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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Release: How To Avoid Regional SIM Lock Problems


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 owners or prospective owners need not worry too much about the issue of region locking on Note 3 handsets.

Previous reports about European and American models of the Galaxy Note 3 baring stickers detailing their SIM-locked status had many concerned about their ability to travel with a Galaxy Note 3. Many believed that Galaxy Note 3 handsets wouldn’t be compatible with SIM cards outside the region in which their Note 3 was purchased; however, this is not the case.

Several Samsung spokespeople have stated that the region locking essentially only comes into play when a handset is activated with a SIM card from a region different than the region from which the Galaxy Note 3 handset was purchased. For example, if a Galaxy Note 3 is purchased in the U.K. and activated in the U.K. with a SIM card from the U.K., the Note 3 handset will be region unlocked and will then be compatible with SIM cards from around the world.

Most recently, UK Mobile Review tested the SIM-locking capability on various Galaxy Note 3 handsets and in fact discovered that a Note 3 activated in its proper region is then region unlocked and able to power SIM cards from other regions.

However, If a Galaxy Note 3 first activated with a SIM card from outside its purchased region — for example, if a Galaxy Note 3 is purchased in the U.K. and activated in the U.S. with a SIM card from the U.S. — that Galaxy Note 3 handset will require an unlocking code in order to then be functional outside its respective region.

How this works is Samsung has an ID code for each country where it sells products. When a designated region-locked handset such as the Galaxy Note 3 is activated, the ID on the handset must match the ID on the SIM card in order for the handset to be region unlocked. If the handset ID does not match the SIM ID, users will not be able to proceed with setting up their device without the unlocking code.

Fortunately, customers have options if their Galaxy Note 3 handset becomes region locked. They can purchase an unlock code for their handset, or they can have their handset unlocked at a Samsung service center for free. UK Mobile Review says it had no trouble unlocking their Galaxy Note 3, which was purchased in the U.K. and activated with a U.A.E SIM card with a region code purchased from puman.ru; however, it is uncertain how easy such websites are to come by, so it is likely best to have Galaxy Note 3 handset unlocked at an official Samsung service center.

Samsung U.K. has now released a statement on the matter.

In order to provide customers with the optimal mobile experience in each region including customer care services, Samsung has incorporated the ‘regional SIM lock’ feature into Galaxy Note 3 devices. The product is only compatible with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator within the region identified on the sticker of the product package. When the device is activated with a SIM card issued from the other region, the device may be automatically locked until it is released at the dedicated service centre.

Once a device is activated normally, the regional SIM lock is automatically released. Users can enjoy the roaming service as usual and can use other region’s SIM card when travelling. The regional SIM lock has been applied to the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4 devices through a software update in selective markets. The regional SIM lock does NOT affect the device’s features and performance. Users can continue to enjoy all the advanced features of our products.

The reasoning for this region lock feature on the Galaxy Note 3 and other devices such as the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy S4 Mini manufactured after July 2013 is to combat “grey market” importers. Grey market importers refer to vendors who purchase devices from one region, sell them to another and profit from the difference between retail prices in different areas around the world.

However, some have already found a small loophole in Samsung’s region restriction. Alex Dobie, a U.K. writer for Android Central, says he has been able to get a U.S. SIM card from T-Mobile working on a U.K. Galaxy Note 3 handset; however, he notes that the service is roaming. While Nirave Gondhia from UK Mobile reviewed first installed a U.A.E SIM card in a U.K. Galaxy Note 3 handset and was met with a prompt for a region unlocking code. So it seems as some questions get answered, even more pop up. There is been no word from Samsung on this new issue.

Has the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 region lock explanation cleared your mind about purchasing a Note 3? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Android, Galaxy, Phones, Samsung

 

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Clean Up the Clutter on Your Samsung Galaxy S3 with This Virtual Maid for Android Systems


For most of us regular folk, the only opportunity to relish in the conveniences of a maid is during hotel stays. Personally, I would love to have a maid around to help fold my clothes and sweep up those crumbs that accumulate in the corners of my kitchen, but sadly, I currently live in reality and can’t afford that luxury just yet. In real life, I’m on my own.

However, when it comes to cleaning up the mess on my Samsung Galaxy S3, there is an real and affordable option.

* SD Maid for Android

SD Maid by Android dev Matthias (aka D4rken) is a utility tool that looks to help clean up the mess left behind by unused files on your smartphone or tablet. Deleted apps can leave behind data and the Google Play Store can also bog down your GS3 with temporary files, but with SD Maid you can get rid of all that.

But that’s not all it can do. SD Maid functions as a root-enabled file manager, too. There’s an overview of your files and how much space each one is taking up on your device. You can also remove your Play Store search history and freeze and unfreeze applications.

SD Maid is designed for rooted devices, but it does work with non-rooted Android devices. Obviously you won’t have access to the root-only features, but you can still do all the basics.

* Exploring & Search for Files

With SD Maid, you have access to all of your phone’s files through the Explorer, or you can use the Searcher tool if you already know what you’re looking for.

With the non-rooted version, you can select files and open up a small menu of options. With a rooted phone you will be able to freeze, uninstall, or reset a file back to default, among other options.

* Finding the Biggest Files

If you want to see what files or applications are taking up the most storage space, you can slide over to the Biggest Files section and search your GS3.

Tap the refresh button in the center to get a fresh list of your biggest storage hogs.

* Viewing Recent Changes

If you know a recently installed or modified file is causing problems, you can find it using a special search for files modified in the last x number of minutes.

If you’ve been running into issues after installing an application or downloading a file, you can use the search to find those items and go to their location with the option of deleting.

* Upgrading to a More Advanced Maid

Again, as I mentioned earlier, there is an SD Maid Pro available on Google Play for $2.25 that unlocks features like duplicate file cleaning and general app cleaning. The CorpseFinder helps find dormant files and directories, and the SystemCleaner will scan and filter any unnecessary files in your directories.

If you want to upgrade, you have to already have the free SD Maid installed on your device. The pro version is actually just an unlocker that enables the additional features on the free app.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Galaxy, Phones, Samsung

 

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Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II Review


Introduction:

In a world where large-screen smartphones dominate the scene, it’s nice to see there is still a selection of moderately sized devices that feature a physical QWERTY keyboard. As one would have it, the new Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II takes the reins from the original Samsung Stratosphere, which came out near the end of 2011. Though the Galaxy Stratosphere II has a few other devices to compete with, namely the Pantech Marauder and Motorola DROID 4, it still manages to fit nicely in the group while offering a good selection of features.

Included in the retail package is the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II i415 smartphone, 1800mAh battery, wall charger with microUSB cable, and user guides.

Design:

It is clear that the overall design and appearance of the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II draws on elements of other Galaxy models; with smooth curved edges, sleek lines, and a glossy plastic exterior. This combined with only weighing 5.43oz, allows the Galaxy Stratosphere II to be held quite comfortably for periods of time. Though we do wish the battery cover was textured like on the original Stratosphere for a secure grip, as the one on the Galaxy Stratosphere II can feel slippery.

Below the display are four touch sensitive buttons for back, home, recent apps, and menu, while above the display is a 1.3MP front-facing camera. Along the left side is the volume rocker, which has a nice feel to it, yet the power/lock key on the right side is a bit small and recessed into the surrounding plastic. Up on top is a 3.5mm headset jack, while the microUSB port is on the bottom. Around back you’ll find the 5MP autofocus camera with LED flash, and removing the battery cover will allow access to the microSD memory card slot.

Display:

Even though the body of the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II has been updated from the original model, it appears to be using a similar display, as the specifications have not changed. It remains a 4” Super AMOLED screen with WVGA 480×800 pixel resolution, which allows for saturated colors, good contrast, and deep black levels. While this is good for the most part, it still suffers from some pixelation and jagged edges when viewing small text. It would have been nice if a higher resolution Super AMOLED screen was used instead, such as qHD, as that would pretty much solve the pixelation issue.

QWERTY Keyboard:

When opening the keyboard on the Galaxy Stratosphere II, you can still feel (and hear) it stick and catch on the keyboard’s buttons, something that was present on the original Stratosphere. Though once opened, you are presented with a nice 5-row keyboard layout with dedicated number keys across the top. In fact, the only difference between the keyboard on the Galaxy Stratosphere II and first Stratosphere is the removal of the menu, home, search, and back function keys on the sides, but in doing so it allows for a slightly larger keyboard. We had no issues typing on the keyboard with the Galaxy Stratosphere II, as the buttons are a nice size and have some space between them, though the keyboard on the Motorola DROID 4 remains a bit larger and with a more premium look and feel to it.

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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Galaxy, Phones, Samsung

 

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Samsung 2013 Rating: Best and Worst Smartphone Brands


By taking top honors for user interface, special features and selection, Samsung wins big as the best smartphone brand of the year. In fact, Samsung placed first, second or third in every category except design. During the last year, we’ve praised Samsung for offering excellent and helpful extras that redefine what a smartphone can do, from pen input and split-screen multitasking to innovative gestures and camera modes. And we expect to continue to see great things from this brand in the year to come.

Reviews (11/15)

Over the past year, we reviewed 15 smartphones from Samsung, the most of any company. The vast majority of its devices were above average. Ten phones received an excellent 4-star rating. Flagship phones such as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note II impressed because of their robust feature set and great performance. Along the way, Samsung also picked up six Editors’ Choice awards. The only black mark was the ATIV Odyssey, a budget Windows Phone 8 device whose substandard display and boring design left us cold.

User interface (14/15)

Although it can feel cluttered at times, Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay has evolved to include an enhanced notifications area that provides access to 19 different quick settings options. This makes it easy to toggle various features (Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Smart Stay, etc.). The new Galaxy S4 also lets you interact with the device using gestures, such as waving your hand in front of a sensor to answer a call. The coolest feature for power users is Multi View, which allows you to run two apps on the screen at once in split-screen mode. The Galaxy Note II integrates pen input for taking notes, but also previewing content by hovering.

Battery life (13/15)

With an average battery life of 7 hours and 9 minutes, Samsung’s phones last longer as a group than its competitors’ products. The 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II offers the best endurance of any phone on the market; both the Verizon and T-Mobile versions manage longer than 10 hours on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing at 40 percent brightness. While all versions of the flagship Galaxy S4 phone lasted fewer than 6 hours, Samsung gets points for using removable batteries on all of its handsets, allowing users to either buy high-capacity replacements or carry a spare.

Special features (15/15)

Samsung now offers so many features on its devices, you need a how-to guide just to keep up. On the flagship Galaxy S4, you can control the handset with gestures, such as waving to answer the phone. There’s also a built-in remote control for your TV with a WatchOn app that searches online for additional video content. A built-in health app helps to track your fitness, while a translation app supports nine different languages. Add in a bonanza of camera goodies (such as Eraser mode) and it’s easy to see why Samsung is tops when it comes to features.

Display (8/10)

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 stunned us with its 5-inch, 1080p Super AMOLED display, offering some of the boldest and most colorful images we’ve seen on a smartphone. However, its relatively low 296 lux rating put it well behind the One and iPhone 5. We noted the same issue with the Galaxy S III and the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II, both of which produced gorgeous images, but fell flat when it came to screen brightness and outdoor readability.

Camera (8/10)

We love the robust selection of camera features that Samsung packs into its S4, such as Eraser Mode (for erasing photobombers), Animated Photo Mode, Drama Shot and Dual Camera Mode, which lets you use both the front and rear-facing cameras at the same time. The Note II and S III come with a slew of photo-focused goodies as well, such as Share Shot, which lets you broadcast photos to nearby Galaxy devices via Wi-Fi, and Buddy Photo Share for recognizing the faces of people you know. However, while Samsung offers the most features for photo enthusiasts, the image quality could be better. The Galaxy S4 placed fifth out of nine brands in our Camera Shootout.

Design (7/10)

Our biggest complaint with Samsung lies with its dogged use of plastic, even on flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note II. The company argues that the use of a plastic chassis makes for lighter phones, but the devices look and feel cheaper than their aluminum counterparts. However, Samsung does a good job in terms of variety, releasing phones in colors such as garnet and chocolate. Samsung also offers the ruggedized Galaxy S4 Active for the more accident-prone among us.

Audio (4/5)

Overall, Samsung’s phones provide above-average sound quality, and the speaker on the S4 gets plenty loud. Adele’s haunting vocals on “Someone Like You” balanced well with the piano for a pleasant experience that easily filled our small conference room. Thanks to the Adapt Audio feature, when you plug in headphones, the S4 gets even better at balancing sound, based on your hearing, audio sources and personal preferences. Samsung offers HD Voice capability on this device via T-Mobile’s network for crystal clear phone calls. But even on other carriers, we regularly enjoyed great call quality.

Selection (5/5)

Samsung offers an almost overwhelming array of smartphone choices. In addition to its flagship Galaxy S4 phone and popular Galaxy Note II phablet, both of which are available on all four major carriers and U.S. cellular, the company offers a host of alternatives, from the camera-focused Galaxy S4 Zoom to the rugged Galaxy S4 Active and the Windows Phone-based ATIV Odyssey.

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Phones, Samsung

 

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Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro I547 Review


The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro I547 is a smartphone specific to US telecarrier AT&T. Being a carrier specific model, the Rugby Pro may not get launched in other markets across the world. This smartphone comes packed with mid range features and it is intended for budget conscious customers.

OS & Processor

This device comes with Android 4.0 (ICS) OS, which may not be the latest version but it is not bad for a mid range model. This handset is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad core Snapdragon processor to perform faster computing tasks. The 1 GB RAM loaded in the Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro I547 aids in the multitasking ability.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro I547 measures about 12.7 mm in thickness. The 4.0-inch super AMOLED display screen of this smartphone has a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The 1850 mAh battery loaded in this smartphone offers up to 11 hours of talk time and 288 hours of standby time.

Camera & Memory

The 5 MP rear camera loaded in this smartphone helps users capture images and videos in good resolution. A 1.3 MP front facing camera helps in video calls. The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro I547 has about 8 GB onboard memory and it is expandable up to 32 GB through a microSD card.

Media & Connectivity

This smartphone comes preloaded with a range of entertainment features and applications. Users can customize this handset with new apps downloaded from Google Play. The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro I547 supports multiple connectivity options including 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, 2G and micro USB etc.

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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Galaxy, Phones, Samsung

 

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Samsung Intensity III (Verizon Wireless)


Design, Call Quality, and Interface

The Intensity III$49.99 at Best Buy meets military specification 810F except for rain, icing, and immersion. So you can’t get it wet, but the phone can handle dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperature, and humidity, which makes it a lot more durable than the average device.

The design, for better or worse, is a classic slider phone. The Intensity III measures 4.41 by 2.12 by 0.57 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.06 ounces. It’s made entirely of plastic, with a textured back panel and a rubberized band around the middle. The sliding mechanism feels stable and the phone feels comfortable in your hand.

The 2.4-inch display is slightly larger than you typically find with this form factor, and the 320-by-240-pixel resolution looks decent. Unfortunately, Samsung has chosen an ultra-reflective panel with a nearly zero-degree viewing angle. You really need to hold this phone in the exact right spot every time to see the display properly, which is annoying.

When you slide the phone open, you gain access to a four-row QWERTY keyboard. I like the dedicated row of number keys at the top, and the backlit keys are decently spaced. It makes it much easier to type out text messages than using the number pad. The only thing I don’t like is the Space bar, situated between the V and B keys. It makes for an awkward typing experience whenever you need to hit a key on the bottom row.

On the front, the number pad features large, very well-spaced keys that are easy to press. The control pad above it is similarly pleasant to use.

The Intensity III is a dual-band 1xRTT (850/1900 MHz) device with no 3G or Wi-Fi. Call quality is average. Voices come through the earpiece extremely clear, though they don’t have much of a backbone. Calls made with the phone sound a little scratchy and noise cancellation isn’t great. The earpiece gets very loud, and the speakerphone is powerful enough to hear outdoors. Calls sounded clear through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset$129.99 at RadioShack.com and the Nuance-powered voice dialer worked fine. Battery life was good at 7 hours of talk time.

Multimedia, Apps, and Conclusions

Don’t confuse this with a smartphone, though multimedia support is a little better here than on some other feature phones. You get 99MB of free internal storage, and a side-mounted microSD card slot that worked with my 32 and 64GB SanDisk cards. For music, the Intensity III was able to play MP3, M4A, and WMA files over both wired and Bluetooth headphones. It was also able to play H.264 and MPEG 4 video files, but only at resolutions up to 320 by 240.

Web browsing is powered by an Opera Mini 6 browser, which is pretty elegant, as far as feature phone browsers go. But the 2G data speeds are slow, the screen is small, and really, the whole point of getting this phone is so you don’t have to pay for data in the first place.

You get a few basic apps, like an alarm, calculator, notepad, and stopwatch. You also get Verizon’s VZ Navigator 6 for voice-enabled, turn-by-turn directions, but it costs $0.99 for a day or $9.99 for a month. There’s also email support for AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Microsoft Exchange, Verizon.net, Windows Live, and Yahoo accounts.

The 2.0-megapixel camera has no flash or auto-focus. Performance is okay for what it is, which is an extra feature attached to an inexpensive feature phone. Colors look a little washed out and there is absolutely no fine detail, but photos look decent enough if you don’t enlarge them. You can also record video, which maxes out at a resolution of 320 by 240 and 15 frames per second. Again, you’re getting what you pay for here.

The Samsung Intensity III isn’t a very exciting phone, but it’s a decent place for Verizon users that aren’t in need of a smartphone to turn. It’s Verizon’s most capable messaging device, and far superior to the LG Cosmos 3$49.99 at Best Buy, which, even though it’s free, just isn’t worth the trouble. If you don’t require a keyboard, another good option is the LG Revere 2$49.99 at Best Buy. It’s a free, easy-to-use flip with good call quality.

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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Phones, Samsung

 

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Samsung Galaxy R Style Review


The Samsung Galaxy R Style is a high end smartphone with many exceptional features. This is the South Korean version of the Galaxy S Advance model. The phone runs on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS and it is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual core processor.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy R Style has a 4.3-inch SUPER AMOLED display screen that has a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. The capacitive touchscreen of the phone helps users navigate easily through different functions. The elegant design of the phone ensures users to handle it in an easy way.

Features

The phone comes with a 5 MP camera for capturing images and videos. The phone also has a 1.3 MP secondary camera for making video calls. The phone battery offers talk time up to 17.6 hours and standby time up to 550 hours. The phone comes with internal memory of 16 GB while the external memory can be expanded up to 64 GB.

High speed internet connectivity is offered through 3G and Wi-Fi. The Samsung Galaxy R Style also packs a lot of multimedia features for providing entertainment to users. File transfer with other devices can be done through Bluetooth and micro USB port. The A-GPS feature can be helpful for guiding users in an unknown city.

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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Galaxy, Phones, Samsung

 

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