T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Note 5 getting Android 7.0 Nougat

Still carrying around a Samsung Galaxy Note 5? It is technically the latest Note handset, so it only makes sense to give it its timely update. Multiple carrier versions of this phone have begun getting Android Nougat, but T-Mobile users are still left wondering when their devices will be ready for prime time.

We have good news: you won’t have to wait much longer! In fact, T-Mobile’s Des has taken it to Twitter to let us know the OTA update is approved and should start hitting smartphones “early next week”. This was posted on the 21st, which means the update is actually being released within the coming days.

“Gadget Guy” Des isn’t unveiling any specific details. We have no idea how large the update file will be or what it comes with, but we assume you can expect the same general features other Galaxy Note 5 devices have gotten from Nougat. This would include the new version of TouchWiz, improved multi-tasking, mini-conversations, improved battery management, a nicer keyboard and more.

Excited to have t he latest and greatest Android version? Sit back and relax until it arrives. And don’t forget to hit the comments to share your experiences once you get the update.

It’s still difficult to just buy a Google Pixel today, and that’s insane

For all of its great successes in the Pixel, Google still has one critical flaw to figure out.

April 20 marked the six-month anniversary of the Google Pixel going on sale in the Play Store. As was typical for a Google phone launch, they were tough to get ahold of — backorders reached weeks or even months, depending on what model you wanted. Now, six months later, Google inexplicably still can't keep Pixels in stock. Just head to the Play Store right now and see that most configuration combinations aren't available.

Even the models that you can click "buy" on — like a black 32GB Pixel or silver 128GB Pixel XL — won't ship for two to four weeks. Once again, this is a phone that has been on sale for six months and not once in the past 180+ days has the stock situation been any better. How is it that Google can get this so wrong? Part of it is expectations, but the blame mostly lies on Google's apparent inability to control its supply chain.

When it's tough to get a phone, you can always take the positive view that it is simply so popular that the company can't make enough. But let's not kid ourselves — you'd have to see a Pixel in every other person's hand on the street to believe that demand was high enough that it legitimately outpaced any company's ability to make the phones. The retail channel limitation of only being able to buy from the Google Store or Verizon — rather than seeding to the likes of Amazon and Best Buy — is alone enough to cut back on supply pressure. So really, the issue is how Google set expectations of the Pixel's availability, only to drastically underdeliver.

After years of Nexus devices with a variety of go-to-market strategies, the Pixels are clearly designed and advertised as phones for everyone in the market for a top-end phone. The way the phones were made, paired with huge spending on effective advertising, set the expectation amongst general consumers (read: not just smartphone nerds) that this would be a phone you could actually buy. At the same time, it seems Google internally still has a portion of its hardware team that sees the Pixels the same way as Nexuses of the past: make some phones, sell what we have and don't make it a priority to keep stock levels where they should be for a global product launch. Those two aspects don't mix, and it's a recipe for frustration for those who want to buy a Pixel.

Google led us to believe we could just buy a Pixel, but then it failed to deliver.

But there's a problem: those normal consumers that Google targets with its continuous Pixel ads don't wait around for a phone unless it says "Apple" or "Samsung" on the box. And even then, a significant portion of the buying public wants to walk into a store or visit a website and simply buy the latest phone available today — they don't want to sit around and wait three weeks for a phone to be in stock, then wait another two weeks for it to arrive. They need a phone now, and every time Google can't keep its Pixels in stock it's a lost sale from the exact market it targets.

For all of their flaws, the other Android manufacturers know how to manage a supply chain. Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola, HTC and heck, even OnePlus now, know how to make phones available around the world in massive quantities. They have in most cases each made the necessary deals and commitments to get the phones in thousands of physical stores as well, a dramatically taller task than simply stocking a couple of warehouses for online-only distribution.

I don't want to belittle the huge commitment of time, money and people required to manage the manufacturing, shipment and distribution of phones. But Google designed a phone for the general consumer and spent tens of millions advertising to that demographic, only to once again completely fail to make the devices available when those people went to buy. At some point, we just have to throw up our hands and wonder why it can't get this right when so many other companies have.

And now, let's cap off the week with a few other thoughts:

  • During my extremely amazing vacation, the rest of the team killed it with Galaxy S8 review coverage.
  • This is just the beginning, of course, as we'll continue to talk about the Galaxy S8 a lot for the next year.
  • I now have my black Galaxy S8 — making a conscious decision to choose the smaller model for ease of use understanding that the battery life takes a hit.
  • The official Twitter app rolled out a change to replace the Moments tab with a Search tab that includes search, topic exploration and Moments. This is a way better interface that makes that tab (which everyone has to see every day) useful for a far wider range of Twitter users.
  • Hard to believe we're only a few weeks away from Google I/O 2017 — it's going to be a blast, as usual.

That's all for now. Have a great week, everyone.

-Andrew

The Galaxy S8 is evidence of Samsung’s changing attitude to bloatware

Remember back when we all used to have a field day bashing Samsung bloatware? There was sooo much of it, you couldn’t disable or uninstall it, and most things duplicated stuff that Google already did perfectly well (and also pre-installed on Galaxy phones). But starting with the Galaxy S6, Samsung started to change its attitude toward bloatware, and the Galaxy S8 benefits greatly from the continuation of that tendency.

But more to the point, we benefit greatly. As much as we understand how lucrative these software deals can be to smartphone manufacturers, none of us really want bloatware clogging up our phones. In the past you could barely uninstall any, having to settle for disabling a few and making your peace with most, but times have changed.

See also:

Does bloatware drain your battery? – Gary explains

June 25, 2016

The 32 GB Galaxy S7 had 8 GB of storage taken up by its ROM and pre-loaded apps. The 64 GB Galaxy S8 in my hands – even without any carrier bloat – admittedly had 12 GB used by the time I peeled the plastic off. But even though I’ve already lost a large chunk of my internal storage to the system it doesn’t feel so bad because the apps that are on the S8 are largely removable.

Pre-loaded apps may not ultimately take up much space, but to have the ability to get rid of most of them almost makes you forget about the rest of the space you’ll never get to reclaim. Of course, pre-installed apps you don’t want, can’t remove and can’t disable are also a drain on your system resources, so any time you can uninstall or disable them, the better.

The Galaxy S8 has 37 pre-installed apps (at least on my unlocked international variant). The Galaxy S6 had 50 apps, not including carrier bloat. By my count there’s only a dozen I can’t uninstall or disable on the S8, and some of those are rather useful like the dialer.

You can still get rid of the few remaining apps Samsung won't already let you disable or uninstall.

Even for those of you suffering from extensive carrier bloat in the US, there are still steps you can take to get rid of the few remaining apps Samsung won’t already let you disable. You simply have to decide if ridding yourself of them is worth $1.50. If it is, you’ll also be able to remove future bloat on your next Galaxy phone. Not uninstall, sadly, but disable any and all apps you want to. And it doesn’t even require root.

You won’t get the storage space back, but you will block them from chewing system resources and you’ll no longer see them in your app drawer. All you need to do is fork out for an app called BK Package Disabler, which you can do via the button below. Install it, grant it the necessary permissions and swipe to the ‘Bloatware’ tab in the app.

Tap the check mark next to the apps you want disabled and that’s it (don’t just go crazy, look for the specific apps in the app drawer you want removed). You’ll no longer see them in your app drawer and they won’t be able to run in the background. If something breaks or you want the app back for some reason, simply relaunch the BK Package Disabler app and uncheck the box next to the apps you want resurrected.

While it’s unfortunate we still have to resort to paid apps to remove everything we want to on a phone that cost us an arm and a leg, the base situation has at least improved from years past. On my S8 I can uninstall or disable 25 apps straight out of the box, and pay $1.50 to disable the rest. That may not quite be ideal, but it sure is better than it once was.