Did you buy a Samsung Galaxy S10? (Poll of the Week)

Last week’s poll summary: Last week, we asked you to choose between the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X. Out of over 60,000 total votes, roughly 39 percent of voters said they’d buy the Mate X over the Galaxy Fold. Just 28 percent would choose the Galaxy Fold over the Mate X. What’s strange is that 30 percent of voters said they’d choose neither phone.


The Samsung Galaxy S10 lineup goes on sale this week, and we want to know if you’re buying one.

Overall, we’ve heard very little complaints from our readers with the S10 family so far. Not only do the smartphones pack in all the features you could want, Samsung is catering to a wide variety of users this year.

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If you’re after the biggest phone with the best specs you can get, the Galaxy S10 Plus is for you. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S10 is still a pretty big phone and has a very similar spec sheet, though you do get a few less features. The Galaxy S10e, Samsung’s answer to the iPhone XR, is a much smaller, more affordable phone.

The problem is, these phones are pricey. The cheapest Galaxy S10e starts at $749.99, the S10 proper will cost you $899.99, and the S10 Plus starts at $999.99.

Did you order any one of these phones? If so, which one? Cast your vote in the poll below, and speak up in the comments with your thoughts. Oh, and our Galaxy S10 Plus review will likely drop sometime very soon, so stay tuned for that!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Samsung Galaxy S10 international giveaway!

It’s time for the Sunday giveaway! Like every week, we’re giving away another a brand new Android phone to one lucky Android Authority reader.

A big congratulations to the winner of last week’s Samsung Galaxy S10 giveaway, Arvin K. from Australia.

This week we’re giving away a brand new Samsung Galaxy S10 courtesy of our friends at X-Doria!

It’s hard to find smartphone cases that look good and protect your phone well, but X-Doria has managed to crack the code. This California-based company offers functional, stylish smartphone accessories for the most popular devices out there, including the all-new Galaxy S10.

We’ve partnered with X-Doria this week to give away a brand new Samsung Galaxy S10, along with two X-Doria cases:

  • X-Doria Defense Shield Case: X-Doria’s Defense Shield Case combines rubber, polycarbonate, and anodized aluminum to ensure your Galaxy S10 will stay protected.
  • X-Doria Defense Lux Case: The Defense Lux Case is perfect for those who want a protective, MIL-STD-810G-rated case but don’t want to sacrifice on style.

Visit X-Doria’s website below for even more information:

Samsung pulled out all the stops with the Galaxy S10. No, really — there aren’t many features missing from the company’s latest flagship.

The Galaxy S10 packs the latest-and-greatest processors from Samsung and Qualcomm (depending on your region), along with 8GB of RAM to ensure smooth multitasking. A triple-camera setup can be found around back, while the 10MP camera on the front is cut out of the display — that means there’s no notch to be found. Also, Samsung continues to listen to consumers and keep the 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes!

The only downside here is that the standard S10 starts at $899. You don’t have to worry about that this week, since we’re giving one away. For free!

To learn more about the Samsung Galaxy S10, head to our related coverage below:

Enter the giveaway here

Samsung Galaxy S10 international giveaway!

Don’t miss: Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC earbuds giveaway

Winners gallery

Terms & conditions

  • This is an international giveaway (except when we can not ship to your country).
  • If we can not ship to your country, you will be compensated with an online gift card of equal MSRP value to the prize.
  • We are not responsible for lost shipments.
  • We are not responsible if your giveaway prize malfunctions.
  • You must be age of majority in your country of residence.
  • We are not responsible for any duties or import fees that you may incur.
  • Only one entry per person; please do not enter multiple email addresses. We will verify all winners and if we detect multiple email addresses by the same person you will not be eligible to win.
  • We reserve all rights to make any changes to this giveaway.
  • This giveaway is operated by Android Authority.
  • The prize will ship when it is available to purchase.

More: Android Authority international giveaway FAQs

Not all 5G smartphones are created equal

Green 5G logo taken at MWC 2019

If you’ve been following MWC 2019, you’ll know that 5G (over)hype has arrived in earnest. We now know what the first wave of 5G handsets is shaping up to look like, what their specs are, and even which carriers intend to sell some of them. However, there are still plenty of unknowns about how 5G devices will perform and whether or not they’ll be worth the premium.

The price tags, tariff costs, and battery life are all unknown quantities at this point. But perhaps a bigger issue is just how good a 5G experience these phones will offer. Companies are quick to hype the theoretical download speeds, but the real world will be quite different. In fact, some phones may offer a far superior 5G experience compared to others.

mmWave in a phone isn’t easy

mmWave antenna blocking remains a real problem, even though workarounds have been developed. During MWC, Motorola showed us a live demo of its 5G Moto Mod being used for low latency gaming. Rotating the handset away from the transmitter caused speeds to drop from a steady 2.5Gbps down to as low as 0Gbps, interrupting the low latency streaming being showcased. Speeds almost instantaneously bounded back up and down while the antennas switch on and off to find the optimal one for a connection.

mmWave line-of-sight issues require intelligent use of multiple antennas to solve.

In the real world, this is all done very quickly – in a matter of milliseconds. However, if you’re watching a high throughput live stream – one of the big benefits being touted about 5G – even a short connection drop can be noticeable. The key to mitigating connection problems is to include enough antennas to choose from if one or more of them is blocked — whether it’s by your hand or when you move between cell coverage.

To its credit, Motorola’s implementation is one of the better ideas. The 5G Mod features four antennas. There are two in the top, one forward and one rear facing. There are two more on the sides of the mod, making it virtually impossible to block all four at once.

mmWave antenna crammed inside Qualcomm demo phone

A mmWave antenna can be seen crammed into the top of this Qualcomm demo phone.

Qualcomm recommends that smartphones make use of three or four of its mmWave antennas placed around the device for this exact reason. However, I have been informed that different 5G smartphones are using very different numbers of antennas.

Unofficial information passed to me indicates that the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G uses four antennas. When asked, Samsung wouldn’t confirm the exact number, instead stating that it has “multiple” antennas inside. The Sony 5G prototype on display at the event apparently features six antennas, one on each edge and two additional modules in the corners. The LG V50 ThinQ 5G, allegedly, only features two – both at the sides.

Editor’s Pick

LG refused to confirm or deny the report. The company did mention that the V50’s antenna arrangement depends on a mmWave or sub-6GHz implementation and is also carrier dependent. LG said it couldn’t provide further comment without knowing the model in question. This raises the worrying prospect of multiple 5G models sporting different networking technologies. If true, this could reduce 5G performance when roaming or importing phones to work with different network designs and carriers.

This isn’t a new concern of mine, I raised this potential issue to Qualcomm ahead of MWC. The company expects to see OEMs broadly support sub-6GHz and mmWave technologies because it is more cost effective and simplifies development for global smartphone launches. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case where carrier and region-specific 5G launches are concerned.

Qualcomm mmWave antenna on display at MWC 2019

More antennas equal worse battery life

With that in mind, the six antennae Sony 5G prototype sounds like a much better solution. However, that’s not strictly the case either. Larger antenna counts consume more power. First by virtue of potentially having more antennas to power at once. Secondly, switching and settling on the best antenna requires additional time and processing when network conditions change, which also consumes more power. In reality, Sony’s final 5G phone could well use fewer antennas to improve battery life.

Editor’s Pick

While the reported configuration inside the LG V50 ThinQ 5G might seem suboptimal in terms of performance, it is more optimal in terms of battery life. Those worried about the phone’s modest boost to battery capacity perhaps shouldn’t be so concerned. The biggest question yet to be answered is whether the phone’s 5G experience matches what consumers would expect.

There’s a balancing act to be found between power consumption and ensuring a reliable mmWave connection. Although smartphone vendors will have undertaken plenty of research and testing while developing their first products, the sweet spot might take a while to perfect.

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Early adopters beware

There’s a very good case for 5G technology, but, despite the hype, its still in its infancy. Early adopters are often willing to accept the growing pains of any new technology, but ensuring a consistent, predictable user experience is important, even in these early stages.

Just like Bluetooth, 5G performance could vary a lot from phone to phone.

During MWC I spent some time talking to Samsung about 5G, and the company is keenly aware of consumer expectations and some of the nuances that go into providing the right kind of user experience. For example, the company has gone to pains to ensure that not only does its antenna switching technology looks for the best connection, but also avoids radio transmissions to the human body for a low SAR. The company is also actively engaged with carriers about when 5G logos should be displayed on early 5G Non-Standalone networks. That might seem trivial, but it’s an important detail if your phone isn’t actually downloading over 5G all the time.

5G, much like 4G, will undergo its own pain points and improvements. 5G modems and other technologies will certainly improve over the next two years and manufacturers will get a better handle on their designs and trade-offs. Some differences between devices are inevitable, but I certainly hope we don’t see early 5G smartphones charging a premium for a second-rate experience.

All of the above being said, we’ll reserve judgment until these 5G smartphones are in our hands.

Fortnite Season 8 guide: Start date, Battle Pass, skins, map changes, and more!

Fortnite Season 8 guide The Prisoner

Fortnite Season 8 is almost here and it looks like pirates and a world of fire are about to invade the shores of Epic Games’ hit battle royale game! Season 7’s cold snap is melting away and the Fortnite team is expected to make major changes to the map and gameplay for the Spring season.

Below we’ll be running through everything we know so far about Fortnite Season 8. Here you’ll find the Fortnite Season 8 start date, Battle Pass details, map changes, new skins, and more! Check back frequently to stay up to date on the ever evolving world of Fortnite!


When does Fortnite Season 8 start?

Fortnite Season 8 will start on Thursday, Feb. 28 a day after Season 7 ends on Feb. 27.

Fortnite Season 7 and the Season 7 Battle Pass had been expected to end on Feb. 14, but Epic extended the event by two weeks to give the team a holiday break. To tide players over until the start of Season 8 we got the Valentine’s Day “Share the Love” event complete with overtime challenges.

When will Fortnite Season 8 end?

The Fortnite Season 8 end date should fall ten weeks after the start on Thursday, May 9.

How much does the Fortnite Season 8 Battle Pass cost?

In a bit of a change from previous season, the Fortnite Season 8 Battle Pass is free. Sort of.

If you can complete all of the Overtime Challenges before Season 7 ends on Feb. 27, you won’t have to pay a cent for the premium Battle Pass.

Editor’s Pick

For those that don’t manage to complete the Overtime Challenges, the Fortnite Season 8 Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks. You can buy 1,000 V-Bucks for $10.

While there’s a free Battle Pass for players who don’t want to spend their hard-earned cash, you’ll only unlock the most sought-after exclusive skins, emotes, and other cosmetics by completing challenges to progress through the premium Battle Pass’ 100 levels.


Fortnite Season 8 Theme and Map Changes

Fortnite Prisoner Skin

Things got a little chilly during Fortnite Season 7 with snow and ice invading the map and whole bunch of winter- and holiday-based skins.

While Season 7 had clues stretching back for months, Fortnite Season 8 has been a little harder to predict until very recently.

The first clues began with the melting ice around Polar Peak which revealed a large castle. This was all sparked by a sudden appearance from the Ice King and Season 7’s secret character, The Prisoner, who was apparently being held deep within the castle’s walls. It seems likely that The Prisoner will be responsible for the melting snow and ice as he’s basically a fire version of the Ice King.

Related: Fortnite vs PUBG: Which one is right for you?

You can see this progression as you unlock stages of The Prisoner skin (above) as he melts the cold ice off his skin and appears to have fire and magma coursing through his body.

Fans have speculated that the Ice King trapped The Prisoner within the castle, something backed up by the shackles on The Prisoner at the start. Season 8 could be sparked by The Prisoner getting his revenge — a plan that may already be in motion.

In the past few weeks, Fortnite players have started experiencing tremors that are causing fissures in the ground.

If the Ice King can control ice and snow from the sky, perhaps his opposite number can control the molten rock below the surface to cause earthquakes?

So far the cracks are just cosmetic, but if the earthquakes continue and increase in scale there’s a good chance we’ll see the Fortnite map change dramatically.

Major earthquakes could even split the map into separate islands and give away to water. It would certainly explain the aquatic-themed skins we’ve started to see added to the game.

It could also explain the pirate theme the official Fortnite Twitter account has started teasing with pictures of hooked hands, skulls, bones, and cryptic hints about treasure and loot.

That doesn’t quite explain another teaser hinting at snakes slithering their way to the Fortnite island, however.

The image and an accompanying poem references hissing creatures that “shimmer” within a cave, which is most likely a reference to the mysterious eggs in Polar Peak. Epic’s creative director Donald Mustard further hinted that the two are connected with a quote tweet containing an egg emoji.

More puzzling, however, is the latter part of the poem which warns of “those who arrive on waves.” Could this be the pirates? How do they fit in with snakes? Is The Prisoner secretly a pirate king? We’ll know for sure when Fortnite Season 8 starts!


Fortnite Season 8 Battle Pass – Skins, Wraps, Pets

Fortnite water skins

A new Season in Fortnite means new cosmetics!

As well as the usual batch of new skins, Season 8 should also feature new Wraps and Pets.

Fortnite Season 8 Battle Pass Skins

We’ve yet to see any of the new skins for Season 8. As soon as we do we’ll post them here!


That’s all for this Fortnite Season 8 guide. What are you most looking forward to this season and what would you like to see in Season 9? Let us know in the comments!

Put down your Llama Bell and check out the rest of our Fortnite content:

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.

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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

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What devices are Android Authority readers using? (2019 edition)

Nokia 7.1 installing Android 9.0 Pie update

Two years ago we published an update on exactly which devices your fellow Android Authority reader buddies are using. We wanted to do another update in 2019, combined with a look back at our data from 2017, to see how things have changed.

This data comes from a dig through the anonymous usage statistics that Google Analytics collects for the site. So, which devices rule the roost, and how have things changed from 2017?

Mobile vs Desktop vs Tablet

First up, an update on what sort of devices that you lot are using to browse the site, broken down into mobile, desktop, and tablet devices.

It’s probably not a shock to you that mobile share has increased since 2017. From a 62.2 percent share in 2017, up to 74.3 percent in 2019. Desktop browsing has fallen from 32.2 percent to 24.4 percent, but tablets have shrunk to almost nothing: falling from 5.6 percent to just 1.1 percent of browsers:

As much as tablets filled a niche at one point in time, bigger sized mobiles and the trusty old PC or laptop dominate. A market is a market though — Samsung just launched a 10.5-inch OLED-display Galaxy Tab S5e with Android 9 Pie for $400.

Top 10 devices

Going mobile only, let’s look at the top a little more closely and break down the most popular smartphones to visit the site in the last three months:

Apple? The Apple iPhone range takes the gold medal, followed by the Google Pixel 2 XL, with the iPad back in third — actually falling from second place to third from 2017.

Apple? We can explain.

Why is the iPhone the top device on an Android site? Don’t be alarmed: this is a family of devices up against individual devices. Apple doesn’t give out enough device information to Google Analytics for the tool to be able to discern between different models. So, with all models of iOS devices rolled into either the iPhone or iPad we get two of the top three spots.

The insights out of this are interesting. The iPad share has fallen since 2017, when it was second, and even with all those iPhones sold all over the globe, grouping them together still sees nearly 90 percent of our readers as Android owners.

OnePlus 6 vs Google Pixel 2 XL-6

Android devices: What we’re here for is actual devices — down to the model numbers — so let’s look closer at this data from the most recent 30-day period. And, it’s all Google and Samsung!

Intriguingly, the four of our top ten are Google Pixel devices, with the Pixel 2 XL the most used of any one device, following by the Google Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 3. That’s despite the wider slow uptake of the Pixel.

Samsung dominates the next spots: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (U – meaning a US/Qualcomm device), Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S8 (F – or Exynos version), and Samsung Galaxy S9+ (U).

Yes, we now know how closely aligned Android Authority readers are to the big brands of Google Pixel and Samsung. But we also know smartphone shipment figures for all owners. So where, you might ask, are the likes of Huawei, or even OnePlus, which has just the cult following that makes sense showing up here?

Here’s a peek at the top 50: the OnePlus 5T is the first of the non-Samsung, non-Pixel devices, clocking in at 15th spot. The OnePlus 6 is then next at 16th.

Huawei does feature throughout the top 50 phones, with the Huawei P20 Pro the best seller amongst our readers. Other points of interest – the Essential PH-1 gets into the top 50, as does the Xiaomi Poco F1, just, which are good results for both brands, even if Essential is just clinging to life in 2019.

Editor’s Pick

Given the lack of Huawei penetration of the US market, and given that we’re an English-speaking website first, that may explain Huawei’s low-showing, and why it has to keep pushing its flagships.

Top 10 favorite brands

Once we combine all of the branded handsets together, we get another interesting story, and there’s also data from 2017 here too.

Samsung really has held on well, with Apple gaining slightly, while Huawei is now firmly in the picture. But Samsung is, without a shadow of a doubt, our community’s favorite brand, just as we saw in 2017. From 2017’s whopping 31.7 percent of readers browsing a Galaxy device, to just a shade lower at 30.3% in 2019.

Google follows in third again, repeating the top three of 2017:

But beyond third place is where things now get interesting. Xiaomi climbed three spots to fourth, Huawei up to fifth, OnePlus held down sixth again, while LG fell to seventh and Motorola to eighth. Sony and HTC, which figured in the top 10 two years ago, are now out.

This compares fairly closely with my Android Power Rankings from the start of 2019. It might look like I sold Lenovo/Motorola a little short, and ranked OnePlus a little high, though?

Ahead of the OS curve

Moving over to Android software versions, it’s clear that Android Authority readers are keen on being on the latest and greatest. 19 percent of you are running Android 9.0 Pie, with 43 percent running either Android 8.0 or 8.1 Oreo. Given that not all devices can yet run Pie, that’s a pretty good result and far better than the global average, at last check. Good job! (We currently can’t compare to the latest global distribution because, weirdly, Google’s Android Distribution Dashboard has been down for maintenance since October 2018. Hey Google, get on that!)

Compared to 2017, close to 50 percent of you were running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and around 15 percent running Android 7.0 Nougat, the latest and greatest at the time. In 2019, just over 5 percent are hanging in there on a Marshmallow device, while all Nougat owners total just under 15 percent again:

Now, you could either give credit to manufacturers for those old phones hanging in there for a good amount of time or give no credit at all for those devices not receiving enough updates. Or, maybe, some people just don’t want to update?


So we’ve pulled out some of the data we see around these parts and I’m interested to know how it all makes you feel, and if you have any more insights that I might’ve missed. Are you surprised by the strength of the Pixel, or just how well Samsung has managed to cling on as the clear Android leader? Does this match up to your own thoughts and experiences? Chime in via the comments below, ask questions, and let’s have at it.

Ultrasonic fingerprint scanners: how do they work?

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Fingerprint reader

After a few years lurking in backroom prototypes and inside a few quickly forgotten handsets, ultrasonic fingerprint sensors are ready for prime time. The technology is built into Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus, making the technology almost guaranteed to be securing millions of thumbprints by the year’s end.

In December 2018, Qualcomm announced its 3D ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor. This technology is enabled in devices using the company’s Snapdragon 855 platform as an option if the manufacturer wants to include the extra hardware. Ultrasonic fingerprint technology has its own pros and cons versus traditional capacitive scanners and even other in-display fingerprint designs. Here’s everything you need to know.

How ultrasonic fingerprint scanners work

Qualcomm’s 3D in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is based on what used to be called Sense ID. Rather than existing photographic or capacitive-based fingerprint scanners, ultrasonic fingerprint scanners make use of very high-frequency ultrasonic sound. You can’t hear it, but these waves are used to map out the details of the user’s fingerprint. Fortunately, there’s no need to swipe, just touch the finger to the sensor like the top of the line capacitive fingerprint scanners.

Editor’s Pick

To actually capture the details of a fingerprint, the hardware consists of both a transmitter and a receiver. An ultrasonic pulse is transmitted against the finger that is placed over the scanner. Some of this pulse’s pressure is absorbed and some of it is bounced back to the sensor, depending upon the ridges, pores and other details that are unique to each fingerprint.

There isn’t a microphone listening out for these returning signals. Instead, a sensor that can detect mechanical stress is used to calculate the intensity of the returning ultrasonic pulse at different points on the scanner. Scanning for longer periods of time allows for additional depth data to be captured, resulting in a highly detailed 3D reproduction of the scanned fingerprint.

Qualcomm notes that there’s about a 250-millisecond latency for unlocking, roughly equivalent to capacitive fingerprint scanners. The sensor has about a 1 percent error rate, which again is pretty comparable to other scanners.

Pros of ultrasonic fingerprint vs capacitive scanners

Ultrasonic fingerprint technology works very differently to capacitive fingerprint scanners, which are only able to reproduce 2D images. 3D details are much more difficult to forge or fool than a 2D image, making the ultrasonic system much more secure. It goes without saying that ultrasound is also much more secure than optical fingerprint scanners, which have all but fallen out of favor.

In-display scanners like those inside the OnePlus 6T and Huawei Mate 20 Pro are optical not ultrasonic.

Another added perk of this ultrasonic fingerprint scanner technology is that it allows the fingerprint scanner to still operate through thin materials, such as glass, aluminum, or plastic. The sensor is just 0.15 millimeters thick and can scan through up to 800 µm of glass and up to 650 µm of aluminum. Therefore, the scanner can be embedded under the case or under the display as we’re seeing in the Samsung Galaxy S10, allowing for a more discrete look and thinner bezels.

Because the sensor uses ultrasonic waves, the sensor can also double up as a health tracker that can record heart rate and blood flow. Additionally, there’s less chance of damaging the sensor or exposing it to external tampering, and sweat or moisture on the finger won’t interfere with the scanning process either.

Scanning is just half the process

Editor’s Pick

Of course, there’s still plenty to be done with this fingerprint data and keeping it secure is an equally important part of the system.

As will all biometric security systems, processing and security highly sensitive personal information security are key. Qualcomm’s processors are built with dedicated security tools, including Cryptographic Accelerators, Key Provisioning Security, and a Trusted Execution Environment. This ensures that the processing and storage of sensitive data are kept well away from malicious applications. Other Arm-based processors offer TrustZone hardware isolation for similar levels of protection.

Qualcomm’s setup is also designed to support the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance protocols, which can be used for online password-less authentication. FIDO does this without transferring any of the confidential fingerprint information to the cloud or through networks that could be compromised.


Ultrasonic fingerprint scanners certainly have a number of advantages of existing capacitive implementations and given the prevalence of Qualcomm processors in mobile products. 3D ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are now ready for prime time and it’s possible that we’ll see many more manufacturers adopt this technology throughout 2019.

RFID blocking wallets – what are they, and should you get one?

Lowcards

Even in this age of Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, where you can use virtual payments to purchase items in real stores and restaurants with your smartphone, the “old fashioned” credit card and debit card isn’t going away anytime soon. With that said, many people who use them are afraid that the payment information that’s on those cards could be lifted by hackers, even if they remain inside a wallet.

That fear includes the newer credit and debit cards that have RFID chips inside. That’s why some folks who use those kinds of cards are buying RFID blocking wallets, which are supposed to keep hackers from taking your payment information. But what is an RFID blocking wallet, and do you even need to get one? That’s what we are going to talk about in this article.

What is an RFID credit/debit card?

RDIF stands for “Radio Frequency Identification”. The hardware inside an RFID-based device is basically a small chip and a radio antenna. RDIF chips are used in a number of products and devices. For example, you can tag luggage with an RFID chip so you can track it and never have to worry about losing it during a flight. RFID chips are also used to track and identify livestock animals and even pets.

In the case of an RFID credit and debit card, the chip contains your payment information, and you can simply touch the card to a compatible reader to pay for items, rather than swiping a card with a magnetic strip or inserting the card with another chip.

What is an RFID blocking wallet?

There are many concerns that hackers could use devices to intercept the radio signal that is generated by an RFID credit or debit card and lift your payment info from that card, even if it is in your wallet. If you buy an RFID blocking wallet, it should block any radio waves generated by your RFID card, and thus you should be safe from any hacking attempts.

Do you need an RFID wallet?

The short answer to this question, in our opinion, is “Maybe”. While it’s true that the vast majority of RFID chips in credit cards have not been skimmed by radio hackers, it has been reported out in the wild by a few people. Therefore, getting an effective RFID blocking wallet should give you an extra amount of security, as well as some peace of mind. In other words, while the odds of being hacked aren’t ultra-high it doesn’t hurt to be safe, rather than sorry later.

Best RFID blocking wallets

Here’s a look at the best RFID blocking wallets you can buy at the moment, and as you will see there’s quite a variety to choose from; from very traditional wallets to high-tech products to keep your credit cards safe.

Alpine Swiss Men’s RFID Wallet

Here’s a very traditional men’s wallet from Alpine Swiss, with slots that will hold up to 10 credit and debit cards, plus an ID window slot. According to the company, this RFID wallet will shield them, while also allowing other cards that use different frequencies, such as ID badges, hotel cards, and some transit cards, to be used while still inside the wallet. The leather material comes in three colors (black, gray and brown) and its available on Amazon for $14.99.

Roco Aluminum Money Clip RFID Wallet

If you are the sort of person who prefers a money clip-style wallet to store your cash and cards, check out this sleek looking product from Roco. This minimalist design can keep your RFID credit cards safe from hackers thanks to its aluminum material. Even with its slim design, you could hold as many as 20 credit cards inside if you really wanted to. You also have your choice of several different colors and designs for this money clip. It’s available on Amazon for $14.95.

Slimfold RFID Wallet

This RFID wallet comes from SlimFold, and it’s a pretty cool product for more than just its radio blocking features. It’s made of a special material that the company calls Soft Shell and it’s supposed to be just 0.55mm thick, which makes the wallet itself extremely thin. It can still hold up to 8 credit cards, along with cash. Once more,  the material is also waterproof and is extremely durable. All of those features come at a high price; the SlimFold RFID wallet costs between $45 and $48 on Amazon, depending on which color option you pick.

Ranger RFID Wallet

Here’s another pretty slim RFID blocking wallet from Ranger. It’s made of steel which should keep any skimming hacker away from your credit card info. While it’s extremely slim, it can still hold up to 8 credit or debit cards. Finally, this wallet comes with a flat multi-purpose tool, which can come in handy in certain situations. The flat rectangular tool can be used as a bottle opener, a  1/4 tool driver, a wrench that can support several U.S. and metric sizes, and a flathead screwdriver. You can get this RFID wallet from Amazon for $36.

Bryk RFID Wallet

RFID wallet

Our final RFID wallet comes from Bryk, and as you can see its a pure stainless steel product, which makes it look great as well as offering a material that should block RFID signals. It even comes in a very nice case if you want to give it to a family member, co-worker or friend as a gift. It also comes with a latch that should keep your cards and cash secure and safe against physical issues and threats. It can hold up to seven credit or debit cards, and it even comes with a lifetime guarantee. You can get the Bryk RFID blocking wallet in regular stainless steel, or in a black stainless steel color, from Amazon for the price of $15.97.

That’s our look at RFID wallets and why it might be a good idea to get one. Are you thinking about getting such a wallet? Let us know in the comments!

Best Google Assistant devices for your home: Our top 10

Google Assistant launched less than three years ago, but in that short period of time, the machine learning-based digital helper has expanded its reach from smartphones and smartwatches to speakers and many other Google Assistant devices for the home. Indeed, at CES 2019, it was announced that Google Assistant devices were expected to reach over 1 billion products by the end of January 2019.

Google sells its own smart speakers with Google Assistant support under the Google Home brand, and there are many other third-party smart speaker products you can buy that have Google Assistant support as well. However, there are many, many other Google Assistant devices you can check out. We have a quick list of the best Google Assistant devices you can get for your home. Some of them have the digital helper built-in, while others need a Google Home or another Google Assistant compatible smart speaker to use its voice commands. 

Best Google Assistant compatible devices (built-in)

NVIDIA Shield TV

Android TV is Google’s smart television operating system, and it’s actually one of the best you can use. If you don’t have a smart TV, or if you have one and are not happy with its app selections or features, you should check out the NVIDIA Shield TV set-top box. It will add Android TV support to any big screen television, and it also supports Google Assistant natively. That means you can use your voice (if you also have the Shield controller) to command the Shield TV to launch apps like Netflix, YouTube and more. You can play, pause or reverse videos on those services with your voice, and you can learn more about the shows you are watching as well with voice commands. The set-top box also lets you control other Google Assistant compatible devices as well from the Shield TV.

NVIDIA also continues to update the Shield TV with new features like support for HDR video, and most importantly support for NVIDA’s GeForce Now game streaming service which allows you to play over 400 PC games from Valve’s Steam service on the Shield TV device.

Sony TVs with Android TV and Google Assistant

Smart home gadgets

Android TV has also been directly installed on a number of smart TVs. Sony’s lineup of big-screen TVs are the biggest brand with Android TV out of the box, and that means they also have Google Assistant built in the TVs. As with the NVIDIA Shield TV box, you can command Sony’s smart TV’s with your voice to launch apps, look up information and much more.

Smart TVs with Android TV and Google Assistant installed are also available from other companies, including Sharp and Hisense.

Acer Chromebook Spin 13

Many Chromebooks come with Google Assistant support out of the box. That includes the Acer Chromebook Spin 13, which is our current pick for the best Chromebook you can buy. You can use voice commands to bring up information and more on this Chromebook. It has a 13.5-inch, 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 IPS touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio that rotates with its 360-degree hinge. This Chromebook also comes with its own stylus, which docks in the base of the Chromebook. You can get this Chromebook for as low as $ 749.99 with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB onboard storage.

Best Google Assistant compatible devices (add-0n)

Nest Thermostat, Protect and Hello

Smart home gadgets

One of the best Google Assistant devices is the Nest Thermostat. Nest was originally set up as a separate subsidiary to Google’s parent company Alphabet, but more recently the Nest team was integrated into Google’s hardware unit. The Nest thermostat is designed to work with Google Assistant, via your Android phone or your Google Home speaker. Nest offers a number of advantages over the traditional thermostat including adjusting the temperature when you’re away from the house and learning your household habits to schedule changes appropriately. It responds to remote control from the Google Home or the Nest app.

Nest also has a little brother, the Nest Thermostat E, which brings a lot of the same functionality, but at a lower price point. Plus, most utility companies offer rebates on the equipment, bringing your costs down even lower.

Of course, if you’d like a different smart thermostat, we have a list of the best smart thermostats to help you with your decision. Think the process will be too hard? Installing a Nest is easier than you might think

Smart home gadgets

Continuing on with the Nest line of products, the division also releases smoke and CO alarms until the Nest Protect brand that work with Google Assistant gadgets. Normally, we wouldn’t give much thought to a smoke or CO detector. Chances are you already have both of these in your home. But adding a little bit of intelligence to this tech is not a bad idea. For example, a Nest Protect can link to your Nest Thermostat, via Google Assistant, and automatically cut off your heating equipment in the event of a fire or CO leak. It’s this kind of intelligence that can help mitigate a disaster.

Smart home gadgets

One of the more recent Nest products is a smart doorbell, the Nest Hello, Once you install it, it allows you to see who’s at the door and even communicate with them with your smartphone or tablet. Some models will even recognize frequent visitors and can announce them with your Google Home speaker.

Samsung SmartThings Hub V3

Samsung's SmartThings hub version 3 on Amazon. Amazon

Many of the Google Assistant devices made for the smart home, but not all, do require a hub device to work. Samsung’s SmartThings Hub is perhaps the best of these kinds of products, and the company recently released the third generation model of the SmartThings Hub.

The hub will allow you to control a large number of Google Assistant compatible products, including smart bulbs, cameras, locks, and much more. Samsung also sells a number of SmartThings add-on products to help extend your smart home experiences, including motions sensors for lights and cameras, smart plugs for lights and more. While this new version of the hub lacks a battery backup as the second generation version did, it’s the current product to beat for people who want to link up their Google Assistant devices. 

Nest x Yale smart lock

An official image of the Nest x Yale Smart Lock. Nest

In 2018, Nest teamed up with the connected smart lock company Yale in a partnership that allows Yale smart locks to work with Google Assistant devices like Google Home. The Yale x Nest smart lock will allow you to open or lock down doors with the Yale product installed just with your voice. You can also use voice commands to find out if you left the door unlocked or lock. You can also give anyone who you want to enter the house their own passcode, and you can monitor who has been entering or leaving your home.

LIFX Smart LED Light Bulb

Smart home gadgets

Smart bulbs in your home can be quite convenient. Controlling lights while you’re away is a good way to make people think you’re home. Remotely turning on lights when you’re on your way home is a great way to avoid walking into a dark house. LIFX bulbs are nice because they do not require any kind of hub or controller to work; they just need to connect to a Google Home speaker to enable its Google Assistant devices support.

In addition, these smart bulbs also connect to Nest products. For example, if the Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm sensors detect a fire, LIFX bulbs will pulse red and then turn themselves on to full brightness, illuminating your way to get out of the house. Nest cameras can detect that the house is empty, and trigger LIFX bulbs to switch to a dimmer/lower power mode to help conserve electricity. It’s all of these integrations that make a smart home really start to come together.

Phillips hue lighting starter kit

Smart home gadgets

 

Phillips is one of the bigger names in smart lighting and its Hue lineup of smart bulbs are highly popular. While they are also Google Assistant compatible, the Phillips Hue bulbs fo require a Hub Bridge to connect the bulbs to your Google Home and Nest devices. They can also help to save power when you’re away from home.

Smart home gadgets Amazon

If you have smart home gadgets — or just lights — that you just want to turn on or off, TP Link has a smart plug you can use with your phone or with Google Assistant. Best of all, you won’t need an extra hub like the Samsung SmartThings device for this smart plug to work. The included TP Link app allows you to schedule time for devices that are plugged into the smart plug. You can also set an away mode which turns lights or appliances on at random for some extra security. The compact design is so small it doesn’t block adjacent outlets.

10. Chamberlain Smart Garage Hub

Google Assistant devices Amazon

Once upon a time, you had to have a button attached to your car’s visor to make your garage door open and close. Those days are gone now, as garage doors have joined the smart home revolution. The Chamberlain Smart Garage Hub connects to your existing opener and allows you to check the status of your garage door, and even raise or lower the door as needed. You can even receive alerts when your garage door opens and closes. You can control your garage door with Google Home as a Google Assistant device, but that requires a $1/mo or $10/year subscription.

 

Extra – Samsung Smart TVs (later in 2019)

The Samsung smart TV with iTunes. Samsung

In addition to the many Android TV smart televisions and set-top boxes that are available with Google Assistant built-in, Samsung recently announced that its 2019 lineup of smart TVs would have limited support for Google Assistant.  If you also own a Google Home or another Google Assistant device, you will be able to use voice commands to turn the new Samsung smart TVs on or off, along with changing channels or the input source. You can also turn the volume up and down with a Google Assistant voice command, or launch specific smart TV apps. Look for those Samsung smart TVs to be released later in 2019.

Google Assistant devices for the home – wrap up

So that’s it for our favorite smart home gadgets that are also Google Assistant devices. However, as we have stated, there are a large number of Google Assistant devices made for smart homes that we have not even touched upon. Which ones would you recommend be put on this list? Let us know in the comments.

These are the best Android phones for power users

A photo of a man using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, one of the best phones for power users.

Smartphones are incredibly useful tools no matter which way you look at them, packing plenty of features into a compact form factor. But what if you specifically need a device for productivity purposes? Or maybe you need a Swiss Army Knife that offers a feature for every eventuality?

There are plenty of Android phones for power users out there, so here are the devices you should be adding to your wishlist.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Experience Homescreen

Our 2018 Best of Android smartphone of the year is also one of the best Android phones for power users too, and there are plenty of reasons why.

The integrated S-Pen stylus enables some nifty functionality, such as controlling your presentations (if your phone is connected to an external screen) and jotting down notes. The former is a pretty handy use-case too, reducing the need to lug your laptop to work for that pitch meeting.

Editor’s Pick

The Galaxy Note 9 also offers a 4,000mAh battery that should give you plenty of juice for the day (with some to spare). It also marks the biggest battery in the Note range yet, while trouncing the Galaxy S9 Plus.

Core specs are cutting-edge too, offering a Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 512GB (!) of expandable storage, and a 6.4-inch 1440p OLED screen. Toss in IP68 water resistance, a headphone jack, and wireless charging, and you’ve got one of the best flagships of the year. Just make sure you look around for a good deal, because the device starts at $999.


Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro took an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach, cramming almost every imaginable feature into its frame (save for a 3.5mm port). The biggest highlights are the triple rear camera setup (ultra wide, normal, telephoto), reverse wireless charging, and an in-display fingerprint sensor, but it also packs a few more useful features.

The 4,200mAh battery is probably the largest you’ll find in a mainstream flagship phone today, giving you a day and a half to two days of usage. But it also packs the fastest charging you’ll see, period, going from zero to 70 percent in just 30 minutes. So if you over-slept or simply don’t have time to fully charge your phone, it’ll work particularly well.

The biggest downside is that the phone ordinarily starts at 1,049 euros (~$1,217), making it $200 more expensive than Samsung’s flagship phablet. The lack of a headphone jack is also disappointing, but it’s tough to argue that you aren’t getting one of the better phones for power users and productivity in general.


Google Pixel 3

Google’s latest phone doesn’t have the biggest battery, the most storage, or the most cameras, but it has one massive advantage over Huawei and Samsung’s phones. Yep, you’ll be getting stock Android as well as the latest and greatest updates.

Read: Here are the best smartphones running stock Android

Even if you don’t care for pure Android, it’s tough to argue with Google’s commitment to feature and security updates. The company generally commits to two years of feature updates, and three years of security patches. The latter should provide for some peace of mind if you need a (figuratively) bullet-proof phone in your line of work.

But the Pixel 3 series also stands out thanks to its camera experience, offering a 12MP single rear camera and a dual-camera pairing up front. The Mountain View company’s photography efforts also earned it a gong in our best of Android awards.


OnePlus 6T

OyxgenOS Android Skin

OnePlus had a stellar 2018, and this is in large part due to the excellent critical and commercial reception to the OnePlus 6T. The phone definitely makes a few compromises compared to the more expensive devices on the list, but it’s tough to argue against its inclusion nonetheless.

The OnePlus 6T offers a speedy Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB to 8GB of RAM, and 128GB to 256GB of storage. This puts it on similar footing to the OnePlus 6, but the brand has also tossed in an in-display fingerprint sensor and a 3,700mAh battery (compared to the older phone’s 3,300mAh pack). 

But one of the best things about the phone is its OxygenOS skin, offering a feature-filled yet lightweight take on Android. Toss in the company’s commitment to updates and the developer community, and you’ve got another phone worth adding to the list.


BlackBerry Key2

blackberry key2 held in hand

Was there ever any doubt that the BlackBerry Key2 would make the list? TCL’s 2018 device cracks a nod based purely on the fact that it has a QWERTY keypad — a rarity in this day and age. Sure, virtual keyboards are often faster for many people, but the ability to assign apps to specific keys is pretty smart.

The phone also has a dedicated shortcut key (be it for the camera shutter, Play Music or Google Assistant), LG-style system profiles that change your settings depending on location, and a 3,500mAh battery that keeps on chugging. In fact, reviewers Jimmy Westenberg and David Imel both said they averaged between five and seven hours of screen-on time, while Jimmy said he’d regularly end the day with 40 percent capacity remaining.

Now if you consider a power user to be someone who needs the fastest, the Blackberry Key2 obviously doesn’t hold its own as well in this department. The addition of a mid-weight Snapdragon 660 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB to 128GB of expandable storage makes for a big improvement over the KeyOne‘s budget specs. But it’s far from a performance beast. Still, if your definition of a power user is someone who lives on his or her phone and needs it to fuel their productivity, the Key2 is hard to beat. 


Do you know of any other great phones for power users? Give us your picks in the comments!