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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge

I know I'm kinda late to the party but I finally went down to the Samsung store to check out the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge today. I'm late because the truth is, I wasn't in a hurry and perhaps this blog post will explain why.

Breaking the mold
'Novel' and 'Controversial'. I think these two words best describe the Galaxy S6 and even more so for the S6 Edge.

Besides a revamped and much toned down TouchWiz, both variants of the Galaxy S6 are novel for the S series because they are the first in the series to have deviated from the standard conventional build of every other previous S series phones; that is, a new design language from plastic to an all metal and glass build.

Sure, there are other devices from other manufacturers out there with a metallic build, like the HTC M series, for example, but the S6 is a first for its own S family and therein lies its novelty. The S6 is nice and cold to the touch but ugh, those fingerprints all over the glass.. Nothing a handsome case can't solve though, but slapping on a case would make all the metal and glass kinda moot.

Do you case up your phone? If you do, wouldn't it be better or more practical to have like say, a faux leather removable back that allows you to replace the battery on-the-go easily? Don't get me wrong, that wasn't a sarcastic dig at the S6 at all, no sir, it's just a thought that you might wanna consider if you find yourself mesmerised by the build material to the point that you almost forgot your habit of casing up your devices and thus, hide all the build eye candy.

Both variants of the Galaxy S6 are controversial because they have caused a split akin to civil war among the once united fans in the Samsung community due to the removal of the micro SD expandable storage as well as the removal of the removable battery options; both of which still are and were the hallmarks of the Note and S series respectively, even though other phones like the LG G4 has expandable storage and removable battery too.

Looking through my Google+ feed lately and seeing fans debate (the word 'debate' here is the white-washed meaning for 'flaming') either for, or against the removal of the above-mentioned 2 features is enough to remind me just how controversial the S6 is. Even Note fans who are worried the next Note will head down the S6's route get sucked into the fray like straws to a ferocious tornado. Such debates can sometimes even spiral out of control into online verbal-murder territory. I can imagine the smashed keyboards caused by angry typing fists and the average non-geeky consumer would be horrified.

Boy, seeing squads of flamethrowers go at one another can be quite a sight to behold. Online deathmatches are no longer confined to just games ever since bulletin boards and are very much amplified in today's social media age. Look what the convenience cat of evolving technology dragged in. In this regard, the S6 breaking its own family's conventional mold is like cracking open Pandora's box at the same time. +1 to first world problems.

Where Art Thou Headed, O' Uncle Sammy?

Both S6 variants are certainly beautiful phones but it is the S6 Edge that catches more of my eye and interest because of both of its edge displays. The screen displays on both the S6 and S6 Edge are visual delights to behold with their high resolution (1440 X 2560 pixels) and insanely dense pixel density (577 ppi). You can see the detailed specs of the S6 here and the S6 Edge's specs here.

And by the way, they are both packing an ass-kicking killer camera I'm very much impressed with.

Overall, I prefer the S6 Edge but am I feeling tempted into buying one? Nope. Despite the improved camera and high ppi, I am still a Note guy through and through.. For now at least, until something else that can cater to my mobile needs better happens to come along in the future. I very much prefer the bigger screen of the Note series, their bigger batteries and the S Pen. To me, the Note is a productivity workhorse that also gives me a better multimedia and gaming experience over the S series because of the bigger screen.

I find it odd that the standard Note 4 packs a bigger battery over the Note Edge while the S6 Edge is packing a bigger battery over the standard S6. Even so, I am not comfortable with the tested general screen on time of the S6 Edge as according to the multitude of reviews and tests out there. Any phone that can't have the stamina to churn out at least 5 hours of screen of time on a single full charge is something I would avoid.

And no, I don't like using power banks because I loathe the clunky idea of having to use my phone while tethered to something dangling off of it which can restrict my arm movement - one careless abrupt swing and you might either see your power bank doing somersaults in the air or you might stress or damage the connecting points and ports. A charging case with its own internal battery would be the better option but it does add to the overall bulk and weight.

If you are a cubicle warrior with easy access to a wired or Qi charger (wireless charging is a feature that comes out of the box for both S6 variants) and you can rest your phone safely down on your office table most of the time, the lower battery resilience of the S6 shouldn't bother you that much, if at all. But for the rest of us without easy access to chargers when out and about, especially the road warriors, we have to be mindful that the most powerful smartphone becomes a dead brick whenever it runs out of juice.

We can now see why some Samsung fans are vocal about the decision to do away with the removable and replaceable battery (along with expandable storage), which is arguably a better and more convenient option than having to run to your charger on a frequent basis. To rub salt on the wound, the Galaxy S5 comes with a removable 2800 mAh battery while for the S6 and S6 Edge, they come with 2550 mAh and 2600 mAh batteries respectively.

Sure, Samsung says the S6 comes with a more power-efficient processor that translates to mean better battery life but still, you be the judge when it comes to real world usage and arrive at your own conclusions regarding the matter. Lots of YouTube tech reviewers have already done that and you can easily search for such review videos.

The curious question stands: If the new Exynos processor can really result in much better efficient battery management, then why couldn't Samsung put a battery at least as big in capacity as that of the S5's and make awesome even more awesome instead of cutting down on capacity?

I don't know about you but I consider it an annoyance if I have to charge my phone twice or more times within the day. Such is the price to pay for going all metal and glass and uni-body with a small battery. Looks can sometimes come with sacrifices.

But wait, there have been quite considerable amounts of feedback that some users running on Lollipop (5.0+ versions), even for Note 4 users who have upgraded to the OS, are experiencing worse battery life as compared to KitKat. So if poorer battery life has been introduced by Lollipop 5.0+ (which has memory leak issues) and since the S6 runs Lollipop out of the box, perhaps the battery life of the S6 ought to have been better by default than it currently is.

If it's really Lollipop's issue, perhaps a future update could see the S6 with much improved battery life as originally intended. Who knows.

What's amusing on the other side of the now-divided Samsung camp from my vantage point on the opposite turf of the newly-created border, are the fans who used to brag about expandable storage and removable battery against wall-huggers (a justifiable and valid boast in comparison with most of the competition out there) but who have suddenly done an about-face and are now condemning the very things they once boasted and flaunted about. Heh. That happened so quickly it's scarily bipolar. Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde who?

The way I see it, you praise features because they have proven themselves to be useful and convenient for you, but it is not very bright to encourage your favourite manufacturer to remove these very same features just because you wanna demonstrate your loyalty and flaunt to the world that you're a fan of the manufacturer. For such folks, they have placed themselves on the altar of sacrifice of that which they worship. Not everyone can walk up to a sacrifice altar voluntarily while smiling from ear to ear. Amazing.

Die-hard fanboys and girls who have placed the coffers of that which they worship on a pedestal higher than their own needs and wants have my sympathy - especially if they are not even on the payroll of the company they oh so adore. We may pity them but it's just too bad that they can't have a shred of sympathy for themselves. Darwin would have been very much heartbroken.

And they have it ass-backwards too: Manufacturers and companies should cater to the demands of consumers rather than the other way around. Fail to speak with your wallet and they have your whole wallet.

On the flip side of the coin, those who are not blindly brand-loyal and who genuinely prefer the changes and have honestly changed their minds in preference of the new after some critical mental processes, are the much needed exceptions whom I'll gladly give a listening ear to despite the differences in opinions. There is still hope, Darwin, even though I don't buy into your theory since monkeys have always remained monkeys so far as we have witnessed and they have never evolved into something else right in front of our eyes.

Back on track: it is a fact that in the case of the S6, even though it has no expandable storage, its more advanced internal memory does allow things to run faster and smoother. Now that is a very much valid debating point against slower expandable external storage.

When it comes to the edge features of the S6 Edge in comparison to that of the Note Edge's, I can't help but conclude that the edge features of the S6 Edge is nothing much and falls short in potential in comparison. Hell, there isn't even an apps shortcut panel that the Note Edge is rocking with.

So far, I haven't come across any news yet that Samsung plans to develop more expanded edge features for the S6 Edge, which is an unfortunate under-utilisation of potential in my non-fiction book.

It's all pros and cons regarding the S6, as with everything else in life. As such, I cannot tell you that the S6 and S6 Edge completely suck donkey balls and neither can I tell you that the Note series is perfect and flawless in comparison - because it's not. No phone is. It just so happens that the Note caters to my work and play needs the best despite it not being 100% perfect, that's all. That being said, I think the Note kicks serious ass. Unapologetically.

If you have to listen to differing opinions regarding both S6 variants, do yourself a favour and stay away from the die-hard fanboys who have thrown critical thinking to the winds and who have become masters at the art of self-hypnosis that they use to justify their purchases and to reassure themselves of their undying loyalty to their superstar.

There are already cults in the mobile industry, so potential buyers beware of who you ask your questions. You know something is questionable with someone's credibility when they keep talking about the pros while denying or hiding the cons, considering that everything material has both a good and a bad side.

Update: Alternatively, you can hang on for the S6 Active with better specs and features like water resistance and a bigger battery. Just bear in mind that the Note 5 is just around the corner if you don't mind considering a phablet.

Even though I prefer the Note series and I don't think I will switch back to the S series ever since I moved on to the Note series from the S3, I think that for folks who are normal users and are more comfortable with the smaller physical dimensions of a smartphone as opposed to that of a phablet's, will probably find lots of things to like about the zippy S6 or S6 Edge. Heck, just fire up the camera and play with it if you don't know where to begin and go from there and arrive at your own conclusions.

On the other hand, if you are a power user who use your phone all the time and demand more without easy access to a charger and you don't like using power banks or charging cases, you might be better off with something else with a bigger and/or removable battery. Your call, of course.

Me? I'll wait to see what the Note 5 and Note Edge 2 will bring to the table. I'd rather have a compromise between looks and functionality instead of sacrificing everything else for just looks. So I rather have a removable back and be able to swap batteries on-the-go than going fully all metal and glass - unless there is a seriously gargantuan and capacious battery under the hood, then I wouldn't mind a non-removable battery. I would then just have to be mindful to make sure that I leave the house everytime with enough charge.

But still, I protect my phones with cases, so I'm not sure that going all metal and glass would mean that overly much to me. Heck, if the phone is all metal and fragile glass, all the more it warrants a protective case.

Oh wait, that just brought me allllllll the way back to square one again - a removable back (which can't be metal under a layer of glass) that allows for removable batteries is still more practical for me afterall. Gosh, I feel dizzy going around in circles.

As for storage, I wouldn't mind the lack of expandable storage if the phone comes with 64gb or more internal storage options, which isn't a problem at all these days with modern flagships.

In closing, even if Samsung should decide to ditch expandable storage and removable batteries for the future Note series to keep pace with where the S series has already headed, I think I can adapt and still be a happy camper if the future Notes come with capacious internal storage and gargantuan batteries - provided nothing else better and more capable for my mobile needs comes along, that is.

No matter what, given today's mobile technology, it's a great time to be alive and kicking and swiping and tapping.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sayonara, Emo Hair.

Even though I am not emo whenever I'm asleep and can't feel my emotions, I really liked the emo hairstyle; so much so that some time during the latter half of 2008, I started growing my fringe long enough to the point that I could use it to turn a blind eye to the oh so cruel world. Sniff.

Despite what jealous soccer dads and lads who can't style themselves to save their lives kept saying about the emo style, and despite their scoffing and mocking remarks thrown at it (though I agree with them that the whinings of emos and some of their self-destructive actions in extreme cases are irritating), I for one think that the emo hairstyle is pretty cool and I absolutely heart their fashion style too. It was a novel breath of fresh air when I first laid my eyes on the style.

The fact that it is a Punk sub-culture made it even cooler in my non-fiction book and that very much appealed to the rebellious part of me and that part is a rather huge chunk if I dare say so myself. But because I am a working adult and have to do things with some moderation (so much for rebellion, says accountability), I altered things a little with some personal touches and went for more of a mid-length and a tapered fringe instead of full-fledged emo. Also, I wouldn't wanna look 100% to-the-dot in conformity to any style, since you gotta retain your own character even if the personal touches and alterations are subtle (looks like I'm at least still half-alive, says rebellion).

Boy, it is when you begin the attempt to styling your hair emo-style that you start to realize just how irritating your hair's natural body wave is while at the same time, your envy towards people born with naturally straighter hair right out of the cradle makes you frown at your hair-straightening iron.

Ah yes, that hair-straightening iron and the bottles of thermal protection cream I had to buy just so I could momentarily straighten out the natural slight body wave of my fringe. As you can probably already imagine, having to use the straightening iron Every.Freaking.Day is not only time-consuming, it's also damaging to your hair. Get your fringe wet or moist and it springs right back to its natural state, unravelling all your hard work earlier in the day.. Hair-splittingly frustrating, to say the least.

In the end, I decided to go for chemical treatment at the salon to straighten out my fringe which could keep it reasonably straight for at least 4 and a half months (in my case) and kiss good riddance to the straightening iron, which was a huge relief. Those thermal protection creams smell nice but I was glad I no longer had to use them. I did the chemical treatment only for my fringe and not my entire mane, by the way. There's no need to go for an overkill by killing a fly with a straightening iron.

Yes, chemical straightening does damage the hair to some extent too but so does everyday manual straightening with the hair iron. I'll take the chemical treatment over the iron any day since the former only cost me at most SGD $60 and it last for MONTHS. Damage is still damage, so I did periodic hair and scalp treatments to make up for it, along with regular doses of hair serum.

Gotta say, after my chemical treatment, getting my hair into shape and style in the mornings was a quick breezy walk in the park, since I only had to use the hairdryer to blow my hair into shape and use some hair wax followed by hairspray to scrunch up the top a little and maintain everything in shape - and I didn't even have to use much wax and spray. The best part is that I didn't have to use up a huge amount of time unlike during my iron age. Everything's done and over with in like around 8 minutes tops.

The only caveat I had to endure for such convenience was that I couldn't wash my hair for at least 48 hours after every straightening chemical treatment (I timed everything to coincide with the weekends when I didn't have to go to work). And to think there were times when I went for 72 hours just to ensure better chemical absorption, which warranted a day of annual leave from work.

Let me tell ya: words cannot express just how, following every hair chemical treatment, the restraint from washing my hair for 2 or 3 days almost drove me over the edge every time, since it was absolute torture. The only way I managed to endure past it was by reminding myself of the following mantra:

"2 or 3 days of torture in exchange for 4 and a half months of breezy ease."

Even though I had to keep myself from perspiring and I had to destroy boxes of oil blotters for my face, as well as sleeping with a towel placed over my pillow during such trying periods, the equation of my mantra seemed a worthwhile trade-off. Indeed, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and the scalp feels oily as heck.

But alas, my first chemical treatment was in 2008 and it is now 2015. My goodness, I've been having the same hairstyle for 7 freaking years already.. but at the same time, that is testimony to how much I liked about this very easy to maintain hairstyle.

But when a change is needed, a change is needed. The Emo hairstyle is something that has served its due course and has already gotten too long in the tooth. I loved it but it's time to move on and moving on resulted in the following:

I had to master lots of self-control to prevent myself from going over the edge from grief when I instructed my hairdresser to snip off my fringe and cut everything else short. At the same time, I noticed the restrained shocked look on the hairdresser's face while another hot chick hairdresser, who has known my preferences all these years, became the personification of the classic jaw-on-floor emoticon as she went "Huh?!" I was too engaged with the contradictions fighting inside me to tell her that she looked cute with her mouth wide open.

Like suddenly having grown nerves in my strands of protein, I felt the pain shoot from my head all the way down to my fragile heart when the scissors started snipping away. Boy, seeing my emo hair getting trimmed away right in front of my eyes sure brought out the emo in me in full force. Throughout the entire haircut session, I had to perform impromptu mental yoga to keep myself together.

Actually, this could have happened months earlier if it wasn't for the fact that it took me this long to figure out exactly which short hairstyle I wanted to go for. It's not easy sometimes trying to hunt down something that can cover your flaws while accentuating your strengths at the same time and you can't just dive into drastic changes without a plan.

The above being said, I ended up without so much of a concrete plan but instead, all I had was just a rough experimental idea - I knew which direction I should be heading towards but I didn't know the final destination, so to speak. But still, there is an element of exploratory fun surrounding the matter as I try to refine things. If I'm having fun with it, it means I'm on the right track.

Anyway, the photo above is not the only style I can play with with a short hairstyle. If I feel funky, I can always scrunch up the sides and top for a punky look during the weekends or something.

My Lioness tells me she prefers my new hairstyle because it makes me look fresher. Come on babe, you're making me feel like freshly bought grocery but I heart ya just the same. It's just too bad I can no longer make you sneeze without using my hands since my fringe is no longer long enough for that.

I'm liking the 'fresh' part that comes with my new hairstyle but at the same time, I'm already starting to miss the 'enigmatic' part of my now-gone emo hairstyle. My challenge now is to make sure I don't end up looking exactly like the next dude and the other dudes around him out on the street because even though I've sacrificed my emo hairstyle on the altar of vanity, I didn't let go of its rebellion against conventional herd uniformity and conformity. But honestly, I can't tell if it's working yet. I guess I have to become fully acquainted with my new mane first.

Today marks the day I closed the door I've held open for 7 years and opened another new shorter one. Hell, nobody makes such a drama over a new hairstyle, so I guess I could be emo afterall - even though I no longer have the mane to show for it. Like something enough and a part of it sticks with you even after it's gone.

Sayonara, emo hair.