Category Archives: Smart Phone

Samsung Galaxy S5 – Sneak Peek

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I got a sneak peek at the Samsung Galaxy S5 yesterday and I will definitely consider buying it once it’s out or at least after a while. The reason I said after a while is because I’ve always had issues with the early Samsung releases and prices usually drop after 2 or 3 months.

The S5 is basically an enhanced version of the S4, featuring:
- A 5.1” FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) Screen
- Quad Core (Snapdragon?) Processor and 2GB of Rams.
- A 16MP (1/2.6”, Phase Detection AF) Front Camera
- A more performant battery (2800mAh)
- 4G LTE-Enabled Network

To be honest, I’ve been very satisfied with the Samsung S4 I’m carrying since last year, and before that the Note2 and I’ve used the Note3 for a while. However, the two things that bothered me the most were the amount of useless features that we get with the Samsung phones, and the processors. I remember being excited at first about trying out the “Air View” and “Smart Pause” and “Smart Stay” when the S4 came out but they are basically useless and annoying features. As for the processors, the Note2 had a problem with its processors (Sudden Death Chips) which made me sell it, and the S4 was lightening fast when I got it (camera was crashing though), but it has become sluggish with time after I loaded it with apps and data.

There are five special features that caught my attention during the presentation yesterday:
1- The S5 is dust and water resistant. It doesn’t mean that you can swim with it, but it won’t let water inside if you spill your drink by mistake on it.
2- There’s an “Ultra Power Saving Mode” that would let you use 10% of your battery for around 24 hours. It basically shuts down all unnecessary features and changes your screen to black and white. It’s a useful feature but I would prefer if Samsung and other smartphone companies spent their money on a battery that lasts longer.
3- The Download Booster which lets use your LTE and WIFI together for an enhanced network experience. I don’t think I will be using it much in Lebanon as our 3G quotas are ridiculously low.
4- What I also loved in the S5 is the camera shortcut on the lock screen (just like the iPhone).
5- The back cover is much better than the Note3 fake leather one but I don’t know if it’s better than the plastic one. It feels weird to be honest.

A full review will follow when I get to try out the phone properly. I am not sure when the phone will be launched officially and the price will be around 800$ (VAT Included).

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iPhone To Be Officially Released Soon By Lebanon’s Alfa Telecom

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According to 9to5mac, Apple is signing deals with new carriers worldwide and among them Alfa in Lebanon. Alfa’s CEO Marwan Hayek confirmed it in a tweet that iPhone will be soon officially released in Lebanon.

That’s definitely good news but we still have to see whether Alfa (and maybe Touch later) will offer reasonable prices and plans. I will try to figure out how soon the launch will be for those interested.

Update: I was told the launch will probably take place by end of March.

Thanks Sandro!

Review: Nokia Lumia 1020

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Update: Nokia has officially released its first Android phones, the Nokia X and Nokia XL.

The Lumia 1020 is probably the best Windows Phone out there at the moment, and its camera is the best smartphone camera you could ask for. I am really impressed with the quality of pictures and I am barely using my Samsung S4 camera these days, however a smartphone is not only about a camera and I am still not fully convinced with Windows Phones. I love the 1020 and am carrying it around with me all the time (and don’t want to give it back :P), but the whole Windows OS experience is still second best to Android and iOS smartphones.

Moving on, here’s my take on the design/build quality, the performance, the camera and battery life.

Design/Build Quality
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The Lumia 1020 is a relatively heavy smartphone, but somehow much lighter than the Lumia 920 despite the camera lens popping out of the back of the phone. The one I got came in matte black, and even though I loved the feel of the phone, it was a bit more slippery when compared to the previous Lumia phones that came with a glossy finish. The screen offers a 4.5-inch PureMotion HD + OLED display and is a very solid one (Gorilla Glass 3). There are no buttons or ports on the left side of the screen, while the right side has a volume control button, a power/standby and camera button. The Lumia 1020 can never rest flat on a table because of the camera lens standing out at the back. The round bump looks weird but it didn’t bother me to be honest.

Performance/Software and Battery Life
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The Lumia 1020 has a Dual-core 1.5GHz MSM8960 Processor and is lightening fast. the Windows 8.1 runs very smoothly just like the previous Lumia phones and the 2GB are more than enough to run all the tasks you need. This is a major advantage over the often bloaty and laggy Android but the thing is Android is more user friendly and convenient than the live-tile filed Windows Mobile OS. Take for example the simplest of options, the bar shortcut and notifications drop-down are not available on the Lumia. Moreover I hate the keyboard and you can’t change it.

As far as the battery is concerned, it could easily last an entire day if you are just using it to browse the internet, check emails and take few pictures. Of course if you are using the professional camera and the Xenon flash, expect the battery to run out more quickly. Speaking of photography, Instagram is available but in a BETA mode.

The Camera
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If you are into photography and like taking good pictures, you will fall in love with the Lumia 1020. Just like the Pureview 808 was impressive, the six-lens 41-megapixel PureView camera paired with a Xenon flash is the best smartphone camera by far. Of course you won’t need to take high-res pictures all the time as the default camera is more than enough to produce awesome pictures to upload them on Facebook or share them with friends, but if you want to experiment with the pro camera, then I advise you to read this document first. If you’ve never used an SLR Camera before, you will find it hard to change between the settings so I recommend in that case that you keep all the settings to auto in that case and let the camera do the work.

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As you can see from the above screenshots, you can play with various manual controls, such as the brightness level, the shutter speed, ISO, focus and white balance. You can get see a live preview while setting the controls. The one thing I wasn’t able to do is shoot macro shots with the 1020 but you won’t need to as you can easily zoom in any picture without losing any quality. Trust me the level of detail that this phone captures is something you’ll never see on any other camera phone and I will be posting later on a list of High-Res Photos taken all over Lebanon.

Here’s an example on how good the Lumia 1020 camera is:

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Photo taken by an S4

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Photo taken by the Lumia1020

Final Verdict
I loved the design and solid build of the Lumia 1020. The camera is an obvious winner too but the Windows OS is a major turn off for me to be honest. The notification system is lousy, large live tiles, tons of settings and no quick bar or shortcut buttons. I’ve tried hard to get used to the Windows OS but it’s not working out for me. Either a serious change needs to be done and Microsoft is more than capable to do so, or Microsoft should let their phones run on Android and I heard they are already considering it.

Love Translator App by The Mukhi Sisters

[YouTube]

It’s no secret that men and women don’t always get each other. That’s why the Mukhi sisters have come up with a fun Valentine app that translates what women really mean. Men just type in what women are telling them and the app translates the sentence to “English”. In case Love Translator doesn’t return an answer, you could always suggest one with the help of your wife/fiancee/gf or just “Break the language barrier” and get a jewelry suggestion. I think that’s a pretty cool idea and I would love to see a compilation of the best suggested answers after a while.

Speaking of jewelry, I never understood why women or anyone for that sake love getting jewelry so much. Personally speaking, that’s like the worst gift I could get from anyone.

Born to an Indian father and a Lebanese mother, the Mukhi Sisters bring you the best of both worlds in contemporary jewelry pieces. Passion for jewelry was innate and inherited by their parents who have been renowned jewelers for years. Each their own design and their own personal touch, the Mukhi Sisters line of jewelry is sure to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

The app is available only on the iTunes Store. [Download]

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An App To Tell Loved Ones After Every Bombing In Lebanon ‘I am still alive!’

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Via DailyStar

Sandra Hassan started this app as a joke but I have a feeling a lot of Lebanese will use it. I can’t wait for the “Istinkar” version she is working on for Lebanese Politicians lol!

You can download it for Android [Here].

Every time there is an explosion, we have to spend a lot of time contacting our loved ones and letting them know we’re alright, making sure they’re okay too.
Not anymore!
With this handy app, you just have to open it and tap one button and the fact that you’re safe and sound will be tweeted to the world with #Lebanon and #LatestBombing.
If your friends use this app too then you can just go to your twitter feed and filter for these hashtags to instantly get reassured about your loved ones!
We’re working on newer versions of this app that will support facebook as well.
NB: We are also working on a version for the politicians so that they can tweet out there “istinkar” of the situation with just one tap!

Nokia Lumia 1020

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I’ve been waiting for months to get my hands on the Nokia Lumia 1020 and it’s finally here. I love taking pictures and my Samsung S4 camera is one of the best I’ve used so far, but I doubt that it will match the 1020′s six-lens 41-megapixel PureView camera paired with a Xenon flash.

Stay tuned as I will be posting a full review next week. I will also be posting throughout the week pictures on my Instagram @LeNajib.

PS: Instagram is available for Windows Phones now. It’s called Instagram Beta.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note3

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I passed by Samsung a week ago and picked up the new Samsung Galaxy Note3 in order to test it out. I’ve been anxiously waiting for that phone to come out as I’m using the Samsung S4 at the moment and even though it is a great phone with an amazing camera, battery life is not that good and the phone has some software issues.

The Note3 is not curved like the Note2 and looks like a bigger S4. It’s an impressive phone that boosts a huge screen (5.7 inches) screen, a 13 megapixels camera (No Night mode though), a quad core processor with 3GB RAM, and is 4G and NFC-enabled. The Note3 battery life is better than its precedents and could last you an entire day easily.

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I will not bore you with further technical details so here are some of the pros and cons and my final verdict on the Note3:

Pros:
- Gorgeous full-HD screen and impressive display (Super AMOLED).
- Thin and light phone despite its size (168 g).
- Very Fast (Quad core, 2300 MHz, 3GB).
- Amazing battery life (3,200 mAh battery).
- Great camera (13 megapixels, F2.2 aperture size and Digital image stabilization)

Cons:
- New faux-leather rear is a turnoff.
- A lot of useless features making it complicated to use (just like the S4).
- Too Expensive (880$).
- The Note3 I got is powered by an Exynos processor, not the better performing Snapdragon processor.

Verdict:
All in all, The Note3 is still the phablet to beat but I think it’s way too overpriced at almost 900$. I’d rather wait till its price drops and they get the Snapdragon 800 powered processor.