Category Archives: Technology

First Hands-On Look At The Samsung #GalaxyS6 And #GalaxyS6Edge

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Yesterday was the first time I attend a Samsung #Unpacked event and I personally enjoyed it. The event took place at the Centre de Convencions Internacional in Barcelona and it felt really good to take part in it, share the excitement and interact with the crowds. #Unpacked introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6 as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge which comes with curved screens as well as other cool accessories like the Gear VR. The two new phones were announced by Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin who claimed that no other phone can match the new S6’s, and I have to say the phones have some pretty impressive specs.

20150301_193800 Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin announcing the two new phones

20150301_193233 The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

I will begin with the specs that are similar to both the S6 and S6 Edge:

1- Plastic covers were dropped and replaced by a metal frame and Gorilla glass back. The metal is supposedly 50% stronger metal than competing smartphones and shouldn’t bend :)
2- The battery is smaller and no longer removable (so no SD card slot). It should last longer however according to Samsung due to the new processor. 10 minutes of Fast Charging will allow you to use the phone for 4 hours. Both devices charge twice as fast as the iPhone6.
3- Display is 5.1″ Quad HD super AMOLED (577pi). Better colors more pixels and a gorgeous screen.
4- The processor (Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore ) is much better and uses less battery. The phones are equipped DDR4 3GB RAM.
5- The front camera is 5MP while the rear one is 16MP OIS equipped with f1.9 aperture for better low light results. Camera launch time is 0.7 seconds only. Here are some of the camera features: Quick Launch, Tracking AF, Auto Real-time HDR(Front & Rear) , F1.9, Low Light Video(Front & Rear), High Clear Zoom, IR Detect White Balance, Virtual Shot, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Pro Mode, Selective Focus.
6- The #GalaxyS6 and #GalaxyS6edge come in five colors: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
7- Galaxy S6 comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB, Galaxy S6 Edge in 64GB and 128GB.
8- There’s also Wireless charging which is a built-in feature.

As for the #GalaxyS6edge, it will be the world’s first dual-edge display smartphone, which means two curved side screens that will allow you to quickly check and answer call, messages or emails. The Clear View option will also allow you to determine who’s calling you based on the color .

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Once the event was done, we got the chance to check out the new phones and try them out for few minutes. I held both phones to see if they were comfortable to hold given their ultra-slim design and I was pleasantly surprised by their grip and feel specially the S6 Edge. The camera on both phones is fantastic, they are very quick and responsive and the side screens on the S6 Edge are very easy to use.

As a first impression, I liked the new S6 but I’m honestly in love with the S6 Edge. What I didn’t appreciate was the fact that there are no SD card slots anymore and I am curious to see if the battery life will indeed improve with the new processor as this is a crucial feature. Otherwise, S6 is a huge improvement from the S5 and the S6 Edge might be the next big thing. Of course this is a very quick first impression post and I will definitely write a longer and more detailed post once I get my hands on the phone for a proper review.

The official release date is set for April 10th and prices are not yet out but I heard the S6 will start selling at around 800$. Here are some of the pictures I took at #Unpacked

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Here are a couple of pictures showing the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 side by side:

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[YouTube]

Samsung or iPhone? Which Is Better?

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What do you think I should get? A Samsung or an iPhone? What about the LG did you try it? is the HTC any good? All these are questions I get asked most of the time by friends and family members specially when a new smartphone is expected to come out soon. While I never pretended to be a smartphone expert, I love with experimenting with phones in general and I’ve been doing that for the past 15 years or so. My first phone was an Ericsson then I switched to the Siemens SL45 which was one of the most advanced phones at the time, then I carried Nokia phones for quite some time before switching to a Sony Ericsson for a short while. My first smartphone was the iPhone and I fell in love with it back then but as soon as Android phones started coming out, I ditched my iPhone4 and got the Samsung Note2. I then switched to the Samsung S3, Galaxy Note 3 then the S4, tried to get used to the Windows Lumia phones but couldn’t, gave the Blackberry Q5 a try but it didn’t work out, then I got the S5 and I’m currently using the Samsung S5 and LG G3. I carried the iPhone 6 for a short while but then I decided to switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it comes out.

The reason why I didn’t switch to the iPhone 6 again is not because I didn’t like it or don’t appreciate Apple products, but because the Samsung Galaxy series and Android phones in general are much more convenient for me. I am neither an Android nor an Apple fanatic and I will always go for the technology that makes my life easier and that I can afford. This being said, here are the four features that I look for when choosing a smartphone and that helped me favor Android phones over the iPhone.

Operating System, Software & Performance:
I’ve always had Windows laptops and desktops at home and at work and I tried getting used to Macbooks but I couldn’t, so this whole Apple experience (iPad, Mac, iPhone) is not something I am familiar with and I hated working with iTunes just to sync few songs or images. Moreover, the internet was pretty bad before and is still not that good nowadays, so downloading all these huge updates (even for the iTunes and apps on the Apple Store) was a real pain for me. I remember it took me a week once to upgrade my iPhone because of the internet connection. Even nowadays, it’s a nightmare whenever I have to update the whole family’s iPads and iPhones and I usually end up wasting my 4G quota to do so. I don’t know if there’s an easier way to manage these updates and software upgrades specially with the lousy internet, but I thought it was much easier with Android and I love the fact that I could just plug my phone in a laptop and use it as a storage device without iTunes. Backing up to the cloud or Dropbox is also not a practical solution for me as the DSL connection is not reliable and I’d waste my 4G quota in no time specially that I am a heavy smartphone user.

In terms of performance, I think most of the top rated smartphones nowadays are good and only getting better. The LG G3 I’m currently using is super fast, the iPhone 6 is even better and the upcoming Samsung S6 will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. Sadly enough, the Windows Lumia phones were real quick but the OS was a nightmare. As for the software, the iOS still looks nicer and cleaner than the Android and doesn’t have all these useless features that only slow down your phone but I feel comfortable using both.

Camera:
I’m not a photographer but I love taking pictures and I even bought an SLR at some point and learned a few things to enhance my photography skills. However, it’s not really practical to carry your SLR to all the events you’re invited to, so a phone’s camera is really important to me specially with Instagram nowadays. Before the iPhone 6 came out, my favorite camera was the Samsung S5 one and the best camera I’ve ever used was with the Windows Lumia 1020 one. I never enjoyed the Galaxy Note cameras for some reason, so I am anxiously waiting to see how good the Samsung Galaxy S6 camera will be. Rumors so far are saying it will be a 16MP (or 20MP?) Sony-made IMX240 sensor.

Storage:
This is probably one of the key reasons why I’ll always opt for an Android smartphone over an iPhone. I am a heavy smartphone user and I take a lot of pictures and videos in high res so storage is crucial to me. Moreover, I refuse to pay $150 or $200 extra just to get the iPhone 64GB instead of the 16GB while I could buy a 32GB microSD for as little as 30$. Some may argue that you can backup everything to the cloud nowadays but as I said earlier, this is not an option when you have a lousy internet connection and a limited 4G plan, and it’s not an excuse for Apple not to offer an SD card slot.

s1 The 16GB of pictures were taken during the past 5 months only.

Battery life:
I think everyone suffers from this problem and the only solution is to buy a decent portable charger, or a bigger phone (phablet) like the Note4, the LG G4 or the iPhone 6 Plus. I recently bought the Anker Astro E5 2-Port 1500mAH Portable Charger and it’s a life-saver specially during events, road trips or while traveling. I heard that the new Samsung Galaxy S6 will have a smaller battery but a better performing one than the S5 given its ultra-slim design but it won’t really make a difference when you are tweeting, instagraming, posting on FB, browsing and checking emails, and chatting on 4G for 2 or 3 continuous hours. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the technology associated with smartphones batteries but it’s quite surprising that they didn’t figure out a way to make better batteries.

PS: I found by mistake an article today on a new technology that will triple your battery life.

Final Verdict:
As I stated earlier, there’s no such thing as the best smartphone out there. If you are a loyal Apple user, you’ll find it easier to use the iPhone while some Windows users don’t like iOS and would rather get Android. A lot of people don’t like iPhone’s limitations while others don’t like Android’s bloatware and appreciate the minimalist and clean Apple approach. I personally wouldn’t go for the iPhone 6 for all the reasons I mentioned above and will probably switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it’s out. Since Samsung has invited me to their exclusive #Unpacked event in Barcelona, I will give you a sneak peek preview on the S6 once I get to try it out. I know the HTC M9 is coming out as well but I’ve never used an HTC before for no specific reason so I don’t know much about it.

Moreover, I will be at the MWC 2015 from March 2nd till March 5th checking out all the new smartphones and technologies being released, so stay tuned as I will keep you posted of everything happening there!

I’m Flying To Barcelona For Samsung’s #Unpacked Event & MWC 2015

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barcel

I am traveling next Saturday to Barcelona to attend Samsung’s #Unpacked event where the much anticipated new Galaxy S6 will be released. The event will take place right before the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015) which is happening between March 2 and March 5.

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I’ve been following news and rumors about the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and it looks like a huge step forward from the rather disappointing Samsung S5. The ultra-slim 5.1″ S6 will come with a Quad HD screen and will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. The battery may be smaller than the S5 one (due to the ultra-sim design) but this won’t necessarily mean less battery life and Samsung will finally drop the plastic build with this new one which is great news! Moreover, a variant of the S6, the Samsung S6 Edge should also be announced and will feature a curved screen on the side. This is quite an interesting feature which was launched with the Note 4 Edge and that I’m looking forward to try out.

[YouTube]

There’s still the camera which is rumored to be either a 16MP Sony-made IMX240 sensor or a 20MP one. Knowing that the S4 and the S5 had the best cameras when they came out, I don’t expect less from the new Samsung Galaxy S6. In all cases, I will be there at the #Unpacked event live tweeting and covering so follow me @LeNajib and let me know if you have any questions. My friends from AbsoluteGeeks and @AndroidBasha were also invited by Samsung and will be there so this promises to be a lot of fun!

On a last note, please drop any tips or hints on places to go in Barcelona if you’ve been there.

What did the Lebanese Google in 2014?

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I couldn’t find Lebanon as a country under “Google Trends” but I remember Executive Magazine once did manual searches on popular terms and published the results, so I did the same exercise with more searches. You can do the same by going [here] and searching up to 5 terms for the past year or more.

What I did was perform searches related to popular companies, banks, smartphones, sports, neighboring countries, popular TV stations, famous singers and others. Check out the results below:

Banks

chats

countries_europe

Elissa

football

Messi

neighbors

phones

politicians1

Continue reading

Lebanese Students Win Gold At The Seoul International Invention Fair 2014

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otv

A group of Jamhour students apparently impressed at the Seoul International Invention Fair 2014 and won the first prize with their “Controlling The Mind” invention. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what their invention is nor what they really won because I barely found information about it anywhere. Of course I am happy for them and I hope they get somewhere with this idea, if it’s truly a promising one.

[YouTube]

Save The Flag & Watani Apps Win CME Offshore Independence Day Competition

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Two apps won the competition CME Offshore launched for Lebanon’s Independence day, one called “Save the Flag” where you have to fly an army helicopter through obstacles and another app called “Watani” where you move from one army rank to another after correctly answering a list of questions.

I liked the “Watani” app more but I wish students had thought of more useful apps, like one that can send the location of an army soldier that just got kidnapped or is lost, or one that sends somehow a distress signal based on some criteria.

Beirut, Lebanon – December 2014: After CME announced their Independence App competition, 9 different teams from 6 universities participated and came up with some innovative and dynamic ideas, attracting over 4000+ users in a single week. The competition was intended to give $2000 to the winning app, but two teams came up with outstanding ideas that encouraged CME to double the prize up to $4000 splitting it equally among the two participants.

Save The Flag (Available on both Android and iPhone) by Peter Azar and Rami Allam (both from ESIB): It is a game that reflects our current situation and the way our army is fighting terrorism all over the country in every corner. “The biggest obstacle we came across was finding a way to take the theme presented to us and translate it into an entertaining game” said Peter Azar and Rami Allam. The team seems very excited to build on top of the current app and take it to the next level.

Watani (Available on Android only) by Rene Haddad, Christopher Barakat and Elie Mhawej (All from Université Antonine): It is a quiz app that tests the user’s knowledge about Lebanon and rewards him/her with Lebanese military ranks. The app is very special in its technology and a material design user experience. “We really appreciate and support similar initiatives that establish a common ground between an academic path, a patriotic spirit and an enterprise or a business need!” said Professor Talar Atechian who offered a full guidance to the Antonine team since the first day.

Banque du Liban Accelerate 2014: 1500+ Participants, 50 Speakers And 25+ Startups Over Two Days

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BDL

The BDL is organizing #Accelerate2014 and bringing over 50 startup industry veterans from all around the world to put “Blueprints for Success for 1,000 international entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals”. The list of speakers is very interesting and there are a lot of events, talks and competitions to look out for. I just got back from Dubai today so I missed out on the first day but I will be there tomorrow hopefully.

One of the events I was looking forward to attend today was the “Lightning Round – Startup Competition” as part of the Seedstar World Competition as it’s always nice to hear about new ideas and startups. This year, 28 startups took the stage for 1 minute to pitch their idea and 8 made it to the final round tomorrow.

Here are the 8 finalist startups:
Cardio Diagnostic: FDA Approved wireless heart monitor that helps connect patients with doctors.
Saily: Helps you sell second hand items easily.
Yellow: Bitcoin payment solution for money transfers in your currency.
Ki: Password manager app.
Presella: Online e-ticketing platform that enables anyone anywhere to become an event organizer.
GoEjaza: Helps you plan your trips.
Feedeed: Getting fast professional services online
Tari2ak: Real-time traffic conditions app.

Here’s a link to the full schedule [Here].

Update: You Can Now Edit Photo Captions On Instagram

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I wrote a post back in September wondering whether it was possible to edit a photo caption on Instagram, specially after people had commented on it. For all I know, it’s not possible but it is now as Instagram has finally decided to roll out an update yesterday allowing users to edit captions.

I don’t have the feature yet as the update is not yet available on the Play Store but my friend Maia tried it and it’s working.

PS: I guess this means that George Clooney and Amal Alameddine picture was fake after all.

Thanks Maia!

Whatsapp’s Latest Update

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Since people have been asking about Whatsapp’s latest update, here’s what changed: Whatsapp introduced the blue double check feature which means that the message has been read. So now one grey check means the message has been sent, two grey checks mean it’s been delivered and the two blue checks mean it’s been read.

So now you can’t pretend you didn’t read the message anymore lol!

Update: Here’s Stoli Lebanon’s funny take on this update.

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Updated (11/05/2014): The latest version of WhatsApp (2.11.43) now officially incorporates this feature, although it may not work on all smartphone models. In other words, a grey check means the message has been sent, two grey checks that it’s been delivered to the recipient, and two blue checks that it’s been read.

Until now, the tick marks accompanying your WhatsApp messages indicated one of two things: one tick to show that the message had been sent to the recipient and two to show it had been correctly delivered, which did not imply it had been read. The myth that the double check=message read eventually became so widespread that the company had to clarify how the ticks actually work on their official Twitter account.