Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Demand for dual-camera smartphones growing: when will Samsung join in?

Dual-camera smartphones have been adopted by many manufacturers including LG, Apple and Huawei and recent news from the Korea Herald suggests that camera components suppliers, namely LG Innotek and Samsung Electro-Mechanics, are seeing significant revenues.

This much could be guessed, based on the number of major handsets now integrating a dual-camera setup, but LG Innotek in particular seems to achieving unprecedented numbers. It made a record-breaking $103 million in profit in Q4, 2016, thanks in part to the success of the Apple iPhone 7, which it supplied the camera parts for.

LG Innotek’s profits are expected to continue to grow — and “beat market expectations,” says one analyst — with the launch of its upcoming LG G6 flagship likely to make use of dual-camera tech.

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Meanwhile, Samsung Electro-Mechanics is also said to achieve a large sales increase, thanks to partnerships with Xiaomi and LeEco (formed in Q3, 2016) and potentially Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, who it is said to be in talks with. However, according to reports, the soon-to-be-released Galaxy S8 will not have a dual-camera setup.

Though it might seem strange that Samsung wouldn’t use a dual-camera setup on the Galaxy S8, when it’s clearly on-trend, it may be because it’s too expensive to integrate. That said, many of the other major manufacturers have been able to adopt the tech without radically exceeding the expected price of their handsets

What could be more likely, then, is that Samsung simply doesn’t believe in the overall benefit that the dual-camera setup provides right now. But as more manufacturers adopt it, the pressure is likely to build, and come the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung might have changed its mind.

What’s your take on dual-camera tech? Let us know in the comments.

Best US Cellular Android phones (February 2017)

When it comes to choosing the right Android smartphone to suit your needs, the task can be pretty daunting at times. More and more Android devices are coming to market every day, making the choice next to impossible unless someone is pointing you in the right direction. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone on U.S. Cellular and are considering Android as your OS of choice, look no further. We’re here to round up the best Android phones you can buy on the nation’s fifth-largest mobile carrier.

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Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

See more Galaxy S7 photos | See more Galaxy S7 Edge photos

Samsung did a killer job with their 2015 flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Design-wise, many would say those two phones were close to perfect. The company forwent a plastic design and instead included glass front and back panels with an aluminum frame. They weren’t without their flaws, though. The S6 and S6 Edge didn’t offer expandable storage or removable batteries — two features Samsung has been known to include in all its smartphones for years.

Now the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have made their way to the masses, and they fix many of the problems the S6 line introduced last year. While they don’t offer removable batteries, Samsung included expandable storage on both handsets in case the 32GB of on-board storage isn’t enough. Samsung mostly stuck to the same design this time around, though they did shrink down the camera bumps on the back and made the devices a little thicker to make room for larger batteries.

In terms of specs, these are top-of-the-line smartphones. They come with Quad HD Super AMOLED displays, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processors, 4GB of RAM, great 12MP rear-facing cameras and run the latest version of Android. Instead of featuring the same screen sizes this time around though, Samsung kept the S7 at a smaller 5.1 inches, while the S7 Edge has been bumped up to a larger 5.5-inch panel.

Seriously, these are some incredible smartphones. They are a little pricey, but all in all, we think the high asking price is worth it.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S7

  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 577ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm, 152g

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534ppi
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 12MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3600mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm, 157g

Read more

Buy the Galaxy S7 from U.S. Cellular
Buy the Galaxy S7 Edge from U.S. Cellular

LG V20

Best US Cellular Android phones (February 2017)

See more LG V20 photos

The V20 is basically the phone for power users. It has a a big Quad HD display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, plenty of RAM and on-board storage, dual 16MP rear-facing cameras, and a removable 3,200mAh battery. Of course, the unique Second Screen makes a return this year, along with the addition of Quad DAC, military standard durability, and it’s already running Android 7.0 Nougat.

If top-of-the-line specs and an impressive feature set is what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the V20.

Specs

  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 513ppi
    • Secondary display: 2.1-inch IPS LCD display with 160 x 1040 resolution, 513 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • Dual 16 and 8MP rear cameras, 5MP front camera
  • Removable 3,200mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6mm, 174g

Read more

Buy now from U.S. Cellular

LG G5

Best US Cellular Android phones (February 2017)

See more LG G5 photos

While the Galaxy S7 series is a minor refresh in terms of design, the LG G5 sees a massive departure from the design language used in the G series, ditching the rear volume/power setup that first debuted with the LG G2. The G5 also adopts a unibody metallic design that has a removable cap for access to the removable battery and a port for modules that allow users to expand the phone’s capabilities by adding a camera grip and other special accessories.

The distinctly different design of the LG G5 may not be for everyone, but there’s little denying that LG has went out of its way to try and innovate in a market where big changes like this aren’t all that common.

Spec wise, we’re looking at a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 with 4GB RAM, a 5.3-inch display, and 32GB storage with microSD for expansion. The specs here are certainly impressive all across the board. It’s also worth mentioning that LG has revamped its software, making it faster and less bloated this time around.

Specs

  • 5.3-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 554ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 200GB
  • 16 and 8MP dual rear cameras, 8MP front camera
  • Removable 2800mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm, 159g

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Buy now from U.S. Cellular

Moto G4 Play

Best US Cellular Android phones (February 2017)

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If you’re looking for a cheap, solid smartphone on U.S. Cellular, look no further.

Lenovo’s Moto G4 Play enters the market with a low price tag, solid specifications and a familiar design language we’ve all grown to love. It sports a 5.0-inch HD display, solid Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, and an 8MP rear camera that’s great for snapping the occasional photo. Plus, you get a removable 2800mAh battery, which is a feature many manufacturers have been leaving out of their phones lately.

Specs

  • 5.0-inch IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Removable 2800mAh battery
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 144.4 x 72 x 9.9mm, 137g

Read more

Buy now from U.S. Cellular

Wondering what some of the other major U.S. carriers have to offer? Check out our other best lists:

Samsung may have made final decision on Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus battery sizes

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus may have the same 3,500 mAh battery capacity as the Galaxy Note 7, according to a new report from The Investor.

This battery capacity was first suggested by leaker Evan Blass, before speculation from South Korea indicated that the S8 Plus would have a 3,750 mAh capacity battery and the S8’s would come in at 3,250 mAh.

Now, we’re back to the original theory — which also points to a 3,000 mAh battery for the smaller Galaxy S8.

The Investor cites a Samsung official who spoke to Korean news outlet News 1; the source reportedly stated that Samsung had recently reached a “final decision” regarding the battery capacities following a number of tests.

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Battery capacities are constrained by the physical dimensions of the device and, as such, the news suggests that Samsung would also have finalized the S8 and S8 Plus dimensions.

The battery cells themselves are said to be being manufactured by Samsung’s SDI department and a Japanese company Samsung recently partnered with, Murata Manufacturing.

All told, it seems at this point that 3,000 mAh and 3,500 mAh batteries for the upcoming Galaxy S8 phones are a safe bet. For an early glimpse at how the Galaxy S8 and S8 plus might look, check out this 3D render video.

Galaxy Note 7 users continue battling Samsung in court

The Galaxy Note 7 fiasco just won’t end for Samsung. According to a report from The Investor, five individuals from South Korea have stated that they will continue their court battles against the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

These individuals, who have experienced problems with their Note 7 devices, are suing Samsung because the company’s customer service allegedly called them frauds. They were accused of making false claims about Samsung’s exploding device for the sole reason of gaining monetary compensation.

Seoul-based Harvest Law Office, which is representing the five individuals in the litigation, said that the odds are in favor of the plaintiffs. A couple of weeks ago, the tech giant shared the results of its investigation with the public admitting that Galaxy Note 7 devices exploded because of faulty batteries. Because of this, the plaintiffs have no plans to settle their cases with Samsung at the moment. The first trial is scheduled to be held in the first half of the year.

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In addition to the five lawsuits mentioned, Samsung is also facing quite a few class action lawsuits by different groups of consumers both at home as well as abroad. They are mainly demanding compensation for damages done by the Galaxy Note 7 when it caught fire and in some cases, exploded.

We have heard many stories of damage done by the Note 7. Back in September, a man from Florida claimed that the Galaxy Note 7 ignited while charging in his car and set his Jeep Grand Cherokee on fire, which was then completely destroyed.

It is clear that Samsung has a lot of work ahead before it can finally close the Note 7 chapter and move on. The company has been hit with a bunch of lawsuits and it looks like the odds are against it.

Smartphone makers to immediately report phone explosions to authorities

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Because of the whole Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, the government of South Korea has decided to implement a new set of safety regulations. According to a report from The Investor, smartphone manufacturers will soon be required to immediately submit a report if one of their devices either catches fire or explodes.

Additionally, companies will then have to launch an investigation right away in order to find out exactly what caused the incident in hopes of fixing the problem and making sure it doesn’t happen again. The ministry will officially announce the new regulations on February 6, which will then be implemented within the next 12 months.

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Along with the new regulations, the ministry will also announce the results of its own Galaxy Note 7 investigation it conducted with the help of the state-run Korea Test Laboratory. We expect that the results will be more or less the same as the ones already released by Samsung. A couple of weeks ago, the tech giant shared the results of its investigation with the public saying that Galaxy Note 7 devices exploded because of faulty batteries.

Samsung has already announced its new quality assurance measures, including an 8-step battery safety check, that will hopefully prevent similar incidents in the future. However, it is still nice to see that Korean regulators have decided to implement additional safety regulations, which might eventually be introduced in other countries around the world as well.

Samsung saw its profits spike in Q4 2016, even with Note 7 recall

Samsung may have had to end sales and recall its Galaxy Note 7 phone during the fourth quarter of 2016, but that still didn’t stop the company from having a solid financial report for that time period. Today, the South Korean-based business reported an operating profit of 9.22 trillion won ($7.93 billion) for the quarter. Those numbers are slightly higher than the company’s prior guidance of 9.2 trillion won, and profits went up 50 percent compared to the same time period a year ago. In fact, Q4 2016 was Samsung’s most profitable quarter in three years.

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Revenues for the quarter were 53.33 trillion won ($45.8 billion), which was flat compared to a year ago, and again slightly higher than the company’s previous guidance of 53 trillion won. As far as its mobile division, Samsung said earnings were up compared to a year ago, thanks to solid sales of its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge phones, along with higher profits for its budget and mid-range devices.

Earlier this week, Samsung announced the results of its investigation into why many of its Note 7 smartphones caught on fire and exploded soon after it went on sale. The company put the blame on the phone’s battery, and added that it will now implement a new 8-step battery safety check to make sure that these issues do not come up again.  Even with the issues with the Galaxy Note 7, the company says it will launch a successor, the Galaxy Note 8, which is expected to go on sale in late 2017.

Samsung also says it will not introduce the Galaxy S8 in late February as part of the 2017 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain. While the company did not offer a firm launch date for the phone, it is not expected to go on sale until sometime in April, after the first quarter of 2017 ends.

Here’s Samsung’s new 8-step battery safety test

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Samsung has announced new quality assurance measures, including an 8-step battery safety check, following the cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7 last year. The protocols were outlined in a Samsung blog post today, alongside a video explanation of the Note 7 fires.

Samsung says its 8-step system features a number of improved safety tests encompassing X-Rays, durability and disassembling procedures, visual inspection and a delta open circuit voltage test (which assesses changes in voltage throughout the manufacturing process).

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Samsung finally tells us why Galaxy Note 7 phones were catching fire

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In addition, Samsung has devised new measures which include examinations on accelerated usage and a “charge and discharge” test. Find out the details of each below.

Here’s Samsung’s new 8-step battery safety test

Samsung also says it has formed a “battery advisory group” of external researchers and experts to make sure the company “maintains a clear and objective perspective on battery safety and innovation.”

Samsung, naturally, will be eager to reassure consumers about the safety of its products and no doubt try to impress them with messages of multi-step safety checks and initiatives. Still, the Galaxy Note 7’s cancellation will have been costly and avoiding similar battery problems in future is in Samsung’s best interests — you would expect it to go to great lengths to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I’m surprised Samsung has only just begun to test charging and discharging, though. Seems quite important, that.

Samsung finally tells us why Galaxy Note 7 phones were catching fire

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Samsung went through hell after the recall and discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7, which kept catching on fire. It all quickly became a PR mess large enough that Samsung could not simply dismiss the issue. An explanation has been long overdue and the Korean manufacturer has finally announced what was wrong with the popular phablet.

After an apology and a short backstory, Samsung went on to explain their testing process and results, which are not far from what Bloomberg had previously reported.

Samsung went through elaborate tests using over 200 thousand devices. These focused on feature abnormalities regarding water resistance, fast charging, wireless charging, the iris scanner, software and the USB Type C. None of these Samsung internal tests showed any issues. They then went on to closely examine the production process and asked help from 3rd party investigators, including UL, Exponent and TUV Rheinland AG.

Samsung finally tells us why Galaxy Note 7 phones were catching fire

What was found? A couple issues, each affecting the different Note 7 versions (the recalled units and the replacements). The first batteries seem to be affected by a design flaw in the top corners. More specifically, the upper-right corner, which could come with abnormalities.

Positive and negative electrodes are usually separated by a protective layer. If said protective layer is damaged, the electrodes can meet and cause a short circuit. Which seems to be one of the issues with the second batch.

Replacement batteries were affected by “abnormally high welding bars that formed during the ultra-sonic welding process to attach the positive tab. Due to the high-welding bars, penetration of the insulation tape and the separator resulted in direct contact with the negative electrode. In addition, we found a number of batteries that were missing the insulation tape.”

Affected units show common abnormalities in the same areas, according to 3rd-party research firm UL. The same company also goes on to reaffirm the root cause was the deformations in the upper corners of the battery, as well as a thin separator within the battery.

Samsung finally tells us why Galaxy Note 7 phones were catching fire

Samsung and all other investigating parties go through rather complex explanations of their testing. Those who want to get all the details can head over to Samsung’s blog post, which offers information and links to all other research. You can also watch the entire press conference below.

Now that it is all cleared out, we can kiss the Note 7 goodbye and expect Samsung to have learnt from these problems. The Korean manufacturer promises to adopt harsher preventive measures; but how many of you are looking to get Samsung’s new super-sized smartphone? Is this hot mess pushing you away from the popular smartphone series?

Galaxy Note 7 fires caused by irregular battery sizes and manufacturing defects

Irregular sizing and manufacturing defects in the Galaxy Note 7 battery have been deemed to be the primary causes for the fires and explosions that caused the flagship device to be recalled globally in 2016. The revelations come from The Wall Street Journal, which has received advance information ahead of Monday’s public disclosure from the South Korean giant.

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According to the WSJ, the report states that irregular sizing of some batteries caused them to overheat, while others suffered from undisclosed manufacturing defects. It is not yet clear if that defect is the same one described in an unpublished preliminary report from Samsung to South Korea’s Agency for Technology and Standards acquired by Bloomberg in September. For reference, here’s what Bloomberg had to say about that previous report:

Initial conclusions indicate an error in production that placed pressure on plates contained within battery cells. That in turn brought negative and positive poles into contact, triggering excessive heat.

The basic substance of that claim was echoed again recently when a Note 7 teardown conducted by Instrumental revealed an insufficient “ceiling” for expansion surrounding the Note 7 battery. With as little as a 0.1mm gap between the battery and the rigid confines of the machined pocket in which it lay, when the battery naturally swelled during normal charging and discharging, it had nowhere to go, placing pressure on the battery cell.

Galaxy Note 7 fires caused by irregular battery sizes and manufacturing defects

Batteries made by Samsung SDI (those initially blamed for the exchange and re-issue of “safe” replacement devices) were the ones found to cause overheating due to an ill-fitting battery. The affected batteries made by Amperex Technology Ltd suffered manufacturing issues “resulting from the quick ramp-up in production of replacement phones”.

Two different causes of the battery fires from two different suppliers might be the reason it took the company so long to identify exactly what lay behind the Note 7’s notorious battery problems. That simultaneous battery problems existed across two distinct suppliers – with one in part caused by the other – only throws Samsung’s quality control mechanism into further doubt.

We’ll have to wait until 8:00pm EST/5:00pm PST Sunday for the full explanation, but suffice to say that Samsung will have ramped up its quality control, especially where batteries are concerned, in a major way in the wake of this costly mistake. While there is never any guarantee that any product is entirely safe, you can rest assured that the upcoming Galaxy S8 will have been subjected to more scrutiny than any other phone in history.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall findings to be revealed on January 22 at 8 p.m. ET

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Samsung has confirmed it will be holding a press conference soon to reveal the results of its internal Galaxy Note 7 investigation. The press event will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 23 in the time zone of its native country of South Korea. That means it will take place on Sunday, January 22 at 8 p.m. Eastern time and 5 p.m. Pacific time in the US.

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Samsung’s statement about the press event says that the company will be joined by representatives of “independent expert organizations” that have also looked into the Note 7 issues. Shortly after the phone began shipping in the fall of 2016, a number of them exploded, causing damages to cars, houses and other property. Samsung stopped selling the phone a few weeks after it went on sale, and also issued a complete recall of the units that were shipped beforehand. The company has also sent out software updates to any remaining Note 7 phones designed to cut down its battery life or shut it down altogether.

In addition to revealing the results of their investigation, Samsung says the press conference will also see the company “unveil new measures Samsung has implemented in response to the incidents.” The event will be livestreamed on Samsung’s website.

Unconfirmed reports claim that Samsung will put the final blame on the Note 7 issues firmly on the battery, rather than any hardware or software problems with the phone itself.