Sunday, 31 July 2011

Galaxy Tab 10.1 Launch Event

I've got some invites for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Launch Event.

There will be free drinks, free music and the chance to win Galaxy Tabs and all sorts of other gadgets!

Spread the word!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Samsung Galaxy Pro: Hardware

I've moved!

Please go to for my review of the Galaxy Pro hardware or for and Android/Blackberry comparison.

Samsung have just hit 3 million global sales of the Galaxy S II after just two months of it being on the shelves ... but of course this isn't the only device Samsung have released this year! This review will focus on the Galaxy Pro, an android device released in April 2011 with a full QWERTY keyboard with a style unmistakably similar to the iconic Blackberry form.
Where does the Samsung Galaxy Pro fit into the Smartphone world?
I suppose the biggest question is what should we compare this phone to? The price makes Galaxy Pro extremely good for what you get. It's currently cheaper than almost all Blackberry models released in the past year or so and it outperforms most of them in terms of hardware. I suppose we could compare it to last year's models of Blackberry, or the new HTC ChaCha which seems to be a similarly spec'ed device. Really, I think that Samsung are filling a gap in the market: for a phone with a touch screen and a full QWERTY keyboard. Not only that, but they've managed to keep the price down, making this phone and all its wonderful features accessible to everyone!
So... is it as juicy as a Blackberry?
Having scoured the internet I’ve been a little disappointed to find that reviewers have been comparing the Samsung Galaxy Pro to the latest offerings in the smartphone world and poo-pooing it because it doesn’t have the latest or fastest processor, nor does it feature a pixel density so small that an ant could read text on it.

I think these people are really missing the point - this phone isn’t as expensive as its competitors, but it has a lot of features which are better than them. Just because it doesn’t match up to a £500 equivalent such as the such as the BlackBerry Bold 9780 doesn’t mean that it’s bad. Even the HTC ChaCha is currently over £200!
If we’re talking about value for money, then the Pro wins hands down at only £160 on Amazon at the time of writing...

... and for that price, it sure packs a lot of juice!
What do you get, and is it better than similar devices?
So let’s spend some time talking about what you get for your money, and how it faces up to its more expensive colleagues in the QWERTY keyboard realm.
The Screen is a 2.8’’ with a 320 x 240 pixel capacitive touch screen. When a friend passes me their Blackberry, I must admit the first thing I do is try and navigate the screen as though it was a touch screen, and I get bitterly frustrated. The intuitiveness of the touch screen and the ability to use a full QWERTY keyboard (which even today’s best on-screen keyboards still don’t live up to) is simply great! The screen doesn't have multitouch, but zoom keys will pop up on the screen and you can double-tap to zoom which is just as intuitive. Playing touch screen games, such as Angry Birds on the Pro is great.

Samsung Galaxy Pro Screen

The TFT screen itself is certainly a little bit more ‘pixely’ than the Galaxy S II with its Super AMOLED+ screen. But for me, it does the job – and at less than a third of the price I’m not going to get all grumpy and pernickety about it!

So: although it might not be as sharp as some other screens - the fact that it is a touch screen, and by no means a bad screens puts this above the competitors.


Certainly the best feature of this phone is being able to use both the QWERTY and Touch screen simultaneously. Being able to navigate and highlight text with ease on the screen whilst typing away on the kaypad has been excellent. I have to admit that I miss having the "feel" of properly buttoned keypad, and the layout and size of the buttons is absolutely perfect: even for my large hands.

Full QWERTY Keyboard layout

The keyboard retains a professional look about it, which the HTC ChaCha just doesn't have. It looks playful and bubbly... it also has a dedicated "Facebook" button which makes my stomach churn... enough said.

Speed (Processor):
Also, just because it doesn’t have the latest or fastest of everything, doesn’t mean that it’s at all slow or that it won’t be able to run the latest apps. With an 800Mhz processor it is faster than, for example, the more expensive HTC wildfire (528Mhz) and in the same boat as the Full QWERTY HTC ChaCha.

It also has a faster processor than most current Blackberry models. Now, Blackberry are a little elusive on their website about the processor speed in their current smartphones, but typically they are slower, with the BlackBerry Curve 8520 and Bold 9000's processor only putting out 512 MHz. The Blackberry Bold 9700 pushes up to 624Mhz, which still isn't as good as the Galaxy Pro and is still almost double the price!

Storage + Memory:

You get 512Mb of RAM and with a 2GB SD card (and card reader) provided as standard. You can further expand the SD card slot up to 32GB which is ample storage space! Current Blackberry models offer similar amounts of storage with 256Mb internal and 2Gb SD card provided for the Blaberry Bold 9700
The camera is extremely good - taking photographs at 3.2MP and featuring all the little extra fun bits, such as the Panorama features and other effects such as being able to add yourself onto different landscapes with the "Add-Me" feature.

Battery Life:

The Galaxy Pro has a large 1350 mAh which keeps it running for a good 2-3 days (in my experience) with normal usage. Samsung suggest you can get up to 11hours talktime and 620 hours on standby - that's almost 26 days!  This puts the device in the same league as other smartphones - if not a tiny bit better - in the race for battery life.


For the price you pay and the goodies that you get, it's a fantastic device. You get a professional look and a very smart mobile device. Samsung, a company which has seen tremendous growth in the mobile market over the past few years can put a its success down to providing a range of phones and smartphones a variety of prices for all types of people. The motto for their bada platform which runs on the Wave series is “A Smartphone for Everyone” which is actually rather apt for all of the mobile products they've been producing recently, particularly the Galaxy range.

What we have here, then, is a device which, for the first time, merges a full QWERTY Keyboard and a capacitive touch screen. It has enough juice in it to take a slice out of Blackberry and enough oomph to be compete with other android smartphones on the market.

Samsung Mobilers 2011

The 2011 UK Samsung Mobilers programme is just starting to kick off. With the application process now over, 15 new Mob!lers will be joining the ranks of last year's 20 product testing, software loving, technology adoring mob!lers for this year's Samsung adventure.

We're heading down to the Samsung Headquarters in Chertsey on the 7th of July for a fun evening of Samsung wonderfulness... I wonder what they have in store for us this time? Can't wait!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Galaxy S 2 (II): What's in the Box?

So: what exactly do you get in the box with the Samsung Galaxy S II? The other model I have used for this blog is slightly pre-release so it didn't come with any packaging, which some people have asked me about: I've just taken delivery of a brand new (UK) Galaxy S II -- so here's what you get:

A Box:

1 X Galaxy S II

1 X (Good Quality) Samsung Headphones + Earbud adaptors for different sized lugholes

1 X Micro USB adaptor

1 X Micro USB Charger (this is a UK one)

1 X Galaxy S II Phone Battery

1 X "Quick Start" Guide

A picture of Everything together:

That's the lot! :-)

+Showing Off a Bit+

Monday, 16 May 2011

Samsung Galaxy S 2 (II) - Some Posters

As part of one of my "Samsung Mob!ler" missions, I had to create an advert for the Samsung Galaxy S II. Here are some of my ideas...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Samsung Galaxy S 2 (II): Video/Filming

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 sports a delightful 8MP camera which is capable of shooting video in full 1080p. The mind really does boggle how they are able to fit so much technology into one of the world's slimmest mobile devices.

The camera quality on the S 2 is really strikingly good. Low/no light video footage shows only a small amount of "noise" and creates footage with a beautiful richness and depth of colour. Of course, this isn't going to be as good as professional equipment, but for my personal use it's perfect!

Below are a series of tests using the video-camera mode to give you an idea of the kind of footage it takes. I will update below as more content is added. All of them were shot in 1080p, though please bear in mind that YouTube re-encodes videos, so these aren't exactly true to the original output of the Galaxy S 2. If you would like a copy of the original footage get in touch!

Video Camera functionality (settings):

In (bright) sunlight:

In the shade:

In total darkness with the flash:

Samsung Galaxy S II in low light conditions:

A quick summary of "bad points" (though they're not really bad at all)...
  • In the "low light" videos you can see that it takes a short while to focus on certain things and before it does there is a bit of "noise" - fuzziness - , but it gets there eventually. You can see this in the "Low Light" videos above
  • If you wobble the camera a lot, there is a sort of "swimming" effect, as an anonymous commenter has pointed out, this is due to the "rolling shutter" (thanks to whoever told me that! :-) )
The "wobble" test:

  • In 1080p mode the video "zooms in"

Monday, 2 May 2011

Galaxy S 2 (II): Battery Life - Heavy Useage with Wifi

In my previous post on battery life in the Galaxyy S 2 I wrote about how the device copes under what I would call "moderate usage". Here I will briefly summarise a charge of the phone under typical(?) "heavy usage". 

For me, this involved:
  • WiFi on constantly
  • Multiple games and keeping those games running in the background
  • Various other applications (a total of 25 apps/games by the end of the charge)
  • 30 minutes of high definition video content
  • 3G/HSDPA on constantly with hour in total call time
  • Screen on 100% brightness
  • Lots of web browsing
  • Sending emails
  • Updating facebook status
  • Checking (fellow reddit users will know this is almost a constant thing...)
  • 45 minutes of GPS usage
  • Not clearing the RAM
  • Skype, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter all updating
  • Microbes Live wallpaper
  • Widgets for weather, stock market + gmail
  • A series of alarms set to go off throughout the day

For those interested in "standby time" with and without WiFi, I decided to have a period of no-wifi standby and then "with-WiFi" standby at either end of the period of heavy usage

You can split the usage here into thirds: 
  1. On standby - only 3G/HSDPA on and background socialnetwork/email sync. WiFi Off (12 Hours)
  2. Phone on about 50% of the time, Heavy Usage, WiFi On (12 Hours)
  3. On standby, WiFi On (12 Hours).

 With that in mind I would expect to get a good 14-15 hours if I had started with heavy usage from the start. I would imagine that most people need to sleep and have a break from their phone at *some* point during the day (to sleep, for example?) so it looks like the Battery life of the Galaxy S 2, even under heavy usage will be more than sufficient! Hurray! 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): GPS with "MyTracks"

I already wrote a quick article on the accuracy of the GPS, which you can find here, but many people requested I take the Galaxy S II out for a "longer" trip, to see how accurate it is over a broader area. 

"MyTracks" is an application available from the Android Market which allows you to track your routes on your run, or cycle ride, using the GPS to map your route over Google Maps. It also provides really useful information such as speed and distance, which is great if you are setting yourself training targets. It is also a brilliant way to test to GPS accuracy of a phone, and I've done just that!

Here is a photograph of the map on my phone, and below that is the exported .gpx file displayed in google maps. I've put a couple of pointers in there, for example when I went round in a very tight circle, so you can zoom in and have a closer look. 

The section of the route I recorded was 3.65 Miles/5.87Km over the course of 20 minutes. You can zoom in on this map to see the track in more detail.

This is where I went round in a circle: quite a small space, really!

You really can't fault the GPS on this device!!

Feel free to get in touch if there's anything you would like to know

Friday, 29 April 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): Battery Life - Moderate Usage

Note: This post is about "Moderate" usage and battery life. I've done a similar test for battery life under "Heavy Usage" which you can find here: Heavy Usage Battery Life 
Well this is a rather pleasant surprise! I've had the Galaxy S II for a little over a week now so I feel it is far enough into its charge cycle to comment on the battery life...

This first picture is the phone's battery on around 60% charge on what for me is "moderate" usage after 15 hours. There are periods of inactivity, but over the course of the 15 hours I played a few quick games, browsed a lot over HSDPA, had constant gmail twitter + facebook push updates, watched a couple of YouTube videos and listened to a small amount of music. A couple of quick phone calls in there, too. I didn't have wifi turned on here because my HSDPA connection is around 4Mbps.

I think this probably represents fairly typical usage of a phone. Heavy usage such as transferring large amounts of data over wifi / uploading a video to YouTube obviously drains battery life a lot faster than normal. 

This second picture shows the phone on the same charge as the first one, but you can see the battery drain is somewhat faster as I am watching more YouTube videos, making calls over skype and in general using a lot more data content (again no wifi). You can see this as the second, slightly steeper, downwards slope that goes in to the yellow.

The third "section" of the battery is the red section, near the end of the battery's life on this charge. I left the phone "awake" for a good chunk of that time, with several applications running idly in the background. This drains the battery somewhat faster than closing background applications but the drain on the battery is still looking pretty good. In case anyone is still asking if the Galaxy S II's battery can outlast a day, I thought I should include one final photograph, now with a "critically low" battery, having just outlasted the two day mark...!

[watch this space for updates]

I thought that battery life might be a chink in the armour of this mighty phone. I expected the the large display and the 2 x 1.2Ghz processors would eat the battery in a few hours but ... it turns out that the Galaxy S II can easily keep up with, if not outstrip, any competition in terms of battery life, whilst providing one of the smoothest and fastest user experiences I have ever encountered.

I look forward to the time when phone batteries will outlast a week. Battery-life has taken a huge hit since the start of the smartphone, but I do see the Galaxy S 2 as a step in the right direction. Samsung have not filled up a box full of magic and squashed it down into such a small package at the expense of anything: I really thought that battery life would be compromised but it just continues to amaze me. Wow!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): GPS

The GPS functionality on the Samsung Galaxy S 2 is fantastic. A lot of people will be relieved seeing as Google had some problems getting the GPS to work properly with the Galaxy S (1) when it was released last year. Below are a few tests: again, I must apologise for the poor video quality.

Probably the best way to demonstrate GPS accuracy is the with the free "Android Market" App called "My Tracks". Here is a picture I took of the track I took of me walking around a road and round in circles. I must have looked really stupid! to anyone watching: Everything is shifted a couple of meters up from where I was actually walking: the actual path I took is spot on. Scarily accurate...

"My Tracks"

A stationary look at the GPS fix with free Android Market "GPS Status":

A moving look at the GPS on "Google Maps":

I hear the sound of many sighs of relief...

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): Browser Testing - Flash/Heavy use

I've tested the Default (stock) Browser, "Opera Mobile" and "Dolphin HD" on the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and they've all been really impressive. To quote 'siclusiferx': "this thing feeds on Flash for breakfast!".

I've been really impressed with the device's ability to cope with running multiple flash videos with several web-pages loaded (and other applications open in the background) while still retaining lightning fast lag-less zooming and scrolling functionality.

Default Browser:

Opera Mobile:

Dolphin HD:

Microsoft HTML-5 (run on default browser)

Picture of results:

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): MultiTouch Tests

Below is an assortment of MultiTouch tests on the Galaxy S 2. I don't have more than 10 fingers, sorry!

On the "Microbes" Live Wallpaper:

MultiTouch Visualiser:

MultiTouch Tester:

As soon as I find an extra pair of hands I'll update...

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): Gaming

Goodness me: this phone looks at high-content 3D games and laughs in their faces! Below is an assortment of games running on the Samsung Galaxy S 2. I'll keep adding more at request:

Gameloft's "GT Racing HD":

Gameloft's "Real Football HD":

Gameloft's "Shrek Kart HD":

Gameloft's "Gangstar: Miami Vindication":

This game took a little longer than the others to load. It also pauses a little in-game while loading new areas (I think).

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): Voice Recognition

Well so far I've been really impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S 2 Voice Recognition. Of course it's not 100% perfect, but that's because any speech recognition software has to deal with some seriously complicated stuff. For example, below is the spectrogram of a short soundwave of me saying "blah blah blah blah...." and it's that sort of data that the recognition system is looking at. Each "blob" is the same word spoken by me: but look how different they are visually!

There is such a lot of overlap for some sounds that providing a totally accurate speech recognition software which is totally generic (will work for anyone without "training" the program) is almost impossible. This is because there is so much overlap in different accents and dialects all over the world. That being said; Vlingo on the Galaxy S 2 does a really good job! I've done two, simple, quick tests. One without background noise, and one with background noise:

Without Background Noise

With Background Noise

In German
(yes I know I'm rubbish at German)

In French
(Yes I know how bad my French is)

In the device settings there are options for "English US", "English UK", "French/Francais", "Italian/Italiano", "German/Deutsch" and "Spanish/Espanol"

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): (Some) System Information

Some system information from the Samsung Galaxy S 2

File System:



Resolution: 480x800
Refresh Rate: 60.38Hz

GPU (OpenGL):

Vendor: ARM
Renderer: Mali-400 MP
Version: OPenGL ES-CM 1.1
Max Texture Units: 8
Max Texture Size: 4096
Max Lights: 8
VBO: Supported
Frame Buffers: Supported
Cube Maps: Unsupported
Texture Combiners: Supported
DOT3 Combiner: Supported
Crossbar Combiner: Unsupported


Total: 853032 Kb
(Free: 38860 Kb)
(Available: 314924 Kb)


K3DH Acceleration Sensor
AK8975 Magnetic Field Sensor
AK8975 Orientation Sensor
CM 3663 Light Sensor
CM 3663 Proximity Sensor
K3G Gyroscope Sensor
Gravity Sensor
Linear Acceleration Sensor
Rotation Vector Sensor

If you would like to know anything else: please leave a comment!

Samsung Galaxy S II (2): Benchmark Tests

Below are a series of Benchmark tests performed on the Samsung Galaxy S 2 with results posted below. This phone is astonishing!

Just to clarify: I've run these tests on it 100% out of the box. Nothing is overclocked and no settings have been fiddled with!

Galaxy S 2 vs Galaxy S 2 (Full memory [left] vs Brand new device [right])

Consistently 3500ish for both


(I ran it a few times)

et cetera

"Quadrant Advanced" Test

Total: 3381
CPU: 7046
Memory: 3823
I/O: 3929
2D: 889
3D: 1199

NeoCore Test:

59.8 FPS

GLBenchmark Test

Quadrant Test

Score: 3277

Smartbench2011 Test

Productivity Index: 3745
Games Index: 2339

Linpack Test

MFLOPS: 47.257
Time: 1.77 Seconds
Norm Res: 5.68
Precision: 2.220446049250313E-16

an3DBench XL

Double Dragon: 21.93
Flower Power: 37.08
Ninja's Garden: 30.12
Emperor's New Clothes: 59.32
Magic Island: 24.36
Total Score: 29923

AnTutu Test

Memory: 926
CPU Integer: 1425
CPU Float: 1256
2D Graphics: 149
3D Graphics: 320
Database IO: 165

Total scores: 4539