Samsung announces Galaxy S6, S6 Edge

Hours after HTC unveiled its One M9 phone, Samsung has announced its latest phones: the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. The South Korean manufacturer is looking to retain its dominance in the Android hardware market with the latest entries in its Galaxy series, including a second attempt at a curved-screen device following last year’s Galaxy Note Edge.

samsung-galaxy-s6-featuredsamsung-galaxy-s6-edge-top

Both phones are similar in design and specs, deviating from hardware design Samsung has used in the past. The phones are made from metal and glass, with Gorilla Glass 4 covering both the front and back. Another change from previous Samsung devices is a lack of removable battery and no microSD slot. In terms of specs, each phone features a 5.1-inch QuadHD AMOLED screen, octacore processor, 3GB of RAM, a 16MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing camera, and Android 5.0 Lollipop with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Storage options include 32, 64 or 128GB. The S6 includes a 2550mAh battery while the S6 edge bumps the battery up slightly, to 2600mAh.

Both phones are expected to be available worldwide April 10, and will eventually be available for all major U.S. carriers. Color options include White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz (Galaxy S6 only) and Green Emerald (Galaxy S6 edge only). More information can be found here.

The full spec list follows:

Samsung Galaxy S6 & Galaxy S6 edge Product Specifications

Galaxy S6 Galaxy S6 edge
Network LTE Cat.6 (300/50Mbps)
Display
5.1’’ Quad HD(2560×1440)
577ppi, Super AMOLED

5.1’’ Quad HD(2560×1440)
577ppi, Super AMOLED,
Dual edge
AP Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore application processor
OS Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
Camera 16MP OIS(rear), 5MP (front)
Video MP4,M4V,3GP,3G2,WMV,ASF,AVI,FLV,MKV,WEBM, VP9
Audio
Audio Codec: MP3, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+,
WMA, Vorbis, FLAC, OPUS

Audio Format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA,
AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL,
RTX, OTA
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
Additional Features Ultra Power Saving Mode
Download Booster
S Health 4.0
Samsung Pay
Smart Manager
Microsoft Apps (OneDrive 115GB for 2 years, OneNote)
Sound Alive+
Themes
Quick Connect
Private Mode
S Finder, S Voice
Google Mobile Services
Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google
Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games,
Play Newsstand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play
Store, Voice Search, YouTube
Connectivity
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), HT80 MIMO(2×2)
620Mbps, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Mobile hotspot
Bluetooth®: v4.1, A2DP, LE, apt-X, ANT+
USB: USB 2.0
NFC
IR Remote

Sensor
Accelerometer, Light, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass,
Barometer, Fingerprint, Hall, HRM
Memory RAM: 3GB, LPDDR4
Internal Memory: 32/64/128GB, UFS 2.0
Wireless Charging WPC1.1 (4.6W Output) & PMA 1.0 (4.2W) compatible
Dimension 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm, 138g 142.1 x 70.1 x 7.0mm, 132g
Battery 2,550mAh 2,600mAh

HTC announces latest flagship phone, HTC One M9 (Updated)

It’s the time of year when phone manufacturers start to announce their latest flagship phones. Today, it’s HTC announcing its latest entry in its One series, the One M9. Last year’s One M8 was considered by many to be the one of the best-designed Android phones to date. So HTC decided to keep a similar design with just a few tweaks, mainly to the rear-facing camera.

HTC One M9

While the phone’s all-metal exterior features a familiar design –including the unnecessary black bar at the bottom with the HTC logo — the internal specs feature a number of upgrades compared to last year’s model. The phone features a 5-inch 1080p LCD screen and is powered by the Snapdragon 810 octacore processor with 3GB of RAM.  It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC’s Sense UI on top. It has 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot for up to 128GB additional. The rear camera has a 20MP sensor. The battery is 2840mAh. Of course the phone runs on various LTE networks, has Bluetooth 4.1 and supports Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. A spec list follows:

SIZE: 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61 mm
WEIGHT: 157g
SCREEN: 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android™ 5.0 (Lollipop) with HTC Sense™
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 octa-core CPU, 64-bit processing
STORAGE: 32GB (microSD™ slot supports additional memory cards up to 128GB)
RAM: 3GB
SENSORS: Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Accelerometer, Compass Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Magnetic Sensor, Sensor Hub, Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz), DLNA for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer, NFC
SOUND: HTC BoomSound with Dolby Audio
CAMERA: Main camera: 20MP with sapphire cover lens, Front camera: HTC UltraPixel
BATTERY: 2840mAh capacity

The phone will be released for the major U.S. carriers in early spring, although Verizon has said its variant won’t ship until Q2. Full details can be found here.

Finally: FCC votes for Title II, Net Neutrality

Earlier today, the FCC voted 3-2 to reclassify internet service providers (ISPs) under Title II of the Communications Act, providing rules governing ISPs to uphold the concept of Net Neutrality to provide an “open Internet” for Americans. This prevents ISPs from controlling what content people can post or view online or discriminate against certain high-traffic services, like Netflix. It’s about time. And, for the first time, the FCC is applying Net Neutrality rules to mobile Internet in addition to wired Internet services.

One of the key components of Net Neutrality is it states thaty all (legal) content is to be treated equally and ISPs cannot block or throttle content from some providers in favor of other services. An example of this would be Comcast throttling Netflix speeds to its subscribers, giving a “fast lane” to its own Xfinity streaming service — putting a competing service at a disadvantage. It also prohibits paid prioritization, ISPs charging content providers like Netflix and Hulu to have “fast lanes” to get their content to consumers without being throttled. These are especially important with the lack of choice most Americans have in what high-speed Internet provider they use,

Not surprisingly, the major ISPs and their related lobbying groups don’t like Net Neutrality. Verizon even issued a press release in Morse code (translated for “readers in the 21st century” with a typewriter-esque font) decrying the FCC imposing “1930s rules” on the Internet. Coincidentally, Verizon helped this vote for Title II classification happen today. Verizon sued the FCC over less stringent Net Neutrality rules the commission enacted several years ago, rules that were tossed out by a federal appeals court last year. If it wasn’t for that lawsuit, today’s vote probably wouldn’t have happened. So Verizon has itself to blame if they don’t like the new rules.

If you’re undecided on whether or not Net Neutrality is good for consumers, here’s  a clue that it is a good thing: the ISPs are opposed to it. Because of this opposition, companies will sue the FCC — like Verizon did previously — to try to get the rules overturned again. That means this will be in litigation for years, but for now we have Net Neutrality, which is a good thing.

The battle in the desert: Super Bowl XLIX — Patriots vs. Seahawks

For the second straight year, the top seeds in both the AFC and NFC are meeting in the Super Bowl, with the AFC champion Patriots battling the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who are the first team to play in consecutive Super Bowls since the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Much of the talk over the last couple of weeks has been about the Deflategate controversy stemming from the Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Colts in the AFC Championship game. It’s not surprising, given the final score, but the Pats’ offense looked good in that game, with QB Tom Brady throwing three touchdowns and one interception while RB LaGarrette Blount ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns of his own. WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski led the receiving core, with Edelman catching nine balls for 98 yards and Gronk scoring on one of his three receptions.

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The NFC champs didn’t perform as well as the Patriots did in their last game, needing a fourth-quarter comeback and overtime to beat the Packers, 28-22. RB Marshawn Lynch led Seattle’s offense in the game, rushing for more than 150 yards and a touchdown while QB Russell Wilson threw four interceptions and just one touchdown. A few key mistakes by the Packers helped Seattle come back from a 16-0 halftime deficit to win the game and a chance at a second straight Super Bowl title for the Pete Carroll-coached team.

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Moving on to the Super Bowl, a battle between one of the league’s best quarterbacks and one of its best defenses. The Patriots’ main advantages are at quarterback and wide receiver/tight end, while Seattle has the advantage at running back and defense, though they have some potential injury problems on D. CB Richard Sherman suffered an elbow injury in the NFC Champiosnhip game and S Kam Chancellor suffered a knee injury in practice on Friday. Neither player is expected to miss the game due to the injuries, but they may not be 100%. Sherman may miss the game, though, if his girlfriend goes into labor Sunday.

Particularly with the injury concerns’ for the Seahawks’ defensive stars, I think Brady will be able to get the ball to guys like Gronk and Edelman and the running backs can do enough when needed that the Patriots will be able to score enough to get the win. Wilson didn’t look good two weeks ago against the Packers, until the fourth quarter, and if he throws another four interceptions the Patriots will be able to take advantage of it.

I think this will be a fairly low-scoring game but the Patriots win it, 27-20 (just under the 47.5 over/under)

One more step to the Super Bowl: NFL Conference Championship picks

And then there were four. We’re down to the conference championship games this weekend, with the top two teams in the NFC, the 2-seed Packers at the 1-seed Seahawks, while in the AFC it’s the 4-seed Colts at the 1-seed Patriots. The winners of these games advance to the University of Phoenix Stadium in a couple weeks to face off in Super Bowl XLIX.

A

It’s a rematch of the first game of the season in the NFC Championship. In that game back in September, the Seahawks dominated the Packers, 36-16, led by a 110-yard, 2-touchdown performance by RB Marshawn Lynch. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers — who is the front runner to be named the league MVP this season — had a disappointing performance in the game, throwing for just 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception. I don’t expect Rodgers to have a similar performance this week, but I’m not sure he’ll match the 386 yards and 3 touchdowns he put up against the Cowboys last week either. Rodgers still may not be 100% from the calf injury he suffered late in the regular season, but he has a strong receiving core, led by WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, to help him out.
For the Seahawks, their defense will likely have to lead the team if they are going to be successful. The defense allowed the fewest points in the league during the regular season and will have to stop Rodgers to keep the score low and give the team a chance at winning. Offensively, Lynch — who ran for over 1300 yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 starts during the season — will be the key for Seattle, which lacks any top receiving targets for QB Russell Wilson. If the Seattle D lives up to its pedigree, I think the Seahawks will advance to their second straight Super Bowl.

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In the AFC, the Patriots — who scored the fourth most points in the league during the season — look to win a conference title game for the first time since the 2011 season against a Colts team led by QB Andrew Luck, who is playing in his first conference championship. It’s a battle of two of the league’s top quarterbacks and, as good as Luck as been in his first two playoff games this year, it’s hard to go against Patriots QB Tom Brady, who has been so successful in his career. Brady’s advantage includes having the top receiving threat on either team, TE Rob Gronkowski. I don’t think either team has a distinct advantage at running back or defense so the Brady-Gronkowski connection will likely be the biggest factor in the game, allowing the Patriots to win the game and set up a Super Bowl against the defending champions, which I predicted before the season.

NFL Divisional Playoffs preview

With the Wild Card round in the books, it’s time for the Divisonal round to kick off this weekend with some intriguing matchups, beginning with the Ravens visiting the Patriots, who Baltimore beat in the AFC Championship two years ago, and ending with Peyton Manning‘s current team, the defending AFC champion Broncos, hosting Manning’s former team, the AFC South champion Colts. On the NFC side, the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks host the Panthers and the Cowboys head to Lambeau Field to battle Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Saturday

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After defeating the Steelers on the road last week, the 6-seed Ravens travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the Tom Brady and the Patriots, the top seed in the AFC. New England has the best team, on both offense and defense, it has had in the past several years, led by a healthy Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots have a questionable running game, though RB LeGarrette Blount has done well since joining the team in November, but Ravens RB Justin Forsett‘s production has been dropping off in recent weeks. The Patriots have the advantage at most of the key positions and, despite the Ravens’ recent playoff success against them, I think the Patriots will win the game.

A

The Panthers beat a bad Cardinals team last week, but now they have to play the Seahawks in Seattle. I don’t think they’re up to the task. I think the Seahawks are going to win, and I don’t expect it to be close.

Sunday

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This is likely the most anticipated game of the weekend, with two of the most popular teams in the league playing each other. Aaron Rodgers may not be 100%, with a calf injury that has limited his practice since their last game in week 17. Obviously, I think a hobbled Rodgers is the Cowboys’ best chance of winning the game. If Rodgers i healthy, I expect Dallas to rely on RB DeMarco Murray and the running game to control the time of possession and keep the Packers’ offense off the field. But I don’t think it would be enough. If Rodgers is healthy, I don’t see the Cowboys winning the game. Packers win at home.p

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In the final game of the weekend, Peyton Manning plays his former team. People have been questioning Manning’s performance late in the season and if he’s not at his best against the Colts, Indianapolis may have an advantage with QB Andrew Luck, but the Broncos have clear advantages at running back and wide receiver. Both defenses ranked middle of the pack in points allowed in the regular season so neither team has much an advantage there. Overall, I think the Broncos have the better team and will win the game.

NFL playoff preview and Wild Card picks

With the 2014 season in the books, the NFL playoffs are set to begin this weekend with the Wild Card round. I went 8 for 12 in my preseason picks, including 5 of the 6 AFC teams that made the postseason. Both teams I picked to make the Super Bowl, the Patriots and Seahawks, made the playoffs and are each the top seed in their respective conference, keeping that potential championship matchup in play. Those teams, along with the Broncos and Packers, have first-round byes, leaving the other eight playoff teams to play in this weekend’s four games. Here are my picks for the Wild Card games.

Saturday

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The 5-seed Cardinals, winners of 11 games this season, travel to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to take on the 4-seed Panthers, who won the NFC South with a record of 7-8-1. The Cardinals have been on a downward spiral since losing starting QB Carson Palmer to a season-ending ACL injury in November and the Panthers have been coming on strong lately, winning their final four regular-season contests. With QB Ryan Lindley slated to start the game for Arizona, the Cardinals offense isn’t likely to have much success against a Panthers defense that finished the year 12th in the league in PPG allowed. I think the trends of the last month will continue and the Panthers will beat the Cardinals at home.

In the nightcap Saturday, the 3-seed Steelers host their division rivals, the Ravens. The teams split their two games in the regular season, with the home team winning both. As they meet in the postseason, the Steelers will be without star RB Le’Veon Bell, but they should be able to put up plenty of offense with QB Ben Roethlisberger throwing to WR Antonio Brown, who had 129 receptions in the regular season for nearly 1,700 yards. Against a Ravens defense that gave up the fourth-most receptions in the league this season, that QB-WR combo should have a good game. I think the Steelers have a better offense and will claim victory at home.

Sunday

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In the second AFC Wild Card game, the 5-seed Bengals visit the 4-seed Colts. When the teams met in week seven,the Colts shut out the Bengals, 27-0. In this rematch, the Bengals are likely to be without top WR A.J. Green, who is doubtful for the game as he goes through the league’s concussion protocol, leaving WR Mohamed Sanu as the team’s top receiving threat. So the Bengals’ offense will likely be centered around the running game, led by RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Hill became the team’s main running back in the second half of the season, rushing for more than 1,100 yards while starting just eight games. QB Andy Dalton is a question mark for the Bengals, though, while QB Andrew Luck will be leading the Colts offense. With Luck throwing to WRs T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne. If the game comes down to the quarterbacks — as you might expect it to — I think the Colts have a big enough advantage at the position that they’ll get the victory.

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The 3-seed Cowboys return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 with an offense that scored the fifth-most points in the league during the regular season. RB DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing with 1,845 yards, more than 500 yards more than second-place LeSean McCoy, while WR Dez Bryant led the league with 16 receiving touchdowns. That potent offense will have to take on a 6-seed Lions defense that gave up the third-fewest points in the league during the season. I think the Cowboys’ offense will be too much for the Lions D and they’ll advance to the Divsiona round next week.