domingo, 27 de outubro de 2013

Apple iPad Air Review

As the holiday season approaches, we have today the announcement of the next iPad iteration. It's not called the iPad 5, it's the iPad Air. I suppose the 'Air' name kind of gives away its main changes over its predecessor: A thinner, lighter, and smaller design. Of course there are other improvements in tow, but the big identifier of the iPad Air is its new chassis. Other changes from the iPad 4 include a faster A7 processor and improved LTE connectivity.

Unfortunately, the rumors that the new iPad was going to include the Touch ID fingerprint scanner  didn't pan out. Perhaps it's for the best; I doubt many people would find it useful on a tablet.

Apple iPad Air Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) Apple iPad 4
 Body   240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm, 469g (Wi-Fi)/ 478g (LTE)  243 x 171 x 7.9mm, 540 (Wi-Fi) / 547 (LTE)  241 x 186 x 9.4mm, 652g (Wi-Fi) / 662g (LTE)
 Display   9.7" IPS LCD 2048 x 1536 (264ppi)  10.1" Super Clear LCD 2560 x 1600 (299ppi)  9.7" IPS LCD 2048 x 1536 (264ppi)
 Connectivity   Wi-Fi, GSM (2G), HSDPA (3G), LTE (4G)  Wi-Fi, GSM (2G), HSDPA (3G), LTE (4G)  Wi-Fi, GSM (2G), HSDPA (3G), LTE (4G)
 Storage  16/32/64 GB, 1 GB RAM  16/32/64 GB, 3 GB RAM 16/32/64 GB, 1 GB RAM
 Camera (Rear)  5 MP with face detection and HDR, 1080p video 8 MP with LED flash, face and smile detection and 1080p video  5 MP with face detection and HDR, 1080p video 
 Camera (Front)  1.2 MP with face detection, 720p video  2 MP, 1080p video 1.2 MP with face detection, 720p video
 OS  iOS 7  Android 4.3 Jelly Bean  iOS 7
 Processor Apple A7 (Dual-core Cyclone @ 1.3GHz + PowerVR G6430) Wi-FI model: Exynos 5 Octa 5420 (Quad-core Cortex-A15 @ 1.9GHz/Quad-core Cortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz + Mali-T628)
LTE model: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 (Quad-core Krait 400 @ 2.3GHz + Adreno 330)
Apple A6X (Dual-core Swift @ 1.4GHz + PowerVR SGX 554MP4)
 Battery  Non-removable 8,760 mAh  Non-removable 8,220 mAh  Non-removable 11,560 mAh
 Starting Price  $549 $499  Discontinued (Previously $499)
 Included Accessories  S Pen stylus


The iPad Air brings with it the biggest overhaul to the iPad design since the introduction of the iPad 2. This time around, the iPad Air borrows the design of the iPad mini: the edges are no longer tapered, and the back is made of the same aluminium that has always covered the iPad, however, this time it'll be available in either Space Gray or Silver. The front is very similar to previous iPads, except that the side bezels are much narrower, making the device easier to hold.

Numerically speaking, the iPad Air is very slim. Weighing just 469g for the Wi-Fi model, and measuring just 7.5mm thick, the iPad Air joins the ranks of the Xperia Tablet Z. The Tablet Z, while still slightly thinner, is also slightly heavier than the iPad Air. But for the power it packs, the iPad Air is impressively thin and light. Of course, Apple had to reduce battery size significantly from the iPad 4 to reach this level of slimness, however Apple is still claiming 10 hours of straight use, so I assume they're relying either on lower power consumption from the A7 chip and/or on optimizations within iOS 7 to use less power to make that claim. Still, whether the iPad Air can still deliver as much battery life as the iPad 4 with a smaller battery is something we'll only find out when the device is up for sale. 


We still have no benchmarks on the A7 chip used on the iPad Air. Of course, I could just put some iPhone 5s benchmarks here, since it also has the same A7 processor, but I think those could turn out to be inaccurate since I suspect Apple will increase GPU clocks on the iPad Air to handle the tablet's very high resolution. Either way, with a dual-core configuration of Apple's home-brewed Cyclone cores, based on ARMv8 64-bit architecture, at a clock speed of (probably) 1.3GHz, plus a OpenGL ES 3.0-supporting PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, the iPad Air will most probably take the top spot in most benchmarks again. Whether it'll be able to beat those monstrous Snapdragon 800 devices or not, that remains to be seen, but you can be sure it's a huge improvement over last year's iPad 4. 


The iPad Air isn't really so different from the iPad 4. There's the same display (not that I have any complaints about that), same camera module and RAM capacity. But the few changes it makes are very significant. The iPad Air sets itself as one of the thinnest and lightest full-sized tablets on the market, and the reduction of side bezels are very appreciable. As the iPad is a very good form factor for gaming, and Apple knows it, the iPad Air brings notable performance improvements that should maintain the iPad's spot as the fastest ultra-mobile device. 

The iPad Air will be available for sale as of November 1, and will sell for $499 for the 16 GB version. Storage increments will cost $100 and LTE connectivity will cost you a $130 premium. While I believe this to be some pretty steep prices, I think the price is worth what you get. If the iPad Air is too pricey, but you still want the big iPad experience, the (very) old iPad 2 is sticking around for $399 (at which point I'd recommend getting a similarly priced Android tablet, like the Nexus 10, which greatly outperforms the iPad 2 in almost every way), and if you want the iPad experience in a smaller package, you could consider the $399 iPad mini 2 (although there are comparable Android alternatives for much less), or the original iPad mini for $299.  

sábado, 26 de outubro de 2013

Nokia Lumia 2520 Review

Nokia has successfully brought itself back into relevance in the mobile markets, with their relatively popular Lumia line of smartphones, however, we still hadn't seen any Lumia phablets or tablets. That is no longer a concern, for Nokia has recently announced their first tablet, the Lumia 2520, along with two phablets, the 1520 and the 1320. As it is a 10.1-inch tablet running Windows 8.1 RT and with a detachable keyboard dock, the Lumia 2520 puts itself in direct competition to Microsoft's Surface 2 tablet. Given that Nokia's mobile division now also belongs to Microsoft, this little competition should get interesting.

Nokia Lumia 2520 Microsoft Surface 2
 Body   267 x 168 x 8.9mm, 615g    275 x 172.5 x 8.9mm, 676g 
 Display  10.1" IPS ClearBlack 1920 x 1080 (218ppi) w/ Gorilla Glass 2   10.6" ClearType 1920 x 1080 (208ppi)
 Storage   32 GB, 2 GB RAM  32/64 GB, 2 GB RAM
 Connectivity   Wi-Fi, GSM (2G), HSDPA (3G), LTE (4G) Wi-Fi
 Ports microSD, USB 3.0 microSD, USB 3.0
 Camera (Rear) 6.7 MP Zeiss Optics 1/3.4" sensor size with 1080p video 5 MP with LED Flash and 1080p video
 Camera (Front) 2 MP with 720p video 3.5 MP with 1080p video
 OS  Windows 8.1 RT  Windows 8.1 RT
 Processor  Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 (Quad-core Krait 400 @ 2.2GHz + Adreno 330)  NVIDIA Tegra 4 T40 (Quad-core Cortex-A15 @ 1.9GHz + 72-core GeForce GPU)
 Battery  Non-removable 8000 mAh  Non-removable 8500 mAh
 Starting  Price  $499  $449

Something Nokia really needs to work on is its device nomenclature. Using a number, like 2520 or 1520, etc. can be really confusing, and doesn't really give the device an identity. I didn't know the 2520 was a tablet until I saw a picture of it, however, when I saw the iPad Air announcement, the name "iPad" immediately told me the device's form factor. If Nokia wants to become a truly popular brand once again, it needs to drop the numbers and start using names to identify their tablets, phablets and smartphones.

The specs of the Lumia 2520's display look somewhat unimpressive, but I can guarantee the screen looks much better in real life. The 10.1" screen size is, well, standard, unlike the Surface 2's maybe-too-large screen. Sure, the 1080p resolution isn't as whopping as those 2560 x 1600 Android tablets, and the 218ppi figure isn't as impressive as those 264ppi iPads and 299ppi Android tablets, but in reality the 2520' display looks very sharp.

But we know it's not just about pixel density, there are other factors too. The Lumia 2520's display has an overkill max brightness of 650 nits, much higher than the iPad's (and most other Android tablets') max brightness. That, coupled with the ClearBlack display reducing reflections on the screen, makes the Lumia 2520 the best tablet for outdoor usage. 

Much like the Surface 2, the Lumia 2520 has a separate keyboard dock, however, while the Surface 2's docks are emphasize thinness, the Lumia's dock is actually much thicker. The upside of this? The Lumia 2520's dock has a built-in battery that can extend the tablet's battery life for up to five extra hours (according to Nokia). Still, they're both keyboard docks with trackpads that double as covers for their respective tablets' screens. It's actually very similar to the Power Cover that will be released for the Surface 2 in the beginning of 2014. 


The design of the Lumia 2520 is reminiscent of other Lumia smartphones. Judging from a numerical standpoint, the 2520 is looking good for a Windows RT tablet. It's just as thin as the Surface 2, measuring 8.9mm thick, but it's appreciably lighter than the new Surface, weighing in at 615g (vs the Surface 2's 676g weight). While it's slightly thinner and lighter than last year's iPad 4, it, along with the vast majority of tablets, save for the Xperia Tablet Z, is no match for the svelte iPad Air. But while it may not be the thinnest or lightest tablet, it's definitely slim enough to comfortably use. 

Like all other Lumias, the 2520's back is made of polycarbonate (read: plastic) and is available in four colors: glossy white and red and matte black and cyan. While the cyan and white colors give the tablet a more distinct, personalized look, the white and black versions are just downright stylish! It definitely feels slightly cheaper and less premium than the magnesium Surface 2 and the aluminium iPad Air, but that doesn't mean it's design isn't good. It's still definitely better than the faux leather back of the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition and most other tablets on the market. 

The slightly curved back makes the device feel thinner and more comfortable to hold. One striking aspect of the Lumia 2520 design is how clean the back looks. Other than a small Nokia logo at the center and the 6.7 MP at the top-left corner, the 2520 is devoid of any visual interruptions. The front of the device is also very clean. The bezels wrapped around the 10.1" display are neither too narrow nor too wide. Above the display is a 3.5 MP camera and below it is the usual capacitive Windows button.


At this point, we can't tell you exactly how fast the Lumia 2520 is since there are no benchmarks of the device yet. It Ok, we don't really need them to tell you the Lumia 2520 is blazing fast. A combination of the very well optimized WIndows RT interface and the most powerful mobile SoC to date, the Snapdragon 800, guarantee top-notch performance and fluidity for the Lumia 2520. It definitely has the processing power to run the Windows UI and first-party apps, including Office RT 2013, flawlessly. If you want to play games on the 2520, well that's what the Snapdragon 800 does best. While there are still not many games in the Windows Store, a few of the most popular iOS/Android games have been made available in the Windows Store (Fruit Ninja and Asphalt 7, for example), and the 2520 should be able to play any mobile game with perfect fluidity, thanks to the monstrous Adreno 330 GPU ticking inside it. The NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC powering the Surface 2, while slightly less powerful, should still yield spotless performance in any usage scenario Windows RT offers, but still, the 2520 is definitely faster, if only by a small margin.

Battery life shouldn't be a big issue, either. I believe Microsoft still has some optimization ahead of it when it comes to making Windows RT truly power efficient, though. The Lumia 2520's 8000 mAh battery isn't perfectly adequate for its 1080p screen and monster SoC, but it should still get you through at least one day, depending on usage scenarios. Compared to the Surface 2, which has a similar display and a similar SoC (from a power standpoint), but has a larger battery (8500 mAh), you should get slightly less battery life on the 2520 than on the Surface 2, but the difference shouldn't exceed one hour. Of course, the smaller battery on the 2520 is one of the factors that gives it's big difference in weight from the Surface 2, so depending on your priorities it might be a reasonable trade-off. 


Basically, the Lumia 2520 is a similar relative to the Surface 2, but with some key differences that will determine which is best for you. With the Lumia 2520, you get a very good rear camera, a slightly smaller display, a thinner chassis, the most powerful SoC so far and LTE connectivity for $499. With the Surface 2, you get a larger display, an overkill front-facing camera, a very powerful SoC and a bigger battery for $449. You just have to decide what is best for you. One other key difference is the good old plastic vs metal story. If you prefer a colorful, distinctive tablet, or if you like the Xperia Tablet Z-esque stylish subtlety, the polycarbonate Lumia 2520 is the tablet to get.

If, however, you prefer that premium, expensive feel of metal, the magnesium Surface 2 is best for you. The price difference of $50 could also be a factor to you, but don't forget that the Lumia 2520's $499 price tag comes with the luxury of LTE connectivity.

In reality, these two tablets compliment each other rather than compete (giving you the choice of magnesium vs plastic, Wi-Fi vs LTE, etc), so if you're on the market for a Windows RT tablet, these two are your best choices. 

segunda-feira, 14 de outubro de 2013

HTC One Max Officially Unvieled: 5.9" Display and Fingerprint Sensor

After the seemingly doomed HTC received a nice uplift thanks to its successful One flagship smartphone, it was sure to try to take on the phablet realm. As a result, HTC has announced today its first (real) phablet, the HTC One Max. With a display size that falls right into the phablet form factor, the One Max is here to compete with the Galaxy Note 3. In terms of design and specs, the One Max is just an enlarged HTC One, but the One Max also adds one nifty feature: a fingerprint sensor.

HTC One Max Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Body 165 x 83 x 10.3mm, 217g 151 x 79 x 8.3mm, 168g
Display 5.9" 1920 x 1080 (373ppi) 5.7" Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 (386ppi)
Camera (Rear) 4 MP UltraPixel camera with 1/3" sensor size, 2µm pixel size, 1080p@30fps and 720p@60fps video + LED flash 13 MP 4K@30fps and 1080p@60fps video + LED flash
Camera (Front) 2.1 MP, 1080p video 2 MP, 1080p video
Storage 16/32 GB + microSD slot, 2 GB RAM 16/32/64 GB + microSD slot, 3 GB RAM
OS Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064: Quad-core Krait 300 @ 1.7GHz + Adreno 320 Exynos 5 Octa 5420 (N9000): Quad-core Cortex-A15 @ 1.9GHz and Quad-core Cortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz + Mali-T628

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800: Quad-core Krait 400 @ 2.3GHz + Adreno 330
Battery Non-removable 3,300 mAh Removable 3,200 mAh

Like I said before, the HTC One Max is practically a bigger HTC One. The phone is rather bulky even for its size, weighing 217g and measuring 10.3mm thick. The Galaxy Note 3, in comparison, is significantly lighter and thinner. I think that 217g crosses the line where the device's weight will start making it uncomfortable to use extensively.

The back of the phablet is made of the same silver-colored aluminium that made the HTC One so attractive, however, the aluminium cover is now removable. And as if HTC's making some sort of joke, even though the back cover is removable, the battery itself remains non-removable. As usual, the 4 MP UltraPixel camera is positioned in the top-center of the device, and below it is one nifty new addition: apparently in Apple's wake, HTC has decided to include a fingerprint sensor below the camera in the One Max. Unlike Apple's solution, though, the fingerprint scanner on the HTC One is activated by swiping your finger on top of the sensor, not just by touching it.

In an attempt to take full advantage of the fingerprint scanner's possibilities, HTC has included a nice new software feature, which uses the fingerprint scanner to launch one in a selection of apps of your choice depending on which finger you swipe on it.

The front of the device, again an enlarged version of the HTC One's front, consists of two BoomSound speakers located in the top and bottom of the device. The huge 5.9" display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, equating to a crisp 373ppi pixel density.

One big issue I have with the One Max is that, unlike other phone manufacturers, which compensate for very large screens by drastically reducing bezel size, it still has large top and bottom bezels, due to the front-facing speakers, and even the left and right bezels aren't as narrow as the ones found on the Galaxy Note 3 and the LG G2. The combination of a huge 5.9" screen and not-so-narrow side bezels result in a device that may not be so comfortable to hold in one hand. 

One other complaint I have about the HTC One Max is that it carries a slightly outdated processor. The Snapdragon 600 CPU employed takes a back seat to the Snapdragon 800, which can be found in many of the most recent flagships, including the Galaxy Note 3. It's also noteworthy that the Snapdragon 600 in the One Max is absolutely no match for the Exynos 5 Octa 5420 chipset inside one particular variant of the Galaxy Note 3. It's a very odd decision by HTC, since it has become the norm that a flagship device needs to pack one of the newest SoCs available.

In any case, while the HTC One Max's chipset is definitely slower than both the ones in the Galaxy Note 3, it doesn't mean it's slow. The Snapdragon 600 is, even today, a very powerful SoC, and you shouldn't have any performance issues with it in terms of UI and app navigation and even in gaming. The Snapdragon 600 in the One Max should only be a deal breaker for you if you want some serious future-proofing or if you just absolutely need to have the latest and greatest in performance.

The HTC One Max should hit stores before the end of the year, but unfortunately there's no pricing info available as of yet. Now, the verdict on the One Max is that: it's a competent contender to the Galaxy Note 3, boasting a very good looking chassis, if not a little too heavy, and it combines a very good camera, a nifty fingerprint sensor, some seriously good front-facing speakers, and a large, beautiful display. You might be bugged by the fact that it doesn't pack the latest silicon, but it still contains enough transistors to provide a smooth experience with whatever you can throw at it. So, if you're on the market for a flagship phablet, the HTC One Max should be near the top of the list, beside the Galaxy Note 3.

domingo, 13 de outubro de 2013

Sony Xperia Z1 Review

As good camera quality has become a trend in smartphones this year, it was only a matter of time for some manufacturers to take this new trend very seriously, for example, Nokia with its Lumia 1020 and its monstrous 40 MP camera. Sony is the next OEM to ship a smartphone with a gorgeous camera, in this case, the Xperia Z1. Very similar to the Xperia Z we've seen at the beginning of the year, the Z1 is a refresher that adds a faster processor, an impressive 20.7 MP rear camera and a larger battery to the flagship smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z1 Sony Xperia Z
Body  144 x 74 x 8.5mm, 169g
 IP58 certified (dust-proof and water-proof for up to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
 139 x 71 x 7.9mm, 146g
 IP58 certified (dust-proof and water-proof for up to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
Display  5" 1920 x 1080 (441ppi) Triluminos with X-Reality engine 5" 1920 x 1080 (441ppi) with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
Storage 16 GB, 2 GB RAM 16 GB, 2 GB RAM
Ports microSD (up to 64 GB), microUSB microSD (up to 64 GB), microUSB
Camera (Rear) 20.7 MP with Sony Exmor RS image processor, 1080p video + LED flash 13.1 MP,1080p video + LED flash
Camera (Front) 2 MP, 1080p video 2.2 MP, 1080p video
Battery Non-removable 3000 mAh
Talk time: 14 hours
Standby time: 880 hours
Non-removable 2330 mAh,
Talk time: 14h
Standby time: 530 hours
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 (Quad-core Krait 400 @ 2.2GHz + Adreno 330) Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064 (Quad-core Krait 300 @ 1.5GHz + Adreno 320)
OS Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Android 4.2 Jelly Bean


The Xperia Z1 follows the same design language used in all 2013 Xperia devices. The shape of the device is plainly rectangular and is slightly thicker and heavier than the Xperia Z, no doubt due to the monstrous camera and the larger battery, measuring 8.5mm thick and weighing 169g. Comparing to other 5" flagships the Xperia Z1 is pretty hefty, but that doesn't mean it's uncomfortable to hold.

As with the norm for 2013 Xperia smartphones, the Z1 has a rather stylish-looking glossy polycarbonate back, available in black, white or purple colors. The top left edge of the back houses that beastly 20.7 MP rear camera, and just under it is the LED flash. The only complaint I have with the Xperia Z1's design is that the bezels, especially the top and bottom bezels, are considerably wider than what other manufacturers have achieved (recalling the LG G2 and its almost bezel-less design). The thicker-than-normal left and right bezels make the phone wider and less comfortable to hold. Large bezels and heftiness aside, I still consider Sony's new design concept one of the most stylish designs this year. 


Much like the Xperia Z and most of 2013's flagships, the Xperia Z1 has a large 5" display with a crisp 1920 x 1080 resolution (441ppi). What's different in the Z1 is that is packs some new display technologies, specifically, TRILUMINOS display technology, which enhances the color reproduction spectrum and producing bright, colorful images, and an X-Reality picture processing engine, which analyses the content of pictures, videos, and games and makes them clearer, sharper and more colorful. So while the basic specs of the display remain unchanged, Sony has included some new display technologies to bring clearer, more colorful content into the screen. 


The biggest selling point of the Xperia Z1 is, no doubt, its camera, and it does impress. Sure, the camera doesn't protrude from the device like the Lumia 1020, and the rather small camera lens would make you think its another boring old 13 MP shooter, but don't judge this 20.7 MP beast just by its minimalism. Aside from the higher pixel count, Sony is also borrowing from its compact digital camera technology, integrating a large 1/2.3" image sensor with Exmor RS technology, ensuring excellent low-light shots with little grain and vibrant colors. The Xperia Z1 also utilizes Sony's excellent G Lens of F/2.0 aperture, and to back up these powerful optical instruments is a BIONZ image processing engine, which enables noise reduction, as well as intelligence exposure and white balance adjustments automatically, Motion Detection, which alters the camera shutter speed to greatly reduce motion blur other visual treats.

The result is a nearly perfect camera on your smartphone. Not only is the 20.7 MP a very high resolution, per-pixel quality is the best due to the G Lens' F/2.0 aperture and the Exmor RS image sensor, both of which help more light to pass through the camera, enhancing low-light shots, reducing noise in low-light situations and greatly aiding color reproduction, creating the most vibrant shots. Like that wasn't already enough, the BIONZ ISP takes digital image processing to its best, eliminating motion blur, and ensuring the best exposure and white balance settings for every shot. All that comes without having a bulbous camera lens protruding from the device, like in the Lumia 1020 or, even worse, in the Samsung Galaxy Camera. Many of you might just not care about this, but if you want a smartphone with an excellent camera without sacrificing portability, the Xperia Z1 is the perfect phone for you.


Like many flagship refreshers coming out this quarter, the Xperia Z1 upgrades its processor to a monstrous Snapdragon 800 SoC. While this isn't the highest binned Snapdragon 800, it still packs a lot of power. The Xperia Z1's Snapdragon 800 MSM8974 consists of four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.2 GHz plus an Adreno 330 GPU at 450 MHz. That puts it in line with the absolute fastest smartphones available.


The Xperia Z1 is, no more, no less, than a refresher of the Xperia Z. It builds upon the already proven smartphone solution with a new processor, a better display, a larger battery, and it gives it something to distinguish itself from other flagships: an excellent camera, which incorporates years of development in compact camera technology into a smartphone camera that not only has a high pixel count, but also boasts excellent per-pixel quality and takes advantage of advanced image signal processing, without making the sensor itself too large and without adding too much girth to the device.

If you're on the market for a flagship device, the Xperia Z1 should be near the top of your list. Personally, I have no big complaints about it, and I would recommend it to anyone unless you're particularly sensitive about a smartphone's size and weight. Without any major deficiencies, this smartphone is easily one of the best available, and if you consider camera quality an important factor, then look no further. 

quarta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2013

Samsung Galaxy Round: The First Curved Display Smartphone

Rumors that Samsung is developing a smartphone with a curved display have been around for a while, and now it's official: The Galaxy Round smartphone has been officially unvieled. To be released only in Korea for now, this smartphone is curved in the center, the first one to ever accomplish such a thing. Other than the funky curved design, the Galaxy Round is almost identical to the Galaxy Note 3 sans the Wacom digitizer and S Pen inclusion. Whether this smartphone represents the future of technology or is just a gimmick, we'll find out.

If you're trying to imagine how the Galaxy Round feels like, just imagine a Note 3 and bend it on the middle, and that's pretty much it. The Round also has a faux-leather textured back, where a 13MP camera is placed, and on the front there's the same 1080p 5.7" display, except, well, the display is of "Super Flexible AMOLED" variety, which means the display is bend down in the middle like the rest of the device. Ergonomics are also similar to the Note 3: The Round also has that less curvy, more rectangular, Galaxy S2-esque design, and it's 7.9mm thick and weighs 154g. Under the hood there's a beastly Snapdragon 800 SoC (Quad-core Krait 400 @ 2.3GHz + Adreno 330 GPU), whose modem supports LTE-A connectivity. The curved nature of the Round apparently caused Samsung to reduce battery size slightly to 2,800 mAh in comparison to the Note 3.

Samsung has coupled a few software features to go with the curved display, although the new features don't necessarily require the curved display. There's a new "roll effect", where if you rock the phone left or right, a window with battery status, date, time, and maybe some other info pops up on the screen. Another new feature is the "gravity effect", which is triggered also by rocking the phone with a finger, triggers a music-oriented UI to appear onscreen. Called the Bounce UX, it allows you to easily select and play/pause a song. Both the roll effect and the gravity effect work even if the phone's display is off.

What potential advantages does the Galaxy Round have? Well, not many. The phone's curved nature will fit more comfortably in your hand (although that could be accomplished without curving the entire smartphone, for example, the Moto X with its curved back), and there's a small chance the new software features will actually be useful to you. This is by no means confirmed, but the curved glass might actually give the device more durability by making the glass more resistant to impact. And, well, bragging rights, of course. I mean, who else would have a curved smartphone?
Now, for the disadvantages: The slightly smaller battery may lose you a few minutes of battery life, and while the round design is hand-friendly, I can imagine it'd feel pretty damn awkward if placed inside tight pockets. Also, until such time when the device comes out and we can actually test it, there's no way to guarantee the curved display won't make movies and games look somewhat distorted.

But it all comes down to this: Is the curved display technology really useful? So far, the answer is no. It doesn't really change anything aside from ergonomics, and Samsung is going to have to implement a number of software features that can only be achieved through the curved display if they want their technology to sell. The Roll Effect and Gravity Effect are just not useful enough to justify buying this device. Once we start seeing flexible smartphones you can actually bend, then things might get interesting, and while the Galaxy
Round is by no means flexible, it does show that Samsung's engineers are very capable, and are edging towards achieving a truly flexible smartphone.

At best, Samsung's new smartphone is an innovative design, and is a step closer to genuinely flexible smartphones. At worst, the Round is a gimmick and brings pretty much nothing more than an interesting shape to the smartphone. Obviously, though, Samsung isn't considering this smartphone a flagship that's supposed to sell millions of units. While Samsung did give it very flagship-like specs, the fact that the Round will only be sold in Korea indicates that it's rather an experiment. Will it become an unexpected worldwide success, like what happened to the Note series, or will it be a total failure? Only time will tell.