales, and dramatically overhauled the design, as well as eliminating the device from Europe altogether. I honestly have no idea why Samsung would choose to eliminate the Note line from Europe, and I am sure this is quite disappointing to those who wish to buy the Note 5. Samsung claims they have been listening to the consumers, which means the consumers have been clamoring for a drastic change in the core of the Note line. And I guess consumers in Europe must hate the Note because Samsung doesn’t want to sell it to them anymore.

Anyways, the announcement has come and gone, and now it is time for a comparison.

From the live stream, the VP of Samsung mobile said they focused on making the device easier to hold, and making it easier to fit into people’s pants who wear “skinny jeans”. Man those people with skinny jeans sure have a loud voice because they brought about a design revolution in the Note series.

The most obvious change between the Note 4 and the Note 5 is the design and build. Samsung opted to go for a premium build in the Note 5 be removing all plastic and swapping it for curved glass on the back of the phone. They also improved the strength of the metal frame. Samsung claimed to make the Note 5 smaller than the Note 4, and they did but marginally. They shaved almost 2mm from the width, 1mm for the thickness, and reduced the weight by 5g(Note 4 weighs 176g and the Note 5 weighs 171g). I’m not sure how reducing the width by 2mm, and the thickness by 1mm helps those with skinny jeans, but I wear chubby jeans so I would need help with this analysis.

In terms of design, the Note 5 looks like a blown up version of the S6 with a stylus.

As good as it looks, I am not a fan of a glass back because it is one more piece that can shatter if it is dropped and even worse, glass will attract greasy fingerprints. The soft plastic back on the Note 4 was definitely a positive when it came to durability and eliminating fingerprints.

The Note 5 is a revolution in terms of design for the Note line. I think the Note 5 and the S6 both look great, but the Note 4 was not a bad looking device either.

Storage

Like the Note 4, the Note 5 will come in 32GB and 64GB models. But unlike the Note 4, the Note 5 will NOT have expandable memory. For Note 4 users, having the ability to add 128GB of memory through a microsd card offered a cheaper alternative to paying $100 for the 64GB model. It also allowed Note 4 users to interchange memory cards if needed.

Samsung made the decision to remove expandable memory from the Note 5, bucking the trend of what other manufacturers are offering. I really don’t understand this move and I certainly do not believe they were listening to consumers as all other flagship devices offer expandable memory including the 2015 Moto X.

Stylus

The famous S Pen got a minor upgrade in how it is removed from the phone. Rather than using a fingernail to grasp the ridges at the bottom of the S Pen, like on the Note 4, Samsung added a spring loaded mechanism – now you push on the stylus and it will pop out.

In addition, Samsung continued its tradition of adding great features to the S Pen like writing on the device when the screen is off. This sounds cool, but writing without seeing is something that will be new to almost all of us. They also added “Write on PDF” which allows users to edit and annotate PDF documents using the S Pen. This sounds very useful if you deal with PDF files like I do.

note5-s-pen-features

 

CPU and RAM

No iteration would go without an upgrade to the CPU, and the Note 5 did that by taking the processor from the S6 and putting it in the Note 5. The Note 3 and Note 4 both had better processors than their S counterparts, so this is a recent change for Samsung. Benchmark tests for the Samsung Exynos 7420 show that it is the top performing CPU at the moment, although by Note standards, having the same processor as the S6 is disappointing as Note users typically want more.

Although Samsung did upgrade the RAM to 4GB which should help with some of the additional features brought to the S Pen.

Both the CPU and RAM should provide a quality experience. Although the Note 4 is no slouch and still ranks near the top of benchmark tests.

Display

The Note 4 display is fantastic. Samsung’s Super AMOLED display is the best display on the market. Contrast ratio and spectacular colors are something you just can’t appreciate until you see the display for yourself. The Note 5 maintained the Note 4’s display size of 5.7″, pixel density of 500+, and 2k resolution. Simply put, the display is the same and that is nothing to balk at. Samsung still maintains its lead on displays through the Note 4 AND Note 5.

Camera

As shown in Josh’s camera comparison test, the S6 camera is special. Samsung realized they hit the nail on the head with this camera and opted to put it in the Note 5. The camera comes as a 16MP shooter with optical image stabilization(OIS), and features a F/ 1.9 aperture which should help it take better low-light shots. The camera is also capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps, and 120fps for slow-motion. Samsung has bridged the gap between mobile devices and DSLR cameras. There really isn’t much need for a standard point-and-shoot camera these days if you can get your hands on the Note 5 camera.

The Note 4 also has a 16MP shooter with OIS, but doesn’t quite match up to the photo quality of the S6 and and Note 5. If Josh can get his hands on both Note devices, I would love to see a head to head comparison of photos between the two devices.

Battery

Sadly, this is one area where all fans will be disappointed. Samsung decided to shrink the Note 4’s 3220mAh battery down to 3000mAh for the Note 5. Samsung claims their new processor is much more energy efficient than the Snapdragon 805, which allowed them to shrink the battery. The Note 5 is rated at 21 hours of talk time whereas the Note 4 is rated at 20 hours. Regardless, Note users can never have enough power so this is a disappointment to see Samsung sacrifice .9mm in thickness for a smaller battery.

The bigger issue for most Note users is with the new design of a fixed back plate. Samsung allowed users to access their battery in the Note 4, which was a favorite for power users as all they needed to do was swap a battery to get back to 100% power.

note5-fast-wireless

However, Samsung did add built-in wireless charging into the Note 5, whereas the Note 4 was capable if you changed the back plate to enable wireless charging.

Summary

When I logged into the Androidguys chat group of writers, I noticed a few of them saying how they are excited about the new S6 Plus and the new Note 5. None of them are Samsung loyalists as they all use everything but Samsung, with exception to Josh Noriega who recently switched to the S6 Edge as his first Samsung device. Maybe Samsung is onto something by focusing on design over function. Those of us who have loved Samsung galaxy devices loved them for being different. We clamored over the ability to swap batteries, add SD cards, and things of that sort. Up until the Galaxy S6 Edge and now the Note 5, the writers I work with never really considered a Galaxy device.

The Galaxy Note 5 is nothing to sneeze at and it is one heck of a powerhouse. It comes with the fastest processor available today with 4GB of RAM running on Android 5.1. It is without a doubt a great phone, but not so much so when you compare it to the Note 4.

Even reading through early analysis on popular sites such as Engadget, I see that many people are excited for the Note 5 and S6 Plus, but I can tell you as an actual Samsung fan I am thoroughly disappointed. I feel unheard and unwanted by Samsung. If they can gain better profits and sales through a new customer base, then I applaud them for appeasing their shareholders. I can without a doubt say I care more about functionality over beauty. The sales numbers will speak for themselves and will prove Samsung right or wrong with their drastic changes in the Note line.

 

 

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The post Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Note 5: a thorough comparison appeared first on AndroidGuys.

13
Aug

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Note 5: a thorough comparison


Samsung is definitely trying something new with the Note 5. I guess they weren’t satisfied with the Note 4 sales, and dramatically overhauled the design, as well as eliminating the device from Europe altogether. I honestly have no idea why Samsung would choose to eliminate the Note line from Europe, and I am sure this is quite disappointing to those who wish to buy the Note 5. Samsung claims they have been listening to the consumers, which means the consumers have been clamoring for a drastic change in the core of the Note line. And I guess consumers in Europe must hate the Note because Samsung doesn’t want to sell it to them anymore.

Anyways, the announcement has come and gone, and now it is time for a comparison.

From the live stream, the VP of Samsung mobile said they focused on making the device easier to hold, and making it easier to fit into people’s pants who wear “skinny jeans”. Man those people with skinny jeans sure have a loud voice because they brought about a design revolution in the Note series.

The most obvious change between the Note 4 and the Note 5 is the design and build. Samsung opted to go for a premium build in the Note 5 be removing all plastic and swapping it for curved glass on the back of the phone. They also improved the strength of the metal frame. Samsung claimed to make the Note 5 smaller than the Note 4, and they did but marginally. They shaved almost 2mm from the width, 1mm for the thickness, and reduced the weight by 5g(Note 4 weighs 176g and the Note 5 weighs 171g). I’m not sure how reducing the width by 2mm, and the thickness by 1mm helps those with skinny jeans, but I wear chubby jeans so I would need help with this analysis.

In terms of design, the Note 5 looks like a blown up version of the S6 with a stylus.

As good as it looks, I am not a fan of a glass back because it is one more piece that can shatter if it is dropped and even worse, glass will attract greasy fingerprints. The soft plastic back on the Note 4 was definitely a positive when it came to durability and eliminating fingerprints.

The Note 5 is a revolution in terms of design for the Note line. I think the Note 5 and the S6 both look great, but the Note 4 was not a bad looking device either.

Storage

Like the Note 4, the Note 5 will come in 32GB and 64GB models. But unlike the Note 4, the Note 5 will NOT have expandable memory. For Note 4 users, having the ability to add 128GB of memory through a microsd card offered a cheaper alternative to paying $100 for the 64GB model. It also allowed Note 4 users to interchange memory cards if needed.

Samsung made the decision to remove expandable memory from the Note 5, bucking the trend of what other manufacturers are offering. I really don’t understand this move and I certainly do not believe they were listening to consumers as all other flagship devices offer expandable memory including the 2015 Moto X.

Stylus

The famous S Pen got a minor upgrade in how it is removed from the phone. Rather than using a fingernail to grasp the ridges at the bottom of the S Pen, like on the Note 4, Samsung added a spring loaded mechanism – now you push on the stylus and it will pop out.

In addition, Samsung continued its tradition of adding great features to the S Pen like writing on the device when the screen is off. This sounds cool, but writing without seeing is something that will be new to almost all of us. They also added “Write on PDF” which allows users to edit and annotate PDF documents using the S Pen. This sounds very useful if you deal with PDF files like I do.

note5-s-pen-features

 

CPU and RAM

No iteration would go without an upgrade to the CPU, and the Note 5 did that by taking the processor from the S6 and putting it in the Note 5. The Note 3 and Note 4 both had better processors than their S counterparts, so this is a recent change for Samsung. Benchmark tests for the Samsung Exynos 7420 show that it is the top performing CPU at the moment, although by Note standards, having the same processor as the S6 is disappointing as Note users typically want more.

Although Samsung did upgrade the RAM to 4GB which should help with some of the additional features brought to the S Pen.

Both the CPU and RAM should provide a quality experience. Although the Note 4 is no slouch and still ranks near the top of benchmark tests.

Display

The Note 4 display is fantastic. Samsung’s Super AMOLED display is the best display on the market. Contrast ratio and spectacular colors are something you just can’t appreciate until you see the display for yourself. The Note 5 maintained the Note 4’s display size of 5.7″, pixel density of 500+, and 2k resolution. Simply put, the display is the same and that is nothing to balk at. Samsung still maintains its lead on displays through the Note 4 AND Note 5.

Camera

As shown in Josh’s camera comparison test, the S6 camera is special. Samsung realized they hit the nail on the head with this camera and opted to put it in the Note 5. The camera comes as a 16MP shooter with optical image stabilization(OIS), and features a F/ 1.9 aperture which should help it take better low-light shots. The camera is also capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps, and 120fps for slow-motion. Samsung has bridged the gap between mobile devices and DSLR cameras. There really isn’t much need for a standard point-and-shoot camera these days if you can get your hands on the Note 5 camera.

The Note 4 also has a 16MP shooter with OIS, but doesn’t quite match up to the photo quality of the S6 and and Note 5. If Josh can get his hands on both Note devices, I would love to see a head to head comparison of photos between the two devices.

Battery

Sadly, this is one area where all fans will be disappointed. Samsung decided to shrink the Note 4’s 3220mAh battery down to 3000mAh for the Note 5. Samsung claims their new processor is much more energy efficient than the Snapdragon 805, which allowed them to shrink the battery. The Note 5 is rated at 21 hours of talk time whereas the Note 4 is rated at 20 hours. Regardless, Note users can never have enough power so this is a disappointment to see Samsung sacrifice .9mm in thickness for a smaller battery.

The bigger issue for most Note users is with the new design of a fixed back plate. Samsung allowed users to access their battery in the Note 4, which was a favorite for power users as all they needed to do was swap a battery to get back to 100% power.

note5-fast-wireless

However, Samsung did add built-in wireless charging into the Note 5, whereas the Note 4 was capable if you changed the back plate to enable wireless charging.

Summary

When I logged into the Androidguys chat group of writers, I noticed a few of them saying how they are excited about the new S6 Plus and the new Note 5. None of them are Samsung loyalists as they all use everything but Samsung, with exception to Josh Noriega who recently switched to the S6 Edge as his first Samsung device. Maybe Samsung is onto something by focusing on design over function. Those of us who have loved Samsung galaxy devices loved them for being different. We clamored over the ability to swap batteries, add SD cards, and things of that sort. Up until the Galaxy S6 Edge and now the Note 5, the writers I work with never really considered a Galaxy device.

The Galaxy Note 5 is nothing to sneeze at and it is one heck of a powerhouse. It comes with the fastest processor available today with 4GB of RAM running on Android 5.1. It is without a doubt a great phone, but not so much so when you compare it to the Note 4.

Even reading through early analysis on popular sites such as Engadget, I see that many people are excited for the Note 5 and S6 Plus, but I can tell you as an actual Samsung fan I am thoroughly disappointed. I feel unheard and unwanted by Samsung. If they can gain better profits and sales through a new customer base, then I applaud them for appeasing their shareholders. I can without a doubt say I care more about functionality over beauty. The sales numbers will speak for themselves and will prove Samsung right or wrong with their drastic changes in the Note line.

 

 

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