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Galaxy Watch 4: 48 hours with Samsung's new smartwatch – CNET

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Drew Evans/CNET

Trying the latest Galaxy Watch 4, unveiled earlier this week at Samsung’s August Unpacked event, feels like a peek at where Android watches are heading. The Samsung watch is the first with Google’s newest version of its Wear OS, and it’s a partnership between two companies that don’t normally align.

It’s early days yet when it comes to seeing where this Galaxy Watch 4 and Google’s Wear OS platform are heading, and the watch doesn’t even become available until Aug. 27. (The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, unveiled alongside Samsung’s new smartwatch, also arrive Aug. 27, but you can preorder them now.) But here are some things I’m already figuring out from a couple of days with both models. Keep in mind that my thoughts here may change as new software or app updates possibly roll in, and as these health features spend a longer period of time collecting data on my wrist.


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My first day with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

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Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are basically the same, except for that physical bezel

The two watch models feel pretty interchangeable, which means you should probably get the model you like the looks of most. Or the most affordable one: I prefer the sleeker Watch 4, which starts at $250 (£249, Australian prices TBD). The Classic starts at $350 (£349), and does have a stainless-steel body instead of aluminum, but it’s that physically spinning bezel that’s really different.

What do you use it for? Mainly, swapping between quick views of information mini apps, called Tiles. On the Watch 4 they’re mainly health metrics, and a few extras like calendar and messages. More are likely to arrive as Wear OS 3 continues to evolve, but the point is not every app has a tile. You could also just swipe with your finger instead, making the bezel effectively cosmetic.

The Classic, with its satisfying clicking bezel, has a display that’s inset. It makes swipes sometimes a little trickier to pull off. But there is a big bezel advantage, I discovered: When swimming, that physical dial is easier to control when wet than the touch display.

galaxy-watch-4-facesgalaxy-watch-4-faces

Animals and animals: Lots of animated watch faces on the Watch 4.


Scott Stein/CNET

The watch faces are beautiful (mostly)

I love Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 watch faces. Many are animated and adorable. There are a couple of weird ones: AR Emoji and Bitmoji watch faces try to put cute avatars of me on the watch, but I found them grating — I don’t use Apple’s Memoji watch faces much either. There are a good number of customizations on most of them, but not all. Some are fitness-focused, and some have cool optional complication layouts (like clock face widgets for apps).

galaxy-watch-4-ar-emojigalaxy-watch-4-ar-emoji

The AR Emoji watch face… not as wild about it (but OK, it’s kind of fun).


Scott Stein/CNET

Disappointingly, many of the best animated watch faces don’t have complication add-on options, so you’ll use them at the expense of helpful bits of info like weather or battery life. Google’s Wear OS faces make an appearance, too. These seem like the best watch faces I’ve ever seen on an Android watch, and it’s still a great sign for what Google and Samsung’s new platform can do. I’d like a few more complication add-on options, though.

The only assistant is Bixby

Hello, Bixby. I guess we meet again.

Samsung’s voice assistant returns, and it’s assigned to one of the Watch 4 buttons by default (the top one, a long press summons it). You can’t access Google Assistant as an option, which is something I was convinced would be on the Watch 4. I was wrong. (You can swap out Bixby with a Power Off shortcut, but that’s it for that long-press button reassigning.)

Plans may change; right now, Bixby is the only assistant. Again, the watch doesn’t arrive until the end of the month. It’s built on Wear OS, and Google’s apps can be downloaded onto the Watch 4. But I’m concerned about not having Google Assistant. Google Assistant is a big part of how a watch can be connected to a phone (or common Google apps), and it feels like a big loss not to have it right now. I actually use voice commands quite a bit on watches like the Apple Watch because they’re easier to pull off in a pinch, hands-free. It’s also particularly weird because Fitbit now has Google Assistant support on its voice-connected devices.

I’ve only used the Galaxy Watch 4 with a Samsung phone right now, but how this will work with other Android phones remains a big question. Then again, Samsung had Bixby on its previous Android-connected Galaxy watches, too.

galaxy-watch-4-body-analysisgalaxy-watch-4-body-analysis

I’m totally embarrassed by my body analysis readings via electrical impedance on Samsung’s newest sensor.


Scott Stein/CNET

Samsung’s new body analysis sensor is easy to use, but it’s stressing me out

To get information from the electrical impedance-based body sensor, you touch two fingers to the watch buttons for 15 seconds and stay still, completing a circuit while the watch measures a mild current passed through the body. It’s a bit like doing an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) reading for heart rate, except faster. It produces readouts of body mass index, skeletal muscle mass, water weight and body fat percentage. It estimates actual numbers, and also pinpoints each on a little range from green (low) to red (high).

I felt somewhat hit over the head with numbers. Mine were all bad. I know my weight is high, and I know my BMI. The rest seemed really concerning, too. The problem was, I had no idea what to do next. Samsung Health doesn’t currently serve up any guidance on whether to see a doctor, how to make healthy choices or even how concerning the results are. I just got more stressed, and kept rechecking, and then questioned my life choices. Ideally, you want health sensors to guide you forward, not send you curling up into a ball. It’s a common concern with how all fitness trackers and health watches seem to be flooding the zone with more data without figuring out how to help you with that data, or even advise on how accurate it is.

Samsung requires Android owners to install the Samsung Health app on Android phones to use these features, though.

It’s very early days, and also, I don’t even know yet how accurate these numbers are. Deep breaths.

Snore tracking: Keep your phone by your bedside

Samsung’s sleep tracking on the watch uses a phone microphone to check for snoring as an add-on extra, which I tried to do the first night… and failed. I use a CPAP anyway, which means I shouldn’t snore. But I also use a fan near my bed for white noise. I tried to sleep for a while without the CPAP, and still didn’t get any snore readings.

Then I realized I needed to keep the phone connected to a charger at night for the readings to collect. Night 2, I slept for a while without the CPAP and got a snore reading at last.

But it’s weird: First, it only showed one instance of snoring (did I stop after that?). It’s presented as an audio recording on the Samsung Health app, which means yes, your phone is listening to you and sometimes recording you at night.

Second, what does snore awareness even do for me? Snoring is pretty common, and snoring is not always an indicator of sleep apnea, which is what I need a CPAP machine for. The rest of the sleep tracking’s measurements of light, deep and REM sleep, and its assigned sleep score, seem to have nothing to do with the snore detection. It’s a very odd new feature that I don’t know what to do with… unless I just wanted hard proof that I snore.

galaxy-watch-4-sleep-spo2galaxy-watch-4-sleep-spo2

Blood oxygen measurements happen overnight… not always sure what to make of this either (the continuous readings aren’t necessarily accurate, either).


Scott Stein/CNET

Blood oxygen measurements are recorded overnight if you toggle this in Samsung Health settings (snore detection is also a toggled setting). Blood oxygen measurements on watches aren’t medically precise, so I find they all vary way more than a standard pulse oximeter you’d wear on your finger. Maybe it could help determine if there’s a massive drop in blood oxygen? Again, hard to judge its use.

Blood pressure doesn’t yet work in the US, plus it needs Samsung phone (so does EKG)

Samsung has a way to check blood pressure on its watches using the optical heart-rate sensor, but it requires calibration against a blood pressure cuff. It’s cleared for use in a number of countries along with the EKG, but not yet in the US. On my review model, I was able to check my stress level… which is basically the non-FDA-cleared version of the blood pressure functions. It didn’t do much other than map my supposed stress on a color gradient, from green to red.

Also: you need a Samsung phone and the Samsung Health Monitor app to use EKG and blood pressure features. It’s a shame they’re not available across Android yet; maybe that will change someday.

Battery life? Expect two days or less

The Galaxy Watch 4, in its 44mm size, lasted me about a day and a half on my first full charge and use. I started using it at 2 p.m. on my first day and it lasted until late at night on the next day. I didn’t have the display always on, but I did have continuous heart rate on. If I used the always-on display, battery life would be even less.

I’ve been sleeping with the Galaxy Watch 4 on, and am wearing it all the time. I won’t have real thoughts on battery life for a week or so, but so far it doesn’t seem like it would ever make it to three days.

And also: I’m using the larger models of the Galaxy Watch 4. On the smaller versions, battery life is likely less good. The smaller Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 had a hard time with battery life when CNET’s Lexy Savvides pushed it hard with the always-on display, GPS, music playback and other connected functions. 

I’m only a few days into trying these out, and my full impressions are coming in a future review. It’s clear that this is the next big phase for Android watches, but it’s not clear yet whether this is the perfect time to hop on board.

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Why did Apple change the camera position on the iPhone 13? – The Next Web

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Aesthetically, the iPhone 13 is similar to last year’s model — apart from one key element: the camera placement.

The iPhone 12 had vertically stacked lenses. On the iPhone 13, these are now diagonal. So, here’s the question we’re going to answer today: why?

In my mind, there are two key reasons Apple has changed the iPhone 13 lens placement — and you can split these into technical and marketing.

The technical reason for the diagonal camera layout on the iPhone 13

I’m beginning with this because I believe it’s the biggest reason for the design change.

Now, one of the new features introduced with the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is something called “sensor shift image optical stabilization.”

This appeared in the iPhone 12 Pro models last year and is effectively a mechanism that moves the lens to help you get steadier shots. Think of it as a counter to the slight movement your hands make while you’re taking a photograph.

When Apple announced the iPhone 13, they showed the sensor shift image optical stabilization in action:

Watch this GIF a few times. Notice anything? About the size of the housing?

It’s plain to see that, comparatively, the sensor shift image optical stabilization hardware is large. In fact, it takes up a huge chunk of camera bump.

It’d be technically impossible to fit the mechanism in while keeping the vertical camera layout of the iPhone 12. Making the lens placement on the iPhone 13 diagonal is an elegant solution.

The other option would be changing the location of the camera bump altogether, potentially to the middle of the phone. But this would not only alter the iPhone 13‘s aesthetics, but it would also make a lot of accessories useless too.

That, friends, is the technical reason Apple has made the iPhone 13 cameras diagonal.

The marketing reason for changing the camera position on the iPhone 13

While I think this argument has legs, I don’t think marketing was a direct force for the change. Instead, it’s something that likely supported the shift.

Basically, the iPhone 13 is very similar to the iPhone 12. The upgrades, including things like a smaller notch, brighter screen, and a bigger battery, aren’t exactly attention grabbing,

These aren’t bad updates per se, but they’re expected, not lusted after.

Here’s a picture of the iPhone 13 phones to help break up this damn waffle.
apple iphone 13

Really, the biggest point of differentiation for the public at large is the new diagonal camera layout. It’s a clear way to signal that you’re in possession of the latest device and is an excellent marketing tool to encourage people to upgrade.

This is also partly the reason why the change has been mocked. For those outside the tech bubble, changing the iPhone camera layout seems like solely a cheap trick to increase sales. Which is a half truth.

Ultimately,  the new camera placement on the iPhone 13 is a technical solution that also delivers some marketing ammunition. Which is either lucky, clever, or, well, both.

There we have it! Two solid reasons why Apple has changed the position of cameras on the iPhone 13.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In – and you can subscribe to it right here.

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Apple Online Store Down Ahead of iPhone 13 and 13 Pro Pre-Orders – MacRumors

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Apple’s online store is down ahead of iPhone 13 mini, ‌iPhone 13‌, iPhone 13 Pro, and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max pre-orders, which are set to begin at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time in the United States.


“You’re… early,” reads the Apple Store message when attempting to visit the U.S. website. “Pre-order begins at 5:00 a.m. PDT. Enjoy the extra sleep.” Apple used to do new device pre-orders at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, but since 2019, has been holding iPhone pre-orders at 5:00 a.m.

The ‌‌iPhone 13‌ mini, ‌iPhone 13‌,‌ ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌, and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max are launching in more than 30 countries and regions around the world, and a full list of launch times can be found in our time zone guide.

All of the new ‌iPhone 13‌ models are nearly identical in design to last year’s iPhone 12 models, featuring flat edges, an aerospace-grade aluminum enclosure, a glass back, and a slight increase in thickness.

Key features across the ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup include a faster A15 Bionic chip, camera improvements, longer battery life, and a smaller notch. The two Pro models also feature a ProMotion display with a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. The ‌iPhone 13‌ models are available in Pink, Blue, Midnight (black), Starlight (silver/gold), and (PRODUCT)RED.

If you’re hoping to get one of the models in the ‌new ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup on launch day, it’s a good idea to purchase early because there’s no word on how much supply Apple will have.

Pricing on the ‌iPhone 13‌ mini starts at $699, while pricing on the ‌iPhone 13‌ starts at $799, the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ starts at $999, and the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max begins at $1099. The official launch, when pre-orders will be out for delivery, is next Friday, September 24.

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The new iPad Mini seems great even if you love Android – Android Central

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Source: Apple

I’ve been an Android user since the first day the first Android phone became available, and I’ve been through many different devices. Of course, like many of you all, I’ve also owned and used iPhones, BlackBerrys, Windows phones, and all the rest of the “cool” tech because I just love cool tech.

I’m also very much a small phone guy because one of the most important things to me is how easy it is to carry something that basically lives inside my pocket. One of the reasons the Galaxy S21 is one of the best Android phones is because it’s not gigantic, for example. The only time I wish my phone were bigger is when I want to veg out and just consume.

I just want to consume.

That’s where tablets shine. Watching videos or playing games on something with a much larger screen is just better, ya know? Yes, I can use my phone and do those same things, and I won’t try to say it’s a bad experience because it’s not. It’s just not as good. I’ve been thinking about getting a smaller tablet to try it again, and Apple might just have shown me what I want in the 2021 iPad Mini.

No, I’m not some sort of “traitor” to the Android ecosystem because I owe zero allegiance to any tech company. I like the way Android works better than iOS does, but that’s just me, and plenty of people feel differently. But I don’t run out and buy a thing because some tech company made it. Every company needs to work for my dollars. And since Google is unwilling to remake the Nexus 7 with great new specs, I don’t have a “favorite” tablet brand.

Nexus 7

Nexus 7Source: Android Central

I want a tablet for all the wrong reasons, according to the companies that make them. I have no desire to replace my PC or Chromebook with a Pro tablet. I’m not going to replace my phone with a cellular tablet just because it can make calls and get messages. I like the phone and Chromebook I use, and don’t see how a tablet can replace either.

Since Google isn’t going to remake the Nexus 7, the iPad Mini might be the best substitute.

But the right tablet can tempt me, so long as it’s on the smaller side. I have a Pixel Slate here if I wanted to use a ginormous heavy tablet, and because it has a desktop browser, it’s going to be better at doing many of the things I want a tablet to do. It needs to be plenty powerful enough to play HD video without sputtering and have Wi-Fi that’s strong enough to keep up. A few cool games are a plus, too. My tablet would be just for fun and not at all for work.

I’ve thought about foldables here, too. Something like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could work, but I’m not yet sold on how the phone side of things play out. Maybe in a couple of years, but now I think I would end up spending twice as much on a device that I would only use as a tablet. Not an ideal situation for my wallet.

I basically ignored all the talk about how artists and professionals love the iPad Mini, but what I did pay attention to has me thinking it might be the one. The power is there — forget all the XX% faster marketing stuff, but I’ve seen enough from Apple to know the Bionic SoC platform is going to handle things. The size is right, and even the $500 price tag isn’t insane like many other Apple devices are.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking Notes

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking NotesSource: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Mostly though, it’s the ecosystem. Yes, that word gets tossed around a lot, and sometimes my brain goes numb after hearing it, but this is one place where everything can work great for me. All of Google’s services work well on iOS, so I know I’ll have the experience I want from Google Photos or YouTube, and Apple does a great job at filling in the rest.

Say what you will about Apple’s way of doing business, but the App Store has plenty of great tablet apps.

Yeah, Apple’s walled garden sucks. Ask anyone who wants to play Fortnite on a new iPad Mini about that if you want another opinion, and I’m not a fan of a company trying to tell me what I can do with something I paid money to buy. But I can’t deny that Apple has its shit together when it comes to tablet apps, and chances are I would find a few I would want to install. Google could learn a lot here.

I think an iPad Mini would complement my Android phone and my other tech in the right ways. I’m not rushing out to preorder one just yet, and I’ll wait to read some reviews before I whip out the plastic. I’d also recommend any Android or Chrome user as interested in the iPad Mini as I am to do the same thing.

I’ve talked to a lot of you guys who use an iPad along with your Android phones, and I think I get it now. I’m not going to write it off just because it’s from that fruit company. It might be what a lot of Android folks just like me are looking for.

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