Here comes Swatch’s defense against the Apple Watch

iWatch from Apple
iWatch from Apple

As the Apple Watch launch approaches, one of the most interesting incumbents to keep an eye on is Swatch, the mid-price, design-driven Swiss watchmaker. Swatch has promised at least one smartwatch of its own. In the meantime, it has unveiled this chunky new fitness-oriented device, the Swatch Touch Zero One.

It’s a device geared specifically for beach volleyball enthusiasts—“Created with beach volleyball in mind,” the company notes—so it’s not quite fair to compare it directly to the Apple Watch. (It is, however, perfectly appropriate to say that Swatch seems to have raided the Sony Sports design closet from the 1990s.)

But it raises an important question: In the smartwatch era, is a separate device for tracking beach volleyball—or running, or any specific activity—viable? Or will those functions simply become apps on a more general device, like an Apple- or Google-powered smartwatch? And, moreover, can a company like Swatch—with limited software expertise, but a strong legacy of watch design and distribution—effectively compete?

Read this next: Six things to know about the Swiss watch industry before Apple invades


Samsung Galaxy S5 release date, news, rumours, specs and price

A Samsung Galaxy S5 release date is not expected until next year, but a raft of Samsung Galaxy S5 rumours have already starting circulating, offering early details on the next-gen flagship phone.

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 now a matter of months old, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 available to buy and the iPhone 5S having hit retailers as the new target of the smartphone industry, Samsung has promised some impressive Samsung Galaxy S5 specs are on the horizon, while the rumour mill has offered even more.

While recent Samsung Galaxy S5 rumours have pointed to the device trading in its less than impressive plastic build in favour of a new metal option, Samsung itself has stated the phone will support a 64-bit processor. While it might copy the iPhone 5S’ CPU, Samsung has stated the S5 will not feature an integrated fingerprint scanner.

What’s more, while much on the Korean manufacturer’s next flagship phone still remains shrouded in speculation and mystery, recent reports have claimed that the Samsung Galaxy S5 specs sheet could be bolstered by a 16-megapixel rear-mounted camera and 3GB of RAM wrapped within a Samsung Galaxy S4 Active esque waterproof coating. Although currently unconfirmed, the already eagerly awaited Samsung Galaxy S5 is an inevitability of the current trend of annual product cycles and companies’ insatiable need to always be pushing the envelope and raking in the cash.

Ensuring you are kept abreast of all the latest Samsung Galaxy S5 news and rumours, including when you can expect the Samsung Galaxy S5 release date, what specs the phone will have and how much it will set you back, bookmark this page as will be updating it regularly leading up to the S5 launch next year.

Samsung Galaxy S5 News

The latest Samsung Galaxy S5 news has seen a waterproof body tipped for inclusion on the HTC One rival. Unlike the S4 and the follow-on S4 Active, recent reports out of Korea have hinted that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be a waterproof and dustproof direct from the box, much like the Sony Xperia Z1.

According to further Korean national news outlets, the Samsung Galaxy S5 will also adopt an aluminium or other metal body in a bid to keep footing with the highend and luxurious path being forged out by its competitors, Apple and HTC.

Ensuring it is not left behind, further Samsung Galaxy S5 news has seen the Korean manufacturer play a petty game of one-upmanship with Apple. Following the iPhone 5S unveiling with a 64-bit CPU in tow, Samsung has confirmed that the Samsung Galaxy S5 specs sheet will see the same processing power.

Questioned by the Korea Times on whether its future phones will run 64-bit CPUs like the iPhone 5S, Samsung’s CEO of Mobile Shin Jong-Kyun stated: “Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality.”

Although taking pointers from the iPhone 5S’ processor, further Samsung representatives have added that the S5 will not incorporate a fingerprint scanner like its leading rival. “We are not yet developing the technology,” an official Samsung spokesperson said when questioned on the possibility of a fingerprint scanner hosting Samsung Galaxy S5.

Further reports have suggested the Samsung Galaxy S5 release date will see the handset line up with 3GB of RAM in tow. A feature that has also been mooted for the imminent Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the S5’s expansive RAM has been hinted at after the company’s latest development announcement.

Speaking in recent weeks, Samsung confirmed that it had started mass production of the first 3GB low power DDR3 RAM chips for mobile devices. With the Samsung Galaxy S5 set to be the manufacturer’s new flagship phone, it makes sense that it will run the company’s latest developments and most advanced components.

A chip that could spell more than increased speeds and improved multitasking capabilities, the Samsung Galaxy S5 RAM improvement could result in a slimmer phone with a bettery battery life. An official spokesperson for the company stated: “Samsung’s new ultra-slim memory solutions will enable thinner smartphone designs and allow for additional battery space, while offering a data transfer speed of up to 2,133 megabits per second (Mbps) per pin.”

Samsung Galaxy S5 Release Date

As you would expect, Samsung has yet to give any direct indication as to when the Samsung Galaxy S5 release date will be held. That’s not to say we don’t have some idea on when to expect the next addition to the company’s flagship smartphone brand though.

If Samsung sticks with past tradition – and we can’t see why it wouldn’t – then it is expected that the Samsung Galaxy S5 release date will be held sometime around April/May 2014.

Although still nothing more than speculation, this predicted Samsung Galaxy S5 release date does have a theory behind it. Like its bitter rival Apple, Samsung has become something of a fan of strict annual product cycles for its leading product lines, as such it has become a little bit predictable.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 hit UK retailers on April 26 after a dedicated New York launch event on March 14. The Samsung Galaxy S3 went into stores on May 29 2012 and all the way back in 2011, the Samsung Galaxy S2 launched on May 1. Starting to see the pattern?

Although a late April/early May Samsung Galaxy S5 release date is believed to be on the cards, there are still many rounds of rumours and leaks expected before then.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5 Rumours

It might be early, but the Samsung Galaxy S5 rumours are already doing the rounds. The most prominent Samsung Galaxy S5 rumours to date, however, all focus on one area of the currently unconfirmed phone – its design.

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 having been widely criticised for its plastic form factor which failed to match up to the brushed metal highlights of the iPhone 5 or HTC One, Samsung is widely expected to adopt an all new finish for the S5, with new aluminium body repeatedly tipped.

According to unnamed “sources close to the South Korean phone maker,” recent reports have suggested that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be used to launch a new ‘Design 3.0’ standard within the company.

The sources stated: “While we don’t have the slightest idea what Design 3.0 really means in terms of looks, we can now confirm that Samsung will start to use aluminium for its high-end smartphones, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be the first one to receive this treatment.”

Further hinting at a change in design and materials, Samsung recently acquired carbon fibre specialist the SGL Group, announcing in an official statement that it would be using the high-end lightweight materials in future phones and tablets.

“Lightweight materials have become an important factor not only in industrial applications but also the consumer end markets such as digital media,” Yoosung Chung, President & CEO of Samsung Petrochemical said. He added: “This partnership will position Samsung as a leading player in the development and application of carbon fibre-based products.”

“The cooperation is expected to provide a stable long-term supply of carbon fibre materials for Samsung and promote its use in various Samsung products and applications such as consumer electronics, medical devices and engineering applications,”

Samsung Galaxy S5 Specs

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 having taken smartphone specs to the next level, it is widely expected that the South Korean manufacturer will continue with a similar trend with the next-generation S5. Although few areas of the phone’s features list have yet been rumoured, certain elements have been teased.

Earlier this month a Samsung design patent leaked (above) showing off a new angled-edged phone which has been mooted to the be the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5.

Based on the outed design filing, the phone will run a version of Google’s Android operating system (no surprises there then) as well as integrated cameras front and back. At present no further S5 specs have leaked.

Other recently emerged Samsung Galaxy S5 rumours have claimed the upcoming handset will make use of a new 16-megapixel smartphone camera sensor, offing high-end snaps that will finally spell the end for the dedicated compact camera.

According to recent reports, the Samsung Galaxy S5 specs sheet will see the new 16-megapixel camera sensor further bolstered by optical image stabilisation features.

The revised camera component is said to be under development in Korea to replace the 13-megapixel snapper found on the existing S4. It is not expected that the improved camera optics will be ready in time for next week’s Samsung Galaxy Note 3 unveiling.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Price

Although the Samsung Galaxy S5 price is a long way from being confirmed, it has already been suggested that the S5 will cost more than its already pricy predecessor.

According to the same unnamed sources who have claimed a metal bodied design will be bestowed upon the next-gen handset, the Samsung Galaxy S5 price will be bumped up by the new premium building materials.

Stay tuned for more Samsung Galaxy S5 news and rumours as more details on the S4 follow-on continue to appear. While you wait, why not take a look at all the latest iPhone 5S rumours.


BBM Android app available to download, install, chat today

BBM for Android is scheduled to launch today, but missed the release time. Originally, BlackBerry planned to make the BlackBerry Messenger app on your Android phone available today to chat with your long-lost BBM buddies, with the BBM iPhone app set to come in a few hours.

“Thanks for your patience Android users!” says BlackBerry. “Working hard to get you the real BBM ASAP. We’ll let you know when it’s live.”

Head over to the Google Play app store and you should be able to download BBM for Android at some point today. Install the app and you’ll be chatting with your old BlackBerry buds before you can say “WhatsApp? What’s that?”

The BBM app for other devices lets you swap instant messages with other app users, with voice chat to come at a later stage. If you’ve defected from BlackBerry to Apple, the iOS app will be available from the Apple App Store at midnight.

BlackBerry has certainly made us wait for the instant messaging app to arrive on other phones. Sadly scammers have taken advantage of the wait to fill Google Play with fake BBM apps, targeting eager ex-BlackBerry owners with ads, spam or worse.

BlackBerry Messenger was the main reason that teens became as addicted to their BlackBerrys as the most business-minded executive, mainly because — unlike texting — it’s free. You can also write much longer messages and see when someone’s read your missive.

But with the rise of the iPhone and more affordable Android phones, the shine wore off BlackBerry devices — especially with the arrival of IM services like WhatsApp or Samsung ChatOn that work across different devices, so you can chat with friends and family even if they have different phones to you.

Are you excited to get back on BBM? Will this encourage people to come back to BlackBerry, or have the folks at BlackBerry just killed off the last reason to actually buy one of their phones? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or chat away on our Facebook page.

Update: The BBM app was scheduled to appear at noon, when this story was first posted. We’ve updated the story to reflect the delay.

BlackBerry Messenger hits iPhone and Android devices this weekend

Once a unique tool to send short messages without running up SMS charges, BlackBerry Messenger now competes with mobile instant messaging products from Facebook, Apple and others, and less directly with the micro-blogging service Twitter.

AP Photo/Eric RisbergOnce a unique tool to send short messages without running up SMS charges, BlackBerry Messenger now competes with mobile instant messaging products from Facebook, Apple and others, and less directly with the micro-blogging service Twitter.


TORONTO — BlackBerry Ltd said on Wednesday that its popular BlackBerry Messenger instant chat application will be available for rival devices using Google Inc’s Android software and for Apple’s iPhone this weekend.

The struggling Canadian smartphone maker had announced plans to open up the service, often referred to as BBM by both fans and the company, back in May.

Once a unique tool to send short messages without running up SMS charges, BBM now competes with mobile instant messaging products from Facebook, Apple and others, and less directly with the micro-blogging service Twitter.

Android users will be able to download the application on Saturday, while iPhone users can get it on Sunday.


iPhone 5S specs, price, release date & news

Apple has finally revealed the iPhone 5S, its long-awaited successor to the iPhone 5, alongside the colourful plastic iPhone 5c at an official launch event in San Francisco.

want to know the difference between the new phones? Read our iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c comparison

It’s about time Apple fans had a new object of desire, as the Android competition has been getting much stronger with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4HTC Oneand Sony Xperia Z piling on the pressure. Read on to see how Apple has answered the critics.

iPhone 5s colours


iPhone 5S design

As expected, the new handset will be available in a choice of “space grey”, “silver” or “gold” colours, retaining the same glass and aluminium body from the iPhone 5 except with some aluminium edging that gives it that little extra bit of bling.


The 4in display remains unchanged and Apple has stuck with a “Retina-class” 1,136×640 resolution panel. This is unsurprising, seeing as it’s already impossible to spot the individual pixels from an average viewing distance, but will still come as a disappointment for anyone hoping to watch Full HD video (or even 720p content) natively on their morning commute.

The power button is still at the top, next to a 3.5mm audio jack. The volume buttons and mute switch are still on the side and the Lightning connector is still found at the bottom – all in all a very similar looking handset to the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5S TouchID

The only new physical addition to the iPhone 5S is the TouchID ring built into the home button. This silver ring acts as a fingerprint reader for enhanced security. It can read in any orientation and scans below the epidermal skin layers. To avoid scratches, the home button is now made from sapphire crystal.

Want to learn more about Touch ID? Read our breakdown here

iPhone 5S

The rear camera sensor is around 15% larger than the outgoing model, and uses 1.5 micron pixels for improved low-light shooting. The f/2.2 aperture is larger too, and is paired with a twin-LED flash for even more light when shooting in dark conditions. Apple calls it “True Tone”, with one cool white flash and a second warmer amber LED that automatically adjusts depending on lighting conditions for the best picture. Image stabilisation and best shot selection are both automatic. There’s also a burst shot mode and 120fps slow motion video recording at 720p, along with the new filters found in iOS7.


iPhone 5S performance


Inside, Apple has upgraded the A6 processor found in the iPhone 5 to an A7 CPU. It’s a 64-bit chip, to take advantage of the 64-bit version of iOS 7 it will run. It should be up to 40x faster in terms of CPU performance and 56x faster for GPU tasks than the original iPhone, and can run OpenGL 3.0 games like the 2013 Nexus 7.

iPhone 5S A7

It is paired with an M7 Motion Coprocessor, which handles accelerometer, compass and gyroscope duties. It can tell whether you’re walking, driving or stationary, and app developers will be able to tap into it in combination with GPS. Despite the presence of two processors, it should still manage 10 hours of 3G or 4G browsing, or up to 250 hours of standby on a single charge.

It also supports global LTE bands, apparently more than any other smartphone in the world, so will have no trouble working on 4G networks in every country it launches in – including here in the UK, where you’ll have a choice of EEVodafoneand O2.


iOS 7

The iPhone 5S will launch with iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. It’s a major visual departure for the software, with a pastel colour scheme, flattened icons and no more skeuomorphic elements (the way the notes app looked like real lined paper).


Multitasking has been improved so apps update through push notifications, not just when you switch back to them from other apps. Notification Sync will please owners of multiple iOS devices, as swiping a message away from an iPhone 5S will also dismiss it from an iPad.

Apple iOS 7 Notification Center

The redesigned Notification Center now lets you scroll through messages, emails, tweets and other notifications in a long list. Tabs separate updates into Today, All and Missed, so you don’t need to worry about things falling through the cracks.

Apple iOS 7 Control Center

The major addition is Control Center , which puts common settings and toggles such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Flight mode and brightness in one location. A swipe from the bottom of the screen brings up the menu, which also includes a flashlight, music playback controls, a camera shortcut and a calculator. All five iWork apps will be free to download too.

Apple iOS 7 AirDrop

Finally, AirDrop shares whatever you’re currently doing to any nearby iOS 7 device using Wi-Fi. Tapping the AirDrop icon shows who is in the vicinity, and selecting them automatically shares.


Price and availability

The iPhone 5S will go up for pre-oder on the 13th of September, alongside iOS7 for existing iPhone, iPad and iPod models. It will go on sale a week later on the 20th of September. Prices start from $199 on a two-year contract in the US for a 16GB model. The 32GB version will cost $299 and the 64GB will set you back $399. In the UK, SIM-free prices start at £549 for the 16GB, £629 for the 32GB nmad £709 for the 64GB model.


We’ll be taking a closer look at the new phone a little closer to launch, so be sure to check back later in the week.


Even before the official unveiling, we knew thatiOS 7 would launch in the autumn, and Apple rarely launches a new OS without some new hardware to go with it.


As is customary with Apple launches, very little confirmed information had leaked out, but there are always clues suggesting what the company has planned. Brand new hardware was always going to be saved until the iPhone 6, which is expected to launch in 2014.

We were expecting the iPhone 5S to look similar, albeit with a few cosmetic tweaks, to the iPhone 5, primarily because of Apple’s quarterly SEC filings. The financial documents showed $903m spent on equipment purchases, compared to $4.5b two quarters previously. The larger spend was due to heavy investment in new screens for the iPhone 5 – which wasn’t necessary for the new phones.



We weren’t convinced by rumours that the iPhone 5s would have a higher-resolution display than the iPhone 5, because the screen size didn’t look likely to change. Apple already calls the iPhone 5 a “retina-class” handset, where you can’t see individual pixels when holding it at a normal viewing distance, so upping the resolution would be pointless without increasing the screen size.


Two or three different screen sizes were also suggested for the iPhone 5S launch. There’s no question large-screen smartphones, such as the 4.99in Samsung Galaxy S4, are growing in popularity, but different screen sizes for a single product isn’t really something Apple does.

In fact, Tim Cook has said in the past, “My view continues to be that the iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry, and we always strive to create the very best display for our customers. Some customers value large screen size, others value other factors such as resolution, colour quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility with apps and many things.

“Our competitors had made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist.”

We imagine that the larger iOS smartphone will end up being the iPhone 6. Apple could have a large screen phone for those that want it, but continue selling the smaller, more pocket-friendly iPhone 5S.

There was a possibility that the iPhone 5S would be Apple’s first foray into IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) display panels. The result would have been a slightly thinner and significantly brighter display than the iPhone 5, that would be far more energy-efficient than previous models. We first saw the technology at CES in January, when Sharp debuted IGZO displays for the first time inside a 32in 4K monitor. Apple reportedly approached Sharp about its technology following that reveal, about both the iPhone 5S and the upcoming iPad 5, but in the end we’ve still got the same panel seen in the iPhone 5.



Historically, the iPhone has been available in either black or white, but the iPhone 5S added a third colour. Apple Insider originally reported that a “trusted source” expected a third Gold colour option to be added for the iPhone 5S.


TechCrunch heard from “multiple sources” that the iPhone 5S will be available in black, white and gold. To avoid looking tacky, Apple ultimately went a champagne hue, like Hi-Fi kit from the last decade than the blinged-out rims on a footballer’s SUV. Colours tend to cycle in and out of fashion, so perhaps it’s time for champagne gold to be cool again, and it certainly gives Apple a phone that stands out from everything else.

iMore backed up those initial rumours with some technical information on how easy the phone is to make. “According to our own Ally Kazmucha, who’s no stranger to the process, gold is among the easiest colors to anodize onto an iPhone. It involves simple chemical reaction, with the possible addition of dye depending on the exact color they want to produce. (True black, conversely, is the hardest, and takes the most time, which is likely why we currently have ‘slate’ instead.)”



There was every possibility that the iPhone 5S would get a faster A7 processor, a step up from the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5. A recent iPhone 5S photo leakshowed a new processor in the phone, but there were no rumoured specifications and we didn’t know how many cores it had.


Lots of other manufacturers moved to quad-core parts last year, but Apple stuck with dual-core largely because iOS only required two cores to stay efficient. We expected Apple to make the switch, but it has instead stuck with dual-core and opted to move to 64-bit processing model instead.

iPhone 5S
This leaked shot was allegedly of an iPhone 5S, showing a new A7 processor

Manufacturing date codes on the processor and memory put their production dates in October and September 2012 respectively. MacRumours said that the prototype itself was built in December 2012, so it’s likely a very early example of the proposed iPhone 5S design. There’s a very good change the final product may differ greatly from that pictured, but until someone like iFixit performs a breakdown, we won’t know exactly how accurate the leak was.



The iPhone has a reputation for the quality of its integrated camera, but in recent months the competition has taken the lead. The Nokia Lumia 920, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z have all been sold on the quality of their cameras.


Vietnamese site Tinhte, which has previously managed to get Apple hardware early, said the iPhone 5S will have a 12-megapixel sensor. That jump would improve photo resolution, but could also increase noise. Fitting high-resolution, but physically small, sensors means that there’s less light per pixel, which can have a knock-on effect when shooting in low light. Instead, Apple opted to remain at 8-megapixels, but increase the size of those pixels for more detailed photos.

Leaked shots also hinted that the camera would have a dual-LED flash, making it easier to take shots in darker environments. That proved true, although Apple’sTrue Tone system remained a secret until the launch.




Following the launch of a 128GB iPad 4 we knew Apple had the ability to put huge internal capacities in its devices, but as Apple said the 128GB iPad was intended for CAD and music production apps, it was unlikely a 128GB iPhone would be announced. In the end, only 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models were revealed.




The final rumours before launch suggested that the iPhone 5S would get a fingerprint reader and NFC. When combined, the fingerprint reader could authenticate NFC payments to make the smartphone a secure way to buy goods and services.

Taiwanese reports suggest the fingerprint reader will be made by Chipbond, which has secured a huge contract to supply Apple. Apple recently bought Authentec, which built a new fingerprint/NFC security system – this fuelled speculation about the capabilities of the new phone. However, NFC was by no means a certainty, as AirDrop was originally introduced as being better than tapping two phones together – a dig at the way NFC and Android works.



The iPhone 5 had several different variants, with each one sold in a different country based on specific 4G frequency support. There’s no global model which supports worldwide 4G, so we were expecting Apple to resolve this with the iPhone 5S. If not only for customer convenience, it would also reduce costs for the company in the long run. That proved accurate, although we don’t yet know which manufacturer is providing the global LTE chip.



If there’s one thing you can count on for Apple, it’s reliable pricing. Pretty much every time a new product is launched, it costs the same as the outgoing model. We expected £529 for the 16GB model, £599 for 32GB model and £699 for the 64GB model, but in the end Apple raised the price slightly to £549, £629 and £709 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB respectively.

Deals will, of course, be available from mobile operators if you buy the phone on contract.


Samsung rethinks Smart TV (and we’re impressed) : Review

Samsung rethinks Smart TV (and we’re impressed)

Smart TV 2013 Tim Baxter

Wilson Rothman / NBC News

Tim Baxter, president, Samsung Electronics America, shows off the five-screen interface of the newly redesigned Smart TVs.


We’ve been hearing about “smart TV” for so long, the term is starting to sound dumb. But at Samsung’s CES press conference Monday, the more I heard about the newest Smart TVs, the more I wanted one.

Usually, it’s the opposite — the more you see and experience, the worse the stuff seems, riddled with caveats. And there are certainly caveats with Samsung’s newest sets, but the more we heard today, the more this sounds like what everyone’s expecting Apple TV to be.

The 2013 Smart TV interface consist of five screens that you wave through with your remote, the way you’d flick across the screens of a smartphone. (Coincidence? I think not.)

Page 1 is “what’s on right now.” Live TV personalized to your taste, plus some near-term recommendations. The “S-Recommendation” engine even knows what time of day it is, so it won’t try to get you to watch TODAY at night, nor will it try to sell you on a Bond marathon when you’re trying to go to work. At least in theory.

Page 2 is movies and TV shows, including on-demand content. Mind you, it’s not integrated Netflix or anything like that. It’s Samsung’s own content offering. Will we all soon have Samsung media store accounts? That’s a space to watch, for sure.

Samsung Smart TV 2013

Wilson Rothman / NBC News

The full apps page in Samsung’s redesigned Smart TV platform, presented by Joe Stinziano, executive vice president, Samsung Electronics America.

Page 3 is music and photos stored on devices around your home: computers, smartphones and network drives. If you pull up a photo, the camera-equipped TVs let you do a bit of “Minority Report“-like photo zoom and rotate. If they can keep the content organized across all the devices in my house, I’ll be impressed.

Page 4 is social networking services and Skype-powered video calling, a coupling that could get powerful on the large screen, especially the part where grandparents get to tune in and talk to their grandkids. That’s a powerful thing, more powerful, I daresay, than the draw of Facebook and Twitter.

Page 5 is apps. Page 5. Like, it’s the fifth most important thing. Thank you, Samsung. You are acknowledging that this whole universe of apps thing is neat, but it’s not what Smart TV is all about. It’s just a piece of it, like it’s a piece of our smartphone experience.

My only beef with burying the apps on the fifth page is my overall beef with the system: Unlike, say,Panasonic’s new smart TV interface, you apparently can’t customize the home screen with your favorite stuff, including apps. I don’t like that Netflix and my current favorite, Amazon Instant Video, are ghettoized on Page 5, if it means I have to wade through other stuff to find them.

Samsung is deliberately elevating its own services instead of promoting those of other companies, sure, but ultimately, user preference wins out over all of that. And that’s coming from an iPhone/iPad enthusiast who eschews Apple services for those of Spotify, Google and Amazon.

Samsung's "evolution kit" for Smart TV


Samsung’s “evolution kit” for Smart TV

This whole interface thing can’t be pulled off without serious hardware underneath. Samsung’s newest TVs are the first with quad-core processors, making them three times faster than the last generation.

But if you were a sucker and bought a 2012 Smart TV, all is not lost: Samsung will sell an “evolution kit,” otherwise known as “a brain transplant for your TV.” You insert this tiny black box into a slot on participating 2012 Smart TVs, and the 2013 features “spring to life.”

Not bad, but before I declare it the Apple TV that Apple didn’t build, I want to see how it deals with my cable box. This is impressive, but you’ll have to stay tuned for the final verdict.

Wilson Rothman is the Technology & Science editor at NBC News Digital. He’ll be at the Consumer Electronics Show through Friday in Las Vegas, so feel free to tweet him up at @wjrothman, and join our conversation on Facebook.



Samsung Galaxy S4 release date, news and rumours

UPDATED All the speculation on the new Galaxy SIV

Samsung Galaxy S4 release date, news and rumours
The S3 still could do with a few tweaks

It certainly feels like Samsung is taking over the world right now – at least, the Android world. There’s no doubt that last year’s Galaxy S2 was arguably the phone of the year.

And not in recent times, discounting Apple of course, can we remember the anticipation and expectation of a phone as much as the Galaxy S3.

If you needed a barometer of this, just look at how it was unveiled. Not at MWC like lots of others, but its own event, proving the Galaxy line has reached the level where it can guarantee hoards will come just for an unveiling.

The name was even ‘confirmed’ at a recent event by a researcher, which means it’s coming closer and closer to reality.

But that’s last season’s device, and we’re looking forward to the next level of what to expect in the Galaxy SIV. The trickle of ‘sources’ talking about this new device is starting to build to a steady stream, so we’re on hand to help let you know which whispers have a notion of truth about them – as well as providing our wishlist of what we want Samsung to improve on the new handset.

Samsung Galaxy S4 screen

The Galaxy S2 had an amazing Super AMOLED Plus display – and boy, was it vibrant. The S3 upped the screen size from 4.3-inches to 4.8-inches and the pixel density went from 217 to 306 to take a run at the iPhone’s Retina Display.

But, Samsung also opted for a PenTile approach, to the chagrin of geeks. What does that mean for the end user?

Well, the screen looks great but you can make out pixels if you really, really strain. And some of the vivacity and colour saturation is lost. On the plus side, Samsung reckons the screen will last longer – but we’d rather see a much more S2-like screen with a sharper resolution – and given that’s now appeared on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, we’re pretty hopeful we’ll get it on the Samsung Galaxy S4 too.

Alternatively, there have been a number of rumours that Samsung is going to bring a flexible screen to the Galaxy S4 – but given the Korean brand is already pushing the delivery of such tech back into 2013 for its customers, we think we’ll be in Galaxy S5 territory before that happens.

There seems a much more likely option in the shape of the 5-inch 1080p screen that could offer up an eye-splitting 441ppi, making it easily the highest res out there. It would probably need to be shrunk down a smidge to fit into the palm, or Samsung could actually just make the phone even closer to the edges of the screen. Dare we dream of an edge-to-edge display like on the 9000 series TVs?

However, the bad news is that due to reported manufacturing issues these may have been delayed… does that mean the phone will have to be pushed back as well?

Update: A source for the Verge now suggests that the flexible display option really is out of the question, with no Galaxy S device sporting the new screen tech in 2013, although it will be shown off as a concept at the Vegas smorgasbord of gadgetry.

Samsung Galaxy S4 release date

It seems more than likely that Samsung will eschew MWC 2013 once more for the release of its top handset, instead focusing on the launch in May 2013, which we’d really like to see. A recent teaser by Samsung promised something at CES in January, but this is really rather unlikely – although apparently the brand showed off prototypes to key execs from networks and supply chain-ers.

This is for a number of reasons: time to allow the current customers to buy the S3, being able to scoop up all the customers about to come out of contract from the S2 and also not making its fans feel like its throwing out a new flagship phone every three seconds.

Samsung galaxy s4 release date

However, that didn’t stop the rumour mill deciding that the Galaxy S4 launch was set for March 2013, based on something a Samsung ‘representative’ said to the media. The brand quickly took to Twitter to discredit the rumours, so it looks like the middle of the year launch is still firmly on the cards.

Since then another rumour, of a phone dubbed ‘Project J’, has emerged, and that’s set for an April unveil… so it seems we’re looking at a Q2 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 launch as it stands, which means you’ll probably be able to actually hold one in your hands come May, and it will likely be given the model number of GT-I9500, which is leap from GT-I9300 but has been confirmed as likely legit when showing up in firmware versions, as well as on Samsung’s official software page.

Another source has written off the chance of the Galaxy S4 appearing at CES 2013 and MWC 2013 – giving the suggestion that an April event is on the cards more weight.

Update:New sources, apparently Samsung’s Korean execs themselves, are touting an April Samsung Galaxy S4 release… and it will even come with an S Pen accessory too! However, this seems unlikely given it’s only currently used on the Note range, so a boring C Pen upgrade could be all that’s on the cards.

Samsung Lebanon has weighed in too, revealing that it’s not coming in the next three months: “The Galaxy SIV won’t be released before May 2013,” the brand said, rather emphatically – despite some sites carrying news that an anonymous exec was claiming March as the release date and the venue for launch was going to be in the US, UK or South Korea.

Samsung Galaxy S4 specs

There’s not a lot around about specs at the moment, but the rumours emanating from the good ol’ internet rumour mill are certainly enough to make us excited.

The first is that the S4 will have a quad-core chip, which might sound a little ‘last gen’ to many. However, it will be based on ARM’s A15 architecture, bringing with it a big boost in power for all those resource-intensive tasks we love to do all the time.

But then again, that’s not Samsung’s way really, is it? We want to see bigger, bangier and faster, so doubling it again to an OCTO-core would be the way to go.

Rather than just making it super powerful though, the eight core innards would split into two groups: A15-spec chips for the big stuff, and A7 when things need to get a little lower power, bringing with it the best of both worlds.

The other big news that we think should be on our wish list is the fact that Samsung’s internal storage bods have been hard at work bringing the flash memory down in size and up in speed… so think even thinner phones with higher capacity that can be written to up to 10x faster. We’re now looking forward to the S4 even more now.

Update: A quad-core processor looks more likely than an eight core offering after the new Exynos 5440 quad-core chip appeared on Samsung’s site, making it a strong contender to feature in the Galaxy S4.

Samsung Galaxy S4 operating system

What’s the good word here? Well, given the time scales involved, we’d fully expect to see the Galaxy S4 running a more mature version of Android 4.2, better known as Android Jelly Bean, as well as the next generation of TouchWiz skin on top.

There are some more daft rumours floating around, namely that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will run off a different operating system called Tizen, simply because Samsung is using it on other phones.

Don’t worry, this won’t happen…although a variant of the phone could be used as a blueprint for a decent alternative handset.

More likely is Samsung bringing out the Galaxy S4 to coincide with the next version of Android from Google, called Key Lime Pie.

April would be roughly the time we’d start seeing rumours of such things, so it’s not unbelievable that you could buy an S4 with a cutting edge OS.

In truth, we’ve never really seen this happen from the Koreans, so chances are it will be boring old Jelly Bean when your S4 appears in your hands.

Samsung Galaxy S4 battery

Ok, we admit we always want more. The S2’s 1,650mAh was manageable and the S3’s 2,100mAh blows that out of the water. But it’s still only OK.

You can get by on a day of moderate use but if you use this phone heavily (and we’re talking watching TV shows on the morning and evening commute alongside your normal tinkering), this handset will still want a plug in at some point.

Motorola has proven it can be done by whacking a 3,300mAh power pack into the RAZR Maxx which can still be considered a skinny Minnie. Something of that size – along with ICS and Samsung’s power management abilities – would really be the icing on the Ice Cream Sandwich.

Samsung Galaxy S4 design

We’ve lost count of the amount of people we’ve shown our device off to who’ve replied with the words: “Yeah, it’s great but looks like a bit of a toy.” It’s a double-edged sword: the plastic is used to keep this handset nice and light, but does detract from what should be a premium device.

A bit of glass wouldn’t go amiss. Android users, say what you like about the iPhone 4/4S (and we know you won’t be short of words), but aside from being smash-tastic, the glass really adds that premium and expensive feel that the S3 just doesn’t have.

Forget what your mum told you – it’s what’s on the outside that counts too, so the Samsung Galaxy S4 needs to step it up in the design stakes.

We’ve now had the first in what we expect to be many leaked shots claiming to be the Samsung Galaxy S4 – and it isn’t filling us with a huge amount of confidence as it could quite easily be a mash up between the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2.

Samsung Galaxy S4 - LEAK

Credit: SamMobile

Better S-Voice

Galaxy S4 review

S-Voice just isn’t there. At least Siri had the nous to call itself a BETA so that it could be excused for not getting things right at times. The problem we have with S-Voice is it just doesn’t seem to be able to do much.

Sure, it can tell you what the weather is like if you really can’t be bothered to look out the window. And it’ll save you 10 seconds by setting an alarm.

But it’s just not powerful enough – and is, frankly, awful for something that’s supposed to be a headline feature on one of the world’s best smartphones.

We’ve actually been using Speak To It Assistant far more often because it’s superior. Samsung could do worse than buy a company like this to give the Galaxy S4 a real chance of being the best voice-controlled mobile out there.

Better Mac support

Yep, we know many consumers believe Mac users account for only 0.000001% of Android owners (why wouldn’t they just buy an iPhone, right?)

But there are lots who like Apple computers as well as Android devices. And up until the S3, they got on famously.

But Android has changed the rules and how storage works so that it follows the MTP Protocol which plays along brilliantly with Windows but can’t stand Macs.

Yes, we know this is a Google issue and not something that Samsung can be blamed for. But having said that, the HTC One X also runs Ice Cream Sandwich and it has managed to tweak the code enough for there to not be a problem.

Please Samsung – don’t shut them out. Ice Cream Sandwich may be frozen – but we shouldn’t be, so when you bring out the Jelly Bean or Key Lime Pie-powered Galaxy S4, let’s get some support.

Samsung Galaxy S4 accessories

Samsung unveiled the SIII alongside a raft of accessories – the usual things like cases were complimented by the C-Pen (like the Note 2’s S-Pen but smaller) and the dongle for connecting to your TV to stream stuff.

The problem is, they’re all so expensive: £20 for the C-Pen and the best part of £70 for the AllShare Dongle. They’re not mainstream accessories – and little wonder.

If Samsung made these cheaper – or even threw them into the box for the Galaxy S4 (highly unlikely, but we can dream) then it would make for a much happier customer.

Perhaps a premium package where you spend a little more but get the accessories at the same time would work… people like to get the most out of things when they get their shiny new device.

Better charging

Plug it in and charge until it’s full. That’s always been the way. But we’d love to see a more advanced version of charging – ditching the wires should be more prevalent.

Galaxy S4

Maybe something similar to the conductive methods used by Palm in the Pre which never really caught on. The idea being that you don’t have to plug the phone in to charge, just place it on a particular mat or place and it does it automatically.The S3 has that functionality, but it’s hardly been well-publicised since launch.

The likes of Nokia with the Lumia 920 have been banging on about the amazing world of wireless charging for ages now, with a range of accessories too. Given that it will all be based on the Qi wireless charging standard, we’ll soon see reams of coffee shops and airports with these charging stations littered around – just don’t forget to watch your phone.

Or how about something really radical – like a battery that can also charge kinetically on the S4. Sure, it would be slow but wouldn’t it be great if you could go for a run and manage to gain an extra 10 or 20% just by doing so to get you through the day? Radical – yes. But Samsung is known for its innovation.

Improved speakers

As beautiful and wonderful as the S3 is, the speaker still sounds tinny. Ringtones sound cheap and when it is on its back, they’re also muffled. At least the iPhone has a bit of bass.

But what about going a bit further? Have three or four powerful but small speakers around the rim so when you play music, it comes out loud and with a bit of bass.

Hell, even make it so strong that it negates the need for a travel dock so you can play music at a decent volume when you nip away for the weekend or are sitting on the beach. That’d be a real selling point.

By Gareth Beavis