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Multiple rumors point to Samsung releasing a new flagship phone dubbed Galaxy Alpha, that will feature a metal body and a 4.8-inch display.

Galaxy Alpha, the prevailing theory goes, is meant to fight the 4.7-inch iPhone model that Apple is widely expected to release this fall. Apple may also enter phablet territory, with a 5.5-inch iPhone model that will go up against Samsung’s successful Note series.

But there’s one leaked specification that casts doubt over the potential success of the Galaxy Alpha, and now a new source confirms it – supporting Sam Mobile’s recent leak and a user agent profile, a listing on Samsung’s developer console shows that the Galaxy Alpha will feature a 720p (1280 x 720) display.

Samsung is usually known for pushing the envelope of phone specifications, even when the effect on user experience is not worth it. And it’s not just Samsung – we’ve all got used to ever bigger resolutions, more megapixels, and faster processing cores.

In this world of “bigger is better,” it’s strange to see Samsung go back to 720p for a device that’s supposed to be top of the range.

If our clues are correct, the Alpha will actually feature a display that is very similar to the one on the 2012 Galaxy S3, with a pixel density of 306 ppi.

galaxy note 2 vs galaxy s3 display

Note 2 (267 ppi) and Galaxy S3 (306 ppi)

Too little or still good enough?

Is 306 ppi too little for a 2014 flagship? It depends on whom you ask. If you’re used to Full HD, you may balk at going back to less. The same goes if you must have the very best for your money.

However, there are tens of millions of users out there that are perfectly happy with the 326 ppi offered by the iPhone 5s. You know the shtick – Apple’s Retina display is so dense that the average human can’t discern pixels, or so the marketing pitch goes. So perhaps Samsung could get away with using a similar density on a larger screen, which, theoretically, you would hold at a greater distance from your eyes anyway. Motorola has done something similar with the Moto X, and few users ever complained about its 720p display.

Then again, it may be a little too late for Samsung to try its luck with a 306 ppi display on a premium phone. Apple is rumored to go for a resolution of 1704 x 906 on the 4.7-inch iPhone, which translates to a 416 ppi density. Reviews and comparisons will inevitably highlight the difference in the iPhone’s favor, in an ironic turn of tables.

And, in the age of Quad HD, the Alpha’s display will look downright puny compared to other Android flagships.

galaxy-alpha-6

Galaxy Alpha

Why?

But why is Samsung taking this risky bet anyway? Without a full picture of the Galaxy Alpha, it’s hard to say, but it may be a cost control measure, a technical issue, or a combination of both.

With the exception of the One (M7), there really aren’t Full HD devices under 5 inches out there; and the M7 is LCD, not AMOLED, which Samsung prefers to use on high-end phones. The aluminum body could bring up the Alpha’s bill of materials, especially since Samsung doesn’t really have experience and infrastructure for building metal phones.

It’s possible that Samsung found it too difficult and expensive to use Full HD on a device that could end up a “limited edition” anyway.

How about you – would you buy the Galaxy Alpha if it had a 720p display?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

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Samsung Tizen OS

It looks like we will have to wait even longer to see what Samsung’s Tizen operating system has in store for the world of smartphones, as Samsung has today stated that it is postponing the launch of the Samsung Z in Russia yet again. Although Tizen has already officially made its debut inside some of Samsung’s latest smartwatches and wearables, the more important business of the operating system’s smartphone debut remains elusive, for now.

Earlier today, Samsung declared a need to “further enhance [the] Tizen ecosystem” before launch, indicating that either, the software isn’t quite up to scratch, or that there is a still shortage of decent apps for the platform, even though apparently Tizen will play nice with Android apps via a virtual machine. The company avoided giving any details on its future plans for Tizen, or when the Samsung Z smartphone would eventually appear.

Originally, Samsung had planned for the Tizen powered Z handset to launch in Russia on July 10th at a Tizen developer summit in Moscow. However, the launch date came and went without any sign of a smartphone that looked market-ready. Instead, Samsung simply said that the handset would appear on the Russian market “later”.

The release was apparently pushed back into the third quarter of this year, just days before the device was expected to launch. Again, the reason given was to allow for more app development time. This wasn’t the first time that a Tizen smartphone had been dropped at the last minute, Japanese retailer NTT DoCoMo decided to cancel its first Tizen handset back in January.

Technically there is still time for Samsung to get its first Tizen smartphone out before the end of Q3, or failing that before the end of the year. However, Eldar Murtazin, a Moscow-based technology analyst who has been reporting on the Tizen smartphone’s setbacks, has cited anonymous sources which suggest that the Samsung Z smartphone “won’t arrive in 2014 at all” in Russia.

With so many setbacks and delays, it’s hard not to wonder if the Samsung Z will ever see the light of day. Looking at this is an a positive light, at least Samsung is determined to show Tizen off at its best, whenever it finally arrives in smartphone form.

Source: Wall Street Journal;

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samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one backs aa

Good marketing is more than airing the best commercials, orchestrating the most outrageous publicity stunts, or unleashing the biggest ad budget. Sometimes good marketing is simply a matter of seizing the moment and showing that you care about your customers more than the next guy.

That’s exactly what HTC did for a Reddit user who had a bad experience with a Galaxy S4 and the support he received from Samsung.

TweektheGeek's device

TweektheGeek’s device

Long story short, TweektheGeek’s Galaxy S4 overheated and partially melted one night, without apparent reason. The Redditor got in contact with Samsung, and initially, he was very satisfied with the company’s response. Samsung promised him he would be sent a replacement unit, along with a box for mailing back the damaged device for inspection.

A month later, TweektheGeek reported back that, while he received the mail-back box, he didn’t ever get the Galaxy S4 that Samsung’s reps promised to him. That’s where Leigh Momii, a product manager with HTC, jumped in.

Leigh offered TweektheGeek a free HTC One (M8) under one condition – if Samsung ever sends him the replacement Galaxy S4, the redditor will donate it to a charity of his choice. Oh, and she made it clear that she can’t offer free smartphones to everyone who’s been through a similar problem. TweektheGeek gladly accepted the gift.

Sure, you can look at HTC’s actions like just a PR move meant to gain some goodwill from a community of tech-minded people that are likely to influence the buying decisions of many others. Even knowing that, it’s still nice to see, however, that a large company takes an interest in the problems of average users.

We’ve reached out to Samsung to see what happened on its side and we’ll update if we get a response. As the biggest smartphone maker in the world, Samsung’s devices are often involved in similar incidents. Maybe having a competitor take advantage of stories likes this one will help Samsung – and every other smartphone maker – realize the importance of proper customer care.

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I’m sure the odds are pretty high that improved battery life is one of the, if not the, top feature that you would like to see in your next smartphone. If so, here’s a piece of prospective good news, researchers at Stanford University have come up with a lithium battery design that should last two to three times as long as current smartphone batteries.

The new battery design aims to solve efficiency problems of current li-ion cells, by replacing the anode barrier with a new nanoscopic carbon shield that allows for a higher battery capacity, which means that your handset will last longer. The carbon nanosphere wall applied at the battery’s anode is just 20 nanometers thick. For a sense of scale, you would need to stack 5,000 layers atop one another to reach the width of single human hair.

“The ideal protective layer for a lithium metal anode needs to be chemically stable to protect against the chemical reactions with the electrolyte, and mechanically strong to withstand the expansion of the lithium during charge” - Steven Chu, Stanford University

If you are in need of a more technical explanation – ideally batteries would make use of a pure lithium anode, as this would result in very high levels of efficiency. However, in reality this isn’t practical for use in a battery, as lithium ions expand as they gather on the anode during charging, leading to clusters or growths of lithium ions on the anode, which eventually short circuits the battery. There are also problems with excessive heat and short battery life spans.

Instead, a barrier is required over the anode to improve stability, but this ends up wasting some of the battery’s energy. Researchers have previously attempted to use lithium metal, silicon and tin as anodes, and sulphur and oxygen as cathodes, in search of superior energy storage densities, but they all have their trade-offs. Engineers are still attempting to reach the ideal lithium anode scenario, but without the fire and explosions.

Li-ion carbon nano layer

The carbon layer (bottom) prevents the build up of escaped lithium ions, preserving the battery’s life-cycle whilst improving anode efficiency.

Research conducted at Stanford has demonstrated that by coating a lithium metal anode with a monolayer of interconnected amorphous hollow carbon nanospheres, the lithium metal depositions can be isolated, which in turn leads to a more stable battery, whilst retaining most of the high capacity benefits of a lithium metal anode.

However, as is always the case with these emerging technologies, it is not quite ready for commercial use. The team is not quite at the 99.9 percent coulombic efficiency required of a commercial battery, but Steven Chu is positive that, after a bit more work, this technology could power the next generation of rechargeable batteries.

Via: Engadget; Source: Nature;

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