iQmetrix: Galaxy S5 Makes Up 18% of Phones Sold in Canada During Launch Weekend

April 18, 2014   Comments

iQmetrix released an infographic today revealing interesting stats about the recent Samsung Galaxy S5 launch.

The infographic (below) compares the S5's launch weekend (April 11-13) sales to those of its key rival, the iPhone 5s, whose launch weekend was Sept. 20-22, 2013.

Some quick highlights:

  • Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5s launch sales: The Galaxy S5 sold better at launch than the iPhone 5s did on its launch weekend, comprising 18% of total phones sold in Canada (and 23% in the U.S.), during the period. The iPhone 5s comprised 13% of total phones sold in the Canada (18% in the U.S.) during its launch weekend.
  • Galaxy S4 sales in 6-month lead-up to Galaxy S5 launch (Oct. 2013 to March 2014): Even with a new model expected in April 2014, the Galaxy S4 saw sales peaks during the 2013 holiday season and in January 2014.
  • iPhone 5 Sales in 6-Month lead-up to iPhone 5s launch (May 2013 to Oct. 2013): Interestingly, U.S. iPhone 5 sales dropped progressively in the months preceding the iPhone 5s launch. In Canada, on the other hand, sales remained low and flat during the same period.
  • Galaxy S5 Launch Weekend Sales by Region: The Galaxy S5 comprised a whopping 41% of phones sold (April 11-13) in the Southern U.S. region; 30% in the Northeast, 23% in the Midwest, 21% in the West, as well as 18% of phones sold in Canada.

The difference between S4 and iPhone 5 sales in the lead-up to the S5 and iPhone 5s launches, respectively, is really quite interesting.

S4 sales varied greatly in the U.S. in the six-month lead-up to the S5 launch. Two peaks emerged during the 2013 holiday season and in January 2014. It's fair to assume these peaks (mirrored in Canada) were due to carrier promotions intent on clearing out remaining S4 stock.

The six-month iPhone 5 trend was much different: a steady drop in the U.S. versus low, flat sales in Canada. This is likely due to a few things: Apple tightly controls its stock and pulled iPhone 5 devices off shelves (with plans for the new 5c to replace the iPhone 5); the company rarely marks down older models and rather just yanks them off store shelves; and, in Canada, many iPhone users were waiting out the last of the nation's now-extinct three-year contracts in anticipation for the iPhone 5s (or the iPhone 6 coming this fall).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Launch
An Infographic by the Team at iQmetrix Mobile POS Software

Which Mobile Personal Assistant is the Best?

April 17, 2014   Comments
Digital Assistants comparison photo - Source: Mike Homnick, TechHive

By Allan Pulga

TechHive recently compared (April 14) the digital personal assistants for Windows Phone (Cortana), Android (Google Now) and iOS (Siri) to determine which offered the best service and user experience.

The newcomer, Cortana, was released as a developer preview on April 14. "It’s packed with intuition, but it’s still a beta product, and it isn’t a miracle worker by any means," wrote TechHive's Mark Hachman.

During testing, TechHive "quizzed each assistant on a variety of general facts and calculations." They also asked them to perform nearly 40 common smartphone tasks, scoring each on accuracy and elegance.

"We awarded two points if an assistant completed a task by providing simple search results, and three points if it responded orally or displayed a 'card,' which would add an image and further information to the oral response," Hachman wrote. "We also awarded a bonus half-point if an assistant completed a task especially well."

So how did it all shake out?

  • Google Now came out on top with 101 points. OK, I get it. Google is great a search and delivering accurate maps, data, etc.
  • Siri followed in second place with 97 points. Siri is generally well respected. Apple Maps? Not so much.
  • Cortana came in last with 87 points. It appears the rookie has some work left ahead of it.

View the full article for a detailed breakdown of TechHive's process, scoring and more.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review: A Phone to Power '(Your) Life'

April 16, 2014   Comments

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Click for details

At a Glance

Look and Feel
Nice and light, the Galaxy S5 has a perforated polycarbonate back panel. Feels grippy and durable.

Defining Features
Fingerprint scanner for easy logins, an improved camera and what’s this? A heart rate sensor.

Core Functionality
User friendly design, excellent battery life and a fantastic camera.

Recommended For
Android fans, photographers, multimedia junkies, business users.

Editor’s Rating
****1/2 (out of 5 stars)


The Latest in the Popular Galaxy Line of Phones

By Allan Pulga

Expectations are high for the new Galaxy S5. Early reports indicate Samsung shipped 1.3 times as many S5s for its April 11 launch as it did S4s when it launched a year ago.

The S4 became the fastest selling smartphone in Samsung's history, shipping 20 million units worldwide in its first two months on the market.

The S5 made its debut in February at Mobile World Congress 2014 and was met by mixed reviews. Some called it an impressive follow-up to the S4; others felt its new features and improvements were underwhelming.

From a user standpoint, however, what matters most is how well the S5 performs in everyday life – or as Samsung puts it, how it powers "(Your) Life.”

Using It

Look and Feel
The Galaxy S5 is remarkably lightweight. The perforated polycarbonate back panel (which Samsung calls "Modern Glam”) introduces a new texture to the Galaxy line – I felt it made it easier to grip and hold the phone, versus a smooth finish. The S5 (5.1-inch display) is essentially the same size as the S4 (5-inch display) and features the same full HD resolution.
 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Click for details

Defining Features

Improved Camera Features
Let’s be clear here: The Samsung Galaxy S5 camera is excellent. It’s one of the best smartphone cameras available. But so was the S4’s camera. This is sort of where the difference between a previous model and the new one can be "underwhelming” – for high-end smartphones, the cameras are getting to be so good, I feel like there’s only so many improvements manufacturers can make within the year between two models.

Anyway, the camera features Samsung is touting on the S5 are: HDR (Rich tone), fast auto focus, and selective focus.

Finger Scanner
Samsung copied Apple on this one. But instead of scanning your finger on a circular home button sensor (as on the iPhone 5s), the Galaxy S5 home button is oval-shaped. My co-worker recently switched from an iPhone 5s to the S5 and says the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s was superior, as it allowed you to scan different angles of your finger – not just one.

Samsung also partnered with PayPal on the feature, so users can authorize payments using the finger scanner. This feature, however, is offered in select countries only (Canada not included).

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Click for details

Heart Rate Sensor
Samsung has been making a play for the fitness wearables market for some time now, with its Galaxy Gear and the new Gear Fit smartwatches. It also introduced a heart rate sensor on the back of the Galaxy S5, right below the camera lens. Just hold your finger on the sensor for a few seconds and it generates a heart rate reading for you.

Simple, right? Not really. I didn’t feel the heart rate sensor was very good. During testing, it required a number of attempts to get a reading, which was frustrating because the whole point of reading your heart rate is getting it immediately, during or after exercise (before it goes back down), for example.

Core Functionality

As I mentioned earlier, there wasn’t a lot the S5 could improve upon considering how good the S4 camera was.

That said, I tested the S5’s new camera features and was thoroughly impressed. The photos were crisp, the colours were vivid – the auto focus and selective focus features worked well. As for HDR, I wasn’t blown away by that feature because iPhones have offered that for years now. Chalk that one up as underwhelming for me.

Performance and Battery Life
Overall, the S5 performed brilliantly in testing, with the only real hiccup being poor performance from the heart rate sensor. I was also impressed with the phone’s battery life: The available power seemed high throughout our 2-hour testing period and we should note, Samsung has introduced an "Ultra Power Saving Mode” on the S5, which turns your screen to black and white and shuts down all unnecessary features to save power.

My co-worker noted, however, that its processor did not feel as fast as that of her previous iPhone 5s, particularly when consulting the same wedding planning app she used often, or an online shopping site she regularly visited. Images and information seemed to take longer to load, she said. She also noted the discrepancy wasn’t due to signal because she was on the same carrier’s LTE on both devices when using the app and site in question.

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Click for details

Another performance item worth noting is the "Download Booster” feature. Samsung offers the new feature, which allows the user to access both Wi-Fi and LTE connections simultaneously in order to download large files faster. Interestingly, of the Big Four U.S. carriers, only T-Mobile is offering it: Verizon, AT&T and Sprint all removed it from the S5 phones they’re selling.

OS and Available Apps
The S5 ships with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and gives you access to the entire Android app and content (Google Play) ecosystem. The S5 user interface is extremely user friendly and easy to navigate around. One thing that some users complain about with Galaxy phones (compared to phones from other Android manufacturers) is they contain too much "bloatware” – Samsung-specific apps and features that are more gimmicky than absolutely necessary.

The bloatware thing wasn’t an issue for me and I think it really just depends on the user. A nice thing about Android is there’s so much room for customization. You can hide and highlight features and apps as you please and really make the experience your own, bloatware or not.

Recommended for

This phone is Samsung’s flagship device and will likely follow the S4’s footsteps as the most popular high-end Android phone on the market (unless the HTC One [M8] has something to say about that).

There’s something for everyone with the S5: photographers, business users and multimedia junkies alike.

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Click for details

The Bottom Line

The Galaxy S5 puts the best of Samsung’s design and engineering in the palm of your hand. Its camera, user experience, battery life and added features are great. My only reservations would be the performance of both the fingerprint scanner and the processor in anecdotal comparisons to the iPhone 5s. The heart rate sensor was disappointing, but oh well. It’s just a gimmick anyway.

Compare Cellular Editor's Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)

All New HTC One (M8) Now Available

April 10, 2014   Comments
The all new HTC One (M8) began launching at select carriers today. There has been some confusion over release dates, here's what we have determined: TELUS officially announced it's availability on Google+ this morning. Bell had released an internal document that the date was being pushed back to the 15th, but the phone is available to order online, and after talking to a rep we've confirmed it's available in-store as well. You can order now through SaskTel, Rogers only has the option to reserve, while WIND, Koodo & Virgin [Update: Virgin Mobile will not be carrying the device] are still listed as coming soon.
This highly anticipated device has been receiving great reviews. Here's a recap of its top features:
HTC One (M8) Features
  • High quality metal unibody finish and stacked internal components for a thinner design.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2.3 GHz quad-core Krait CPUs.
  • Android 4.4 KitKat OS with the all-new HTC Sense 6 user interface.
  • Duo Camera that features HTC’s innovative HTC UltraPixel module, a dual flash and full 1080p HD video recording.
  • Zoe in the cloud: Zoe will evolve into a cloud based service in 2014. The new Zoe app will be available for download through Google Play in the summer.
  • Motion Launch – convenient gesture controlled shortcuts.
  • Extreme Power Saving Mode – extra standby time at no extra cost.
  • HTC BoomSound, with dual frontal stereo speakers, a new amplifier and redesigned speaker chambers, it delivers sound that is 25% louder than the HTC One (M7).
  • A more intuitive HTC BlinkFeed with with continuous scrolling, adaptable tiles and a new layout.
  • Pre-loaded Fitbit app, so you can get healthier and stay motivated.
  • Available in Gunmetal Grey, Glacial Silver, and coming to Rogers mid-May in Amber Gold.
The All New HTC One (M8) - Click for details 
To compare the HTC One (M8) to its predecessor, the HTC One (M7), click here.
For full HTC One (M8) features, specifications, images, downloads and reviews, click here.

Air Canada to Offer In-Flight Wi-Fi

April 9, 2014   Comments Participating Airlines 
In a partnership with Gogo, Air Canada has announced that in-flight Wi-Fi will be available to customers on flights across North America beginning May 2014. The agreement will also provide future testing for solutions on international flights.
Benjamin Smith, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer says, "Air Canada continually seeks to enhance the travel experience and that is why we are pleased to be the first airline in Canada to offer in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity to customers flying over continental North America. In today's connected world, our customers want to access email, mobile device applications and the internet wherever they are, both to increase their work productivity and expand their leisure options."
Subject to a final agreement with Gogo, Air Canada plans to begin outfitting its fleet of aircraft with Air-To-Ground Wi-Fi connectivity. Installations are to start in May for a designated 130 planes, with a target completion date of 2015. Connection speeds are to be comparable to on-ground broadband services. Cellular voice communication will not be offered (due to current prohibited regulations – IMHO, regulations that should stay in place). Air Canada states "Pricing will be competitive with other in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity offerings.”
Only two Airbus 319 aircrafts are currently equipped with Wi-Fi. Pending the final agreement it will be installed on the remaining Airbus A319, as well as the A320, A321 and Embraer 190 fleet types, and Air Canada Express CRJ-705 and Embraer 175 aircrafts.
For more information, visit Air Canada or Gogo.

Samsung's Gear Fit SmartWatch

April 8, 2014   Comments
Samsung Gear Fit Global Website 
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is almost upon us, and with it will come the arrival of one of Samsung's new wearables, the Gear Fit.
"The device is only compatible with about 20 Galaxy-branded devices, so you're out of luck for now if you're running iOS or have a non-Samsung smartphone. But for those who fall into that group and are eyeing a fitness wearable, this is by far your best option yet," wrote Mashable's Samantha Murphy Kelly.
Mashable took an in-depth look at the fitness tracker smartwatch hybrid, which will be available for $219 (US$199) - view the article by clicking here.
Compatible device models (to be further expanded) include: Samsung Galaxy S5 / Galaxy Grand 2 / Galaxy Note 3 / Galaxy Note 3 Neo / Galaxy Note 2 / Galaxy S4 / Galaxy S3 / Galaxy S4 Zoom / Galaxy S4 Active / Galaxy S4 mini / Galaxy Mega 6.3 / Galaxy Mega 5.8 / Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) / Galaxy NotePRO (12.2) / Galaxy TabPRO (12.2/10.1/8.4).
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