Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How to: Disable Shutter Sound on Galaxy S6, S7, Note

If you're trying to take a photo with your Galaxy S6, S7, S7 edge, or Note in a quiet place like museums or some high end restaurants the loud shutter sound can annoy others around you.

Unfortunately Samsung hasn't always made it easy to disable the shutter sound in your phone.  But we've got you covered with several approaches depending on your region.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 Camera Shoot Out

The Galaxy S7 has big shoes to fill as its predecessor was highly praised for its 16MP camera and regarded as one of the best cameras on an Android phone when it was released.  Rather than increase the pixel count Samsung has actually reduced the  number of pixels in its camera but increased its sensor size.

Galaxy S6Galaxy S7
Megapixels (higher better)1612
Aperture (lower denominator better)f/1.9f/1.7
Sensor Type (for this review)Samsung ISOCELL S5K2P2Sony IMX260
Sensor size (higher better)1.0µm1.4µm
AutofocusPhase DetectionDual Pixel

Samsung has prioritized low light performance over daylight photos with an increase in the sensor size, higher aperture, and reduced megapixel count. But a majority of the photos I've taken with my phone have been in bright daylight, will the Galaxy S7 produce better photos than the Galaxy S6?

First thing you'll notice when taking photos with both phones is the framing is completely different.  As the Galaxy S7 takes photos in a 4:3 ratio in maximum size while the Galaxy S6 takes photos in a 16:9

The green is the scene framed by the S7 while the blue is the area that is framed by the S6.  The S7 can frame much more from the top and bottom of the scene while not losing much to the S6 on the left and right.

With that out of the way let's get into the photos.  All photos were shot entirely in auto mode
with the Galaxy S6 running on the last Lollipop software and the Galaxy
S7 Marshmallow launch software.  As I mentioned above, the Galaxy S6 unit in the test uses a Samsung sensor while the S7 has a Sony unit.  Your device may vary.

Galaxy S6 ISOCELL photo (left) vs Galaxy S7 IMX260 photo (right) the Galaxy S6 photo was scaled down to the S7 photo size

There is more noise in the shadows of the Galaxy S7 photo.  Text is sharper in the Galaxy S6 photo.

Galaxy S6Galaxy S7
SensorSamsung S5K2P2Sony IMX260
File Size5,101,334 bytes4,867,789 bytes

Galaxy S6 ISOCELL photo (left) vs Galaxy S7 IMX260 photo (right) the Galaxy S6 photo was scaled down to the S7 photo size:

There's more sharpening in the Galaxy S7 software with less noise in the grey counter

Galaxy S6Galaxy S7
SensorSamsung S5K2P2Sony IMX260
File Size4,596,250 bytes4,379,145 bytes

In the situation we photographed, the Galaxy S7 tended to shoot at a higher ISO level and reduced exposure.  From the above examples, the S7 produced photos with more noise, contrast, and sharpening compared to the S6.  There wasn't a noticeable difference in color between the cameras.

Final Thoughts
In this set of tests I prefer the S6 photos over the S7 photos but photo comparisons I've seen in GSMArena favored the Galaxy S7 as did my first impressions.  At this moment it's hard to say the S7 camera is better the S6 let alone best Android camera. I'm hoping future S7 software will reduce the noise and sharpening used and I get more hands on time with the S7 to compare low light photos.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Samsung Gear VR Review

The age of virtual reality is upon us.  Leading the charge are HTC's Vive and Oculus Rift.  Samsung and Google have joined the party by partnering with the Gear VR and Cardboard, respectively.  Unlike HTC and Oculus, Samsung's and Google's approach rely on the smartphone to serve as the brains and the display.  They lack the processing power of a full computer but offer a wireless experience.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Samsung Wireless Charger Review

Although Nokia was a major pusher of wireless charging, Samsung has taken the torch and run with it.  All of Samsung's recent flagship devices have built-in Qi and Powermat (PMT) wireless charging support: Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge plus, Note 5, S7, and S7 edge.  It only made sense that  Samsung made and sold a wireless charger of their own: Welcome the Samsung Wireless Charger.