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Samsung’s next Unpacked event is January 14

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Samsung’s next flagship is set to debut January 14. The company just confirmed earlier rumors surrounding the date for its next Unpacked event (virtually, of course). This one sports the name, “Welcome to the Everyday Epic.”

“Over the past year, mobile technology has taken center stage in everyday life as people are working remotely and spending more time at home,” the company writes. “The accelerated transition to a mobile-first world brings with it the need for devices that can transform everyday life into an extraordinary experience.”

The event’s timing is an interesting artifact of 2021’s wacky show scheduling, with the COVID-19 pandemic still very much being front of mind. Past Unpackeds were generally timed around Mobile World Congress. That show has been delayed until the summer, however, in hopes of returning to an in-person event. So Samsung has opted to kickstart sales a month or so earlier this year.

In fact, the event is a mere days after CES. Gone are the days a gadget journalist could take a few days to decompress after the year’s biggest hardware show. It also, perhaps, doesn’t bode well for Samsung’s announcements during CES itself (though the electronics giant has more than enough divisions to keep its presence at the show interesting).

Another odd change this year is the fact that you can already reserve the S21, sight unseen. There’s little doubt it will be a solid phone, though there are plenty of questions around how the company will up the ante in the era of flagging smartphone sales. The leaks so far have been kind of underwhelming, though Samsung’s usually got a couple of fun surprises up its sleeve.

We’ve already seen enough of the Galaxy Buds Pro that they don’t qualify as a surprise, exactly. But the company has a solid enough track record with earbuds that there’s reason to be excited. The AirPods Pro competitors are are said to be priced at a reasonable $199.

Samsung hasn’t announced the Galaxy S21 yet, but you can already reserve one


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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ hands-on

During an Unpacked event that featured the announcement of five key new devices, the Galaxy Tab S7 didn’t get a ton of love. Understandable, perhaps. It doesn’t quite have the star power of the Note line, nor does it have the novelty of a new foldable or Bluetooth earbuds. Tablets in general just aren’t exciting the way they once were.

But Samsung’s continued to plug away. The company makes a lot of tablets. That’s just kind of its thing. Why make one when you can make a dozen, each with different price points and target audiences? It’s the Galaxy Tab line, however, that’s always been the one to watch, providing a premium slate experience designed to complement its Galaxy handsets.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

In fact, in a world where Android tablets are largely the realm of budget devices, Samsung remains one of the few out there still manufacturing a device that can go head-to-head with the iPad. The latest model brings a number of key features, though the biggest of all isn’t available on the Tab S7+ review unit the company sent along.

The device will be among the first tablets to receive 5G connectivity. Pricing and availability are still forthcoming on that SKU, though, honestly, I don’t imagine a ton of people are going to be demanding cellular connectivity on their tablets as long as so many people continue working from home. When travel finally starts up again, that might be a different story.

The Galaxy Tab S7 will bring 5G to Samsung’s tablet line

That said, the model Samsung sent along just after the Unpacked event is a beast. It’s the specced-up version of the Tab S7+, which starts at $849. The higher tier bumps the RAM up from 6GB to 8GB and the storage from 128GB to 256GB. Add in the bleeding-edge Snapdragon 865+, and you’ve got an extremely capable machine on your hands here.

The design matches the premium specs. Gone is the plasticky design of early models, traded up for a sleek and sturdy glass and aluminum design. It’s a tablet that looks and feels as premium as its price tag indicates. It’s a bit heavy, though, at 1.26 pounds for the 12.4-inch model, versus 1.41 pounds for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The truth about these devices is they’re no longer designed to be held up above your face as you lie in bed.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

They are, of course, intended to be real multitasking work/play machines. I should note that I’m writing this as someone who continues to use a laptop for all of his work, but I can certainly appreciate the advances the category has made in recent years. I also know a handful of people who have mostly successfully traded in their work machines for a tablet, be it an Android device, Surface or iPad.

A tablet’s worth as a work machine is, of course, only as good as its case — a statement you can’t reasonably make about most products. Along with the device itself, Samsung has upgraded the case in a couple of nice ways. The typing experience doesn’t quite match a devoted laptop keyboard, but it’s been pretty well refined. The keys have a decent amount of travel and a nice spring for a laptop cover. The leather case also detaches into two pieces, so the back can be used as a stand, without the keyboard present. Of course, the trade-off for this sort of case is the fact that it can’t really be used on one’s lap without things falling and pieces detaching.

It wouldn’t be a Samsung tablet without the S Pen, of course. The peripheral is, thankfully, included. There’s no slot for the stylus (something I keep asking for but never get; life’s hard sometimes), but it does snap magnetically to the top of the device, albeit a bit weakly. Samsung has certainly built up a nice little ecosystem for the input device, and I’m pretty consistently impressed that it’s able to recognize and convert my chicken scratch. Seriously, my already terrible penmanship has only atrophied over time.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Points, too, for a beautiful OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Depending on what you’re looking to do with it, you might need to toggle that to save on battery life. Both models are pretty solid on that front, with 8,000 and 10,900 mAh, respectively, but the 5G models will no doubt take a hit.

Samsung is really pushing DeX hard — even harder than it has in the past. You can set it to automatically trigger the desktop approximation when you plug in the keyboard. The interface is an attempt to approximate something akin to the Windows desktop experience, but a number of apps still don’t support the interface and overall it still feels clunky. It’s easy to extrapolate a bit and imagine how it will improve things like multitasking, but it doesn’t feel like it’s quite all the way there.


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Here are all the things Samsung announced at today’s Unpacked event

Samsung’s first virtual Unpacked ranked somewhere between Microsoft and Apple’s recent events in terms of overall presentation and general awkwardness. The show kicked off seven minutes late, and a number of on-screen presenters certainly tended toward the more…awkward side of things, but overall, it was a decent first virtual event as the company embraces what it’s branded as “The Next Normal.”

Toward the end of the show, mobile head TM Roh noted, “Going forward, 5G and foldable will be the major pillars of Samsung’s future.” 5G is certainly a no-brainer. The event saw the company taking a step toward standardizing the next-gen wireless technology across its flagship mobile devices — as well as making its first appearance on the company’s tablets.

Image Credits: Samsung

As expected, the big news is the latest version of Samsung’s perennial favorite phablet line. The Note 20 gets 5G for both models and now comes in 6.7 and 6.9-inch models. The Ultra version gets a 120Hz refresh rate along with a hybridized 50x super zoom, using the same technology introduced with the Galaxy S20 earlier this year.

The most unsung addition might be UWB (ultra-wideband), which will enable a number of new features, including close proximity file sharing, a future unlock feature (with partner Assa Abloy) and a find my phone-style feature with an AR element. Xbox head Phil Spencer also made a brief remote cameo to announce Game Pass access, bringing more than 100 streaming titles to the device.

The models start at  $1,000 and $1,300, respectively. They’ll start shipping August 21.

New to the 5G game is the Galaxy Tab series. Samsung says the line includes “the first tablets that support 5G available in the United States.” The S7 and S7+ sport an 11 and 12.4-inch display, respectively, and start at $650 and $850, respectively. No word yet on pricing for the 5G versions.

Image Credits: Samsung

The event included a pair of new wearables. The more exciting of the two is probably the Galaxy Buds Live. Samsung has made consistently solid wireless earbuds, and the latest version finally introduce active noise canceling, along with some cool features like the ability to double as a mic for a connected Note device. The bean Buds are available today for $170.

Image Credits: Samsung

I’d be lying if I said the most exciting part of the Galaxy Watch 3 wasn’t the return of the physical bezel — long the best thing about Samsung’s smartwatches. Also notable is the addition of improved sleep and fitness tracking, along with an ECG monitor, which Samsung announced has just received FDA clearance. The Galaxy Watch 3 runs $400 and $430 for the 41mm and 45mm, respectively. There will also be LTE models, priced at $50 more.

Image Credits: Samsung

As for the foldable side of things, the event also found Samsung announcing its latest foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, with help from superstar boy band, BTS. The focus on the new version mostly revolves around fixing the numerous problems surrounding its predecessor. That includes a new glass reinforcement for the screen and a hinge that sweeps away debris that can fall in and break the screen in the process. More information on the foldable will be announced September 1.


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Do phones need to fold?

As Samsung (re)unveiled its clamshell folding phone last week, I kept seeing the same question pop up amongst my social circles: why?

I was wondering the same thing myself, to be honest. I’m not sure even Samsung knows; they’d win me over by the end, but only somewhat. The halfway-folded, laptop-style “Flex Mode” allows you to place the phone on a table for hands-free video calling. That’s pretty neat, I guess. But… is that it?

The best answer to “why?” I’ve come up with so far isn’t a very satisfying one: Because they can (maybe). And because they sort of need to do something.

Let’s time-travel back to the early 2000s. Phones were weird, varied and no manufacturers really knew what was going to work. We had basic flip phones and Nokia’s indestructible bricks, but we also had phones that swiveled, slid and included chunky physical keyboards that seemed absolutely crucial. The Sidekick! LG Chocolate! BlackBerry Pearl! Most were pretty bad by today’s standards, but it was at least easy to tell one model from the next.

(Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)

Then came the iPhone in 2007; a rectangular glass slab defined less by physical buttons and switches and more by the software that powered it. The device itself, a silhouette. There was hesitation to this formula, initially; the first Android phones shipped with swiveling keyboards, trackballs and various sliding pads. As iPhone sales grew, everyone else’s buttons, sliders and keyboards were boiled away as designers emulated the iPhone’s form factor. The best answer, it seemed, was a simple one.

Twelve years later, everything has become the same. Phones have become… boring. When everyone is trying to build a better rectangle, the battle becomes one of hardware specs. Which one has the fastest CPU? The best camera?

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Where are wearables going in 2020?

Apple has throttled the competition in another category.

During the company’s recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook noted the company’s wearable division now rivals the size of a Fortune 500 company. He failed to give more specifics, but the point is striking: between Apple Watch and AirPods, Cupertino has another juggernaut on its hands.

Apple’s wearable fortunes come from two distinct sub-categories: more mature wrist-worn devices that include smartwatches and wearable trackers (and all of the overlap therein) and fully wireless earbuds or “hearables,” as they’re sometimes known.

I’m pulling IDC numbers from December for the latest, but these seem to mostly comport with what I’ve been seeing from firms over the past year. Apple’s on top with a little more than a third of total global market share — nearly 200 percent growth over the prior year. That’s thanks in no small part to the addition of AirPods Pro to the mix. Though getting back to Apple’s recent earnings, Cook notes that three-quarters of Apple Watch purchases in the previous quarter were by people who were buying the device for the first time. So there’s plenty of growth there, as well.

Xiaomi is at a distant number two with around 15 percent of the market. That’s still a commanding presence, as the company has expanded into new markets (mostly in Europe) with devices that undercut the competition. Samsung found success at around 10 percent of the global market with its diversification (watches, earbuds and fitness trackers), while Huawei maintained a strong presence in China with 80 percent of its total shipments in its home country as it struggles with other issues abroad.

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A false start for foldables in 2019

A year from now, this is likely to have all blown over. A year from now, the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s turbulent takeoff may well be a footnote in the largest story of foldables. For now, however, it’s an important caveat that will come up in every conversation about the nascent product category.

How history remembers this particular debacle will depend on a number of different factors, the ultimate success of the category chief among them. If foldables do takeoff, the Galaxy Fold’s very public false start will be remembered as little more than a blip. There’s plenty of reasons to root for this — devices have seemingly hit the upper threshold of product footprint. If the trend toward larger screens continues, it’s going to take a clever form factor like this to accommodate that need. 

If foldables are relegated to the dustbin of history, however, the Fold misfire will take much of the heat. It’s clear that a trail of broken units will have little impact on Samsung’s bottom line. Two Galaxy Note 7 recalls were a testament to the hardware giant’s resilience in the public eye, after serving as a rounding error in the company’s bottom line that year. Sending some half-baked models to a handful of reviews wasn’t nearly as major of a mistake, but the category, much like the Fold itself, is in a fragile state.


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SD Times news digest: Saumsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro for enterprises, C++ inliner improvements, and Apache project updates

Samsung introduced the Galaxy XCover Pro, an enterprise-ready smartphone built for business. 

The Galaxy XCover Pro allows users to tailor their experience with two programmable keys to create custom actions with one click, simplifying things like opening a scanner, turning on a flashlight or launching a CRM app without having to swipe through apps, the company explained.

The phone is also protected by Samsung Knox, a defense-grade multi-layered security platform, which provides users with security features such as hardware-backed protection, data isolation and encryption and boot and run-time protection.

The full details on the new phone are available here.

C++ inliner improvements
Visual Studio 2019 versions 16.3 and 16.4 include improvements to the C++ inliner such as the ability to inline some routines after they have been optimized. 

Modules that make heavy use of Eigen will see a significant throughput improvement, according to Microsoft. The optimizer takes up to 25-50% less time for such repros. 

Microsoft added that depending on your application, users may see minor code quality improvements and/or major build-time (compiler throughput) improvements. 

The full details are available here.

The latest Apache project updates
The Apache Software Foundation listed many project updates from the previous week including the release of Apache Jackrabbit 2.20.0, Apache Commons Codec 1.14, OpenNLP 1.9.2, HttpComponents Core 5.0 beta 11 and the release of Apache Wicket 7.16.0 and 8.7.0.

The open-source content repository for the Java platform, Apache Jackrabbit 2.20.0, is an incremental feature release based on and compatible with earlier stable Jackrabbit 2.x releases.

The beta of Apache HttpComponents improves the handling of illegal or invalid requests on the server side and fixes a number of defects in HTTP/2 protocol code found since the last release, according to the Apache Software Foundation. 

The post SD Times news digest: Saumsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro for enterprises, C++ inliner improvements, and Apache project updates appeared first on SD Times.

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Samsung’s latest flagship and foldable appear set for a Feb 11 announcement

Odds are Samsung didn’t plan to leak news about its upcoming handsets the weekend before CES. But honestly, who knows at this point? A little early publicity never hurt. This one comes courtesy of a teaser video that got teased a little earlier than planned by way of the company’s official Vimeo channel. The leak was spotted by this individual on Twitter and posted to XDA Developers.

The video appears to be a promo for Unpacked, where Samsung is set to unveil its latest flagship, be it the Galaxy S11 or the Galaxy S20, depending which early reports you believe. The February 11 date lines up with some rumors (not to mention the synergy of 11), though others have had the company announcing the devices exactly a week later.

Samsung Unpacked leaked promo. Unpacked is confirmed for 2/11/20 pic.twitter.com/nQeT6i4aRp

— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) January 4, 2020

If past years are any indication, the event is likely set for San Francisco, keeping with the relatively recent trend of getting out in front of the Mobile World Congress news deluge by a couple of weeks.

Let’s talk Samsung Galaxy S11

The video animation also appears to point to a pair of devices. There’s a standard rectangle, likely representing the flagship device and a squarer foldable successor to last year’s troubled Galaxy Fold. Here are a bunch of rumors about the former. As for the latter, early speculation has pointed to a cheaper device, with a classic phone clamshell folding mechanism, akin to the recently announced Motorola Razr.

Notably, Samsung also recently announced a pair of “Lite” versions of its its flagship S10 and Note 10 devices.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch


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Wearable band shipments grew globally, driven by Xiaomi

Apple may dominate the wearable conversation here in the States, but things look a fair bit different on the other side of the world. In Asia, Xiaomi is the giant in the room. According to new numbers form Canalys, the Chinese manufacturer was the key driver in global growth.

Wearable band shipments grew 65%, year over year for Q3. Xiaomi continues to top the list, with an even more impressive 74% versus this time last year. That puts gives the company 27% of the total global wearable band market — its highest number since 2015.

Low prices have been the key to the company’s success, which have helped grow shipments in China by 60% overall. The company’s strategy has also rubbed off on competitors like Samsung and Fitbit (soon to be counted among Google’s numbers), which have sought to offer low cost devices in order to appeal to those users, particularly in Asia.

Huawei saw substantial growth for the quarter, as well, at 243% year over year, courtesy of strong sales in its native China. Those numbers helped the company hold onto third place globally, just ahead of Fitbit.

Even Apple is offering up lower cost devices by keeping older model Apple Watches around, hitting the $200 price point The company’s new, premium devices continue to dominate, however. The Series 5 comprise upwards of 60% of the company’s global shipments for the quarter.


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Let’s talk Samsung Galaxy S11

We’ve officially entered the mid-December hardware doldrums. Obviously no major hardware maker in its right mind is going to be announcing anything major in the next few weeks, for fear of preemptively cannibalizing holiday sales. Things will, however, heat up immediately after the new year with the kick off of CES. Then, a little over a month later, comes MWC.

Sandwiched somewhere in there is the launch of Samsung’s next flagship. This is the device that sets the tone for the company for the whole year. Samsung’s six month flagship release cycle (S series, followed by the Note) affords the company the ability to offer more frequent refreshes, but this first one is really a standard setter for both the company and the industry at large.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ review

A February 18 launch date has been floated for the next flagship. The timing certainly makes sense. Samsung has broken away from MWC — and big tech shows in general — for its biggest announcements. Doing so puts the spotlight on its own devices and beats the MWC news glut for a few weeks. Likely available for the devices will begin the following month.

As for the name — there’s no reason to believe the company would use this opportunity to break away from the S11/S11+ scheme this time out. So we’re going to stick with that until credibly informed otherwise.

The recently announced Snapdragon 865 will be powering the device in a number of markets, making the S11 among the first devices to launch with the latest flagship SoC. A recent report also suggests that the configuration will be available in even more markets, including, potentially its native South Korea. Standardized 5G seems possible across the board, though that’s likely going to mean an even more prohibitively expensive starting price. It’s a big jump, especially with a still-spotty rollout in many markets.

What we know about Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 865 and 765 chips

An under-screen front-facing camera has been rumored, but the more familiar hole punch seems a lot more likely for this gen. Renders (courtesy of OnLeaks) of the device point to a design similar to the most recent Note, only with an even more trypophobia-inducing design than the most recent iPhone and Google Pixel (which is saying something). The camera bump appears downright massive, monopolizing an impressive portion of the rear.

An impossible large 108 megapixel camera has been rumored for the device, along with 8K video. Either way, imagining is no doubt going to once again be a major focus for the line. So, too, is a healthy battery increase.

EVLeaks, meanwhile, is suggesting an EVEN LARGER screen, with the S11e measuring either 6.2 or 6.4 inches, the S11 at 6.7 inches and the S11+ at a huge 6.9 inches. Plenty more leaks sure to come between now and mid-February. Stay tuned. 


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