Samsung’s Smart Glow luminous ring may make basic phones more interesting

Notification LEDs aren’t exactly Android smartphones’ most exciting accoutrement, but they’re undeniably useful — it’s a lot harder to ignore a blinking diode, after all, than an impermanent buzz or chime. Samsung apparently thinks so, too, and if leaked materials are any indication, it’s poised to go all in with LED tech: SamMobile reports that a ring-shaped notification array dubbed “Smart Glow” will debut on the smartphone maker’s upcoming Galaxy J2.

A leaked image has given us an early look at the Galaxy J2 — the J series are usually entry-level phones, so the rest of the spec will probably be quite basic — and what could be the Smart Glow around the rear camera lens. Interestingly, what looks like a flash unit sits alongside the camera lens and Smart Glow, suggesting it won’t replace it, at least on this model.

Samsung J2 Smart Glow

Smart Glow is said to be an illuminated ring of multicolor LEDs that border the lens of a smartphone’s rear-facing camera. It reportedly performs much the same function as other notification LEDs on the market: it lights up and shifts tints when you receive a social media alert, an e-mail message, or a call, or when the smartphone’s battery is low or in the process of charging. But Smart Glow is customizeable, too. You can associate “priority alerts” — color combinations and light patterns, essentially — with specific contacts and applications, and program usage alerts for “low battery, data, and storage.”

Smart Glow will serve another purpose, too: providing a burst of light in dimly lit environments for the purpose of taking selfies. According to SamMobile, the Smart Glow ring will automatically illuminate blue “when it detects [a] face,” and then trigger a pic.

This functionality may only be the start for Smart Glow, with a more recent report indicating the glowing ring may be even more useful. The blue selfie light may help selfie-takers position their face using direction alerts, different colors may give basic at-a-glance weather updates — yellow for sunny, blue for rain, for example — and even link up with the camera lens to provide heart rate monitoring.

Dutch website Galaxy Club reports that Smart Glow will make its first public debut on Samsung’s Galaxy J2, a budget handset bound for India later this year. The jury’s out on whether or not the luminous ring will make an appearance on the company’s future high-end smartphones, but it wouldn’t be out of the question — Samsung’s next flagship, the Galaxy Note 7, is rumored to launch on August 2 following the company’s Unpacked event in New York City.

Samsung is bucking the industry trend away from LED notification lights with Smart Glow. Recent Google Nexus devices support “ambient display,” a notification feature that lights up portions of supported smartphones’ OLED displays to show previews of incoming messages in a power-efficient way. Modern Motorola and LG devices sport similar functionality, and even Samsung is entertaining the notion: the company filed a patent application in February for an “Always On Display.”

Updated on 06/05/2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in a leaked picture of the Galaxy J2 with Smart Glow, and further possible features.

Product Review

Samsung's Galaxy S10 phones are its most refined yet. Be prepared to pay up

Samsung has unveiled its lineup for its most popular smartphones, and it includes the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. The two flagship phones boast hole-punch cameras, fingerprint sensors embedded in the display, and beefier batteries.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Google Pixel 3: Can Samsung beat the stock Android king?

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is here, offering modern specs, a beautifully high-resolution display, and an edge-to-edge design with a small cutout in the display for the front-facing camera. But can the phone take out the Google Pixel 3?

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.
Product Review

Packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a breeze

With an integrated spotlight, crystal-clear video, and color night vision, this device makes home security a cinch. Here's why we like the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired as a great choice for outdoor home security.

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.

Samsung’s wide range of Galaxy products means there’s something for everyone

Samsung launched a host of new products on February 20, with prices ranging from just $35, all the way up to nearly $2,000. This was not by chance, and the company believes it has something for everyone in 2019.

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.

Amazon drops a sweet deal on the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch for women

Unlike many other smartwatches geared toward women, the Kate Spade Scallop offers a more chic and minimalistic look. With this Amazon sale going on right now, you can get it for $109 off its retail price.

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.

The 5 best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…