Summer blockbusters

blockbusterAnother Labor Day, and signs are appearing of a summer winding down.

With that bittersweet thought in mind, are there any stories emerging from the tech landscape to brighten our day—or at least make it more interesting?

Of course!

In the smartphone universe, things are heating up. Literally, in the case of the recently released Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which apparently is exploding at alarming rates.

Meanwhile, Apple is about to announce the iPhone 7, and by most accounts—speculative, of course—the new devices figure to be exciting, if not downright revolutionary.

Samsung putting on the brakes

Probably about the worst thing to happen to a company, after it puts its heart and soul—and billions of dollars—into developing and releasing a product, is to have to recall that product.

Galaxy-note-7With Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Note 7, that’s exactly what’s happening.

The huge Korean conglomerate announced on Friday that it was recalling 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones because of exploding lithium-ion batteries.

Samsung announced the new phones to great fanfare on August 2 and began selling the new devices on August 19. Reportedly, however, at least 30 incidences of the new phone exploding or bursting in flames have forced the recall.

The culprit is a  likely manufacturing defect in the lithium-ion batteries in the phone.

The Galaxy 7 phones had been receiving good reviews, with some pundits claiming it to be the most advanced smartphone on the market, leapfrogging Apple’s flagship iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models.

Samsung is known for piling on the bells and whistles, and the Galaxy Note 7 is no exception, offering iris scanning, HDR video support, waterproofing, an improved stylus, and longer battery life—well, that was the theory, anyway.

This new development, however, could cost Samsung $1 billon, not to mention incalculable bad karma. And just when Apple is about to announce its new iPhone.

Speeding toward us—the iPhone 7

And speaking of Apple, this Wednesday, September 7, the company is expected to unveil the latest iteration of its most important product—the iPhone. It will likely be dubbed the iPhone 7, and come in two, maybe three, models.

iPhone-7When Apple released the first iteration of its larger iPhones—the 6 and 6 Plus— back in 2014, they were enormously successful. The company followed on in 2015 with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models, but the smartphone industry was beginning to level off and decline, as did Apple’s profits.

Nonetheless, Apple is still selling nearly 200 million iPhones a year.

The challenge for the iPhone 7 models will be to provide enough new features and capabilities to keep the momentum going, enticing new customers to buy in and existing customers to upgrade.

Rumors and speculation, and possibly legitimate leaks, indicate that the iPhone 7 will not be markedly different from the iPhone 6s versions. Although we won’t know for sure until Wednesday, the rumored features were described in great detail in a MacRumors article, and summarized here:

  • No headphone jack
  • Flush, pressure-sensitive home button
  • Improved water resistance
  • Dual-lens camera for iPhone 7 Plus
  • Design similar to iPhone 6s
  • Redesigned antenna bands
  • Upgraded processor
  • Darker ‘Space Black’ color option
  • Two screen sizes

Is this enough to attract new customers and compel existing users to upgrade? We’ll see, but there have been several reports of considerable pent-up demand, including a report that Apple’s initial order for iPhone 7 inventory is 90-110 million units.

At least Apple thinks the iPhone 7 will be a huge hit. And, presumably, the company is doing everything in its power to make sure there are no exploding batteries or other serious defects.

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