Sponsored tweet from LeBron James valued at P6.5M

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via VAV news

You’re familiar with Twitter, right? And LeBron James? Good. But have you ever wondered how much a sponsored tweet from King James is worth? Wonder no more.

Per a report from ESPN’s Darren Rovell, getting the Cavs superstar to dispense wisdom in 140 characters or less to his 23.2 million followers will cost an advertiser $140,000 ($139,474, to be exact), or around P6.5 million. Do the math, and that’s $1,000 per character.

According to ESPN, getting LeBron James to tweet about a product or service will cost an advertiser $140,000, or around P6.5 million.

It’s a king’s ransom, to be sure, but Opendorse, the company behind that lofty valuation, says a corporate sponsor would have to spend five times more to reach the equivalent of James’ Twitter following with a TV ad. And before you say anything, remember: This is LeBron James we’re talking about. He’s only one of the best basketball players in history and one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, let alone in basketball.

Which is why people follow him on social-media networking sites like Twitter, among so many others. Yes, it’s good to be LeBron these days — and the guy hasn’t even brought a championship to success-starved Cleveland yet.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cq1F2YzVQ8″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

First episode of RISE Philippines

Now available: P1,999 MyPhone my21 with 3G, quad-core CPU

In Phones by Ramon Lopez1 Comment

You may have read about MyPhone’s new line of locally inspired phones recently, and surprisingly one of them has been listed on Lazada Philippines’ website, without fanfare or publicity. The MyPhone my21, which may not be the most exciting name for a smartphone. “What does ’21’ mean or represent?” you may ask. Who knows? I sure don’t. Not that it should matter too much to anyone looking for a daily driver with a rock-bottom price tag.

For P1,999 — or less than what you’d typically pay for a cellphone, let alone one that runs Android KitKat — you’re looking at a 4-inch display (likely of the non-HD variety) and a quad-core processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The my21 also has dual-SIM slots with 3G support. Those are very low-end specs compared to other smartphones available today, but what do you expect from a P1,999 phone?

MyPhone my21 specs (Price in the Philippines: P1,999):
* Dual SIM with 3G support
* 1.2GHz quad-core processor
* 512MB RAM
* 4GB internal storage
* 4-inch TFT display
* 2-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* VGA front camera
* Android KitKat 4.4

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isDxr9WCPz0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

Actual image of 2015 Nexus 5 leaks online

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via Marques Brownlee

It being mid-August, it was only a matter of time before details about the upcoming Nexus 5 reboot appeared online. The latest in the stream of information leaked to the masses shows the backplate of what could be Google’s next flagship smartphone in white and in the wild. The image seems to match up with renders uploaded last week, adding to the speculation that what we’re looking at is the real deal, or at least a prototype of it.

The new Nexus appears to have a curved plastic back with a matte finish and a camera that protrudes slightly from the casing. There’s a sticker with LG’s logo near the bottom of the phone’s backing, indicating that this is the 5.2-inch variant I keep on hearing about. The leaked photo also shows what appears to be a fingerprint scanner, dual-tone flash, and a laser autofocus sensor.

The Nexus 5 reboot appears to have a curved plastic back with a matte finish and a protruding camera. It also has a fingerprint scanner and laser autofocus.

Google is said to launch the LG-made Nexus 5 sometime in October or November, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit given Google’s history of announcing a new phone in the fall. Regardless of when it arrives, you can expect it to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk-PY2dBKaA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYHY3MFiq1o” width=”560″ height=”315″]

ASUS PH to unveil ZenFone 2 Laser, Selfie, Deluxe August 29th

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Brace yourselves for more ZenFones in the very near future. ASUS Philippines will be adding at least three more variants to its Android portfolio come August 29, particularly the ZenFone 2 Laser, Selfie, and Deluxe phones.

The launch event is open to the public, meaning just about anyone can get his or her hands on the new ZenFones and stand a chance of winning one. Admission is free, but pre-registration is required by August 27.

The ZenFone 2 Laser occupies the bottom rung in ASUS’s upcoming ZenFone lineup and will likely fetch the least amount when it becomes available.

Not that it should be taken for granted, as it features the same specs we’ve seen previously on the OPPO Mirror 5, Cherry Mobile One G1, and the higher-end version of the Motorola Moto G; the ZenFone Laser carries a 5-inch HD IPS display and a Snapdragon 410 chipset with 2GB of RAM and up to 16GB of onboard memory.

The ZenFone 2 Laser features the same specs we’ve seen previously on the OPPO Mirror 5. The icing on the cake is laser autofocus for near-instant focusing even in low light.

If my experience with the Mirror 5 is anything to go by, it should be able to hold its own against low- to mid-tier devices. The icing on the proverbial cake is laser autofocus for accurate and near-instant focusing even in low light.

The 5.5-inch ZenFone Selfie, meanwhile, is expected to pack quite a punch, with an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and up to 3GB of RAM on tap.

But the real story here is the 13-megapixel front camera that comes with a wide-angle lens and dual-tone flash and does all the tricks you’d expect from a main shooter of above-average caliber.

5.5-inch ZenFone Selfie, meanwhile, is expected to pack quite a punch, with an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and up to 3GB of RAM on tap.

Fittingly, the ZenFone selfie is optimized for taking selfies with its 13-megapixel front camera that does all the tricks you’d expect from a main shooter of above-average caliber.

Fittingly, it is optimized for taking selfies, and ASUS has bolstered its capabilities by pre-installing a software suite called Beautification, which allows you to change your skin tone, even out facial lines, and make your cheeks look slimmer. I could go on, but you get the point.

Last but definitely not the least is the ASUS ZenFone 2 Deluxe — or in my words, a ZenFone 2 on steroids. It’s a powerhouse of a 5.5-incher built around Intel’s latest quad-core Atom chip, which has 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage.

The ZenFone 2 Deluxe is a powerhouse of a phone built around Intel’s Atom CPU, which has 4GB of RAM. It also has a textured diamond pattern on the surface of its back cover.

To distinguish itself from the standard ZenFone 2 range, as well as add to its premium appeal, the ZenFone Deluxe has a textured diamond pattern on the surface of its back cover. I’ve seen prototypes of the rear panel before, and they looked pretty good.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RypWLWiz1P0″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

Watch our ASUS Zenfone 2 review

The curious case of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

In Phones by Ramon Lopez2 Comments

I’m worried about Samsung. Not because its profits continue to fall on the back of the market’s lukewarm reaction to the now-discounted Galaxy S6, arguably its most compelling smartphone yet. Not because it has tampered with the Galaxy formula by jettisoning microSD expansion and removable batteries, much to the disappointment of long-time fans. Not because Apple’s market dominance shows no signs of slowing.

I’m just worried, because Friday’s announcement could have ended with one super-sized phone, except it ended with two.

In one corner: a Samsung sequel that, as expected, puts its extra screen real estate to even better use and rightfully bills itself as a productivity device. The Note series, with its S Pen stylus and accompanying suite of software features, represents the pinnacle of what a big-screen phone can do and be, and Samsung was right to introduce a Galaxy Note reboot in August.

The Note series, with its S Pen stylus and accompanying suite of software features, represents the pinnacle of what a big-screen phone can do and be.

In the other corner is the Galaxy S6 Edge+, or, if you will, an S6 Edge stretched in all directions, which is about as silly as it sounds.

Sure, it has a larger, 5.7-inch curved-edge display that narrowly misses the back of the phone, but if there’s anything to be gleaned from its predecessor, it’s this: the S6 Edge+ doesn’t fix the S6 Edge’s most glaring fault. Rather, it shines the spotlight on what I found to be the most annoying thing about a curved-edge display: the glare off its tapered edges. Bigger isn’t always better, and it’s especially true for Samsung’s latest curved phone.

The S6 Edge+ doesn’t fix the S6 Edge’s most glaring fault. It shines the spotlight on what I found to be the most annoying thing about a curved-edge display: screen glare.

But my argument against the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has less to do with what it is and more to do with what it is not. What it is not, is the Galaxy Note 5, which, despite what some Samsung loyalists might like to believe, is one of the best big-screen phones you can buy today. It’s cheaper, too, but only by a mere P3,000.

Unlike the Galaxy S6 Edge+, the Galaxy Note 5 isn’t just a blown-up version of another Galaxy flagship; it’s different in ways that genuinely do make the case for stepping up to a larger screen. That the Galaxy Note is already in its fifth iteration reflects Samsung’s success in creating a need that hadn’t existed before the Note came along.

My argument against the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has less to do with what it is and more to do with what it is not. What it is not, is the Galaxy Note 5.

I could be in the minority here, of course — for those who want it, the “how” and “why” of the Galaxy S6 Edge+’s existence may be largely irrelevant. I know this much, though: Samsung took a risk with the Galaxy S6 Edge+, which, judging from the company’s stock performance over the past quarters, is like chucking a basketball from way beyond the arc when the team is down double digits with under a minute left in regulation.

Whether the ball goes through the hoop remains to be seen, but we’ll know for sure come Samsung’s next earnings call.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 specs (Price in the Philippines: P36,990):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* S Pen stylus
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ specs (Price in the Philippines: P39,990 for the 32GB model; P44,990 for the 64GB model):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* up to 64GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED curved display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH70ERrkuTA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 camera shootout from our YouTube channel

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqYsIRU5rQU” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Breaking up with cable TV

In Games, Apps, and OS by Alora Uy GuerreroLeave a Comment

Do you remember the last time you sat through a movie or TV show on cable TV? We don’t.

We cut the cord months ago, and our crystal ball predicts we’re never going back now that decent subscription-based video-on-demand services have made their way to the Philippines. For your own setup at home, you may want to consider a streaming box like the ones reviewed on the Coolest Gadgets website.

That’s just us. We know that not everyone — perhaps even you — is ready to part ways with the cable companies.

We can’t blame you. First, cable TV has newer content. You get access to foreign 24/7 news channels, watch the latest episodes of shows like “Game of Thrones,” and follow the NBA action and other sporting events as they happen.

Second, cable TV is maturing in the country. Some packages even come bundled with digital video recording, HD content, and more channels than you’d care to count.

Third, tie-ups with video-streaming services already exist. Think SkyCable’s partnerships with iWantv and HBO Go.

And fourth, cable TV doesn’t need an Internet connection to work, so it’s still the easiest way to watch your favorite movies and shows on the biggest screen in the house. Let’s face it, quality Internet access remains out of reach for many of us. The Philippines remains at the bottom of the pit when it comes to connection speed.

But just as Spotify and other music apps are starting to change the way Filipinos listen to music, SVOD services will also eventually find their place in more homes in the Philippines. We’ll bet whatever’s left in our bank on it.

Globally, SVOD subscriptions are expected to increase from 20 million in 2010 to roughly 120 million by end of this year, according to Digital TV Research’s report on global OTT [over the top, or the delivery of content on the Internet] TV and video forecasts. That number is believed to rise to 250 million by 2020.

Just as Spotify is starting to change the way Filipinos listen to music, SVOD services will also eventually find their place in more homes in the Philippines.

Our telcos are getting ready to meet that expected demand. You’ve seen Globe Telecom partner with HOOQ, a start-up joint venture between Singtel, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. You’ve seen PLDT and its mobile subsidiary, Smart Communications, partner with iflix.

Who knows? We just might see U.S. video-streaming company Netflix enter the Philippine market. It’s already in Australia and New Zealand.

What will most likely lure Filipinos to take advantage of SVOD services? Let us count the ways.

1. Subscribing to them is the cheapest and non-douchebag way of watching movies and TV shows on just about every screen available. Cheap because they don’t have installation costs. For example, joining HOOQ and iflix will only set you back P199 and P129 per month, respectively. Non-douchebag because you will not be pirating content, so you’ll avoid tripping over laws as the government implements more ways to curb piracy in the country.

SVOD subscriptions are expected to increase from 20 million in 2010 to roughly 120 million by end of this year. That number is believed to rise to 250 million by 2020.

2. How about more content than you would care to watch? You will have access to libraries of content anytime, anywhere. We’re talking 30,000 hours of programming for HOOQ and 11,000 for iflix at press time — and those numbers will grow, no doubt. Granted, majority of the movies and shows available are dated, but hey, because of our busy schedule, we haven’t even seen that “GOT” episode that had Jon Snow fans all over the world howling like crazy. We appreciate that we can view that at any time our calendar permits.

3. A single account can be used by multiple devices. On HOOQ, for example, up to two users can stream content simultaneously, which lessens cost per device or person. People do not have to share the remote control. You know how it is: In one household, there’s usually more than one phone or tablet, so family members can watch different things on different devices, regardless of where they are.

4. SVOD services are available via mobile app and on the Web, perfect for smart TVs and set-top boxes that run Android or iOS. Less wires, no need for an HDMI or VGA connection… In short, less hassle.

Video streaming is still in its infancy in the Philippines, so it may still be too early to pull the plug on cable TV.

5. There’s also the allure of original programming, something we’ve been seeing more of lately, particularly from streaming giant Netflix. Sure, neither HOOQ, iflix, nor any other SVOD provider in the Philippines is producing its own movie or TV show now, but it may happen sooner than you think.

Video streaming is still in its infancy in the Philippines, so it may still be too early to pull the plug on cable TV. But as SVOD services and mobile devices get cheaper because of competition and advancements in technology, there’s no stopping the train to content-streaming subscription. Now, about that decent and affordable Internet connection…

(NOTE: This article originally appeared in the July issue of 2nd Opinion, a magazine with a Philippine circulation.)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5: two steps forward, one step back

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via Forbes

A mere hours after their worldwide launch, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ made their official debut in the Philippines today, with pricing and availability in tow. “Isn’t it a little too early for a Galaxy Note reboot?” you may ask. “What about the Galaxy S6 Edge? The paint hasn’t even dried on Samsung’s co-flagship yet following its release a few months ago.”

I get your point, but Samsung had to pull the trigger to give its latest devices a lengthy head start in the retail race against Apple. Samsung’s profits are still falling, says Bloomberg. The Galaxy S6, for all its pretty aesthetics and top-shelf features, hasn’t been the sales success that Samsung had hoped for.

So, here we are in August, staring at a new Samsung phone with a super-sized screen and even bigger expectations to meet. To say the Galaxy Note 5 has a lot riding on its shoulders would be an understatement of phablet proportions. (The Galaxy S6 Edge+? Probably not so much.)

Here we are in August, staring at a new Samsung phone with a super-sized screen and even bigger expectations to meet.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Picture 1 of 5

Indeed, the Galaxy Note 5 is easily one of Samsung’s most important releases in recent memory — and it certainly looks that way. Like the Galaxy 6 before it, this year’s addition to the Note family ditches plastic in favor of metal and glass and adds a curved-edge back that’s particularly reminiscent of the Xiaomi Mi Note’s rear panel.

If there ever was a Note product whose looks didn’t justify its price, the Galaxy Note 5 isn’t it; in fact, it’s arguably Samsung’s most gorgeous work yet, boasting a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that reflects its premium status. Coming in at 7.6mm-thick, it’s also thinner by nearly a full millimeter compared to the Galaxy Note 4 (8.5mm).

The phone is not without flaws, of course, as Samsung had to cut a few corners in pursuit of its design goals, much to the chagrin of fans of microSD expansion and removable batteries. The Galaxy Note 5 doesn’t have either, and both rank among its predecessor’s biggest attractions. Its battery is only 3,000mAh, which holds less charge than the Galaxy Note 4’s 3,220mAh cell.

The one area where Samsung hasn’t made any compromises on the Note formula is under the hood. And true to its heritage, the Galaxy Note 5 offers the best components on the market, rocking a 5.7-inch 1,440 x 2,560 Super AMOLED display and Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset, along with 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage.

The Note 5 is not without flaws, as Samsung had to cut a few corners in pursuit of its design goals, much to the chagrin of fans of microSD expansion and removable batteries.

Its capabilities as a pocketable camera should only improve with the addition of the same 16-megapixel unit housed in the Galaxy S6, which Alora and I found to be superior to the iPhone 6’s rear-facer.

The Galaxy Note 5 is also closer to being a pen-and-paper replacement than previous models, with the option to jot down notes while the screen is off, among other things. Samsung even claims that the display produces less friction when using the improved S Pen stylus.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (32GB) will set you back P36,990. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ (32GB), meanwhile, starts at P39,990. Both are due to arrive in stores on September 5. Preorders start August 17.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Picture 1 of 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 specs (Price in the Philippines: P36,990):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* S Pen stylus
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ specs (Price in the Philippines: P39,990 for the 32GB model; P44,990 for the 64GB model):
* LTE
* Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
* Mali-T760-MP8 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* up to 64GB internal storage
* 5.7-inch Super AMOLED curved display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh sealed battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH70ERrkuTA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 camera shootout from our YouTube channel

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqYsIRU5rQU” width=”560″ height=”315″]

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OPPO Mirror 5 review: style and substance for less

In Phones by Ramon Lopez10 Comments

We’ve seen a flood of low-cost but high-spec’d phones emerge on the Philippine market this year, but you have to admit: only a handful of them get the aesthetics and build right. Too often a phone’s look and feel take a backseat when companies cut corners to meet a certain price point; at worst, they are the first casualties of the design process — and it’s totally understandable.

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OPPO Mirror 5 now official in PH, will retail for P9,990

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

OPPO is no stranger to making quality phones with few, if any, compromises on design and build quality, and its latest offering doesn’t seem too different from what we’re used to seeing from the company, despite a lower-than-expected price tag. The OPPO Mirror 5, which, in essence, is the more affordable brother of the R1x that preceded it.

You could argue that the Mirror 5 is OPPO’s answer to the higher-end version of Motorola’s Moto G (and, to a lesser extent, the recently announced Cherry Mobile One G1), what with an IPS display that spans 5 inches across and a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM that runs OPPO’s heavy-handed overlay based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1 without hiccups.

There’s an IR blaster on the top edge that, when used with OPPO’s universal remote-control app, allows you to manipulate a wide range of home appliances, including TVs and air-conditioning units, as you would using their respective remotes.

OPPO Mirror 5

Picture 1 of 8

As interesting as that sounds, it’s the phone’s mirrored back, which flaunts a diamond decor, that will likely draw the most attention; it gives off a subtle, shimmering effect as light bounces off its surface. I know what you’re thinking: The effect is probably better seen up close and in person than read about. And you’re absolutely right.

There’s nothing quite like it in the bargain segment, and it’s what sets the Mirror 5 apart from all the other bland, rectangular phones out there.

It’s the phone’s mirrored back, which flaunts a diamond decor, that will draw the most attention; it gives off a shimmering effect as light bounces off its surface. The effect is better seen up close and in person than read about.

The OPPO Mirror 5 will retail for P9,990 in the Philippines when it arrives in stores later this month. It may be worth checking out if you’re looking for an affordable smartphone that at face value doesn’t wear its price tag on its sleeve.

OPPO Mirror 5 specs (Price in the Philippines: P9,990):
* Dual SIM
* Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
* 5-inch IPS display (540 x 960 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,420mAh battery
* IR blaster
* Color OS 2.1 based on Android Lollipop 5.1.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45hQpWvr3vQ” width=”560″ height=”315″]

OPPO Mirror 5 preview from our YouTube channel

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 leaks in full ahead of PH launch

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Image via iNoob

We’re only a few days away removed from Samsung’s 2015 Unpacked event in New York (and its Philippine version on August 14), and at this point, as is the case every year, we know almost everything about the company’s next flagbearer — or should I say “flagbearers”? Under the bright lights of the Big Apple, Samsung is all but sure to announce the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus — the name implies it’s supposed to be the bigger brother of the Galaxy S6 Edge.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5

There’s also a strong possibility that a curved-edge variant of the Galaxy Tab will be joining the two. And while a curved slate could be inconvenient to use, let alone hold for extended periods, the idea of a larger Galaxy S6 Edge sounds appealing. The Galaxy Note line, on the other hand, has won over pundits and consumers alike since its debut. Judging from the leaks, the Galaxy Note 5, with its reportedly Galaxy S6-inspired looks, should continue to impress.

The Galaxy Note line has won over pundits and consumers alike since its debut. Judging from the leaks, the Galaxy Note 5, with its reportedly Galaxy S6-inspired looks, should continue to impress.

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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus beside the iPhone 6 Plus

The latest iteration of Samsung’s S Pen-toting flagship will come with a 5.7-inch 1,440 x 2,560 Super AMOLED display, an octa-core processor (likely an Exynos 7422 SoC) backed by 4GB of RAM, and 16- and 5-megapixel rear and selfie cameras. It will support LTE and wireless charging, similar to its predecessor. As for the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, its specs are expected to be in line with the S6 Edge’s internals, with the exception of a bump in RAM (4GB).

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (left) and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (right)

I’ll be sure to follow up with more information once the dust settles on Samsung’s Unpacked event.

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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge preview

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3NvdHYPZC0&list=UUMeavCblAE1-lP5CWpcZHMA” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Samsung Galaxy S6 preview