Camera boost, virtual reality in new Samsung, LG gadgets — Beaumont Enterprise

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Major Takeaways:

  • Although VR is in its early days, Samsung is improving the camera capability on its phones so users can create VR videos, and will buy headsets to view them.
  • LG will also have its own VR headset and 360-degree camera, while the main camera on its upcoming G5 smartphone will have two lenses, as well as modular capability to pop out and replace phone hardware.
  • New Samsung phones will be shipping March 11; LG’s new gadget release date is unknown, although expectations are for it to be available by April.

From the article:

 

Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge promise better photos under low-light conditions, in part with sensors that capture more light. Both will work with the $100 Gear VR headset that Samsung released last fall. And Samsung will now make a 360-degree camera for everyday folks to capture and share VR images.

VR is still in its early days, with much of the interest coming from hard-core gamers and tech pioneers. Samsung wants to make it easier for everyday people to create VR videos — so that friends will buy VR headsets to view them

LG will also have its own VR headset and 360-degree camera, while the main camera on its upcoming G5 smartphone will have two lenses — one for standard shots, and another with a wider angle to capture more of what’s in front of you.

Sunday’s announcements at the Barcelona show come as worldwide smartphone growth has slowed, particularly for high-end devices such as Samsung’s S and LG’s G series. Many consumers have turned to lower-cost Android devices that sport features considered top of the line just a few years ago…

“Their problem is that phones from two to three years ago are still in use,” said Ian Fogg, head of mobile analysis at IHS Technology. “VR is essential. It is a smartphone-industry initiative to drive consumers to upgrade.”

That’s been particularly important for Samsung, as its chief rival, Apple, largely matched Samsung on size, while boosting the iPhone camera’s resolution to 12 megapixels from 8. The iPhone has also gotten better at low-light shots, even surpassing some stand-alone, point-and-shoot cameras in performance.

“Having seen everything the smartphone can deliver, at Samsung we have other ideas,” said D.J. Koh, the head of Samsung’s mobile business.

In a few months, Samsung will start selling its Gear 360 camera, a device with front and back lenses to stitch together 360-degree videos for VR devices and apps. Samsung phones will come with apps for viewing those videos on the Gear VR and sharing them with friends.

Samsung’s phones will see improvements, too, particularly in the camera.

Realizing that the megapixel count alone doesn’t necessarily translate to quality images, Samsung is reducing resolution in the new phones to 12 megapixels from 18. That allows individual pixels on the sensors to be larger, thus capturing more light. The new cameras also allow the camera’s aperture to open wider, letting in more light. Together, the shutter needs to stay open for a shorter time, reducing the blurring that sometimes mars indoor and night shots.

Samsung also says its new phones will have a faster focus, which it says will improve performance at low light.

And for the selfie camera, Samsung is turning the screen into a flash, similar to what Apple introduced last fall.

Samsung is restoring the ability to add storage, but the battery won’t be replaceable by users, something Samsung had allowed before last year. Instead, Samsung is increasing the battery capacity in both models, though the Edge’s larger screen and other new features in both models, including an always-on mode, will sip away power.

The new phones will start shipping March 11, with advance orders to begin this week. In some markets, including the U.S., Samsung is including a Gear VR headset for free to those who order ahead of time. Prices will vary by carrier and region. In the U.S., AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are offering the regular version for $650 to $695 and the Edge version for about $100 more. Verizon hasn’t announced prices yet.

LG, meanwhile, designed the LG 360 VR headset to work with an LG smartphone that’s attached by a cable. With Samsung’s VR device, the smartphone is inserted at eye level and becomes the headset’s display, increasing the weight on the head. LG’s version has built-in, lighter displays in the headset’s eyepieces.

For the G5 phone, an optional attachment will function as a camera grip with physical buttons to take shots and control video recording. It’s part of LG’s new modular approach to design; you’ll be able to pop out the phone’s bottom and swap in new hardware features…

Head over to Beaumont Enterprise for the full scoop, and for pictures of the LG and Samsung new devices.

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