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Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look

Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...

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Spillikins #80. No more flagships of old

We had a heated discussion around roaming expenses in the amount of $20,000 for a couple of GPRS hours. The issue has been discussed in detail, so if you like to familiarize with it you can read about the case here. The comments are particularly funny.

It is not a secret that Nokia World 2010 must be a key moment for Nokia for the coming 6 months, but a malicious Grinch tries to steal the celebration from the Finnish manufacturer. HTC is disguised as Grinch and on September 15 they plan a big event in London. The same place and time are chosen for a reason. For the first time Google and HTC target the current smartphone market leader so directly. By selling products like Nokia 5250 for €85 Nokia can still lead the pack in terms of sales even though they trail the rivals in revenues.

What is the reason for such a behavior? Is HTC so sure they can steal the show from Nokia and unveil a more interesting product? They are sure and rightly so. Nokia has nothing in store to impress the consumers. At least nothing special to make people look up to the company in awe. Cheap S40 Touch cannot sell well without serious promotion. OVI Store reorganization is as old as the hills! Nokia C7 or Nokia E7 will not work wonders. The chances that Meego will be unveiled are no more than 50%. This device is unlikely to generate rapturous welcoming against the background of HTC announcements. Devices from Nokia and HTC will be compared. Prices, the start of sales and features will be scrutinized. Do you still believe that the date was chosen without any intention? You shouldn't, really. I would like to mention we are unlikely to see Android 3.0 on the device as it will be unveiled in mid October, but it will surely get the update soon. I will not say more, because you will see and learn everything in due time. There is no point in expecting miracles, though. The device is nice and may be shown together with other models. Several new software features from HTC will differentiate its phones from rival models even more.


  1. No More Heroes or Flagships
  2. Gaming Phones: Nokia/Nintendo and Sony Ericsson/Playstation
  3. Google Actions: Voice Control for Android
  4. Blackberry Torch

No More Heroes or Flagships

Summer vacation is a period when you can get to the bottom of many issues and analyze everything. One of such issues was the announcement of new models and quick shift of attention from phone to phone. Can you tell which device has been a leader for a long time? The answer is obvious and points to Apple iPhone. The reason is not in its features or different versions. It is just the only model offered by Apple. Their paradigm is different from others. Apple aimed all efforts at the marketing and promotion of the single model and won the battle with ease.

Try to remember how flagship models are promoted by other companies. Can you name a flagship for Motorola? You may think about Droid and get lost in the numbering. Is it simply Droid or Droid 2 or may be even Extreme. Which Samsung phone leads the way? Samsung Galaxy S or Samsung Wave can both stake their claim. What about Nokia? It is probably Nokia N97 Mini or the long awaited Nokia N8, because N9 will not hit the shelves in the near future. There is no need to continue as the meaning of flagship is blurred. There are too many models from various manufacturers. The worst thing is that all abovementioned models usually become kings for a day. Motorola together with Verizon spent more than $200 million on the promotion of Droid in the USA. This huge budget helped the model to enjoy great sales, but it was in the spotlight only during 4 months. It sells today, but consumers already got a more desirable substitution. This example is not a solitary one. We have already moved from long term solutions to numerous models with short lived popularity. Do you believe that Samsung Galaxy will not be superseded by another model in 6 months? Its owners will have either to splash money for this upgrade or find the justification for not doing so. It really happens very often. The transition to models for 6 months has already happened. Manufacturers created this situation by advertising new models, which makes the previous heroes obsolete.

You can argue and deny the obvious, but the paradigm has changed. Every six months you have to provide consumers with new products to keep their attention. These models may be labeled flagships, but they differ from their counterparts of yester years as day and night. Until recently when you bought a flagship model you could be sure about its top features for at least one year and the model itself could stay modern for two years. Now everything is different: we have six months until the change of maximum features and after one year any model becomes out of date and you will feel like buying a new model (this rule is not universal and many people still use Nokia N72 and deem it cutting edge stuff).

If my reflections happen to be thought provoking feel free to join our discussion on the forum. May be you have different opinions?

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Gaming Phones: Nokia/Nintendo and Sony Ericsson/Playstation

As time goes by historical facts shed new light on events and products from the past. An insider from Nintendo who was connected with their R&D in 2000s, told in an interview to Pocket Gamer that the company came up with the prototype of the game console created together with Nokia. It happened around the time when the Finnish manufacturer developed the first version of N-Gage. The development took place in the Japanese headquarters of Nintendo, where the prototypes were shown to the Board of Directors. The project did not get a go ahead and the company concentrated on DS, which development started at the time. The strategy proved to be right and DS went on to become extremely popular. Nokia N-Gage was a complete flop.

The attempts to create a gaming device based on a mobile phone are not new. Sony Ericsson was always the most ambitious in this respect. Its phones were the first to feature the horizontal orientation of the screen and dedicated gaming buttons A+B. This project turned out to be a non starter. In 2005 Walkman series was launched and 2007 was to see the launch of a PSP phone, but Sony finally discarded the idea. Look at the patent for the model from 2005.

Sony believed that such a phone could have negatively influenced the sales of PSP. At the same time Sony Ericsson was reluctant to develop a gaming phone without the rich array of games and necessary gaming support. In this classical situation Sony refrained from becoming a pioneer to retain the current market share. A severe crisis, drop in sales, loss of its market share led to the arrival of the new management and old projects resurfaced. At the end of 2009 Sony Ericsson returned to the development of a gaming phone. Sony was not against this time, because they gradually move away from UMD disks for distribution and adopt electronic sales, which is easier and more sensible. I don't want to remind you that PSP was unlocked within months and game images could be downloaded from memory cards.

In 2011 the company will try to return to the market with the unique selling point, which I rather like. People from Engadget found all the information about it and even created the image of the future model.

The picture is horrible and brings more damage than good, because it does not convey the design, which deserves a lot of credit. We have to keep the phone in our hands (which is impossible now) to assess it. In pictures it looks not only glossy, but is quite attractive and differs from PSP Go. It reminds me of my euphoria from the first PSP. The materials are similar, but it is a phone after all.

The model is offered as a side slider, which is great. Android is inside and some people say there must be a 3-D accelerator and compatibility mode with games for PSP. This phone will become a part of Sony universe and it is the main advantage of the model. All gaming phones, including both versions of N-Gage, failed because of games absence. Apple gaming vision (iPod, iPad, iPhone) is also successful in some way, but these games are for special occasions or for the general public and cannot compete with gaming consoles. In future everything may change, though. Again Apple wins due to its own universe with software developers among other things. Other companies do not have such resources, while for Sony Ericsson the creation of the gaming phone from scratch is next to impossible. The experience and background of Sony will provide SE with a welcoming boost and the rest depends upon marketing and PR skills of the phone manufacturer.

In mid September when I visit London I will be able not only to see the prototypes, but to touch plastic bodies for the model. Preliminary information I heard is the following: the device will go on sale in the second part of 2011 at the price higher than for the similar gaming console (sounds logical, but does not include the subsidies from carriers). SE does not think it will be a mass solution, but rather a niche product for serious gamers, who want a mobile phone with traditional gaming controls. At the moment the 50% of the project is already completed.

I am curious to look at the end product, especially because their R&D expenses were slashed dramatically, but the attempts of SE to carve out a new niche and offer interesting products deserves respect. In the past it was the strong point of the company. I am superstitious, but I hope that Sony Ericsson will quickly return to its ways in 2011-2012. They should sort out the issue with the quality and stop saving on components first.

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Google Actions: Voice Control for Android

This feature is hardly new and has been used for years, but still remains not very popular. Google not only made up for the lost time, but added English recognition, which enables not only voice dialing from the phonebook, entering the internet address or choosing the location on the map, but helps to dictate a note, send a voice answer to an e-mail or SMS. It is handy in a car, when you don't have to input the text and can only use your voice. There is no need for any voice training as Google is so experienced in voice services and speech recognition that you should not experience any problem here. The company promises that the recognition accuracy during the voice input will be up to 70%. It is not bad, especially in view of Т9 performance in HTC phones, where you are often suggested highly original and incorrect variants. Sometimes you do not proofread the "smart" Т9 and your contacts cannot make a head or tail of your SMS.

The proud owners of models with Android 2.2 can already download Google Actions. I tried it a bit and can say that the recognition works well. I used the translit method and got a not very understandable result, but if your contact makes an effort the message will be understood all right. It is an excellent solution for the USA and other English speaking countries where Android is popular. Watch the video highlighting the key possibilities of the app.

Another piece of news from Google is an addition to the browser, which allows sending links from your PC to a phone. Some may view it as useful, but I do not know why to use this feature. I even did not test it. I have another issue associated with the necessity to send links from the phone to desktop FireFox automatically. Do you know how to do it without much trouble? The video shows how to send links from PC to a phone. You may find it interesting.

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Blackberry Torch

This is a nice model to update the Blackberry lineup. Some will find it controversial because of the form factor. The detailed information will be in the review coming in around one week or a bit later. Now look at the photos. We have been testing the model for a week, so the review will be detailed.

This brings us to the end of this Spillikins. The week saw no major shocks and resting on the beach does not motivate for hard work either. Have a nice and successful week!

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Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 16 August 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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