Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Facial Recognition Test →

Update: I went back to another Best Buy to test another Note 8 demo unit and can confirm: I was able to unlock the Note 8 demo with different Facebook profile pics and Instagram selfies from my iPhone as well.

"Whatever, that's just a demo."

You see, that's actually the problem. I see three possibilities:

  • The Note 8's facial recognition tech is actually good and Samsung made a crappy demo…But why would anyone do that?
  • The Note 8's facial recognition tech is bad and they faked the demo intentionally, just like how Samsung faked performance benchmarks in the past.
  • The Note 8's facial recognition tech is bad and the demo is proof of that.

Which is it?

Rumor: iPhone 8 to Replace TouchID with 3D Facial Recognition →

As KGI reports the iPhone 8 will no longer have TouchID, Mark Gurman gives some insider info on Apple's development of 3D Facial Recognition:

For its redesigned iPhone, set to go on sale later this year, Apple is testing an improved security system that allows users to log in, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps by scanning their face, according to people familiar with the product. This is powered by a new 3-D sensor, added the people, who asked not to be identified discussing technology that’s still in development. The company is also testing eye scanning to augment the system, one of the people said.

The sensor’s speed and accuracy are focal points of the feature. It can scan a user’s face and unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, the person said. It is designed to work even if the device is laying flat on a table, rather than just close up to the face. The feature is still being tested and may not appear with the new device. However, the intent is for it to replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, according to the person.

The intention sounds promising, but I have concerns about this. If true, Apple would be putting their entire security technology in one basket and security reputation on the line. There would be a lot riding on this, especially with their Apple Pay initiative.

So far, facial recognition has been proven insecure and easily fooled by printed selfies. While Samsung S8's Iris Scanner is in improvement in technology, the requirement of facing the phone at a very specific angle and distance weakens the user experience.

Hopefully Apple can pull it off.

First Impressions of Samsung Galaxy S8

Played around with the S8 at Best Buy for five minutes. Here are my quick-fire first impressions:

  • overall aesthetic is best in market
  • screen has much more subtle curve than I remembered in past edge-screen models, in a very good way
  • screen is GLORIOUS; watching video is visually immersive
  • speakers suck compared to iPhone 7's stereo speakers; dulls video-watching experience
  • Iris Scanner not as practical as fingerprint for unlocking; requires phone at very specific angle and eyes at specific distance. For a feature that is used an average of 120 times per day to unlock the phone, this would be a persistent annoyance.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Business Insider

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 →

One of Galaxy Note 7's hallmark features this year is the iris scanner. I've personally had a hard time envisioning iris scanners as a better solution than fingerprint scanners, especially when companies (including Apple) are racing to build fingerprint scanning right into the touch screen.

This review by Steve Kovach — which is only one of many that came out today — validates my concern:

The iris scanner doesn’t work well in bright sunlight (it failed on me at the beach last weekend), and it’s not as convenient as clicking the home button and resting your fingerprint on the sensor to unlock the device. With the iris scanner, you have to power on the phone, swipe to unlock, and awkwardly hold the phone close to your face while staring into an interface that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Not exactly seamless.

Kovach's review overall gives a lot of credit to the Galaxy Note 7's beautifully-crafted hardware. But he also shines a light on Samsung Galaxy's biggest weakness:

If there’s one big weakness to the Note 7, it’s the software powering it. Samsung likes to make big modifications to Android, which often gums up the experience. That said, the interface is definitely a lot cleaner in the Note 7 than it’s been in previous Samsung phones. Still, Samsung has a horrible record of keeping its phones updated with the latest software, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting the new Note features a year from now.

On top of that, the Note 7 also comes bogged down with extras from carriers here in the US. I tested the T-Mobile version, and had to spend the first few minutes clearing away all the T-Mobile branded junk from my home screen. Plus, Samsung has its own suite of apps for email, calendar, etc. on top of all the Google versions of those apps. I’m not a fan of making users juggle two different apps for all the same tasks.

The redundant app solutions on Samsung devices definitely hinder the user experience. The other day I paid for my groceries with Apple Pay and the cashier told me she's been wanting to do that with her Samsung for the longest time.

She's just never been able to figure it out because when she holds up her phone to the credit card terminal, "some Android app pops up instead of Samsung Pay."

The software isn’t a deal breaker, but compared to the consistency and of iOS and its rock-solid ecosystem of apps and updates, it’s enough to still give the iPhone a very slight edge over the Note 7.

"The software isn't a deal breaker" to people who value hardware over software. But to people who value software and ecosystem more, this is a deal breaker.

Overall, the Note 7's biggest weakness is its software. It's not great, but it's good enough. Aside from that, when it comes to hardware and design, Samsung has cemented its position as the leader in the smartphone world. The Note 7 is the best phone the company has ever made, and one of the first you should consider buying.

Hardware-wise, the Galaxy Note 7 is the best & most exciting device Android has to offer. The S Pen is a key differentiator that provides a lot of value to certain types of consumers.

Software-wise, it still falls short of the streamlined iOS user experience and the iPhone ecosystem. And Samsung's S Pen advantage can be dampened with Apple Pencil support on future iPhones.

So, depending on which camp you are in — specs-oriented vs. experience-oriented — one product line will be an obvious winner over the other.

Anecdotally, everyone I know who switched from Samsung to iPhone switched mainly because of one reason — they got tired of Samsung's software.

Samsung's Differentiation Has Disappeared →

Neil Cybart:

Samsung was more focused on mentioning key words such as design, hardware, camera, and mobile payments, instead of discussing why certain things were being done or removed from the phone. This lack of clarity has been Samsung's problem for years as the company has mostly relied on offering consumers choices that other smartphone makers decided not to pursue. The problem is Apple is now selling larger screen iPhones, and Xiaomi and other local Chinese smartphone vendors are selling decent hardware at lower prices. Samsung's differentiation has disappeared. Samsung may not be at the point of utter desperation, but they certainly came off as remaining quite nervous. Samsung says they want to be first in mobile, but they show great discomfort in leading.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge The Verge

Quick Thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Unveiling


  • It took 18 minutes before they said anything of substance at the announcement. The first 18 minutes was entirely fluffed with ambiguous marketing words like, "leading," "best," "innovative." Those are words that you should never say to describe yourself. Those are words should be exemplified in your work. It's like a guy trying to pick up a girl by saying, "I'm confident and attractive!"
  • Hilarious: Samsung makes big deal of Galaxy S6 "Edge" curved screen. AND THEN NEVER SAYS WHY THAT'S BETTER. (via @amir)
  • Samsung owners the last 5 years: “iPhone sucks! No removable battery or SD card and plastic is so much more durable!” The S6 —> “Um, oops”. (via @HilzFuld)
  • Their camera comparison vs. an iPhone 6 Plus was a joke. — RT @BenBajarin: Samsung clearly doesn’t know how to tap on the iPhone screen on the subjects to change the lighting.
  • Samsung's new mantra: “Design with purpose." It took them this long to realize that??
  • The bottom of the Galaxy S6 sure looks like an iPhone 6.

The Good

  • Screen looks great, as expected by the company that makes the best screens in the industry.
  • The shiny colored back screens look really, really great.
  • Fast charging is AWESOME. Charging for 10 minutes to get 4 hours of battery life is a game changer.
  • Selfie camera looks great and is something that Samsung should keep pushing. Because, let's face it, everyone loves a good selfie. The selfie camera is a very humanized technology.
  • The upgraded Gorilla Glass is an evolutionary improvement; eventually all smartphones will have it.
  • The overall hardware build quality looks FANTASTIC. No more metallic-painted plastic. For the first time, it looks like Samsung has a premium device that will actually feel like a premium device in your hand.

The Bad

  • Looks like they removed the water-resistance from Galaxy line this year. That's a shame. That was a really great feature that really should become the standard.


  • Does the curved screen make any significant improvements to the viewing experience? Do videos really look any better?
  • How long will the battery last in the real world? Samsung has been known for cheating benchmarks before.
  • How well will the battery hold charges over time? Does fast charging mean the battery will degrade faster than normal?
  • The fingerprint scanner has been redone to work more like the iPhone's because the old swipe version was shit. Will this new fingerprint scanner be as technically reliable as Touch ID?
  • Does fast charging work over wireless charging? Or is it an asterisk where the fast charging will only work when you plug it in?
  • How successful will Samsung Pay be in the U.S.? Outside the U.S? They highlighted how only 10% of retailers support Apple Pay right now, but that number will significantly improve; the U.S. is in the middle of upgrading all merchants to the more secure, encryption chip-based point-of-sale system.
  • Does Samsung get a cut or kickback of each Samsung Pay transaction?
  • How well will this resonate with existing Samsung buyers? Is there a lot of pent up demand for a new Galaxy S by customers who were unimpressed with the past two models? Will this reverse the downward trend of Samsung's mobile profits?
  • If someone was on Samsung for the big screen, and went Apple when it matched that, will they move back again because Samsung dumped plastic? (via@BenedictEvans)

Samsung Backtracks on Bloated TouchWiz UI →

Killian Bell, Cult of Android (emphasis mine):

Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface for Android is universally mocked for being bloated and slow, but it would appear the South Korean company is finally set to do something about it. Sources say it won’t just be overhauling its hardware for the upcoming Galaxy S6, but also its software as well as it aims to deliver an experience as smooth as pure Android.

TouchWiz isn’t just a skin on top of Android; almost every element of the user interface has been modified by Samsung in some way, and it comes with a whole bunch of Samsung apps and features — the vast majority of which are never used by the average consumer.

It doesn’t just make for a poor user experience, but it means that even on the latest hardware, TouchWiz can be slow and inefficient. Many Android fans — including me — will avoid Samsung devices just because of the software, or use third-party ROMs like CyanogenMod to provide a better experience.

Looks like Samsung's Next Big Thing is backtracking on all the gimmicky crap that they used to promote as The Next Big Thing.

More doesn't always mean more, folks. Samsung is learning this the hard way.