It was a big weekend for Samsung and LG both at this year’s Mobile World Congress, with the heavy hitters in the smart phone industry slinging out their A game to continue to innovate and impress with their latest pieces of hardware. Here’s a look at the announcements from Samsung and LG.
Samsung opened up the event unveiling the Samsung Galaxy S7 and its somewhat bigger, certainly curvier brother the S7 Edge. At first glance neither device is dramatically different than the previous models, and aesthetically the only change in the new phones is that the S7 Edge made a small jump to the 5.5 inch screen, which is hard to notice because of the curved nature of the device itself.
All in all the Samsung S7’s biggest features focus on the return of the SD slot for external storage, water resistance (another return from previous generations), a jump to a 3000 mAh battery (from 2550 mAh on the S6), and easier wireless charging. Additionally we’ll also be seeing some interesting developments to the S7’s camera to make low light photos more of a reality by dropping the megapixel count from 16 to 12 and widening the lens aperture to allow for more light exposure in low light environments.
Samsung is also using the launch of their new phones to promote their Gear VR, Samsung’s consumer virtual reality headset which is powered by compatible mobile phones. The Gear VR costs $99.99, and has been available since November of 2015.
Details on the S7 (via CNET)
Android 6.0 Marshmallow software
5.1-inch screen with 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution
Either 32 or 64GB of onboard storage, depending on the region
MicroSD card slot for extra storage up to 200GB
12-megapixel camera (a drop in megapixel count to increase light saturation per pixel)
3,000 mAh battery
“Always-on” display shows time, calendar or images from the lock screen
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
Colors: black onyx, gold platinum
Samsung’s 360 degree world
A number of phone and hardware manufacturers have been pushing hard to bring VR down to a more accessible level, and the next big step for Samsung in that department comes in the form of the Samsung Gear 360 VR Camera.
The Samsung Gear 360 VR Camera works by taking simultaneous captures from two wide angle lenses and threading them together to make a somewhat rough but perfectly serviceable VR experience. The Gear 360 VR is focused on delivering quality 360 degree VR-ready content in a consumer-friendly package.
The hope is that if anyone anywhere can create and share 360 degree picture and video that hardware like Samsung’s Gear VR headset and a variety of other VR services will make the jump from the hardcore enthusiast level to the public circuit. It’s an interesting idea, and if it pays off it’ll open a number of doors and help bring VR into our everyday lives in ways that once seemed like science-fiction.
The Gear VR is only about a third of a pound in weight and looks like an extremely futuristic webcam, but it packs two 15 megapixel cameras to capture video, and comes with a standard thread size so it can be mounted to almost any camera stand on the market.
The biggest surprises at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in the mobile phone department came from LG and their newest phone, the LG G5, which packs a lot of cool ideas into a 5.3 inch package (a slight size drop from their 5.5 inch line last year).
What makes the G5 so interesting is the integration of the first wave of swappable modular packages for smart phones to hit the market. LG isn’t the first to push the idea of hot-swappable parts for smart phones but this is the first time that consumers will get their hands on any form of the technology, and although it’s currently very limited it’s really interesting to see in action.
The G5 will have two optional units at launch, the LG Cam Plus and the LG Hi-Fi Plus. The LG Cam Plus will focus on turning your phone into a better camera with a dedicated capture button and a precise zooming wheel. As an added bonus the Cam Plus will integrate a secondary battery to give you some extra power when you need it. The Hi-Fi Plus is focused on appealing to the audiophiles in all of us, functioning as an optional digital-to-audio converter to improve your listening experience. The Hi-Fi plus will also add a USB Type C port and an extra 3.5mm headphone jack to your phone.
The ability to mod your phone with the Hi-Fi plus and the Cam Plus gives consumers control of the battery once again, allowing you to easily remove and swap the battery at your leisure, just in case the locked-up nature of many newer phones on the market is something that bothers you.
The final notable feature of the G5 comes in the form of LG’s newest dual camera setup, with one 16 megapixel camera for standard high-quality photos and another 8 megapixel camera with a wide angle lens to allow you to capture up to 135 degrees of a beautiful landscape or a large group of friends and family. There’s no guarantee that the latter will be particularly useful on a day to day basis but if you’re a fan of hiking and landscape photography (or just like to integrate a bit more of the world into your selfie game) it’s nice to have.
Details on the G5 (via CNET)
5.3-inch quad HD IPS display with 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution and 554ppi
5.88 by 2.90 by 0.30 inches (149.4×73.9×7.7mm)
16-megapixel (78-degree wide) and 8-megapixel (135-degree wide) rear camera, can record 4K video
8-megapixel front camera
Snapdragon 820 with Adreno 530 GPU
Removable 2,800mAh battery
USB Type-C port
Fingerprint sensor on the back home button
4GB of RAM
32GB of internal storage with up to 2TB of expandable storage with microSD
The LG 360 VR HMD
LG is finally pitching their take on VR to the public with the LG 360 VR HMD (Head Mounted Display), and although they aren’t the first out of the VR gate their take on the technology is a refreshing twist on the formula.
The LG 360 VR HMD is focused on being a light-weight more modular solution to VR. The headset is much smaller and lighter than something like the Oculus Rift or even Samsung’s Gear VR because it’s really just a few displays that link to the LG G5 via a USB Type-C connector. The headset even folds up like a set of sunglasses when you’re not using it, which should appeal to the more mobile market surrounding the phone VR spectrum.
The downside is that the displays in the headset are currently pretty low-res, sitting at 1.88 inch 960 by 720 screens.. Yet the lightweight minimalist style is meant to be much more comfortable and easier to use than many other high end products on the market today, which should be a step in the right direction.