Hands, wrists, and face on with Samsung’s latest mobile gear

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I know you all desperately missed me last week Thursday and Friday. All those cabbage comments had to be put on hold while I was MIA. Truth is, I was in the land of hipsters and particularly flat mountains for the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I got to play with the device, as well as some of Samsung’s other tech goodies.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung launched their flagship device, the Galaxy Note 4, last week Friday, the 17th of October. There are several packages and options offered by the various service providers to choose from, but more on that later.

You can ask anybody at the office, nobody loves ripping off the size of the Note more than I do. Times have changed though, and the device felt perfectly normal in my hand, and honestly, seems to be the size to get these days. It’s comfortable and surprisingly light. The 5.7” Super AMOLED display is capable of quad-HD resolutions – 2560 x 1440 to be exact. It really is beautiful to look at, and my eyes were more than happy with what they saw.

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I genuinely laughed when the phone’s new and improved front facing camera was said to be a result of the ever popular selfie. It’s a 3.7 megapixel camera with a f1.9 lens – ideal for those poorly lit scenarios. The viewing angle has also been improved somewhat, and can be further enhanced via the built in software to make sure that nobody gets left out of those people-packed shots. No really, the selfie was a feature that was spoken on quite extensively. The front camera is actually rather good, snapping my beautiful face perfectly even though the lighting around me wasn’t that great.  For everybody else, the rear of the phone has a 16 megapixel camera and it shoots nicely too.

Batteries on phones today don’t last as long as they used to. All those extra features tend to come at the expense of operational time. Samsung say that a dead battery on the Note 4 can be charged to 50% in a mere 30 minutes. I obviously wasn’t able to test it out for myself, but if true, that’s rather impressive.

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The feature list is extensive, and I will never be able to cover them all in a single article. Overall, I only had some brief time with the device, but I can say that Samsung have done some good work on it. It’s snappy in performance, comfortable to hold, and a joy to look at.

As with most premium devices, you can expect to get the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for around R599 a month. Recommended prepaid price is about R11 499.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The Edge is honestly one of the most interesting pieces of tech I have seen in a long time. It’s similar to the Note 4, but comes with an additional curved screen on the right hand side. This additional bar can be customised accordingly; for example, it could have some additional shortcut icons such as Whatsapp or contacts, or a scrolling bar with news or updates. Much like the home menu on the primary screen, the sidebar can also be swiped left or right for additional screens.

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While minor, I did joke about how lefties would benefit from the curved addition. If you tend to use your phone singlehandedly (with your left hand), the right bar is honestly a little too far to use comfortably. I have large hands, and even I struggled to stretch my thumb over with ease. Flipping the phone over would fix this annoyance, but it’s just not that practical. Still, it’s a neat idea, I’m just not sure if it will catch. Personally, I like it. That sidebar is responsive and easy to navigate. I would like to see any future Edge iterations have both sides of the screen curved, that would be awesome!

Launch dates on the Galaxy Note Edge are unconfirmed. Samsung did say that they plan on launching it in Q1 2015 though.

Samsung Gear S

The Smart Watch idea is something I still don’t entirely get. This is a step in the right direction at least, as the Gear S does not require a nearby paired phone to be functional. It can take its own SIM, and can make (and receive) calls, messages, navigate by means of GPS, klap some tunes, and much more. Unfortunately, I never got to try one of them on (due to all the necessary security cables). Looking at it though, the screen is neat and operational, and the standby clock face screen is honestly quite sexy.

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The Samsung Gear S has a RRP of R5999, which seems a bit on the pricey side. If you are looking to get one, try get it in a bundled with the Galaxy Note 4. If you are a Smart Watch enthusiast, I’d imagine you’d be very happy with what the Gear S has to offer.

Samsung Gear VR

The Gear VR is also an interesting bit of tech. It combines with the Note 4 (the device is placed in front of the goggles) and turns the phone screen into an immersive virtual reality experience. The latency is surprisingly good, which should eliminate or at least minimise the nausea people have been experiencing with other devices of similar nature.

Wearing the goggles opens up a whole new world. It really is something turning your head around to see what is behind you, or simply looking up and down to take in the surroundings. If this technology were to be combined effectively with gaming, it would honestly be amazing.

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That being said, I found that the picture was not as clear as I would’ve liked it to be. Turning the little dial for clarity yielded nothing. Yes I wear glasses, but only because I am short sighted. I would imagine that having something on top of my eyes would hardly be a problem in terms of picture quality, yet it was. Don’t get me wrong, the picture isn’t terrible by any means, it could just be a whole lot clearer. My experience may also just be a result of my eyesight.

There are no official plans to bring Gear VR to South Africa at the moment. Samsung are working on it though. When asked what the RRP would be, they were unable to disclose, but did say that it would certainly be affordable in this context.

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Overall, there are some interesting devices coming out of Samsung. Their innovations can’t be faulted. I look forward to seeing what features their future devices will have.

Last Updated: October 20, 2014

Matthew Figueira

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

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