All posts in “Smartphones”

PSA: There are some *really* good Samsung Galaxy smartphone deals on Amazon today

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Image: Samsung

TL;DR: Amazon is offering some incredible deals on Samsung Galaxy smartphones right now — save up to $300 on a Galaxy S10 series device, or score a free 44mm Galaxy Watch Active2 (a $249.99 value) when you buy a Galaxy Note 10 or Note 10+.


Look, it’s not worth beating around the bush: The Samsung Galaxy smartphone deals that are live on Amazon today are better than the ones we saw across most retailers over Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Yeah, we’re kind of surprised, too — after spotting $200 discounts on select Galaxy S10 and Note 10 devices at Walmart and Amazon over the holiday shopping weekend (not to mention that $400 Target gift card promotion), we didn’t think those things would get any cheaper in the remaining weeks of 2019. And yet. And yet!

Check ’em out:

These fast-charging, long-lasting, and straight-up gorgeous smartphones won Mashable’s Choice Awards upon their release this past spring, and right now you can save up to $300 when you order one through Amazon. Get a Samsung Galaxy S10 starting at just $599.99 for 128GB (a $300 savings); score a Samsung Galaxy S10+ starting at only $699.99 for 128GB (a $300 savings); or grab a Samsung Galaxy S10e with 256GB for a mere $599.99 (a $250 savings).

Note: As an Amazon Deal of the Day, these discounts are only available ’til midnight tonight.

The incredibly big, incredibly powerful, and incredibly beautiful Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ were also handed Mashable’s Choice Awards after they came out a couple of months ago. (Samsung knows how to make a smartphone, y’all.) 

For a limited time, you’ll get an all-new 44mm Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (a $249.99 value) for free when you buy either phone via Amazon: Pick up the Galaxy Note 10 for $949.99, or plunk down  $1,099.99 for the Note 10+. (Both devices include an S Pen and 256GB of storage.)

Note: This offer *isn’t* one of Amazon’s Deals of the Day, meaning it could still be live tomorrow, but we’d suggest pulling the trigger on it sooner rather than later in case your preferred Note 10 style/color/storage size goes out of stock.

North ending production of current Focals smart glasses to focus on Focals 2.0

Smart glasses maker North announced today that it will be ending production of its first-generation Focals glasses, which it brought to market for consumers last year. The company says it will instead shift its focus to Focals 2.0, a next-generation version of the product, which it says will ship starting in 2020.

Focals are North’s first product since rebranding the company from Thalmic Labs and pivoting from building smart gesture control hardware to glasses with a built-in heads-up display and smartphone connectivity. CEO and founder Stephen Lake told me in a prior interview that the company realized in developing its Myo gesture control armband that it was actually more pressing to develop the next major shift in computing platform before tackling interface devices for said platforms, hence the switch.

Focals 2.0 will be “at a completely different level” and “the most advanced smart glasses ever made,” Lake said in a press release announcing the new generation device. In terms of how exactly it’ll improve on the original, North isn’t sharing much but it has said that its made the 2.0 version both lighter and “sleeker,” and that it’ll offer a much sharper, “10x improved” built-in display.

North began selling its Focals smart glasses via physical showrooms that it opened first in Brooklyn and Toronto. These, in addition to a number of pop-up showroom locations that toured across North America, provided in-person try-ons and fittings for the smart glasses, which must be tailor-fit for individual users in order to properly display content from their supported applications. More recently, North also added a Showroom app for iOS devices, that included custom sizing powered by more recent iPhone front-facing depth sensing camera hardware.

North’s first-generation Focals smart glasses.

To date, North hasn’t revealed any sales figures for its initial Focals device, but the company did reduce the price of the glasses form $999 to just under $600 (without prescription) relatively soon after launch. Their cost, combined with the requirement for an in-person fitting prior to purchase (until the introduction of the Showroom app) and certain gaps in the product feature set like an inability to support iMessage on iOS natively, all point to initial sales being relatively low volume, however.

To North’s credit, Focals are the first smart glasses hardware that manage to have a relatively inconspicuous look. Despite somewhat thicker than average arms on either side where the battery, projection and computing components are housed, Focals resemble thick acrylic plastic frames of the kind popularized by Warby Parker and other standard glasses makers.

With version 2.0, it sounds like Focals will be making even more progress in developing a design that hews closely to standard glasses. One of the issues also cited by some users with the first-generation product was a relatively fuzzy image produced by the built-in projector, which required specific calibration to remain in focus, and it sounds like they’re addressing that, too.

The Focals successor will still have an uphill battle when it comes to achieving mass appeal, however. It’s unlikely that cost will be significantly reduced, though any progress it can make on that front will definitely help. And it still either requires non-glasses wearers to opt for regularly donning specs, or for standard glasses wearers to be within the acceptable prescription range supported by the hardware, and to be willing to spend a bit more for connected glasses features.

The company says the reason it’s ending Focals 1.0 production is to focus on the 2.0 rollout, but it’s not a great sign that there will be a pause in between the two generations in terms of availability. Through its two iterations as a company, Thalmic Labs and now North have not had the best track record in terms of developing hardware that has been a success with potential customers – Focals 2.0, whenever they do arrive, will have a lot to prove in terms of iterating enough to drive significant demand.

The more we’ve embraced smartphones, the more they’ve hurt us

We all walk and text, but maybe we shouldn’t.

At least, one could reasonably come to that conclusion after checking out a new study from Rutgers University. The study found that head and neck injuries as a result of cell phone use, whether it came from being hit by a phone or distracted walking or driving, steadily rose between 1998 and 2017.

The full study was published in the journal AMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. Author Boris Paskhover said he was inspired to examine this phenomenon after, among other things, treating a woman who broke her nose by dropping a phone on her face. The most commonly reported injury types in the study were lacerations, contusions, and internal organ injury in the head and neck areas.

As one might expect, 13 to 29 year olds were the most likely of any age group to get hurt in this way in the cases the study examined. Additionally, 38.8 percent of victims were white and 55 percent were women. Younger folks were more likely to sustain “direct mechanical injuries” from their phones, such as an exploding battery or being struck by a falling device; while people older than 50 were more likely to suffer indirect injuries, such as repetitive strain injuries, from cell phone use.

Interestingly, the study found spikes in these sorts of injuries in 2007 and 2016. The former is when iPhones launched in the United States, while the latter is when Pokemon Go came out. More than 41 percent of these injuries were insignificant enough to not require treatment.

The numbers here don’t necessarily mean you’re inviting danger into your life while using a phone, as a rise in injuries was only to be expected as more people started using phones more often. But, according to Paskhover, they do show that we could all stand to be more careful.

“The findings suggest a need for education about the risks of cellphone use and distracted behavior during other activities as well as driving and walking,” Paskhover said in the Rutgers news release.

Google Maps might soon start making sure you don’t wander into a dark alley

Google may be working on a cool feature that’ll make your walking commute a bit safer: A new “lighting” layer in Google Maps that highlights brightly lit streets when traveling on foot. 

This is according to XDA Developers, whose experts dug up lines of code in Google Maps beta that indicate such a feature is coming. From the information contained there, it appears that Google Maps will highlight well-lit streets with a yellow color. 

The feature doesn’t appear to be live yet, and there’s no word on when that might happen. 

Still, it’s one of those small but potentially life-saving features that makes Maps such a great product. If you’re making your way through a city at night, navigating via Google Maps, you’ll certainly appreciate not being sent into a dark, dangerous-looking alley or even main roads without adequate streetlights. 

There’s no official word on where Google might launch the feature first, and it’s also unclear how Google plans to collect street lighting data and keep it updated. 

Google has been steadily updating Maps with new features since…well, forever, but the recent couple of months have been especially fruitful. In October, the company added an Incognito mode for Maps, and later that month, it added extra detailed spoken directions to help blind people navigate. In Nov., Google Maps also got a translation feature to make it easier to read an address to someone in a foreign country.

Exactly how this new “lighting” feature will impact people’s experiences travelling through locations while using Maps remains to be seen. It’s not always lighting that makes a situation more dangerous than not, but every little tip helps.

Samsung Galaxy S11 to have a 108-megapixel camera, report says

Samsung’s next flagship, the Galaxy S11, will likely come with a quad, 108-megapixel camera. This is according to a new report by Bloomberg, which cites people familiar with Samsung’s plans. 

That’s an immense jump, megapixels-wise, from the S10, which has a triple, 12/12/16-megapixel camera. It’s not particularly surprising, though, given that Samsung already sells a 108-megapixel sensor to third-party manufacturers, such as Xiaomi. 

Furthermore, unofficial renders of the Galaxy S11 show a massive camera bump on the back, with five rear cameras nested inside. 

The setup on the new Samsung will be quite similar to the penta camera system on the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 (read my review of that device here), according to the report. Besides the main, 108-megapixel sensor, there will also be an ultra-wide lens and one with 5x optical zoom, as well as a depth sensor for those bokeh shots and AR apps. Unlike the renders above, the new report claims the S11 will have a total of four rear cameras. 

My impressions of the Xiaomi Mi Note 10’s camera system were very positive; in fact, with a little tweaking it would probably be the best on the market. I’d still say the iPhone 11 Pro has the best camera, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung’s Galaxy S11 dethroned it come February, when the phone is likely to be announced. 

Samsung's next foldable phones might get the new camera system, too.

Samsung’s next foldable phones might get the new camera system, too.

Image: Samsung/Youtube

Bloomberg says that Samsung will also put the high-res sensor, as well as a the 5x zoom camera, onto its next foldable phone, which will reportedly have a clamshell design. This is interesting; the last rumor we’ve heard about that phone was that it’ll be fairly cheap at $845, which indicated mid-tier specs (a la Motorola’s foldable Razr). 

The new foldable will likely be unveiled alongside the Galaxy S11 in February.