72 hours with the Galaxy S10+: What I love and what I hate

My first impressions of the new flagship.

I’ve had a Galaxy S10+ in my hand and pocket since February 20. Picking it up shortly after Samsung’s bustling launch event in San Francisco, I slotted my personal SIM in it, furiously set up all of my accounts and apps, and got to using it full time.

The following 72 hours were the exact kind of scenario that’s extremely tough on phones. After rapidly setting things up on mobile data in a crowded city, I immediately started using it as a hotspot for my computer (to work on Galaxy S10 coverage!); and then jumped into camera testing while generally getting acquainted with the phone I had only spent about an hour with prior. The next day was packed with travel to get to Barcelona for MWC, and we hit the ground running immediately after arriving.

To say I put the Galaxy S10+ through its paces in my first three days would be an understatement. Here are my initial impressions from the first days using the phone, both good and bad.

See at Samsung

The camera is good — and the wide-angle lens is fun

Click images to view full size

Samsung is yet again talking a big game about AI and an NPU (Neural Processing Unit) providing new-and-improved photo quality on top of the same basic 12MP main and 12MP telephoto cameras. It certainly succeeds, although the level to which it has improved over the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 is questionable at this point.

Photos are really good. I’m just struggling to find the places where they’re appreciably better than the Note 9’s.

The photos I’ve taken are really good. I’m just struggling to find the places where they’re appreciably better than the great photos I’ve been taking with my Note 9 for the last few weeks. Samsung’s strengths are all still here: the camera is incredibly fast to capture in all situations, the dynamic range and colors are fantastic, and you always get a bright and usable photo in every situation. It feels like the GS10+ is adding a little extra juice to the HDR processing, and in some situations you’re getting something a bit better than what the Note 9 would’ve done, but the margins are slim. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a little disappointing when taken into the reality that the last generation was, in itself, not a huge upgrade from the year before.

That’s particularly the case in really low light photos, where the GS10+ is still clearly behind the Google Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro. You always get something usable in really dark scenes, but it’s downright incapable of producing the mind-blowing photos some of the competitors do — even with the new scene optimizer ostensibly switching to an extra-low-light mode when it detects the situation.

Click images to view larger

The ultra-wide lens provides a whole new dynamic; and a lot of fun.

Now here’s the real fun part: the new ultra-wide-angle lens. The 123° field of view tertiary camera is wonderful for two reasons: it provides a fun new shooting option that mirrors the human eye’s field of view, and like the LG V40 it comes with no trade-off because you still have the two main cameras. The wide-angle shooter provides a new tool to take interesting, eye-catching photos in a variety of scenarios. I loved shooting with wide-angle cameras on LG’s phones, and I fell right back into my old habit with the Galaxy S10+. The quality clearly isn’t quite on the level of the main shooter, with a narrower aperture and no stabilization, but it’s still darn good whenever you have decent lighting.

The whole Galaxy S10 series now uses this wide-angle camera, rather than the telephoto, in conjunction with the primary camera for Live Focus (portrait mode) effects, which means you don’t get an aggressive crop on the field of view when you use Live Focus. (I’ve played with Live Focus, but haven’t used it enough for a definitive take on how it’s changed from the last generation.) The fact that Samsung chose to keep the ultra-wide in the Galaxy S10e rather than the telephoto shows just how much the company feels the wide-angle is more of a differentiator than the telephoto at this point.

Getting used to the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Samsung’s move to an in-display fingerprint sensor is probably the only controversial move it made this year; and to be honest, the only controversial things Samsung has done in the last handful of years have all related to biometric security. I’ll lay it out simply: the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is better than the optical ones I’ve used (primarily, the OnePlus 6T), but it is not as fast, accurate or easy to use as a modern capacitive fingerprint sensor. That shouldn’t really come as any surprise, as capacitive sensors are really good now while the in-display sensors are still relatively new. But it’s worth noting.

The fingerprint sensor is absolutely a mixed bag — but it’s not going to sway a purchase decision one way or the other.

You get the added benefit of being able to unlock your phone while it’s sitting flat on a table or when you’re holding it loosely and can’t reach up where a rear sensor would be. But on the downside the sensor requires far more effort to find the “sweet spot” where you know it’ll unlock right away. Once you get he muscle memory down of knowing exactly where to put your thumb, it’s quite fast. But the time it takes to reject a bad press and then re-press is longer than it should be.

Near the end of writing this, an update was pushed to my phone (all reviewer’s phones, actually) to address some of the concerns raised about the fingerprint sensor. I’ve spent about a half day using it after the update and feel like it’s a bit quicker to recognize the finger, but it still suffers from the problems noted above regarding proper placement and the recognition area.

Samsung still has the best screen on a smartphone

The best smartphone display. It’s not even a competition.

It’s not even a competition. Before the Galaxy S10 hit the scene, the Note 9 was the screen champion; take that, and just make it a little better with no new compromises. It’s brighter, more colorful and downright amazing to view in direct sunlight. DisplayMate has already announced it’s tested the Galaxy S10 to have a peak brightness of 1200 nits, which just destroys the rest of the industry and is a killer feature everyone can appreciate. And you still get Samsung’s various options for tweaking color saturation and temperature to your desired levels.

When it comes to mobile displays, Samsung is just doing everything right. It’s tough to find a flaw with the screen when there’s nothing about any other phone’s screen that I prefer overall. Any phone over about $250 has a good enough display, but Samsung really takes the cake. Even comparably-priced phones from other companies don’t approach the heights Samsung sets.

I’m having troubles with accidental touches

This is an issue that I haven’t really dealt with on any other Galaxy phone, despite hearing plenty of complaints from others as soon as Samsung switched to the Infinity Display: I’m experiencing a high number of accidental palm touches on the sides of the phone. The most frequent instances have been while typing with one hand, reaching across to the opposite side … and my palm presses the P or Q key. But I’ve eve noticed it while typing with two hands, as well as while scrolling and holding the phone snugly in the hand.

The frame has gotten so thin, and the bezels are so small, it can be an annoyance.

The Galaxy S10+ has a metal frame that is so thin on the side, and the screen is still pretty tightly curved with even smaller bezels. It’s a recipe for extra accidental touches, because there just aren’t that many ways to hold the phone without touching the screen. I’ve double-checked that I have accidental touch rejection turned on in the software, and that I hadn’t triggered the increased sensitivity setting, but no luck.

I thought I was going crazy because I’ve been completely happy with this form factor in prior phones, up to the Note 9, but my suspicions were confirmed after speaking to several other reviewers with the phone. Perhaps the situation will be better on the smaller Galaxy S10, which I’m excited to use as I’d prefer a smaller version for ergonomic reasons. Here’s to hoping I can adjust my muscle memory a bit, as with the fingerprint sensor, to find a better way to use the phone.

Battery life is immense

Samsung upped the battery size on both the Galaxy S10 and S10+, while shipping a bigger battery in the S10e than was in the S9. And I have to say it’s absolutely amazing. I’m happy with the Galaxy S10+’s battery life even taking into account my use of the Note 9 up to this point. This phone just doesn’t want to die, no matter what you throw at it. Lots of tethering, camera use, screen on time and more — it doesn’t matter, it just lasts all day.

On an extremely long travel day, which is typically murder on a smartphone battery, I was particularly impressed by the S10+. Going from early in the morning, to and through the airport, on a long flight (sadly with little sleep) and the next airport and connecting flight, I went 18 hours before dipping under 10%. That’s with nearly 5 hours of screen-on time, hours of podcast listening, and always on display active the whole time. That is use that would have me charge up my Pixel 3 XL at least once and still be hitting the danger zone at the end.

This also gives me hope for the smaller Galaxy S10, and even the S10e, too. Not everyone is going to use their phone as hard as I have the last few days, and they’re going to be able to go through a day with a considerable amount of power left in the tank.

More to come

My full review of the Galaxy S10+ will arrive in due time, but for now this is a good compendium of initial thoughts. Feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like, and I’ll try to answer them directly or incorporate your biggest concerns into my review!

See at Samsung

72 hours with the Galaxy S10+: What I love and what I hate

My first impressions of the new flagship.

I’ve had a Galaxy S10+ in my hand and pocket since February 20. Picking it up shortly after Samsung’s bustling launch event in San Francisco, I slotted my personal SIM in it, furiously set up all of my accounts and apps, and got to using it full time.

The following 72 hours were the exact kind of scenario that’s extremely tough on phones. After rapidly setting things up on mobile data in a crowded city, I immediately started using it as a hotspot for my computer (to work on Galaxy S10 coverage!); and then jumped into camera testing while generally getting acquainted with the phone I had only spent about an hour with prior. The next day was packed with travel to get to Barcelona for MWC, and we hit the ground running immediately after arriving.

To say I put the Galaxy S10+ through its paces in my first three days would be an understatement. Here are my initial impressions from the first days using the phone, both good and bad.

See at Samsung

The camera is good — and the wide-angle lens is fun

Click images to view full size

Samsung is yet again talking a big game about AI and an NPU (Neural Processing Unit) providing new-and-improved photo quality on top of the same basic 12MP main and 12MP telephoto cameras. It certainly succeeds, although the level to which it has improved over the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 is questionable at this point.

Photos are really good. I’m just struggling to find the places where they’re appreciably better than the Note 9’s.

The photos I’ve taken are really good. I’m just struggling to find the places where they’re appreciably better than the great photos I’ve been taking with my Note 9 for the last few weeks. Samsung’s strengths are all still here: the camera is incredibly fast to capture in all situations, the dynamic range and colors are fantastic, and you always get a bright and usable photo in every situation. It feels like the GS10+ is adding a little extra juice to the HDR processing, and in some situations you’re getting something a bit better than what the Note 9 would’ve done, but the margins are slim. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a little disappointing when taken into the reality that the last generation was, in itself, not a huge upgrade from the year before.

That’s particularly the case in really low light photos, where the GS10+ is still clearly behind the Google Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro. You always get something usable in really dark scenes, but it’s downright incapable of producing the mind-blowing photos some of the competitors do — even with the new scene optimizer ostensibly switching to an extra-low-light mode when it detects the situation.

Click images to view larger

The ultra-wide lens provides a whole new dynamic; and a lot of fun.

Now here’s the real fun part: the new ultra-wide-angle lens. The 123° field of view tertiary camera is wonderful for two reasons: it provides a fun new shooting option that mirrors the human eye’s field of view, and like the LG V40 it comes with no trade-off because you still have the two main cameras. The wide-angle shooter provides a new tool to take interesting, eye-catching photos in a variety of scenarios. I loved shooting with wide-angle cameras on LG’s phones, and I fell right back into my old habit with the Galaxy S10+. The quality clearly isn’t quite on the level of the main shooter, with a narrower aperture and no stabilization, but it’s still darn good whenever you have decent lighting.

The whole Galaxy S10 series now uses this wide-angle camera, rather than the telephoto, in conjunction with the primary camera for Live Focus (portrait mode) effects, which means you don’t get an aggressive crop on the field of view when you use Live Focus. (I’ve played with Live Focus, but haven’t used it enough for a definitive take on how it’s changed from the last generation.) The fact that Samsung chose to keep the ultra-wide in the Galaxy S10e rather than the telephoto shows just how much the company feels the wide-angle is more of a differentiator than the telephoto at this point.

Getting used to the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Samsung’s move to an in-display fingerprint sensor is probably the only controversial move it made this year; and to be honest, the only controversial things Samsung has done in the last handful of years have all related to biometric security. I’ll lay it out simply: the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is better than the optical ones I’ve used (primarily, the OnePlus 6T), but it is not as fast, accurate or easy to use as a modern capacitive fingerprint sensor. That shouldn’t really come as any surprise, as capacitive sensors are really good now while the in-display sensors are still relatively new. But it’s worth noting.

The fingerprint sensor is absolutely a mixed bag — but it’s not going to sway a purchase decision one way or the other.

You get the added benefit of being able to unlock your phone while it’s sitting flat on a table or when you’re holding it loosely and can’t reach up where a rear sensor would be. But on the downside the sensor requires far more effort to find the “sweet spot” where you know it’ll unlock right away. Once you get he muscle memory down of knowing exactly where to put your thumb, it’s quite fast. But the time it takes to reject a bad press and then re-press is longer than it should be.

Near the end of writing this, an update was pushed to my phone (all reviewer’s phones, actually) to address some of the concerns raised about the fingerprint sensor. I’ve spent about a half day using it after the update and feel like it’s a bit quicker to recognize the finger, but it still suffers from the problems noted above regarding proper placement and the recognition area.

Samsung still has the best screen on a smartphone

The best smartphone display. It’s not even a competition.

It’s not even a competition. Before the Galaxy S10 hit the scene, the Note 9 was the screen champion; take that, and just make it a little better with no new compromises. It’s brighter, more colorful and downright amazing to view in direct sunlight. DisplayMate has already announced it’s tested the Galaxy S10 to have a peak brightness of 1200 nits, which just destroys the rest of the industry and is a killer feature everyone can appreciate. And you still get Samsung’s various options for tweaking color saturation and temperature to your desired levels.

When it comes to mobile displays, Samsung is just doing everything right. It’s tough to find a flaw with the screen when there’s nothing about any other phone’s screen that I prefer overall. Any phone over about $250 has a good enough display, but Samsung really takes the cake. Even comparably-priced phones from other companies don’t approach the heights Samsung sets.

I’m having troubles with accidental touches

This is an issue that I haven’t really dealt with on any other Galaxy phone, despite hearing plenty of complaints from others as soon as Samsung switched to the Infinity Display: I’m experiencing a high number of accidental palm touches on the sides of the phone. The most frequent instances have been while typing with one hand, reaching across to the opposite side … and my palm presses the P or Q key. But I’ve eve noticed it while typing with two hands, as well as while scrolling and holding the phone snugly in the hand.

The frame has gotten so thin, and the bezels are so small, it can be an annoyance.

The Galaxy S10+ has a metal frame that is so thin on the side, and the screen is still pretty tightly curved with even smaller bezels. It’s a recipe for extra accidental touches, because there just aren’t that many ways to hold the phone without touching the screen. I’ve double-checked that I have accidental touch rejection turned on in the software, and that I hadn’t triggered the increased sensitivity setting, but no luck.

I thought I was going crazy because I’ve been completely happy with this form factor in prior phones, up to the Note 9, but my suspicions were confirmed after speaking to several other reviewers with the phone. Perhaps the situation will be better on the smaller Galaxy S10, which I’m excited to use as I’d prefer a smaller version for ergonomic reasons. Here’s to hoping I can adjust my muscle memory a bit, as with the fingerprint sensor, to find a better way to use the phone.

Battery life is immense

Samsung upped the battery size on both the Galaxy S10 and S10+, while shipping a bigger battery in the S10e than was in the S9. And I have to say it’s absolutely amazing. I’m happy with the Galaxy S10+’s battery life even taking into account my use of the Note 9 up to this point. This phone just doesn’t want to die, no matter what you throw at it. Lots of tethering, camera use, screen on time and more — it doesn’t matter, it just lasts all day.

On an extremely long travel day, which is typically murder on a smartphone battery, I was particularly impressed by the S10+. Going from early in the morning, to and through the airport, on a long flight (sadly with little sleep) and the next airport and connecting flight, I went 18 hours before dipping under 10%. That’s with nearly 5 hours of screen-on time, hours of podcast listening, and always on display active the whole time. That is use that would have me charge up my Pixel 3 XL at least once and still be hitting the danger zone at the end.

This also gives me hope for the smaller Galaxy S10, and even the S10e, too. Not everyone is going to use their phone as hard as I have the last few days, and they’re going to be able to go through a day with a considerable amount of power left in the tank.

More to come

My full review of the Galaxy S10+ will arrive in due time, but for now this is a good compendium of initial thoughts. Feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like, and I’ll try to answer them directly or incorporate your biggest concerns into my review!

See at Samsung

Physical Google Assistant buttons are coming to more phones along with new features

LG G8 ThinQ V40 ThinQ

Over the last year, LG has introduced a handful of phones that feature dedicated Google Assistant buttons. Google is now working with several smartphone manufacturers to bring the physical Assistant button to more handsets.

At MWC 2019, Google announced that the Assistant button is coming to LG’s and Nokia’s entire lineup of upcoming smartphones. This list of devices includes the LG G8 ThinQ, LG K40LG K50, LG Q60, Nokia 3.2, and Nokia 4.2.

Editor’s Pick

Google has also partnered with Xiaomi, TCL, and Vivo to bring the Assistant key to its phones. We should expect the button to be available on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Mi 9, Vivo V15 Pro, and more.

The search giant states that it expects over 100 million new devices to be released with a physical Assistant button. Maybe this means there’ll be an Assistant button on the Pixel 4 series?

New Google Assistant button features

Google Assistant logo.

When you press the AI button on the LG G7, it launches Google Assistant just as if you long-pressed on the Home button. But going forward, the physical Assistant button will have some new functionality.

First, Google is adding a double tap feature. When you double press the button, the Assistant will launch a new visual interface. Google states that the screen will display curated information that is based on previous Assistant interactions, the time of day, and the user’s current location.

An example of the visual snapshot can be seen below.

Google Assistant Visual Snapshot

Secondly, the Assistant will launch a walkie talkie mode when the button is long pressed. For the entire duration that the button is held down, the Assistant will continue to listen to queries. As Google states, this feature will be most useful when dictating long text messages or emails.

What do you think about dedicated Google Assistant buttons? Do you want your next smartphone to have one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

LG V50 ThinQ 5G: Price, release date, and availability

The newly announced LG V50 ThinQ 5G is basically a souped-up version of last fall’s LG V40, complete with the same design and much of the same hardware. However, the LG V50 adds the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and, more importantly, it will be LG’s first 5G phone.

Don’t miss: LG V50 hands-on | LG’s V-series will be exclusively 5G going forward

What’s the LG V50’s price, when will it be released, and when can you buy it? We’ve rounded up all the LG V50 availability details we could find.

LG V50 price

Unfortunately, we don’t have a specific price tag for the LG V50 at this time. The phone’s predecessor, the LG V40, launched last fall for the price of $899, but that also wasn’t a 5G-compatible phone. The price of the LG V50 could be well north of $1,000, but that’s just speculation for now.

That north-of-$1,000 price point may only be for the unlocked model though, if an unlocked model is even available for purchase. It’s also possible carriers will set their own price points for the LG V50.

LG V50 release date and availability

The LG V50 might be here before the end of June 2019, though we don’t have an exact date. It all depends on when 5G networks actually start rolling out.

The LG V50 will be available first in the U.S. on Sprint, where the phone will use the carrier’s 2.5GHz spectrum. In addition, Verizon has confirmed that it will also sell a version of the LG V50, which will work on its Ultra Wideband network. Verizon will launch its mobile 5G network in as many as 30 U.S. cities later this summer.


Have any other LG V50 price or availability details? Send us a tip! And be sure to check out more LG V50 coverage below:

LG G8 ThinQ: Where to buy, when, and for how much

LG formally revealed the LG G8 ThinQ at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. As expected, the device is a specs powerhouse rivaling other new flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S10. However, it also features a design that’s very similar to last year’s LG G7 ThinQ, which could be either a bad or good thing depending on your preference.

If you want to grab an LG G8 ThinQ for yourself, we have information below on the price, availability, and release dates for various countries.

Want to learn more about the LG G8 ThinQ? Scroll to the bottom for links to our additional coverage, such as specs sheets, hands-on reviews, and more.

LG G8 ThinQ release date

LG G8 ThinQ

LG officially revealed the LG G8 ThinQ on February 24, 2019. The device will launch unlocked as well as on various carriers at different times throughout the next few weeks.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately, LG didn’t divulge exactly when we will be able to get the device. We expect LG will make a formal announcement either by the end of Mobile World Congress or shortly thereafter. Since the G7 ThinQ was released in May of last year, we can’t even use the previous device to speculate when the G8 will hit stores.

As an interesting side note, LG told us it is also launching a variant of the LG G8 with three rear cameras in some markets (as seen above, the standard G8 has two rear cameras). We also don’t have any availability information for this device, but we do have the specs and know it will get a release at some point. It’ll come with the same cameras as the LG V50 ThinQ 5G: 16MP ultra-wide, 12MP wide, and 12MP telephoto lenses.

LG G8 ThinQ price and availability — U.S.

LG G8 ThinQ

Once LG makes a formal announcement of when we can buy the LG G8 ThinQ, you will be able to do so directly from the company at LG.com. Usually, LG also sells unlocked versions of its devices at major American retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, B&H Photo, and more.

The LG G8 will also likely be available from all four major wireless carriers in the United States. It certainly is coming to T-Mobile, which has already announced its intention to carry the device — although without pricing or a release date.

There is a slim possibility that AT&T will not carry the LG G8 as it did not carry the LG G7 (opting for the LG V35 ThinQ instead). However, there’s no evidence to suggest that will be the case this time around.

Either way, pricing and availability for each carrier, unfortunately, are not yet known. We expect carriers will launch the device right around the same time as the unlocked version hits stores.

LG G8 ThinQ price and availability — Global

LG G8 ThinQ

It’s possible that the LG G8 ThinQ will hit store shelves in the company’s native South Korea before it lands anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, though, LG hasn’t divulged any information about global release details, so it very well could be that the U.S. will see the device first (or any country, really). At this point, we simply have to wait until LG makes the information public.

LG G8 ThinQ additional coverage

Foldable Huawei Mate X proves Samsung’s market lead is not assured

While 2018 brought us brief glimpses of the first commercial foldable phones, 2019 is shaping up to be the year the foldable war truly begins. On the heels of the Galaxy Fold, Huawei has now announced its own attempt at a foldable phone with the Huawei Mate X.

Regardless of which design style you prefer, the significance of the Mate X can’t be understated. Let’s dive into the reason why.

Samsung’s long legacy of foldable research

For years Samsung (and to a lesser extent LG) has been the king of foldable concepts and prototypes. One of the earliest examples of this is the Samsung Youm ad from 2013. That’s just one example, as Samsung has teased the dawn of foldables time and time again.

Samsung obviously sees tremendous potential in foldable technology and have invested significant time into R&D. Last month Hark-sang Kim, a senior vice president at Samsung Mobile, said it took the company seven years to perfect foldable technology and the user experience.

Just four days ago Samsung finally fully unveiled the culmination of this research, the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Now, comparatively out of nowhere, Huawei has arrived on scene with the Mate X and stolen some of Samsung’s thunder.

Huawei has grown significantly from its humble beginnings

Huawei has been in the Android game since 2009 with U8220, but let’s just say it’s beginnings were modest. Huawei really didn’t start to gain any traction until the Ascend and Ascend Mate series (which essentially became the P and Mate series).

Needless to say, they’ve come a long way since the early days. With every successive iteration Huawei has continued to refine its hardware and evolved from merely copying the competition to actually keeping pace.

Huawei has evolved into a tech innovator ready to play with the big boys

In 2017 we declared the Mate 10 the best Android smartphone of the year, and last year’s Mate 20 came in second bested only by Samsung. It’s been clear for a while that Huawei is on the rise. How Huawei got here is certainly a matter of debate, and it’s no secret that it’s had a fair share of scandals and claims of outright theft along the way. Still, here we are now at MWC 2019 and Huawei has shown it’s not only ready with its own foldable, but it has also actually managed to design a product that in some ways is arguably better than Samsung’s solution.

Samsung Fold vs Huawei Mate X: two very different approaches

While we won’t go into a full versus here, let’s just say the strategies used by the two companies are quite the opposite.

The Galaxy Fold has two different displays. When in phone form, there’s a small 4.6-inch display with a somewhat odd 21:9 aspect ratio on the front of the device. When you want more screen real estate you open the phone like a book and there’s a 7.3-inch flexible display (with a fairly sizable notch) awaiting you. The whole design is a tad on the chunky side, though that’s far from a deal breaker.

I assume Samsung used this design at least partially because it felt this would better protect the display. This is understandable because foldable displays are expensive and potentially a bit more fragile than traditional displays. The biggest issue I have with this design is that a 4.6-inch screen is just too damn small by today’s standards. In a world where most smartphones are 5.5-inches or wider, going back to 4.6-inches is going to feel pretty jarring and the reality is that when you’re on the go — that’s the screen you are likely going to use.

Huawei Mate X tablet mode on table

In contrast, Huawei’s foldable feels a bit more polished. The Mate X folds in half giving you a display on the front and back. When you need more space, you simply unfold the device into a tablet. This design means you get a much larger 6.6-inch display when using the foldable as a phone, and a slightly bigger 8-inch display when it is unfolded as a tablet. It’s also quite a bit thinner and actually folds flat.

We have to address the elephant in the room: the Mate X is extraordinarily expensive at $2600 — a whopping $600 more expensive than the already very expensive Galaxy Fold. From the demos we’ve seen, Samsung’s software also seems more polished than Hauwei’s, which isn’t too surprising given Huawei’s history.

Things are just getting interesting

Both the Fold and the Mate X have their pros and cons. It’s really hard to say which is better, especially until we get meaningful hands-on time with the two foldables. The Mate X looks pretty enticing, but we all know looks can be deceiving and true day-to-day performance will be the real decider. Still, shots have been fired by Huawei. Samsung isn’t alone in the foldable war and their market lead is now seriously called into question. It’s only going to get more aggressive as more players like LG and even less likely candidates like TCL come out of the woodwork. 

Bottom-line, we are in very early days for foldables, and pretty much anyone can end up winning the crown long-term. First-gen foldables are going to be very limited in reach, and clearly very expensive. I also feel none of the foldables we’ve seen have a true game-changing use case just yet and until someone cracks that code, this could still be anyone’s game.

A Safe Bet [#acpodcast]

A septet of tech journalists have joined forces to share their thoughts on Samsung’s Galaxy S10 phones in this live episode from Barcelona. On the eve of Mobile World Congress, Daniel Bader, Nirave Gondhia, Derek Kessler, Alex Dobie, Hayato Huseman, Michael Fisher, and Andrew Martonik look at the pros and cons of each model. Pre-orders have already begun, but take a listen and keep your eyes open for our MWC coverage so you can pick the one that’s best for you!

Listen now

  • Subscribe in Google Play Music: Audio
  • Subscribe in iTunes: Audio
  • Subscribe in RSS: Audio
  • Download directly: Audio

Show Notes and Links:

Sponsors:

  • Joybird: One-of-a-kind furniture made to your unique taste. Go to joybird.com/ACP and receive an exclusive offer for 25% off your first order by using the code ACP.
  • Wix Creation without limits. Visit wix.com/podcast and get 10% Off Your Wix Premium Plan — enter the code WIXPROMO at checkout.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Which is right for you?

The T-Mobile logo at MWC 2018.

Google Fi — which started out as Project Fi — is an online-only wireless carrier. The big selling point of Google Fi is that you only pay for the data you use, and that the data amount can fluctuate from month-to-month. Like other services from Google, it offers a different approach to an established paradigm — in this case, wireless service.

On the other hand, T-Mobile‘s service is a little more generic. There are physical shops you can visit and you pay a flat fee for unlimited data, which might result in you paying more money than you need for data you’re not using.

Depending on your situation, the Google Fi vs T-Mobile question might be easy to answer. However, if you don’t know much about either service or are currently a subscriber to one with little knowledge of the other, we’re here to help you settle the Google Fi vs T-Mobile debate once and for all!

Let’s talk about each aspect of the two services and see which one works better for you.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Talk and text

Gboard on the Pixel 2XL.

As with most carriers these days, both T-Mobile and Google Fi offer unlimited talk and text when you are in the United States calling or texting someone who also lives in the United States. This unlimited voice/text package is incorporated into nearly every T-Mobile plan and is part of the $20 base fee for Google Fi.

T-Mobile also offers unlimited free calls and texts to and from Canada and Mexico, while Google Fi only offers free texting to countries outside of the United States. Calls to and from both Canada and Mexico will be subject to a $0.20-per-minute rate on Google Fi.

There will be more info on international Google Fi and T-Mobile services a bit further down!

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Data

best video chat apps for android

Our smartphone usage gets more and more data-heavy with every passing year, so how much data you are allowed to use on your wireless plan is of the utmost importance!

T-Mobile keeps things relatively simple: for a flat fee every month, you can use as much 4G LTE data as you wish. That flat fee varies depending on which plan you decide to go with. The basic plan — T-Mobile One — costs $75 per month, with all taxes and fees included in that price. There are more expensive plans (like T-Mobile One Plus) and a few cheaper ones, too (such as T-Mobile Essentials). However, no matter which plan you choose your data will be unlimited.

Editor’s Pick

Google Fi takes an “a la carte” approach to mobile service, charging you $10 for every gigabyte of data you use, and prorating that charge by $1 increments. For example, if you use 1.9GB of data in a month, you’ll be charged $19 for that data.

If you’re a heavy data user, don’t worry: with Google Fi, charges are capped at 6GB of monthly data for people with just one line. For example, if you use 7.6GB of data one month, you will be charged $60 — not $76 — because $60 is as high as the charges can go.

As we use more and more data, we need a plan that can accommodate that consumption. But we also don’t want to pay more than we must.

Remember though that data charges with Google Fi are on top of the $20 base level fee for talk and text. With that factored in, the most you’ll pay for talk, text, and data on Google Fi is $80, assuming you don’t have any additional international charges. Google Fi also will charge taxes and fees on top of this $80.

The essential takeaway here is that if you use a lot of data, T-Mobile offers you all the data you could want at a flat rate of $75 per month, taxes and fees included. Google Fi, however, will charge $80 for unlimited data with additional taxes and fees, clearly making T-Mobile the better option when it comes to data.

If you are not a big data user, then Google Fi is likely the better option, as you’ll only pay for the data you use. For example, if you use less than 2GB of data in any given month, your Google Fi bill could be half of what you’d pay with T-Mobile.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Throttling

Galaxy-S6-Speedtest-1

There’s more to the story here when it comes to so-called “unlimited” data. Both T-Mobile and Google Fi will throttle your data service if you use more than what each company considers an appropriate amount. “Throttling” means your service is still active — i.e., you can still access the internet using your mobile data — but your experience will be quite slow.

With T-Mobile, your service might get throttled after 50GB of use in one month, while Google Fi could start throttling you after only 15GB of use.

This shows once again that if you are a heavy data user, T-Mobile is the better option. If you often find yourself going over 15GB of data per month, you’re going to have a bad time on Google Fi.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Service

A map of T-Mobile coverage in North America as of February 2019. T-Mobile

Believe it or not, Google Fi’s primary network is exactly the same as T-Mobile’s. That’s because Google Fi is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning that it doesn’t own its own network towers or spectrum. Instead, it buys network access from T-Mobile and then sells that to consumers for a profit.

In other words, a coverage map of T-Mobile’s network and a coverage map of Google Fi’s will look the same.

However, there is one crucial difference when it comes to Google Fi, which is that it also buys wireless spectrum from other carriers, including Sprint. This means that if you are in an area where T-Mobile service is spotty, but Sprint service is good, Google Fi will connect you to a Sprint tower instead at no additional charge — and without you even knowing. This is something T-Mobile does not offer.

Unless you use a Google Fi-certified device, Google Fi’s service map is exactly the same as T-Mobile’s.

Unfortunately, this ability to switch back and forth from one network to another is not compatible with all Android phones. Instead, this feature is only available to “phones designed for Fi,” and that list is quite small.

To be clear, if you do not own a phone designed for Google Fi, you will only have access to T-Mobile towers, making Google Fi and T-Mobile network service exactly the same.

Consult the next section for more on devices.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Devices

T-Mobile is a GSM network. You can read more about what that means here, but the general gist is that its service is based on a globally-recognized technology. As such, you can buy a phone from pretty much any source and it will likely work on T-Mobile.

Editor’s Pick

The only thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that some international phones won’t be able to access 4G LTE speeds on T-Mobile’s network. However, this isn’t something you have to worry about if you’re buying your device in the United States.

If you don’t want to bring your own device to T-Mobile, you can visit a T-Mobile store and buy a phone directly from the carrier. You can also buy phones online from T-Mobile.com.

Google Fi is more complicated. As mentioned in the previous section, to take full advantage of Google Fi’s network-switching capabilities, you’ll need to own or buy a phone designed for Fi. As of today, the entire list of supported phones is here:

If your device is not on that list, you won’t have the ability to switch between networks on Google Fi. You will be using T-Mobile towers exclusively, almost as if you were a T-Mobile customer.

If you don’t want to use one of those phones, you can consult this list to see the full range of devices that work on Google Fi. There are phones from Samsung, Huawei, HTC, OnePlus, and even Apple on the list. However, they won’t be designed for Fi and won’t get to seamlessly switch networks.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Group/family plans

Both T-Mobile and Google Fi encourage you to add more lines to your account to take advantage of discounts. The more accounts you add, the more you can potentially save.

For the T-Mobile One plan, your first line is $75. Your second line is $55, and your third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth line will be $25 each. For a family of four, you’d pay $180 per month, or $45 per line if you split it evenly.

Keep in mind those prices reflect paying your bill manually rather than using autopay. If you use autopay, your bill is lower (see Billing section below).

Editor’s Pick

As with a single-line T-Mobile plan, a family plan gets unlimited text, talk, and 4G LTE data. However, keep in mind that data throttling could begin if your collective data usage goes above 50GB. In other words, each line’s data is combined and then compared to the 50GB limit — it’s not 50GB per line.

With Google Fi family plans, the company sticks with its a la carte approach to data. Each line you add is an additional $15 on top of the $20 base, and then your data charges amount to $10 for every GB of usage.

However, the limit for how much data you can use before billing caps out goes up with each new line. For one line, this is 6GB (as described in the Data section above). For two lines, that limit goes up to 10GB and up to 12GB for three lines, and so on. In other words, how much data your family uses on Google Fi makes a huge difference for your bill.

Once again, if your family uses a lot of data, Google Fi will likely be much more expensive than T-Mobile.

For example, if your family of four uses a collective 20GB of data every month on T-Mobile, your monthly bill will be $180 (without autopay). If that same family uses 20GB collectively on Google Fi, the monthly bill will be $205 plus taxes and fees ($20 base + $45 for three lines + $140 for over 14GB of data). If your family of four uses 10GB collectively over one month, your Google Fi bill will be $165 — less than T-Mobile. However, that Google Fi price doesn’t include taxes and fees and using autopay on T-Mobile will make your bill much cheaper.

The ultimate takeaway here is, once again, that Google Fi’s service becomes more expensive than T-Mobile if you use a lot of data. Only frugal data users will see a financial benefit to Google Fi.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: International service

International service on a United States carrier used to be a nightmare. Nowadays though, things are a lot more straightforward and service is a lot cheaper.

On the T-Mobile One plan, you can use wireless data and send text messages as much as you like at no additional charge in over 200 countries. However, that data will be very slow, capped at 128KBps. At that speed, it would take about six minutes to download one 5MB file, such as an MP3 or a large PDF.

The T-Mobile One Plus plan doubles those international speeds to 256KBps, which is better but still much slower than the speeds you’ll likely be used to in the U.S.

Google Fi offers the same free international texting as T-Mobile but handles international data roaming a bit differently. Instead of capping your use at any one speed, your data speed varies depending on where you are. For example, your speeds in a place like London might be just as fast as the LTE speeds you enjoy at home, while the speed on a small island like Corsica might be more in line with the 128KBps speeds T-Mobile One subscribers will see.

Frequent international travelers will likely love Google Fi’s speeds when in faraway countries.

Regardless of speed, international data costs the same as domestic data on Google Fi: $10 per gigabyte.

If you are using a non-Fi device (see the Devices section above), you may or may not see the same speeds internationally as a Fi-certified device. It varies.

As for phone calls, both T-Mobile and Google Fi will charge you for calling either to or from international destinations. The rates can vary, but $0.20 per minute is the average charge. As mentioned before, T-Mobile will not charge you for calls to or from Canada and Mexico, while Google Fi will.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Additional perks

T-Mobile LiveNation partnership

Both T-Mobile and Google Fi offer perks in addition to your regular service.

All T-Mobile One customers get access to T-Mobile Tuesdays, an app that gives you free and discounted stuff every Tuesday (naturally). The free stuff can vary from incredibly cool (like a free subscription to Pandora Plus for a year or a free taco from Taco Bell every week) to incredibly lame (a free drink with purchase of a full meal at a restaurant, for example). The app also offers discounts on devices, free T-Mobile swag, and the ability to enter giveaway contests.

Additionally, any group T-Mobile plan with two lines or more gets access to free Netflix. T-Mobile calls this Netflix On Us, and it effectively subsidizes your Netflix subscription. The base Netflix plan is free, and higher-end Netflix plans get discounted. You can read more about how it works here.

Editor’s Pick

T-Mobile One also offers free in-flight data and texting if your flight supports Gogo and free unlimited mobile hotspot tethering at 3G speeds. For T-Mobile One Plus plans, you get 20GB of 4G LTE hotspot data.

Google Fi has a few perks as well. The biggest is that, if you’re using a phone designed for Fi, your service will not only automatically switch between carriers but also automatically switch to millions of secure Wi-Fi hotspots. This helps save you data, as your Wi-Fi use doesn’t count towards your data charges.

Google Fi also offers free data-only SIM cards to use your data on additional devices. This is helpful if you want the benefits of Google Fi but don’t want to switch your phones. You could, theoretically, buy a Motorola Moto X4 (the cheapest Google Fi-certified device) and make it into a mobile hotspot using the data-only SIM card. Connect your main phone to the Moto X4 and you’ll essentially have the benefit of Google Fi network switching on your phone that isn’t Fi-certified.

Both Google Fi and T-Mobile offer 24/7 customer support, connecting you with a human quickly.

Google Fi vs T-Mobile: Billing

T-Mobile offers many different ways to pay your bill. You can sign up for autopay which automatically withdraws cash from your connected bank account or credit card on the bill date. If you use this service, T-Mobile cuts down the price of your wireless service by $5 for each line. For example, the $75 T-Mobile One plan goes down to $70 for one account if you use autopay. A family of four would pay $180 each month without autopay, but only pay $160 per month with it.

If for some reason you don’t want to save money using autopay, you can agree to pay your bill manually. You can do this online, over the phone, or even walk into a T-Mobile store and pay there.

Google Fi only offers one option: autopay. You cannot pay your bill manually online or over the phone. The only time a manual charge would be possible is if there were something wrong with your automatic payment and you had to rectify that situation with a manual charge. There is no discount for using autopay since it’s the only option.

Final verdict: Google Fi vs T-Mobile

Google Fi

Ultimately, T-Mobile will be the better service for the majority of users, especially if you are signing up for a family plan or use a lot of data.

Users who fall into some specific categories, however, will find Google Fi can save them a ton of cash in the long run. These users do not have a family plan, own or are willing to buy a Google Fi-certified device, and are willing to curb their data usage as much as possible to keep their bill low.

Additionally, users who do a lot of international travel might find Google Fi to be better for them due to better data speeds.

Check out the table below for a quick synopsis of our Google Fi vs T-Mobile comparison:

  T-Mobile One (with autopay) Google Fi
Talk and Text $70 for first line
$50 for second line
$20 each for lines 3-8
$20 for first line
$15 for each additional line
Data Unlimited 4G LTE $10 per GB of 4G LTE
No extra charge if you go over 6GB
Throttling Over 50GB in one month Over 15GB in one month
Service T-Mobile network only T-Mobile network only
(Additional networks with certain devices)
Devices Most domestic GSM devices Most domestic GSM devices
Small list of Fi-certified devices enhance experience
Family Plans 2 lines, 25GB/each — $120
3 lines, 16GB/each — $140
4 lines, 12GB/each — $160
(Based on 50GB throttle limit)
2 lines, 3GB/each — $95
2 lines, 15GB total — $135
3 lines, 3GB/each — $140
3 lines, 15GB total — $170
4 lines, 3GB/each — $185
4 lines, 15GB total — $205
International 200+ countries
Free texting everywhere
Free calls to/from Canada and Mexico
Average of $0.20/min. for other calls
Data speeds capped at 128KBps
All data free with plan
200+ countries
Free texting everywhere
Average of $0.20/min. for all calls outside US
Data speeds vary by location
Data costs same as domestic ($10/GB)
Perks T-Mobile Tuesdays
Netflix On Us
Free Gogo in-flight data/text
Unlimited hotspot at 3G speeds
24/7 customer support
Access to free Wi-Fi (with certified devices only)
Free additional data-only SIM
Hotspot at 4G LTE speeds ($10/GB)
24/7 customer support
Billing Autopay
Manual pay online, over phone, in-store
Autopay only
Taxes & Fees Included in prices Not included in prices

Where do you fall on the Google Fi vs T-Mobile debate? Do you currently subscribe to either service? Are you going to stay or does this article make you think you should switch? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: Here are the best T-Mobile deals and offers right now

Sample photo shows off what the Nokia 9 PureView’s camera chops might be capable of

91Mobiles/OnLeaks

Just a day ahead of the Nokia 9 PureView launch, HMD Global head of social media and digital engagement Edoardo Cassina shared a picture presumably taken with the unannounced phone on Instagram.

According to Cassina, professional photographer Konsta Punkka took the picture in Scotland. Cassina didn’t say which Nokia phone took the image, though we can safely assume it was the Nokia 9 PureView due to the timing of the upload and the amount of detail in the photo. HMD Global chief product officer Juho Sarvikas re-shared the picture on Twitter.

Taking a look at the picture itself, it’s easy to get excited over what the Nokia 9 PureView’s rumored five cameras are capable of. Even though the sun is peeking above the mountains in the background, the sky isn’t completely blown out. More impressive is how much detail the shadows exhibit, which lets you better see the rock formation in the middle.

Editor’s Pick

Then again, you can argue that the photo’s hyper-realism gives it an unnatural and artificial feeling. Also keep in mind that Punkka supposedly edited the photo on the phone, though to what extent is unclear. Lastly, neither Cassina or Sarvikas shared a link to the original photo — we only have the compressed image on Instagram to work with.

Regardless, the dynamic range in the photo looks very impressive and will at least give shutterbugs a good foundation to work from.

HMD Global will hold its MWC 2019 press event tomorrow, February 24. The company is expected to officially announce the Nokia 9 PureView during the event.

Deal: Bluetooth 5 true wireless AirPod alternatives for just $26.99

Spunky Buds True Wireless Bluetooth 5 Earbuds

True wireless earbuds are all the rage, and adding the enhanced connectivity of Bluetooth 5.0 makes for a winning combination. If you see the two together, you usually expect a three-figure price tag to follow.

The Tronsmart Spunky Buds may have a smirk-inducing name, but they offer this perfect combo, and boast fantastic reviews across the web. The best part is that, right now, they can be yours for well under $30.

The Spunky Buds are packed with handy features. An IPX5 water resistance ensures sweat or rain doesn’t interfere with your listening experience, a quick double-tap can activate Siri or Google Assistant, and the charging case makes them more ideal for all-day use. That’s just for starters.

Spunky Buds features:

  • Bluetooth 5.0 – The latest connectivity option offers a more stable connection and better range.
  • IPX5 water-resistant – This makes them splash-proof for undisturbed enjoyment.
  • Hi-Fi stereo sound – The buds are engineered to produce high fidelity audio, letting you experience your favorite music on-the-go as never before. 
  • Ergonomic design – They offer a secure and comfortable fit, with a range of bud sizes included to suit your ear.
  • Intuitive gesture controls – You can use the intuitive touch control to play, pause, skip track, take, end and reject phone calls, and to activate Google Assistant.
  • All day battery life – Three hours play time with an additional nine hours of battery life from the charging case.

Spunky Buds True Wireless Bluetooth 5 Earbuds

The Spunky Buds are at least $50 on Amazon, but you can do much better than that from Geekbuying.com. There’s a range of prices available depending on the color of the buds you pick, where you ship them from, and so on.

Here’s how to get the very best price: Select the white buds shipped from China (the link below will take you to this selection) which would usually cost you $45.99, including shipping. At the checkout use the coupon code DFQOPWTY and you’ll slash another $19 from the price. The total amount you’ll pay is just $26.99.

The coupon code only works on this combination of selections, and stock is limited. To get your Bluetooth 5.0 true wireless buds and start hearing your tunes in style, hit the button below.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.