On the 3rd of May 2012, I was fortunate to attend the Samsung Unpacked event at Earls Court in London, to witness the unveiling of Samsung’s next Galaxy Device – The Galaxy S3. The successor to the immensely popular Galaxy S2, which just happened to be my favourite phone of 2011. Even after getting my hands on a Galaxy Note to keep, the S2 was still my stalwart companion. So to say the S3 had a lot to live up to, is an understatement.
The day contained a hands-on play with the new device prior to it’s official announcement later that evening, and even then I could tell this device was going to be something special. Then there was sitting on the sidelines and watching as the press conference unfolded, with the GS3′s tagline of “Designed for Humans – Inspired by Nature”, and the key address of all the new major features the latest Galaxy device had to offer. The remainder of the event I spent on one of the booths, showing off the pebble blue and marble white Galaxy S3 devices. Quite a privilege!
Fast forward to Sat 2nd June 2012, and here I was like a kid at Christmas, with my very own Galaxy S3. Would it live up to all the hype? Would it make me put my Galaxy S2 finally into retirement? Well it definitely had a hard act to follow.
In my possession stood the Marble White version of the Galaxy S3, and my first ever white mobile phone! Is white the new black? Does it make it sexier, more elegant? I’m not sure.
It definitely has a different textured feel to the Pebble Blue version of the S3 that I primarily played with at London Unpacked. The white version does not boast the hyper-glazed textured skin of the blue, it’s got a slicker and more glossy texture to it, and yet still feels right in your hand.
The S3 runs the latest version of Android – 4.0.4 or Ice Cream Sandwich as it’s more commonly known. It features a whopping 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED screen (compared with the 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus screen of the S2), which you would expect would make the phone much much larger than it actually is. Overall compared with the S2, the S3 is only 11.3mm taller in height and 4.5mm wider, so it still feels more than comfortable in your hand, and can easily be operated one handed!
Under the hood, the S3 is powered by a 1.4GHz Quad Core processor, compared with the 1.2GHz Dual Core processor of the S2. Meaning the phone barely bats an eyelid at gaming, multi-tasking, video watching, surfing the internet and everything else you use your smart phone for.
Now, you’re probably worried that the bigger screen and the more powerful core means the S3 is going to be a bit of a power guzzler, well Samsung have included a 2100mAh battery to give you that extra bit of juice, and since having the device from Saturday it’s performed as well, if not better than the S3 for normal day to day stuff like texting, surfing the internet, checking into foursquare, keeping upto date on twitter and seeing what my friends are up to on Facebook.
The front and rear camera’s on the S3 are pretty comparable to those on the S2 – with a rear 8MP with LED flash and a 1.9MP forward facing camera. The major differences you’ll notice between the two is the launch of the camera is under a second on the S3, and there is also the lack of shutter lag – you press the camera button and the image taking process is almost instantaneous. Helps when you want to capture that spur of the moment event! The camera button is once again via the screen – ( I personally would have liked a dedicated camera button on the case, but I can deal with that minor oversight)
The camera itself features the full range of settings you have come to expect from Samsung, including a few new tricks, such as a HDR mode, Burst mode, Share shot (enables you to share photo’s with other users via Wi-Fi direct) and Buddy photo share (allows you to take and share photos with friends via face detection and social media).
One of my favourite features of the S3 is called Smart Stay. The phone with the assistance of the front facing camera, monitors your eye focus, and as long as you’re looking at the screen, it will not allow the screen to turn off. Long gone is having to continually tap the screen to keep the phone awake. Handy for if you’re reading a long web article, an e-book or just simply playing a game. Of course this isn’t going to make me any better at Angry birds, but it’s a start! It also means I can set my screen timeout to 15 seconds and let Smart Stay do the rest! Ingenious!
Pop-Up-Play is also another really cool new feature of the S3. Ever found that you need to send an urgent text message or email to someone while you’re trying to watch a video on your phone? This feature allows you to shrink the video player down into a smaller window, position it anywhere you like on the screen, and continue to watch your video while you multi-task with something else – making good use of that quad core processor!
The final addition that I like on the S3 is the notification light and smart alert. The notification light will flash to alert you to missed calls, text messages, facebook posts and twitter notifications. Combine this with smart alert, which if set, will vibrate on pick up to let you know that you’re popular and someone has tried to call or text you while you’ve been busy and you’ll never miss an important event again!
All this packed into the 133g body of the S3, well you can understand why I’m a little bit smitten, right? Good news for me, not so much for the S2, which is now relegated to the side lines!
On the 29th August I took off from my home, heading to Berlin for the IFA, as a guest of Samsung as part of their Mob!ler programme. Exciting times!
This was a trip full of many first time experiences for me. For starters, it was my 1st major trip away with Samsung – sure, I’ve had meet-ups with the rest of the UK mob!lers at Samsung HQ in Chertsey, and in London – but this was going to be my 1st time at a meet-up with mob!lers from around the world! Different cultures, different programmes, different people!
It was also the 1st time that I had been to Germany and Berlin, it would be my 1st press conference where I’m actually physically in the room, and not watching a live stream over the internet – it was also going to be my 1st consumer electronics fair! I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
New city, new sights, new sounds, it was a lot to take in, and my first obstacle was navigating the German U- and S- Bahn network – which wasn’t that tricky if you’ve had experience with the London underground. My hotel for the next 11 days was in the heart of Berlin, right next to the train station, which meant getting around for sight seeing and general exploration was relatively easy.
After a little nap, a spot of exploration, it was time to meet-up with some of the other mob!lers who had arrived that day, at a local Tapas restaurant. Good food and good company – I was soon made to feel at home, and met some amazing people. If this was the start of the adventure it was going to be a fantastic 2 weeks here!
The following morning, it was a bright and early hotel breakfast followed by a meet and greet with our hosts. We were formally introduced to the rest of the 17-strong mob!ler team in Berlin, and briefed on what the next 11 days held for us.
The programme of events included a special pre-press conference hands on with the 3 new mobile devices (the Wave 3, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Tab 7.7) the day before they were publically launched on the 1st of September at 11am. As well as getting to chat with the development team / designers responsible to get a little insight into the new products.
We had a couple of general IFA days, where we were given free reign to explore everything this exhibition had to offer, as well as 3 intense days working on the Mobile Phone booth in the Samsung Hall, showcasing and promoting the new products to members of the press and the general public. We also had almost front row seats at the Samsung unpacked press conference! And last but not least was a Berlin day, to allow us to take in some of the rich history and sights of our host city.
My first impression of the IFA, as we pulled up and were greeted with a giant Siemens washing machine over the entrance, was this event was a lot bigger than I was expecting. Actually, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was definitely so much more!
The press conference was a rather intimate affair, don’t get me wrong, the room itself was pretty big, I think I was just expecting.. a humongous lecture hall or something. We managed to score seats on the third row back from the stage right in the centre. Prime viewing spot for everything that was to come! For the next hour or so, I was introduced to some important people at Samsung who were here to tell us about their vision of a smarter world and a smarter life by the announcement of their exciting product lines. From stats and how they were the first manufacturer to have a phone used in space, to their new range or televisions, and cameras – and of course the primary reason I was here – the 3 new products in their mobile phone line up.
- The Wave 3, running the newest version of Samsung’s own OS – Bada version 2.0, with it’s sleek full metal unibody, bigger brighter Super AMOLED screen, how it was lighter, thinner, and would be the launch platform for their new intra-communication application – ChatON, allowing you to chat to your friends over wifi or your data connection without having to sign up on the same service – it involves the use of the app and connects via your mobile phone number – the closest thing currently on the market would be the BBM service offered by Blackberry, or maybe what’sapp from the android store. This would allow you to chat to your friends on their Samsung devices regardless to what OS they are running!
- Galaxy Tab 7.7 – thinner & lighter than it’s 7″ predecessor, and the first tablet to house a Super AMOLED Plus screen. Packed with a 1.4GHz dual core processor, a brushed metal back, a very crisp, bright and vivid screen while running Android Honeycomb. It also has the added ability of being able to control your Samsung home entertainment systems with it’s IR port and has expandability with the micro-SD memory card slot. The 7.7″ size is still a lot more comfortable to handle one handed than the larger Ipad or the 10.1 Galaxy Tab – making this much more portable than it’s bigger tablet rivals. It was definitely love at first sight and a want item on my Xmas list!
- The Galaxy note – carving out it’s own niche market, as it fits inbetween the smartphone and tablet categories, this 5.3″ device was certainly impressive and is probably the biggest surprise at the press event. We were all aware of the name, after it had been leaked from the decoding of the unpacked app, but there was a big gasp of air from the auditorium as it was unveiled. (I was slightly less surprised as I had already had my mitts all over the Note the day before ) See HERE for more information about the Galaxy Note.
The Samsung Hall #20 was definitely impressive. From the 50+ LED screen giant 3D tv set-up, to the crisp blue and white decor, this was one of the better set ups I had seen around the IFA (most had attempted the multi-screen giant display, or the sprawling out column in the centre, but this was by far the better executed) – the only other one that stands out in my mind and from the crowd would be the LG Hall where they had definitely embraced and made sure you were overloaded on 3D technology. You were even given a pair of 3d glasses for the experience as everywhere you looked, screens, gaming rigs and mobile phones at LG were embracing 3D! It’s also where I picked up one of my coolest freebies – my clip-on 3d glasses!
As you wandered from one hall and booth to another, you were treated by the sight of a lot similar products. Obviously they had been given a similar problem or brief and had come to the same more-or-less conclusion.
There were smart phones of all shapes and sizes and each company had their own take on the newest technology craze – the tablets. Sony had definitely tried to be different with their Tablet P. This device was like a clam shell or glasses case compact design in that it folded up to be a more comfortable fit in a pocket while unfolding to give more screen real estate. A good idea in theory – but in practice not so much. You were left with a screen with a thick line across the centre so images were ruined. The centre of the screen which is where you would primarily access the screen you had a section without touch control. When the device wasn’t utilising the full screen for the display, you were left with a feeling of having a Nintendo DS, with one screen being used for navigation etc., and the other for display. A weird set-up and one that I personally wasn’t a fan of.
Mobile technology was not the only things on offer, and one of the coolest things that I saw while exploring the IFA were the hoover-bots. These small round thin robots were automated cleaning machines, they would react to their surroundings and had a built in dirt sensor. This meant you could head off to work and trust them to clean your home while you were out. As if this wasn’t awesome enough – they could be combined with an app on your compatible smart phone for remote control viewing (they were installed with cameras) and control. Definitely stuff you expect to see in sci-fi movies but available for your homes soon enough! The Samsung version ran with an app on the Galaxy S2 – I really wanted to take one of these little boys home with me, but I’m not sure I would have been able to smuggle it past customs, let alone in my airplane luggage allowance!
Either way it was very very cool!
The other highlight of my trip was the Vodafone exhibit, and I’m not talking about their contracts or the range of phones and tablets they had on offer. As well as their inside hall, they also had a mock Formula One pit, and karting track! I am a HUGE formula one fan, granted vodafone now sponsor the wrong team with McLaren (I’m definitely a Ferrari kind of girl), but even I cannot say no to seeing a Formula One car up close and personal. It wasn’t just any car, it was Jenson Button’s race car, and my spies informed me that the man himself was at the IFA doing some promotional work. Well, I made it a mission to track him down and meet him.
Not only is the above photo proof – I also managed to change the front tyre on his car! Oh yes – BEST DAY EVER! I’m such a geek
Jenson wasn’t the only celebrity I managed to snag a photo with.. I also met somewhat of a German Children’s tv character celeb – Bernd Das Brot, and his friends!
Definitely a good day for meeting famous people at the IFA!
My time in Berlin wasn’t just technology, Samsung phones and freebies, there was also our Reporter Day, where we were let loose in the city, to explore, and take in the rich cultural history and sights of a re-unified Berlin. Truly harrowing stuff, but it was good to see how Berlin had grown from the Terrors it had witnessed and been a victim of.
As well as meeting celebrities, getting to see some awesome technology and meeting famous people – my palate was treated to a range of different dishes across a variety of restaurants in Berlin, including some delicious German staples such as Schnitzel, a kind of Apple Strudel and of course you can’t go to Berlin or Germany without tasting the Currywurst!
You can definitely tell I had an amazing time. When I wasn’t out and about soaking up the sights, smells, technology and putting on a few pounds with the gorgeous food – I was working hard at the Samsung booth talking about another love of mine technology. 3 solid days of hands on excitement with the Galaxy Note and the Wave 3; unfortunately the Galaxy Tab 7.7 was only around for the press conference, as I would have loved to have more time playing with that! But the Note and Wave 3 more than made up for that! This allowed me to show off the amazing features of both devices, impress random strangers with my not so impressive drawing skills, and strike up some interesting conversations about what their impressions were of the new Samsung line up. Obviously, the most popular device we had on display was the Galaxy Note – everyone wanted to give it a whirl, pick up that stylus and S-Memo away. Overall I think all the new products went down extremely well, and I’m certain that more than a few will be putting the Note on the top of their Xmas list!
I really can’t believe we managed to fit all this excitement into only 11 days! I met some amazing people, from around the world – Germany, Korea, Japan, China, Dubai – and they all helped to make this experience one to remember! I’d also like to thank Samsung and Mr. Kim and his team for such an amazing time!
One of the coolest items in the Samsung Hall 20 was the Galaxy Note. Situated somewhere between a smart phone and a tablet, this 5.3″ device with it’s HD Super AMOLED screen definitely stood out from the crowd. The screen is everything you expect from the Super AMOLED technology – the display is very bright, and vivid, – packing in a whopping 285 PPI with it’s resolution of 1280×800. The viewing angles on it border on 180 degrees, meaning you can still see the screen no matter how you are looking at it!
Galaxy Note with Stylus
I had been a little skeptical about the stylus or “S-Pen” when I first heard about it, but after having a good hands-on session, I was sold.
The screen is very responsive with the S-Pen, which makes using it, and drawing with it a dream rather than a chore. Of course, it’s not going to turn you into Picasso overnight – but it is ideal for jotting down notes, scribbles or just passing the time when you’re bored. I did experience a little bit of lag here and there, but that is to be expected as this is a very early pre-release model (the Note isn’t due for release till sometime in Q4)
The S-Pen (which is pressure sensitive) enhances the overall experience of the Note, you can use the pen to easily re-arrange your schedule in the S-Planner; grab screen shots which you can then annotate and send on to friends or colleagues. Use the S-Memo to doodle, or create something personalised, throw in a clipping from google maps to invite your friends out to some cool little café you’ve discovered off the beaten track. You can definitely do so much more with the Note, and with such ease.
Worried about losing the S-Pen? Fear not, it fits snuggly into the bottom of the device, and there will be a range of accessories available to alter it’s thickness etc to make writing and drawing with it suit your own personal preference!
My drawing on the Galaxy Note
So what about what is under the hood? Well the Galaxy Note is powered by a 1.4GHz dual core processor and is running the latest version of Android – Gingerbread (although I am reliably informed that it will be upgraded to Icecream Sandwich once that OS has been released). Under the thin plastic textured back you’ll find a 2,500mAh battery, your sim card holder and a micro-SD memory card slot so that you can upgrade the 16GB that comes with the phone as standard.
The Note boasts a 8MP rear facing camera with LED flash, and a 2MP front facing camera which is useful for video calling or self portraits!
You’d think something packing these specifications would be a little thicker and heavier, but the truth of the matter is, the Galaxy Note is just a fraction thicker than it’s older brother the Galaxy S2 at 9.65mm thick and weighs in at 178g. Meaning that it doesn’t feel overly large, thick or heavy in your hand – this device is still definitely a comfort to use one handed, and will fit inside your jeans pocket without a struggle.
Galaxy S2 vs Galaxy Note
The large screen makes the Note well suited for all kinds of media on the go, and will play pretty much anything you throw at it. If you enjoy watching movies, television, or youtube while out and about you will not be disappointed. The video is crisp, playback is fluid and enjoyable, and the display just needs to be seen for itself!
The Note is definitely one to watch out for when it’s released later on in the year.
On the 5th of September, half of our Mob!ler group were let loose on the streets of Berlin. In an attempt to discourage us, the weather which had been really hot (reaching an awesome 28 degrees at times during the week we have been here), took a turn for the worst and the heavens opened, and the rain fell!
Armed with umberella’s, our waterproof Mob!ler jackets and caps – we were up for whatever Berlin had to throw at us!
Reichstag Building, Berlin
Our first port of call was the German Bundestag (Parliament) which is housed inside the impressive Reichstag Building. The dome at the top offers a really nice panoramic view of the city, including such sights as the Brandenburg Gate, The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin’s Bell Tower, The Federal Chancellery and the Charit? Hospital.
We were given an audio tour, which allowed us to gain an insider knowledge of the history of the building, as well as the sights and amazing facts it had to offer. If you’re thinking of visiting Berlin, you should definitely visit this impressive structure – just remember to bring your passport if you want to go inside and up into the dome, as security is tight.
Passport Checkpoint at Potsdamer Platz
Next we headed to Potsdamer Platz, where Samsung have 2 large advertising billboards. In the main Platz, immediately opposite a partial section of the Berlin Wall (and the guard who will stamp your passport for you), there was the advert for Samsung’s Smart Televisions which are on display at the IFA. Towards the rear, is the poster advertising one of Samsung’s newest additions to their smartphones – the Wave 3 running Bada 2.0.
Samsung promoters handing out Berlin maps
Pretty much as soon as we reached this spot, the rain poured down, so we were forced to seek shelter inside the subway. Which also meant it was a good time to take a break and grab a bite to eat – at a conveniently positioned Subway restaurant. I tried a Chicken Fajita sub – which we don’t have in the UK! It was really very tasty!
Once the rain had subsided, it was time to attempt our first mission! Our mission was to take a fun picture here with the Wave 3 advertising board. Our idea was to use our bodies to spell out Samsung Wave 3. Trying to work out how to form all the letters properly caused much amusement, and was really fun.
Samsung Wave 3 Advertisement, Potsdamerplatz, Berlin
Our attempt can be seen below:
And an outtake video of us trying to form a Roman Numeral 3 (III) can be found here :
Having spent a number of days in Berlin at this stage, we had seen the rather bizarre sight of a 7 seater bicycle (6 passengers plus the driver) on several occasions and decided this was the perfect opportunity to give the bike a whirl. After paying our ?1 each, we mounted the bike and was given an extremely funride! It’s definitely worth a go if you’re in the city just for the experience!
7-seater bicycle in Berlin
Splitting our team in half we got given directions to the quickest way to get to Checkpoint Charlie from our former bicycle driver and set out on our way, only really stopping to allow a statue head to make a phonecall on my Samsung Galaxy S2!
We quickly realised after a little while the ’10 minute walk down the road’ was not turning out as planned so we grabbed some help from Google Maps to help steer us back on course! On the way there, we came across Das Berliner Gruselkabinett – an old wartime bunker that had been turned into a “Scare House”. Not that we were scared or anything but we decided not to go in!
Former Bunker turned Scare House
A little further down the road we came across the ruins of an old station, that was used as a deportation site for Jews to the Ghetto’s and then onwards towards the concentration camps! Truly terrifying stuff!
Just a little walk before Checkpoint Charlie, there was an open air museum / exhibition devoted to the terror that occurred in Berlin between 1933-45, which was backset with the Berlin wall!
A part of the Berlin Wall
It didn’t take us long from here to reach Checkpoint Charlie!
After leaving Checkpoint Charlie, we wandered around Berlin a little more, taking in the sights, taking a few photo’s, before heading on to Alexander Platz, in the hopes that we could grab a few Berliners and talk about Samsung mobile devices with them.
a Berliner using a Samsung Galaxy S2
The weather didn’t exactly make it easy for people to want to stop and chat with us, so we opted to head into a local electronics store, Saturn, and chatted with a few of the customers, as well as one of the mobile phone sales reps. We gained some interesting insights!
By this time, we were very tired and I’m not sure my feet would have continued on. So we decided to call it a day after grabbing a bite to eat at Dunkin’ Donuts and head back to our Hotel for some much needed rest.