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Galaxy Z Flip hands-on preview: Samsung just killed the RAZR – Android Central



Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Samsung Galaxy Z FlipSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Just as expected, Samsung went ahead and unveiled the new Galaxy Z Flip alongside the Galaxy S20 series at its February launch event. In fact, it actually led the presentation with the Z Flip, which shows just how much it cares to put the spotlight on the new foldable after the Galaxy Fold’s rocky launch in 2019.

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I’ve had a solid hour with the Galaxy Z Flip, going over its every curve and getting acquainted with this new form factor. Here are my initial takeaways.

Design: Beauty, covered in fingerprints

A massive wave of leaks of the Z Flip, along with Motorola’s release of the RAZR, have tempered our expectations for this sort of vertical-folding clamshell form factor. Even still, it’s quite a sight. Having this roughly square piece of hardware that unfolds to a tall-and-skinny modern smartphone form factor is just downright cool.

The Z Flip’s hardware is surprisingly ‘normal’ outside of the fact that it folds in half.

Outside of the novelty of its ability to fold in half, the hardware is typical Samsung quality. A metal frame rounds out on all sides with great symmetry, and the glass curves to meet it on the back. The one difference is the glass finish, which is incredibly fingerprinty. The super-mirrored finish reminds me of the Galaxy S7 … but twice as reflective. Of course the issue was of course made worse by harsh lighting at the launch event, but it was impossible to keep smudges from piling up on this thing.

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The fingerprint issue was minimized on the all-black model, but that color was so devoid of any interesting features that it makes you want to take on the color-shifting purple or rainbow-like gold and just deal with the fingerprints. After all, you’re buying a Galaxy Z Flip to stand out, right? And you absolutely will. But it’s not just looks — the hardware feels really nice.

This thing is gorgeous … until you touch it and it gets loaded with fingerprints.

When the Z Flip is either open or closed, the hardware seems rather … normal. There’s a regular volume rocker where you’d expect it, and a power button that integrates a fingerprint sensor. There’s a regular USB-C port and speaker on the bottom, and nothing else particularly interesting anywhere else. And that’s a good thing; Samsung made large swaths of this experience very “normal” despite the fact that it folds in half.

On the outside of the Z Flip you’ll see a typical pair of cameras — a standard and ultra-wide — next to a tiny 1-inch “cover display” that shows quick information like the time and date, and incoming notifications. It’s actually touch-sensitive so you can scroll through recent notifications, but it’s so tiny you won’t want to interact with it for long. It serves its purpose well for showing you time and date information without having to flip open the whole phone.

Hinge and screen: Learning from mistakes

Less than a year ago, we were going through an entire saga of hardware issues with the Galaxy Fold, watching displays fail spectacularly. So it’s amazing to see the Galaxy Z Flip debut with several improvements that, when grouped together, seemingly address all of the issues of Samsung’s first generation.

Switching to a glass screen covering is a complete game-changer for foldable phones.

First, is the screen covering itself: it’s glass. Actual glass, and yet it still folds. It doesn’t quite feel like the glass on any other smartphone, but I expected that considering the complex physics involved with it folding. But more importantly, it feels dramatically better than any other folding phone I’ve touched. The screen glass doesn’t flex or dent, and unlike the Motorola RAZR it doesn’t shift around when you press it hard.

You can still feel the crease in the middle, but in my time with it I didn’t notice it visually. Even when tilting the phone at extreme angle, trying to catch the light in the crease, I barely could see the dip. And because it’s glass, and folds intelligently to leave a gap between the panes when closed, I wouldn’t expect the crease to get irregular or worsen over time.

The glass covering doesn’t flex or dent, and the crease is dramatically reduced.

I can’t overstate just how much the screen being covered by glass changes the experience of using a foldable phone. The plastic screen coverings on every other foldable are an eyesore I just can’t get over; here, you just feel like you’re using a regular smartphone.

The screen itself looks really good, though I haven’t used it outdoors yet. At 6.7 inches (21.9:9 aspect ratio) with FHD+ display the density is a little bit on the low side, but once again the glass covering completely makes up for it compared to any other “better” display being covered in plastic.

I’m not sold on the infinitely adjustable hinge, but Samsung has made a lot of changes to improve durability.

Samsung says it made several improvements to the hinge, including a new lining of fibers that will help keep dust and debris from making it behind the display — though there’s still no IP rating here. The hinge is also much tighter than even the redesigned Galaxy Fold, and it’s so tight that it can actually hold the Z Flip open at any angle. Samsung thinks you’ll want to keep the phone open at a 90-degree angle or something more obtuse like a laptop, splitting apps 50/50 along the fold line … but there really isn’t enough screen space to use it this way.

The bigger thing the hinge tightness contributes to is making it more difficult to open and close the Z Flip with one hand. Even doing the classic “wedge your thumb in from the side” move, it’s really hard to open up gracefully — though because the screen has glass covering it you’re not worried about pressing your thumb on the screen in the process. When it comes to closing the Z Flip, you have to get it really close to closed before it snaps shut on its own. But between the tight hinge and magnets, it closes authoritatively.

More Galaxy Z Flip to come

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Samsung Galaxy Z FlipSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

I can’t wait to use the Galaxy Z Flip longer. I still need to see what it’s like to actually use a phone with this form factor on a daily basis. I don’t know how comfortable it is to slide into a pocket, how awkward it can be to use one-handed with that super-tall display, how long the 3300mAh battery will last, and so much more. Samsung’s execution is seemingly good, but there are still things inherent with this form factor that I need to figure out.

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum



Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Virtual Law Firms Are on the Rise in Canada



Virtual law firms have been on the rise for a while. In a 2019 roundtable discussion conducted by the American Bar Association, several firm leaders met to discuss the growing presence of online legal services. The consensus was clear: virtual is the new reality.

That was 2019. In the intervening two years, the world was gripped by a global pandemic that forced most people to conduct their business indoors. As you might have guessed, demand for contactless, remote legal services has only ballooned since that roundtable discussion.

While the roundtable primarily focused on the legal industry in the US, you can witness similar trends here in Canada. Like the taxi industry and entertainment distribution industry before it, law is increasingly moving toward digital spaces.

This article explores what virtual law firms are, what benefits they present for Canadian clients, and what kind of clients are driving the virtual law boom.

Not a Change but an Addition

At its best, the shift from brick-and-mortar law firms to virtual isn’t an alteration of legal services as much as it is an addition.

The best virtual law firms do not compromise on service – they still offer traditional legal services with the expertise of real lawyers. The only difference is that they have added a new medium: a more accessible, transparent means of communication and billing.

Why Canadians Choose Online Law Firms

For some clients, the traditional brick-and-mortar firm was hard to give up. They viewed their lawyer like they viewed their doctor: a professional whose in-person expertise couldn’t be replicated in a digital space. Then, the pandemic hit. As millions more Canadians acclimatized to working online, they also habituated to the idea of doing business online.


Credit: Ketut Subiyanto Via Pexels

The benefits were immediately apparent. Virtual law firms feature streamlined communication, available seven days a week. They eliminate the need to go to a physical office. They offer all the same legal expertise and services as a brick-and-mortar lawyer. And, crucially, they often leverage transparent pricing: flat, predetermined legal fees with no hidden costs. A client looking for affordable legal services in Mississauga or Toronto, for instance, can simply click a few buttons and hire a lawyer on the spot.

Who Is Using These New Services?

You might be wondering: do they wheel a computer into the courtroom when someone avails themselves of a virtual lawyer? No, that isn’t quite the case.

Clients tend to use virtual law firms for everyday legal services – not necessarily courtroom representation. A client looking to create a will or name a power of attorney might choose a virtual lawyer for the sake of simplicity. A homebuyer, looking to keep costs manageable might hire a virtual lawyer for closing since their prices are both more transparent and affordable. A couple seeking to draft a cohabitation agreement may find similar benefits in an online lawyer.

The fact is that virtual legal services are not only here to stay – they are on the rise. Fortunately, the future is friendly; online law firms offer the same legal expertise as their physically housed counterparts, with the added benefits of being accessible and affordable.

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Starlink Struggles in Testing



We are now two years on from the launch of the first satellite in the Starlink system, and reviews for the beta test are rolling in. As with anything Musk has a hand in, there’s been a lot of talk about what Starlink can accomplish. Some are firm believers that the service will live up to its hype, while others insist Starlink is another case of Musk’s overpromising and underdelivering. As the latest reports have shown, Starlink could be shaping up for the latter rather than the former.

The Starlink Potential

The basic idea behind Starlink is that it will act as a faster and more reliable satellite internet service than any that came before. Directly, Starlink could be seen as a successor to systems like Anik F2, a high-throughput satellite that launched in 2004. Offering speeds up to 30 times faster than dial-up, at up to 1.5Mbps, these early incarnations held promise.

The only real issue with these early systems is that to achieve geostationary orbit they had to be placed around 36,000 km high. Even in perfect conditions, this distance would incur a latency (or round trip wait time) of approximately 550 milliseconds. While this could be useful for general browsing duty, more fast-paced and active uses such as movie streaming or online gaming were rendered unplayable with such delay.

To avoid this issue, Starlink has instead gone with an enormous net of satellites in three tiers, with the closest placed at 500km above the earth’s surface. To maintain orbit, these need to move extremely quickly, which is why Starlink is aiming to launch tens of thousands of satellites. The more added, the better the coverage. The outcome of this difference is a supposed eventual goal of 300Mbps bandwidth and a latency of 20 milliseconds.

Source: Pixabay

Testing Results

In the beta tests, Starlink in action is far from living up to the dream. The major problems to arise have been found in two related areas; unreliable connections and the difficulty of dish placement. In simple terms, Starlink can only operate at peak effectiveness when it’s given a completely free field of view to the sky. Any surrounding trees, houses, or geography will diminish the dish’s ability to track satellites. Add shoddy reliability even in perfect circumstances, and the dream isn’t as great as many hoped.

Speeds in beta tests have tended to hover around a 90Mbps download speed, which isn’t too terrible, and latency still usually played under the all-important 100 milliseconds mark. However, without reliable connections, such speeds are practically moot. Speeds can vary wildly over a day, and with so many satellites constantly needing new connections, downtime can occur regularly and often. Dealing with a couple of hours of downtime a day might be acceptable if it can be planned around, but when it happens seemingly at random it becomes far less permissible.


Real-Life Uses

As for what Starlink could be used for today, that much relies on luck. Consider two common uses, streaming movies online and playing online casino games. In streaming movies, quality could be fine for large chunks of a film, with constant interruptions where the movie has to pause, buffer, or drop to lower quality to ensure consistency. This is frustrating and could be a deal-breaker for some.

In accessing and playing on something like the best online Canada casinos, demands tend to be much lower than with systems like movie streaming. This applies to all facets of the experience, from browsing comparison websites to find bonuses and features to collecting deposit matches, and playing the games themselves. Each step here requires very little bandwidth, but each could also be broken by the low connection reliability. Safety features of these casinos mean a constant connection needs to apply at all times when playing games, where Starlink’s drops could render even small titles unplayable.

Source: Pixabay

Future Perfect?

Proponents of Starlink are quick to point out that the growing net of satellites will improve coverage reliability, and this much is true to some degree. That said, the major benefits will only ever apply to those with completely unobstructed lines of sight to the sky. This is an unlikely scenario for most people, though in the right place at the right time, the potential is there.

Ultimately, the most profound benefits afforded by Starlink could apply not to general internet connections in developed nations, but rather as specialized systems for remote and developing areas. Having a satellite dish for high-speed internet in such places could introduce massive benefits in terms of education and communication opportunities. The results of such systems are untold improvements to ways of life, and in this, we have to have faith in what Starlink could accomplish.

With rollout increasing all the time, and a goal for integration into larger vehicles like ships and RVs stated somewhere down the line, we’re yet to see the peak of what Starlink can accomplish. Should it fail to measure up, however, its government subsidies could be cut, and the project could utterly fail. Though, should this occur, the lessons learned from Starlink are immense and might prove indispensable for satellite communications technology in the future. Either way, the Starlink experiment seems to have been worth the effort.


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