The Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ are finally announced!

One of the best things to come out of Samsung’s announcement today is that the constant leaks of these two devices can STOP, finally.  With that said, it looks like the leaks were mostly correct.

Here is a good way sum up these two devices:

  • Note 5 – A blown up Galaxy S6 with a stylus.
  • S6 Edge+ – A blown up Galaxy S6 Edge.

From my tone, you’ve probably guessed that I’m underwhelmed by this announcement.  But this article is not going to be a rant against Samsung not listening to its customers (although, it’s true).  I’m going to focus on a summary of what we’ve witnessed.

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Samsung came on stage talking up the evolution of the Note line, as expected.  They touched how it has improved into the beautified mold of their current metal/glass design.  But when it came on the screen, all I kept thinking regardless of their talk, is how it simply looks like a larger S6.  And I don’t think I was the only one.

Fortunately, they didn’t leave it at that and threw a couple bones.  The stylus is spring-loaded and satisfyingly pops out of its hole.  You can start writing notes on the screen right away, you don’t even have to turn the phone on.  And that keyboard case.

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While I shrugged at the keyboard case in the leaked images (it looks is fairly dated in appearance), in action it looks like a promising accessory.  Especially when you recall that the Note line has been traditionally aimed at power users.  Cleverly, the keyboard section of the case can pop off and be attached to the back of the case until you need it again.  Fantastic considering that the keyboard takes up a good chunk of screen real estate when you’re using it.

As far as the S6 Edge+ goes, I think Samsung could’ve just said one sentence and been done with it:  The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a larger S6 Edge.  That’s all there is to it.  And yes, I’m ignoring those minor software tricks on purpose.

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Since Samsung didn’t have much to offer in terms of hardware, they also threw in their rollout announcement of Samsung Pay.  Yay, more fragmentation.  In a nutshell, Samsung feels they’re big enough to justify their own mobile payment platform.  And they think that they can succeed where Google has failed, to make mobile transactions available “virtually everywhere”.  Personally, I’m still on Google’s side and awaiting the rollout of Android Pay.

Lastly, because Samsung had to move up the launch of their phablets (to avoid mixing in with Apple’s September launches), they teased the overdue Gear S2 smartwatch.  This one is still okay to announce at the typically venue at IFA in Berlin.  And the new watch will follow the popular, circular design trend.

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To end, I think a lot of Note fans are not too happy right now.  The Note line has traditionally been for power users, who put function or fashion.  Samsung had molded the Note line into the workers phone.  And now they killed it, cold turkey.

There is neither a removable battery nor microSD card slot.  And to put icing on the cake, there is only a 3,000 mAh battery.  Only 400 mAh more capacity from the poor battery life performer of the Galaxy S6.

But hey, fast wireless charging is cool.  Now if only their vision for a cordless-free future was closer than further…

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I joined T-mobile’s Jump! On Demand, here’s what I’ve learned

If you haven’t been in the loop with T-Mobile’s new Amped campaign, they hit it off by upgrading the Jump! program, which lets you lease a phone.  While I was enticed by the first iteration of the program, I was not yet convinced.

But that changed when Jump! On Demand was introduced.  In a nutshell, the changes made were 3x upgrades a year (instead of 2) and no more fee to use the program.

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Sweet.  But there must be a catch, right?  Well, on the surface, not really, but if you dig you find little minute details which may be annoying.  So that’s what I want to cover here today:  How the sign up process went, what I’ve found, and if I plan to continue it.

First, let’s start with the phone choices.  This is a sensitive part of the whole deal, to me.  You see, it’s all dependent on what phones they deem as part of the program.  In other words, it’s not free game for any phone.  However, they promise that all ‘superphones’ will be offered.  Here’s the initial roster:

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Do you see any problem here?  Here’s a hint:  Although, HTC kinda sucked this year, they’re still in the game aren’t they?  So where’s the One M9?  While they spectrum seems to cover the big hitters, I have to say this the fact that they’re missing a key flagship player has me a little worried about the future.

However, it wasn’t enough to deter me, I was willing to give it a shot and picked up a Galaxy S6 Edge.  I’m mesmerized by those radical edges…shutup.

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Anyways, the price is top of the list, at $32.  How does that work, for the sign-up process and the future?  When you sign up, it’s best to think as the plan and phone separate.  I think that’s what T-mobile is going for here, simplicity.  You chose a Simple Choice plan, I went with the mid-range $60, 3GB data, plan.  Then you add on the monthly price of that particular phone on the program, $32.  So we’re at $60 + $32 = $92.  I added in insurance (which we’ll talk about in a second), which is $8.  Then with all the little tax and federal/state fee additions, my total bill is $112.

Now, I’ve come from prepaid, at $30/month.  But I was expecting the bill to be $100 from my calculation and willingness to begin leasing a phone rather than buying/selling it constantly.  But I was not anticipating the fees to add as much as $12/month to that…but I probably should have.  Bummer.

There are some things I want relay now:  1) What happens when you change phones, for instance, with a cheaper monthly price, 2) Is the insurance as simple as, break your phone, get a new one, and 3) What if you want to leave?

1)  Remember when I said the phone price is independent of the service?  Think of it this way:  That impact to your total bill will fluctuate as the monthly price of the phone you have does.  Thus, if I got a phone in the future that is $22/month, my bill will go down by $10.

2)  No, it’s not that simple, unfortunately.  Again, it’s my fault, because I made an assumption here instead of researching.  There are actually deductibles associated to how high end of a phone you have.  As the S6 Edge is part of the highest-end offerings, it has the highest deductible of $175.  This made me question if I want to continue the T-mobile’s insurance program or not.  This is a pretty high deductible.

3)  Here’s something really important you need to know about this program, you’re actually signing a 18-month contract.  *Surprised face*.  T-Mobile, contract!?  Yeah, I know.  But, hold on, it ain’t a contract like you’ve known it.  The contract covers the cost of the phone (remember, phone and service are handled separately).  It’s an 18-month commitment to pay monthly for the phone.  If you cancel, you simply pay the remaining balance for the phone’s total price.  Which totally seems fair, especially since T-Mobile doesn’t hike up the price of the phone just because they can.  But bear in mind, just like any sale, that monthly cost can change from time to time, just like that $15/month iphone 6 promotion.  So don’t be mad if someone happens to be paying less than you for the same phone.  It’s the same if you paid retail for an item and someone was lucky enough to catch it on a sale.

All in all, I’m sticking with it.  I mean, getting a different phone every 4 months and not having to buy/sell full price phones is pretty sweet.  Yes, everything is not as simple as it seems, but I’m not in a pool of regret either.  I hope this information helps those who are on the fence.

Program details: T-Mobile