MONEY Tech

Why the War Between Apple and Android is Over

A visitor looks at Apple's website on the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, in a Samsung pop-up shop in Soho in New York.
Richard Levine—Alamy

This is Tim Cook's Apple now—and Cook vehemently disdains litigation.

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

– Steve Jobs

You’ve undoubtedly heard this infamous quote by now from the late Apple APPLE INC. AAPL 1.1905% co-founder, which was included in his official biography that was published shortly after his death in 2011. Steve Jobs’ loathing for Google GOOGLE INC. GOOG -0.1312% Android was perfectly captured in this quote.

Over the years, this “thermonuclear war” has raged on, with Apple primarily targeting rival Android OEMs as opposed to Google itself. Naturally, the highest profile case was against Samsung, but Apple has also conducted its patent warfare through The Rockstar Consortium, a joint venture owned by 5 prominent tech companies. Apple and Microsoft are two of the main backers.

Rockstar was the entity that outbid Google in the 2011 auction to acquire Nortel’s massive patent portfolio, winning out with a $4.5 billion offer. Apple put up $2.6 billion of that total, presumably making it the majority owner of Rockstar.

That portfolio included important intellectual property surrounding Wi-Fi networking and cellular connectivity, among many other areas related to mobile technology. Rockstar proceeded to sue Google and numerous Android OEMs like Samsung and HTC with said patents a little over a year ago.

Well, Rockstar and Google just settled their differences, which could signal that Apple’s “thermonuclear war” is over.

War changes

No dollar terms for the settlement were disclosed, but the bigger story here is an underlying strategic shift for Apple. Cisco CISCO SYSTEMS INC. CSCO 0.5315% was also on the receiving end of patent litigation, and similarly just announced a settlement with Rockstar that will result in a $188 million pre-tax charge.

The patent wars have raged on for years, with little effect on the underlying competitive dynamics of the smartphone industry. From a financial perspective, litigation is unlikely to be worth the trouble, and it now seems that Rockstar’s shareholders (the 5 tech companies) are wary of the distraction and want to exit the consortium. Chances are that Rockstar will never come out ahead compared to the $4.5 billion it paid.

Apple also settled its litigation with Motorola Mobility earlier this year, while the handset maker was still officially under Google’s multi-colored flag (Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola closed in October). At the time, Apple and Google said they would work together in advocating for patent reform. In August, Apple and Samsung settled all of their outstanding patent disputes outside of the U.S. as well. Neither of these settlements includes any cross-licensing agreements.

Why the sudden change of iHeart?

A changing of the guard

There are a handful reasons why Apple’s war on Android would never bear fruit and why it may be giving up.

Apple’s primary goal was never to make money from these patent suits (it makes plenty of money as it is). It was trying to block popular Android devices from the market. But the underlying strategy of trying to preclude Android devices from the market was inherently doomed, considering the open-source nature of the platform and the sheer number of OEMs making Android devices.

Perhaps most importantly, the strategy was implemented under Steve Jobs. As you can see from the quote above, he had rather strong feelings on the matter. So strong, in fact, that they weren’t pragmatic. Not only would spending Apple’s $40 billion in cash (at the time) be an obvious breach of fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, but the company would have no chance of succeeding at keeping Android off the market. Naturally, Jobs was probably just being a little melodramatic.

But this is Tim Cook’s Apple now, which is very different than Steve Jobs’ Apple in more ways than one. Specifically, Cook vehemently disdains litigation. Here’s Cook on the Q2 2012 earnings conference call, less than a year after becoming CEO:

I’ve always hated litigation and I continue to hate it. We just want people to invent their own stuff. So if we could get some kind of arrangement where we could be assured that’s the case in a fair settlement on the stuff that’s occurred, I would highly prefer to settle versus battle. But the key thing is that it’s very important that Apple not become the developer for the world. We need people to invent their own stuff.

Philosophically, Apple just doesn’t want its rivals to continue copying its hardware and software designs. Legally, the company has limited options on how to stop it, particularly as it’s become painfully obvious that patent suits aren’t effective. That’s especially true for a Chinese competitor like Xiaomi, which mostly operates outside the jurisdiction of U.S. patent courts while China is notorious for weak intellectual property rights.

Fighting words

Without a doubt, Apple is just as upset about Xiaomi’s copying ways as it is about Samsung’s copying ways. Design chief Jony Ive has spoken twice in recent months regarding the Chinese smartphone maker. Here’s Ive at a Vanity Fair conference in October:

I’ll stand a little bit harsh. I don’t see it as flattery. When you’re doing something for the first time, you don’t know it’s going to work. You spend seven or eight years working on something, and then it’s copied. I have to be honest, the first thing I can think, all those weekends that I could have at home with my family but didn’t. I think it’s theft, and it’s lazy.

Ive’s comments at London’s Design Museum last week echo the same notion:

We may seem a little testy when things we have been working on for eight years are copied in six months – but it wasn’t inevitable that it was going to work. It’s not copying; it’s theft. They stole our time, time we could have had with our families. I actually feel quite strongly about it. It’s funny – I was talking to somebody and they said do you think when somebody copies what you do it’s flattering? No.

Naturally, Xiaomi adamantly denies the allegations. You be the judge.

The market will work itself out

By his own admission, Ive is not a shrewd businessman; Ive is a designer and he’s justifiably angry. However, the fact still stands that Apple has little effective recourse to stop companies like Xiaomi or Samsung.

It turns out that the solution is just as easily captured in another Steve Jobs quote. Apple’s most viable strategy in beating Android is simply to compete as aggressively as it can by creating the best products. In 2010, Jobs said, “And if we succeed, they’ll buy them. And if we don’t, they won’t. And it’ll all work itself out.”

TIME Gadgets

Samsung’s Virtual Reality Headset Will Cost $200

Samsung Gear VR Samsung

But if you don't have a Galaxy Note 4, it'll cost you a lot more

Samsung’s new enthusiast-aimed virtual reality headset will cost $200, setting an ambitious price point for the device ahead of its release next month.

The Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition, slated for December release, has a slot to hold the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which serves as the device’s display. Slide the Samsung smartphone into the Gear headset, and the headset’s lenses stretch and magnify the phone’s flat screen across a wide field of view, making the wearer feel like they’re in an immersive environment.

The headset will cost $200, and $249 when bundled with a Bluetooth gamepad, Samsung virtual reality partner Oculus VR said in a blog post Wednesday. But for users who don’t have a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone already and have to buy one, the total cost to experience virtual reality with the Gear VR will be at least $300 to $800 more expensive.

The Gear VR Innovator Edition isn’t a fully-fledged consumer product — instead, it’s a stepping stone device aimed at developers and other virtual reality enthusiasts so they can design software for a consumer-grade model that will be released later. It’s unclear if the consumer version of the VR will come at a different price point, but $200 would make the Gear VR a full $150 cheaper than Oculus VR’s current non-Samsung device.

The virtual reality company Oculus VR was bought by Facebook in a $2 billion deal that closed over the summer. The Gear VR, a partnership with Samsung, was first announced in September.

Oculus also announced Wednesday that users can now download the Oculus Mobile SDK, a software system that developers can use to make apps, games and other functions for the Gear VR.

TIME Tech

Watch Samsung’s Rap Video About Corporate Diversity — It’s Just as Bizarre as It Sounds

The tech giant hired Korean rapper Mad Clown to do the honors

Tech giant Samsung announced its sustainability report just the way that a tech giant should: By hiring a Korean rapper named Mad Clown to rap about it.

No, this is not a spoof.

Lyrics include:

Samsung we two hundred
Eighty thousand humans
Forty percent of 100
Twelve thousand women
That don’t have to worry
After giving birth
Sit back, relax, no need to work

Translation: 40% of Samsung’s 280,000 employees are women. Parental leave policies are illin’.

Sure, this outreach method may be a little quirky, but it’s better than Samsung’s past PR gaffes — like that kinda sexist Galaxy S4 Broadway spectacular launch event at Radio City Music Hall last year. And who can forget that quickly yanked ad that made light of abusing puppies?

In fact, we’re kind of hoping that one of Samsung’s competitors will challenge Samsung to a rap battle. Dare to dream.

[H/t The Verge]

TIME Companies

Samsung’s Curved Galaxy Note Edge Gets a U.S. Release Date

Opening Day Of The IFA Consumer Electronics Show
A visitor inspects a Samsung Galaxy Note Edge smartphone at the IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin, Germany, on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Krizstian Bocsi—Bloomberg / Getty Images

The Galaxy Note Edge will debut in the U.S. on November 14

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, the world’s only smartphone with a “functional” curved touchscreen, will launch in the United States on November 14, the Korean electronics maker announced Monday.

The Galaxy Note Edge, which features a sort of “second screen” that wraps around the phone’s righthand edge, made waves at floor shows this fall for its unusual design, extending the Galaxy’s already ample screen size to 5.6 inches and squeezing a few handy menu items along the screen’s outer edge. Initial reviews praised the screen’s design more enthusiastically than the functional improvement.

The phone will go on sale through most major carriers including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile at a starting price that varies depending on the cell phone contract and the carrier. AT&T will offer it at a starting price of $400 with a 2-year contract.

TIME Big Picture

The Force Disrupting Samsung and Other Tech Giants

Shenzhen
Shenzhen is an ultra-modern city of 14 million people located in southern China approximately 30 miles from Hong Kong. Getty Images

Over the past five years, Samsung has become one of the big tech giants, enjoying a lot of success with its smartphones and tablets. It became a dominant player in China, Korea and other parts of Asia, and became Apple’s biggest competitor in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world.

However, over the last two quarters, Samsung’s profits have declined substantially, with its executives recently warning that profits could be off as much as 60% in the most recent quarter. So in such a short time, how did a tech giant go from the top of the mountain to a place where it’s looking like the next BlackBerry?

The High-Tech Flea Market

This came about because of the Shenzhen ecosystem effect. Shenzhen is a large town about 30 miles north of Hong Kong and an important part of the China manufacturing area. What makes this area interesting is that it has emerged as a kind of technology parts depot that provides off-the-shelf components that can be used to create everything from smartphones, tablets, PCs or any other type of tech device, which can then be sold as no-name — or what we call white-box — products.

During my first visit to Shenzhen many years ago, I was taken to a six-story building that was affectionately called the flea market for cell phones. On every floor were dozens of vendors with glass showcases peddling cell phones and early smartphones by the hundreds. In Asia and many other parts of the world, users actually buy their cell phone of choice first and then go to a store to buy a SIM card that provides voice and data services.

In this part of China, the Shenzhen flea market was a hotbed for locals to come and buy their phones, providing all types of sizes and models to choose from. Most of the cell phones were of this white-box nature, carrying no known brand name and having been manufactured cheaply from readily available components. They were sold all over China and parts of Asia, and up until around 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone, these types of phones dominated these markets.

Upstarts Aplenty

Over the last seven years, the Shenzhen ecosystem of component makers has become much more sophisticated, supplying high-quality components to vendors of all types, which are then used to make smartphones and tablets that can rival products from Apple, Samsung and anyone else making top of the line devices. And vendors from all over the world are making the trek to Shenzhen to buy these components, get them manufactured in quantity and take them back to their regions of the world to sell against established brands.

The best example of this comes from a company called Xiaomi, which didn’t even release its first smartphone until a few years ago but is now the number one smartphone provider in the region. It did this by leveraging the Shenzhen ecosystem to create well-designed smartphones. Until early 2013, Samsung was a top player in China, but big brand Lenovo jumped into the China market with smartphones and gave Samsung some serious competition. Apple also entered China in a big way. Between these three companies making aggressive moves in China, Samsung began to lose market share dramatically.

Micromax has done something similar in India, coming from nowhere to own 40% of that market today. Cherry Mobile did the same thing in the Philippines, and this similar pattern is being replicated in Brazil, South Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere – all markets that Samsung had leads in but where it’s now coming under major competitive threats.

Big Apple

Samsung has a double whammy going on here, too. One of the reasons the company has been so profitable in the mobile business is because of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 smartphones and the Galaxy Note 3 phablet. These smartphones are in the premium category and Samsung dominated the five-inches-and-up smartphone space for almost three years.

However, research is showing that Samsung benefited from a lack of a similar products from Apple, but now Apple has the new 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch 6 Plus. These products take direct aim at Samsung’s similar models and demand for these new iPhones has been very strong, so Samsung is impacted by this Apple move as well.

Hardware Headaches

What makes this even more problematic for Samsung is that its business model is to make money from the hardware. These white-box vendors can take these phones to their local regions and sell them pretty much at cost because they make their money on apps and local services that they provide their customers. Samsung and many of the other big vendors aside from Apple make most of their money on hardware, while Apple makes money on hardware, software and services.

When it comes to PCs, we have always had white-box products in the market. In fact, no-name white boxes represent about 40% of all PCs shipped. However, companies like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and others have had solid brands and offered things like warranties and service agreements. Even though brand-name PCs are priced much higher than white-box PCs, the big players have been able to compete around the world based on brand, distribution and customer services.

This has been especially true in the U.S., Europe and most of the developed markets. However, if you look at what’s going on with laptops now and see how products like Chromebooks and low-end laptops and desktops are dominating consumer markets, even these major vendors are being squeezed when it comes to trying to actually make money just on hardware.

We are starting to see new PC players go to the Shenzhen components market in order to create PCs to sell in their home markets. Once there, they add local apps and services while pricing these laptops and PCs almost at cost. If they gain more ground in these local markets, this could have real impact on traditional PC vendors who are still trying to compete in these markets but have to make profits from hardware alone in most cases.

For Samsung, the Shenzhen effect is a serious problem — one that will be very difficult to counter while still maintaining profitability. Even with new hardware products, Samsung’s lack of software and services for local markets will continue to make it difficult to compete with Xiaomi, Huawei and others, especially in markets like China and other parts of Asia.

Even worse for Samsung are rumors that companies like Alibaba and Tencent may jump into these markets with smartphones of their own in the next year. Both of these Chinese companies have strong local services they can tie to these smartphones, allowing them to almost give these devices away since they are assured an ongoing stream of revenue from preloaded apps and services.

The Shenzhen ecosystem will continue to be a disruptive force as hardware becomes commoditized and real money is made from apps and services. Companies just selling hardware will continue to be challenged by these upstarts, who can buy components cheaply and get them manufactured cheaply. This can leave even the big tech players hurting, as we’re seeing now with what’s happening to Samsung.

To get a better understanding of the Shenzhen ecosystem and Xiaomi in particular, check out Ben Bajarin’s short presentation on this topic.

Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to Big Picture, an opinion column that appears every week on TIME Tech.

TIME Gadgets

This Samsung Cable Lets Your Phone Charge Other Gadgets

samsung cable
Samsung

If you’re anything like me, you probably have multiple phone accessories and mobile devices, all of which require charging. It’s easy to remember to keep the phone charged. But when it comes to my Jambox, Bluetooth headphones, activity tracker, smartwatch and tablets, well – sometimes there are only so many outlets and charger cables to go around.

Smartphone giant Samsung introduced a new accessory made to solve exactly that problem. Meet the Samsung Power Sharing Cable. It’s a simple way to recharge your gadgets on the go using just the charge stored in your Samsung phone’s battery.

To use the cable, you’ll first need a compatible Samsung Galaxy device. Currently, the power-sharing cable works with the Samsung Galaxy S 5, Galaxy Tab S 10.5, Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Avant and Galaxy Note 4. There’s no limitation to what you can charge, so long as it has a Micro USB port. Arrows on the cable show you the direction that power flows in.

Using the power-sharing cable will require you to first download Samsung’s Power Sharing app for Android. That’s a good thing, though – the app lets you control exactly how much of your phone’s precious battery life to devote to charging other devices. The app will also let you know how long you’ll need to wait until the power swap is complete. It’s valuable information considering how slowly the transfer happens.

The only real drawback to the Samsung Power Sharing Cable is that the charge stored in your phone is typically more valuable than moving it to an accessory. You may want to look into a portable battery charger instead. We like the myCharge Hub 9000 – it’s a $100 battery with built-in charging cables, making it an exceptionally convenient way to charge all sorts of gadgets away from home.

Samsung’s new Power Sharing Cable (EP-SG900UWESTA) is currently available for purchase at Amazon.com for $19.99.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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MONEY Tech

Sorry, iPhone Fans, Surveys Say Apple’s Not That Cool

140919_EM_CoolTech
Street style photos featuring Samsung Galaxy Note 4 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at Lincoln Center on September 5, 2014 in New York City. Donald Bowers—Getty Images for Samsung

Despite iPhone mania around the world, Apple's "cool factor" is supposedly on the decline.

For the most part, reviews of the iPhone 6 glow with praise. Pre-orders of the new iPhones shot through the roof. Stories from around the globe on Friday showed lines stretching for blocks outside Apple Stores, filled with shoppers willing to brave cold temperatures, monotony, and discomfort just so that they could hand money over to Apple and the wireless provider of their choosing.

In light of the extent to which fans are going to score the new iPhone, Apple must universally be regarded as the coolest consumer tech brand on the planet, right? Well, maybe not.

The results of a new Reuters/Ipsos poll actually give the coolness edge to Android over Apple. Survey respondents typically come to that conclusion because of the perception that brands like Samsung (which uses Android as its operating system) have taken the lead in innovation, especially in terms of larger smartphone size. Lately, Samsung has been mocking Apple in ads, accusing the iPhone maker of playing catch-up and basically imitating larger “phablet” gadgets that it brought to the market a couple of years ago. In the Reuters survey, more people were of the opinion that Apple has grown less cool than Android over the last two years (16% versus 11%). And while 50% of respondents said Android had grown cooler over the past two years, a slightly smaller percentage (48%) indicated Apple increased its cool factor.

Earlier this year, a brand preference study from ConsumerMetrix rated Samsung as the top tech brand among consumers. Apple was rated fifth (after Sony, Microsoft, and HP, believe it or not), and researchers noted that ratings fell in particular among its “core affluent and younger demographics,” and that the “weak performance may be attributed to its relative lack of new product introductions.”

Bear in mind that the ConsumerMetrix study was obviously conducted before Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch, that survey participants were from the U.S. and Europe, and that Android has a far bigger share of the market in Europe than it does in America. By the summer of 2013, nearly half of all smartphones sold in Europe were Samsungs.

The question arises as to which came first: Have people been buying Samsungs and other Android devices because they think they’re cooler and more innovative than Apple? Or are they saying that Samsung is cooler simply because that’s their brand of device, and they want to feel like they made the cool choice?

In yet another survey, this one conducted on the behalf of Chegg, the discount college textbook sales and rental site, around the time of Apple’s unveiling of its new devices, American high school and college students seem to have concluded that “Apple is losing its cool factor among its technology contemporaries.” When asked what tech brands were “cool,” more students felt that the word applied to Amazon (72%) and Google (71%) than Apple (64%). Three out of ten students decreed that Apple is “smug,” more than half (55%) felt that Apple’s new phones are “more style than substance,” and one quarter agree with the idea that Apple may have lost its edge.

What’s especially interesting about the Chegg study, which originally had a headline suggesting that “Apple [Is] Losing Its Cool,” was that it was quickly undercut by the folks who published it (supposedly by mistake). The results are no longer to be found among Chegg’s press releases. Why? Chegg admitted that the headline didn’t really match the results, especially data showing that 36% of students would “probably” or “definitely” be buying the new iPhone. “A third of students saying they’re definitely or probably going to buy the phone to me didn’t jibe with Apple losing its cool,” Chegg’s Usher Lieberman explained to Investors Business Daily. “What should have been the headline is that a third of students are planning on buying the phone.”

That’s the headline that truly matters to Apple as well. It doesn’t really matter if some people think that Apple is uncool or is somehow losing its edge. Money and action speak louder than words and opinions, and clearly Apple devices are cool enough to make fans wait in lines for days and pay astronomical prices just to get their hands on the new iPhones. Apple’s gotta consider that behavior to be very, very cool.

TIME Gadgets

Hands On: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge

samsung-galaxy-note-edge
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Samsung recently unveiled two new Galaxy Note phones, one that’s a by-the-book upgrade to last year’s Note 3, and one that does something innovative and has the potential to shake up the way you use Android for the better.

There’s no official price announcement yet, but both phones will be out in October. Want to check them out sooner than that? Later this week, the public in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, L.A., and San Francisco will get a chance to at least play with demo models at select carriers. If you don’t live in any of those cities, check out our hands-on below.

The Galaxy Note Edge shines

Let’s start with the more exciting one, the Galaxy Note Edge. So named because the screen wraps around one edge of the phone to provide a secondary display for things like quick-launch apps or features, tools and settings, the weather and more. Plus, it just looks really cool. Samsung gets points for coming up with a useful way to incorporate a curving screen into a smartphone that isn’t just a rehash of a phone we’ve seen before (no copying the LG G Flex!). It also gets points for not just coming up with something gimmicky that dazzles in the display case yet fizzles in your hand.

The edge display on this new phone has actual features people will appreciate, such as the ability to run simple programs like Timer or Stopwatch, display data like the time or an alarm and weather conditions. There are several ways to customize all of this, and with the release of the code for developers, soon there could be more fun and useful stuff for that narrow screen.

The only worry I have is that wrapping the screen around the edge of the phone means greater chance of the screen cracking when it falls. Samsung didn’t show off any cool cases specifically for the Galaxy Note Edge–though we assume there will be some at launch–so it’s not that hard to imagine it slipping from the fingers. I also worry that just holding the phone the way I normally do might accidentally activate apps I don’t what it to activate. Knowing if this will be a problem will have to wait for the full review.

Aside from the cool curving bit, the Quad HD resolution display is gorgeous. Super AMOLED rarely disappoints, and the Galaxy Note Edge’s is bright with popping colors and deep blacks. Plus the viewing angles appear to be wide. One thing I noted is that when I turned the brightness all the way down, the screen went almost completely black instead of just very dim. That’s likely a power-saving measure–I’d be interested to see if the screen is still visible in dark, dark rooms.

The Galaxy Note 4 updates the solid Note 3

samsung-galaxy-note-4
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

All of that is the same for the Galaxy Note 4. In fact, the phones are identical except for curved displays. Same resolution, same processor, same cameras, same S Pen. Yes, the Galaxy Note Edge is a Note, as the name indicates, and comes with a pen. More on that later.

The Galaxy Note 4 is an incremental upgrade from the Note 3, which is an indication that Samsung feels it’s mostly got the Note right, finally. The new generation is a bit taller than the Note 3, but otherwise shares the same general size, shape and design accents. The 5.7-inch display is still the same physical size, but it has the higher Quad HD resolution. One thing to note design-wise is that the flat edge that encircles the phone is made of metal. The back is still plastic, and removable, but there’s now more metal in the overall design.

In the hand, the Note 4 feels about the same as the Note 3. Still a two-handed device, but this is to be expected with phablets.

The version of TouchWiz on the new Galaxy Notes is the same as what Samsung released with the Galaxy S5. During my short hands-on time, it appeared to run just as smoothly and the overall look benefits from the bright, saturated colors the Super AMOLED screen produces. You can still do multitasking with Multi-Window, which has picked up a few tricks from the tablet line. Now you can not only resize the windows and decide how much of the screen each takes up, you can make any compatible window a floating window of any size. This kind of thing works better on a bigger screen. I still like having the option.

Samsung upgraded the rear and front-facing cameras. In back, you now get a 16MP shooter with image stabilization that is supposed to take much better pictures in low light than its predecessor. The Note cameras have never been quite as good as the Galaxy S cameras in the same generation. However, this time it looks like there’s more parity. In front, Samsung is taking a cue from HTC with a 3.7MP, wide-angle camera that can capture more people in one shot than before. Not so useful for Instagram, but nice that you can fit a crowd of people or more of the background into your selfies.

There are no new S Pen tricks in this generation other than the S Pen itself being more sensitive. Otherwise, it’s unchanged. This isn’t a bad thing, as the S Pen is one of the aspects of the Note that just works and doesn’t need to be messed with at all.

A few other features worth noting on both: the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor from the Galaxy S5 are here on these phones as well. Plus, there’s a UV scanner. If you’re running out of battery you can get 50% juiced in 30 minutes with rapid charging. And an ultra low power mode will keep the phone running for up to 20 hours if you’re down to 10%.

The new Galaxy Note 4 may not have a slew of wowgeewiz! new features and functionality to show off. That doesn’t make it a non-exciting phone. If you are looking to upgrade from a Note 2 you’ll be very impressed. Note 3 owners might not feel the need to do so. They may be tempted by the Galaxy Note Edge, though. This is where the real coolness comes in. However, as I said, some of the neat bits of the design worry me in terms of usage and durability. I’ll reserve judgment until I get to do a full review. Still, the Note Edge is a very cool phone and I hope a harbinger of things to come.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME stocks

Apple Stock Slips Ahead of New iPhone Unveiling

Apple Hosts Its Worldwide Developers Conference
Attendees gather at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

After Samsung rolled out new phones Wednesday

Apple stock dipped more than 4% on Wednesday, just a few days before a Sept. 9 event where the company is widely expected to unveil the iPhone 6. The tech giant’s shares closed at $98.94, finishing the day below $100 for the first time since August 18.

There could be a number of culprits for the Apple slide. The company’s iCloud service is at the center of a widely publicized hacking scandal in which nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities were stolen from Apple accounts and posted on the Internet (Apple says the incident was a “very targeted attack” and its services were not compromised). Samsung also announced its latest set of large-screen smartphones Wednesday, including the newest iteration in the Galaxy Note Line and a new phone with a curved screen. The iPhone 6 is expected to have a much larger screen than older iPhone models as a response to the success of Samsung’s bigger phones.

Apple had been in the midst of a long rally in share price since it beat expectations in its July quarterly earnings report and announced a 7-to-1 stock split. In addition to the virtually assured iPhone 6 unveiling, the company is rumored to be debuting a smartwatch and a mobile payments system next week as well.

TIME Gadgets

Samsung and Oculus Teamed Up to Make This Virtual Reality Headset

Samsung

In another bet on the future of technology

In another bet that wearables are the future of tech, Samsung announced Wednesday a new virtual reality headset called the Samsung Gear VR. The new device will use the just-announced Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s 5.-7 inch screen as its display, while using technology developed by Oculus VR, a virtual reality company purchased by Facebook for $2 billion earlier this year.

The Samsung Gear VR will come with new virtual reality software developed by Oculus, including a virtual movie theater called Oculus Cinema and programs that let users play back panoramic photos and videos in a virtual reality environment. Oculus has been working on the Samsung project for at least a year, well before the Facebook purchase.

For now the Gear VR is only being released as a beta version, which means it’s aimed at developers and VR enthusiasts and not the general public just yet (just like the Oculus Rift). The headset launches in the fall, but Samsung hasn’t yet disclosed its price.

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