Samsung Preparing FOUR versions of Galaxy Note 10

Galaxy Note 10 Mock-up

For years, the Galaxy Note has been a larger and slightly improved version of the Galaxy S that was released four months prior. Of course, there’s the added pen support. This necessarily hasn’t been a bad thing, but it looks like things are about to change.

As Mashable explains, the Galaxy Note 10 could come in two display sizes – 6.28-inch and 6.75-inch. One is considered the “small” Note 10, and the other is the big one (Pro). One has to wonder if the 6.75-inch screen is really pushing it. Both phones are said to come in two versions — 5G and LTE.

Meanwhile, BGR has some news about the Note 10 Pro battery.

“According to Twitter leaker Ice Universe, the standard 4G model of the Galaxy Note 10 Pro will ship with a 4,500 mAh battery. This is a 500 mAh upgrade over the battery of 2018’s Galaxy Note 9, and equal to that of the Galaxy S10 5G (which is the highest-specced and most expensive of the current S10 models).”

The article adds that not only is there already a certified battery model number (EB-BN975ABU), but that it happens to line up with the model number of the 4G Note 10 Pro (SM-N975). It repeats the rumor that the the 4G Pro version of the Note 10 won’t have any buttons.

Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that Galaxy S10 sales have been very good — perhaps the best sales Samsung has encountered since the fateful summer of 2016, when the Note 7 was released and recalled. However, the strong sales have not been enough to help revenue declines.

Samsung should combine its Note and S series brand into one.

This is why I would suggest that Samsung combine the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note into one device. The Galaxy S10 and S10+ is practically the Galaxy Note — just without the pen. The combined device, if released in the spring of each upcoming year, could attract double the sales Samsung is used to. It’s also important to note that Samsung wouldn’t have to worry about competing with Apple in the fall. In fact, the next iPhone device is said to have stylus capabilities similar to that of the iPad Pro.

Back to the Note 10 — it’s likely that Samsung leaked the information early in order to take attention away from the Galaxy Fold disaster. It’s an old, but useful, PR tactic. Still, the sooner the Note 10 comes out, the better. And I’m willing to bet all versions will be available before August this year.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold: A Big Failure?

Samsung Galaxy Fold -- folded (left) and extended (right)

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was supposed to be released late last week. However, as some predicted, quality control problems took over. CBS News explains why.

“Samsung is pushing back this week’s planned public launch of its highly anticipated, $2,000 folding phone after reports that some reviewers’ phones were breaking. The company had been planning to release the Galaxy Fold on Friday, but instead it will now run more tests and announce a new launch date in the coming weeks.”

The article adds that several journalists reported that the inside screens were flickering, freezing, and even dying on their test units within the first couple of days. When two reviewers removed a plastic screen cover layer, the screen scratched easily.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is great for multitasking.

The site iFixit has an explanation for why many Galaxy Fold units aren’t working as promised.

“Traditional slab-style smartphones have their displays bonded to a Gorilla Glass panel, which is then glued onto the front of the phone for a water-tight seal. That doesn’t work for a foldable display that needs to bend and move, so the Galaxy Fold has a plastic display that rests on top of the phone and is held on only with a thin, plastic bezel that is glued along the edge.”

The Huawei Mate X is said to be better than the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

I’d say that I knew the Galaxy Fold was too good to be true, but I wasn’t even that impressed. The foldable phone that really impresses me is the Huawei Mate X. It’s thinner, has a nicer screen, and doesn’t look like it will fall apart when you pick it up. The 5G smartphone looks like it will be shipped in July  It was initially expected to be available earlier, but they are doing what Samsung didn’t — quality control.

In the meantime, as AnandTech points out, Samsung has delayed the Galaxy Fold. They will allegedly announce a new release date in the coming weeks, but it may be too late for a lot of people.

“We recently unveiled a completely new mobile category: a smartphone using multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold. We are encouraged by the excitement around the Galaxy Fold. While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience,” reads part of the press release.

Will the Samsung Galaxy Fold become the next Google Glass? Will the backlash against the Fold prevent other foldable smartphones from going mainstream. It’s really too soon to tell, but we’ll find out by the end of 2019.

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Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones Are Best In Class, But…

Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony has really made a comeback in the audio world. Anyone who lived through the 1980s and 1990s knows that Sony was groundbreaking with devices like the Walkman, the Discman, and even the MiniDisc player. And their headphones were out of this world.

Starting around the mid 1990s, Sony’s brand lost its luster. But when the era of Bluetooth headphones started becoming popular in the middle of this decade, Sony started giving brands such as Bose, Sennheiser, and Beats a run for their money. 2016′s MDR-1000X headphones introduced excellent sound with top-notch noise cancellation. 2017′s WH-1000XM2 made things even better.

Now, (and I know I am late to this since this model came out last year) we have the WH-1000XM3 headphones, which have even better noise cancellation (despite a flaw we’ll talk about in a little bit), slightly more even sound, better phone quality, and (finally) a USB-C port instead of an outdated USB-B one. Even though they still have a plastic build, the new Sony headphones feel more polished with deeper and more comfortable cushions for your ears.

The WH-1000XM3 offer a slightly more balanced sound that reminds me of Sennheiser’s sound spectrum. The bass isn’t as punchy, but it still kicks you. The highs are more prevalent, and the lows are slightly more recessed. But you can manipulate the sound in Sony’s app, though the new equalized sound never sounds as natural.

The phone quality keeps continuing as Sony updates its flagship pair of headphones. People on the other end tell me I sound clear and only slightly robotic. (I was more robotic with the WH-1000XM2 and practically useless with the MDR-1000X.) Sony needs to take the technology they are putting on the microphones for the WH-1000XM3 and add it to their other devices, which have horrible mic quality.

The big star of Sony’s latest earphones should be the noise cancellation. When you first use it, you will be amazed at the fact that you can barely hear anything (unless you choose the Ambient Sound mode). But after a couple hours of use, you will hear static and even some cracking. It almost sounds like you are in a windy forest. Of course, I’m not the only one with this issue. It doesn’t make the WH-1000XM3 unusable, but for $349, it’s a bummer. Especially if you are using the noise cancellation during long study breaks or even to sleep.

To be fair, Sony tells me it’s a hardware issue with my headphones and that they could send me a new pair. I will update this once they do. Still, besides the one major bug, the WH-1000XM3 Wireless are the best sounding and most versatile high-end Bluetooth 5.0 headphones on the market.

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Are Wired Headphones Becoming Extinct Despite Better Sound?

I just noticed something. Of course, only a geek like me can truly notice the fact that no matter where I go, I rarely see somebody using wired headphones these days. I have to say that it’s noticeably different than it was one year ago. Here is what I see people wearing the most, especially at the gym:

AirPods

Say what you want about the AirPods (I still think they’re great), but they are by far the most worn audio device. Everywhere you go, you see those white things hanging out of people’s ears. A couple of years ago, the hanging buds were considered weird. Now, they are the norm.
Bose SoundSport Free

I’m not to0 crazy about these (Sorry, Bose — I love your other products), but other people are. I see people wearing these all the time. While they do generally have better sound than the AirPods, the ease of using them is a whole other ballgame.

PowerBeats3

There are many wireless Beats headphones that I see people wear, but the PowerBeats3 seem to be the most popular among Dr. Dre’s brand, especially since they’re so portable and easy to pair. They seem to be substance over style, but only by a small fraction.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless

These are the most popular over-the-ear headphones on the market today — for a great reason. The sound quality is excellent, and the noise cancellation is so good it’s frightening.

Apple EarPods

Apple’s regular wired headphones are still somewhat popular. You still see some people at the gym with them, but you also know they are rapidly becoming outdated.

………………

The fact is that wired earphones still sound better than wireless ones. Think about it: Sound from wired headphones flows without barely (if any) interruption, while sound from Bluetooth headphones needs to be compressed in order to travel — and there is still interruption. There is also a denigration of sound quality, although most of it won’t be detected by the human ear. Codecs such as aptX and AAC are supposed to decrease the denigration of the compressed sound.

Perhaps we need headphones to use the Wi-Fi spectrum instead of the Bluetooth wireless one. However, the battery life of Wi-Fi headphones would be a huge issue. As long as people are happy with their Bluetooth headphones, the industry won’t make any compromises. But audiophiles like me still notice a difference between wired and wireless sound quality.

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The Days Of Compromised ‘Butterfly’ Keyboards Are Over

The MacBook Pro is desperate for an upgrade.

Trust me, the next MacBook Pro won’t have a Butterfly keyboard. There won’t be much travel to the keys, but there will at least by some. There will be no crunchy clicks. That is so 2017 by now.

For those of you who have been stuck in a coma since 2015, Apple tried to make their notebooks even lighter by compromising their much-loved keyboard. They replaced it with a “Butterfly” keyboard, which has 40 percent smaller keys that are supposedly more accurate. The travel that keyboard warriors are used to is replaced by a crunchy feeling.

There have been problems with Apple’s keyboard since it was introduced in 2015. Many owners complained of small crumbs or dust that would get under the keys and make them inoperable.

As Business Insider explains, Apple has said it is aware there are a “small number” of users having problems with their third-generation butterfly keyboard (as well as previous generations). They have even developed a Keyboard Service Program. In most situations, Apple only needs to replace individual keys. In other cases, they need to replace the entire keyboard.

A lot of people are mocking Apple’s “small number” statement.

“They really tried to downplay the issue by saying ‘small number.’ Most people who have the keyboard seem to have issues. I have a MacBook Air 2018 and the ‘e’ key clicks itself twice sometimes,” says MacRumors forum member Rosegoldoli.

“To show how widespread this problem is, just go to ANY Apple store and try out their laptops with this butterfly keyboard. You’ll find several of them with broken keys,” says Mozumder.

Actually, I’ve gone to the Apple Store in Irvine and Glendale, CA over the past three days. Both stores had at least two MacBook Pro models on display that had defective keys. I’m surprised Apple still keeps their devices with defective keyboards on display. But they won’t have to worry much longer.

If Apple wants to survive in notebook market, the Butterfly keyboard has to go.

The MacBook Pro is expected to be updated this year — possibly by the Christmas season. There are rumors that Apple is releasing a 13-inch and 16-inch version of Apple’s classic notebook. The most important rumor, however, is that Apple will revise the keyboard. This really isn’t a “rumor” as much as it is is given. If Apple doesn’t change the keyboard, they’ll be left in the dust more than they currently are by current PC notebooks.

I would like to see Apple offer OLED screens this time around like Dell and HP are, although Apple’s True-Tone displays are the closest to perfection as LED screens can get. No matter what Apple offers, you can bet that the price tag will be astronomical.

 

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Apple’s Real AirPods Upgrade Is Coming In April

The PowerBeats Pro Earbuds may be Apple's best.

Well, this certainly is a spin on what was a disappointing announcement on the AirPods 2, which are now available. Apparently, Apple’s new groundbreaking earbuds are going to be the PowerBeats Pro. (Remember, Beats is currently owned by Apple.)

According to 9to5Mac, the “true wireless” version of Beats’ PowerBeats earphones arrive in April. They look just like the popular PowerBeats2 headphones, except they don’t have a wire holding them together. They look like fins with round speakers that fit into your ears. That’s a good thing. But even though one may look slightly ridiculous at first, the public could become used to it. Remember when the AirPods first came out and people looked strange with those white things hanging from their ears? Well, now everybody wears them.

There is still some negativity surrounding Beats, a company that once showed far more style than substance. However, things have been much different since Apple took ownership. For example, the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones are well-built, have excellent sound, and excellent noise cancellation. In some ways, they are more comfortable than competing headphones by Bose and Sony. Beats is the real deal.

Beats has made some excellent wireless headphones lately.

The PowerBeats Pro will have the same H1 chip that the AirPods 2 has. It will also respond to the “Hey, Siri” voice prompt. But how will these work with Android devices? It’s unlikely they’ll have the aptX codec that Samsung smartphones have. And nobody knows if the PowerBeats Pro buds will work with Google Assistant, though it’s very likely. The battery life of the buds also is a mystery, but they should offer at least five hours on a single charge.

The PowerBeats Pro will likely run $199, but nobody knows for sure. From an expert perspective, I would still recommend the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. In a previous review, I said they are great but not for everybody. However, with some updates, they have become great….for everybody. $299 is a high price tag, but the Momentum True Wireless have audio codecs for just about every kind of device.

Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless earbuds are still the best.

I’m still hoping Apple will come up with the “ultimate” earbuds someday. If any company can create hassle-free wireless earbuds with all-day battery life, Apple could. But for now, the PowerBeats Pro buds look like Apple is at least moving things into the right direction.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 Vs. Galaxy S10+


Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+

My impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S10 were very positive — it’s a top notch phone and portable multimedia machine. I thought I would love the S10+ even more. And I do. But the Galaxy S10 really stands on its own. In any case, here are the differences.

Screen Size

The Galaxy S10 has a 6.1-inch screen, while the Galaxy S10+ has a 6.4-inch screen. In some ways, I liked the smaller screen on the S10 more so I could hold it with one hand. But when I watched movies, I wish I had the Galaxy S10+ in front of my eyes.

Dual Front-Lens Camera

The Galaxy S10+ has a front dual-lens camera.

The Galaxy S10 has a single-lens camera in front, while the S10+ has a double-lens shooter — the extra lens added for depth perception.  Honestly, I can’t tell a difference (yet) in the quality of pictures from the front camera on both devices. The one hole-punch is certainly less annoying than the double one on the S10+.

Battery

The  Galaxy S10 comes with a 3,100mAh battery, while the S10+ has a more powerful 3,400mAh one. The S10 takes up more juice because of the bigger screen. All in all, both take and give the same amount of power as the battery life on both devices is fantastic.

RAM and Storage Options

For those of you who like to brag about RAM and internal storage, Samsung offers a version of the Galaxy S10+ that has 12GB of RAM and 1GB of storage. To most people, both of those numbers are overkill on smartphones. The top S10 model, which has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, will satisfy even the most ardent smartphone user.

Price

The Galaxy S10 is only $100 less than the S10+

One of the most obvious differences is the price tag. The cheapest S10 unit (8GB RAM, 128GB SSD) is $899, while the entry-level version of the S10+ is $999. For those who want the larger screen, the extra $100 will be worth it. For those who want a more portable phone to put in their pockets, they’ll be happy to pay $100 less.

Tough Choice

The Galaxy S10 just isn’t the middle child of the new Galaxy S family; it could also be considered the worthwhile one. It has all the bells and whistles of Samsung’s flagship model, but trims off a couple of inches.

One thing is for sure — both the Galaxy S10 and S10+ are better — at least in terms of hardware — than any smartphone Apple has come up with (good idea for an upcoming article). You should probably try both out at your carrier’s store before making a final decision.

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Samsung Galaxy Buds: Stay Far Away!

Well, I had a lot of praise for the Samsung Galaxy Buds when discussing Apple’s upgraded AirPods last week. Of course, the praise is just from what I heard. I was really excited to try these things out.  However, they’ve been a disappointment. I’m not convinced one should buy these over the AirPods 2 or any other earbuds.

The packaging — at least — looks great. The Galaxy Buds feel solid, even though they are made of plastic. They remind me of  Bose’s Sleepbuds. And they have plenty of great features, like the ability to be wirelessly charged. The case these buds come in looks like a small pill box. But it is so thin that it easily falls out of your pockets. And when the case does fall out of your pockets, the earbuds eject from the case. I don’t think Samsung thought much about the logistics of this.

The "case" the Galaxy Buds come in is easy to lose.

However, the biggest problem with the Galaxy Buds is quality. I’ve been pairing them (and the pairing is simple) with the Galaxy S10+. Unfortunately, the sound quality is quite mediocre. There is some good bass — even more than there is on the AirPods. There is also a decent amount of treble.

But there’s not much of a separation of the sound spectrum, and you can really notice this when you turn the volume up. The Galaxy Buds end up sounding like cheap headphones from Koss that you would buy at Marshall’s (no offense to anyone who shops there). Nobody expected these to be audiophile quality, but the sound really is shockingly cheap.

Samsung Galaxy Buds look fine but sound bad.

Of course, others don’t agree, and it’s true that I only tested them with one phone. But the Galaxy S10+ is Samsung’s flagship phone, and if it doesn’t sound good on that, I’m betting it’s not better on other smartphones. I have used the buds on two Windows 10 laptops and noticed a lot of latency that I never experienced while using the AirPods.

The Galaxy Buds also fail at making phone calls. The voice quality has been barely passable. Picture yourself talking with someone putting a thick rubber filter in front of your mouth. That’s how you will sound to your listeners, who do sound decent from your end. If your conversations last more than a minute, you’ll end up in deep frustration.

All hope is not lost for Samsung’s latest earbuds. A later update could fix some of the main sound issues. But don’t count on it. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds prove that you get what you pay for. And while the $129 price tag is affordable, the quality is definitely lacking.

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Apple AirPods 2: What A Disappointment!

The AirPods have to be one of the best technical inventions of the decade. They really revolutionized how people listen to music and communicate. If you go to a gym or walk down a city street, you’ll see at least one in ten people with Apple’s white wireless headphones hanging out of their ears. I guess one could say that it’s a good thing they don’t need to upgrade to the new AirPods.

Apple announced the AirPods 2 this week, and Apple is bragging about faster connect times, more talk time, and a hands-free version of Siri. There is a slightly more expensive version that has a wireless charging case. There is no improvement in sound quality (at least from what we know in reports), no noise cancellation options, and no options with different colors. They should be called the AirPods S; this isn’t a “next generation” device.

Apple's AirPods are -- by far -- the best selling buds on the market.

Apple really doesn’t have to worry about a “next generation” device for the AirPods since they are selling so well. But other companies are playing catch-up, and from the looks of it, Samsung has produced their own version of the AirPods that are better than the original, at least according to ZDNet.

“The Galaxy Buds have a minimal level of water resistance, have various wings and tips for a perfect fit, have long battery life, charge wirelessly, look great, and provide touch controls. The $129.99 price is awesome and in some cases people received them for free with a new Samsung Galaxy S10 bundle.”

After many attempts, it looks like Samsung has finally come up with a winner.

The article notes that the Galaxy Buds are $70 less and one should definitely consider these — even if they own an Apple device. Tom’s Guide agrees.

“After some attempts at wireless earbuds with mixed results, it looks like Samsung has finally found the answer to the truly wireless earbud question. The $129.99 Buds offer that same magical instantaneous pairing the AirPods deliver, only for Samsung devices,” claims author Sherri L. Smith, adding that the Galaxy Buds have more important features.

Apple will continue to sell millions of their “updated” AirPods. But as we’ve learned before, the best-selling isn’t always the best quality. Apple really needs to step up its game now that other companies, such as Samsung and Sennheiser, are winning the wireless earbuds race.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 Is An Android Marvel

I thought I would get the Galaxy S10+ to review, but instead, I was sent the Galaxy S10. This is a good thing, because it’s slightly smaller than the S10 but just as capable. It feels good to have a phone that doesn’t feel like it’s going to rip out my pockets or feel too heavy.

I don’t feel I’m missing much by not having the Galaxy S10+, which isn’t significantly bigger and doesn’t have significantly more power. The S10+ does have a 4,100 mAh battery, while the S10 has a 3,500 mAh one. But the battery life is so good on the S10 that I don’t feel shorthanded. As a power user, it can get me through the whole day (but definitely needs recharging at night). The battery life is noticeably better than it is on the iPhone XS Max, which has been praised for its battery juice.

The S10 is fantastic for watching videos.

There’s also a lot more to like about the Galaxy S10, even if I’m not in love with the Android operating system. I think the thing that hits me the most is the screen. Yeah, the iPhone has an OLED screen as well, but there’s something more lifelike about the colors and images on the S10. The screen resolution is certainly higher, though the naked eye can barely notice it. Perhaps because the bezels are even thinner than they are on the iPhone XS Max, the screen stands out a little more.

Of course, the extra thin bezels aren’t always good. I have accidentally touched the screen on more than one occasion (try 15 or 20). Using a crystal clear body case has helped me keep my hands on something else besides the screen, so it hasn’t been that much of a disability.

The Galaxy S10 is incredibly thin.

Then, there’s the much looked-forward-to under-the-screen fingerprint reader. It works but really takes a lot of getting used to. Unfortunately, it fails to sign in once in a while. Perhaps this is why Apple is holding off on their scanner — they want to perfect it before it’s brought to market. Like the iPhone, the S10 has a face scanner as well — but it doesn’t work as well.

This isn’t to say that you’ll be struggling all day to log into your phone. In fact, it’s generally not a problem. Complaining about the login options is nitpicking right now, because I love everything else about this phone so much. I love the feel, the screen, the integration of software, and the sound.

Speaking of sound, Samsung has has outdone Apple in this category. When using the Dolby Atmos software, you can make the sound seem like it is coming from all around you. In fact, I preferred playing Spotify through the S10 speakers rather than my car stereo speakers, which I admit aren’t so great. I could feel the bass and treble in equal doses. You really have to listen to the S10 stereo speakers to understand how good they are.

The Galaxy S10 takes great pictures in low-lit situations.

Then, there is the triple-lens camera. Of course, it’s great to have three lenses, but it doesn’t necessarily make the pictures better than the iPhone XS Max’s two lenses, except in low-lit situations. But the videos come more alive than the do in the iPhone due to the fantastic stereo mics. Of course, Apple has finally included stereo mics on their upper-end devices, but there’s not much stereo separation. Samsung’s videos sound completely lifelike.

Then there’s the phone quality. I found that, at least from my end, I could hear speakers a little more clearly on the S10 than any device I have tested over the past year or so. To make things even better, I never hear anybody ask me to repeat myself when using the speakerphone feature.

Unless you are absolutely stuck on Apple’s ecosystem, you may want to give the Galaxy S10 a try. While Samsung’s software isn’t as good as Apple’s, the hardware is clearly ahead. It’s going to be really hard to give the Galaxy S10 back.

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