Camera blind test 2017: HTC and Sony take on Google, Samsung, LG and Apple

Our editorial team now has all the flagships from the first half of 2017, so it’s time for a blind camera test. We’ve got some really fantastic phone cameras this time around as we’re pitching the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus against the likes of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, HTC U11, LG G6, Google Pixel and iPhone 7 Plus. At the end of the day, it’s your vote that counts – so which do you think is the best? 

Choose Driving or Action-adventure.

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    Driving

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    Action-adventure

To set up the test, we did the following: we took pictures with all the smartphones using the stock camera app and default settings – we only set the resolution to maximum if it wasn’t already set. To ensure comparability, we didn’t touch the settings and – unless otherwise mentioned– didn’t adjust the light settings or the focus either.

Afterwards, we went on a walk with all the devices and took pictures of various subjects as we went along. Each time, we took three photos with each camera and selected the best for this blind test. Next, we lightly cropped the smartphone photos so that they wouldn’t give away the smartphone in question through the different focal lengths.

For reference purposes, we also took a picture of every subject using a DSLR camera, which was the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Sigma 24-70mm 1:2.8 lens. We also selected automatic mode here.

A quick note before we begin: the letters assigned to the individual shots may represent a different smartphone in each case, so images 1A and 2A might not necessarily be from the same smartphone.

Subject 1: Dynamic range

blindtest q2 2017 01 dslr Subject 1 taken by a DSLR. / © AndroidPIT

Subjects that are rich in contrast are always exceptionally challenging for smartphones: Compared to full-fledged cameras, the tiny image sensors in cell phones have a very small dynamic range. When taking pictures in back-lit conditions, for instance, it causes the foreground to be underexposed and the background to be overexposed. HDR mode counteracts this problem.

blindtest q2 2017 1a  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 1b  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 1c © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 1d © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 1e © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 1f  © AndroidPIT

Vote for the smartphone that you think did best with this high-contrast subject.

Subject 2: Macro

blindtest q2 2017 02 dslr This is the DSLR photo of subject 2 – and the section that we show enlarged in all smartphone photos. / © AndroidPIT

Smartphones usually do very well in macro mode, even when directly compared to full-fledged cameras like the Canon DSLR we used for this comparison. For this subject, you can rate the detail reproduction for different devices.

Since it’s essential to have the correct focus when taking close-up pictures, we tapped on the middle of the sunflower in each camera app to focus on it.

blindtest q2 2017 2a  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 2b  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 2c  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 2d  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 2e  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 2f  © AndroidPIT

Here you can vote for the smartphone you think did best in taking a close-up picture.

Subject 3: Dusk

blindtest q2 2017 03 dslr Here we’ve also marked the section on the DSLR image that we show enlarged from the full picture on the smartphone photos. / © AndroidPIT

Several things come together in this subject: on the one hand, the contrasts from the low sun are very high but on the other hand, this subject shows a lot of detail. Thus, for the blind test, we selected a section from the photo that should cover both aspects – on the DSLR shot, we marked the area where the section can be found in the full picture.

blindtest q2 2017 3a  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 3b  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 3c  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 3d  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 3e  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 3f  © AndroidPIT

Vote for the smartphone that you think did best at dusk.

Subject 4: Night

blindtest q2 2017 04 dslr This is the photo taken on our DSLR for the night scene category. / © AndroidPIT

Shots in dark settings also present smartphones’ small image sensors with a problem. To compensate for this, the camera needs to process the data from the sensor carefully and with “high sensitivity”. Not doing this well will result in reading errors that appear as image noise.

To decrease sensitivity and therefore improve image quality, a large aperture and an optical image stabilizer are helpful, both of which allow for longer exposure times. An additional challenge is the artificial lighting from street lights, which requires a correct white balance. So that’s the theory, now for the practice:

blindtest q2 2017 4a   © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 4b   © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 4c  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 4d © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 4e  © AndroidPIT blindtest q2 2017 4f  © AndroidPIT

Here you can vote for the smartphone you think did best in taking the night shot.

When will the results of the camera test be revealed?

The results of the blind camera test will be revealed at the end of next week on AndroidPIT.com. Until then, we look forward to your votes and are excitedly anticipate the results. Thank you for participating!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge problems and solutions

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a fantastic smartphone that still holds its own today, so it’s all the more frustrating when it doesn’t perform properly. If your Edge is driving you close to the edge, our guide to the most common Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge problems and solutions should help save your sanity – and your smartphone.

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The screen turns on randomly

You may have enabled Easy Screen Turn On, which wakes the display when you wave your hand over it. You can check in Settings > Accessibility > Dexterity and interaction.

Camera Failed

Assuming your Samsung isn’t actually on fire – the Camera Failed warning is known to pop up when phones are running really hot – a hard reset can usually banish the unwanted warning. If that doesn’t work, try clearing the camera app’s data cache: go to Settings > Applications > Application Manager, locate Camera, Force Stop it and then clear both the app cache and the app data.

AndroidPIT Samsung galaxy s7 edge 17 The dreaded Camera Failed warning can occur if your phone is getting hot.  / © ANDROIDPIT

Wireless charging is really slow

Take your Galaxy out of its case if it’s in one: that can make wireless charging flaky. If that doesn’t solve the issue makes sure Fast Wireless Charging is actually turned on (in Settings > Battery) when your device is on the charger—and of course make sure the charging pad you’re using actually supports fast wireless charging.

Palm detection isn’t working

Palm detection is supposed to stop the screen registering false taps, but in some cases it doesn’t appear to be working: the slightest bump or just holding the Edge in a certain way can register a tap. This appears to be a software glitch, and Samsung did issue an update to improve this back in 2016, but if you’re still suffering from this problem, the best solution appears to be to put your Edge in a protective case.

You could try a screen protector too, but many Edge users have found that the curved screen makes it hard for protectors to stick.

s7edge The screen is supposed to ignore accidental bumps and taps, but it doesn’t always. / © AndroidPIT

Buttons aren’t working

Many users are reporting problems with the hardware buttons, but the problem appears to be a software one because the fix involves, er, using the hardware buttons that aren’t working.

If you press and hold Power and Home you should be able to perform a hard reset that makes your buttons work properly again.

Wi-Fi isn’t working or Bluetooth is broken

These are common issues in any phone, and in case of Wi-Fi the wireless router is often the villain of the piece. Rebooting our router and our device fixes 99 percent of our home Wi-Fi problems, but if you’re having connectivity issues when you’re out and about it’s worth forgetting and rejoining Wi-Fi networks – and similarly, if your Bluetooth is broken, removing any paired devices and re-pairing can solve the issues too.

roterwifiandroidhero This is the cause of most Wi-Fi problems. The router, not the robot. / © ANDROIDPIT

Briefing is slowing everything down

Samsung’s Briefing app, which creates a kind of electronic newspaper for you, has the same effect on your phone’s performance as having a large man sat on you affects your ability to sprint. Long-press on a blank bit of the screen, swipe to Briefing and turn it off for an instant boost.

androidpit samsung galaxy s7 edge 9 Briefing? Briefer battery life, more like. / © AndroidPIT

Battery is draining too quickly

There are a lot of factors that can cause battery drain, here are a few different approaches to troubleshooting:

androidpit samsung galaxy s7 edge review 6 Use Battery Usage to see if a rogue app is eating your battery. / © AndroidPIT

It’s on fire!…Or just too hot.

Not literally, but if your Samsung is running hot then there are a few things to check.

  • If the problem occurs when your Edge is charging, try leaving it alone instead of using it and disable Fast Cable Charging in Settings > Battery. That will increase charging times, but if it stops your Edge getting too hot that’s a sacrifice worth making.
  • It’s worth checking for rogue apps too. In Settings > Battery > Battery Usage > More > Optimize Battery Usage you can select All Apps to ensure that apps can’t drain the battery by running in the background.
  • If the heat is at the cable end rather than the Edge itself, you may have a faulty cable: we’ve found even really good quality chargers can get alarmingly hot once they’ve been used and abused for a while. Resist the temptation to use very cheap no-name chargers and cables from eBay, too, as they’re often the cause of catastrophic overheating and in some cases, actual fires.

If all else fails, a full Factory Reset is the last resort before calling in the warranty.

Have you encountered any other problems with your Galaxy S7 Edge? Let us know in the comments.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy S8 with Oreo: many options, not much choice

Oreo is rolling out for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and our experience with the beta had already prepared us for the direction the update would take: Samsung Experience 9.0 will be colorful and feature packed. The changelog makes the extent clear: Samsung has followed though on what the beta promises. But are there any really impressive changes? I rediscovered some old feature gaps in Samsung’s interpretation of Android and found some new ones. 

Compared to the fairly clean Android 8.1.0 on the Nokia 8, we discover a number of differences that make the user experience of Oreo on a Samsung device unqiue. Samsung includes many features for Android fans, as well as some that are missing from the competition.

What makes Samsung’s version of Android Oreo different

Multi-User is still skipped

Samsung still refrains from using the Android 5 Lollipop feature introduced in 2014 to set up user or even guest profiles on smartphones. If you want to share the phone with a second person, you have to either fully trust them or switch to the limited window stapling.

sgs8multiuser Samsung (left) still doesn’t like user profiles. Nokia (middle and right) offers the feature. / © AndroidPIT

Luckily, if you use the multi-user feature for Facebook or WhatsApp duplicate accounts, you can still do that. Samsung offers an alternative with Dual Messenger. Unfortunately, Samsung itself determines which social media apps can be doubled in this way. Also, twin apps can’t access your Google Account, so you need to create it twice.

dualmessenger Dual messenger allows twin accounts in WhatsApp or Facebook. / © AndroidPIT

In the quick test, Slack, Threema and Telegram X were not an option with this feature, and I would not expect compatibility with services that have less than 500 million users.

Autofill is taken from Samsung’s own cloud service

One of the cooler Android 8 features in my opinion is the Autofill API. It can be used to automatically fill out forms in apps, as well as automatically fill out or read out websites and save the contents. This makes password management child’s play. Google of course offers itself as an autofill service.

Samsung, on the other hand, relies on its own in-house service Samsung Pass. It stores all your passwords on Samsung and synchronizes them to your other devices with the same passport account. Too bad that the server was not reachable on the day of the Oreo update. Screenshots were not allowed in the app.

Nonetheless, you still have the option to choose LastPass Beta or Google for autofill services.

Clouds above clouds: Cloud services to bypass cloud services

Coming from Nokia, Motorola or other devices with comparatively unchanged Android, Samsung’s insistence on its own services is clearly noticeable. Samsung users are encouraged to forgo Google’s services and instead rely on Samsung services like Samsung Cloud, Samsung Connect or, as mentioned above, Samsung Pass.

services Cloud services for back-ups, image analysis, smart home control and password management expand Samsung’s business field, or fence the ecosystem. / © AndroidPIT

I think it’s nice that Samsung offers alternatives to Google, since Google isn’t exactly known for its respect for our privacy. But the fact that I couldn’t log in to Samsung Pass while testing shows the risk: What if Samsung suddenly stops providing these services to focus on the core business? The thought makes me nervous about relying on Samsung’s back-up function.

Bloatware to prevent crapware

McAffee, Microsoft, Facebook and The Weather Channel seem to be good friends of Samsung. Almost unique to Samsung devices are the fact that apps from these vendors are pre-installed and sometimes cannot be completely uninstalled. The Samsung Experience 9 even has an optimizer in its program—realized in part by the infamous software company Cheetah Mobile.

bloat Samsung obviously installs sponsored software. Some of it cannot be removed. / © AndroidPIT

I am especially skeptical about the security app and the optimizer. I consider such apps to be completely useless and never install them on my smartphone. On the other hand,”anti-virus” apps and “booster” apps are successful in the Play Store, i. e. in demand. Samsung apparently prevents us from being tempted by these often useless apps by getting in there first: To prevent users from installing crapware from the Play Store, Samsung simply pre-installs its own corresponding bloatware.

Many additional buttons to make life easier

Samsung’s menus are super crowded for my taste. At the end of each settings page there is a box with cross-references to other areas in the settings. This avoids duplication and helps you to find your way around the maze.

samsung experience it 5 Without the cross-references at the end of the menus, it would be frustrating to navigate. / © AndroidPIT

However, the level of detail of the settings is considerable. There you can set a lot of things that are overlooked by other manufacturers. You can turn the phone around to mute a call instead of rejecting it. You can use Smart Stay to leave the display on for as long as you read. You can fix the volume rocker to control media playback. Multi-Window and screenshots will work better than with regular Android thanks to the advanced onboard features.

Samsung Experience 9: a lot of bling, overshadowed by bloat

Samsung has managed to both worsen and improve Android at the same time. The much more sophisticated variety of options was kept reasonably easy to navigate by the ingenious cross-references. The additional features are almost always useful or easy to deactivate.

But then there’s the bloatware and the enormous cloud redundancy that makes me feel patronized. I don’t want a useless booster or a security suite. I want to keep as little background noise as possible and control the resources of my expensive smartphone. Samsung anticipates too many important decisions here.

So the advantage of the many options in the settings is, as far as I’m concerned, smothered by the distasteful bloatware. Too bad, because many of the options are really clever.

Have you received the update to your device? What do you think of Samsung’s take on the Android experience?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Review of the Samsung Gear VR with controller: finally something worth getting excited about

Samsung Gear VR release date and price

The Gear VR headset and its controller together cost around $ 130, the controller alone costs just under $ 40. In the box, you get the Gear VR (obviously) but also the controller. You also get a set of two AAA batteries, which are required for it to work.

Samsung Gear VR special features

Samsung Gear VR with controller: software version / installation / compatible devices

To use the Gear VR, you’ll need a compatible smartphone. The ones that are currently compatible are: Samsung Galaxy S8S8+ / S7 / S7 Edge / S6 / S6 Edge / S6 Edge+ and the Note 5. For this review, we used the S7 and the S8.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 8981 The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S6 work with the Gear VR headset. © AndroidPIT

What makes the Gear VR headset special is that it’s more than just a set of VR goggles: it also has acceleration and position sensors. It must be connected to a smartphone using a USB type-C or micro-USB cable (both can be used thanks to a removable component).

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 9033 USB type-C or micro-USB? Your choice.  © AndroidPIT

When you first connect the smartphone to the Gear VR headset, it will install the Oculus system, which is required for it to work. Once that’s done, you’ll then have to unplug it and download around 100 MB of data, including the driver and the Oculus Store. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have much choice in this matter as the Oculus Store contains all the apps and games that are compatible with the headset.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr controller 7311 The Gear VR’s new controller is awesome! © AndroidPIT

The controller can be linked quickly and easily to the smartphone through Bluetooth and help from the Oculus assistant. I also had to calibrate the controller the first time I used it.

Using the Gear VR

Let the adventure begin!

This VR headset not only benefits from a good build and design, but it’s also very comfortable. The device weighs around 500 grams (with smartphone inserted), which is actually pretty decent, and is particularly useful if you tend to have long gaming sessions. You can configure sharpness of the images using a little wheel on the headset, but to keep the image clear, don’t forget to clean the lenses after each use.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 8983 Once the headset is set up, you can begin your VR experience. © AndroidPIT

The light emitted from the smartphone isn’t completely hidden by the edges, which might bother some users. you might be able to minimize this by tightening the headset but in the long term, that might get annoying.

Don’t expect anything sensational in terms of graphics from current Gear VR headsets. You can actually see the image matrix on the smartphone screen due to the magnification by the lenses, the mosquito net effect unfortunately can’t be avoided. This effect can also be seen on more expensive VR systems like the HTC Vive, though it’s less obvious on the latter. The pixel density needs to be much higher to get an actual good image quality, which is currently just not possible on mobile devices.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 9029 The Samsung Gear VR front and back. © AndroidPIT

Samsung Gear VR with controller – testing a game

To try out the game play on the Gear VR, I dived into several games and VR apps. Last year, I wrote an article where I said that tactile use with the VR headset was really annoying, so does the controller make things better? The answer is simple: yes! Granted, the VR version of Hitman GO isn’t quite adapted to using a controller, but overall, using a controller provides a generally more comfortable user experience.

While not all games are ready to be used with a controller just yet, some are, like Wands. This game transports you back to London in the 1880s, a city where magicians were going head to head and competing against each other. Thanks to the controller, you can interact with the game quite intuitively as the controller is actually visible in your field of vision. Samsung’s controller has an extra advantage over Google’s controller: it fits really nicely in your hand. The main button is really useful and the Home and Back buttons are easily accessible for your fingers.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 8963 You’ll need to place your smartphone inside the Samsung Gear VR. © AndroidPIT

However, the controller isn’t really able to accurately track location. You’d need a much more developed system to do this, which is what the HTC Vive offers. So you might occasionally have to adjust the controller during your game, which you can do by long pressing the home button.

Some games work without controller, like Land’s End. The creators of Monument Valley offer a games that allows you to discover VR, the graphics are really good and the landscape is sublime. You also get a realistic effect of altitude in this game, which can be terrifying.

samsung gear vr lands end Land’s End VR game – definitely worth giving it a go! © Screenshot: ANDROIDPIT

In the Oculus Store, you’ll find over 600 VR apps. Some are free but for most of them, you’ll have to pay, especially for games. The store also includes apps like Netflix and Paint VR, which you can actually see in 360°, either using specific apps or through Facebook or other services.

If you have a Netflix subscription, you’ll be able to watch films in VR but it’s worth noting that the lack of image sharpness can be disappointing. You’ll be able to watch your films on the big screen like at the cinema, but you can forget about Full HD.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 9021 Drawing with Paint VR. © AndroidPIT

Paint VR lets you use a virtual paintbrush to draw things. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any spatial information yet, so you’ll have to draw the pictures around you then using the controller button, change your position in order to get a 3D effect. Here’s the bugdroid I tried to draw with Paint VR:

gear vr controller PaintVR I tried to draw a bugdroid using Paint VR. © AndroidPIT

Gear VR: it all depends on what you expect from it

One thing is clear, the answer to the question “is the Gear VR device useful” is a resounding “it depends”. If you’re looking for the most virtual experience possible, you’ll probably be disappointed. But that said, even VR platforms that use a PC don’t offer the ultimate experience either. Aside from this, the Gear VR experience is really good: when a shark suddenly appears right in front of you, you WILL jump a mile into the air. What matters isn’t really the screen definition but rather the user experience on the whole. The Gear VR will inevitably blow your mind.

Gear VR: old vs new model 

Last year, the S7 and S7 Edge got their own Gear VR model – the Gear VR R322. The new model number is R324. is it worth getting the new model if you already have the old one?

The new Gear VR headset does have a construction issue. On the old model, the protective casing that you put over the smartphone once it’s in the device simply attaches to the end of the headset. In the new Gear VR model, this protective casing is mainly adapted for Samsung’s bigger smartphones. So basically, if you use an S7 or an S8, you’ll have to adapt it so that you can close the casing.

AndroidPIT samsung gear vr 2017 9023 Samsung Gear VR – old and new. © AndroidPIT

The field of vision is better on the new model: we’ve gone from 96 degrees to 101. Practically, this doesn’t make a huge difference but I’m sure VR fans will appreciate it nonetheless.

Samsung Gear VR performance

Whether you use the Galaxy S7 or S8, the performance was pretty good. Both smartphones were perfectly able to display all the games on the screen without showing signs of slowing down or other weakness. The VR effect, so the representation of a virtual world, was done really well and turns out to be really impressive. The sensors placed within the headset mean that the latency between the motion and the image is extremely short – there is no lag.

Final verdict

The controller on this Gear VR has made a world of difference. it only takes a few seconds of using it to realize how beneficial it is: no more irritating touchscreen, the very least we can say about this controller is that it’s very pleasant to use. This controller is also visible in the virtual world (so long as the app or game allows it). Regarding design and build quality, the controller leaps ahead of its Daydream competitor.

Why didn’t Samsung offer this controller with its first Gear VR headset? It’s difficult to say but what do know is that you won’t want to go back after trying it.

Despite all the limitations imposed by mobile VR, this headset is nevertheless very successful. It may not revolutionize VR but it is a step in the right direction and it does offer many apps. Samsung smartphone users will love discovering VR with this device. It’s not really worth updating the old Gear VR unless you’re a massive fan of technology.

This device is definitely Google’s VR headset’s biggest rival, but Samsung is leading the dance.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Samsung shipped more smartphones than any other brand in 2017

Two reports just published by Strategy Analytics and International Data Corporation reveal a snapshot of how the smartphone market did in 2017, and how specific manufacturers have fared in the past year. The data shows that 2017 saw little change in smartphone shipments overall, and Samsung managed to ship more units than any other manufacturer by far. Let’s take a look at the details.

Compared to Q4 2016, Q4 2017 was especially tough for manufacturers. According to the latest report from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments fell 9 percent, from 438.7 million to 400.2 million units, making it the biggest annual fall ever. Strategy Analytics Director Linda Sui says this was due to demand in China, a massive market, falling 16 percent from longer replacement cycles, fewer carrier subsidies and a lack of ‘wow’ models. International Data Corporation’s data showed a smaller decline in the slow holiday quarter, though it was only 6.4 percent rather than the whopping 9 percent found by Strategy Analytics, with 403.5 million units shipped compared to 430.7 million units in the same quarter of 2016.

Nevertheless, looking at the year as a whole rather than comparing quarters between years, 2017 saw little change. According to Strategy Analytics, there was 1 percent growth in smartphone shipments (setting a 1.5 billion unit record high). International Data Corporation, on the other hand, reports a less than 1 percent decline, with 1.472 billion units shipped compared to 2016’s 1.473. Regardless of which report you’re looking at, you’ll see that 2017 overall didn’t deviate greatly from 2016.

Which manufacturer came out on top in 2017? Despite pressure from Chinese competitors in large markets like China and India, according to Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston, Samsung remained the largest smartphone brand in the world in 2017, shipping 317.5 million units. That’s compared to the runner up, Apple, with its much fewer 215.8 million units, followed by Huawei, OPPO and Xiaomi with 153.0, 118.0 and 91.3 million units, respectively. International Data Corporation’s ranking for 2017 was the same, though the shipment numbers vary slightly. Samsung remained number one in 2017, in spite of losing the top spot to Apple in the holiday season of Q4, thanks to a strong comeback from the Note 7 disaster with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8. Looking forward, the Galaxy S9 could cement its position at the top in 2018.

What do you think of these results? Are you surprised Samsung is still the number one?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Samsung won't surrender to modders with latest update

Samsung, as you know, has never made life easy for hackers and modders. With the latest update coming up for its flagship devices, however, it seems they’ve gone a bit too far. KNOX is able to check if your smartphone has ever been unlocked, and then the bootloader is able to prevent changes to the firmware.

With the Galaxy Note 8, the Korean phablet manufacturer seems to not want to surrender in its war on meddling. The update containing the January patches for the company’s three flagships (the S8 and S8+ are the other two models receiving the update) will introduce a new bootloader in addition to bringing patches for Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.

The first consequence is that you will not be able to return to a previous software version once you have installed the update. The second is that, with this new bootloader, Samsung is able to block the use of one of the most used modder programs and the modified version of Prince Comsy by Odin.

AndroidPIT odin samsung firmware flash Odin has always helped users install Samsung updates. / © AndroidPIT

Odin is a program that allows you to install the original Samsung firmware on your home devices and has been exploited for modding several times during the history of Galaxy smartphones. It has been used to earn root permissions on a device and in other cases to install official updates that Samsung was struggling to deploy.

Due to the Korean company’s delays and selectivity in releasing updates (they only issue certain updates in certain regions), the Prince Comsy modder decided to modify the official Samsung Odin software to enable the installation of software not created or approved by Samsung, but intended for devices from other regions (but with the same SoC of course).

AndroidPIT android O Oreo 2065 Do you want Oreo on your Samsung flagship? You’ll have to wait for the official firmware for your region. / © AndroidPIT

Updating the bootloader will block this convenient option. To demonstrate an example, this means that if you have a Canadian device and you want to install American firmware, this will no longer be possible because the model numbers of the devices are different in different countries, despite the fact that the devices are identical. Not only that, if you have a device released by a mobile provider, you will no longer be able to install firmware from an unlocked device (here unlocked means not sold with a mobile carrier).

This will make life difficult not only for hackers but also for those who want to avoid waiting for an update via OTA by manually installing the latest firmware available in a nearby region.

Instead of wasting time blocking useful functions for users, Samsung should speed up the update procedure so that users don’t have to use these tricks.

So what do you think of this latest development? Would you like to see Samsung release updates more quickly? Let us know in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Poll: What would you like to see from the new Samsung Galaxy S9?

It’s certainly no secret that Samsung is working on its successors to the Galaxy S8 and S8+. It’s rumored that the smartphones could make their debut at MWC, as was the case in previous years. We’re just a couple of months away from their launch, so we want to know what you’d like to see in Samsung’s upcoming flagships.

2017 brought a lot of new trends, which we gave an overview of during the holidays. But things are looking just as exciting in 2018 in terms of new products and innovations. Samsung, as usual, should throw some surprises at us in the new year with the new generation of the Galaxy S series. 

Launched last April, the Galaxy S8 and S8 + were the first generation of Samsung smartphones to benefit from Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant. However, it’s clear that more than 10 months after its release that its global reach is still limited, since Bixby is only available in a few languages: Korean, Chinese, English and Spanish. Why is this the case? According to the South Korean manufacturer, Bixby has a hard time learning new languages.

But despite this concern, the Galaxy S8 is certainly the most popular Android smartphone on the market. And these devices are difficult to miss as a result of all of the ad campaigns. The S8 and S8+ certainly have plenty of merits. The concept and design of the Galaxy S8 devices are of a very high quality. Samsung has benefited by introducing the Infinity Display concept, both in terms of aesthetics and usability. The camera is also impressive and the battery life is sufficient.

For the Galaxy S9, if we are to believe the latest rumors, two models will be launched: a larger model (with the code name ‘Star 2’ for the S9+, SM-G965) with a 6.22-inch AMOLED display and a ‘small’ model (code name ‘Star 1’ for the S9, SM-G960) with a 5.77-inch AMOLED display. In terms of technical specs, both smartphones should offer the Snapdragon 845 processor in the US and the new Exynos abroad.

But the real question is what changes users would like to see on these smartphones. I made a short list of what matters most to me:

  • A dual camera: the new generation of Galaxy S must finally offer a dual rear camera
  • More resistance to falls: a nice design is good, but it it’s better if it can withstand the test of time
  • A repositioned fingerprint reader

It’s your turn. What do you hope for in the Galaxy S9?

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Conflicting Samsung Galaxy S9 launch date rumors explained

The successor to the Samsung Galaxy S8 is due to be revealed soon. At CES in Las Vegas, Samsung mobile division president DJ Koh confirmed that the highly anticipated Galaxy S9 would be revealed at MWC in Barcelona. And now, conflicting rumors on the exact launch date are starting to heat up.

MWC is taking place this year from February 26 to March 1, and as we expected, the S9 is confirmed to be revealed around that time. However, when it comes to the exact date, there are two conflicting rumors now floating around on the web. One of the leaks comes courtesy of the reliable Evan Blass of VentureBeat. According to his leak, February 26 will be the big day, followed by pre-orders on March 1 and a release on March 16. 

The other leak says February 25 will be the launch date, and that it will be the most expensive Galaxy ever. This leak comes from the well-known Italian tipster Ricciolo.

In the past, the Galaxy Unpacked events have more often taken place on Sundays rather than Mondays, and Samsung always puts on a big show just before doing the official public reveal. Assuming this pattern will hold true, Ricciolo’s leak would be the more plausible of the two since February 25 falls on a Sunday. Unfortunately, Ricciolo didn’t give any more information about the release or availability of the device, except to say that it will be the most expensive Galaxy ever, which isn’t a huge surprise. For reference, that means it will cost more than the Galaxy Note 8, which rang in at a whopping $ 929.

Are you excited for the Galaxy S9? What’s your assessment? Discuss it with us in the comments!

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Livestream: What can you expect from the Samsung Galaxy S9?

The arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S9 is getting closer and closer. There are many rumors about the brand’s future flagship and the gossip keeps on coming. Curiosity is growing and we’re excited to discuss it with you today at 12.30 pm. Are you ready?

What will we be talking about this Friday?

The future Galaxy S9 and Plus will both be unveiled at the MWC in Barcelona next month and, like every other month, the South Korean manufacturers two top-of-the-range products attract everyone’s attention internationally. Expectations are high and so no doubt Samsung will try to impress us with new features.

The camera will undoubtedly be updated, and on the Plus, we expect that the dual camera will be implemented to the back. Enough with the spoilers, tune in with us and be ready with your questions and comments!

Be sure to tune in at 12.30 pm US time, (or 5.30 pm if you are in the UK) on our YouTube or Facebook page!

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Samsung accused of exploiting minors in China

Samsung is still the most popular manufacturer in the world, and even the Galaxy Note 7‘s big flop couldn’t detract from its reputation. Now, a new problem has arisen: an NGO has accused the company of violating Chinese law. The allegations include the exploitation of working minors.

Employees have obligations and rights just like all citizens. There are laws to protect them from exploitation, but if these laws aren’t enforced or if employees don’t speak up or leave out of fear, what actually takes place in practice may not be law-abiding. The term ‘soft law’ applies to these situations, which means a law exists but that it is not actually enforced.

Unfortunately, the rights of employees are an aspect of these soft laws and some companies stand to benefit from this. This is allegedly the case with Samsung, according to the non-governmental organization Sherpa. This organization already accused Samsung a few years earlier, and now it has come back with a better case and more evidence. The organization filed a complaint and Samsung will appear before the Criminal Court of Bobigny in France.

AndroidPIT China It is illegal to exploit employees, but who will stand up for them? © ANDROIDPIT

Sherpa’s information comes from a Chinese association. After visiting Samsung, sometimes anonymously, the association came to the conclusion that multiple Chinese laws are being flouted: minors under 16 are being exploited and overtime isn’t being paid, among other offenses.

As the French media explains, it doesn’t mean the complaint will lead anywhere, “The French courts are not likely to go to China to verify that what Sherpa reports is true. It is also difficult to imagine that Chinese authorities would accept this approach.” An appeal will likely be dragged out and the case will eventually fall through.

In short, Samsung will probably emerge from this without being tainted by scandal. It should be noted, of course, that this was the case with the Nike brand a few years ago, but that hasn’t stopped people from buying their products. It may also be the case that Samsung’s competition is guilty of the same practices, as their smartphones are made in China as well.

Whatever comes of this story, it is important to bring attention to employees’ rights. It is imperative that there is a shift from this ‘soft law’ to strictly enforced law, so that measures are taken against companies that don’t respect workers’ rights. We can only hope that things change for the better.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Does this change how you view Samsung? Let us know in the comments.

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