It looks like the US ban on Huawei Technologies is having an effect on the Chinese telecommunications giant’s 2019 annual report. Although Huawei (HWT.UL) revealed that its net profit for the year was CNY62.7 billion CND$12.5 billion, Reuters noted it was its lowest increase in three years at 5.6%.Continue reading Ban on Huawei Doing Business with US Companies Drives 2019 Profits Down
Note: This article first appeared on #wifihifi.ca but the photos here are of much higher resolution so you appreciate the photography quality of the new Galaxy S20 series phones.
This Saturday Canadians will be able to purchase the newest Samsung flagship Galaxy S20 series smartphones online or in stores. Currently they are still on pre-order till March 5, with a free set of Samsung Buds+ for the S20+ and S20 Ultra. These phones are cutting edge and not cheap. Pricing starts at $1,319.99 for the Galaxy S20 with the least features, $1,579.99 for Galaxy S20+ and $1,849.99 for Galaxy S20 Ultra.
What makes these new Samsung phones so pricey? Skyrocketing megapixel cameras, stunning 8K video, quality screens, built-in G5 and impressive AI shooting tricks. Let’s dive in the details.
THE CAMERA PHONE THAT RIVALS PROFESSIONAL DIGITAL CAMERAS
I have been hands on with the S20+ and S20 Ultra for the past two weeks. Unlike the past several years of Samsung’s predictably incremental camera improvements, ultra-wide lenses being the exception, they couldn’t come close to last year’s Huawei P30Pro with usable zooming, a hi-res mode and extreme macros. This has now changed especially with the 64MP 6.2-inch 563ppi OLED S20 and 6.7-inch 525ppi S20+ and 6.9-inch 511ppi 108MP S20 Ultra.
All shoot impressively high quality detailed 64MP and 108MP photos respectively. For example, the S20 Ultra shoots an incredible 40MP selfie which as a professional photographer I can attest to, matches the quality of full frame digital cameras. There is limited zoom range in this mode, like up to 6X in the S20+ and frankly not good quality. Note to real interchangeable lens digital camera owners. Don’t sell your gear for a Samsung phone. Yes, the S20 Ultra can compete in hi-res mode but no zoom or wide angle mode. Unlike larger digital cameras the S20 phones can zoom and shoot ultra-wide scenes only in 12MP mode.
This is where the phone’s camera awkwardness sets in.
In order to get the more usable 30X zoom on the S20, S20+ and 100X zoom on the S20 Ultra you must leave the 3:4 64MP and 3:4 108MP modes respectively by choosing the plain 3:4 setting on the top of the screen. This shrinks the photos you shoot to conventional 12MP rear photos and 10MP selfies. But now you get exceptional colour and clarity in any lighting including the improved Night mode. For this, Samsung leads the competition using a now trending pixel binning technique it markets as Nona-Binning. It combines nine small pixels from the huge 108MP sensor into one larger pixel resulting in a conventionally sized 12MP photo.
In 12MP mode, the S20 and S20+ use a more conventional technique combining all three camera sensors for a seamless Ultra-Wide to 30X zoom. The S20 Ultra uses a periscope prism which deflects light to a sideways mounted 48MP telephoto camera similar to Huawei’s P30 Pro. The improved zoom quality in all three cameras is welcome: Very usable 3X optical – 5X hybrid on the S20 and S20+ and 5X optical – 10X hybrid on the S20 Ultra will expand your photography style. Both zooming techniques Samsung markets as Space Zoom technology uses a combination of Hybrid Optic Zoom, and super resolution zoom technology which includes AI multi-frame processing (AI-powered digital zoom). But they still produce degraded photos as you zoom out, where small details are fuzzy but shooting clearly defined object scenery like tree silhouettes and fireball sunsets still works…and it’s better than no picture at all. I like the small onscreen icon locator to help you find where you are when composing photos at extended zooms.
|Samsung Galaxy S20 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)||Samsung Galaxy S20+ 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera||Samsung Camera S20 Ultra 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera|
Shooting a special moment and are torn choosing stills or video? One very cool shooting setting, the AI-driven Single Take, automatically uses simultaneous cameras in ultra-wide/wide-angle views of your event with up to four video scenes and 10 photos in a variety of formats. It even recommends a variety of formats and even suggests edits like cropping and video effects like Live Focus and time lapse. All you have to do is point the phone in the right direction and let the phone do the shooting. Nice!
Night mode is up to snuff comparing with the Pixel 4 and Huawei P30 Pro. Because of the extreme lack of light all these phones produce varying results depending on darkness and subject matter. The Pixel 4 is slightly best for detail but has more grain and takes longer to expose handheld scenes. The P30Pro lags behind in detail while the S20 fits in the middle with the most pleasant tones and least amount of handholding exposure time. In the most extreme very dark scenes on a tripod, the S20 comes ahead.
I do have a beef with the consistency of photos, where auto focus and colour balance shift just for one frame and recover for the next frame. Not frequent but annoying in what is the best-armed camera phone in the market.
8K VIDEO ON A PHONE ROCKS
All three S20 phones shoot impressive 8K 24-fps 7680×4320 video in addition to smaller sizes. You might wonder where you else you can watch this incredible detail beyond this phone unless you have an 8K TV. YouTube accepts 8K video but you need a good Internet connection to choose the highest 4320P 8K setting if your Internet is fast enough. Other social programs like Facebook took long to upload and process. 8K videos eat up storage space at more than 570MB per minute of video. It shoots continuously but in separate 4GB 7:08 minute segments. While you can zoom in any resolution setting, Ultra-Wide mode is only available in square 1440 x 1440 and full 1080 x 2400 modes. Check out my short 8K video
I was hard-pressed finding a mobile 8K video editor. Adobe’s Samsung version of Rush and Action Director can’t handle 8K but Adobe Desktop Premiere does. The best you can do is compose and shoot carefully. At least the on-camera editing lets you trim the start and end of your movies but no way to combine clips on the phone. I like that you can capture still frames from the 8K video as they are larger than 32MP yielding nice quality photos, often better quality than the 12MP rear camera, providing you shoot video in well lit places, preferably outside. You can also use free frame capturing apps. I’m impressed with the 8K built-in stabilizer which works more to my liking compared to consumer hand-held stabilizers like the DJI OSMO. Check my short walk and pan 8K at West Edmonton Mall with stabilizer on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8EkiRRRrTE
5G READY BUT WHERE?
All three phones have feature proof 5G capability in addition to the current cellular connection speeds. 5G will be spotty in Canada for a while. If you don’t travel a lot in Asia or big US cities, you won’t be needing 5G here till your next phone, but you are paying for it now.
SCREEN REFRESH FOR GAMERS
All three phones feature a screen refresh rate choice of 60Hz and gamers must-have 120Hz for smoother visuals in games, especially complicated scenes with a lot of action panning. But with a caveat…it does not work on the phone’s highest 3200 x 1440 screen resolution. More importantly it shortens battery life more than 30 per cent by my reckoning, making the respectively 4,000 mAh, 4,500 mAh and 5,000 mAh batteries not even last a working day. I found video playback, even 4K worked fine in the slower 60Hz refresh setting. The default screen mode is set to vivid “store” mode. I quickly changed to normal for more natural looking photos.
THIS AND THAT
The all S20 series phones run on Android 10 on a 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz) and come standard with 128GB storage and 8GB RAM with a 512GB and 12GB RAM option for the S20 Ultra. The in-screen fingerprint sensor is nice but still requires a harder press than competitors. No headphone jack off course. Some more specs: 5.75 oz; 163g, 6.56 oz; 186g, 7.76 oz; 220g and 69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm, 73.7 x 161.9 x 7.8mm, 76.0 x 166.9 x 8.8mm respectively with a water resistant (IP68) rating. The bezel is slightly smaller but the shrunken curved glass edge is good news, still keeping a nice feel in your hand but less accidentally intrusiveness when holding the edges without a case when shooting selfies. Samsung includes eSIM technology on these phones, a growing feature which will eventually replace the physical SIM card and allow cool features like multiple numbers in one phone. The speakers are harsher sounding and have less bass than the Note 10. Maybe Samsung’s next challenge?
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY
Unlike the slowly improving bendable screen Samsung tablet/phones like the latest 6.7-inch Galaxy Z Flip $1,819 CAD which folds in half like an old fashioned flip phone and an irresistibly brilliant screen, with no water or dust rating, the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, although a little quirky in their camera management are ready for prime time with big wallets.
The S20 is a huge upgrade in Samsung phones, but for folks who don’t care for 8K, 5G and large megapixel photos the price is too high for the phones remaining features.
The annual International CES 2020 event in Las Vegas this week saw more than 170,000 attendees walk over more than 2.9 million square feet of showroom space checking out some 4,400 booths. It’s impossible for a single person to see and experience it all at CES.Continue reading MY PICKS FROM THE MASSIVE CES 2020 IN Las VEGAS
It’s back! The $2,600 Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone/tablet with a bendable screen returned to a handful of Canadian Samsung Experience stores on Friday, December 6 in limited quantities and pre-orders, as previously reported.
I had the chance to check one out at the Samsung Experience Store at the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, so I could see it in a retail setting, just as any other potential buyer would. I originally got my hands on the first version last summer in New York City. But after media reviewers found troublesome faults, Samsung revamped the device for a re-launch. After 89 days, the “revised version,” as Samsung calls it, became available in the U.S. at the end of September. And last Friday, it finally arrived in Canada.
The first thing I noticed in the Cosmos Black model is that it’s as magical as before. It comes with a pair of Samsung Buds and a less than 1mm thin tight-fitting less slippery Kevlar case in two parts with adhesive to fit around every curve. The case doesn’t make the hybrid device much thicker than its 17.1mm thickness in 4.6″ phone mode, nor much heavier: it weighs 276g. It’s less likely to slip from your hands with repeated foldings and unfoldings. When folded out, the Galaxy Fold is slightly thinner than the Note 10+ at 7.6mm.
Is It Fixed?
With the initial version of the device, protective flexible screen layers could be peeled by the first wave of reviewers and the fold edges of the flexible screen allowed dust and dirt to get in.
The flawed articulated spine infrastructure for safely folding and unfolding the flexible screen has been reinforced with new parts. There is a new T-clip supporting both hinge ends, keeping the screen edges of the layers (now beefed up to five layers from the previous three) sealed in. According to Samsung the “revised version Galaxy Fold” is designed to keeps dust and dirt elements from finding their way in. Sadly, The Fold does not have an IP rating, even for dust. Yes, that’s what I said. You have to baby this phone when the weather turns bad.
Samsung confirms that the top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed. There are additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience. The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps. Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display. And the space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.
I noticed a tighter but smoother feel when you open and snap the Fold, much like snapping those old clamshell phones. Even opening the Fold quickly with progressively more force didn’t seem to stress the bendable screen. The mechanical hinge infrastructure is better engineered to open and close the flexible screen without stretching the screen itself.
The centre seam bump is discernable, unless light shines at a certain angle. It can barely be felt under your fingers – it’s easy to even forget it’s there after a while. However, it’s tough to guess how well the Fold will hold up after repeated use.
What About The Software?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any revision of note to the phone’s software in terms of performance and functionality. Any review you read in this respect of the original Fold versus the new one should be similar. Samsung was busy enough fortifying the folding mechanics. It’s just as snappy as the latest Note 10 series with similar responsiveness to touch and opening apps, undoubtedly with the help of 12GB RAM. The mechanics are what needed fixing and this is what Samsung has addressed with the revised device.
Does it Keep Up With its Siblings?
Some important S10+ and Note10+ features are missing on the Fold. The Fold has Samsung’s largest 4,380mAh phone battery, but it looks like it can barely squeeze a day running full all out tasks. It simply has too much glass to light up, even at a lower screen resolution. It doesn’t have Samsung’s Super Fast Charging either, important for a big battery. It only includes a Galaxy 15W charger unlike the 25W charger included with the Note 10 series. And the optional Samsung 45W charger isn’t even compatible with the Fold. There’s no stylus either, although having a pen tip slide across a plastic screen might not be a good idea. Still, the Fold, twice as pricey as the best phones on the market, should have it all. Not even the next-gen Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset. Nope.
Photography With The Fold
The Fold does photography right. It has the same wide range photographic experience as the S10+ but not quite as good as the Note 10, which sports some impressive augmented reality features on top of photos. The Fold settles for older colour to black and white conversion tricks to objects or people in photos.
Still, like the S10 and Note 10 phones, it has a smooth zooming from .5X super wide angle to 2X optical zoom with similarly degrading quality when you try to zoom father. The Selfies in both modes have a normal and wide angle view, the latter not being able to keep the background sharp enough if my face fills half the frame.
The Fold’s six onboard cameras cleverly play double duty between phone and tablet mode. Photos from all cameras in phone or tablet mode are deposited in the same camera folder. I must say its fun composing, editing and showing photos on that screen!
It’s loaded with 12GB of RAM for multitasking, gaming, office and media apps like live broadcasting, plus 512GB built in storage and no expansion slot. It’s not faster than the Note 10+ but has more than enough RAM to multitask better.
The most noteworthy user feature is App Continuity which allows you to easily transition between screens back and forth with up to three open apps in Multi-Active Windows. Any apps you open in phone mode, are still there when you fold out to tablet mode, only spread out with more space. You can set which apps you want to open in from phone to tablet mode.
The 7.3″ main primary display touchscreen is brilliant, with a fixed resolution of 1,536 x 2,152 pixels at a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi). That’s not as high as the Note 10+ and S10+ models with a maximum 498ppi and 522ppi respectively. But hey, it’s a folding screen! You will still not be able to actually see pixels on the screen.
The tablet’s 4.2:3 aspect ratio is perfect for browsing, reading, office work, and gaming, all of which look impressive with the larger screen surface. Some of that real estate is wasted, however, when watching wide screen movies. But they look brilliant with the Bold’s HDR10+ support.
Dolby Atmos stereo speakers are impressive for their size but easy to accidentally cover with your fingers when playing games. Try experimenting holding the phone in vertical and horizontal modes to see what works best for you.
Should You Buy It?
Every Galaxy Fold comes with exclusive access to Galaxy Fold Premier Service, including Fold Concierge 24/7 access to expert advice, and a screen replacement offer.
The “revised version” Fold still has the same DNA as the previous Fold and while the hinge design has been improved, you might want to check in on some U.S. customer reviews to see what those who have been using one for the last few months now might have to say.
If someone decides to fork over the $2,600 for one of these phones, they’ll likely be doing so merely for the benefits of having a larger screen for apps, movies, gaming, spreadsheets, and more. And of course the “cool” factor.
If you are used to the toughness and fast charging of today’s best 6″+ phones, the Bold’s Wow factor fades a bit. Smart shoppers might want to wait for a brand new, redesigned version of the Fold which is rumoured to cost less with a more stable design and hopefully features and robustness equal to Samsung’s S and Note series. It’s expected to launch some time in Q2 2020 though there’s no official word yet from Samsung.
This Fold is the “wow” phone of the year. It’s a show-off piece for those with deep pockets and even deeper egos. I wish I had one for longer than a day to try, as there really is something compelling about repeatedly folding and unfolding it to accommodate different tasks. How long would the “wow” last? I’m not so sure yet.
Article Tags:samsung galaxy fold, hands-on, review, foldable phone, revised galaxy fold, bendable phone, smartphone, tablet, mobile
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