Earlier this week, it was discovered that Samsung Taiwan hired students to post fake negative reviews about HTC’s smartphones on Taiwanese websites. Following the discovery of Samsung’s practices thanks to documents published by TaiwanSamsungLeaks.org, Taiwan’s fair-trade officials started an investigation.
Responding to these allegations, Samsung issued a comment to media outlets, admitting that the company had indeed engaged in such dirty marketing tactics:
HTC said that it regrets its competitors “malicious attacks” and doesn’t rule out a legal action against Samsung.
The Register has some of these anti-HTC comments that were posted by Samsung:
In the cache of forum posts, one user complained that his girlfriend’s HTC One X phone was always on the blink, while Samsung’s Galaxy Note phone was described as far better than HTC’s Sensation XL handset. Another post even asked if anyone who owned a Samsung phone had been given a job promotion.
The whole thing is obviously bad for Samsung from a PR standpoint, but the company has frequently come under severe criticism from press on several occasions:
During the Samsung-Apple trial, an internal document went public that revealed how exactly Samsung formed its strategy to copy Apple.
The company flew some bloggers across the world for the launch of the Galaxy Note 2, and then threatened to leave them stranded there if they didn’t promote Samsung’s products during the launch.
Certain acts in Samsung’s Galaxy S4 launch event were labelled as “shockingly sexist“
At first blush, we were a little disappointed that Samsung didn't intend to push the design envelope with its new flagship. That's not to say we were repulsed: it just looks a lot like an amalgam of all the Galaxy phones we've seen in the last year. It flies closer to the Galaxy Nexus than the Galaxy S II, with a shape and contour all too similar to Google's first Android 4.0 handset. In the hand, the 4.8-inch screen is counter-balanced by the thin bezel, resulting in a shape that is still comfortable to hold. It feels very light, a mere 133g (4.7 ounces -- just a smidgen heavier than the HTC One X), and measures 8.6mm (0.34 inches) deep across its central waistline. (That's right, there's no more chin.)
A glossy plastic coats both the front face and flat battery cover, with a particularly attractive finish on the Pebble Blue option, making it our early favorite over the Marble White. A slightly different (but still glossy) plastic follows around the edge of the device. Thankfully, the absence of a metallic chassis does nothing to hurt the feeling of quality or solidity in the build.
The phone retains the physical home button, though it's now slimmer and generally less visually obvious. It's flanked by a pair of capacitive buttons that light up and disappear, and as expected there's the camera module, flash and loudspeaker at the back.
The 8-megapixel camera looks to be very similar to what we've seen on both the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note -- which means it's a pretty capable shooter, although we're withholding judgment until we can test it out it in a mix of scenarios. Instead of shaking up the camera hardware, Samsung's pushed forward with the software interface -- something we've gone into more detail here. In brief, the new camera app supports dual still and video capture, adds face tagging for existing contacts and boasts improved face identification and tracking.
The screen is a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display. The bad news? The lack of a "Plus" in that name means it's PenTile, which means that pixelation is still visible despite the 306 ppi density, due to the sharing of sub-pixels. The good news is that the resolution is still really good, and should suffice for all but the most eagle-eyed -- although if you're still not sure you can check out our own microscopic comparisons right here. It's also nice to see that the panel is cocooned in Gorilla Glass 2, besting its relative's fortified face, and it also offered great viewing angles.
The Galaxy S III's beating heart is Samsung's new 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos processor, aided by a fresh GPU that is supposedly 65 percent faster than the companion Mali 400 graphics chip on the Galaxy S II. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to give GTA III a blast, nor run our typical benchmark apps, but in any case the model we played with was not final hardware. That said, we were able to grab a quick SunSpider browser performance score of just under 1,500ms, putting the phone below HTC's polycarb-clad wonder -- but lower is better, by the way. Whizzing around the native apps and web browser was as pleasant as we expected, pinch-to-zoom pinged into action, while multimedia playback was effortless, irrespective of the software additions that Samsung has thrown into the mix (more on those in a second).
The phone houses a removable 2,100mAh battery, with a wireless charging option already in the works. Next to the battery and space for a micro-SIM, you'll find an increasingly rare microSD slot, whose absence was one of the main criticisms leveled at the Google Nexus, not to mention the HTC One X. This expandability sits alongside 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, depending on which variant you buy. Other connection options here include Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi Direct, DLNA, an MHL-compatible micro-USB port and headphone socket, with NFC connected to the battery unit.
Samsung's pitch to us focused heavily on the software. Pure Android enthusiasts may wince at the sight of TouchWiz (overlaid on top of Android 4.0.4) and from the brief time we played with the device, Ice Cream Sandwich looks a lot like how it arrived on our updated Galaxy S II -- it's not close to a stock Android experience. Instead of messing with its UI, Samsung has concentrated on specific apps -- and plenty of new gesture functionality.
Five icons populate the base of the screen, including the app drawer, while the homescreen itself has a more typical four-icon-wide berth. "Inspired by nature, designed for humans" is the winsome philosophy behind the Galaxy S III. In terms of the nature thing, this basically means that the phone comes loaded with some splashy water graphics and sound effects as well as plenty of seasonal wallpapers (including some new smart wallpapers like a background news feed).
The built-in keyboard is perfectly functional; at this screen size there's simply a greater likelihood of hitting the letter you're after. The menus and icons are all drawn in Samsung's TouchWiz style, though there are some new additions, including lock screen app shortcuts. In fact, the lock screen is where Samsung's new "intelligent" smartphone starts showing its gesture antics -- part of its "designed for humans" mantra.
Samsung offers Premium Suite software upgrade for GALAXY Note users
March 22, 2012
Software package offers exclusive S Pen applications, enhanced multimedia features, and an Android 4.0 upgrade
SEOUL, Korea – March 22, 2012 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, today announced it will be offering a Premium Suite upgrade for GALAXY Note users worldwide from Q2. It includes extra multimedia features and a range of new S Pen optimized applications in addition to an OS upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Premium Suite offers new features and applications exclusive to GALAXY Note and its innovative S Pen, which includes S Note, a unique tool that lets you combine your notes or sketches with other digital content, giving you a new way to create your own stories. S Note comes in various ready-to-use templates for a range of tasks including meeting minutes, diary and others.
S Note also includes the innovative Shape Match and Formula Match applications that help correct and digitize geometric shapes and even solve numeric formulas hand-drawn with S Pen, increasing your on-the-go efficiency and productivity. You can draw tables and grids which are instantly digitized, saving time and effort. Moreover, by using the S Note’s integrated knowledge search engines, users can quickly search, and obtain information.
For a touch of self-expression, the Premium Suite also includes My Story, another S Pen optimized application that allows you to create personalized digital cards for friends or family using any type of content including notes, video content, photos, text or voice.
In celebration of the Premium Suite upgrade announcement, Samsung will provide special offers to all GALAXY users as an official launch partner of Angry Birds Space, the newest Angry Birds game from Rovio Entertainment. For all Samsung GALAXY users, an exclusive GALAXY Note level will be provided for extra fun. Moreover, a special package of 30 challenging levels – ‘Danger Zone’ – will be available for free if unpacked within the three-month period. Visit http://samsung.angrybirds.com/galaxynote for more information.
“GALAXY Note continues to delight customers all over the world with its incredible versatility and unique user experience. With the Premium Suite upgrade, we wanted to add features that enrich users’ Note experience even more, including the great advantages of Android 4.0 and innovative applications for S Pen,” said JK Shin, President of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “We are committed to providing extraordinary experiences for consumers, and we will continue to provide new features and upgrades to enrich our offering.”
The Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade brings an entirely new look and feel to Android on GALAXY Note, with a more intuitive user interface that includes a redesigned App menu for easier multi-tasking. The upgrade also introduces innovations such as Face Unlock, Snapshot, Android Beam and others.
The availability and scheduling of the software upgrade will vary by market and wireless carriers’ requirements.
It's only 4AM in Barcelona, but the Mobile World Congress news is already popping — Samsung just took the wraps off the Galaxy Beam, an Android 2.3 smartphone with a built-in HD projector. Outside of the projector, the phone's other specs are fairly pedestrian. There's a 4-inch display with an 800 x 480 resolution, 1GHz dual-core processor, 5MP back camera with flash plus a 1.3MP front-facing camera, and 8GB of storage onboard (plus a microSD slot). As for connectivity, it'll run on GSM networks thanks to quad-band HSPA+.
While the specs are unexciting, the projector is the real draw here. It's rated at an "ultra-bright" 15 lumens and can project onto surfaces in HD up to 50 feet wide. There's also some custom software on board -- it sounds like the project doesn't just output whatever is on your screen but instead uses a "project dedicated" application to let users share specific pieces of content like photos, video, or games. We'll surely get to see this handset at MWC and will let you know our impressions.
Samsung will soon officially announce its first quad-core mobile processor, a successor to its current Exynos chip. At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, Samsung offered a look at the new processor, which comes in dual- and quad-core format and will use 32nm rather than 45nm technology. The chip is supposed to have 26 percent higher performance than its 45nm predecessor, and Samsung promises a 34 to 50 percent improvement in battery life. It's also supposed to improve video framerates by about a quarter.
With this chip, Samsung is apparently optimizing for battery rather than pure performance, with an eye towards more efficient smartphone power use and heat management. When the chip is released, it will be competing with Nvidia's quad-core processor, which was announced last year. We'll also be waiting to see if it's officially unveiled at MWC.