The Samsung Galaxy S 4 isn’t about the specs, it’s about the features and marketing

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You have to hand it to Samsung really. After getting the public to generate unprecedented buzz and pandemonium, Samsung certainly brought in the Galaxy S 4 with a bang thanks to its snazzy Unpacked 2013: Episode I event. Heck— the buzz and excitement caused not one, but two competitors to try and pour salt in Sammy’s coffee, yet Sammy wasn’t deterred. As opposed to the traditional unveilings and demos that we’re used to seeing at keynote events, Samsung instead thought about doing something ummm, “unique” or “different” to say the least by providing a variety of skits, dances and literally theatrics to introduce its new flagship. More importantly, Samsung used its brand name to be out of the box in comparison to its competitors: go into the heart of the Broadway, use one of the world’s largest stages complete with an orchestra, an MC and some sweet live performances to introduce something that is “unique” and different”.

While those of us in attendance were quite impressed (and believe us, Rob Nazarian & I were certainly entertained at the event)— the Galaxy S 4 certainly poses a significant observation of not just the Galaxy S 4, but Samsung as a brand as we know it: Samsung is utilizing the features and more importantly— the marketing of its products to sell its brand. Make no mistake about it: Samsung has made a serious transition going from what was known as a relatively unknown Korean brand to a wannabe Apple competitor to what is perhaps the most exciting and controversial brand to date. The scary thing is this— not only is the transition a success, but everyone else is now playing catchup in terms of brand recognition and excitement.


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Help Me Obama Wan, You’re My Only Hope… For Legally Unlocking My Phone

Yes, it is now illegal for users to unlock mobile phones to use on another network and most of us are not too happy about it. The good thing is the change in legal status, a direct result of the Library Of Congress ruling we told you about in October, will probably not affect too many of us. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) still protects our right to unlock the bootloader but it stripped away our ability to lawfully unlock a cell phone purchased from a carrier even after we’ve fulfilled our contractual obligation.

For example, a phone purchased from AT&T cannot legally be unlocked by the user (or third party) to be used on T-Mobile. The carrier, on the other hand, faces no new restrictions and in many cases will unlock devices of customers in good standing. Phones on Verizon & Sprint are unaffected since they are CDMA networks with handsets that aren’t really locked the same way GSM phones are locked. Purchase an unlocked phone, like the Nexus 4, and this becomes a non-issue.


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Are you addicted to your smartphone? My experiences using a dumbphone and tablet combination to break the habit

Smartphones are incredible tools and toys that make our lives easier, more productive, more social and more fun. All great things, right? But like anything in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. This is especially true with smartphones (Android, or otherwise): we can actually use them to our detriment. I discovered this the hard way…but thankfully found a solution: replacing my smartphone with a “dumb phone” and a tablet to set some healthy boundaries on my “tech time”. Read on past the break to hear my experience of disconnecting.


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A Rumor Revisited: Will Google release several Nexus phones from multiple manufacturers? I hope not.

A few months ago, before Google released its most recent Nexus phone, the LG Nexus 4, there were several substantial rumors floating around that Google was planning on opening its Nexus line to multiple manufacturing partners. It all started with a report from the very credible Wall Street Journal and the rumors went something like this: Google will offer its “Nexus” name and early access to the latest stock Android builds to any OEM who is willing to play by Google’s rules and build their phones with a minimum set of specs set by Google’s team. There was said to be five new Nexus phones from five different manufacturers (LG, HTC, Sony, Samsung, and Motorola) all released on November 5th (Android’s 5th birthday) and they’d each be sold in Google’s new Play Store. Sounds pretty plausible, right? Android had finally grown up as an operating system, and now it was time to get the pure Google experience on as many powerful flagship phones as possible, while bypassing the manufacturers ugly and unconventional skins. To be honest, when I first read this rumor I was beyond excited. I absolutely love stock Android (post Ice Cream Sandwich) and was salivating about the fact that I’d get to choose from several top of the line hardware variations for my next Nexus.


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Three flaws Google needs to fix to make stock Android even better

Our favorite little green robot has made a lot of progress over the last four years. From humble (and ugly) beginnings with Android 1.0 to the smooth and sleek styles of Jelly Bean 4.2, we have seen some tremendous growth and progress of our favorite mobile operating system. Google has worked hard at ironing out the kinks and improving the user interface with some exciting new features. The result has been a much smoother, better, faster, prettier operating system, but it has surprisingly left some simple yet important features out in the cold. Here are three features (or lack thereof) that I believe are major oversights in Google’s current OS.


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UX Corner: Apple’s Simplicity Is Not Enough – Elegant Design Requires Ingenuity

If you know anything about User Experience (UX) Design, you’ve read Steve Krug’s popular book “Don’t Make Me Think”, now an industry manual on how best to approach Web usability. The basic premise of good UX, according to Krug, is to reduce the amount of thinking a user is required to do to successfully use a Web site. This is also known as the K.I.S.S. method (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”), and is today being applied not only to Web sites, but to all software, including mobile operating systems.

Hit the break to find out why this may not be the most elegant approach to mobile OS design.


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Why Missing Out On The Nexus 4 May Have Been A Good Thing

The Nexus 4 packs pure unadulterated Android into a quad-core powered black slab of sexy. It’s a great device at an unbelievable price. Problem? It’s gone mainstream. Not in the way hipsters refer to any semi-successful musician either. Google’s deliberate attempts to make the Nexus brand much more grandma-friendly has, in some respects, been a message to its most ardent “root first and ask questions later” fans. I can almost hear Andy Rubin say, we’re going mainstream now, you tech-heads can come along for the ride if you want but you’re not riding shotgun anymore. The “pure Android experience” is no longer being designed or marketed for the  power user.

I really wanted the Nexus 4 but after much deliberation I’ve had to conclude that I am not entirely drunk on Nexus Kool-Aid. The lure of a $299 (8GB version) price for a top tier unlocked phone was certainly tempting. So too was the appeal of receiving timely and undiluted updates. For many, the updates alone may be reason enough to buy this phone. When I examined the compromises Google made to court the mainstream customer I realized the Nexus 4 can not fulfill my needs. I suspect this may be the case for other tech-savvy Android users.


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Congratulations Google: you’ve botched the Nexus 4 launch and should feel embarassed


There are many things in life for which to be embarrassed. Like Steve Ballmer’s first Windows OS commercial. Or Christina Aguilera forgetting the words to the National Anthem. Or Apple’s latest Maps release. Embarrassment comes to those who deserve it, and after yesterday’s debacle, I think Google deserves to feel awfully embarrassed. In my eyes, yesterday’s product launch of the company’s new Nexus line-up was a complete and utter failure, if not for the company itself, then at least for its reputation in the eyes of loyal customers. Would-be buyers were plagued with non-stop server errors, buggy shopping carts, flawed payment methods, and jammed phone support lines. What should have been an exciting and fulfilling moment ultimately left thousands of would-be buyers frustrated, angry and worst of all, empty handed.


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Should the Nexus 4 be considered a flagship phone with the lack of LTE?

The Nexus is a name we have come to know and love amongst the Android community. It’s the one place where we can count on the latest hardware and software meeting in a completely open environment. Powered by a completely open Android playground of the latest software, Android geeks and aficionados would often choose devices from the Nexus brand purely for development purposes because of the openness.

Every Nexus has had its flaws: the Nexus One had pretty subpar battery life, the Nexus S was just plain boring, the Galaxy Nexus had a meh camera, and now the Nexus 4 has arguably the biggest flaw yet…


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